Planetary-scale Civilization Disruption. A lot
of people die, but civilization is still surviving in a reduced state.
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- Generally, the more extreme portrayals of World War Three are going to have this as a minimum outcome.
Anime and Manga
- The world after the Zentraedi attack in Macross/Robotech is around a 1.5: while most of humanity is killed off by a brutal orbital bombing, the survivors and the residents of the SDF-1 were able to repopulate. They also have their advanced technology, and civilization is shown to recover (both in the later Macross series, such as Plus, and in the Masters and New Generation seasons of Robotech, which were dubbed versions of other series).
- Trunks' Bad Future from Dragon Ball Z, devastated by the Androids. King Piccolo's conquest of Earth 300 years prior to the series also amounts to this.
- The Second Impact in the backstory of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which killed over half of human population, rose the sea level enough to submerge entire cities and heavily altered the climate. By the time the series proper begins, civilization has gotten back on its feet is some places, but the almost complete emptiness of Toyko-3, the city the series is set in, is heavily emphasized during the series.
- Heat Guy J As explained in a Breaking Speech given by Clair, the people of Earth got a hold of the Applied Phlebotinum of the resident Superior Species. That was fine, until they started using said phlebotinum for war, and most of the population of Earth was wiped out, save for a few hundred-thousand people, who now live in seven isolated city-states (and some small towns/villages surrounding them.)
- GaoGaiGar FINAL shows an apocalypse between Class 1 and Class 2 due to the actions of the Soul Masters trying to steal all the Dark Matter in the universe. Hundreds of well known cities are in ruins, the ice caps melted, and there were apparently a lot of casualties. However, it seems civilization and humanity will definitely bounce back after a few months to years! All because of Courage!
- The Thirteen Day War in the backstory of Legend of Galactic Heroes involved a nuclear exchange between the major powers of Earth, which reduced the world's population to 1 billion and some 90 years would pass before order was restored on Earth.
- In Independence Day, most major cities are destroyed, but it seems humanity will survive... though it's debatable whether an Inferred Holocaust has occurred, which would knock this film into the Class 2 range.
- In The Day After Tomorrow, the Northern Hemisphere has been caught in a sudden Ice Age. Millions of people are instantly frozen to death and survivors flee to Southern countries.
- Children of Men, where humanity is slowly going extinct due to a combination of universal infertility and the resulting societal collapse everywhere in the world but the United Kingdom — which is now fascist. Class 3 is not entirely ruled out.
- French film Time of the Wolf, Humanity is in dire straits due to polluted water, although it's never fully explained how. the audience only knows that uncontaminated water is scarce and livestock have to be burned. May be considered a Class 2.
- WALL•E, in which Earth has become an uninhabitable trash dump, but it appears most of humanity fled on cruise ships.
- We don't have a lot of information about the disaster preceding the exodus from Earth - including the percentage of Earth's population that escaped into ships. It seems that a decaying form of civilization exists on the Axiom and sister ships, but from the perspective of Earth, it's a Class 4.
- Escape from L.A.: Though it doesn't involve anyone actually dying, Snake activates the Sword of Damocles satellite system at the end of the movie, unleashing a massive electromagnetic pulse that neutralizes every electrical power source on the entire planet, thereby (according to the President's Dragon, at least) setting the progress of human civilization back about 500 years, leading to the deaths of thousands, if not millions, indirectly as a result of entire cities shut down.
- Contagion: A worldwide pandemic that spreads about as easily as the flu, and kills about a fifth of the people infected. The US government survives, but things get pretty rough for a while.
- Exam takes place after a global pandemic wipes out a large amount of the Earth's population.
- The War Of The Worlds 1953. The Martian machines wipe out an untold number of people around the world.
- Lucifer's Hammer (1978) looks much worse at first, what with a comet's direct impact apparently destroying civilization, China nuking Russia (and getting nuked by both the Soviets and USA in retaliation), a cannibal army roaming through what's left of California, and the lack of any organization outside the local level. But by the end of the novel, we still have electricity (from a nuclear power plant, even), at least regional government, and contact with people that can put a plausible claim toward being the national government. Amusingly, the authors claim (and suitably demonstrate!) that it was the mailman doing his job that kept civilization afloat and the story out of the nastier categories below. It's also speculated, though never established, that countries south of the equator would escape the impact and the worst of the weather changes. If that's true, Australia, South Africa and most of South America could probably maintain social order.
- The Breaking of the World in Robert's Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. Also borders on Class 2.
- Spider Robinson's Telempath has an unusual mechanism for this: the release of a virus that improves humanity's sense of smell by a ridiculous amount. Result: a hefty percentage of the population dead or catatonic from the sensory overload, and the survivors forced to flee their now-unlivable cities. On top of which, they're under attack from a formerly-hidden nonhuman race, because they eat pollution, and all of a sudden humanity has stopped manufacturing the stuff.
- World War Z shows how humanity gradually defeats the Zombie Apocalypse. At the end of the story, much of the world has been reclaimed (despite losing the majority of the human population) zombies are limited to a few huge herds too big to take on, a couple of cold countries where winter tends to send them into Suspended Animation, and the lakes and oceans of the world, where lost zombies roam on the lake bed or ocean floor.
- Greg Bear:
- In Blood Music artificially enhanced lymphocytes gain intelligence and spread quickly across the entire North American continent, converting all biomass into more entities like themselves. (Although they are capable of encoding and converting intelligences into their cellular-level versions, so nobody strictly "dies" during the epidemic.) After the incident resolves itself, North America has been wiped clean and humanity in the rest of the world is trying to adjust to new laws of physics. The intelligences in North America caused the laws of physics to fracture slightly due to the density of observation causing the laws of physics unable to follow their own rules. Surprisingly this is not Hand Wavium, there are real scientific theories behind such an event, as unlikely as it is to ever occur. Think of a well-regarded theory such as Heinsenberg's Uncertainty Principle which implies that, for any given particle, you can know its position or velocity, but never both, as an observation of one will affect, and therefore prevent observation of the other. Now imagine that someone develops the technology to accurately observe and record both. There is some uncertainty (no pun intended) as to what might actually happen to the observed particle at this point.
- Bear also manages a Class 1 in Eon, this time by full-scale global nuclear exchange. Add to this the Class X in Forge of God, and he'd wiped out most of humanity three times in three of his earlest novels.
- The main land in The Obernewtyn Chronicles. They got hit by a nuclear holocaust that left most of the land and water tainted.
- In Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy by Matt Ruff, a racist-designed plague turns nearly every person of black African descent on the planet into dust. Only ethnic Africans with green eyes — a minute fraction of the total — are spared.
- In John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata, humanity has roughly five billion killed by the end of the war with the Posleen. They draw close to entering Class 2 territory, but while humanity gets hammered hard, they keep most of their technological knowledge, both native and Galactic.
- Prior to Sabriel, book one of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, something like this occurred thanks to Kerrigor.
- In the Second Apocalypse, the First Apocalypse exterminated an entire cradle of human civilization, the Ancient North. Now its ruins are haunted by baying Sranc. At least they killed the No-God, though: his very existence caused infants to be stillborn. For eleven years.
- The main point of the series is to prevent the titular Second Apocalypse, which would entail the resurrection of a now-unstoppable No-God and an eventual class 4-6, all so that the two surviving Ichoroi can avoid going to Hell.
- In Without Warning, an Alternate History written in 2009 but beginning in 2003, an energy field of unknown type and origin called "the Wave" wipes out all primates in most of the Lower 48, the more populated eastern half of Canada, about 90% of Mexico and three-quarters of Cuba. This leads to a very different Iraq War in which Hussein goes on the offensive and is joined by Iran until a threatened Israel launches a pre-emptive nuclear strike on its neighbors, the global economy starts sliding down the toilet and the world in general starts edging into Mad Max territory. Also fires caused by untended fires spread, due to the lack of human intervention (although automatic sprinkler systems catch some) wiping out large chunks of entire cities with the resulting ash being spread throughout the northern hemisphere in "pollution storms" that wipe out major harvests. Four years later and three years after the Wave disappears, making the area it devastated enterable again in the sequel After America, the food and oil shortages caused by the pollution storms and Israel nuking the Middle East have most civilized nations still on rationing, although no-one is starving, many people growing private gardens and bicycles and horses outnumbering private cars.
- In John Barnes' Mother of All Storms set Twenty Minutes into the Future, a UN sanctioned nuclear strike on an illegal Siberian military base sets off a chain of events that culminates in a series of super-sized hurricanes that ravage coastlines on a global scale and completely wipe out entire nations (Bangladesh, Japan, Micronesia) as well as the state of Hawaii and cause roughly two billion deaths but thanks to the intervention of the US' last astronaut raised to a godlike state of cyberconciousness civilization as a whole and the United States in particular are preserved with the coastal areas due to become new frontiers.
- John Varley's Slow Apocalypse. A gene-geneered bacteria reduces crude oil to an unusable sludge which, along with secondary effects, shakes civilization on a global scale but it survives.
- In Doom: Hell on Earth, humanity suffers a die-back at the hands of the "demons"/Freds. All nations have been devastated and mankind is struggling to avoid extinction.
- In the "An Orison of Sonmi-451" segemnt of David Mitchell's a series of limited nuclear exchanges has left much of the planet as "deadland" but East and Central Asia still maintain a high level of technology, even though it's an oppressive corporate dystopia. In the next segment, "Sloosha's Crossin' and Evr'thin' That Came After" this has grown to a Class 2 with only a handful of places on the planet maintaining anything like an organized society.
- In Jericho, 25 of America's major cities have been nuked, including Washington, D.C., dividing the country in three. It's arguable whether this belongs in 0 or 1, because for all we know, the rest of the world could be pretty much okay.
- We do know that, due to the Cheyenne Government's cover-up and Puppy-Kicking, Iran and North Korea no longer exist.
- Every government seems to be throwing money and goods at the US in hopes that the wounded beast won't start lobbing nukes at random. In the end, America may drag the rest of the world down with them.
- Survivors, created by Terry Nation (he of the Daleks and Blakes Seven), featured the few remaining inhabitants of a virus-ravaged Earth. However, enough human knowledge survived in the form of books to prevent this going to Class 2.
- In Star Trek: First Contact we see Earth just after World War III. Suffice to say, Vulcans were VERY surprised that humans could develop FTL under such conditions.
- A Class 1.5 Catastrophe is depicted in "Friendship One", an episode Star Trek: Voyager. The planet in question was devastated 100 years ago, and the civilisation has not recovered yet, but Voyager is able to help, and it seems that now, with atmosphere cleaned, they WILL recover.
- Jeremiah shows life after a plague has wiped out nearly every post-pubescent human being.
- Doctor Who manages a Class 1 in the series 3 ending episodes. Human life on Earth is ordered decimated the old-fashioned way—10% of the population gets killed.
- Thankfully this is an alternate reality.
- New Zealand-based family drama The Tribe - a government project into anti-aging goes wrong and the resultant virus wipes out all adults in the world. Although the surviving children resort to small insular tribes and anarchy rules periodically from then on, enough knowledge survives in books that technologies can still be slowly rebuilt by those who are smart enough, making this a solid Class 1. Its sequel series, The New Tomorrow, takes this much closer to a Class 2 as society had regressed further to a pre-industrial, agricultural society (except for the Barbs, who are hunter-gatherers) - presumably then, the attempts made in The Tribe to rebuild our technological society did not take for one reason or another....
- Rifts varies from place to place. A number of modern cities have been (re)built, including a scant few that survived from before the magically-charged cataclysm, but only the most powerful states expand their influence beyond the borders of their own cities (or have "city" be plural, for that matter). Mankind is slowly rebuilding, but the initial catastrophe of the Coming of the Rifts was just shy of a full-blown Class 2. It's taken the world 300 years of rebuilding to reach the point of a Class 1.5 and is only a couple of good shoves from falling back into Class 2 territory. The presence of alien monsters/invaders/the return of magic has been both a blessing and a curse, as some areas have come back much faster than others, but very differently than how they were before and often with humans at the bottom of the pecking order.
- The post-World War Three world of Twilight 2000 is Class 1, bordering on Class 2. It's clear that humanity has a lot to do, but generally implied that civilisation would rise again. The starfaring game 2300 AD was Ret Conned into being a sequel, so this interpretation is more-or-less official.
- The Anime Multiverse Setting of Big Eyes, Small Mouth has Enid, a world in which most of humanity was driven into arcologies underground by violent storms, that since ravage the lands. There's also a world-spanning war going on between two factions that try to restore the planet in two different ways.
- The VITAS plagues cut back the global human population by about 1/4 in the future history of Shadowrun. Some countries weathered the pandemics better than others, with North America coming through relatively intact, while some Third World regions such as Madagascar were left virtually deserted.
- In Nuke War, if you win, it's only a Class 1 disaster; if everyone loses, it's somewhere from Class 2 to 4.
- Happens a few times in the Exalted setting:
- The Three Spheres Cataclysm at the end of the Primordial War: out of petty revenge, a defeated primordial detonates three of his souls, which annihilates most of Creation (and the people living there) and destroys "nine out of ten important things in the world"
- The Usurpation: the whole Solar Exalted ruling class is betrayed by its underlings, which results in decades of extremely violent civil war. Hundred of thousands are slain (both participants and collateral victimes), entire cities are destroyed, and the whole High First Age society collapses
- The fall of the Shogunate: the Dragon-Blooded-led society of the Shogunate is attacked by the undead and the fair folk, who almost manage to destroy the world. They are driven back by the new Empress using the Realm Defense Grid, which is one of the most powerful superweapons in existence and inflicts severe collateral damage on the world in itself.
- The Great Contagion: a supernatural plague with no known cure kills 90% of the world population, mortals and Exalted alike
- Before all of that, the Primordial War itself certainly wrecked an insane amount of havoc and totally changed the face of the world forever for men, gods and primordials, but it is difficult to tell exactly how since there is hardly any trace (if any at all) of the civilizations that existed before it. The only people who could maybe tell are the Celestial Incarnae, but even they were changed by the war and probably can't remember or even understand much of what happened before.
- In the Improbable Island world, the EMP War was an interesting cross-level. With the exception of people with pacemakers, nobody died, yet technology was pretty much knocked back 50 years since nobody actually knew how to make silicon computers anymore.
- Final Fantasy VI, most of the world is destroyed, but humanity survives in quite large numbers and most towns are unscathed. However, Kefka is a god after this and keeps blasting the survivors when he gets bored, pushing the crisis up to Class 4/5 a year later, with plant and animal life dying off and humans struggling to rebuild in-between Kefka's rampages. During the confrontation with Kefka before the final battle, he directly states he's gonna go for Class X and beyond. The party kills him before he gets a chance to try, and the world slowly begins to get the chance to recover in the absence of constant attacks.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time had a major societal collapse two thousand years ago when the Crystals disappeared, ruining the Magitek-dependent civilization. In the present day, all that's left is one town and one isolated village. And the latter is actually a ghost town.
- Gears of War skirts between this and Class 2. Given 99% of the human population were wiped out by the Locust, the remaining were fighting an offensive war against them and later the Lambent, and that they had to destroy their last bastion to cripple the Locust at the end of GOW 2, things didn't look too rosy. Confirmed to be Class 1 at the end of Gears of War 3. Now that the Lambent and Locust were wiped out, as well as Immulsion, Humanity can finally recover.
- By the time Halo 3 rolls around, humanity is at least in a position like this, with most non-earth colonies having been utterly annihilated, the entire remaining military capacity of humanity being about a dozen starships and a few hundred thousand soldiers, and the human population being reduced to less than one percent of its former numbers, about 300,000,000 according to the Bestiarium. If the Gravemind spared any of its unknown numbers of FTL-capable ships to spread the Flood, then not only will they easily overwhelm the entire galaxy, but the Ark, the only safe haven from the rings and the means by which the galaxy will be reseeded post-activation, has been severely damaged and is now inaccessible. If this is the case then either the Flood will absorb all life in the galaxy, or the rings will destroy all sentient life in the galaxy, making this a hybrid of a Class 3 and Class X-2 either way.
- Uplink features a non-lethal Class 1, that happens when the Revelation virus destroys the Internet.
- Almost voiding the Downer Ending of it's prequel is Dead Rising 2-it's quite clear that the Zombie Apocalypse has come and gone, but thanks to the government being actually competent, civilization itself has endured quite nicely and the outbreak hasn't really knocked people back significantly-there's even a Reality Show based around it. This, combined with a way to actually fight the infection means that the epidemic will probably end with humanity on top (admittedly, it's going to take a while...)
- Sword of the Stars - humankind comes under orbital bombardment from a neighbouring, established spacefaring civilisation just after the first colony ship was launched. Civilisation collapses, then comes back in a form, but as an effective fascist dictatorship bent on forcible expansion into habitable worlds.
- The destruction of the Torus Aeternal a year prior to X3: Albion Prelude caused millions of tons of debris to rain down on Earth. The Terran military reacted to the attack pretty much how you'd expect.
- In Danganronpa, presumably an event of this scale has happened before the events of the game.
- Terinu's backstory has the Earth being subjected to an attack 500 years previously by the Varn Dominion using a titanic tractor-pressor beam to to destroy major population centers via earthquakes and tsunamis. This results in a Class 1.5 destruction as somewhere between one and a half to three billion people die in the initial attack and subsequent chaos. Australia was left intact with a functioning economy however, as a sort of human game preserve. In addition, the Vulpine suffered a 50% population loss as they were hit by the "Bloody Plagues" during the subsequent human led rebellion.
- The Zombie Hunters near-future Post-Zombie Apocalypse setting finds the planet overrun by The Undead, and the The Virus did in fact serve as a Depopulation Bomb. What few humans remain cling very tenuously to Class 1 status, with the struggle to avoid becoming a full-bore Class 2 as a driving force in the plot. To keep their Island Military Base running, and the populace cozy they depend on teams of dormant Zombie Infectee Disaster Scavengers (the eponymous "Zombie Hunters") to venture out into "the Wastes" and risk getting bitten to retrieve much-needed salvage. They only have two helicopters and a ship to work with. A handful of doctors, scientists, engineers and Military are respectively trying to Find the Cure, keep the island's technological infrastructure running, and build a viable secondary colony on the mainland. The loss of any of these people or things, even a relatively expendable Zombie Hunter, represents a huge setback for the potential future of the human race.
- Tech Infantry has a large meteor strike the earth and render it temporarily uninhabitable, but by that point, humans have colonized many other planets, so the species survives.
- Coruscant in The Gungan Council had at least a quarter of its surface damaged and possibly even wiped out by a Death Star exploding in its orbit.
- 1983: Doomsday, a timeline from the Alternate History Wiki, is set in a world where a nuclear war occured in the early eighties. Most of the nations in the Northern Hemisphere cease to exist, yet the survivors manage to establish new states in their wake. The Southern Hemisphere, meanwhile, escapes mostly unscathed.
- Night Of The Living Alternate History, also on the Alternate History Wiki, depicts a Zombie Apocalypse that kills millions and devastates almost every country in the world. A lucky few, such as Australia and New Zealand, survived with minimal damage.
- According to a What If? segment that answered the question of what would happen if everyone in the world jumped all at once from the same spot, Rhode Island would be overwhelmed by the volume of people trying to leave, billions would die of starvation, society would have to be rebuilt from scratch and it would not cause an earthquake.
- A "limited" nuclear exchange between the superpowers probably would be a high Class 1, depending on where the nukes landed, at least in the early part of the Cold War.
- Japan and Germany wanted to do this to their own people as a final act during World War II. Thankfully there were smarter higher-ups on both sides.
- Eastern Europe as a whole walked the edge between this and Class 0 as a result of the two World Wars, particularly in Poland and the Soviet areas.
- Also happened to Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance, in a strange cross between this and a regional Class 3.
- The Black Death halved Europe and China's populations, killing an estimated one hundred million people and setting civilizations back by centuries in the fourteenth century.
- A strong enough Coronal Mass Ejection could render most electronics (especially ones with computer chips) severely damaged and useless, which would knock humans back to the 1930s in terms of technology. However, it is temporary, so after the turmoil (caused by removing essential technology like radios, the computers in plane cockpits and the machines hooked up to hospital patients), we would be able to replace it eventually.
- The night side during the flare would probably have electronics more or less okay, so even if one were to hit Earth (itself a very slim prospect but likely a reality some point in the future), there's a decent chance the bulk of the damage would be over the Pacific or Atlantic oceans. However such an event would damage satellites completely, and in the worst case scenarios, human progress would be stalled out for a few decades while infrastructure and industry recovered. Deaths would probably be limited to medical patients and people in situations requiring electronics at the time though.
- And the however many thousands of people in the airplanes which use electronics in the navigation equipment and more importantly to run the engines. No electronics, bye bye engine; no engine, bye bye thrust; no thrust, bye bye forward speed; no forward speed, bye bye lift; no lift ... oh no... we're gonna die. Most planes built during the last 15 years can't function without computers. If the computers are fried you either replace them or turn the aircraft into Coke cans.
- While most air passengers would likely die, modern commercial airliners are equipped with backups (most notably Auxiliary Power Units and Ram Air Turbines) that can provide some power and control in the event of engine failure and power loss. Depending on their positioning, it's quite possible that a percentage of planes would be able to ditch or land in relative safety. But yeah, it probably wouldn't work out well for most people in the air when the event happened.
- More ominously however, most people in today's Western society have no access to clean water or food without electronics, which in a worst case scenario could bump this up to a Class 2.