For all of human history, we have been expectantly waiting for the end of human history. People always seem to think that they are in the end times, that the world as we know it, is right around the corner, but we are ready for it! But what exactly are we ready for?
This goes all the way back to the biblical times, and the writing of the final book, Revelations. “For then there will be a Great Tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.”
As time goes on, we see predictors like Nostradamus and even Christopher Columbus guess when the end of the world is coming. But how many ways can we imagine the end of the world?
Popular movies are out right now such as A Quiet Place and Cloverfield are all about the end of the world due to some kind of monster, but it’s never really explained. Some vague creature that kills, and can’t be killed. Are they from lab experiments, aliens, or Lovecraftian horrors that have always been here, and just now made themselves known?
A very specific type of monster movie comes next. The zombies are a strong genre, always showing how the survivors are able to fight back. Starting with the George A. Romero, and moving on to one of the biggest shows of the decade, The Walking Dead. People really got into the preparation and planning against the zombies when Max Brooks released his book The Zombie Survival Guide. Reminder however, neither Resident Evil nor I Am Legend are zombie stories, though they definitely ride on the coattails of the popular genre.
The first most famous alien invasion/end of the world came from H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel War of the Worlds. What really boosted this story into prominence was in 1938, when Orson Welles directed a radio play based on the novel, that was so well done, people actually thought that it was just a news broadcast, and many people killed themselves to avoid being attacked by the giant monsters. So many people took the program seriously enough, it was national news for months, discussing how it was in fact just a radio drama, and the repercussions of the CBS station. Yet, aliens has become one of the most popular version of the end of the world. (For the best apocalypse show I have ever seen, watch TNT’s Falling Skies.)
Popularized with The Terminator, we see the robot uprising against their human creators. I think the basis of this concept is from our lizard brains, understanding that though we create our kids, they are here to replace us. That concept is magnified with the idea of robots we created to help us, would try to destroy us. There are movies where the robots attempt this, like I, Robot and The Avengers: Age of Ultron among others, but the best successful robot apocalypse I have seen as of late is the black and white episode of Black Mirror on Netflix.
The other self-created armageddon would fall in the fallout of nuclear annihilation. Some of the most popular media for these would be the Mad Max movie series, or the Fallout video games. It’s also thought that is the setting for the Denzel Washington movie The Book of Eli, and is fan-theoried to be the setting of the Cartoon Network show, Adventure Time. After Einstein helped create the atomic bomb, he famously said “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” In fact, it was the idea that because everyone has nukes now, and using one would result in everyone reactively using theirs, is why we aren’t in this world already. The concept of Mutually Assured Destruction, however cool it looks in the movies, is always right around the corner, and something to be feared.
This last one has nothing to do with people, their creations, their reanimation, or even extraterrestrials. There is the idea that the Earth itself will fail, and humans will not be able to stick around. The most popular of these is the movie 2012, based on the Mayan calendar that suggested that was the date of the end of the world. However we can’t forget about The Day After Tomorrow as well, about the return of the Ice Age. I think because it is completely impossible to fight against the Earth itself is the reason not only for the fear of this apocalypse, but also the lack of movies. Movies like to have antagonists, and so having a story about Man vs. Nature is just hard to tell sometimes, unless they are in the tundra or something, where surviving is just merely going south and finding people. But there is no South, no people to go to when the entire Earth is falling apart.
There are so many types of stories about the end of the world, and I don’t think that we will stop telling these stories until we find out for sure, which one will be our ultimate demise.
What is your favorite apocalypse? Let us know in the comments below!
These are more just funny to watch.