10 Best Survival TV Shows [Like The Walking Dead]

It seems that there are more survival shows every year being introduced onto television networks.

Every season, there is a new show with zombies or post-apocalyptic themes.

Table of Contents
Why do we love survival TV shows like The Walking Dead? 10 Best Survival Shows You Should Watch After The Walking Dead
Jericho (2006) Falling Skies (2011)
Survivors (2009) The Colony (2009)
Being Human (2011) iZombie (2015)
In The Flesh (2013) 28 Days Later (2003)
The Leftovers (2014) Last Man On Earth (2015)
Psychology of Survival Shows

It is a good note that wilderness survival is getting more attention. No matter how inaccurate and fictional the shows are, they offer a glimpse of the dystopian society where people are all stripped down to our bare necessities.

We may be survivalists and travellers or typical couch potatoes but we all get a kick out of watching survival experts gearing up to battle the forces of nature… These people are trying to survive with the bare minimum showing how resourceful they are.

The seventh season of The Walking Dead wrapped up and the next season will commence in October.

The series started in 2010 and for seven years, it still has a large following. The forerunners of the show are confident that the series has a lot to offer up to season 10 and 11, so it is still early to tell the conclusion of the series.

The Walking Dead is an American horror suspense drama series created by Frank Darabont based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard.

The show stars Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) a former sheriff deputy who awakens from coma then learns that world is overrun by zombies coined as “walkers”. Grimes reunites with his family who thought he was dead and becomes the leader of a group of survivors. The group struggles to survive in a post-apocalyptic world with walkers and other groups of survivors that are also trying to survive.

The walkers limp towards humans and other creatures to devour them.

Walkers are attracted by noise and scents. Humans are infected when they are bitten or scratched and they turn into a walker as well. It was revealed early in the season that all humans carry the pathogen and they will turn into a walker once they died. The only way to kill a walker is to damage its brain or fully destroy its body by cremating it.

The Walking Dead premiered in the United States on October 31, 2010 in cable channel AMC. The show has favourable ratings, a record-setting for a cable channel. Thus, the channel renewed the series each year.

The series has been well received by critics and has been nominated for several awards.

Why do we love survival TV shows like The Walking Dead?

Media and experts tried to analyze why people love The Walking Dead so much. Because of the large fandom, the series spawned a spinoff series Fear The Walking Dead. Here are some of the reasons why we love the zombiefied TV series.

We identify with the characters we wanted to be that give us strength

Whenever we watch a TV series or a movie, we choose to see characters that we relate to. Most of us identify with the survivors and we feel their pain and hardships. We are all survivors in a way with all of the stresses in our lives.

However, their survival instinct is admirable and they give us confidence and strength. We have our own favorites among the characters. Whether it is to be the leader of our pack like Rick or a key member like Daryl or a meek housewife turned empowered woman like Carol, we all have our heroes.

These fictional heroes are living our ideal self we aspire to be.

We escape our current predicament even for a while

We feel that we can escape our realities even for a while when we are watching TV or film. We tend to indulge in the experiences of the fictional world. In The Walking Dead, there are no deadlines, taxes, and money problems. The ultimate goal is to outrun and survive the walkers. We envy the simplicity of life shown in the TV series despite the gore and savageness.

We become tougher

Because of the violence and gore, watching The Walking Dead can sometimes rewire your brain and will make you tougher. After all, our neurons allow us to imitate people we are watching and learn from them. We tend to steel ourselves as the characters did too.

…On the other hand, it is cathartic for some of us with all the violence since we cannot show violence.

It is interesting for our boring life

In our boring life, it is hard to get excited and we get a thrill watching people to survive in a zombie-infested world. Monotony drives some people to get addicted to games and movies. We get a dopamine rush whenever we watch The Walking Dead and it makes us crave to watch more. Moreover, writers did a great job writing the plot as it is full of unexpected twists and surprises. It gives us motivation that keeps us hooked.

There is no series like it

It is a unique television series and is one of the pioneers of zombie TV shows. Other shows followed the success of The Walking Dead. It has spawned fans that allowed the network to make a spinoff.

With all of the stress at home and in the workplace, we feel isolated and we needed an escape that the less than two hour episode of The Walking Dead gives. Moreover, we are living false lives because of the social media – another source of stress because it increases our feeling of failure and inadequacy. We miss the connection with other people.

While The Walking Dead shows violence and gore but it also shows deep, powerful relationships among the characters for whom we can cheer and with whom we can identify.

10 Best Survival Shows You Should Watch After The Walking Dead

Whether it is a plague, nuclear holocaust, and alien invasions, there are various reasons how the humanity was wiped out. Post-apocalyptic plots attract us because we are curious of what a dystopian society looks like. If you love The Walking Dead, these are the shows that you can binge-watch while the series is in hiatus.

  1. Jericho (2006)

Jericho is an American post-apocalyptic action-drama TV series that centers on the residents of the fictional town of Jericho in Kansas after a nuclear attack on 23 major cities in the United States.

The TV series ran from September 20, 2006, to March 25, 2008, but was cancelled by the network. However, a petition from the fans persuaded the network to bring the show back for another season.

Jericho was ranked #11 on TV Guide’s Top Cult Shows Ever. Plans for a movie emerged but did not materialize. The continuation of the series is published in a comic book series until August 2012.

Jericho has an online companion called Beyond Jericho that features the “other survivors” of the nuclear attacks. The story on the online companion unites with the episodes themselves. However, the “webisode” is no longer available after CBS removed the online companion right before the airing of the second episode. CBS cancelled the webidode and released a prequel instead entitled Countdown that takes place before the first explosion.

  1. Falling Skies (2011)

Falling Skies’ executive producer is Steven Spielberg and stars Noah Wyle as Tom Mason, a former Boston University history professor who becomes the second-in-command of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment, a group of civilians and fighters fleeing post-apocalyptic Boston after an alien invasion that devastated the planet six months before the events in the first season.

Following an alien attack, a group of survivors in Boston area are trying to fight off the aliens that call themselves the Second Massachusetts, an allusion to the historical regiment from the Continental Army. The group is led by US Army Captain Dan Weaver and his right hand Tom Mason, a professor that must put his extensive knowledge of military history into practice while searching for his son Ben. The odds for survival are slim and days are spent protecting and caring for the people, while also waging an insurgency campaign against an occupying alien force.

According to TV critic Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times, “Serious without being grim, uplifting without being saccharine, “Falling Skies” dares to image what feature films will not — a world in which Will Smith or Aaron Eckhart did not bring down the mother ship in time. This time, aliens are setting up shop around the world, building huge metal structures over “all the major cities” (which, for purposes of the plot, includes Boston).”

  1. Survivors (2009)

Survivors is a British science fiction television series by BBC.

The TV series follows the story of the group survived a fatal strain of influenza that wiped out the humanity. The TV show is not a remake of the 1970s series of the same name. However, the TV series is loosely based on the novel of the same name that Nation wrote following the first series of the 1970s programme.

Survivors have the all of the elements of a survival show – pandemic, dystopian society, and desperate people. However, what separates Survivors from other shows is its heroes are relatable as they are common people who did not really know they had it in them until they have to survive.

Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, thinks that “A remake of a TV series based on a novel, “Survivors” is torn between the desire to go big — it’s the literal end of civilization — and small — how would an ordinary person react to the death of everyone he knows? Regrettably “Survivors” succeeds at neither, getting stuck instead in a blurry bog of middle ground.”

  1. The Colony (2009)

The Colony is a reality television on Discovery Channel that follows a group of people who survived an epidemic and is now living in a post-apocalyptic environment.

The ten cast members in an environment that simulates life after the collapse of civilization due to a catastrophic epidemic. The volunteers tend to many aspects of sustainable living including the essentials: water, electricity, security and food. Insights into psychology, security, and technology are also given by experts.

  1. Being Human (2011)

Being Human is a supernatural drama starring a ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf living together and trying their best to live a normal life to blend with ordinary people. While this series is on the comedic side, the series shows how the supernatural survive in the world of ordinary people. The show has an average of 1.8 million viewers making it Syfy’s most successful series since 2005.

  1. iZombie (2015)

What will you do if you suddenly turned into a zombie?

Olivia attended a boat party but is turned into a zombie. She learns that she must eat brains periodically or she will turn into a stereotypical zombie (stupid and homicidal). Thus, in order to satiate her hunger, she volunteered to work on a morgue to eat the brains of the bodies she autopsies.

What sets this series apart from others is, when Liv eats a dead person’s brain, she temporarily inherits some of their personality traits and experiences flashbacks of their life. She uses these visions to help Police Detective Clive Babineaux to solve the crimes of murder victims. She passed herself as a psychic. Meanwhile, she searches ways on how to regain her old self.

  1. In The Flesh (2013)

In The Flesh is set after “The Rising”. People who died are reanimated as rabid zombies and they were hunted down by armed militias. The undead that are not killed by the military are rounded up and are given medication and rehabilitation by the government in a plan to reintroduce them into the society. They are given contact lenses, cosmetics, and daily injections of medication to help them conceal their deceased status. They are called Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) or coined as “rotters”.

TV critic Hank Stuever of Washington Post says, “In the Flesh” skillfully navigates several genres at once, all of them heavy, none of them comic. It is first and foremost a kind of horror film, but its horrors are emotional and sociological. It’s a fascinating exploration of essential mortality metaphors: If we could have the dead back with us, would we be able to love them the way we once did?”

  1. 28 Days Later (2003)

28 Days Later is a 2002 British post-apocalyptic horror film directed by Danny Boyle.

The series depicts the breakdown of the society following the leak of a highly contagious virus.

The TV series focuses on the struggle of four survivors and how they live in the dystopian society. The TV series was successful commercially and critically offering something new in the zombie genre of horror film. The film spawned a 2007 sequel, 28 Weeks Later, a graphic novel titled 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, which expands on the timeline of the outbreak, and a 2009 comic book series titled 28 Days Later.

According to Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, “There are two drawbacks here. One is a shortage of superior zombies, although where one goes to rent extra zombies I have no idea…Second, we have a serious shortage of fright.”

  1. The Leftovers (2014)

The Leftovers is an American television drama series based on Tom Perrotta’s novel of the same name. Perrotta is also one of the creators of the series.

The series commenced right after the “Sudden Departure”, the inexplicable, simultaneous disappearance of 140 million people. After the mysterious incident, all of the mainstream religions declined and various cults emerged. The series runs for three seasons. The final season unfolds three years later, in 2018, just 14 days before the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure.

  1. Last Man On Earth (2015)

A deadly virus wiped out the humanity in 2020 and Phil thought he is the sole survivor. He tries to commit suicide but finds another survivor Carol Pilbasian. They marry for repopulation purposes and more survivors join them. Phil’s attitude leads to his banishment from the pack in Tucson and Carol leaves with him.

In the second season, Phil and Carol relocated to Malibu, California. Meanwhile, Phil’s astronaut brother Mike crashes down to Earth and finds his way to Malibu, where he joins the survivors briefly before possibly being infected by the virus. In season 3, survivors relocated to a self-sustaining office building in San Jose, California. Carol and Erica prepare for the births of their babies but they leave the building when a nearby nuclear power plant is destroyed.


A psychologist explained why we love The Walking Dead and it all boils down to the fact that we are all STRESSED! AMC’s TV series sucks in 19.1 million viewers nearly every episode. Robert Kirkman and the brilliant writers of the series developed a fool proof formula that explains the show’s success. That is, Violence + (Intimacy – Technology) = FANS!

Aside from the fact that The Walking Dead has an amazing cast and the guys are hot although they are filthy. First, the simplicity of the series enthrals fans. We desire uncomplicatedness of the show because we already have complicated lives. In the show, the stars are back to ancient times when they are trying to survive. The zombies or walkers are tangible stressors, while the deadlines and work are inanimate sources of stress.

Secondly, we love the violence shown in the series. It is our catharsis while we need to identify with others who are also experiencing trauma and stress.

Lastly, we are experiencing he highest levels of anxiety in our known history.


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