[[caption-width-right:340: A woman, who has just survived a nuclear bomb, holding her child, [[InfantImmortality who]] [[SubvertedTrope hasn't.]]]]

->''"In an urban society, everything connects. Each person's needs are fed by the skills of many others. Our lives are woven together in a fabric. But the connections that make society strong, also make it vulnerable."''
-->-- Opening narration

''Threads'', a 1984 docudrama produced by Creator/TheBBC, is the United Kingdom's answer to America's ''Film/TheDayAfter'' (which came a year earlier). Britain has quite the history of post-apocalyptic fiction on its DVD and book shelves, and ''Threads'' is amongst the most disturbing examples.

The film depicts the terrifying consequences of [[UsefulNotes/NuclearWeapons nuclear warfare]] upon an unsuspecting world. Set mainly in [[OopNorth Sheffield]] during the height of the UsefulNotes/ColdWar, ''Threads'' follows two families, the Becketts and the Kemps, amongst the other members of their town, as they deal with the absolute destruction of their society as a result of nuclear war with the Soviet Union (which at the time of release was [[UsefulNotes/ColdWar somewhat more likely]] [[TheGreatPoliticsMessUp than it is today]]). The findings of the 1955 ''Strath Report'' noted that the UK was singularly vulnerable to a nuclear exchange due to the country's small size, high urban population, and dependency upon food-imports[[note]] [Assuming the use of ten ten-megaton hydrogen bombs, the minimum number the report thought needed to render the UK militarily useless in a war] "'''Blast and heat''' would be the dominant hazard, accounting for more than '''9 million fatal casualties against less than 3 million fatal casualties from radiation''' [of a total UK population of 51 million]. [...] On the basis of an attack with ten bombs we also reckon that, in addition to casualties, a '''further 13 million people''' - many of them suffering from radiation sickness - would be '''pinned down in their houses or shelters for at least a week'''. Evacuation would increase this number. [...] It would be quite '''unrealistic to hope to maintain anything like normal medical standards''' [...] the '''chief difficulty would be to distinguish those who, in addition to having received burns or other injuries, had also been exposed to a lethal dose of radiation and who would therefore ultimately die, and on whom it would be wasteful to expend scarce medical resources'''. [...] An attack upon the largest towns with ten hydrogen bombs would totally disrupt the industrial and commercial life of the country. Direct damage would be concentrated near the points of attack but these are likely to contain about one-third of the population and about half the industry. The normal communication and transport systems would come to a stop and the inability to move food, fuel, and material would also stop ordinary social and economic processes. The whole mechanism of money transactions would be disrupted. [...] Commercial '''stocks of food would suffer heavy loss'''. These losses would further deplete available supplies. In the period immediately after the attack the widespread contamination from fall-out would make internal '''distribution of whatever stocks were available virtually impossible''' in large parts of the country. People in areas of severe fall-out would, therefore, have to depend for a week or more on the food which they had stored in their shelters and homes at the time the bombs fell. [...] These considerations suggest that those who survive the attack would have to live for a '''considerable period under siege conditions''', and that the '''risk of starvation would be very real''' unless as substantial strategic reserve of food had been accumulated and distributed about the country in peace. It would, moreover, be essential that the '''Government should be in a position to take immediate and effective control over all food stocks and over their distribution'''. [...] The initial phase of attack would be succeeded by a critical period during which the surviving population would be struggling against disease, starvation, and the unimaginable psychological effects of nuclear bombardment. But provided what was left of the nation could get through that period and the survivors were able to devote their resources to the work of reorganising the country, they should eventually be able to produce a wide enough range of goods to meet ordinary civilian needs. The standard of living of the reduced population, althrough substantially lower than at present, would still be well above that of the greater part of the world. [...] there would be '''no hope of providing anything approaching peacetime standards of medical care''' [...] Research should be carried forward into methods of decontaminating water [even today there are no practical ones] [...] Plans should be made for the emergency distribution of limited supplies of drinking water pending the restoration of mains supplies [...] Plans should be prepared to enable the police and the courts to operate quickly and effectively under the conditions foreseen [...] In some parts of the country, particularly if several bombs fell in the same area, there '''might be complete chaos for a time and civil control would collapse'''. In such circumstances the '''local military commander would have to be prepared to take over''' from the civil authority responsibility for the maintenance of law and order and for the administration of Government. He would, if called upon, exercise his existing common-law powers to '''take whatever steps, however drastic, he considered necessary to restore order'''. [...] The '''ordinary machinery of the courts and prisons could not operate'''. Plans were made during the last war for '''"war zone courts" to function in areas which were involved in military operations'''. These plans should now be examined to see if a simple scheme could be worked out for the prompt dismissal of criminal cases." [[/note]] The film reflects this fairly accurate assessment of the UK's likely situation with what the uninformed might call a hopeless and pessimistic outset - ending with a medieval world where agriculture predominates, starvation is ever-present, modern medicine doesn't exist, martial law prevails, capital punishment is routine, children are undereducated savages, the ozone layer is gone, and Survival Of The Fittest is the only way to get by.

To any would-be viewers: if you're looking for a story with a happy or hopeful ending this movie is '''''not''''' the way to go, and a strong stomach is pretty much mandatory. There are no [[JumpScare jump scares]], the BodyHorror is tame by the standards of modern SFX, and there is little {{Gorn}}[[note]]Though lots of SceneryGorn[[/note]] despite the ample opportunities the setting presents. Yet its strict adherence to a realistic portrayal of nuclear war and its after-effects makes it [[NightmareFuel one of the scariest films ever made]].

See also Film/TheWarGame, Literature/SometimeNeverAFableForSupermen, ComicBook/WhenTheWindBlows, and Literature/TheRoad.

(P.S. Unlike the equally depressing but less gory ''The Day After'', ''Threads'' has to this day '''never''' been shown again on British television.)

!!This film provides examples of:

* AngryGuardDog: Ruth has to get past one guarding a barn so she can have her baby under shelter.
* AnyoneCanDie: Played straight; most do. [[spoiler: Though it's not always clear who dies, which probably is intentional. Jimmy's sister Allison ''may'' be the young blonde woman glimpsed at an internment camp for looting suspects several weeks later. Jimmy himself ''may'' be seen near the end of the movie with a scarred face. We just don't know.]]
* ApatheticCitizens: While the news broadcasts the deteriorating situation in Iran throughout the film, the events are only paid cursory interest by anyone who's not a government official (while there are protests, they're paid little attention to by the populace). Eventually gets deconstructed as the film goes on; the citizens become increasingly aware of how bad things are getting, but still (attempt to) ignore them either because they don't wish to confront the increasing likelihood that the world is about to end, or because they feel powerless to stop it in any case.
** The latter attitude is summed up in a scene in the pub between Jimmy and Bob. Jimmy expresses his concerns about the situation in Iran, but Bob just brushes them off because there's nothing they can do about it.
* ApocalypseHow: The movie ends somewhere between Planetary Societal Disruption and Societal Collapse (though the film mainly concentrates on its effects on Great Britain). Although the human population of the UK is reduced to medieval levels and the nuclear winter, fallout, and loss of modern infrastructure and industry has made sustaining a viable population extremely difficult, they are able to maintain a handful of more primitive tools and devices. A montage of photos suggests that after about ten years post-war Britain is capable of generating some electricity, and is able to manufacture and maintain steam-era technology. It's hinted that conditions may worsen into a Class 4 (Total Extinction), due to the effects of nuclear winter.
** ''Threads'' was in production at the time Creator/CarlSagan, one of the film's advisors, published ''The Cold and The Dark: The World After Nuclear War'' (expanding on his pamphlet ''The Nuclear Winter'' from 1983)--because of that, ''Threads'' takes nuclear winter into account, while ''Film/TheDayAfter'' (which was in production when these studies were either not conducted or not publicly available) doesn't. ''Film/TheDayAfter'' also only covers at most a few weeks after the war, whereas ''Threads'' covers 12-13 years (allowing for the effects of nuclear winter--and its aftermath--to be explored in more detail).
* AutoErotica:
** A backseat makeout session with Jimmy and a girl he's picked up at the pub is suddenly interrupted by the movement of tanks past their car.
** Jimmy's and Ruth's baby apparently was conceived in a car.
* AwayInAManger: Ruth gives birth in a stable on Christmas Day, unable to reach the farmhouse because there was a guard dog in the way.
* {{Bathos}}: One particular scene during the attack has Jimmy's father realising what's happening, all while on the lavatory, meaning he has to pull his trousers up and get ready. This is done very deliberately to provide a moment's relief while everything goes to pieces.
* BookEnds: Music/ChuckBerry's "Johnny B. Goode" plays near the beginning and near the end of the film.
* BreakOutTheMuseumPiece: An antique steam traction engine is seen being used for farming.
* BringMyBrownPants: When the first mushroom cloud rises, a woman wets herself.
* BystanderSyndrome: Most Britons' response to the potential of attack. One character openly says there's nothing they can do about it. An obviously angry protest not far from the Kemps' couple's house is brushed off as "the pubs letting out". They ''know'' that's not the case, but...
* ChildrenAreInnocent: Neither Alison (who's in her early teens) nor Michael (who's around eight to ten years old) seem aware of the seriousness of the situation. On the same morning the attack takes place, Alison responds to the news that school is cancelled with delight at the thought of missing a history test and Michael says of his family's woefully inadequate shelter:
--->We'll be able to sleep in it. [[InnocentInaccurate It'll be like going camping.]]
* CrapsackWorld: And how. Basically, from the moment the bomb drops, nothing good happens.
* CuteKitten: Ruth's tabby cat [[SubvertedTrope ...except that the kitty in question is shown writhing in agony as it suffocates/burns to death in the massive firestorm following the first bomb detonation.]][[note]] Barry Hines stated they got the cat to do that effect by just placing its owner near it on set, so it did that whole 'cat-rolling-on-back-affection-thing' cats do. Knowing this may make those shots narm.[[/note]]
** ''[[EducationalShort "There was the skeleton of...a cat! A cat's...skeleton!"]]''
%% ATTENTION: Do not add claims that this work is "Darker and Edgier" in relation to The Day After. That trope is ONLY for works that are retooled to become more "adult" later on in its run, or in remakes. Threads is NOT a remake or continuation of The Day After, and Barry Hines did not make Threads just to make The Day After look like a kiddie show.
* DeadHandShot: Numerous bodies sticking out of rubble, many burned beyond recognition.
* DeathByIrony: [[spoiler: Ruth's parents are in an excellent position to survive the war. They take shelter in the basement of their sturdily built house, which is fairly far from the epicenter of the nearest blast, and they have ample provisions. But then a group of looters break into their house and murder them.]]
* DeathTrap: As soon as things start looking hairy, the Sheffield emergency council meets in the converted basement of the town hall. It's stocked with food, water, comm equipment and an emergency generator - pity that A-bomb had to knock down the entire building on top of the exit. The ceiling[[note]]mostly[[/note]] holds and they can give[[note]]useless[[/note]] orders via phone and radio, but they're trapped with limited food, water and air. [[spoiler:[[DownerEnding Four weeks later, a squad of soldiers finally dig their way to the bodies]]]].
* DepopulationBomb: People born after the attack are often mutated. People born before the attack don't last long in general.
* DeathFromAbove: The modus operandi of [=ICBMs=].
* DisasterScavengers: Just about everyone, naturally.
* DoomedProtagonist: Let's just say, try not to get too attached to anyone.
* DownerEnding: At any given point after the attack, it's hard to imagine that things could get much worse. Until they do. So, just as humanity seems to have limped along into a second medieval age, narrowly avoiding the complete annihilation of the species, we are given a glimpse of [[spoiler:the second generation of post-war babies]], which decidedly [[HopeSpot quells any lingering hope]] viewers may have been desperately clinging to.
* DumbStruck: Most of the ''country'', and presumably the rest of the world, too. The traumatized survivors of the attacks in the aftermath of the Nuclear Winter are hardly ever seen to talk.
** Jimmy Kemp's coworker, Bob, exemplifies this during the nuclear exchange. When he first sees the mushroom cloud over RAF Finningley, all he can do is bite his thumb in shock.
-->'''Bob:''' Jesus Christ, they've done it! ... ... They've done it ... !
** Both Bob and Ruth exemplify this trait when they run into each other a few weeks after the attack. They share a meal - a rotting dead sheep - but say little, and soon go their separate ways.
* {{Dystopia}}: The world after doomsday. Clearly, ''somebody'' is trying to enforce some semblance of order but due to the extreme nature of life on the planet, it proves difficult to do so without crossing over numerous moral boundaries, and most people are too concerned with their own safety to worry about the rest of the world anyway.
* EasyLogistics: Averted. The attempts by the emergency council to do... well, anything at all after the attacks happen are utterly inept. They have no communications (an EMP blast from a nuke detonated over the North Sea wipes out most of their comms before the attacks even start properly, and nobody is in a situation to receive messages when there's no electricity), and attempting to move food and supplies to vital areas when all transport infrastructure has been entirely demolished and fuel supplies are diminished within days is portrayed as about as impossible as it would be.
* TheEighties: Very much a reflection of the early 1980s fear of nuclear war.
* EmergencyBroadcast: The constant runnings of "Protect And Survive" are somewhat like this.
* {{EMP}}
* EmpathyDollShot: Michael's handheld video game. However, Michael's body ''is'' shown earlier in a DeadHandShot.
* EverybodysDeadDave: Not even ''remotely'' funny in its execution. In fact, those who were killed instantly during the first nuclear attack [[AFateWorseThanDeath got lucky]].
* EverybodySmokes: Justified, as this was TheEighties and in the middle of one of the most stressful situations ''possible.'' That said, everyone in the underground shelter smoking likely led to an even faster loss of breathable air...
* FacelessGoons: Justified as soldiers are wearing gas masks against airbourne radioactive particles and diseases. A policeman (really just a deputized traffic warden, the British equivalent of a meter maid) at the detention centre has a [[FacialHorror burn mask covering his face]].
* FateWorseThanDeath: So, you survived the initial bombing? Too bad for you.
* FromBadToWorse: Go to Website/YouTube and you'll probably find the movie in sections. Look down the related features stills on the right side of the screen, section by section. Hint: the images do not get cheerier as you go.
* GetRichQuickScheme: Retailers treat the whole situation before the bombs fall as one, vastly inflating prices for basic goods that the government has told people to buy, implying this will help them survive. [[LaserGuidedKarma The bombs then do fall]], leaving them with [[WorthlessYellowRocks money they can't use]].
* HopeSpot: One used at the very end of the film. In a hospital, we see a child being born... except there's no actual crying or any signs of life. The very last thing we see is the mother gasping in horror at what's been born, suggesting humanity may never recover properly.
* HypocriticalHumor: Soldiers arrest some men for looting food, then gripe over the flavour of crisps they've stolen, clearly intending to eat it themselves.
* IgnoredVitalNewsReports: In the opening scene Jimmy skips past a report of the Soviet invasion of Iran while trying to find a football match on the car radio.
* IncurableCoughOfDeath: Sort of. A family member trading cigarettes for alcohol in the aftermath of the bombing shows the first signs of the radiation sickness that will soon kill him.
* InfantImmortality: Averted. Multiple times. The picture above is just one example.
* JustBeforeTheEnd: Post-nuclear Earth doesn't have a whole lot going for it.
* ManOnFire: Mrs. Kemp catches fire during the montage of shots after Sheffield is hit by a nuke.
* MeatgrinderSurgery: With the hospitals being completely swamped by victims of the nuking, the destruction of the power grid meaning electricity is as nonexistent as the equipment, the doctors are as inept as any other bystander in treating wounds and burns and resort to [[NightmareFuel operating on still-conscious patients- including children.]]
* NotSoOmniscientCouncilOfBickering: The Sheffield emergency council falls to this after the bombs drop. They spend more time shouting and yelling at each other than they do trying to pick up the pieces.
* OhCrap:
** "[[RedAlert Attack Warning Red. Attack Warning Red.]]" Cue one of the councillors: "It's for bloody real!"
** As the first mushroom cloud rises, the whole country goes into outright panic, and one woman in particular is overcome with fear to the point of wetting herself.
** During production, a smoke bomb was used to simulate the mushroom, ''actually'' (But accidentally) ''causing panic'' in the area near the set.
* PleaseWakeUp: Zigzagged with Jane, who is seen trying to rouse her dying mother. However, once Ruth has actually died, Jane, after shaking her one more time, quickly realises Ruth isn't going to get up and calmly walks away as though nothing has happened. It's unclear if Jane's apparent lack of grief is due to damage to the area of her brain which processes emotion, or the fact that she has seen death so often that it doesn't have any impact on her. Either way, the only belongings of Ruth's which Jane takes with her are things which have a practical use, a scarf and a hairbrush.
** The scene with the woman and the charred baby inverts this trope. The woman in question isn't trying to rouse her baby, but it's clear that she's shell-shocked to the point where she doesn't realise the child is dead.
* PottyFailure: This happens in a memorable shot, as noted above.
* PublicServiceAnnouncement: The film was made disturbingly realistic by using genuine [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protect_and_Survive public information films]]. During the 1970s, these films would have been publicly disseminated in anticipation of national emergency, concerning what measures to take in the event of nuclear war. ''{{Threads}}'' demonstrated in horrific detail how fatally ineffective they'd be.
* RapidAging: Ruth in her 30s looks like an old woman due to the ravages of radiation and UV light.
* ReducedToRatburgers: In one of the post-nuclear war scenes, juxtaposed against a Standard Life insurance company ad for {{Irony}}. To make matters worse, Ruth apparently traded sexual favors for a few dead rats.
* SceneryGorn: Much of the harrowing atmosphere of the film comes from the devastated urban landscapes and barren, frozen countryside.
* ScreamingBirth: Subverted horrifically at the end with [[spoiler:Jane]]'s stillborn, mutated child.
* SerialEscalation: The escalation scenario that leads to Armageddon in the first place. After a coup in Iran, the Soviet Union invades to gain a toehold in the Middle East. The Americans send in paratroopers and set a deadline for withdrawal, and when the Soviets don't back down they send bombers after their main staging base in Iran. The Soviets destroy most of the aircraft with a nuclear-tipped air defense missile. The Americans then destroy the base with a single battlefield nuke. In return the Soviets nuke the aircraft carrier ''Kitty Hawk'', the Americans blockade Cuba, [[SicklyGreenGlow and after that it gets kind of hazy...]]
* ShootTheShaggyDog: The last scene is [[spoiler:the birth of a severely deformed, stillborn infant, and Jane's look of horror when she realizes it. That is humanity's future in Britain, and probably the world as well.]]
* ShownTheirWork: Thanks to the army of scientific advisers (including Creator/CarlSagan) listed in the end credits. The only really dodgy bit of science is the implied permanent destruction of the ozone layer as a result of the nuclear exchange (it ''should'' regenerate itself over time in the absence of pollutants), but even this is something that scientists aren't 100% sure on.
* SpiritualSuccessor : To the very similar 1965 DocuDrama ''Film/TheWarGame'' -- though that movie wasn't shown on TV until a year after ''Threads'' because the BBC refused to broadcast it back when it was made.
* SpotOfTea: Mugs of tea proliferate in the council bunker; [[JustifiedTrope entirely justified]] given that this is Britain and the characters are under great stress.
* StoryboardingTheApocalypse: The world's narrated degeneration into chaos. Also the teletype-style printed reports. ''[[AtomicHate "80 megatons fall on UK."]]''
* TeensAreMonsters: Well, this ''is'' a British production after all; without the comforting kosh of civilisation, the kids become little more than animals, barely capable of speech.
* ThisIsNotADrill: The nuclear attack warning sirens sounding over the United Kingdom. The phrase itself comes from a boy rushing to tell his mother that they need to go home ''right freaking now''. A similar one happens when the Sheffield emergency council hears an alarm from the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HANDEL HANDEL Warning Console]].
-->'''HANDEL Warning Console:''' Attack warning RED! Attack warning RED!
-->'''Food Officer (Roger Fisher):''' Is it for real?
-->'''Accommodation Officer:''' Attack warning's ''for bloody real!''
-->'''Clive Sutton:''' Right, get to your stations!
* TooDumbToLive: The officials who keep on smoking ''while trapped underground''.
* TransAtlanticEquivalent: ''Film/TheDayAfter''.
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: Intended for the 1980s, this particular scenario seemed very likely right up until the [[TheGreatPoliticsMessUp ending of the Cold War]]. [[http://www.d155.org/clc/faculty/faculty_pages/smalley/documents/ANuclearWarBetweenIndiaandPakistanIsLikely.pdf This article]] by Colonel Sam Gardiner details how escalation and counter-escalation similar to what happened in ''Threads'' could result in an India-Pakistan nuclear war. Fortunately, after the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001-2002_India-Pakistan_standoff crisis in 2002]] both sides seem to respect the gravity of the situation a bit more.
** While the exact year is left ambiguous, a quick check of the days and dates in the film places the events in the year 1988 [[spoiler: with the ending taking place around the year 2001]].
* VomitIndiscretionShot: We see Jimmy's father puking into a rag, and Ruth's dad puking in a toilet. One of them is panicking, the other has radiation sickness: take a guess.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: As the crisis deepens, the Kemps' next door neighbours (who consist of a couple, their young daughter and a small dog) try to flee to rural Lincolnshire, where the father's brother lives. Along the way, they become caught in a traffic jam which has been caused by a combination of people ignoring official advice to stay put and all major roads being closed to non-essential traffic. This is the last that is seen of them, so their fate is unknown. However, given the film's subject matter, it's not hard to guess.
* WorthlessYellowRocks: After the attack, money becomes worthless. Survivors conscripted to help with reconstruction are "paid" in food, which is "given as a reward for work or [[DeniedFoodAsPunishment withheld as punishment]]." Some bartering is also seen, an example being when Mr Kemp gives another man cigarettes in exchange for scotch.
* YouNoTakeCandle:
** The speech we hear from the post-war children is broken and uneducated; very little effort is spent on trying to educate the new generations. (A few children ''are'' seen watching dodgy recordings of ''[[EducationalShort Words and Pictures]]'' educational videos, and others are getting some sort of vocational training in clothing repair, but that's about as far as it seems to go). This is a doubly tragic occurrence, as the lack of education for future generations suggests that Earth will ''never'' be able to recover on any level. Considering these kids have almost certainly suffered brain damage from early childhood malnutrition, the picture becomes even bleaker. Not to mention all of the kids (including Jane) who likely suffered brain damage because of radiation doses received ''in utero''.
** Jane can barely string two words together when she's attempting to speak to adults. Even with people her own age like Gaz and Spike, she has no real conversational skills; the three youngsters do exchange words, but they mostly consist of the boys demanding a share of Jane's food (and more besides, since one of them is implied to be the father of Jane's stillborn baby). Also, the post-war kids often repeat the same word or phrase over and over, as if they don't know any other way of getting their point across. This is first seen when Jane tries to rouse the dying Ruth:
--->Ruth? Ruth! Work. Work. Work. Up!