Skip to main content

The 30 best post-apocalyptic movies of all time

20. Edge of Tomorrow

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Edge of Tomorrow, or Live Die Repeat, or Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (is anyone entirely sure?) is an alien-fighting Groundhog Day. Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage, a soldier battling in an alien-infested post-apocalyptic wasteland. Cage’s day resets each time he dies and he goes back to training with Special Forces Agent Rita (Emily Blunt) – but he’s desperate for a way out of the cycle. In this mind-bending time adventure, every encounter gets the pair one step closer to defeating the enemy as they attempt to take the fight straight to the aliens. Whilst it might not always make sense, it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

19. 10 Cloverfield Lane

(Image credit: Paramount)

In this loose sequel to Matt Reeves Cloverfield, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds herself trapped in an underground bunker with two strangers who claim an alien invasion is happening above ground. With career-standout performances from Winstead, John Gallagher Jr., and John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane is an intense roller-coaster ride where you’re never quite sure what is the truth. A tremendous finale will leave this movie in your mind a long time after the credits roll.

18. Planet of the Apes

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

A true classic, Planet of the Apes is one of the most recognisable titles on this list. When astronauts crash land on a planet where apes are the dominant species, they are faced with a world where humans are not the most powerful species. Penned by The Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, the 1968 film provides thought-provoking ideas and commentary on the idea of a civilized, working society. Planet of the Apes continues to influence contemporary cinema to this day, and those iconic final moments safely secure its reputation.

17. A Quiet Place

John Krasinski in A Quiet Place

(Image credit: Paramount)

A Quiet Place is a perfect example of a simple premise executed to perfection. A world overtaken by blind monsters who will attack at the slightest noise means that one family is living in complete silence. With no spoken dialogue, the tension is kept high and constant through moving performances and subtitled sign language. It is so easy to become invested in the safety of these characters that A Quiet Place will leave you on the edge of your seat, holding your breath for fear of making a noise yourself. 

16. Zombieland

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

This top-tier zombie comedy envisions a post-apocalyptic future in which Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) lives by a strict set of rules to get by, a list that includes the likes of "Don’t be a hero". After he meets the hilarious stetson-wearing Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) he’s forced to team up and share his rules and he comes to find some family in all the chaos. Zombieland is riotous fun and the ultimate comedy to watch with friends thanks to Bill Murray’s cameo and the epic final act in an abandoned amusement park.

15. Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame deleted scenes

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)

After Thanos wipes out half of all living things and retreats to his farmhouse sanctuary, humanity is left to pick up the pieces. The MCU made history with a decade-spanning story arc and, in Avengers: Endgame, they tie it all up effortlessly. The movie pulls together a fitting farewell to earth’s mightiest heroes and paves the path for something new. The Russo brothers tackle real human issues with galactic proportions as they delve deep into PTSD, anxiety, and survivor’s guilt making the heroes both fallible and accessible. All great movies use fantasy to examine reality, and the MCU is no different – Endgame is heartbreaking but hopeful, and a worthy entry on this list.

14. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

The standout movie of the new Planet of the Apes trilogy. Once again, Andy Serkis delivers a masterful motion-capture performance as Caesar. The movie is full of exhilarating battles with emotional weight, as over a decade of devastation has yet to put an end to the war between man and ape. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is both the perfect summer blockbuster and a memorable social commentary.

13. A Boy and his Dog

(Image credit: LQ/Jaf Productions)

This oddball black comedy tells the tale of Vic (Don Johnson), a young teen and Blood, his telepathic dog. Yes, you read that right. The pair traverse a post-nuclear war wasteland in 2021, and illiterate Vic relies on Blood to scout for women whilst Vic scouts for food. A Boy and his Dog is an absurdist comedy where nothing is as it seems, and it’s worth seeing for the provocative comedy and bizarrely entertaining chemistry between our two protagonists.

12. Dawn of the Dead

(Image credit: United Artists)

George A. Romero is one of the kings of horror, and his second entry in his enduring zombie saga is arguably his best. In Dawn of the Dead, four survivors of an apocalypse are stranded in a mall surrounded by the undead. Acting as both a thrilling zombie showdown and perceptive social commentary, the movie looks to use the sub-genre to challenge society’s intense and ever-growing consumer culture. Dawn of the Dead was a huge influence on every post-apocalyptic and zombie movie that came after, and its impact on genre cinema as a whole is immeasurable.

11. Snowpiercer

(Image credit: TWC)

Following a failed climate-change experiment, the last of earth’s survivors live aboard a train travelling endlessly around the globe. Tackling the climate crisis in his English-language debut, director Bong Joon-ho adapts the french graphic novel chronicling the class divides of second Ice Age survivors. Occupants are neatly compartmentalized with the poor at the back of the train, and the rich at the far more luxurious front. As dictatorship and hierarchy onboard become more and more intense, Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) stages a revolt inciting a carriage-by-carriage coup. Snowpiercer is a fierce social commentary that gains momentum as it moves further along the train in a steam-punk style post-apocalyptic parable. 

Turn to Page 2 for more of the best post-apocalyptic movies of all time...