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Crazy Survivalist

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"Y'know, Grady, some people think I'm 'overprepared'. 'Paranoid'. Maybe even a little 'crazy'. But they never met any precambrian life forms, did they?"
Burt Gummer, Tremors 2: Aftershocks


Don't you move a goddamn muscle. Thought you could sneak up on me, huh? Naw, I'm too sharp for that. 'Cause I've been preparing. Preparing... for them.

They're coming, but they're not gonna get me, not without a fight! Who's "they"? Doesn't matter! It could be an Alien Invasion, a Zombie Apocalypse, Black Helicopters from the gub'mint, the feral dregs of humanity, a divine being, some ancient evil or even butterflies! (Those are some nasty bastards.) But whatever they are, I'm prepared! I have me this bowie knife, tinfoil hat, good old two-barreled Betsy (plus her extended family), and a year's supply of food and water...

What? "Share"? "Help other survivors"? It's a dog-eat-smaller-yappy-dog world out there, "friend", and if ya ain't strong enough to defend yourself... Oh, I see what you're about, you want to stick a crazy dart in my neck and steal my stuff, don't you?! That's right, back away from the crazy person... Crazy-Prepared like a fox!

You want me to help you fight them? You can't fight them any more than an ant fights an elephant, everyone who tries ends up getting slaughtered! Ain't seen bloodshed like that since the war...

"Calm down"? I am calm! I am the very picture of calm! And rational, too! Wait a minute... you're one of THEM!

Don't you go anywhere, I'll go get the rest of my Untrusting Community to lynch you! No, better yet, my militia buddies! No matter how many orphans you save! I'll do what it takes to survive!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Czeslaw Meyer from Baccano!. After 200 years of being pointlessly tortured, he's very careful about who he should trust. Especially when it comes to other immortals.
  • In the anime of Desert Punk, Kanta ends up being this to a disturbing extreme. During the second season, there are hints due to his views on the world as a survivalist and realist. It all eventually leads to Kanta becoming a government agent and hunting down his friends. He much prefers that people stand on their own two legs with just enough for survival, which the corrupt government does manage to do... barely to the idealist movement his friends joined. Oh, and he killed almost an entire family, the same family that made his winch because they saw his face and could tell people that he was still alive. Oh boy, did he ever cross the Moral Event Horizon. He even seems to admit it.
  • Sousuke from Full Metal Panic!, all the way. Along with how he manages to be Crazy-Prepared despite not having any visible baggage to carry all his weapons and equipment in.
  • Rize from Is the Order a Rabbit? carries a loaded pistol with her (which is patently illegal in Japan), always thinking about things in a militaristic way, and sees everything as survival training.

    Comic Books 
  • American Flagg! has the fascist American Survivalist Labor Committee (A.S.L.C.), which teams up with the Gotterdammercrats, the more "respectable" party of Illinois Nazis, to take over Chicago.
  • The Life Foundation was an organization that appeared mostly in Spider-Man comics who had a demented view of this. They were certain that society would eventually collapse and were survivalists but had no intention of actually being uncomfortable when it happened. Certain there were other rich and selfish people with this view, they built large, secret enclaves designed with luxury in mind (basically, town-size shelters with resort themes). The most sinister thing about this is their various ideas for keeping others out, including robbing militia for weapons (and then kidnapping the hitman Chance and trying to get the secret of his weapons out of him) and hiring mercenaries to undergo surgery to make them super-strong (not telling them it would turn them into Brainwashed slaves). By far their worst mistake was trying to use the Tri-Sentinel. (Not only a Sentinel but three Sentinels merged together by Loki's magic in order to destroy New York during the Acts of Vengeance. Suffice to say, it was a bad plan.)
  • In the 2018 Mars Attacks! comics by IDW, the two protagonists briefly come across one of these carrying a shotgun and hiding from the martians. However, his paranoia turns into Suddenly Shouting, alerting the attackers to both of their positions and getting him killed.
  • Y: The Last Man. The "Sons of Arizona" are convinced the death of all the men is a federal government plot and beat up Dr. Allison Mann in the belief that she's somehow involved.
  • Crazy Hunter Trapper Buck Wylde from Topps Zorro comic.

    Comic Strips 
  • Huey was like this in The Boondocks. To give one example, in one series of strips, he was certain a bird flu epidemic would cause a plague that would destroy America, and stockpiled 18 months worth of food to prepare, saying he wouldn't even share with his brother when it happened. (Given that the bird flu had no cases outside of Asia, you can only find this rather absurd now along with a lot of his paranoia in the strip.)

    Fan Works 
  • Brainbent: The Posthumous Character Grandpa Harley spent his latter years in a homemade bunker, convinced that nuclear war had annihilated all civilization outside his small corner of woodland. Unfortunately, he had the young girl Jade in his care. After his death, Jade eventually ventured out, was surprised to find that the outside world was quite intact, and ended up in long-term psychiatric care to help acclimate her to a society that's larger than two people.
  • Cheating Death: Those That Lived: The Dettwieller family are Crazy-Prepared and paranoid for the Zombie Apocalypse, being convinced that zombies exist and will take over Panem unless they train to fight them off. The rest of District One regards them as an embarrassment to the district. However, in spite of this kookiness, when Dollar Dettwieller is Reaped into the Hunger Games, her skills and training really start to come in handy...

    Film — Animated 
  • Ice Age:
    • Spoofed in the first film with the dodos ("Survival separates the dodos from the beasts!") who are preparing for billions of years of living underground during the incoming ice age - on a food stockpile of three melons. They all die within the following three minutes.
    • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs features Buck, a weasel stuck in a Lost World full of dinosaurs. He has an Ahab-like obsession with a giant dinosaur who took his eye... and clearly took his wits along with it.
      Manny: Buck, when exactly did you lose your mind?
      Buck: Three months ago. I woke up one morning married to a pineapple. An ugly pineapple. (sighs lovingly) But I loved her...

    Film — Live-Action 
  • David Dobel, Woody Allen's character in Anything Else.
  • Back to the Future Part II: In 1985-A, Marty discovers that Mr. Strickland has become this after Hill Valley High School was destroyed in a fire six years earlier, and he's both constantly attacked by a gang (presumably of former students) and somebody's always stealing his newspapers.
  • In The Book of Eli, the titular character comes upon a sweet old couple living in a farmhouse in the middle of the wasteland who take him in. However, turns out they're not only this but a Cannibal Clan as well. Before they can kill and eat him, though, the Big Bad shows up, and they team up with the hero in the ensuing battle.
  • A mild version occurs in Bridge of Spies. James Donovan's son begins taking absurd safety measures to protect himself from a nuclear war until his father tells him to get a hold of himself.
  • Everyone in Carriers is a crazy survivalist when an infection threatens to wipe out all of humanity.
  • The Decline: Every character to varying degrees, but taken to an extreme by Alain. Three-quarters of the main cast do not survive the movie as a result.
  • Def-Con 4 has Vinny, a post-apocalyptic scavenger played by Maury Chaykin who has fortified his home with barbed wire and various booby traps.
  • The Vietnam veteran in The Final.
  • Friday the 13th (2009): Where most versions just present serial killer Jason Voorhees as an immortal zombie-esque killing machine, this version is actually surprisingly capable, having lived on his own in the former Camp Crystal Lake for almost thirty years, setting various traps for his targets, building a complex tunnel network, and even demonstrating enough skill with a bow and arrow to shoot a man in the head while his target was on a fast-moving boat.
  • The original Highlander film featured one of these as an ex-military, gun-toting vigilante who witnessed one of the Kurgan's modern-day duels. He shoots the Kurgan like Swiss cheese. Having killed the apparent murderer, the survivalist goes to look and gets skewered, lifted off the ground on the Kurgan's sword. He (barely) survives and probably became a Watcher if series mythology figures in.
  • John Malkovich's character in Red (2010). He lives in an underground bunker with an entrance hidden by an old car; the house on his property is a decoy (and probably rigged to explode should anyone actually enter it). He also believes that he was part of a government mind-control experiment. He's Properly Paranoid: the government really is out to get him, he was being given daily doses of LSD for years, and everyone he suspects of being an assassin actually is one.
  • The movie Resident Evil: Extinction opens up with a family of Crazy Survivalists trying to rob Alice. Poor, poor crazy survivalists...
  • Sherman's March: Cynthia, the second woman Ross takes a fancy to, leads him to a compound being built by some crazy racist survivalist kooks. They're building a tennis court, so they'll have something to do in the aftermath of nuclear war.
  • Bobby Lee Swagger from Shooter lives in isolation at the mountains and has a rather extensive field training.
  • The Survivalist: The DVD Bonus Content includes a short prequel in which a man who is convinced that social collapse is coming teaches his sons to shoot. He also believes that they need to learn to kill, so he unleashes a savage dog on them.
  • The Robin Williams / Walter Matthau film The Survivors poked fun of the survivalist craze (emphasis on "craze") that peaked in the mid eighties just before the end of the Cold War. William played Donald Quinelle, a hapless yuppie who turns into a rabid survivalist after losing his job and being threatened by a criminal.
  • The protagonist of Take Shelter begins to show shades of this when he secures a risky loan just to buy an expensive shipping container, all in order to expand the shelter in his backyard in preparation for the imaginary storm that is to come.
  • Burt Gummer from the Tremors movies and TV series is a somewhat rare friendly, even heroic version of this. He actually helps out the rest of the town when they need it, since he's the only one with enough guns to fight the graboids. ("Well, I guess we don't get to make fun of Burt's lifestyle anymore.") Through the second and third movies, he adds ever more powerful weapons to his arsenal (including an anti-tank rifle and an anti-aircraft cannon). By Tremors 3: Back to Perfection he stops being this and becomes more Properly Paranoid, seeing as he's already lived through two monster invasions. By the time we get to Tremors: The Series he's pretty much become a professional monster hunter.
  • Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day appears to have taken a level in badass towards this end, given that her paranoia is quite well justified by hard fact.
  • Harlan Ogilvy in War of the Worlds (2005), a paramedic holed up in his cellar whose mind began to deteriorate after his wife and child died in the invasion. Ray is eventually forced to kill him to prevent his ravings from attracting the invaders.

  • Humans vs. Zombies: Given that the goal of human players is ultimately to survive to the end, some naturally fall into this trope, becoming paranoid and selfish rather than fighting for the survival of the whole.

  • Subverted in the 1632 short story "Curio & Relic". Paul Santee has a lot of the common Crazy Survivalist traits. He lives on his own on the outskirts of town, he's a Vietnam veteran, and he has a lot of guns. Fortunately for Eddie Cantrell, Santee's actually not crazy at all, he's just not a people person. As for the guns, he's a registered collector and seller of antique firearms, so all the guns he has are legal. Once the situation is explained to him, he's more than happy to donate his Survivalist Stash to the new army, and even gets the job of "Chief Weapons Scrounger".
  • Barkwire features regular contributor RandyF, who posts all his reviews as pseudo-military reports and has expressed suspicion of stray dogs as possible agents of the New World Order.
  • In Burn Me Deadly, the protagonist meets a family who live away from civilisation due to the firm belief that, one day soon, the allegedly iron-fisted King Archibald is going to come and take everything they own. In reality, Archibald is rather ineffectual, quite a long way away, and wouldn't really care one way or another about the survivalists. It turns out that the husband is actually a hypocrite about it, visiting the market in town from time to time without telling his wife. It causes... marital difficulties.
    Bella Lou: You were at the market? In town? [throws things at him] Completely self-sufficient, you said. Never let anyone even know we're here, you said. And now I find out you've been going to the market in town regularly?
    Buddy: [steps back] Well, I had to—
    Bella Lou: You had to lie to me? To our children? You had to do that? We live knee-deep in goat shit and dead leaves, and you sneak off to town?
  • Andrew Loeb in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.
  • Deconstructed in Dry by Neal Shusterman. Kelton's family are preppers, so when an extreme drought causes the taps to run dry, they are prepared for it. However Kelton's father keeps bragging about how prepared they are and refuses to share his water with anyone else even though they have more than enough. This really angers his neighbours who eventually attack their house and steal most of their water.
  • In Harry Potter, Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody's catchphrase is "Constant vigilance!" His crazy magical eye that can see through most solid objects and magical barriers (like Harry's Invisibility Cloak) only enables his Crazy Survivalist behavior further, as does his sizable collection of magical artifacts for detecting and fighting evil. Though he has good reason to act this way: he's an Auror (Dark Wizard fighter) and has lost a leg, an eye, and a chunk of his nose on the job. And possibly, at one time, a buttock.
  • Deconstructed in The '50s stories Lot and Lot's Daughter by Ward Moore. The protagonist is only too glad when nuclear war breaks out, gloating over how he's prepared and everyone else isn't. Eventually he even starts to regard his own family as 'parasites' and abandons his wife and delinquent sons, taking only his teenage daughter. In the sequel, it's revealed that he's hopeless at living off the land especially as he gets older, and his daughter ends up abandoning him in turn, along with their son.
  • Mortal Engines does this with entire cities.
  • Amos in Nemesis Games is told about a survivalist who shoots first and asks questions later. He promptly pays him a visit to get some supplies for a weeks-long journey (in particular, bikes) that ends with that man dead.
  • The book The Postman states that America as a nation scraped through World War III and even appeared to be on the road to recovery... only to be permanently torn down by attacks by anarchic survivalist militias. Though it's admitted that the Holnists are more like Social Darwinists who want to be feudal lords rather than "true" survivalists, but the term has been permanently associated with them by the survivors.
  • Bullfrog of Small Game is a sympathetic example. Yes, he hunts for his food out his window. Yes, he derides other survivors who made poor choices. Yes, he's estranged from his family. Yes, he spouts conspiracy theories. He also shares his labor and resources unquestioningly with the other survivors.
  • The 1997 book The Sovereign Individual by William Rees-Mogg and James Dale Davidson is a non-fiction example, which openly revels in such an approach. Their basic solution for the world's billionaires in the event of inequality-driven societal collapse? Move oneself and one's billions to tax havens.
  • Inverted in The Survivialist, the 1980s After the End action-adventure series by Jerry Ahern, whose protagonist (a doctor and former intelligence agent) is a good deal more rational and clear-thinking than most of the people he encounters. But then Ahern deliberately set out to avert the popular image of the crazy, right-wing survivialist (the protagonist's closest friend is Jewish, and his Unrequited Love is a female communist agent).
  • Traveller, a pulp novel series from The '80s. it was sort of a cross between The Executioner and Mad Max set in a post-apocalyptic Crapsack World.
  • The Ungoverned: Jake Schwartz, a farmer who "went armadillo" and has spent the last three years stockpiling as much military-grade firepower as possible, including illegal nuclear weapons.
  • The artilleryman from The War of the Worlds (1898) is an Unbuilt Trope version of this; he makes grandiose plans for building a (literal) underground resistance and is brushed off by the narrator when he realizes that the artilleryman is all talk and no action.
  • The Way Series: In Eon, it's mentioned that these guys didn't last long after the Death. In fact, they were abhorred for their unwillingness to help others.
  • Subverted in World War Z, where these guys are officially referred to as LaMoEs — Last Man on Earth — and came in two varieties: the ones that are still sane, and — after the initial confusion — welcome the army are referred to as Robinson Crusoes. The second type, which the narrator notes is the type that the rank and file actually do refer to as LaMOEs, are the ones who either went a little too mad or just got too used to their newfound lifestyle and didn't want to reintegrate into society. The tie-in in-universe guidebook The Zombie Survival Guide actually encourages you to become a Crazy Survivalist in case of a Zombie Apocalypse, provided you become one of the cooperative "Robinson Crusoe" variety.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A Crazy Survivalist rescues Kim Bauer from a cougar in 24 then tries to convince her that Los Angeles has been nuked and she should stay with him in his bunker forever.
  • In "The Release", an episode of the short-lived Animorphs TV series, there was Mr. Perkins, a high school teacher and former Controller who eventually runs off into the woods once he's found out. Unlike many other examples of this trope, Mr. Perkins was light on the crazy and heavy on the survivalist, rather than the other way around.
  • The reality TV series "The Colony" had participants play the part of one of several groups of survivalists after a simulated viral apocalypse. The participants may not qualify for this trope, but some of their simulated antagonists certainly do.
  • There are some hints of this trope with Professor Buzz Hickey of Community.
  • Alyx from Dead Set. She's deadly accurate against zombies with a gun, usually goes alone, and only takes one other survivor with her because he has supplies she doesn't. However, she develops a soft spot near the end which ends up killing her by helping Riq.
  • An episode of Elementary has Holmes and Watson investigating the murder of a doctor who turned out to be a prepper. Watson notes he doesn't seem the type but Holmes says that the man is "a more odious version," the rich survivalists convinced the poor will rise up against them. They uncover the man had invested $100,000 in a "high-class" bunker meant for the wealthy and check it out, seeing a lavish area complete with game room. It takes Sherlock two minutes to figure out the whole place is a facade: The filtration unit vents are covered with dust, the concrete coming apart, mold seeping in, a brick wall behind the "generator room" door, and the "supplies" all just empty boxes. The place couldn't stand up to a strong storm, let alone the Apocalypse, and the guy running it has been scamming millions off of survival nuts.
    • The two check into a suspect who reveals he's actually a journalist investigating the place himself. He shares his story which opens with the observation "Of course, a survival bunker for the rich is a scam, these are the people who push every man for himself." He relates that this scam is common as, for supposedly paranoid people, survivalists can be incredibly naive. They will buy the line of "top secret experts" involved keeping them from knowing too much but there should be some paper trail for buying thousands of galleons of fuel as well as medical supplies. This leads to the discovery of the killer being the doctor's partner as the doctor (needing to get drugs for a gang) had raided the bunker only to find no supplies and in his shock over the whole thing being a scam, was killed by his partner to not risk their practice in scandal.
  • Jim Taggart on Eureka. Sometimes he's usefully crazy, other times, he's just running around in the woods naked for a reason known only to himself.
  • Highlander: The Series has Methos, who's survived for 5000 years by being one step ahead of the other guy (or girl). He never puts himself in unnecessary danger and always has a way out.
  • The Last of Us (2023): Bill lives alone off the grid, living off the land with lots of guns and death traps to protect himself, and distrusts everyone else, which comes in handy when the Zombie Apocalypse actually happens (which he is happy about).
  • Rousseau from Lost, due to being stranded on the island for sixteen years.
    • As of season 6, Claire too.
  • MacGyver has been known to pull some Crazy Survivalist tricks out of his hat when needed.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of Married... with Children, with the head of the Neighborhood Watch's home security measures.
    NW Leader: Not gonna happen in my house. I'm ready for them. I got 50,000 volts of electricity running through my window bars. I got a bucket of battery acid hanging over the back door and I got a .30-aught-6 rigged to the front doorknob.
    Steve: Then how do you get into your house?
    NW Leader: Wouldn't you like to know!
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road", the heroine's husband Bruce is so obsessed with survivalist skills that he eventually drives his own wife away. It borders on Properly Paranoid, since the things he taught his wife did end up helping her when she was actually attacked by a psycho.
  • A serial killer/kidnapper pretends to be this (very convincingly) so he can play out his Adam and Eve Plot fantasy with his surviving female victim in Medium.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "The Blacktrees Prophecy", Lyra Kaine, has the flannel, the gun and her bear traps nearly take off Winter's foot.
  • Murderville: One of the suspects in the Marshawn Lynch episode is "doomsday prepper" Chester Worthington, who lives in an underground bunker, fears society, and tries to print his own currency.
  • Robin Hood and the Merry Men have the aesthetic if not the ideology in Once Upon a Time.
  • Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation has tendencies towards this trope, which have increased via Flanderization.
  • A segment on Shaun Micallef's Mad as Hell features Craig Javello and his hilariously poorly thought-out plans to survive the Mayan Doomsday. The result:
    Shaun: A postscript to that story, within an hour of entering his bunker for the test, Craig Javello was rushed to hospital suffering from botulism, smoke inhalation, rabies, bullet wounds, and dysentery. He is not expected to survive. I guess the old days of the old-fashioned monthly wall calendars are numbered. Pretty pointless if they weren't, I guess.
  • SOKO Potsdam: The Body of the Week in one episode is a passenger train driver who owned an old bunker in the woods outside Potsdam and ruthlessly drilled his family to flee to it in advance of the apocalypse. He turns out to have been murdered by his wife over the stress his survival drills were putting his family through.
  • When the Star Trek: Voyager crew traveled to the 20th century, one subplot was Chakotay and Torres being captured by these.
  • In one episode of The X-Files, a survivalist assures Mulder that not all survivalists are violent paranoids who hate the government. "But we are."
  • In Supernatural, FBI Agent Henriksen (quite accurately) profiles the Winchester clan this way. However, he's wrong in his speculation that John might have been a white supremacist and child molester.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Derek Reese probably seems like this to outsiders. Of course, he's actually a different trope entirely, but no one's supposed to know that.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Shelter Skelter", Harry Dobbs is convinced that a nuclear war is imminent. As his home in Dunston, Kansas is only a few miles away from Wakefield Air Force Base, a likely prime target, he has a fallout shelter built in his basement. It has a lead-lined door, four foot thick concrete walls, and outside temperature and radiation gauges. Harry has kept it a secret from his neighbors and warns his wife Sally not to reveal its existence to her sister Wendy. However, he later tells his friend and employee Nick Gatlin about it as he considers him to be practically part of the family. When the base is destroyed by a nuclear blast, the two of them take refuge in the shelter and wait to see whether the radiation will die down so that they can go outside again. In the final scene, it is revealed that the base was not destroyed by an enemy bomb during World War III but by an American cruise missile which accidentally detonated aboard a B-1 bomber. Dunston was destroyed but the horror at the loss of life pulled the world back from the brink of nuclear war. A radiation-proof dome, which has come to be known as the Peace Dome, was constructed to contain the fallout.
  • By the third season of The Walking Dead (2010), Morgan (from the first episode) has become this.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The "Full Metal Nutball" character build of Feng Shui is explicitly based on Burt Gummer of Tremors fame above, and bringing this mentality (and an awful lot of guns) to the Secret War.
  • In Shadowrun, the shadowrunners are said to generally be weirder people than most since they live in the cracks of society. Many of them may eventually adopt this lifestyle. Also, you can bet that when Chicago was overrun with bug spirits a lot of the survivors were like this.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade has this as a playable character template in their Gangrel Clanbook. The background says the player is someone convinced of the inevitable collapse of society who has stockpiled massive amounts of food and weapons in a shelter in the woods. One of the kindred happens upon him and, impressed with his survival skills, offers the Embrace, which the human readily accepts. After all, he now has the ultimate survival tool; immortality.

  • If you've ever heard Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, there's also the young infantryman who decides that the best thing to do is hide out in a cellar and carve out a brand new underground city. His glorious project is, by the time the protagonist reaches him, a 10 ft deep hole in the cellar wall, and yet he's making plans for playing cricket underground, defeating the invaders, and starting again. With "just a handful of men".

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Desmond Miles would tell people who asked about his history that his parents were these. It's true from a certain point of view: his family lived on a farm off the grid in the middle of nowhere because they were Assassins and their enemies control the world.
  • Dead Rising:
    • Frank encounters a crazed redneck survivalist holed up in a gun store who shoots at him when he gets too close (it takes place in a cutscene, so the player doesn't really have a choice). He is actually surprised when you want guns enough to shoot him dead. The actual effect is that the guy is crazy enough to not trust anyone with his guns, and kills anyone that approaches. When you kill him, he questions if you're crazy enough for guns to kill people. Bastard.
    • The Halls, a.k.a. the family of snipers, have this going on as well. W* The first F.E.A.R. game had Norton Mapes, a fat guy who was always locking himself in (and you out) to save himself from the bad guys at your expense. He gets killed at the end although in the un-canon expansion Extraction Point he is shown to have survived it and returns to do the same Crazy Survivalist act all over again. Though, in truth, he was being less like a Crazy Survivalist, and more like a Fat Bastard and Dirty Coward. And intentionally trying to murder you.ell, not Thomas, but otherwise...
  • When players of Dwarf Fortress succession fortress Headshoots decided to turn the fort's greatest champions into ravening undead to kill the fort, a dwarf called Gex quietly packed a backpack with rations and took off to a part of the fortress that didn't technically appear on the map, where the undead champions couldn't find him.
  • Generally, most characters in the Fallout games are survivalists to some degree, due to having spent generations eking out a living in an irradiated, monster-infested wasteland in constant competition with raiders, each other and the power-hungry remnants of the U.S. government. On the whole, being prepared for the nuclear blasts, mutant invasions, monster attacks, and government supersoldiers enforcing their way is nothing more than common sense in the world of Fallout. Because, you know, all things Crazy-Prepared people prepare for already happened there and most of them are order of the day.
    • Fallout 3 is more optimistic and has more than its fair share of caring, sharing types — encouraged by morality cheerleader Three Dog — but most of the communities you meet are isolationist and will only look out for themselves, and it is also implied that most individual Wastelanders are that way too. The Outcasts even left the Brotherhood of Steel for not being Crazy Survivalist enough.
    • Subverted by a former Marine in the Honest Hearts DLC for Fallout: New Vegas who, despite surviving unbelievable wasteland conditions and human atrocities, becomes a benevolent Stealth Mentor to a group of kids, who eventually become the Sorrows. Read his exploits here.
    • Even for the Fallout series, Barney Rook of Fallout 4 stands out. It's not entirely clear whether he really regards Reba (his rifle) as alive (and practically his girlfriend) or not, but he certainly talks like he does.
  • Far Cry
    • All over the place in Far Cry 5. The antagonists are members of a creepy cult of Right Wing Militia Fanatics who believe the nuclear Armageddon is coming; to that end, they've built massive bunkers all over Montana and are abducting locals to "save" them. There's also Dutch Roosevelt, who's on the good guys' side. However, he was paranoid and almost obsessive even before the cult came along, and some letters around his home indicate that his behavior has isolated him from his family.note 
    • In a bit of recursion, the bad guy in the first Far Cry was a Mad Scientist who believed global social collapse was imminent and was looking for ways to "improve" the human race, so they could survive it. Arguably more altruistic but just as crazy as any example on the list.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: A mission mid-game has The Truth send Carl to take a combine harvester from some of these, though they act more like typical rednecks.
  • Half-Life 2: Father Grigori of Ravenholm certainly fits the trope. The sole remaining human resident of Ravenholm, armed with his trusty rifle Annabelle, he sets traps all over the place to tend to his "flock" — consisting entirely of assorted headcrab zombies that are all that remain of the town's residents. Unlike many crazy survivalists, Grigori is actually a very helpful character, who saves your life several times and even has the common decency to provide you with your very own shotgun so you can help with him with his good work.
  • After the collapse of the United States in Homefront and the subsequent occupation by North Korea, many retreated to the countryside to live in isolated camps. Despite being American, they don't care much about the Resistance or the KPA. One of the camps encountered is shown to torture Korean soldiers for fun.
  • Lonewolf37 from House Flipper is definitely one of these. While the other two potential buyers from the Apocalypse Flipper DLC are fairly normal as preppers go, this guy is an absolute nutjob. For one thing, he obscures his face with a gas mask for all of his communication with you, and refuses to go by anything other than his screen name. He also gets mad if you put any furniture in his bunker, saying it "won't help [him] survive", and that includes giving him a toilet. All he wants is lots of water jugs, lots of canned food (because he refuses to cook for himself), and guns, guns, guns, guns, GUNS!
  • Kingdom of Loathing has a challenge path where you play as a zombie in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. There's an enemy called the zombie-huntin' feller, who looks and speaks like a redneck, stored up dehydrated meals, weapons, and hard-copy pornography before the apocalypse, and is out to "bag me some zombies, just like I been waitin' for these nigh-on ten years or so". While he attacks you, sometimes the reality of fighting an actual zombie stuns him.
  • Bill from The Last of Us. The crazy part is Downplayed but still certainly there, with his paranoia, anti-social behaviour and eccentric talking to himself. The survivalist part is definitely there: through liberal use of booby traps, a huge stockpile of supplies, and being utterly Crazy-Prepared, he's able to hold down an entire town single-handedly. Seriously, the whole town of Lincoln, Massachusetts is explicitly referred to as his.
  • The four protagonists of Left 4 Dead all have a touch of this.
    • Not to mention the church guy. Better safe than sorry!
    • The sequel gives us minor character Whitaker, a gun store owner who barricaded himself in a shed on the roof with more food and ammo than appears in the rest of the game combined. He forgot to store drinks, though, resulting in a Fetch Quest for you.
  • Mr. Prepper is a game about turning your basement into a fully-fledged self-sustaining bomb shelter; your country is turning into a plague-ridden Police State obsessed with "Blessing the President", and now it's illegal to leave, so building a sprawling underground base is the least irrational thing you can do. Unfortunately, it's not rational to go hunting wolves with a crowbar, or talk to plant-obsessed old ladies in the woods, or build a functioning ICBM.
  • Achenar in Myst IV: Revelation acquires something of a Crazy Survivalist vibe, constructing elaborate Bamboo Technology security-measures to keep pesky animals from stealing his carefully-hoarded supplies.
  • Planescape: Torment has the aptly named Paranoid Incarnation, a past version of you who was both quite insane and absolutely, screamingly terrified of enemies lurking in every corner trying to "steal his body"; he had a habit of strangling people when they gave him news he didn't like and using his own detached arm in combat (since he always had it on hand, so to speak). Nonetheless, despite or perhaps because of his crazy, he left many clues for himself that prove helpful to you - provided you survive whatever spectacularly lethal defences he set up around them. And then successfully decipher his ramblings. Which may be written in a dead, obscure, complicated language known only to him and the guy who taught it to him, whom he strangled. He - well, it was an apt name. However, he is ultimately revealed to be a tragic character, much like you; waking into a strange world that showed him nothing but hatred and fear for reasons he couldn't remember. He's relieved to the point of tears when you finally convince him he doesn't have to be afraid, and willingly joins his mind with yours to find some peace.
  • Plants vs. Zombies features Crazy Dave, your neighbor, who drives around with a station wagon full of lethal seeds, wears a pot on his head, and speaks in a Sims-like garbled growl. The plants he gives you turn out out to to be the key to stopping the zombies, however.
  • Project Zomboid: The human enemies in the game are this. You yourself can become this.
  • Jenkins from Red Faction: Guerrilla, complete with check shirt, puffy vest, and cap. While the player performs Rail Shooter missions, popping rockets off at EDF assets from the back of Jenkins' trike-car, Jenkins relates his survivalist philosophy. He wants total independence of Mars from "them" (Earth), to the point of inventing his own "Mars words" to replace English and trying to "teach" himself to breathe carbon dioxide. Upon blowing up a target he will frequently cry out that he is "Clean and Righteous." At other points, he announces that while everyone thinks he is crazy, he is the only sane man, and that "they" are always watching. Jenkins eventually goes right over the edge, deciding the Earth forces exist because of the rebellion, so the only way to be Clean is to betray the rebellion.
  • In Rogue Survivor, you can play your own character this way, especially as you can murder survivors who intrude in your safe house.
  • The Spartan Federation, an entire society of these guys, are one of the factions in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Humorously, they're the only faction canonically confirmed to have been completely eradicated.
  • The Sims 3, of all games, features a premade character like this: Hunter Cottoneye, who lives in Riverview. He lives in a bunker, wears all camouflage, and has the Insane, Neurotic, Loner, Mean-Spirited, and Angler traits.
  • Until Dawn has the unnamed man. His base has loads of ammunition, sawed-off shotguns, he carries a portable flamethrower, plus he has a journal full of notes on how to deal with the Wendigos. Naturally, he managed to kill the strongest wendigo as well as capture almost all remaining ones before the start of the game, only to die the instant he gets too close to the main characters.
  • The Scarlet Crusade in World of Warcraft is an entire faction of this, mixed with Knight Templar and Corrupt Church. They managed to survive and organize themselves to fight the Scourge, but are so paranoid that they attack on sight pretty much anybody who isn't them.
  • XCOM 2 has a heroic example in the form of the Reapers, an entire faction of these within La Résistance made up of people who went off the grid after the aliens conquered Earth and hid in the wilderness and abandoned cities, becoming Cold Snipers with a Grim Reaper motif eating things like Chryssalids to survive. They're Stealth Experts who ironically have a lot of skills geared towards Stuff Blowing Up.
  • ZombiU: As his nickname implies, the Prepper has spent a long time preparing for the zombie outbreak, building a secret bunker in the London Underground and hacking into CCTV cameras around the city. While he does let the player character in and help them to survive, he still has a decidedly ruthless streak, such as when he suggests robbing an uncooperative trader.

  • Margaret in College Roomies from Hell!!! has been on a mission of preparing for the Apocalypse since she found out that Satan really exists. She has guns, bombs, and can kill wolves with her bare hands.
  • Daily Grind: The Eyes of the World are a secret organization of mages, who were hunted down for 400 years by immortal wizard Awkwat. They took to violence and fundamentalism as a self-defense mechanism. Soon after Awkwat was killed in combat by Daily Grind, the Eyes began tearing themselves apart trying to justify their isolationist policies.
  • Owen and Beru in Darths & Droids.
  • Dregs: Mags the rat hunter gives off a definite vibe of this, with her gun collection, obsessive vigilance, casual disregard for pain and discomfort, and Insane Troll Logic.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In the Just Before the End prologue, one of the couples of the Finnish family is this. They decide to have a two-week "family vacation" on their private boat right when the Rash epidemic is supposed to hit the area in which they live and feed the rest of their family frozen pizzas that have been in the freezer for a year due to being part of the food supplies they keep in case some kind of disaster occurs. Their other adult family members treat this as a quirk shared by the couple, but this is the kind of story where such people turn out to be Properly Paranoid.

    Web Original 
  • Many people who choose to play the game in Survival of the Fittest turn into this or already were at one point or another, including recent character Kathleen Martin. Interestingly, Kathleen is the way she is because her father is also a Crazy Survivalist.
  • Nightfall: The film opens with Eve packing and trying to figure out what she needs for the upcoming chaos.
  • The Nostalgia Critic did a Lock-and-Load Montage and protected his entire body to prepare for watching The Secret of NIMH II.
  • Having suffered from one too many betrayals, Max Levin ends up like this in Pyrrhic, although there are some signs he might have hope of getting out of it.
  • The Spoony One has some shades of this. He claims to have built an ark at one point, he owns a huge arsenal of guns, mistakes a (white) uniformed marine for President Obama coming to confiscate said guns, tried to turn his dog into a cyborg security system and generally acts paranoid and twitchy.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: In "A River Runs Through Bob", the Belchers end up setting camp next to a pair of cheerful but slightly unstable survivalists who have an RV loaded with food and supplies. Things get weird when, after the kids steal some of their supplies while going to look for their missing parents, the two try to pressure Bob and Linda into having group sex with them.
  • In The Boondocks episode "The Fried Chicken Flu", Huey stockpiles tons of food and other supplies for any possible emergency. This seems to come in handy when a viral outbreak originating from fried chicken restaurants spreads around the country.
  • Phillip J. Fry's father in Futurama seems to be one of these. He turned the family's basement into a shelter, for one thing.
  • Wendy's whole family in Gravity Falls is revealed to be this, which proves useful when facing The End of the World as We Know It.
  • The Question in Justice League Unlimited
    Green Arrow: Does everything in your world have a sinister motive?
    Question: Yours too. You just don't know it yet.
  • Dale Gribble in King of the Hill is always prepared for the government collapse/apocalypse/Y2K.
  • Loony Tunes: Daffy Duck during hunting season.
    "I am a duck bent on self-preservation."
  • Tom Waits guest stars as one in the 2013 episode Homer Goes to Prep School of The Simpsons. Interestingly, the episode was something of a deconstruction of the Survivalist stereotype. The survivalist camp was populated by disgruntled, angry people who were practically chomping at the bit for the day when things finally fall apart. When things actually do fall apart temporarily, due to a power outage at the nuclear plant, the Survivalists almost immediately start fighting amongst themselves for control over food and water supplies. Meanwhile, the people still in town found it surprisingly easy to hold it together and get through the crisis, almost as if all of the disgruntled angry people who would have caused problems had already left...
  • Total Drama Pahkitew Island introduces Shawn, who is always looking out for zombies and thinks the apocalypse is already upon them - in fact, he wants to use the prize money to build a zombie-proof bunker. His skills and survival tactics prove to be quite helpful while competing.

    Real Life 
  • This trope is the reason why people who take emergency preparedness more seriously than most call themselves "Preppers" instead. The "Crazy" part is averted by at least one notable survivalist/prepper blogger, who advises to share your stocks with less-than-prepared people as soon as your own well-being is secured.
  • The term "prepper" is now becoming overloaded in turn, often being used by or referring to people who meet all the requirements of this trope. Which has led to terms like "community prepardness" to keep avoiding being mistaken for them.
  • Not surprisingly, the National Geographic series Doomsday Preppers focused on this type of prepper many times over its four-season run. Episodes ended with professionals evaluating the prepper's actual odds of survival in a doomsday scenario. Aggressive loners rarely had good odds.
  • The Mad Trapper of Rat River.
  • Kurt Saxon, author of The Poor Man's James Bond, with a healthy dose of Social Darwinist and Nietzsche Wannabe.
    • To give a hint of Saxon's mindset, in the 1960s. he was a member of George Lincoln Rockwell's American Nazi Party and Anton LaVey's Church of Satan and wound up quitting both because neither was evil enough for him.
  • An article once actually argued stating that in the case of actual total societal collapse, these kinds of people will be the first to go. Turns out the most important thing After the End will still be the ability to form social connections - sure, there's plenty of learned skills to pick up like digging wells, brewing boozenote , growing crops, and building shelters, but trying to do everything yourself is extremely tiring when there's only one of you.
  • Albert Dryden was a British survivalist & gun nut who wanted to build a nuclear fallout shelter on his own land, but had a massive falling out with the local government for not seeking planning permission. The district planning officer Harry Collinson befriended Albert and tried to reason with him as his appeals were rejected, but after Albert's mother died he blamed the stress from the media attention on his case and their friendship fell apart. With neither side refusing to back down, the council sent Harry, local police, and a demolition crew to tear down his shelter. Albert shot and killed Harry while wounding a constable and a reporter, leading to him spending almost the rest of his life in prison, and becoming an Inspirational Martyr to people fed up with their governments with a large crowd of cheering supporters outside of his 1992 court hearing.
  • Gated communities in the most unequal and crime-ridden areas of the world, such as parts of Bolivia, Peru, and South Africa can come across as embodying this trope. Tall concrete walls lined with razor wires, armed security guards, and a climate of fear are the common threads.
  • Autarky is when this is done on a national scale, often because of diplomatic isolation preventing the country from trading with its neighbors.
    • In 1961, Albanian ruler Enver Hoxha broke with the USSR in protest of its thawing relations with the West, and aligned his country with Mao Zedong's People's Republic of China, whose relationship with the PRC went sour around the same time for many of the same reasons. Since Albania was now the only pro-PRC country in Europe and therefore hostile to both NATO and the USSR, Hoxha felt compelled to build over 170,000 bunkers to protect against invasion, and out of a population of three million, about 800,000 served in the military in some capacity, with training starting at the age of twelve. The bunkers, which cost twice as much as the Maginot Line and used three times as much concrete, wrecked Albania's economy by diverting resources that could've gone to building roads and housing while also taking up valuable farmland, and didn't even have much practical military value beyond propaganda. In 1978, Hoxha broke from the PRC too, slamming that country's market reforms under Deng Xiaoping as "revisionism", and with that, the country was left completely isolated and dirt-poor, with a GDP per capita of about $750 during The '80s.
    • During the Rhodesian Bush War of 1964-1979 in what is now Zimbabwe, this was what the politicians and soldiers of the white minority elite often acted like, to the growing unease of the UK and the international community.
    • North Korea (of course) has made Juche — often translated to "self-reliance" — into its official state ideology. It refused to join the Comecon, the Soviet economic and trade organization, it cozied up to the Non-Aligned Movement instead of taking sides in the Sino-Soviet split, and it sought self-sufficiency in agriculture, natural resources, technology, heavy industry, and the military (including a nuclear weapons program) in order to preserve its independence.
  • The Bridge of Spies example mentioned above was inspired by director Steven Spielberg's own childhood during the Cold War.


Video Example(s):


Roger Hall and Sons

Roger Hall is obsessed with survival, as is his son Jack, as they take glee in shooting anyone who crosses their paths, undead or otherwise.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / CrazySurvivalist

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