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Apocalypse Not
An unfortunate side effect of combining After the End and Expansion Pack World.

This is the tendency for an initially hellish, ruined post-apocalyptic setting to become less and less so as the world is developed due to the addition of additional cultures with healthy and growing societies. Often also "helped along" when the knowledge that has been lost seems less and less significant with the development of new Applied Phlebotinum, often of a type not available before The End.

Compare There Is Another, when a character said to be the Last of His Kind turns out not to be as more and more about his kind is revealed.

Contrast with New Eden, where the healing of the world is central to the plot rather than an unintentional side effect of its development.

Examples:

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    Anime 
  • Mai-Otome. Apparently, despite the claim that the war 300 years ago left the world devastated, the desert extends to just the immediate surroundings of Windbloom, and everywhere else it is lush and beautiful.
  • Macross suffered from this, possibly because the post-apocalypse episodes were made in a hurry after the series was lengthened. Explained in the franchise that mass cloning was used following the war. It's also notable that unlike many series there was never any real indication any critical knowledge was lost, just industrial capability, and that was quickly made up for when they began capturing Zentraedi Factory Satellites. There are some passing mentions though of certain cultural information being lost due to the devastation of ethnic groups and the fact no one probably thought it overly critical to preserve copies of Lady Gaga songs, lolcats memes, etc in hardened military databases. Notably, the Earth is still portrayed as a desolate wasteland whenever it appears in later series: it's inhabitable, and the environment is slowly returning, but it's going to take a very long time to become the verdant world it used to be.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Earth has gone through nuclear World War III, a meteor shower that destroyed portions of the upper hemisphere, and a Non-Nuclear World War IV in 2020. By 2030, Japan is shown to be a thriving 1st world nation, and modern day technology has become an integrated part of society itself. You wouldn't think by looking that at one point there were nukes flying around the world. Tokyo was destroyed, but "Radiation Scrubber Nanotechnology" has made the area safe to live in pretty fast, though the people that live there are most notably low-class citizens. This trope is best shown with Berlin, Germany. It was flat-out destroyed during both world wars, yet you wouldn't be able to tell that anything happened to it at all if that bit of exposition hadn't been revealed.
    • It is also worth pointing out that Japan was one of the biggest losers during both wars. Then again, given that country's history with startlingly quick turnarounds following previous world wars, this isn't unprecedented.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • The Mortal Engines novels suffered greatly from this, to the point that it seemed that the only thing that civilization had lost was the technology of the Wave Motion Gun and modern era CD-Roms.
  • Both played straight and subverted in Dune and its sequels: Paul Muad'Dib establishes an environmental program to turn the originally hellish-desert planet Arrakis into a more verdant and fertile place to live... only to have his son disrupt the process, showing how a verdant Arrakis would create its own hellish political climate... only to, during his own reign over the universe, turn it into a verdant world with only a thin strip left of the original desert... only to turn it back into its original desert harshness as part of his plan for the continued preservation of the universe. Honestly, Arrakis goes back and forth from temperate to desert climate so often that it's impossible to tell whether a given situation is upholding this trope or setting it on fire and tossing it out the window.
    • It's actually even more complicated; Arrakis was originally a pleasant planet before the water-hating "sandtrout" arrived.
  • The Death Lands action/adventure novels (by Jack Adrian et al), though they got around it somewhat by having the protagonists travel in time as well as space.
  • A large part of the plot and theme of The Stand by Stephen King is whether or not this will happen to what remains of civilization after the superflu.

    Live Action TV 
  • Jericho's first season focused on a small town struggling to survive after nuclear attacks destroy major US cities. Although the town itself isn't ruined, they increasingly struggle against typical post-apocalyptic challenges: finding food and medical supplies, fending off raiders, generating power, relations with neighboring towns. In season two, many of these challenges go away, as the focus shifts to adapting to life under a new government, with supplies and jobs provided, but with mysteries about this government's involvement in the attacks.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Rifts, Earth has been ruined by the apocalyptic return of magic; yet the world seems stuffed to the rafters with powerful, advanced cultures wielding incredible technologies or magics. This has to do with the Rule of Cool, the Fantasy Kitchen Sink and the fact that All Myths Are True.
    • Technologically, perhaps, but with few exceptions, most places culturally are barely out of the "Me big man with gun! Me boss!" stage. And it only got more brutal as new splatbooks came out.
  • In BattleTech, the Succession Wars destroyed much of the manufacturing base and personnel required to build higher technology. The most critical loss was the Kearny-Fuchida drive - all orbital shipyards capable of constructing them were destroyed. However, as the series goes on, much of the lost technology is rediscovered and put back into production through the discovery of memories cores, research, and finding lost factories, or retconned into being rare, rather than irreplaceable. BattleMechs, for example, went from being almost irreplaceable to being relatively common, albeit expensive.

    Video Games 
  • Arguably happens in Fallout 2; at the beginning, humanity seems to have reverted to Stone Age tribalism, and it's not until the second town that you even find an actual gun available for sale. By the end, all the Mooks have Powered Armor and energy weapons out the ass.
    • The fact that civilization has mostly rebuilt itself is explicitly stated more than once, and is actually a significant element of the setting. The quality of life in San Francisco and the New California Republic is shown to have nearly reached prewar standards, and poor frontier towns like Modoc generally have some sort of government.
    • Made even more explicit in Fallout: New Vegas. The only people having a difficult time making ends meet are the N.C.R., who are that way due to overextending themselves, the Followers, who are actually using the supplies to help other people, and the poor around Vegas, most of whom lost their money to drugs and gambling. This, however, is justified. Mr. House saw the apocalypse coming, but missed it by one day. His anti missile defenses weren't running at full capacity. He shot down every missile heading for Vegas except 11. If his upgrades had finished, he would've had them all.
  • At the end of Deus Ex, JC Denton shuts down global communications, triggering the Great Collapse and throwing humanity into a Dark Age. Twenty years later, a number of cities have not only been rebuilt, but are once more engaged in cutting-edge research into emergent technologies. However, most of the world is either a) devastated or b) the same Illuminati-controlled dystopia the first game started with.
  • Pandora is a complicated example. In Borderlands 2 the planet is arguably more of an environmental disaster area, featuring even more dangerous bandits, a mutated human subspecies, and 2-3 times the amount of deadly creatures. However, in the first game, most of the Crapsack World-iness came from the fact that the planet was a backwater's backwater's backwater, with only few (if any) attention from outside the planet. By the beginning of Borderlands 2, however, it's made clear that five interplanetary and even intergalactic megacorporations have (or had) holdings and major settlements on it, one of which even has an ongoing business selling wood, and the world actually has some semblance of normal life there besides survival. And the rest of the human population in the Borderlands world knows about Pandora by now. Although, it's debatable whether or not the increased attention from the various Mega Corps has actually improved life on Pandora at all or just made it worse.
  • Without explanation, the Crapsack World of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun has somewhat improved, in contradiction of what the backstory says, by the sequel Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars.
    • Somewhat justified. Around the time in Tiberian Sun, GDI had little means of stopping Tiberium spread and not even the most advanced cities were protected from Tiberium spread or Ion Storms. In addition, GDI had not yet assumed the role of government, leaving most civilian services crumbling and national governments barely keeping control. When the situation got too bad, GDI would simply mass-evacuate citizens to its un-touched arctic colonies. The change we see in Tiberium Wars is the combined result of discovery of sonic weapons' effectiveness against Tiberium, the decision to wall cities up (blue zones) and GDI assuming the role of government, and the aid of the Tacitus' secrets after Firestorm.
    • However, the non-canonical novel Tiberium Wars shows that, for most people, it's still a Crapsack World. Only select few get to live in the tiberium-free Blue Zones. A reporter in the book goes to a Yellow Zone and sees people desperately struggling to survive and blame the GDI. The blame is partly justified in that that particular Yellow Zone was originally supposed to be turned into a Blue Zone. However, at the last moment, they discovered that tiberium has contaminated an underground stream and chose to cut their losses. Food is scarse, and anything growing in the wild is likely contaminated by tiberium. Hospitals get daily terminal cases of hungry people throwing caution to the wind and eating berries from a bush or something similar, and painfully dying hours later.
  • Arguably, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict goes like this halfway through. The beginning of the game implies worldwide destruction, with few survivors and no hope. However, we later see functioning cities, functional industry and many soldiers on our way, implying there isn't such a shortage of people after all. It's mostly Gameplay and Story Segregation though, since the cutscenes still give the apocalyptic feel.
  • The Sims 2 Self-Imposed Challenge "The Apocalypse Challenge" actually has this as its goal: your starting sim has survived a nuclear meltdown that wipes out Sim City, and must establish a dynasty that rebuilds civilization. This is represented by the player following a harsh set of gameplay restrictions for the neighborhood, a few of which are removed every time a sim from the family reaches the top of a career path.
  • Happens a few times in the Warcraft series:
    • The world of Draenor was already on its way to become a completely barren planet when it exploded at the end of Warcraft II:: Beyond the Dark Portal, the shattered fragments ending up in the Twisting Nether as an easy target for demons and other interdimensional threats. But in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, several regions seem relatively untouched. Nagrand is particularly noticeable as lush Ghibli Hills full of life.
    • After Warcraft III, the Lordaeron subcontinent was presumed to have been completely destroyed by the Zombie Apocalypse and The Plague. In World of Warcraft, about half of the regions there are completely safe from the Scourge.
    • WoW's third expansion pack, Cataclysm, had the world being changed forever by cataclysmic events. In reality, apart from a volcano, some tectonic rifts and the odd sunk zone, most regions stayed almost the same. A few even got better than before the Cataclysm.

    Webcomics 
  • Arguably part of the background for Terinu, as five hundred years previous to the story's start the Varn Dominion destroyed human civilization and scattered them to re-education camps among the stars. Things Got Better and humanity eventually took the Earth back, after the Varn were nice enough re-terraform it and remove all the nasty pollution.

    Real Life 
  • Bikini Atoll represents this trope on a small environmental scale. Today, mere decades after several apocalypse-level nuclear tests, it is a thriving wildlife habitat.
    • It's still dangerous to land mammals, however, since the edible plants have absorbed radioactive minerals.
  • The Chernobyl exclusion zone is by no means a safe area even decades from the disaster, but the destruction of everything living that many foresaw would happen through horrible mutations never took place. There have been mutations, and certainly many animals have died from the radiation in their food, but through natural selection vegetation and wildlife in the area has grown more resilient to radiation damage, and has been reclaiming the area with fervor.
    • Radiation has quickly fallen to levels where it takes years to kill a large animal. Considering that wolves, beavers and ungulates survive in the wild up to 10-15 years and breed every year from the age of 1-2, they proliferate faster than die out. Natural causes tend to kill them before the radiation does. Humans, on the other hand, live long enough to suffer from it.
    • The fact that humans tend to avoid Chernobyl exclusion zone helps a lot.
  • The DMZ that divides North and South Korea. Due to mines and the armistice boundary, wildlife and plantlife thrives in the area. There are no hunters, only UN observers and the few people allowed to live in selected areas. Though only for anything light enough to not set off one of the many, many landmines in it. Every so often a deer gets too heavy and sets one off.

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