Post-apocalyptic shows rule television these days — because they're the best, better than all the rest. But which team of survivors would actually make it, if the world ended for real? We went through our favorite post-apocalyptic shows and graded them all on their survival skills, to find out if they'd still be standing in the end.
The Tribe 1999-2003
All the adults are killed off by an unknown virus. The Tribe (which had a pretty long run) takes place 6 or 7 months after the massive adult extinction. The children of the Earth have splintered off into colorful tribes, and now must battle each other for food, shelter, and superiority. Our gang of survivors are called the Mall Rats.
Assets: For a pack of children, these survivors are HANDS DOWN the most clever. These kids construct a water filter, a wind turbine and an alarm system. Meanwhile Rick Grimes carries around rotary phone and Jeremiah still writes letters to his dead Dad. The Mall Rats do not have time for that shit.
Liabilities: They do, however, have a lot of time for accessorizing. Face paint and hair styles are probably given entirely too much weight in the day-to-day activities of these children. Also roller blades play an unnecessarily large part of their survival strategy. What if your opponent is fighting on grass?
Charismatic Front: Shared. Bray, Lex and Amber get a lot of leadership time but it's really a group effort. Which can be an advantage when you're not all on roller blades.
Fighting Style: Lots of pushing. If one person showed up with a single gun, they could kill off the rest of the population rather easily.
Hunting, Gathering & Scavenging: They set up shop in a mall. Smart thinking, kiddies.
Alright I'm On Board With This Premise But COME ON: At some point you're going to run out of face paint.
Would They Make It: Yes, but not all of them. The Mall Rats have to deal with real life issues like pregnancy and another round of the virus and competing tribes like the Locos. They know their shit — just not so much about dressing up in a way that wouldn't immediately get you into trouble if you were captured by a rival tribe.
Jeremiah 2002 - 2004
Similar to The Tribe, Jeremiah also centers around a great virus that wiped out everyone who had experienced puberty. They called it the "Big Death." Unlike The Tribe, Jeremiah takes place 15 years after said Big Death. You would think this would make the grown-up survivors smarter. It doesn't.
Assets: There is some sort of learning curve. These emotionally stunted adults freely admit their mistakes: "We probably shouldn't have burned down all the school first." They also utilize their various skills in groups together. It's not all brawn, people with smarts have a place at the table.
Liabilities: Long leather dusters. Because I know when I'm trying to survive in the apocalypse, I want to drag around 40 pounds of unnecessary coat weight, Malcolm Jamal Warner. Insane people. Too much energy is wasted by the core survivors putting out insanity fires across this new land. We don't have the supplies to waste on people that thing they are superheroes, or a God, or to protect strangers from alleged vampires. No one in this clan has heard the phrase, "Thanks, but no thanks." Survival cannot be sidetracked.
Charismatic Front: It stars Luke Perry. Luke Perry.
Fighting Style: Aggressive, but also really snarky. Lots of torture, plenty of gunshot wounds. It's a dark world but they know how to fight in it.
Hunting, Gathering & Scavenging: Jeremiah himself is fantastic at both hunting and gathering. The society as a whole has truly embraced the idea of trading. It's been 15 years, so scavenging has become harder, but they still find the goods. And use them fairly well.
Alright I'm On Board With This Premise But COME ON: Everyone needs to stop talking about (and writing letters to) their dead parents.
Would They Make It: Just the title character. Maybe Kurdy, but Jeremiah would be doing all the leg work.
Survivors 2008 - 2010
A remake of the classic 1970s show created by Terry Nation. In which the ULTIMATE flu kills everyone. Absolutely everyone. Just about everyone is dead. The series follows a tiny handful of folks who are luckily immune (or beat the virus) as they try and find this kid Peter.
Assets: There are way more resources than people in this brave new world. And that is a major plus for these survivors. But of course they manage to cock it all up pretty swiftly, thanks to major personality defects. It's kind of amazing that even in the face of humanity's near-demise, characters can still turn into petulant children who don't want to be quiet during breakfast. But at least the core team of survivors aren't a pack of lunatics, or under the delusion that they want to start some sort of new world with a new government that forces those with important skills to bow to their will. This group is good, because they keep it simple. All they want is to be left alone. Plus Greg is pretty smart and Tom is clearly the muscle, so those are good to have as well.
Liabilities: Each other. Dammit, these people love to ruin things for the people they depend on. Never have I ever seen such reactionary betrayal, "You don't want me, take her — she's a doctor!" Also while we love Abby Grant, when the main protagonist leaves this message for her son, the character she's tasked with finding for the entire series, "Peter I can't stay here, wherever you are I'll find you. Mum," you become less of an asset and more of an absolute moron.
Charismatic Front: Abby — look, we're just thrilled it's a lady. Also, it's nice to have a female leader who doesn't go all Lord of the Flies sexy sex bustier dancey. She's just a Mom, who kicks ass.
Fighting Style: When in doubt, make Tom do it.
Hunting, Gathering & Scavenging: Better at scavenging than hunting and gathering.
Alright I'm On Board With This Premise But COME ON: At some point someone needs to tell Abby that Peter is dead.
Would They Make It: Yes, this crew has one of the better "gut instincts" out of the bunch.
Aliens, known as Skitters, invade Earth and wipe out the cities, forcing the remaining humans to go on the run and hide in small camps — and the Skitters are collecting human children and fitting them with obedience harnesses that eventually turn those kids into Skitters. It's a whole lot of alien occupation. And then it turns out the Skitters are slaves of another race, the Espheni, and there's yet another race that's fighting the Espheni, and they've decided to do it on Earth. Mostly, though, this is the story of a family that joins the Resistance and helps rebuild America and stuff.
Assets: A lot of military hardware. Some actual military training here and there, among some members of the Second Mass, their resistance group. Cool Army Surplus outfits. Plus they have Pope, who can make gourmet food out of anything and can turn an old mall food court into a happening nightclub. And Pope had an airplane, at one point.
Liabilities: All military operations are paused for teachable moments about American History. Also, the civilians are so important that actual military objectives are constantly compromised by the need to make sure the families are OK. All the main characters on this show have a nearly endless desire to keep getting themselves captured by aliens or occasionally have sex with aliens.
Charismatic Front: Noah Wyle! Actually, most of the cast of this show is adorable, until they open their mouths. Somehow, this whole crew finds time to take regular showers and use ten kinds of conditioner in their hair, months after all the malls and hotels were blown up.
Fighting Style: They like to come up with fancy plans that would never, ever work in real life. Usually involving a diversion and an ambush — in which they wind up getting flanked and their ambush gets ambushed. Turns out a lot of war strategies from the 18th century no longer work 200 years later, with aliens. But at the end of every season, our crew is suddenly unstoppable.
Hunting, Gathering & Scavenging: They often go in search of motorcycles, canned food and medicine — but their stealth leaves a lot to be desired. The need to have loud drama and/or heartwarming family moments usually trumps the need for sneakiness.
Alright I'm On Board With This Premise But COME ON: Enough with the getting yourself captured on purpose.
Would They Make It: In real life, the Mason family would be dead in a week. But the rest of the characters on this show would stand a decent chance without Tom and his kids around to drag them down.
All the high technology in the world stops working, all at once, because of nanomachines. Some 15 years later, the world has reverted to the 19th century, except that America is divided into "republics." At first, the people who want to bring back the United States are the good guys, but later they're the bad guys.
Assets: Some of the main characters are ex-military and have actual fighting and strategic skills. Plus they're the only ones who really understand what went wrong with the 'lectricity and stuff.
Liabilities: Google, the former software engineer who caused this mess, cries any time anything happens. Also, the kids.
Charismatic Front: They have Mustache Dad from Twilight, who is adorable. But anyone under 20 is unbearable on this show, because they grew up without electricity and thus never learned how to do Selfies.
Fighting Style: Swords, bows and arrows — anything that isn't readily available to become a weapon is now a weapon. Because there's NO ENERGY.
Hunting, Gathering & Scavenging: In a few episodes we see them kill people for food. Mostly, though, when they get hungry they just found a new fake country and name it after themselves, and then people bring them food. (In real life, naming a brand new country after yourself does not result in people bringing you food. We tried this.)
Alright I'm On Board With This Premise But COME ON: Stop trying to sneak into enemy camps and pulling complicated cons on the enemy soldiers. The smirk always gives you away. ALWAYS.
Would They Make It: No. In the real world, they would be trying to start their own countries or command made-up armies, and people would just stab them with a letter-opener for some peanut butter.
A virus unleashes a zombie epidemic across the world. Although no one actually says the word zombie — they call them walkers. After waking up in the hospital, main character Rick Grimes culls a group made up of his obnoxious family, insane best friend and a gaggle of other survivors. Through blood, starvation and sweat (so much sweat, all of the sweat) the weak die off and what we're left with is a pack of insane people who would cut off your legs for dinner but leave you tied to the backyard so they can have your arms for breakfast.
Assets: Michonne and Daryl, the only people who are truly good at killing without making a shit load of noise. An important skill that many members of this group refuse to abide by. Education and repetition. Learning by doing is a top priority among these survivors. Very few other shows dedicate time and energy teaching their characters (of all ages) how to use a gun, how to use a knife, and how to treat various medical issues. This isn't just a cut throat band of folks, these people are educated. Plus, they are not afraid to do the hard things most folks are afraid of.
Liabilities: All of the children. The children on this show are rotten. Nothing good comes of having them around. The group endangered their well being and spent entirely too much energy searching for the child character Sophia, when they should have been doing in immeasurable number of other things. It doesn't stop there — baby Judith decides to crawl out of her mother at the most inopportune time ever, basically killing her. And then, of course there was the recent child debacle that we're not going to spoil for you at this moment. Suffice to say children on The Walking Dead are a huge liability and they constantly fuck up everything in this group. For the Walking Dead clan to move to the top of the survivors list, they need to purge themselves of all people under the age of 13.
Charismatic Front: Rick Grimes is one of the best charismatic leaders of all post apocalyptic TV shows everywhere. He gets shit done when he's not making imaginary phone calls to his dead wife or chasing the ghost of his dead wife through the walker-infested forrest. Which, unfortunately does take a up a pretty sizable part of his time.
Fighting Style: Sweaty, gritty, knife-in-the-gut while I look you in the eyes and silently make "oh" faces with my mouth. It's not pretty but it gets the job done.
Hunting, Gathering & Scavenging: Surprisingly shitty at all of these necessities. Their attempts to become pig farmers infected the entire group with a deadly flu, and just last week Carol let one of the only still living deers go. Daryl is really the only member who you could label a hunter, so without him the group is screwed.
Alright I'm On Board With This Premise But COME ON: No complaints — most of the insufferable characters who make terrible decisions, die terribly.
Would They Make It: Yes. Last people standing. This group knows what it takes.
Jericho 2006 - 2008
All the cities blow up, but thankfully everyone in the town of Jericho survives. And thankfully they have a salt mine. And thankfully, they have just pant load of weaponry at their disposal. And when they run out, someone shows up with a tank. That they know how to use. Thankfully.
Assets: A black black ops military operator (Jake Green), and an undercover member of the actual terrorist organization that knew about the nuclear strike in the first place (Robert Hawkins). There is no other show that actually gave two characters jobs that directly relate to the apocalypse at hand in such a brazen way.
Liabilities: The trigger hair reflexes of this entire town. Things are going poorly with your beloved mayor of many years? Elect someone new. Also, the inability to listen to the only person who is actually has military experience. After one bad move the town decides to elect a loud mouth, brand new politician into the role of mayor because what we need in dire situations is wild, erratic change.
Charismatic Front: Jake Green vs. Jeremiah thunderdome please.
Fighting Style: Guerilla.
Hunting, Gathering & Scavenging: Actually they are pretty crap at hunting but fairly great at gathering. In fact the whole town shows up to help pesticide one farmer's crop, but that's only because he was about to burn it down to risk spreading the bugs and it was their only source of food but semantics! Jericho is pretty crap at rationing because of the constant mayoral power squabbles. And the deer are all picked over. But don't worry, they very rarely run out of bullets.
Alright I'm On Board With This Premise But COME ON: Will people please start listening to Skeet Ulrich???
Would They Make It: As long as they never leave Jake or Hawkins' side, they should be fine. But on their own? This town as a whole is fucked.
The Stand 1994
An artificially created virus kills off 90% of the population. But then God and a Demon show up and maybe it was all bashert? The very long miniseries follows the last members of the human race as they all journey to God's promised land: Boulder, Colorado! Which, right there I would have started questioning this super great plan. As the pilgrimage moves forwards, members start to leave (or turn into weird biker nerds with rage problems) and defect to Vegas where the demon Flagg is hosting an all night party. Then the whole thing becomes a good versus evil battle. Because it was that or just snowboard around Boulder until you got bored.
Assets: The good guys literally have God on their side. And also Gary Sinise.
Liabilities: They have no real usable skills, and pretty much fail at everything they try to accomplish. Their biggest triumph is getting crucified and causing a distraction so Trash Man can bring in a nuclear warhead and the hand of God sets it off. They don't even detonate it. God does.
Charismatic Front: Mother Abagail is not great at fighting, but really good at convincing strangers to move to Colorado and do her bidding.
Fighting Style: Failing.
Hunting, Gathering & Scavenging: They are terrible at this in every aspect.
Alright I'm On Board With This Premise But COME ON: Flagg is awesome. Admit it, you were rooting for him.
Would They Make It: M O O N spells NO.
Even though this is the most ill-equipped group of survivors out of the entire lot, I would pay actual money to see this shadow people lose what remnants of humanity they have inside of them at the hands of real-life post-apocalyptic cannibals. Woops is a sitcom that takes place right after a nuclear holocaust. There is a laugh track.
The show is made up of a banker, a homeless guy (whose running joke is stating good news and then saying "just kidding," a feminist, a hot chick nail technician, an african american and the main character a school teacher (who played Harry in Sex in the City). Just to give you an idea of what sort of mind boggling plots were kicked around the writer's room, the Christmas Special (of course there was a Christmas Special) stars Stuart Pankin as Santa Claus, who is suffering from survivor's guilt. Because only Santa made it to the fallout shelter in time — the elves and Mrs. Claus are all dead.
Liabilities: The group's first task is to "rebuild society," so they decide to farm wheat. But they have no idea how to grow wheat. Also what the fuck did they think they were going to do with wheat?
Assets: Even though the characters on Woops did not know how to plant seeds in the ground, they did know how to construct a rudimentary tear gas mop from corned beef hash and nail polish remover. They used it to fend off a giant spider. Also in the plus section for these guys, running Volvo jokes and an uncanny ability to "cheat out" with every line uttered
Charismatic Front: Nonexistent
Fighting Style: Screaming while making Volvo Jokes.
Hunting, Gathering & Scavenging: Everything they could ever want is in the magical house. Except for wheat.
Alright I'm On Board With This Premise But COME ON: Nothing to say here. When our bodies are but dust in the wind, "Woops" will remain.
Would They Make It: No, but I would watch.