18 End of the World Movies Just, You Know, in Case

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Watching apocalypse or end of the world movies is starting to feel more and more like an escape as things slowly get back to normal in 2021. If you’re ready to start preparing for the next global disaster, here are some movie night suggestions. Don’t try and act like you don’t have a zombie plan, everybody does.

There are plenty of ways for the “end of the world” to come about in a film—it could be a pandemic (welp), a zombie apocalypse, alien invasion, or climate change (double welp) that knocks us out, or threatens to, in movies like these. There’s also a lot of wiggle room in this genre with regards to whether or not the apocalypse has dropped yet. It could have happened decades ago, and the movie is about what life is like now. It could be about those critical moments where a group of heroes band together to stop the world from ending.

Because we’ve all been through a lot in the past month or eighteen… we’re gonna try and focus on the end of the world movies that aren’t 100 percent depressing. Let’s be real, we all watched Contagion in March 2020 and nobody’s trying to relive that experience any time soon… right?

1

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Every time someone tries a snarky “if it’s called global warming then why is it so cold right now” on me, I tell them to watch this movie. (Just kidding, I would never associate with people who make jokes like that.)

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2

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Yes, there are romantic comedies set during apocalypses. Like this one! In it, an asteroid is heading for Earth and everyone has about a month to prepare… and get all of these big feelings out for the last time.

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3

Warm Bodies (2013)

He was a zombie. She was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious? Another end of the world rom-com, as a treat!

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4

Tomorrowland (2015)

No spoilers, but this off-beat Disney movie explores our obsession with dystopian fiction and end of the world stories in a really interesting way. Also, just a stray observation, but have you noticed how many of these movies have “tomorrow” in the title ? It’s like… a lot.

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5

The World’s End (2013)

The third in the “Cornetto Trilogy” from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (the other two being Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, natch) is about a group of friends doing a pub crawl during an alien invasion.

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6

Snowpiercer (2014)

Director Bong Joon-ho became a household name when he won two Oscars (and made them kiss) for Parasite. But the director’s earlier work includes two films about the end of the world. There’s The Host, which is about sea creatures that carry a mysterious virus and threaten humanity. There’s also this film, Snowpiercer, about the oppressive society that manifests on a train that holds some of the last survivors on an inhospitable frozen Earth.

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7

Independence Day (1996)

You better pledge allegiance to Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and President Bill Pullman. They saved us from aliens. The world was gonna end and they said “not today” — icon status!

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8

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Cross my heart and hope to die, you don’t have to have seen all of the Mad Max movies to understand and lose your mind over this gorgeous non-stop chase movie. Seriously, an apocalyptic desert landscape never looked so stunning.

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9

Wall-E (2008)

If you didn’t think about the humans in Wall-E who got lazy and weak in the spaceship while you were staying home and social distancing, I don’t believe you. But besides that, the Pixar film is one of the less depressing options you have.

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10

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

It’s important to have at least one classic on a list, and Stanley Kubrick’s satire about the Cold War reminds you that laughing through the pain of impending doom and gloom is really nothing new. We’ve been doing this for a while now.

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11

The Hunger Games (2012)

Dystopian post-apocalyptic YA fiction peaked with The Hunger Games, and the movie adaptations have the melancholy vibes and the knit-wear to prove it. Seriously though, when did we all decide that when the world ends we’re pivoting to chunky sweaters?

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12

Pacific Rim (2018)

Apocalypse? Not if they can help it. There is something so joyful about Guillermo Del Toro’s “robots versus lizards” movie. (It doesn’t hurt that the robots are literally powered by friendship, y’all.) It’s an absolute must-see.

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13

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

There are two things you need to know about this movie: it’s like Groundhog Day meets alien invasion and also Emily Blunt can step on me. Have you seen her arms in this? Google them ASAP.

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14

Interstellar (2014)

Time goes all bendy, as things in Christopher Nolan films so often do, when scientists work against the clock to save the planet. In order to do that, they have to travel through a worm hole. Some people will try anything once!

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15

Escape from New York (1981)

Throw it back with this retro end of the world movie in which Manhattan is a prison and some bad*ss action stars team up to, well, escape from it.

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16

A Quiet Place (2018)

Who knew that Jim from The Office would go on to make one of the spookiest horror movies about one of the most capable families at the end of the world? We absolutely love to see it.

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17

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

You could honestly program a fun apocalyptic movie marathon with the three Cloverfield films. But this second entry in the alien invasion franchise, about a woman who wakes up after a car crash in a bunker with just two other people, really makes it feel like the world itself has ended, as opposed to the entries on this list where the world is about to end.

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18

Attack the Block (2011)

This alien invasion movie starring a smol John Boyega is a total hidden gem—and now that it’s getting a sequel you better catch up quickly.

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