20 Post-Apocalyptic Stories That Aren’t Totally Depressing

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Castle Romeo was the code name given to one of the tests in the Operation Castle series of American thermonuclear tests beginning in March 1954 at Bikini Atoll. 1954. It followed Operation Upshot-Knothole. The ultimate objective was to test designs for an aircraft deliverable thermonuclear weapon. Marshall Islands, Pacific. (PHoto by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

The end of the world doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Here are 20 post-apocalyptic tales that are actually hopeful.

For centuries, post-apocalyptic stories have been featured throughout literary genres. Mary Shelley, she of Frankenstein fame, created one of the first works of apocalyptic fiction in Western literature. Go back even further in time and farther afield, and you’ll encounter earlier works about the end of the world, like the 13th century Theologus Autodidactus by Ibn al-Nafis.

The point is, people have been dreaming of the end of the world for many centuries now. Regardless of whether or not apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction is currently out of fashion, it remains an important part of our cultural imagination.

Naturally, tales of the end of the world tend towards the grim and cynical. It’s hard not to feel that way when the apocalypse is often touched off by human selfishness and frailty. Even if the end is touched off by something outside of ourselves, such as disease or meteors, the aftereffects can be harsh. People starve, burn, fight, and struggle through their strange new world.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way? Tales of life after apocalypse don’t automatically carry suffering and woe with them. In fact, in the hands of the right author, the end of the world can be a fresh start. After all, if the previous world was deeply flawed, it may be better to fictionally burn it all down and start anew.

Of course, even good things often require some struggle, and post-apocalyptic fiction is no different. The protagonists featured here typically have to deal with, at the very least, utterly alien situations. After all, many stories would be terribly boring if it weren’t for at least a little conflict.

Despite any plot-driven clashes, however, the works listed here all have good endings. Well, at least they have hopeful endings. Anyway, just because the world has ended, that doesn’t mean you have to stop, too. Read on for some of the more confident tales of the apocalypse and beyond.