Five Ways the World Could Have Ended Today, Had it Listened to Hollywood

Here's some apocalypse porn for anyone disappointed the world didn't end today.

A scene from the 2009 film "2012" shows ocean water approaching the Himalayas.
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Sorry, doomsday preppers: The world hasn't ended yet today (fingers crossed). Why not grab several thousands cans of freeze-dried salmon and some water out of your hundred gallon jugs, plop down in your nuclear bunker, and watch these five movies, where the world either ends or comes a hair's breadth from utter catastrophe.

Planetery Collision: Melancholia

When her husband leaves her after their wedding from hell, the beautiful but crazy Justine is taken in by her sister, the not-crazy but sort of judge-y Claire. All this family drama is going down as a planet—Melancholia—is hurtling towards earth. When it is clear that the planet is doomed, it's Claire who begins to lose it, while Justine keeps her cool, an allegory for filmmaker Lars von Triers' own personal discovery that depressed people are better at handling apocalyptic situations than nondepressed people...or something like that.

[Apocalypse Not: Other Times the World Was Supposed to End]

Inadvertent Nuclear Warfare: Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

In Stanley Kubrick's dark comedic parable of the 1960s atomic world, an American general goes rogue and orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, claiming the soviets are poisoning Americans' "precious bodily fluids" by putting fluoride in the water supply. The president and his team, including the eccentric Dr. Strangelove, bunker down in a war room, debating how to call of the such an attack, which escalates when both sides realize the other is the keeper of a "doomsday device" which will the destroy the world as we know it. The doomsday devices presumably detonate, as the film ends with a reel of atomic bomb testing footage. Believe it or not this film is actually hilarious, but also a biting critique of American nuclear arms strategy.

Zombifying Virus: I Am Legend

Will Smith is the last non-zombified human in Manhattan after a genetically-modified measles virus kills 90 percent of humanity and turns the rest into zombies. Smith and his trusty dog Sam hunt animals and play golf in the empty city until Smith hears about a potential colony of survivors in Vermont. Smith works on an antidote that would save humanity and the woman he's fallen in love with.

[Apocalypse How: Plausible Ways the World Could End]

Global Climate Change: The Day After Tomorrow

All of New York, including the Statue of Liberty, freezes over as a new ice age spontaneously develops over the course of like 24 hours. Massive hurricanes and super storms strike all over the globe. As most of America flees for the toasty weather of Cabo and other fun places in Mexico, climatologist Dennis Quaid goes the other way, heading to Manhattan to save his young son, who's busy getting his learn on at the New York Public Library. At movie's end, it's unclear how the world is going to deal with being under tens of feet of snow.

All sorts of stuff: 2012

This is the movie that got people worried about the Mayan apocalypse as a series of increasingly unlikely disasters pretty much signals humanity's demise. A solar flare causes Earth to rapidly heat (something that is not possible, experts say), massive earthquakes and tsunamis occur all over the world, the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, and hundreds of millions of people consider how they could all have such an unlucky day. Real uplifting stuff if you're bummed the end didn't actually come.

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Jason Koebler and Tierney Sneed write for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow them on Twitter @jason_koebler and @tierney_megan, or reach them at and