Lately, I’ve been writing many terrifying real-world doom and gloom pieces highlighting how dangerously close we are to nuclear annihilation as NATO and Russia seem to inch closer and closer to direct confrontation. 

So I figured, why not dive into some of the best nuclear war-themed entertainment to help distract from the reality of our possible impending destruction?

Let’s go!

#10: Best Nuclear Video Game Series – Fallout

For millennials like myself, no doubt you have played or at least heard about one of the best video games to come out; Fallout. Fallout is a role-playing game often touted on lists as one of the greatest video games of all time.

Now, nothing beats the good old Oregon Trail. Somewhere I have a fan t-shirt that says “Sorry, you died of Dysentery” as an homage to my years playing the game as a kid. 

But when it comes to role-playing post-nuclear war-themed video games, Fallout is by far the best. The game takes place in 2161, about a century after a global nuclear war wreaked havoc on the planet.

Your character is born within the underground vaults, and sent on various missions throughout the underground world and the post-apocalyptic world above. With mutants, religious cults, slavers, and various other dangers to choose from, this game is the perfect role-playing scenario to test out your abilities to continue to live on a post-nuclear war Earth.  

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#9: TV show – “Manhattan”

“Manhattan” only lasted for two seasons but was a tasty bit of historical fiction to binge-watch when you need some nostalgia with your nuclear entertainment. The series is set in 1943 during the time of the famed Manhattan Project.

It follows the lives of scientists working on Project Y in Los Alamos, New Mexico. While not a nonfiction series, it does have some historical nuggets sprinkled throughout the series, including characters like Robert Oppenheimer. 

A lot of the series focuses on the families of the scientists who have had to relocate and how they adjust or do not adjust to the secrecy associated with their husband’s work. 

#8: TV show – “Jericho”

Probably the only good thing Skeet Ulrich has ever starred in; “Jericho” is easily one of the most underrated TV series of all time that ended too soon with only two seasons. “Jericho” follows citizens’ lives from a small Kansas town called Jericho that ends up being strategically located to survive after a nuclear attack on 23 major US cities.

Skeet stars as the lead character with a dark, dangerous past but a heart of gold and is generally one of the few people in the town with any sense in his head. As a result, he often bailed the city out of various scrapes, whether it be dust-ups with a warring town, finding medicine, or other such shenanigans.

The show keeps you on your feet as you follow the city, wondering how it will survive, and also try to unravel the mystery surrounding why the nuclear bombs went off in the first place. Then in Season 2, you get the bonus of learning how the government has re-established itself. Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of deep state intrigue and Lord of the Flies small-town mentality?

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#7: Film – Threads

If you want to feel depressed and horrified by what could happen to civilization post-nuclear war, check out this 1984 BBC flick, Threads. Threads occurs in Sheffield, England, after a nuclear confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. 

Nuclear winter ensues, and a young pregnant woman attempts to survive, eventually having to bite the umbilical cord of her newborn baby, which is pretty terrible and enough to make me want to pass out. However, the movie shows the child growing up and eventually living on her own.

I don’t want to ruin the ending, but spoiler alert, it’s super duper depressing. 

#6: Book – One Second After

Written by William R. Forstchen, this book follows a small college town in North Carolina after an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack goes off, effectively taking the city back to the 19th century. The main character is an Army veteran turned professor who, as usual, has a daughter with a debilitating disease that is difficult to maintain post-EMP.

Later the town learns that the EMP attack was from nuclear missiles launched and detonated in the upper atmosphere over strategic locations. Finally, the book focuses on how this small community learns to survive and explores other themes, including invasion.

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#5: Movie – Spies Like Us

Sometimes you need a little humor mixed into your nuclear war entertainment. Spies Like Us provides just what we need with two of my favorite comedic actors: Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. The obvious schtick comedy of Chevy Chase coupled with Dan Aykroyd’s deadpan is a duo you can’t miss.

I can’t imagine explaining anymore because if you are one of the dozen people on this planet that hasn’t seen this movie, you should stop reading and watch it now so that you can join the rest of us in civilization. Doctor. Doctor. Doctor. Doctor.

#4: Movie – WarGames

I first saw this movie on a date, and I have to say the film was more interesting than the date ended up being. Starring the forever baby-faced Matthew Broderick, this movie explores concepts like artificial intelligence, hackers, and nuclear war.

All the best parts of a good doomsday movie. The movie’s AI asks one of my favorite questions: Would you like to play a game? 

The question leads a young hacker, played by Broderick, to unwittingly enter into a nuclear war simulation that threatens to destroy humanity. But, don’t worry; in the end, the computer program is foiled by a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Oddly enough is also what generally drives me to insanity when I attempt to play with my three-year-old.

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#3: Movie – Dredd

While I loved the original Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone, I think the remake starring Karl Urban is far superior, plus it explicitly takes place post-nuclear war. 

The Judges act as judge, jury, and executioner, which is my kind of dystopian future…provided I get to be the Judge, that is. Karl Urban proceeds to kick major ass and looks good while doing it.

Forced to fight crime and corrupt Judges, this movie might be what a future looks like, given some of the claims against our current DOJ and FBI. So watch out, America…might be time to make this one a double feature with Judge Dredd and then Dredd.

#2: Movie – The Divide

This 2011 horror film takes place in already-terrifying New York City after a nuclear explosion forces residents of an apartment to shelter in the basement. Starring Michael Biehn and Milo Ventimiglia, this movie isn’t one you want to watch before bed.

Also unsuitable for young ones, this movie’s gruesome scenes and claustrophobic vibe are enough to make you need something much happier to watch after. The theme of this movie focuses on our innate tribalism and the power struggles that happen. 

Be prepared with your favorite emotional support animal, as watching this movie will plunge you into an internal tug of war between right and wrong. I recommend watching it during the daytime and following up with something much lighter…like Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street. 

#1: Movie – Terminator: Salvation

First, I love the Terminator franchise. I’m a die-hard fan of any Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor movies. However, Terminator: Salvation is also a great flick for those dealing with nuclear war.

Taking place post-Judgement Day, this movie introduces you to a young Kyle Reece as he navigates a post-nuclear world, hiding from and taking down The Machines. Later linking up with the easy-on-the-eyes Marcus Wright, played by Sam Worthington, the movie goes on an action-packed adventure with revelations about who Marcus is and the introduction of John Connor as an adult.

The only thing missing from this movie… Linda Hamilton. 

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