Though end-of-days narratives date back to ancient Mesopotamia at least, the pop culture of past few decades has us convinced there’s at least a 70% chance the apocalypse will specifically involve hordes of shambling undead. When it comes to the final days, it’s mostly George Romero’s world; we’re just all dying in it.
Mostly, but not entirely. Apocalyptic tales are as popular now as ever, and rich fodder for filmmakers and television creators. For some reason, the worse things get in the real world, the more we like to imagine the end will literally consume us. Maybe it’s comforting to remember that, indeed, things could get worse. Or perhaps we like to imagine that we might be the ones who would rebuild something better.
Whatever the reason, TV is packed with these shows. The latest hit example: HBO’s The Last of Us, an adaptation of the award-winning PlayStation game.
No two apocalypses are shaped in exactly the same way, but the best shows either exploit old tropes, or sidestep them entirely. Zombies are a staple of the form (one The Last of Us makes use of, after a fashion), but they’re hardly omnipresent. Here are some great non-zombie shows to watch at a palate cleaner between episodes.