It seems that everyone is watching HBO’s The Last of Us right now. From its incredible pilot episode to its complex second act, the post-apocalyptic world created in the adaptation of the critically acclaimed video game has fans all over the world clamoring for more zombie/horror/apocalypse shows and movies. Luckily, with so many streaming services available, you’re bound to find a few alternatives to tide you over in the middle of the week until the next episode airs.
We’ve decided to compile the 10 post-apocalypse TV shows and movies most similar to the eerie vibes of The Last of Us — or at least the ones with similar themes — and hopefully, something will sound enticing to you!
The popularity of AMC’s signature zombie show during its height will be hard to match. The Walking Dead combined a talented ensemble cast with dark themes and realistic special effects to bring to life one of the most engaging zombie fiction pieces ever put on screen. Whether you were rooting for Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) to embrace his sensitive side or for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) to defeat the Governor (David Morrissey), this drama had a little bit of everything for fans of apocalypse stories. The show finally came to an end in 2022 after more than a decade, but there are several spin-offs in production with several of the most popular characters from the show. You can watch The Walking Dead on Netflix.
It doesn’t seem like the revival of Planet of the Apes would have many similarities to The Last of Us, but we think fans of one will definitely enjoy the other. Both stories revolve around the introduction of a global pandemic that wipes out a majority of the population. In both stories, humans have to survive in the face of a new threat: The monsters created by cordyceps in The Last of Us, and the apes with enhanced intelligence in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This film also forces audiences to think about the ways humans try to interfere with nature and the consequences of those actions. You can stream Rise of the Planet of the Apes with a premium subscription on Hulu.
Another show based on a viral outbreak, Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain is an ideal mix of science fiction, fantasy, and apocalyptic scenarios. The show uses vampirism horror to create some of de Toro’s signature creepy storylines. Corey Stoll does an excellent job as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the man who’s trying to figure out the inception of the viral pandemic at the heart of the show. You can watch all four seasons of The Strain on Hulu.
Horror and post-apocalyptic movies aren’t supposed to be inherently funny, but that’s what’s so brilliant about comedic films like Shaun of the Dead. Simon Pegg plays an everyman whose world is turned upside down when zombies start to animate all over London. The movie is able to satirize many of the traditional elements of the best post-apocalypse movies while simultaneously making heartfelt statements about love, relationships, and family. You can watch Shaun of the Dead on Amazon Prime Video.
HBO has a tremendous catalogue of great shows, but The Leftovers often gets lost in the shuffle. This is a shame because the show takes a religious angle on the apocalypse that hasn’t been done very often before or since. The series brilliantly analyzes the effects of an apocalyptic event on how people worship, discussing themes such as cults and the conflicting information given by such organizations to gain followers. You can stream all three seasons of the show on HBO Max.
Sometimes the apocalypse needs to be action-packed, gory, and frivolous. World War Z, starring Brad Pitt in the role of Gerry Lane, is one of the best popcorn films of the last decade. This former United Nations employee is a little too heroic in his quest to save the world, something that brings the realism of the film down several notches, but the two-hour movie is still entertaining and fast-paced enough for many different age groups and fan types. You can stream World War Z on Amazon Prime.
Alien shows and movies are some of the most abundant in the apocalypse genre due to their vague nature and the potential they give filmmakers to create revelatory plot lines that differ from the competition. Falling Skies was an ambitious TNT alien drama staring Noah Wyle. Much like The Last of Us, a lot of the intrigue in Falling Skies is in the way viewers are encouraged to figure out why the apocalyptic event started and how it can be resolved. This show’s use of special effects was also excellent for its time period in the early 2010s. You can stream all five seasons on HBO Max.
Climate change is arguably the most likely reason a real-world apocalypse would happen, so Snowpiercer is incredibly relevant and thought-provoking. Staring Chris Evans in one of his best non-Marvel roles, this film is an excellent depiction of the ways classism and social inequality would persist and even grow worse after the world has ended. You can stream the film on Showtime.
Starring TV veterans Sarah Wayne Callies and Josh Holloway, Colony originally aired on USA Network before picking up fans on Netflix. This post-apocalyptic drama took a different spin on the genre, forcing viewers to look at the ways society would devolve under new government leadership from aliens. The show was canceled after only three seasons, leaving the ending planned by creator Ryan J. Condal up for imagination. You can currently stream the show on Prime Video, Roku, and Vudu.
Of all of the movies and shows on this list, The Road perhaps resembles the journey of the characters in The Last of Us more than any other. Staring Viggo Mortensen as a man traversing the end of the world with his young son, the film is a harrowing, dark, and realistic depiction of the lengths parental figures will go to when their children are in danger. The film is based upon the critically acclaimed novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy.
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