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Apocalypse How / Class 2

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"Three billion human lives ended on August 29, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines."
Sarah Connor, Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Planetary-scale Societal Collapse. Humanity, or otherwise the local dominant species, survives, but this event takes an entire planet back to at least a pre-industrial age — and pre-agricultural at worst. Recovery may or may not be possible.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • After War Gundam X is a Class 1 disaster due to the Seventh Space War's conclusion. Nearly all the Colonies used a Colony Drop on Earth, sending it into a seven year Nuclear Winter. However, 15 years after the War, everything is stabilized and despite taking place After the End, it is upbeat and hopeful.
  • Blue Gender, in which giant bugs ravage the human population of Earth, forcing the humans into space. Admittedly, humans as a species are allowed to survive as small hunter gatherer tribes, but that still necessitates all modern civilization's knowledge and technology to be wiped out lest Gaia's Vengeance do an encore.
  • Dragon Ball: About 500 years prior to the beginning of the first series, a violent storm raged across the planet Namek, leaving only one Namekian on the ground and another escaped to somewhere in space. Even centuries later with asexual Namekian reproduction, there are only a few hundred Namekians left. During the Frieza saga of Dragon Ball Z, Frieza, his henchmen and Vegeta almost completely eradicate the Namekian race, aside from the Nameless Namekian who fled all those centuries ago, separated into the light side of Kami and the dark side of Piccolo. Piccolo becomes the only living Namekian on the surface alive prior to most of the race being resurrected by the Earth Dragon Balls and transported by the Namekian Dragon Balls, followed shortly thereafter by Namek's explosion.
  • The world got nuked from hell to back in Fist of the North Star, and it's basically become the world in the Mad Max films. Humanity may one day recover, but for the time it's stuck in a Might Makes Right world filled with mohawk-wearing motorcycle gangs and power-mad martial artist warlords.
  • From the New World features the aftermath of this scale of destruction, caused by psychic powers running rampant, 1,000 years in the future. Approximately 50,000-60,000 people live on the Japanese archipelago, and there is little knowledge of the state of the rest of the world. A relatively advanced society has stood for a couple of centuries after unknown generations of unstable feudalism and tyranny, but technologically it remains static by choice. Most likely because keeping even a moderate population of highly destructive psychics in check is an incredibly arduous task.
  • Genma Wars is set in a distant future Earth where humans were dominated by a demon race known as the Genma. Society has been pretty much destroyed, technology is medieval with a few pieces of lost technology laying around and humans live as badly-mistreated slaves at best and literal cattle at worse under their masters. Its revealed that their downfall was actually engineered by the Genma themselves, who have infiltrated the government and other positions of power during the modern times, conspired to initiate a nuclear war so they could rule over the ashes.
  • In Heat Guy J, after humans appropriated the technology of the Celestials in their conquest for power, there were apparently large-scale wars. The result? Earth's human population is reduced to seven city-states (with some small towns and Space Amish villages surrounding them), who are mistrustful of one another and do not trade, communicate, etc. with one another.
  • In My-Otome, civilization has already pretty much got back on its feet — it isn't even apparent at first that there was an apocalypse.
  • The world in Naruto suffered through this. After a devastating war against Akatsuki which left tens of thousands dead, Madara activates Mugen Tsukuyomi and traps the entire population in a dream and hooks them up to the Shinju which slowly begins turning them into White Zetsu's. Thankfully, Naruto and Sasuke save the day
  • In Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, industrial civilization has obliterated itself from the world. The remaining kingdoms and empires are busily destroying each other through war, and the ever-expanding Sea of Corruption is making large areas completely uninhabitable to all animals except its own giant insects. Thus, a Class 2 disaster threatens to become a Class 3.
  • The world created by Tsutomu Nihei. Let's list it out:
    • In Biomega the world undergoes a large viral plague which results in odd zombification. To make matters worse, the only people left are being killed off by cyborgs and mutants, with only Artificial Humans left to protect them.
    • After that, in NOiSE: Religious fanatics are trying to bring out the chaos of the Netsphere and are doing so by doing less than humane things to people. Against them... is a single police women who ends up not being able to stop them, and thus the Bizarrchitecture (built around the Earth) begins to expand rapidly and increase the chaos. Downer Ending.
    • After that... The protagonist of Blame!! is searching the the ginormous sphere for people with genes to turn off the chaos. He must deal with all the preceding crazy things mentioned (and more). Thankfully he succeeds in his mission (though the series ends right before it is directly shown).
    • After that in "Net Sphere Engineer" the last remnants of humanity are unfortunately not as safe as they would have hoped. But they have another protagonist to deal with the problems this time.
  • Although the Canon information is so vague as to be useless, it can be inferred that this was the result of the fall of the Silver Millennium in the Backstory of Sailor Moon — humanity died out completely everywhere in the Solar System other than Earth, and on Earth the fall was so egregious that the Silver Millennium and its interplanetary civilization were both completely forgotten. Exactly when this happened is uncertain, although the "thousand years ago" figure frequently bandied about is both historically improbable and the invention of the DiC North American dub.
  • Scrapped Princess has humanity defeated and imprisoned in a medieval tech level for 5000 years. The guardian AIs have a reset option of killing off 90% if the humans get troublesome.
  • Simoun takes place long After the End, when civilization is back on its feet, though not to its former level.
  • In Sound of the Sky, a big war against what appears to be aliens results in civilization taking several steps backwards. There are a lot less people around, and few of them knows how to use the remaining technology that was state of the art 200+ years earlier.
  • Stellvia of the Universe back-story falls half-way between this and Class 1: 99% of humans dead, global civilization mostly wiped out, yet they get right back on their feet in less then two centuries, advancing from the Stone Age to a space-faring civilization. That the near-Class 2 event (the electromagnetic radiation blast from the explosion of a nearby star) is a harbinger of a Class 4 event (the arrival of the much slower physical shockwave from the same explosion) helped ensure that The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People. The eponymous Stellvia is one of five enormous space stations built to prevent that event.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann begins centuries after a Class 2, with humanity confined to isolated and impoverished underground villages. The nature of the cataclysm, and the surprising reasons for it, are revealed as the show goes on.
  • Trinity Blood takes place 900 years After the End. The events of the series all take place in Europe due to it being the only inhabited continent.
  • ∀ Gundam: This was the end result of the Turn A using the Moonlight Butterfly across all of the Earth's surface. The ability works by spreading nanomachines around that attack technology, turning it into sand. 2,000 years later, Earthborn humanity is barely up to early 1900s technology levels. The final battle of the series is trying to stop Ghingnham and the Turn X from doing this again.
  • In Uchuu Senkan Yamato humanity is reduced to survival in underground cites that are rapidly becoming uninhabitable due to radiation thanks to the Gamilas' continual bombing of Earth.
  • Humanity got back on its feet in the Vampire Hunter D movies, albeit with some difficulty. Computers and energy weapons still exist, but the largest settlements humans could rebuild are large towns. From what we can gather watching the two movies, there are no more sprawling metropolises in the vein of Tokyo or New York City. In the original novels, there's one such metropolis, though the humans didn't actually build it.

    Comic Books 
  • Unsurprisingly, the Age of Apocalypse, a Bad Future caused by Charles Xavier's accidental death, starts with Apocalypse attempting to destroy the human race, resulting in the planet becoming The Social Darwinistic hellhole, with humanity being hunted by mutants, and Apocalypse's minions trying to destroy any civilization. North America is ruled by Apocalypse and his followers, and the Human High Council is confined to Europe and North Africa. Much of the world is devastated by war, with Avalon the only safe place.
  • In Crossed, this is the end result of the titular plague. Within 12 years of the outbreak, the uninfected human population bottomed out at less than 1 million people. By 2050, the Crossed population had been thinned by disease and violence to the point where the uninfected population began to grow again. By 2108, the people of North America have managed to claw their way back to a roughly 18th-century level.
  • Dark Ages puts the planet at this level. An EMP burst from an alternate dimension is used to destroy a machine known as the Unmaker, but the creature kills Dr. Strange in the process, leaving the dimension open, shutting down all technology. The first issue jumps ahead seven years to where humanity is rebuilding, but now has to deal with Apocalypse and his minions.
  • The Dutch comic Storm has civilization destroyed by Soccer. Played completely straight too. Specifically, a huge solar storm hit space stations transmitting TV signals at a time when eighty percent of Earth's population was watching the world cup final, and so logically, their TV's fried them
  • Megatron's infiltration protocol in The Transformers Megaseries is a six-stage plan to take control of an already-inhabited world with comparatively few Decepticons. Done right, it results in this. The events of All Hail Megatron were intended to be this for Earth.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series: Calvin worries an apocalypse will happen when Old Faithful erupts, blotting out the sun for more than 50 years. This is the minimum repercussion, inferring from his words.
  • The Pony POV Series reveals that the alicorns and draconequi engineered one of these for the G2 world in order to prevent the creation of the flawed G3 world. They brought this about by having Destruction basically nuke the planet, causing the collapse of governments and the slow but steady decline of technology and culture back into The Dung Ages. The 7 Dreams/Nightmares collection shows this from the POV of the G2 Mane Seven, and it is horrifying.
  • Stars Above: Vittoria's attack on Earth in the Madoka-verse resulted in a Class 2, verging on Classes 3 and 4 due to the damage to causality and the climate. Only one or two billion people are left, and every city and town is said to be in ruins. The Demons are now aiming for a Class Z.
  • Embers (Vathara): Part of Koh the Face-Stealer's Evil Plan is this via supervolcano. The goal is a Class3a.
  • Fallout: Equestria: The main story is set after a near-total total collapse of the world's previous societies and nations caused by a war similar to the one seen in the Fallout series.
  • Goddess Reborn Chronicle, naturally. That it's only a Class 2 is a huge improvement from most of the mainline games.
  • In Pretty Guardian Sailor Pokémon, Momo Kanda from Wonder Momo reveals that with the exception of a domed Japan, her version of Earth has devolved into this due to an eruption at Yellowstone that causes the Earth to plunge into an Ice Age once again.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Dominus Mundi : The King of Kings, the destruction of the Atlantean Empire during the event known as the Great Cataclysm led to the total collapse of society and made humanity return to its second pre-historic period.
  • Besides the Will of Evil: The Deer War in the distant past was one of these, bordering on a Class 3a (Planetary Scale, Engineered Species Extinction). It was an apocalyptic conflict between the ancient deer and Reiziger's armies, with the destructive magic unleashed ravaging the world. It resulted in the collapse of the once powerful deer civilization and the devastation of the natural cycles, and the caribou, one of the six deer species, were completely wiped out.
  • The Bridge: The Toba Catastrophe was caused by the godly kaiju, Reijuu, going on a rampage and stoically wiping out every human or fae civilization it could find; being rechristened a word that meant "Extinction" as Bagan. Only by the efforts of every Mothra and Battra on the planet that Bagan was sealed until Attu Island for 100,000 years. 77,000 years later in the modern day, it woke up early.
  • The World is Filled with Monsters: The story's main driving focus is preventing the total collapse of civilization, which seems increasingly likely to happen as monsters and the wilderness encroach further and further into settled lands.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Bird Box: A societal level one, to judge by the news reports, as the plague of suicides has swept across the globe, with millions dead.
  • The Colony (2013): Humanity has at least suffered a Class 2 due to the Glacial Apocalypse pretty much rendering the Earth's surface uninhabitable, leaving humans scarcely surviving with livestock and crops inside outpost shelters. It looks very likely to be a Class 3a if humanity can't reverse the Weather control Machines' effect on the climate.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is closer to this than Class 1, given that 90% of humanity is wiped out and what's left only exists in small pockets. At least one is running out of resources. What's more, Koba aimed to pull a Class 3A apocalypse, leaving apes the dominant species. He may yet succeed even though he's dead.
  • Deep Impact: If the comet hit in full, it would've likely wiped out all of humanity save for the select survivors protected by shelters.
  • Future World (2018): A global war after androids were invented caused civilization to collapse.
  • I Am Legend: Humanity has definitely suffered this, with a good chance that the low number of uninfected being hunted by the larger number of Darkseekers would've made it a Class 3a in the long run if not for Neville's cure getting delivered at the end. Three years into the future, the Krippin Virus has long since killed 90% of all humans while 9.8% became Darkseekers and 0.2% are immune, with the struggle for survival against the Darkseekers only further decimating the immune's numbers.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service has a mix of this and Class 3a, depending on how long Valentine was intending to leave his hand on the machine it could have been a Species-Extinction event, except for the few hundreds he selected and people living in remote areas without electronic devices. In any case a societal collapse was guaranteed. The movie leaves ambiguous how far it went. Presumably not very far, since Dean and his mates survived.
  • While the series started out with some aspects of civil order still around, the Mad Max films wind up here by the end. The implied nuclear war happened between the first and second movie. The first took place in a dystopia, but civilization was still intact.
  • The Matrix, which sees a machine take-over of Earth lead to most of humanity used as batteries for the evil machines.
  • The Postman: It seems to be a class 2, since the townspeople ask about if Europe survived, but things are vague.
  • The burned and depopulated world of Reign of Fire probably fits here better than Class 1, as all post-medieval technology seems to be salvaged, not anything built by survivors.
  • The Rover is similar to the first Mad Max film — economic collapse happened ten years previous, and it's unlikely that society will recover.
  • The Spy Who Loved Me. Big Bad Stromberg plans to start a global thermonuclear war to wipe out civilization.
  • Terminator, another "machines kill humans" series. SkyNet nukes the Earth in 1997 (Kyle Reese's timeline) or 2004 (in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), wiping out 3 billion humans and killing many others on sight.
  • In The Time Machine (1960), the Cold War becomes hot with the nuclear bombing of London, witnessed firsthand by the time traveler. He travels even further into the future and saw that a Class 2 had occurred with the human race split into two groups, the cannibalistic Morlocks, who bred the slow, peaceful Eloi as cattle.
  • In Transcendence, The world's shutdown takes most of humanity back to pre-industrial levels of technology.
  • The World's End: Humanity is knocked back to pre-industrial levels but the bulk of the population apparently survives and there seems no danger of actual extinction.
  • In Yor: The Hunter from the Future, aliens have literally regressed Earth back to the Stone Age. Spoony does an excellent job reviewing this campy movie.

  • Above the Timberline: The combination of a Glacial Apocalypse caused by total polar reversal and runaway tectonic disruptions threw the world into complete chaos some 1,500 years before the start of the narrative, resulting in worldwide societal collapse. The story begins when mankind has clawed its way back to industrial revolution levels of technology.
  • Patrick Tilley's The Amtrak Wars are set in an America that has recovered ecologically centuries after a nuclear war. A civilization of underground cities has developed from nuclear bunkers, and they are now spreading out to wage a genocidal war against the hunter-gatherer civilization that lives in the open.
  • Anthem takes place in a medieval society centuries after the collapse of civilization due to the victory of collectivism. Critics of Rand like to say that this is what happened to the world after Atlas Shrugged even though it was written first.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "Nightfall (1941)", a planet with six suns experiences night only once every 2049 years. Each time, the darkness drives almost everyone insane and they destroy civilization. At the end the scientists are unable to convince the people of the danger and it all happens again, but they're able to save their data about the event so that the next cycle might avoid the same fate. (Of course, given that this has happened nine or ten times before, it's very much implied that all this might be for naught, as by the time the next cycle's civilization is advanced enough to understand the data, it may well have degenerated into myth.) This is the exact situation in the novel version; one of the reasons the scientists aren't believed is because it's revealed that their prediction exactly matches the apocalyptic prophecy of an ancient cult.
    • Pebble in the Sky: Once the setting shifts to Earth in the far future, it's established that Earth now has large areas of nuclear wasteland, and visitors from off-world wear lead-lined clothing. The radioactive planet is slowly becoming completely uninhabitable.
  • The Asterisk War: In the wake of an extinction-level event known as Invertia, the entire world has turned into a Dystopia led by a MegaCorp. Entire countries have been forced back to a system of monarchic rule or even reduced to slums, because it would be profitable for said MegaCorp. The only place that isn't a Crapsack Location is the Asterisk city, used primarily as a stage for very dangerous martial arts duels and tournaments among superhuman teenagers.
  • Battlefield Earth has only 30,000 humans left, but the other trillions of beings left in the Universe can be hired as needed to rebuild the world, as the Earth's people more-or-less own the Galactic Bank and hundreds of thousands of unused colony planets.
  • The Books of Ember: In the twist ending of The City of Ember, it turns out that the eponymous city is an underground enclave built to weather a series of nuclear wars and deadly plagues. The outside world has regressed to pre-industrial levels. However, the people are still fairly well off, and, with the help of the Emberites and a few caches of Lost Technology, are starting anew by the end of the series.
  • A Boy and His Dog: The unnamed city is divided among scavenger gangs underneath which lies a Crapsaccharine World that maintains a decent level of technology but which is dying out from inbreeding.
  • In the backstory of A Canticle for Leibowitz, a nuclear war devastates the Earth, and many survivors blame science for the catstrophe, leading to a purge of scientists and intellectuals. The novel begins with humanity at roughly an early medival level of development. Over the course of the story, humanity gradually recovers technology and scientific knowledge. By the third part, they've begun to colonize space. Unfortunately, they end up starting another nuclear war. Fortunately, the Catholic Church is able to evacuate their believers before the bombs drop, saving humanity's future.
  • Cell: An unexplained phenomenon causes cell phones to emit a Pulse that turns their users into violent berserkers. While we never see the world outside the New England area, it's implied that the Pulse affected cell phone users all over the world.
  • Current conditions are like this in Cthulhu's Reign, an anthology of H. P. Lovecraft-inspired After the End tales. In most stories it's a temporary condition, as events are rapidly progressing towards a Class 3 or Class 4.
  • Edgar Pangborn's Davy, The Company of Glory and the stories collected in Still I persist in Wondering and elsewhere, take place in North America (mostly New England) in the decades and centuries following a limited nuclear/biological war that caused polar ice cap melting, altering the shape of the coastline. Society regresses to a feudal level, though some individuals continue to fight uphill battles against ignorance and cruelty.
  • The Day of the Triffids: The light from a meteor shower renders most of the human race blind, leaving them vulnerable to carnivorous walking plants that sting you to death and eat your corpse, and reproduce rapidly. Don't bother watching the 1962 film which conveniently has a Happy Ending when they suddenly discover that the Triffids can be killed with sea water.
  • A Deepness in the Sky: Every planet-bound human civilization goes through this at some point due to the limits of technology, and has been doing this for thousands of years. The Emergents manage to stave this off through Mind Control, but the true answer as of A Fire Upon the Deep seems to be to move to the parts of the galaxy where Faster-Than-Light Travel is possible. In the case of A Fire Upon the Deep, this is the answer for poor weak sophonts of human-level intelligence. The ultimate answer of beings beyond the Powers is to move the zones of space where singularity can occur closer to you.
  • The Discarded, Half-Eaten Apple Core New Life begins with a class 2 (later escalating further). The invading Infernali slaughter large portions of humanity and other species; then the System arrives to help the defenders, but magic interferes with technology, disabling what infrastructure is left. Several decades later, the protagonist emerges to find that there are just scattered pockets of survivors totalling a few million.
  • George R. Stewart's novel Earth Abides depicts the near extinction of humanity from a pandemic disease. Although there are survivors, the population is too low to maintain technological advancements of modern civilization and within two or three generations humans are living as hunter-gatherers. Actually it's not as pessimistic as it sounds. Acknowledged as one of the inspirations for King's The Stand.
  • Eight Worlds: An alien invasion literally plows human civilization out of existence, supposedly to benefit Earth's true higher life forms: dolphins, sperm whales and other cetaceans. At that time, humanity had one single developed colony on the moon. They were warned — once — never to land on Earth again. Four hundred years later, humanity had settled all the other 'junk' planets in the solar system. What continues to happen on Earth is a sweet mystery.
  • In Mary Gentle's The Golden Witchbreed.
    • the eponymous species who inhabited the planet of Orthe created a virus called Ancient Light, which could sterilize the entire planet of all organic material and fuse the terrain into a glass-like substance. Luckily, it was stopped, and only some parts of the planet were affected. The Witchbreed survived only as a few hybrids in one of their outposts and most of their advanced technology was lost, while their slave race rebuilt medieval-level civilization in the unaffected regions.
    • However, in the ending of the sequel, Ancient Light, Calil Bel-Rioch releases Ancient Light again, after destroying the city of Casabaarde, which contained the only way to stop the virus, thereby causing a Class 6. The Orthans can't even be saved by being relocated off world, since they're dependent on Orthan microbes to survive.
  • The Inheritance Cycle: The exact nature of the Fall of the Grey Folk is ambiguous, but it's indicated to be around this scale. All we know about it is that a miscast spell caused the extinction of all but a few of the Grey Folk and the loss of most if not all written records from the time, inspiring the remaining Grey Folk to enchant the very concept of magic itself with safeguards to prevent a recurrence. Also, the Arcaena cult (whose membership includes Heslant the Monk and Jeod) believes that a similar event will take place in the relatively near future, and are dedicated to stockpiling information against it. There's no stated connection, however, between the Arcaena or their beliefs and the Grey Folk.
  • Kronk: Society is headed this way. P939 inhibits all aggression, which also inhibits most of human drive. It might make its way up to a Class 3 when the Hate Plague aspects come into play.
  • Last and First Men:
    • The First World State collapses due to a catastrophic energy crisis and ensuing starvation and mass rioting, in addition to accidental releases of an ancient nerve plague which quickly spreads all over the world, effectively sending humanity back to the Stone Age.
    • The Second Men, who are especially vulnerable to disease, suffer repeated diebacks from plagues, generally at the level of Continental to Planetary Societal Collapse, before they finally attain the relative stability of their zenith. Similar collapses are also caused by an extensive ice age and a single world war.
    • The Fifth Men undergo a near-total Social Collapse as imperfect adjustments to Venus' environment, an incurable gastric disease and a degenerative neurological affliction devastate their race and reduce them to scattered island-dwelling barbarians.
  • In Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, an asteroid hits the moon and causes chaotic climate changes. Tsunamis and volcanoes start happening across the world. The volcanic ash blocks the sun and causes a mini-Ice Age.
  • The YA series Mars Year One revolves around the efforts of a Martian colony built 20 Minutes into the Future to become self-sufficient after a combination of nuclear war and devastating natural disasters collapses all of Earth's governments. While it's strongly implied that Earth-bound humans have survived, they certainly aren't in any position to send help and supplies to the struggling Martian colonists.
  • The Maze Runner turns out to be set after one of these: A combination of Solar Flares and a virus, collectively known as the Flare, has wiped out civilization outside a few tiny bases, leaving the world a barely-habitable wasteland roamed by Cranks, with some parts having been scoured of all life.
  • The novel Mind Games involves a system apocalypse in which magic starts working and electronics stop working. The disruption to transportation and communications networks, along with the fact that wildlife starts mutating into hideously dangerous monsters, immediately causes widespread disruption. Though the novel only takes place during the first few days of the event it is implied that this will take human civilization down several pegs.
  • Myth Adventures: Deva suffered an ecological disaster many generations ago, rendering the land and seas incapable of sustaining its civilization. The native Deveels only survived by becoming the dimensions' wiliest cross-world traders, forfeiting and forgetting their pre-catastrophe way of life.
  • Paul O. Williams' Pelbar series, in which the majority of the human race was wiped out a thousand years previous, by a meteor storm which triggered an atomic exchange. Commonly known as the Time Of Fire. Only remnants of the time are scattered ruins and various radioactive dead zones.
  • S. M. Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers centers on a set of comets hitting the North Atlantic and North America in 1878, creating tidal waves that ruin what is left of the U.S. and most of mainland Europe. Britain (having lucked out with Ireland as a waterbreak) is dealing with the nightmarish winter that follows when a group of scientists predict that Spring will not come for another three years at best. So of course they evacuate the Army, the Royals, a chunk of the nobility and government, the contents of several Universities, as much factory gear/skilled workers they can get their hands on, and so forth over to India. The book itself starts in 2025, with the Angrezi Raj pitted against the plots of a Russian Empire run by a Satanist cannibal cult and guided by an order of precognitive slaves.
  • M. K. Wren's The Phoenix Trilogy takes place a thousand years after a Class 1 Pandemic wipes out most of the planetary civilization. In the chapters covering the historic re-building of human society, almost all of the emerging powerhouse civilizations are from remote areas of the planet. The planetary government winds up being centered in Australia.
  • David Brin's The Postman (1985) is set in the aftermath of "the Doomwar", an apocalyptic war that shattered the United States. The protagonist is a drifter who finds a postal uniform, and starts a postal network in an effort to stay fed, and ends by reuniting the northwest USA. Poigantly, it's later revealed that the Doomwar would've been a Class 1 if not for the Holnist militias sabotaging any efforts at recovery. Better known as the film starring Kevin Costner.
  • Riddley Walker: It's two thousand years — we think — after a nuclear war blasted everyone back to Iron Age technology. In the two millennia since the war, mankind has been getting by in a sort of neo-tribal existence, by scavenging old rusting metal from the ruins of cities to salvage the scrap metal. All history is orally related via Punch-and-Judy puppet shows and half-remembered accounts of the war are woven together with scraps of the legend of St. Eustace. And the English language is mind-blowingly different.
  • The Shannara and Knight of the Word series by Terry Brooks. Humanity nearly wipes itself out in a nuclear war, some of the survivors evolve/mutate into divergent species, magic is rediscovered, the Elves return, and the new races slowly build back up into a Medieval European Fantasy setting.
  • Stephen King's The Stand.
    • the flu has wiped out almost everyone (we see only the situation in America, but it is confirmed several times the pandemic was global), but the forces of good and evil are calling the survivors to two cities, and once they begin to gather it turns out there are thousands. The potential for abuse of abandoned power sources is a main issue, suggesting that after evil is defeated humanity will get right back on its feet in terms of technology (which actually worries some of the protagonists). In the end, God sets off a nuke in the evil city (perhaps surprisingly, more an example of Chekhov's Gun than Deus ex Machina), and the folks in the good city appear to be starting right down the road to rebuilding the old civilization, warts and all.
    • Of course, 99.44 percent of humanity being wiped out and all, it's unlikely they could simply restart all that technology outside of a few cities. It seems more likely that The Dark Tower is an alternate-reality future America, After the End, since it's confirmed that Captain Trips happened there in the distant past, as well. Which places it in a high Class 2, verging on Class 3.
    • Also see Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon, which deals with the aftermath of a nuclear war and bears certain ... similarities to The Stand.
  • In "The Star", a Short Story by H. G. Wells, the story ends with nearly complete social collapse on Earth, due to a wandering star almost hitting the planet.
  • In Station Eleven, society falls when a plague wipes out a large portion of humanity and much of the rest dies due to the resulting lack of infrastructure, modern medicine, and so on. What little modern technology remains a couple decades later later is only there due to people going out of their way to preserve it. By the end, humanity appears to be on a slow march back to modernity, with at least one community producing its own electricity.
  • S. M. Stirling:
    • In the Emberverse , a mysterious event causes all recent power sources to stop working at all (electricity, steam engines of any useful efficiency, gunpowder, etc.). About 95% of humanity dies off in the first year from starvation and lack of knowledge on how to survive in primitive conditions. Another large percentage of what's left dies off once cannibalism is no longer an option due to lack of other humans. By the end of the first book it's clear humanity is going to survive — most remaining threat comes from would-be warlords and despots, who want to enslave rather than kill — but the cultures that are springing up aren't precisely what you'd expect. Then there's the reborn Kingdom of Britain that shows up in later volumes. It seems the U.K. military evacuated the Royals, a solid selection of reference materials, a few thousand lucky/skilled souls, etc. to the Isle of Wright and is steadily recolonizing a Britain occupied by "Brushwood Men" (and dealing with Mad King Charles and his Icelandic Queen, but that is beside the point).
    • The Peshawar Lancers accomplishes much the same thing with a series of cometary impacts that destroy industrial Europe and the eastern United States in the late 19th century, setting the stage for a Steampunk 21st century where the British Raj in India, an ascendant Japanese Empire, and the Empire of Brazil are the dominant world powers. France is a shadow of its former self and Russia is controlled by a Eldritch Abomination-worshipping death cult.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The Desolations were a cyclical example of this trope. Apparently, 90% casualties (of the entire human race) are not uncommon, and it's considered a toss-up as to whether humanity will have struggled back up to bronze, let alone iron, by the time the next Desolation gets here. For various reasons, the current Desolation was delayed much longer than normal, allowing humanity to work their way much farther up the tech tree.
  • The Taking: This is considered to be the best-case scenario at the hands of the invaders by many of the townsfolk, with only small pockets of humanity surviving on a radically altered Earth. They're right, but not for the reasons they thought. The invaders are actually The Legions of Hell, out to take the souls of the insufficiently virtuous, which apparently amount to most of humanity. Most of the rest are virtuous, but lack useful skills and are raptured as a result. This leaves only those who are both virtuous and skilled as well as the children of those who were taken to rebuild with the help of some ill-explained Easy Logistics hand-waved in during the last few chapters while the invaders and the apparent Hostile Terraforming leave faster than they appeared.
  • The Tapestry: The end of the second book features Astaroth acquiring the the Book of Thoth and using it to screw around with the truenames of anything he doesn't like. This results in Earth being reduced to a medieval Crapsack World: all technology past the Middle Ages being destroyed and wiped from memory, the vast majority of humanity being wiped out, and the few tens of millions of survivors being subjugated by demonic rulers.
  • Trail of Lightning is set after the Energy Wars and the Big Water destroyed global industry and flooded chunks of the world. The Dinétah nation is reduced to scavenging technology and food from ruins and farming for subsistence. The economy is reduced to barter system dominated by handcrafts.
  • John Christopher's The Tripods series of books (The White Mountains, The Tripods, The City of Gold and Lead, and a fourth prequel, When the Tripods Came) have a world where a race of extraterrestrials have conquered Earth. They ride around and visit communities in huge three-legged vehicles, and have "capped" every human adult with a device attached to their heads to keep them from starting a revolution and fighting back. The world has more-or-less been knocked back to or just above semi-rural agricultural society, where there is essentially no motorized equipment. A small group of rebels is determined to take Earth back from the tripods, the only question is whether they will have enough time to do so.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • An event occurred three thousand or so years previously known as the Breaking of the World. Due to all male channelers going berserk, human society is set back from near utopia to feudalism.
    • Later on in the series, it's stated that the Choeden Kal have the power to crack the world like an egg, a potential Class X disaster.
    • With the female half of the Choeden Kal melted the chance of a Class X disaster is averted. Granted, Rand with the male half can still do plenty of damage alone. Due to prior damage from balefire and the Dark One being about to escape, Rand may still be able to annihilate the world with just the male half of the Choedan Kal. At least, he seems to think so.
  • The Wild Boy by Warren Rochelle-somewhere between this and the next, since it was unnatural means, but humanity wasn't totally extinct and was back in pre industrial mode living in the ruins (the ones not being bred by the Lindauzi anyway)
  • In Worm, the Endbringers are slowly inflicting this on humanity over the course of decades of regular attacks, destroying cities, killing superheroes, and wiping out infrastructure. Attempts to recover between attacks can mitigate some of the damage, but every character is aware that humanity is slowly becoming extinct, and there's nothing they can do about it. As of the aptly named Extinction arc, Scion has pulled a Face–Heel Turn and inflicted this scale of damage on multiple alternate earths.
  • Z for Zachariah, in which World War III seems to have wiped out everything but an isolated valley in America. From the sound of it it might actually border on a Class 3, since the protagonist is unsure if there are any humans left alive outside the valley.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide dubs this a "Class 4 Outbreak" of the Zombie Apocalypse — when there are so many zombies that humanity is overwhelmed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 12 Monkeys, the world is at this state thanks to the plague and headed for Type 3.
  • Earth in The 100 has regressed to this level, with the descendants of the survivors of mass nuclear fallout having formed violent warring tribes. It could have been worse: the survivors on the Ark thought it was a Class 3 or 4 Apocalypse.
  • Andromeda: With 40 missile tubes each capable of delivering eight 20-megaton kinetic kill missiles a second, the Andromeda Ascendant can destroy every population center of a Tarn Vedra (read: Earth like) class planet in under six minutes. And that's strictly with basic munitions, not even touching the Class X-2 weaponry.
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", its shown that humanity all but wiped itself out in a massive civil war, several decades after the Shadow War. In a direct homage to A Canticle for Leibowitz, it's revealed that at one of the monks shown is a Ranger in direct contact with the Interstellar Alliance.
  • The plot of Battlestar Galacticaboth series — is based on a multiple Class 2, the Cylons all but wiping out humanity's twelve planetary colonies and pursuing the pathetically small number of survivors through space.
  • Defiance: The world following the Pale Wars has bumped the world back to roughly late 19th century levels of technology, barring the odd bit of Schizo Tech. Humans and Votan keep warring with each other and we've a lot more invasive wild alien species to contend with, but on the whole things look like they'll pick up again eventually.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Reapers in "Father's Day" erase almost all traces of human life to fix a paradox in time, reaching a Class 3 if left unchecked.
    • In "The Parting of the Ways", the Daleks kill off every human on board the GameStation apart from Rose and firebomb the Earth, shifting its continents, making it at least a Class 2.
    • In "Gridlock", the mood drug Bliss mutated, wiping out all life on New Earth apart from the undercity of New New York, which was safely quarantined by the Face of Boe.
    • In "Last of the Time Lords", the Master and the Toclafane's Alien Invasion has apparently caused this within a year. After the Alien Invasion exterminated 10% of the Earth's population, the Master is now the unquestioned Lord and Master of the entire Earth and the remaining humans are effectively his and the Toclafane's slave labor. TV no longer works and technology has regressed severely, the Master has carved monuments to himself all around the world, and the Toclafane have converted the entire south coast of England into a spaceship-constructing shipyard. Later, we hear about the ruins of New York, the fusion mills of China, the radiation pits of Europe, and the entirety of the islands of Japan being burned with everyone on them. Thankfully, the whole apocalypse suffers a Reset Button by the episode's end.
    • In "Dreamland", from the sounds of it, the Viperox inflict this class of devastation on every world they successfully conquer (possibly a Class 4 in terms of the non-sapient biosphere). The Doctor states the Viperox "savage and decimate" every attacked world, but also that there's a good chance that there could well be something (if not much) left of the Gray aliens' homeworld for them to live on and salvage after the Viperox attacked it. The Viperox's plan is to "tear [planet Earth] to shreds" for humanity as soon as their Teeth-Clenched Teamwork is at an end.
    • In "The End of Time", the Master does this in a very creative and, admittedly, totally awesome manner: by turning (almost) the entirety of humanity into carbon copies of himself, giving rise to, aptly named, "The Master Race". We all get better shortly afterwards, though.
    • In "Day of the Moon", we learn that the Silence have occupied the Earth since the age of fire and the wheel. Canton Delaware and the Doctor trick the Silence into post-hypnotically ordering their own destruction through a message in the 1969 moon landing. As there are probably remote corners of the Earth where people haven't seen the Moon landing videos, it's unlikely to be a Class 3.
  • In a Bad Future of Heroes, the immortal Adam Munroe unleashes the Shanti virus, wiping out most of the world's population so they can build anew.
  • Dollhouse: In the Bad Future, Rossum's mindwiping technology has been refined to the point where it can be done remotely with any piece of technology. Consequently, a large chunk of humanity has had their personalities erased and either become feral "butchers" or completely emotionless "dumbshows", causing complete societal collapse worldwide.
  • See takes place several centuries after a plague wiped out civilization and reduced the human population to roughly two million people. The survivors all lost their sense of sight, forcing humanity back to an Iron Age level.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Taste of Armageddon", Kirk threatens to use "General Order 24", which is this caused by Orbital Bombardment. May range as far up as Class 6 (the order is to destroy all life on a planet, and the upper destructive limit of a Constitution-class starship given time to work over a planet is never firmly established), but Class 2 is the minimum.
  • Station Eleven's apocalypse is caused by The Plague quickly sweeping through and annihilating 99% of the population. Twenty years later, humanity has overall regressed to largely pre-industrial levels besides what they can salvage from the Ruins of the Modern Age. Expertise in engineering and the like is confined to small pockets.
  • Supernatural:
    • In a Bad Future, Lucifer inflicts this on the Earth by creating a Zombie Apocalypse with the Croatoan Virus. Slightly downplayed in that the government and military are still functioning in a severely diminished capacity, Australia has only just recently been hit by the virus, and there's no more sports.
    • In an Alternate Universe where the Apocalypse was never stopped, the Angels have massively decimated the human population and are looking to exterminate what's left. It might cross into Class 4, since what we see of this world is either forest and mountains or is scorched, lifeless wasteland.
  • "The Quiz Broadcast" sketches in That Mitchell and Webb Look has the Event, which has heavily regressed general human knowledge to the point that people don't even know what water is and appears to have brought civilization to shambles. By the last sketch, only the host of the titular quiz show and one of the contestants are left, implying an impending Class 3.
  • New Zealand production The Tribe had the worlds' adult population dead from an accidentally-engineered virus, and the surviving children living in a Class 1 catastrophe, with mostly successful attempts to restore technology. However, in the sequel series, The New Tomorrow, set possibly some centuries later, the children's society has regressed to the point of basic small-scale agriculture, and tribes of hunter-gatherers, as well as worship of the Ancestors, and technology has all but become forgotten (some machines, still working on their own, are thought to be "monsters"), making this a pretty firm Class 2.
  • Utopia Falls: All life on Earth has been wiped out except for the city of New Babyl as a result of a war. An event called the "Great Flash" was included, implying nuclear weapons were used. Or at least so they've been told, regarding life outside.
  • The Walking Dead (2010) implies that this has occurred, at best. At worse, it's a Class 3a in the making.

  • Nena's "99 Luftballons" tells the story of two kids who buy 99 red balloons from a party store, inflate them, and set them free to the wind. Government radars proceed to misread them as international spy drones, and accusations are thrown from country to country over whose they belong to, resulting in a war that ends up wiping out most of humanity and ruins nearly every city in the world.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Ur-Example is the various Great Flood myths that appear in various cultures. Western tropers are probably most familiar with the Judeo-Christian version in the Book of Genesis, but The Epic of Gilgamesh was earlier, making this Older Than Dirt.
  • In The Bible, the Great Tribulation. Exact numbers are unknown, but the description "Mortals will be rarer than the gold of Ophir," combined with Revelation detailing the fact that over half of the population will die from the war, famine, plagues and various other disasters, and most of the Christians will be beheaded, burned or starved to death, while none of the unbelievers survive Armageddon means that you could expect maybe one out of a thousand people who enter the Tribulation to come out alive, perhaps a bit more. As the Second Coming immediately follows, the difference between live and dead humans at that point becomes inconsequential.
  • In Norse Mythology, Ragnarök would be a Class 5. However, there's one thing that makes it notable: While men, women, children, giants, animals, and monsters are wiped out during Ragnarök, two people survive, thusly allowing for an After the End scenario.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Bliss Stage: The Bliss destroyed civilization by making the earth a Teenage Wasteland.
  • Dark Sun.
    • It is set on Athas, once a beautiful fantasy world, now rendered mostly inhospitable desert due to years of magic misuse and genocidal warfare. Most people live in a dozen or so City-States each ruled by a tyrannical sorcerer king, or they live outside in hunter-gatherer tribes and roving warbands. Metal-working is a lost art, a pathetic iron mine that would not even be considered worthwhile on another world is a priceless resource here that City-States would go to war over, so most weapons are made of bone, wood or obsidian (with mechanics for breakage). Horses have been extinct for millennia and nobody remembers them, and other flora and fauna have been twisted into perverse mockeries of their old selves; bears are gigantic clawed monstrosities with insectoid carapaces. Wizards are feared and hated for the destruction their art caused the world and so must hide their activities and disguise their powers as psionics (the 3E Expanded Psionics Handbook was largely built off of Dark Sun, though it made no open mention of the setting).
    • Reading is prohibited among commoners and literacy is punished with death, slavery is commonplace, bloodsports are ubiquitous, and slave gladiators are prized possessions. Dark Sun describes a horrible, deadly, despoiled world where only the strongest survive, combining the swords-and-sandals grit of old gladiator films like Spartacus, the sword-and-sorcery dark fantasy of Conan the Barbarian, the planetary romance pulp adventure books of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and a dash of ancient Mesopotamia for flavour.
  • Degenesis, a German roleplaying game set After the End sees presumably all of civilization completely destroyed. Humanity got back to their feet, making the initial apocalypse only a Class 1 case. However, since the asteroids left some alien material that constantly expands its turf, the survival of the human race is all but probable.
  • Exalted: The Yozis are trying to do this to Creation, but it only falls into this category because they're not going to kill all humans. If the Yozis were to succeed it would be worse than a Class Z.
  • Gamma World has both humans and assorted mutant species slowly reinventing civilization after a nuclear-chemical-biological war.
  • GURPS Dragons includes an apocalyptic scenario where a Standard Fantasy Setting finds itself overrun with dragons for unknown reasons — possibilities given in the book include dragons deliberately ramping up their fertility to deal with an increase in dragonslayers, the eradication of a predator that normally thins out populations of newborn dragons and a mass summoning spell, as well as combinations thereof. Regardless of the reasons, the world finds itself overrun with dragons rampaging where they wish and destroying anything in their way, leading to a widespread collapse of civilization.
  • Wherever the Phyrexians turn up in Magic: The Gathering , this is sure to follow. Whenever Glistening Oil comes in contact with metal or flesh, the Phyrexian life cycle begins anew. Meaning that Phyrexia will never be vanquished as long as even one drop of Glistening Oil remains. Their current kill count on the level of cultures or above is:
    • The disease that created the first Phyrexians, Phyresis, led to the destruction of the Thran, the first great civilization of Dominaria. Thran survivors were mostly converted to Phyrexians and ushered into an artificial plane that was the first place to be called, "Phyrexia."
    • Phyrexians and their agents later conquered the plane of Rath. Part of their plan to retake Dominaria involved overproducing a magical substance called Flowstone, which caused Rath to essentially overflow its borders. The end result was a "planar overlay," that fused Rath and Dominaria, killing untold millions in areas that overlapped and serving as the deployment of Phyrexia's Alien Invasion.
    • The invasion was ultimately unsuccessful. Phyrexia and its oil was purged from Dominaria, and nine Planeswalkers were eventually able to destroy Yawgmoth, the Machine-God of Phyrexia. The plane itself collapsed some time later after being too long without a master. So Phyrexia itself was Phyrexia's third apocalypse.
    • However, the collapse didn't happen before the Planeswalker Karn stopped to see the ruined throne of his old nemesis, Yawgmoth, getting himself infected with Glistening Oil in the process. Unwittingly, Karn spread it to several other worlds. His own creation, Mirrodin, took the spot line over the Scars of Mirrodin block, ending in New Phyrexia.
    • After messing around in other planes, the Phyrexians stole seeds from Kaldheim's World Tree in order to grow a bridge between New Phyrexia and Dominaria, for second invasion, again causing incalculable damage.
  • Mutant Future, a close-as-you-can-get-it retro-clone of Gamma World that uses the Labyrinth Lord rules, is likewise set after a massive nuclear holocaust.
  • Mystara: The Great Rain of Fire, a planetary cataclysm that devastated the world 3000-odd years ago, knocked human and elven civilization from sci-fi-grade technology back to savagery. The exact nature of the weapons Evergrun's elves and Blackmoor's humans threw at each other is unknown, but nukes were probably the least of them, as their conflict was so violent that it changed Mystara's axial tilt. Note that this same event rates as a Class 3 for some of the other races that were around back then, and that still others only subverted a Class 3 because the Immortals preserved some of them in the Hollow World.
  • Paranoia: More or less the level of disaster which occurred in the backstory, but further details are not available at your security clearance, citizen.
  • In Rifts, a single nuclear exchange during a major surge in the planet's natural magical field(and the subsequent cascade failure as the natural disasters it triggered killed millions more) wiped out nearly all human civilization, and nearly wiped out humanity itself. In the three hundred years since pockets of civilization have emerged here and there, to the point that humanity(and non-humans) are building nations again, but 80-90% of sapient life still lives as subsistence farmers or in town- or city-states.
  • Talislanta: The Great Disaster was a worldwide cataclysm believed to be caused by the Archaen's overuse and abuse of magic. The Great Disaster devasted Talislanta and destroyed Archaen civilization. In the game's setting, hundreds of years have passed since the Great Disaster, and the races of man have re-established civilization. However, much of the continent is still inhospitable or dangerous, and the pockets of civilization are a mere shadow of what the Archaens achieved.
  • Traveller: Individual planets suffered everything up to and including Class 5 in the Final War, but human civilization as a whole is starting to reclaim the stars 80 years on.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Earth went through at least one of these in the backstory, plunging an advanced civilization into barbarism as a result of a global nuclear war. Earth rebuilt and subsequently went through at least two or three more apocalypses, becoming known as [Holy] Terra along the way, but those were part of higher marks on the apocalypse scale.
    • A significant number of Imperial worlds are ancient human colonies that fell into this, either independently or as part of larger-scale cataclysms and wars, then slowly worked their way back up to higher tech levels over the course of thousands of years. The degree of recovery varies from world to world — some reach industrial levels by the time the Imperium finds them again, some develop agricultural societies and some remain firmly in the Stone Age.
  • White Wolf:
    • Vampire: The Masquerade: The "Crucible Of God" scenario in the final supplement, Gehenna, ends in this (if the PCs win), with about 90% of the Earth's humans (and corresponding numbers of most other life) dead.
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has a similar endgame scenario. Class 2 is the best possible outcome of the Garou's battle against the inevitable titular Apocalypse. Gaia only knows what could happen if the werewolves lose.

  • The Shattering in BIONICLE is implied to have reduced the population of Sphereus Magna, and significantly decreased the amount of resources available, resulting in a Scavenger World where villages have to fight for supplies.

    Video Games 
  • Mankind was kicked back to the stone age 3000 years before the beginning of Arc the Lad, Arc 2 ends with merely a Class 1 extinction. You can hate the writters for this.
  • In BloodRayne 2, a vampire apocalypse takes place when Kagan's Cult develops a gaseous substance that allows vampires to walk under daytime, causing them to emerge from the shadows and enslave humanity. While its implied to be a Class 0 Apocalypse, as the whole event appears isolated to one unnamed city, according to Severin all of civilization has crumbled in question of hours and the ending shows that humans were reduced to a few underground pockets lead by Brimstone Society.
  • Deus Ex gives the player the option to instigate a non-lethal Class 2: because all global communication and technological infrastructure are being routed through Area 51 so The Conspiracy can control it, destroying the facility sets everybody back a few centuries.
  • Doom:
  • By the end of Endling - Extinction is Forever, the region has devolved into a bit of a planetary scale societal collapse in a barren wasteland. At least most of humanity has learned from their mistakes and decided to protect nature from further destruction and help some species to reproduce and survive.
  • This is the setting for the Fallout universe. After global thermonuclear war wipes out civilization and much of the human population, a post-nuclear Zeerust-filled A World Half Full provides the backdrop for the games. Social organization is tribal in most cases and only the New California Republic even approaches Jared Diamond's definition of a "state".
  • "Far Cry: New Dawn takes place seventeen years after a total nuclear war destroyed the world. Multiple countries, like Israel and North Korea, are totally gone and no superpowers still exist. Much of the world is now scavenging societies and large areas of the world are so irradiated they're uninhabitable.
  • Fate/Extella reveals that a Class 2 took place 14,000 years ago, when an alien planet dispatched a Civilization Destroyer to Earth. It was called Sefar, the White Titan, and it quickly set about to destroying the basic civilizations that existed at the time, and not even the gods had the power to stop it. It took a human wielding a divine sword forged within the inner sea of the planet to put and end to its rampage. However, it set human civilization back a few thousand years, and damaged the gods' true bodies so irreparably that they were forced to abandon them and find other ways of manifesting. This was the start of the decline of the Age of Gods.
  • Fate/Grand Order's second major plot arc features two settings that took place after Class 2s as the first two story chapters, and makes use of it in other ways in later chapters:
    • In the first lostbelt, located in Russia, an asteroid struck Earth during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, plunging the planet into a Glacial Apocalypse. Only in Russia did some semblance of humanity survive, and only by Ivan using arcane arts to fuse humans and Phantasmal Beasts to turn himself and his subjects into Beast Men. However, in a Death World where temperatures linger around -100 degrees Celsius, their attempts at forming and advancing society are all doomed to fail, because farming is impossible and the only way to obtain food is by hunting whatever Demonic Beasts have survived the deep freeze — and to make matters worse, the beast men have accelerated metabolism and can starve to death in just three days, so hunting takes up all of their spare time
    • The second lostbelt, located in Scandinavia, diverged from proper history in 1000 BC due to Surtr, the fire giant from Norse Mythology, deciding to defy his fated role in Ragnarok and take it Off the Rails by burning the entire planet. In the process, he consumed Fenrir and added its powers to his own, and it was only by Odin leading all of the gods (except for Skadi) in a mass Heroic Sacrifice to seal him in the sun. However, with Ragnarok incomplete and the world trapped in an endless winter while the fires still raged, the land was unsuitable for human life to grow beyond ten thousand people. It was left to Skadi to watch over humanity by placing human villages of 100 people each in the few temperate zones, and requiring them to give themselves up to be euthanized at age 25 (or 15 for girls who never got pregnant) in order to keep the number of humans from exceeding ten thousand.
    • Interestingly, the fifth Lostbelt is based around the premise of averting the apocalypse mentioned above that was documented in Fate/Extella. Rather than leave everything up to a lone Precursor Hero with Excalibur, Zeus took it upon himself to fuse with the other Olympians into a form that could fight Sefar on even ground until she could be dispatched with the holy sword. This allowed the Olympians to retain their true (machine-like) bodies and rule over humanity for the next fourteen thousand years, leading to a world where humans either lived for centuries or had Complete Immortality, but led to humanity's stagnation as they had no need to advance.
    • The sixth Lostbelt, in Britain, was subjected to Great Calamities every thousand years. They varied in scope, but the worst were the first, in 11,000 BC, which wiped out the civilization that the inhabitants had built and forced them to start from scratch, and the one that occurred in 1 BC in the original timeline, that left so few survivors that they ended up destroying themselves due to infighting.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • This is what happened after the War of the Magi in the backstory of Final Fantasy VI.
    • The war between Bevelle and Zanarkand 1,000 years before the events of Final Fantasy X results in this, creating a state of affairs where Sin roams the world, wrecking any human settlement (with the exceptions of Bevelle and Luca) that gets any larger than a small town.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers entails preventing this on Hydaelyn by preventing a Class X scenario in The First. As revealed in Shadowbringers, the Calamities that plague Hydaelyn (aka: "The Source") coincide with the destruction of one of thirteen parallel worlds, and the subsequent influx of vast quantities of aether into Hydaelyn. In this case, the destruction of the First would cause an overabundance of light aether into Hydaelyn. At the same time, the Garlean Empire would deploy a biological weapon known as "Black Rose" in desperation as they face defeat in their war with Eorzea. The light aether would amplify the toxic effects of Black Rose to such a degree that the entire planet would be poisoned. Societies would collapse as people die en masse, with the survivors reduced to roving tribes fighting over increasingly scarce resources, and Hydaelyn's heroes (including the Warrior of Light) unable to help, since they will all be long dead.
  • Half-Life 2 has entire cities laid to waste, with Xen wildlife taking over and Earth under complete control of an interdimensional empire. It's unknown how few people remain, but the fact that there's still a resistance movement 20 years after the Seven Hour War implies that there's still hope, even when there's Everything Trying to Kill You and the infrastructure is undergoing decay.
  • Halo:
    • The backstory has explained that the Jiralhanae/Brutes and the Unggoy/Grunts both did this to themselves before the Covenant discovered them, the former due to a major nuclear war, and the latter due to over-industrialization.
    • Additionally, this was one of Mendicant Bias's many threats of what it would do to the Forerunners after he went rampant and joined the Flood, which would more or less be Dramatic Irony, since the Forerunners had also done this a millennium earlier to Humanity. In a way, it did succeed; though the surviving Forerunners managed to rebuild their lives in exile, the various species they had saved from the Flood and the Halos had their societies reset to the hunter-gathering level.
  • The world of Horizon Zero Dawn is currently in a Class 2 state, with humans reduced to primitive tribes, and the ruins of a much more advanced human society being all around them. Turns out, this is the result of Project: Zero Dawn, designed to reseed the Earth after the FARO robot swarm inflicted a Class 6.
  • I Am Alive The entire world is massively FUBAR by some unknown cataclysm. The player must navigate the shattered, devastated ruins of what was once New York in order to find his daughter and girlfriend.
  • The freeware game Iji begins with a vast majority of all life on the planet blown to bits, your job is to try to save the remaining life from being blown into even tinier bits.
  • This seems to be the situation in The Last of Us, with a fungal infection reducing civilization (at least in the United States) to a series of quarantine zones with the rest infested with various bandits, scavengers and not-zombies.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, set After the End, features Ganon laying waste to Hyrule prior to the start of the game. Later, the three gods flood the land, although it's not clear how much of the entire world is affected, or how many fled to higher ground.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, set a century after a catastrophe named the "Great Calamity" (which some in the Zelda fan community have compared to a nuclear apocalypse) that has destroyed the Hyrulean government and almost completely destroyed Hylian culture, but the Great Calamity either did not affect other cultures at all, or the effect on other races was relatively minimal at best.
  • Possibly the case in The Long Dark. Apparently, the geomagnetic shift that completely did in all electronic devices from car batteries to radio sets to the plane you were flying on (leaving you stranded in the frozen Canadian wilderness) has affected the entire planet.
  • Mega Man X6 begins with the Earth being devastated by the collision of the Eurasia space colony. Despite Zero canonically destroying the Colony by flying a space shuttle into it, enough fragments of Eurasia hit the Earth to cause severe environmental damage and pollution, bad enough to force humanity underground while the Reploids work the surface to make it habitable for humanity again. This has consequences for the rest of the series (and the following ones).
  • Metro 2033 takes place in Moscow after a nuclear war has destroyed most of Russia (and presumably most of the rest of the world). Civilization has survived by moving into the subways and sewers beneath the city and humans now live in self-contained underground cities. Of course, the tunnels are now overrun by mutants and other dangerous creatures and the player has to run a gauntlet through underground cities run by communists and Nazis.
  • Planet Aether teeters between this and Class 3 in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The Luminoth, which were the dominant species of the planet, saw a meteor was going to crash into their world and everything they tried failed to deter the meteor's course while their efforts also strained the planet's energy. They took shelter and waited it out. The Luminoth survived, but the meteor's impact opened a dimensional rift and let loose a race of monster beings known as the Ing. The Ing fought the Luminoth in a great war for years and stole their technology and their planet's energy to use for their own ends. With the theft of the planet's energy in several regions, the affected regions suffered a total climate change (Agon was once fertile plans and is now a barren desert while Torvus used to be a forest and is now a swamp). Not only were the Luminoth's numbers greatly reduced, but Aether was on the verge of Class X destruction with the final energy controller being in U-Mos's hands. U-Mos had put the rest of his surviving people in a deep sleep until the day they'd win the war. Samus happened to show up in the nick of time (on a mission unrelated to the war) and managed to acquire the Energy Transfer Module, which the Ing was close to obtaining and would have sealed their victory.
  • Might and Magic has this on an interstellar scale: An entire arm of the galaxy was cut-off from the main civilization by alien invasion. Cue an utter collapse of infrastructure, and a fall into barbarism and witchcraft, hard enough that Enroth, the world Heroes 1-3 and Might & Magic 6-8 takes place on is overall at a late medieval/early renaissaince level more than a thousand years after said Silence, with Heroes 4's Axeoth apparently even less developed before the Enrothians arrived. Though the worlds Might and Magic I to V takes place on appears to be exceptions (there is evidence to suggest the primitivity of the cultures are intentional on the part of the designers rather than this trope); evidently the Ancients don't let such minor issues as the spoilered part stop them from grandiose planetary-scale experiments.
  • In A Mind Forever Voyaging, the 2081 simulation becomes this as the result of the Plan taking effect: Your town of Rockvil has become the Fallen States of America, bordering on Planetary Cause-Engineered Human Species Extinction, and quite possibly Planetary Multi-Cellular Species Extinction. The environment has been devastated, all governmental authority has collapsed, buildings are decaying with no one to fix them, violent gangs rule the streets, and dogs have gone feral and prey on humans. Telephone poles have been chopped down for firewood, no edible food or water is available, leaving you to starve to death, and a cemetery has been overgrown with weeds, neglected, and vandalized. The USNA has truly become a Death World due to the effects of the wrong political party taking control.
  • Mother 3 has an interesting variant of this, balancing between Classes 1 and 2. The population of Nowhere Islands consists of the few who escaped a world-wide self-destruction. Most likely, they could rebuild society as it was (given they deliberately pick not to), making this sort of Class 1, but they choose to follow a simple lifestyle to avoid repeating the past, rendering this into a semi-voluntary Class 2.
  • The Fall of D'ni from the Myst Verse probably belongs here as much as anywhere, as it snuffed out an entire civilization, albeit one headquartered in a single city and dispersed across an untold number of Ages beyond that world.
  • The future as shown in A New Beginning is this thanks to an ecological apocalypse driven by mankind's unwillingness to do anything about climate change. Worse, it is outright stated that things will go to Class 6 thanks to an imminent solar flare and the Earth's depleted atmosphere.
  • NieR has an interesting twist on this. After the "WCS Disaster" killed a massive amount of the world's population, society is now at a medieval level. The twist is that humanity became Shades in order to escape the disaster, and the people in the world are clones that the Shades intend to inhabit — the world is medieval because the clones developed sentience, and their civilization has only reached medieval level so far.
  • Phantom Dust is a Class 2 in many ways. The memory erasing dust on the surface makes long term exposure to environments that aren't pressure sealed a dangerous or even suicidal venture. The remains of humanity exist in underground shelters seemingly stitched together from collapsed subways. You only ever encounter one such lair, though it's suggested that more exist. Their government is comprised of a silent dictator and his interpreter, and their civilians/field agents are nearly all of suspect sanity. Parts of the vault seem to have technology superior to modern day tech, but the inhabitants are mostly ignorant; they have no idea how to grow crops and have to raid the surface for food and supplies. Of course, later on in the game you discover That humanity has actually already gone extinct, and the protagonist and all the humans he has encountered are constructed figments created from the dust by the last surviving human, who has long since passed away, making it a Class 5.
  • Rage (2011) takes place over a hundred years after the asteroid 99942 Apophis collided with Earth and wiped out human civilization. Lots of people (including the protagonist) were preserved in underground Arks with the hope that they could rebuild. Seeing as how the game takes place in a Desert Punk wasteland, that rebuilding didn't go as well as planned.
  • RefleX ends with the Raiwat army that's been at war with Earth retreating, the ZODIAC units destroyed...but due to ZODIAC Ophiuchus duking it out with the ZODIAC units and causing massive collateral damage in the process, the Earth and its population have been destroyed so badly that it takes millennia before humanity can re-develop the technology to reach the orbital Mechanized Temple again.
  • The titular rimworlds of Rimworld have already gone through a Class 2 many many years before the game starts, with the ancient remains of buildings, road networks, and industrial machines scattered all around the map. Scattered collections of human settlements dot the globe, with the most advanced towns generally about modern-day in terms of technology level and plenty of lower-tech tribal groups as well. The remnants of the advanced civilization that used to be here are encountered as you go along, in the form of ancient vaults that house stasis pods, occasional groups of highly-advanced Killer Robots, and toxic plumes from long-abandoned chemical plants that have finally exploded and decided to settle on top of your settlement.
  • Shin Megami Tensei I. Thor's Hammer. The Great Flood. Japan's left as a charred, sunken husk of what it was. It's implied the world beyond is little better if at all.
  • Skies of Arcadia has a backstory that includes a Class 2, although by the time the game actually begins, enough centuries have passed that civilization has made its way back to a rough analog of steam technology with electricity in a few scattered places.
    • Valua gets hit with a Class 0 in the later stages of the game. If the Elders of the Silvite Civilization would have succeeded in collecting the Moon Crystals, another Class 2 would have taken place.
  • Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers shows an example that dips into, or hints at a Class 2. Vohaul took over the supercomputer which controls every technology related aspect of Xenon and more, and turned it against the population. Not only was the casualty toll extremely high, once Vohaul is defeated and the supercomputer outright formatted, it is unknown if this completely crippled Xenon technology or not, and society has already outright collapsed because of the computer's revolt. However, Roger Jr. says that rebuilding will be done, even if it takes time.
  • Spore's space stage grants players with the Scientist archetype the 'Gravitation Wave' ability, which generates a pulse of powerful gravity that destroys all mannote -made structures on a chosen planet. It violates the galactic code, and thus makes any nearby empires pretty irked at you. Except for the Grox, who find it pretty funny.
  • The last missions of StarCraft II's Wings of Liberty campaign are about inflicting this upon the Zerg. Only part of one planet is cleansed of the Zerg, but according to Word of God (and the sequel), without Kerrigan (who was in that part) the Zerg broods start fighting one another, reducing them from a coordinated interplanetary threat to isolated (if fierce) local threats. Recovery is impossible without another central guiding intelligence, or until and unless Kerrigan recovers and re-establishes control. A lot of effort goes into preventing the latter. It fails.
  • In Stellaris, a pre-FTL civilization with access to nuclear weapons can bomb itself back to the iron age in the case of a global nuclear war.
    • Or they can get particularly overexcited and inflict a Class 4 or even a Class 6 on their planet.
  • System Shock. The delusional AI SHODAN of Citadel Station planned to destroy every major city on Earth from space to assert her (its?) godhood over the survivors. Failing that, she also tried to unleash a plague of mutagenic virus on the planet, which would turn pretty much everybody into mutant-zombies.
  • In Time Crisis 5, this is the goal of the Big Bad. VSSE-agent-turned-traitor Robert Baxter has a drug that can zombify humans, claiming that these zombies cannot feel pain nor fear, and places it into bombs to drop on major cities, intent on zombifying the whole of humanity in order to "reset the world." Fortunately, the heroes stop him.
  • By the end of Xenogears, most people either become -wels-, are absorbed into the Big Bad, are eaten by -wels-, or are killed by "angels." Only a handful of people survive, clinging to life in a couple locations.
    • This isn't the first time either. Several thousand years before the start of the game, the Zeboim era was a technology rich society that was done in with a combination of low birth rates and nuclear war.
  • In the Ys series, a Class 2 occurred centuries before the collapse of Ys, which itself was a Class 1. The Eldeen's continent was destroyed by unknown means, scattering humanity, demi-humans/beastmen, and a small fraction of Eldeen to the Eresian lands.
  • Zero Escape: One Mind Virus and 18 exploding antimatter reactors later, Earth is reduced to a husk of its former self, with 80% of the global human population being wiped off the face of the planet. If Tenmyouji's backstory is to be believed, the planet is on its way to recovery. Virtue's Last Reward reveals that the entire point of the Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition is to train Sigma and Phi's Mental Time Travel abilities to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, and in Zero Time Dilemma it's revealed that said Mind Virus was created by a Well-Intentioned Extremist as a countermeasure against a far worse outcome that would kill everyone.


    Web Original 
  • The Cartographer's Handbook depicts a world where most of the human population has been wiped out by a zombie-like plague.
  • In Fine Structure, the heroes induce this scenario repeatedly to prevent another near-Class 3 event.
  • Tech Infantry had the Exodus spin-off project, where a much larger catastrophe wiped out most life in the galaxy, and one planet worth of survivors quickly lost most of their high technology and regressed to a Medieval stage of civilization.
  • The entire reason why the time traveler in the United States of Ameriwank visited George Washington in the first place.
    Time Traveler: "In the year 2258 the world goes to war and with our level of technology, almost everything is destroyed. Billions die, entire nations vanish in fire, it’s a world we cannot afford to let happen.”
  • In the world of Taerel Setting, Class 2. The kin'toni outbreak at the start of the Awakening Age was one of these, a planet wise societal collapse sending the world back to pre-agricultural levels at worst. The entire world of Taerel was effected.

    Western Animation 

  • The philosopher Nick Bostrom classified doomsday scenarios into “bangs” (all humans are killed all at once; the “standard” End of the World as We Know It scenario), “whimpers” (humans don’t die off right away, but are doomed to a slow and unavoidable extinction), “crunches” (humans survive, but their science and culture permanently regresses or stagnates), and “shrieks” (innate human values are permanently changed for the worse). By definition, crunches are Class 2 on our scale. Bangs and whimpers are Class 3 or higher, and shrieks are orthogonal to the scale.

    Real Life 
  • The Toba Catastrophe is an event that may have happened about 75 thousand years ago, when a super-volcano reduced human population to 10,000 individuals total. There's a lot of tantalizing evidence that this may have happened, but no absolute proof. In fact, evidence from a 2018 scientific study states that the supervolcano event may have not reduced the human population that drastically and may have had little-to-no effect on African humans, potentially making this a Discredited Trope.
  • The most likely result of a full-scale nuclear war, which is to say the detonation of the current stockpiles of all nuclear armed nations. Despite disarmament treaties and the like, the amount of nuclear weapons still available for use could quite easily wipe human civilization out.note  However, it could result in something far worse depending on which predictions are right. This is illustrated in a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein:
    "I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."


Video Example(s):


Pandora's Box is Opened

After Deckard opens Pandora's Box, it unleashes waves of destructive energy and swarms the entire planet with monsters, resulting in a Class 2 apocalypse. The ending implies that humanity endures, Deckard learning how to tame the beasts while the markings on his arm hold the key to rebuilding a working Box.

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Example of:

Main / ApocalypseHow

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