Created By: ayjazz on June 20, 2014 Last Edited By: ayjazz on July 8, 2014
Troped

Apocalyptic Logistics

Despite the fall of civilization, access to well-refined tools and resources is not as difficult.

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Trope
Going to launch in a day or so. Leaving up for any other examples one would like to add.

In Real Life, a lot is needed to produce, distribute, and maintain much of what we take for granted. Cars need someone to dig the ore, someone to pump the oil, and so on, guns need someone to produce the weapon materials, ammo, and someone to put it together. Refined foods need a large base in order to be accessible to a large number of people. Hell, even an object simple as a pencil needs all sorts of industry and resources to bring it together. (Someone has to get the wood, someone has to mine or manufacture the graphite, someone has to get the rubber, etc.) And of course, someone needs to ship the finished product from one end of the world to another.

In short, if something were to happen to upset the system behind much of what we use in the modern world, production of and access to such things would be very difficult, if not impossible.

However, After the End, the loss of the infrastructure that allows for all of this seems to be only an inconvenience for the characters, rather than the huge game changer it would be. While vehicles, weapons, and other goods tend to be rusted out and made from all sorts of scrap, they are only marginally less effective than their pre-apocalypse counter-parts, and finding the resources to maintain them is only a mild inconvenience at worst, or not even a thought at best. Sometimes, the work will even ignore the rusted out part, and pre-apocalypse goods will look no worse for wear than they were before the bombs fell and the dead rose from their graves.

In many cases, an Acceptable Break from Reality, because unless the main focus of the work is to look at the hardships the people in the aftermath face in getting modern necessities; it would be quite slowing on the pacing of the story to have to have segments that simply feature resource gathering and production. Can be Handwaved in having it happen off-screen, or having the characters have access to an untouched remnant of civilization. Can be justified in the early years of The Plague stories, in which the population was decimated enough to keep the infrastructure intact, along with any supplies therein. Of course, production of new resources would be another matter.

Compare and contrast with Scavenger World. Compare with Apocalypse Not. Sister tropes to Cosy Catastrophe, as the ability to enjoy the now empty planet would involve not having to worry about obtaining resources to live, however, unlike CC, this trope isn't necessarily enjoyable for the characters.


Examples

Comics
  • The second book of Axa scripted by Donne Avenell and drawn by Enrique Romero has some cities under domes doing unusually well. However, the outside world is largely a Death World full of shambling mutants and Killer Rabbit's. What's left of Las Vegas fits this trope, in that while it has lost its neon glare, the gaming continues unabated. In fact, gladiator games were added so that desperate losers could score a sizable jackpot, provided they survive all the other losers.
  • In DC Comics Presents #57, Superman cites this as a reason to be suspicious of the post-apocalyptic world of the Atomic Knights, which he has seemingly been transported to. The original Atomic Knights stories zigzagged this, with some stories being more plausible about infrastructure collapse than others.

Film
  • The Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome: The whole premise behind the films is the collapse of civilization brought on by Post Peak Oil, yet one character flies a plane, and some other characters are seen driving cars (that are not powered by methane).
  • In Land of the Dead, luxury commodities desired by the tower's upper classes are still available, and even still marketable, despite the complete breakdown of all means of production. High-end alcohol and jewelry still fetch a higher price than canned food, even though they're scrounged in exactly the same way and the former aren't necessary for survival.
  • In Zombieland the characters have no real problem getting cars. Food's surprisingly abundant (unless it's twinkies), and even electricity's shown to be pretty easy to rig (at one point they're able to power up an entire theme park and at another they just chill for a bit watching HD-DVDs in Bill Murray's luxury Hollywood mansion). Possibly justified in that the survivors we follow are well established as being Crazy-Prepared.
  • Deconstructed for laughs in Delicatessen, a Black Comedy in which inhabitants of a bizarre multi-floor house have almost everything they need except food, so they become cannibals hiring and eating their janitors.

Literature
  • Averting this trope is the raison d'être of the Dies The Fire series, which starts with the premise that a tiny change to the laws of physics (combustion happens slightly more slowly, enough that gunpowder, internal combustion engines, and electronics don't work) causes civilization to collapse. Without industrialized farming or an efficient way to transport food from farms to population centers, a lot of people get very hungry very quickly.

Live-Action TV
  • Revolution uses this a lot. When the Blackout stops electricity from working civilization collapses and millions die. Fifteen years later, the Monroe Republic has serious logistical issues and can't even mass produce bullets and has just managed to get a steam train working again. However, when electricity is brought back, various vehicles and even helicopters are quickly made operational even though their systems must have degraded a great deal during the intervening period and any replacement parts would be in similar condition. There is also enough gasoline and aviation fuel to operate them.
  • The Walking Dead. While supply runs are a major facet of the show, well-maintained cars are driven around without any mention of fuel, or any show of characters getting it. While there are ample abandoned vehicles scattered about, that probably have fuel, the show is now a over a year into the apocalypse in an area with plenty of other people, making it questionable that gas would be that easy to get a hold of. Ammo is mentioned to be scarce, but firefights in the show don't seem to show otherwise.

Video Games
  • BattleTanx: Somehow, biker gangs and other rag-tag groups acquiring many, many, fully functional tanks, a wide range of weapons, including nukes and experimental energy weapons isn't uncommon in a world that was devastated by a population decimating plague and a nuclear war.
  • In Just Cause 2, Hantu Island is a forsaken military base manned by (supposedly) 100-year old Japanese soldiers who still think WWII is going on. They have access to modern vehicles and weapons and seem to have all the fuel, food, and electricity they need despite being isolated for decades on an island with little natural resources.
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts: A minor example. One criticism of the game, mentioned by Yahtzee, was that despite the fact the the United States has been stated to have been devastated by the ODIN attack, it still has enough resources to mount a sizable army with weaponry that looks no worse for wear than pre-ODIN strike.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin states that most of the human population was killed off in the Apocalypse, and the earth itself is mostly just a barren wasteland full of destruction and desolation. However, there's still plenty of machine tool factories and workers who know how to build tanks and artillery, and train infantry for battle.
  • Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light. While pre-war ammo is now a currency, and weapons are largely cobbled together from spare parts, in both games there are enough resources to cobble together fully functional tanks, and train cars that are self-propelled. While the fuel could be justified in being methane from pigs, or vodka from mushrooms no remarks are given as to how it would be refined and put to use in vehicles. Weapon mods are also readily available and used quite a bit by mooks in Last Light, although since the game takes places in and around military installations after the Third World War, could be justified as coming from military stock.
  • Fallout. Ammo and pre-war guns, while rusted out and not in the best of condition, is still common enough to be in the hands of most mooks and available in many shops. Even more complex energy weapons are still a relatively common find. Despite being over 100-200 years (depending on the game) since the bombs fell, pre-war supplies can still be found in abundance in ruined buildings, in areas with beings that would have had found them and used them long before the game even started.

Real Life
  • This would be zig-zagged. Gasoline would go bad before the year is up, yet canned food would still be edible for many years. Things made up of stainless steel, glass, and plastic would remain intact (perhaps even usable) for a long time as well. However, the production of said things would be an entirely different matter..

Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • June 20, 2014
    DRCEQ
    • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin states that most of the human population was killed off in the Apocalypse, and the earth itself is mostly just a barren wasteland full of destruction and desolation. However, there's still plenty of machine tool factories and workers who know how to build tanks and artillery, and train infantry for battle.
  • June 21, 2014
    Chabal2
    • Warhammer 40 K: Virus bombs allow for this, as it purges the planet of just about every breathing form of life, leaving industrial installations and facilities intact. However, they've fallen out of favor ever since it was discovered that using them empowers the Chaos god of disease.
    • Zombieland has power plants and cars still running despite there being less than ten humans seen onscreen.
  • June 21, 2014
    ParanoiaAgent
    • Deconstructed for laughs in Delicatessen, a Black Comedy in which inhabitants of a bizarre multi-floor house have almost everything they need except food, so they become cannibals hiring and eating their janitors.
  • June 21, 2014
    Arivne
    • Examples section formatting
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Added a space between *'s and the first word following them.
      • Added media section title(s).
    • Blue Linked (Handwaved, mooks x2).
    • Corrected spelling (hobbled, hobble -> cobbled, cobble).
  • June 21, 2014
    Mr.Movie
    • In Real life, this would be zig-zagged. Gasoline would go bad before the year is up, yet canned food would still be edible for many years. Things made up of stainless steel, glass, and plastic would remain intact (perhaps even usable) for a long time as well.
  • June 21, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    In Zombieland the characters have no real problem getting cars. Food's surprisingly abundant (unless it's twinkles), and even electricity's shown to be pretty easy to rig (at one point they're able to power up an entire theme park and at another they just chill for a bit watching HD DV Ds in Bill Murray's luxury Hollywood mansion). Possibly justified in that the survivors we follow are well established as being Crazy Prepared.
  • June 22, 2014
    SKJAM
    • In DC Comics Presents #57, Superman cites this as a reason to be suspicious of the post-apocalyptic world of the Atomic Knights, which he has seemingly been transported to. The original Atomic Knights stories zigzagged this, with some stories being more plausible about infrastructure collapse than others.
  • June 23, 2014
    SharleeD
    • In Land Of The Dead, luxury commodities desired by the tower's upper classes are still available, and even still marketable, despite the complete breakdown of all means of production. High-end alcohol and jewelry still fetch a higher price than canned food, even though they're scrounged in exactly the same way and the former aren't necessary for survival.
  • June 23, 2014
    Mr.Movie
    Do regional versions count? Here:
    • In Just Cause 2, Hantu Island is a forsaken military base manned by (supposedly) 100-year old Japanese soldiers who still think WWII is going on. They have access to modern vehicles and weapons and seem to have all the fuel, food, and electricity they need despite being isolated for decades on an island with little natural resources.
  • June 24, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    Most plausibly justified in The Plague scenarios, when physical resources are unharmed and the population has been reduced enough that the few survivors could live off what's left for years.
  • June 25, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    So I just realized we have Cosy Catastrophe which is really close to this?
  • June 25, 2014
    Mr.Movie
    ^ The way I see it, CC is different, as it is when apocalyptic life is portrayed as happy and enjoyable.

    The CC description as it stands makes no mention of having all the necessary resources conveniently at your disposal, even though not having to spend all day searching for food is a prerequisite for stealing expensive cars and chilling out in abandoned mansions.

    CC seems to focus more about all the freedom and bliss that (theoretically) come from an unregulated,simpler environment, such as not having the phone ring all day and not having to endure the commute.

    At the same time, this YKTTW makes no mention of apocalyptic life being enjoyable, only saying that a lot of time characters is post-disaster settings don't normally have to worry about resources.
  • June 25, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ sister tropes then.
  • June 26, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Comic Books
    • The second book of Axa scripted by Donne Avenell and drawn by Enrique Romero has some cities under domes doing unusually well. However, the outside world is largely a Death World full of shambling mutants and Killer Rabbit's. What's left of Las Vegas fits this trope, in that while it has lost its neon glare, the gaming continues unabated. In fact, gladiator games were added so that desperate losers could score a sizable jackpot, provided they survive all the other losers.
  • July 7, 2014
    nielas
    • Revolution uses this a lot. When the Blackout stops electricity from working civilization collapses and millions die. Fifteen years later, the Monroe Republic has serious logistical issues and can't even mass produce bullets and has just managed to get a steam train working again. However, when electricity is brought back, various vehicles and even helicopters are quickly made operational even though their systems must have degraded a great deal during the intervening period and any replacement parts would be in similar condition. There is also enough gasoline and aviation fuel to operate them.
  • July 8, 2014
    hbi2k
    Literature
    • Averting this trope is the raison d'être of the Dies The Fire series, which starts with the premise that a tiny change to the laws of physics (combustion happens slightly more slowly, enough that gunpowder, internal combustion engines, and electronics don't work) causes civilization to collapse. Without industrialized farming or an efficient way to transport food from farms to population centers, a lot of people get very hungry very quickly.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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