The Apunkalypse

"It was 1906, but we screwed the timeline up.
It wasn't just for kicks, but I'm afraid that the jig is up!
We traipsed through time at the count of jump,
Smashed the past, and messed the whole thing up -
Now there's nothing left but Post-Apocalypse Punk!"

Welcome to the apocalypse, Mr. Squidward. I hope you like leather.

Societies collapse. This is a law of nature.

In fact, according to this trope, it seems all societies degenerate into lawlessness with punks and other toughs roaming the streets (or waves; thank you Kevin Costner) and doing naughty things After the End of civilization.

This degeneracy is part and parcel of The Apunkalypse. Effectively, this trope says that one of two things happens:

  1. the rise of lawless punks leads to the downfall of civilized society (a social apocalypse wherein maintenance of lawful order is overwhelmed by lawlessness)
  2. any apocalypse (nuclear war, disease, meteor impact, etc.) leads to a breakdown of the usual civilized system of lawful justice and the emergence of tribal, punkish, modern primitive or otherwise post-Apunkaclyptic living.

This state of affairs only goes on so long as nobody decides they have had enough or nobody gets volunteered to fix it. But it may be a while before either happens, since the Apunkalypse is just another day in the neighborhood.

This generally falls within the bounds of dystopic worlds, post-apocalyptic worlds, crapsack worlds, and various punk genres. While this trope may overlap with other such as Desert Punk (specific to deserts and wastelands, on or off-world, with or sometimes without a proper Apocalypse), this trope deals with the sociology of the apocalypse (a general agreement on fashion choices and anarchic, punkish, tribal governance) more so than the landscape of the apocalypse. The Apunkalypse befalls Big Cities and societies riding the waves just as surely as it does those cowering in the Ragnarok-proof ruins of a bygone era or those walking the face of a scorched Earth. If there was in fact a major disaster or production breakdown to the point that nothing new is being produced (food, clothing, machinery, etc.) or the Apunkalypse has gone on long enough that everyone has forgotten how to produce things, people may become Disaster Scavengers in a Scavenger World. If so, Post-Apunkalyptic Armor may be all that's available to the goodies or the baddies for protection (typically consisting of, though not necessarily limited to, things like motorcycle helmets, football shoulder pads, baseball catcher padding on the front, soccer shin guards, or other items resourcefully scavenged or bartered for and a few feathery adornments complete the ensemble).

This should not be confused with the 2006 album The Arockalypse released by Finnish hard rock band Lordi. Contrast Cosy Catastrophe


Anime and Manga
  • Fist of the North Star — After nuclear armageddon, most life goes extinct except mankind, which lives on in the post-Apunkalyptic world.
    • This is parodied in Excel Saga, but limited to one city.
  • Downplayed in NEEDLESS. It's only post-Apunkalypse in the Black Spots. Elsewhere the world was rebuilt and now functions just fine. This is after World War III.
  • The anime adaption of Accel World uses the aesthetic trappings of this trope every time Ash Roller appears in the End of Centuty stage's post apocalyptic background. The Weathered stage can also fit in a sort of Mad Max style desert theme.
  • AKIRA and its film adaptation both have this take on a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, following the story of two teenage biker punks in veritable city of sin; in the manga, this intensifies to a full societal degeneration after Akira wakes up and levels the city, leaving Tetsuo and his young, fanatical followers the closest thing to a structure society has left.

Film - Live-Action
  • Doomsday — After a viral outbreak, Scotland is walled off and its inhabitants return to their tribal, modern primitive roots.
  • Judge Dredd — Lawless punks, taken to the extreme after nuclear wars force humanity a little too close together into cramped quarters, would overrun this post-apocalyptic dystopia if not for the over-zealous ministrations of Dredd and the other Judges.
    • In the comics at least, they at least try to explain the roving street gangs and block wars as something more than just Humans Are Bastards. Between robots and other forms of automation, nearly all physical labor is done without the need of humans. Unfortunately, this also means that there's over an 85% unemployment rate. In "an area housing 65 million people, that was barely designed to handle two million." Yeah, bad situation.
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior), Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and Mad Max: Fury Road all feature examples of post-Apunkalyptic tribes of ne'er-do-wells wearing scavenged Post-Apunkalyptic Armor and clothing encountered in the wastelands of the apocalyptic world they inhabit. The films are pretty much the Trope Codifiers for the look and setting. The first film, despite common misconceptions, takes place Just Before the End, with civilisation just barely still existing and the villains simply being an outlaw biker gang.
  • Things to Come — Where Mad Max codified the trope, the film adaptation of H. G. Wells' 1933 novel The Shape of Things to Come could be the Ur-Example in film. A world war breaks out in 1940 and lasts for decades, until the humans left alive have long since forgotten why it started, or what peace looks like. Most relevant for Wells' depiction of a desolate 1970, with horse-drawn cars and neo-feudal warlords bedecked with animal skins.
  • The Postman — After a bout of unspecified Doomsday, society breaks down, and people revert to either insular villages or large authoritarian, sometimes punkish, communes for survival.
  • Waterworld — In large part this is Mad Max-at-sea, in a post-Apunkalyptic world, wherein the polar icecaps have melted, humanity is adrift and the Smokers are the punks-du-jour.

  • Peter Clines's Ex-Heroes is about how the world has been overrun by zombies. The street gang called the Seventeens then promptly proceed to take over the ruins of Los Angeles, keeping all the other survivors as serfs.
  • Mortal Engines went through this stage (most obvious in the prequels) going for steampunk punk but has now transitioned largely into Apocalypse Not.

Live-Action TV
  • The Tribe — Living in a Teenage Wasteland isn't so bad right? Apparently, The Virus, which was largely fatal to adults created a Cozy Catastrophe and now the teens are living it up in this Brave New Zealand Post-Apunkalyptic world. Its sequel The New Tomorrow picks up some time after the original series and focuses more on tribal children living the Post-Apunkalyptic life in rural areas.
  • Parodied in a sketch of The Daily Show, in which Rob Riggle claims to be reporting from after an apocalypse caused by the latest political kerfuffle. He sports Post-Apunkalyptic Armor, saying that it's standard "leathers 'n feathers" wear for post-apocalyptic warriors.
  • Doctor Who
    • In the story "Paradise Towers", the post-apocalyptic tower block of the title is overrun by teenage punk girl-gangs called Kangs. They turn out to be the least dangerous or evil of the story's various factions.
    • In the Just Before the End episode "Utopia", much of humanity has devolved into animalistic punk cannibals called the "Futurekind".
  • In the Farscape episode "Taking the Stone", the Clan have this as their dress sense and image, although they're more amiably nihilistic stoners than violent.
  • In The 100, 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse, what's left of humanity (on the American East Coast, anyway) has devolved into primitive, almost constantly warring tribes, who wear masks that make them look like monsters. Played with, in that the people from Mount Weather and the Ark, who have done a much better job preserving modern civilization, are often shown to be just as violent and cruel as the "savages", just in different ways.

  • The premise of the David Bowie Concept Album Diamond Dogs (which emerged from an aborted stage musical version of 1984): After an unknown catastrophe, the remnants of humanity in "Hunger City" form decadent, scavenging tribes.
  • Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is something like this — BLI/nd, their employees, and the drugged-out masses live in shining, sterile Battery City (a rebuilt post-apocalyptic Los Angeles), and the punked-out rebel Killjoys live in the dusty, derelict, but more colorful and alive Zones.
  • The video for Tupac Shakur's "California Love".

Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy
  • Robin Williams jokes about how violence in society is slowly escalating and references The Road Warrior.
    Robin:...And it's escalating! Pretty soon it's gonna be Road Warrior on the freeway. People with twin .50 caliber machine guns mounted on the front of their Cheverolets, going, "Look Helen, a slow chinese driver".
    Robin: And he's going, "No you don't you wonton asshole!" WHOOSH! Flamethrower in the trunk!
    Robin: And a little old lady in a Volkswagon Bus with a grenade launcher going, "Make my day!"


Video Games
  • The Fallout series has played with this over the years. Since the very first game, people have been banding together to form peaceful back-to-basics tribes as well as towns, companies, governments and charities. However, for every New California Republic or Followers of the Apocalypse, there are hundreds of bands of raiders, slavers, ruthless mercenaries, sadists, drug makers and the like. The games often feature a struggle between attempts to civilise the Wastes and conflicting desires to live a hedonistic life of base pleasures.
    • Speaking of the Followers of the Apocalypse, their leader is a bit of a subversion: She certainly dresses the part (complete with a garishly-colored mohawk), but she wants to help make the Wasteland a better place by providing aid and education to the needy.
    • Caesar's Legion are an interesting example. Their leader aims to create a totalitarian state using bits and pieces of ancient Roman culture and aesthetics to create a single, unified tribal identity for his slave soldiers. The result is a powerful, well organized army that's nonetheless fairly punkish as far as their technology level is concerned (primitive medicine and emphasis on low tech, reliable weapons and melee are deliberate, to emphasize personal sacrifice). On the other hand, Legion subjects in territories its controls (which reach from Arizona to Colorado) enjoy a well developed modern infrastructure and unparalleled safety.
    • Fallout 3 plays this trope straighter, with only a handful of decent town structures, and the entire wasteland filled with small gangs of raiders who have no organization amongst themselves at all.
    • The factions described most closely as punk in the original games were mostly good people - the original followers of the apocalypse looked like a biker gang, the tanker vagrants were good natured nomads who found the Shi welcoming, the other "punk" faction in the Boneyard in the first game were just poor people trying to fend for themselves and you can end up helping them liberate one of the Boneyard's towns from the military dictatorship the mercenaries in charge of official security there have imposed. As a general rule, when it comes to Fallout, you can tell the degree of black in a faction by how stuck in the past they are.
  • Each bandit tribe in RAGE comes in its own distinct, punky flavor: cannibals, drunken Brits, gadgeteering Faceless Goons, Pyro Maniacs and gibbering Wild Men, to name a few.
  • The Twisted Metal series as of Black and the 2012 reboot. While the world hasn't suffered any kind of great cataclysm and normal society still marches on, the characters and vehicles have a definite Apunkalypse style about them.
  • In Crude Buster, two crude dudes with mohawks and Cool Shades fight a gang of mutants that now infests the ruins of New York City.
  • A staple setting for Beat 'em Up games from early to mid 90s, such as Final Fight or Streets of Rage, was Wretched Hive cities infested with literal armies of punks sponsored by supervillain-esque crime bosses. While society did not collapse per se, Police Are Useless and it's highly dangerous for a civilian to ever step outdoors - that is, until our heroes arrive to restore order.
  • Likewise, Double Dragon, the originator of this scenario, takes place in the year 199X after World War III. It's almost like Fist of the North Star minus the exploding heads.

  • During the 2013 Government Shutdown in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things Commander Badass dressed in leather, claiming that "it's a well-documented fact that in times a' social anarchy that folks respect the authority a' th' most leather an metal looking dude." And his main competition is actually a cenobite.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Russian Civil War. It went both ways: the collapse of the society was caused by a rise in crime, riots and general lawlessness after the February Revolution, and during the war itself, if you were not a soldier, odds are you were some kind of moonshine-addled bandit looking like a Rummage Sale Reject (remember, this was way before the punk subculture formed). And the border between "soldier" and "moonshine-addled Rummage Sale Reject bandit" was very, very fuzzy.
  • Also, the Warlord Era in China, before the Communists came.
  • Somalia now.
    • Subverted by Somaliland, which not only kept its regional government but "upgraded" it to a separate nation by declaring independence from the Somali Republic. It hasn't been recognized as an independent country, though.
  • Both justified in practice: modern society despite the appearance of endless freedoms depends on law and order to survive. Money needs a central bank to issue it, older forms of money based on precious metal need a convention between people to use them, industry requires a complex system of relationships between those who mine the raw materials, transport them, work them, deliver the finished goods and sell them. The fact Roman Law is the basis of many modern law systems is not coincidental, 2000 years ago they still needed all these to make a state and a society. Punks, bastards, bandits and scoundrels have the precious skills and training needed to survive in a Scavenger World since it has been their province even before the fall.
  • The Libyan Crisi of 2011 wich led to the overthrow of Gadaffi, was noted for the crazy DIY vehicles wich the Rebels used. Enough to make any Mad Max villain proud.