The end of the world is a scary idea, but the way the world ends isn’t always so terrifying. As it turns out, society could collapse or the planet could get destroyed in a variety of dumb and/or ludicrous ways. Here are 10 doomsday scenarios we hope will kill us, if only so we don’t have to die of embarrassment.
1) Traffic Construction
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. In Douglas Adams’ seminal The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Earth is destroyed by aliens named the Vogons to create a “hyperspace bypass.” This was obviously supposed to be ridiculous, especially since what kind of interstellar route would need to go though Earth’s orbit and Earth’s orbit alone. It’s not like there isn’t plenty of room out there.
2) An Air Show Mishap
According to Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel Cat’s Cradle, Ice-9 is a seed crystal that causes all liquid water it comes in contact with to rearrange itself into ice. Papa Monzano is the dictator of the tiny island of San Lorenzo, who ingest Ice-9 to commit suicide when his cancer becomes inoperable. During his very public, very lavish funeral, his body is put on display and an air show is performed… but a jet crashed into the presidential palace, knocking Monzano’s body into the sea. It freezes, along with every connecting body of water, killing pretty much everybody.
3) Bomb-Based Religion
The humans of the original Planet of the Apes movies were ignorant savages who couldn’t speak. In the sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes, there are some humans who fled underground and kept their society and ability to speak — and they’re even stupider than the humans on the surface. Their biggest problem is that they’ve decided to worship a nuclear bomb, precipitating an all-out war between the apes and the mutated humans. The mutants are wiped out, but a wounded Charlton Heston falls on the bomb’s button and kills everybody anyways.
4) Half-Assed Climate Control
Bong Joon-Ho’s upcoming movie Snowpiercer is set in the future where a failed attempt to stop global warming has resulted in a new ice age, and the last remnants of humanity are on boards the titular train which circles the entire planet. Maybe humanity should have spent less time building a giant train set and a little more time testing out their anti-global warming plans before enacting them.
5) A Handshake
Pretty much nothing about Richard Kelly’s follow-up to Donnie Darko, Southland Tales, makes any sense, but most critics agree that when Roland and Ronald Taverner shake hands, not only does the world end but the entire universe does. When the two — who aren’t twins, but copies of the same person after a time travel incident — and also they’re the Messiah or something — touch each other, the fabric of space-time begins to break down, an ice cream truck floats, and apparently Roland hasn’t pooped for six days, which may also figure in. I don’t know. This movie is insane.
Hey, Draco Malfoy. If you can only get your rocks off by shooting a monkey with a firehose in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, maybe you should not pick the hyper-intelligent ape with the ability to free himself, grab a bunch of super-smart gas canisters, use them on his fellow apes, and then lead a simian revolution that results in the end of mankind. Because if you’re going to piss off an ape, it should not be the one most equipped to perform a catastrophic retaliation. Just a tip from me to you.
7) A Single Martial Arts Move
Dragonball Z is known for its ridiculous martial arts moves, but none are more ludicrous than Majin Buu’s “Human Extinction Attack,” which, as its name implies, kills every single goddamned person on the planet. He doesn’t even have to gesture or anything; he just raises his arm in the air and seven billion or energy blasts come out and kill literally every human being on the planet. Even by DBZ’s standards, this is ridiculous, and this was an anime that feature a small, sentient piece of candy beating up the same guy.
8) Poor Waste Management
Not that Pixar’s Wall-E isn’t a good movie, but there would have to be some severe stupidity to cover the entire planet with that much garbage willfully. I mean, sure, humans are dumb and wasteful and our current waste disposal systems are grossly inadequate, but I have to think that at some point before the entire surface of Earth was covered in mountains of refuse we’d stop and figure something out beyond “Enh, let’s just keeping putting shit in piles and then we’ll leave when we run out of surface area.” I mean, at a certain point someone would notice Utah is completely covered in trash and we’d start brainstorming, right? Right?
9) Magic Cellphone Voodoo
Sorry, I don’t know what else to call it. In Stephen King’s recent horror novel Cell, someone — or something — sends some kind of a “pulse” through all cellphones, driving everyone who was using them at the time batshit crazy. A wacky conceit that results in a good horror story? Sure. A reasonable way for the society to collapse and the world to end? Not so much. Frankly, not that many people are on their phones at any given moment, and if people were sending texts of playing Crush Candy Saga — much more likely than calling somebody — they’d be fine, so at max maybe 8% of the world’s population would be affected, which would be annoying but not unmanageable. Oh, but then the Pulse gives people psychic powers, so whatever.
10) A Pouty Teenage Boy
The actual end of the anime Evangelion is up for debate, between the old movies, the new movies, and whatever the heck happened in the final two episodes of the original TV series (you know, besides the producers running out of money to make the show). However, The End of Evangelion movie itself is pretty clear how the world ends: A giant naked teenage girl who is also Lillith, the first wife of Adam (of Adam and Eve), grants the wish of Shinji, an emotionally disturbed and incredibly whiny 14-year-old boy, to kill everybody on the planet. To do this, everyone is turned into the primordial soup of life, from which Shinji — with the steadfastness of any teen — decided he wants to live, and he wants the girl he has a crush on to live too, even though she hates him. Everyone else stays dead so Shinji can play Blue Lagoon with his would-be girlfriend. Thanks for nothing, kid.