10 Post-Apocalyptic Worlds That Won't Depress You

Who says you can't have fun at the end of the world?

by | May 29, 2024 | Comments

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Hollywood loves a good dystopian future — an inventive post-apocalypse — and audiences do, too. The idea that some semblance of society will remain even after the end of the world is enticing, for sure, and it makes sense why filmmakers keep returning to the wasteland. But whether it’s The Road or The Walking Dead, the end of the world in film and television is often portrayed as bleak and depressing.

But not these titles! There are some stories that dare face the apocalypse with a smile and a maniacal laugh, embracing the potential of a world that has descended into madness and where old rules no longer apply. Hell, it might even be fun to live in some of these wastelands.

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller’s Mad Max universe is as versatile as its titular hero. Though the first movie was quite dark, each sequel has become more fantastical and willing to embrace the “mad” part of its title. This peaks with 2015’s Fury Road, one of the most bonkers and fun times you can have with a major motion picture. Indeed, where many a post-apocalyptic movie is devoid of color to symbolize hopelessness, Fury Road is shiny and chrome, full of hyper-saturated color and high-octane thrills.

If you happen to find yourself on the Fury Road, your enjoyment will highly depend on whether or not you get a car. If you do, then rest assured it will more than likely be an epic, over-the-top vehicle right out of Wacky Races, where you can have a blast riding to Valhalla with your buddies, witnessing the weirdest the wasteland has to offer as a guy in a jumpsuit wearing the face of his dead mother plays his flaming guitar for your entertainment.


At first glance, the world of Fallout is extremely bleak. People want to stab you, rob you, harvest your organs, and eat you. Corporations have literally blown up the surface of the planet, and everything that survived is either mutated or drastically altered in some way. But who cares, because this show is fun as hell. Like the video game series it is based on, Fallout knows the end of the world is bleak and nonsensical, so it simply pushes through head-on with a cartoon smile, a thumbs up, and a loaded gun. This is a world where people explode in dramatically bloody and cartoonish ways, where monsters are so absurd that you feel strangely compelled to hug them even if you know they’ll kill you — well, all except the radroaches with teeth.

Nothing encapsulates the tone of Fallout better than its main character, Lucy MacLean (played perfectly by Ella Purnell), who faces unspeakable horrors with a simple “okey dokey” as she goes with the flow. If you find yourself in this wasteland, just follow Lucy’s lead and lean into the craziness. Get distracted from your main goal and explore the wasteland, meet a crazy surface-dweller or two, eat something weird and kind of gross, run from a monster, and make friends!

Gurren Lagann

Image from Gurren Lagann

(Photo by Crunchyroll)

This iconic anime is set in a world where humans are born in villages deep beneath the earth and where the surface has become legend, as its many monsters kill anyone who dares leave the underground. But from minute one, Gurren Lagann refuses to let the post-apocalypse slow it down, and instead it becomes one of the most uplifting and exciting super-robot anime ever made. This is a story about doing the impossible, defying fate, and fighting the power, together with colorful visuals and plenty of giant robots with inventive designs. It is loud and over-the-top like an ’80s rock ballad, and it rules.

If you find yourself in this wasteland, then you better make some friends (which seems rather easy to do), find yourself a giant robot, believe in yourself, and join the fight. At some point, you will combine your robot with those of your friends — using the power of friendship, of course — and punch monsters in the face. Does it sound goofy? Unrealistic? Insane, even? Absolutely, but such is the power of friendship and anime.

This Is the End

On the one hand, this is the biblical end of the world, the Rapture, where those who are left are meant to be the worst humans alive. Plus, there are actual demons and monsters roaming the streets. On the other hand, our main characters are partying with their closest friends at James Franco’s house, having fun and goofing around. And hey, if you do something nice, you get to go to heaven and party with the Backstreet Boys. This is the End has enough memorable gags, quotes, and funny moments that you would be forgiven for forgetting this is supposed to be a movie about the end of the world.

Having fun in this particular post-apocalypse is dependent on whether or not you can shelter in a giant mansion with some celebrity friends. If you can, then sit back, relax, and film your own version of Pineapple Express 2 with your buddies. But maybe keep an eye on Danny McBride.

Dr. Stone

Image from Dr. Stone

(Photo by Crunchyroll)

Most post-apocalyptic stories focus on the darkness of humanity and our impetus to destroy everything we touch, leaving us unable to rebuild without instantly ruining things. But that’s not Dr. Stone. This is an uplifting and optimistic show that understands the value and the delight of appreciating human ingenuity through science and technology, an anime that is all about humanity’s natural curiosity and the desire to make the world better by teaching others to be curious themselves. The show takes place 3700 years after the world — including most humans — was mysteriously petrified, and we follow the efforts of a group of young people trying to bring humanity and society back.

Dr. Stone has more in common with the sense of wonder of For All Mankind than the despair of The Walking Dead. If you were to wake up in this Stone Age, you would soon find yourself drawn to the love of science that permeates throughout the show and the characters, as everyone brings a particular skill to the table that they are somehow comically competent in, and everyone marvels at scientific achievements we might consider fairly pedestrian — like cola, ramen, or a camera.

The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth initially sounds like a bleak show, focusing on, well, the last man on Earth after a virus kills everyone in the year 2020 (!). In fact, this sitcom does have some bleak and emotional moments, as its main character tries to kill himself several times throughout the series. But what makes this a good addition to this list is that the show always finds a way to be life-affirming, even as characters die regularly, and the ones who remain sometimes prove to be absolutely horrible people. This is a show about realizing that the end of the world is a blank slate, that together we can try to make each other better. Plus, there’s enough weird slapstick comedy to make you laugh out loud as often as it makes you emotional.

If you wake up in this post-apocalypse, don’t spend too much time hoarding precious commodities from the before times, but rather find other survivors and do the best you can to move forward. Otherwise you might just find yourself wallowing in a margarita pool and pouring your heart out to a tennis ball with a face on it.

Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead

Image from Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead

(Photo by Crunchyroll)

What if the zombie apocalypse was the best thing to ever happen to you? That’s the story of Akira, a 25-year-old with a dead-end job who sees the world literally devoid of color until said zombie apocalypse erupts and his life is flipped upside down. Realizing that he will eventually turn into a zombie himself no matter what, but also that he’ll never have to go back to work again, Akira decides to live life to its fullest and finally fulfill every dream he had as a kid. Sure, there are still countless horrors and plenty of undead flesh-eaters, but at least he’s got some friends, a sweet ride, and no responsibilities. This is an anime filled with color, a kickass theme song, and some delightfully relatable characters.

Making it through the apocalypse of Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead means facing human raiders, zombies, and even an undead shark or two, but as long as you continue to cross items off your bucket list, you can still have fun while navigating the end times.

Night of the Comet

Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart in Night of the Comet (1984)

(Photo by Everett Collection)

This cult classic from 1984 has a simple yet alluring tagline: “The night teenagers ruled the world.” The basic plot follows a group of teens who survive a worldwide apocalypse and face off against zombies roaming the Earth, all while trying out cool ’80s outfits and stumbling into meet-cutes with other teens. Part action flick, part teen comedy, this movie is all about the American (Teenage) Dream — shirking adult supervision, looking cool, and shooting guns while meeting cute boys.

In Night of the Comet, your chances of survival greatly depend on whether you’re a teenager or not. If you are, then be prepared to have fun, meet some new friends, dress up, and shoot some zombies.

Love and Monsters

After an asteroid headed to Earth was destroyed by missiles, the nuclear fallout created mutated, giant versions of plants and animals that wiped out most of humanity. We follow Joel (Dylan O’Brien), who sets out on a grand journey to try and reconnect with the girlfriend he hasn’t seen in seven years. Along the way, he adopts a furry new best friend and meets some friendly people who teach him how to survive, mostly by realizing not all monsters are bad. This is a phenomenal, uplifting post-apocalyptic movie with some stunning creature design, an incredibly good dog, and good action set pieces.

The best part is that Love and Monsters teaches the audience how to survive in this wasteland, which creatures are harmless and which aren’t, and how to find good people to team up with.

Sweet Tooth

In this inventive post-apocalypse based on the comic book of the same name, most of humanity has been wiped out by a virus, while at the same time, there’s been an emergence of hybrid babies born with animal features. Though Sweet Tooth does get into some bleak territory, particularly in season 2, what makes this show special is our protagonist, Gus (Christian Convery), a half-human, half-deer boy who sets out to find his mother, facing countless dangers and wonders along the way. Gus radiates enough kindness and childlike wonderment to make the show feel less dystopian and more like an uplifting fairy tale.

In order not to have a terrible time in the world of Sweet Tooth, simply be kind and nice to hybrids. If you do, there’s a good chance you’ll have a sweet and adorably good time.

Thumbnail images by Jasin Boland/©Warner Bros. Pictures
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