Black Summer is a 2019 prequel to the 2014 Syfy series Z Nation, released on Netflix on April 11, 2019. Unlike the original series, Black Summer takes place during the early days of the Zombie Apocalypse, and rather than following a story arc, it documents the fate of a handful of survivors during a very short period of time, divided up into 8 episodes.
The episodes are divided up into segments, which follow different characters trying to survive in an American suburb just as the zombie apocalypse is taking a turn for the worst, sometimes revisiting the same areas other survivors had previously been in. The main character is Rose, a woman who is searching for her daughter, who was on the last refugee truck that left the neighborhood before the Army tried to lock it down. She joins a group consisting of Spears, a soldier with a dark secret, a mute man named Ryan and Lance. Other survivors include Sun, a Korean girl who speaks little English, and William, a violent man with anger problems.
Tropes featured in this series include:
- Anyone Can Die: Like Z Nation, almost anyone can get knocked off.
- Air Vent Escape: When the group robs the armory in episode 6, Sun and Manny get in and out using the facility air vents. Manny is killed by some stray gunfire from below when the zombies attack and revives inside the air vent, forcing Sun to flee for her life. She's barely saved in time by Spears.
- Bittersweet Ending: Rose, Spears and Sun make it to the stadium, and find Rose's daughter alive and well, having managed to survive due to her small size and a pilfered handgun. However, there's no rescue coming, and only the relative safety of the abandoned safe zone prevents this from being a Bolivian Army Ending. Lance is separated from the others after arriving at the stadium, and flees alone, his fate unknown.
- Bury Your Disabled: Ryan is killed by a child that was told to shoot him if he moved. Since he is deaf and his head was covered, he didn't know and moved towards Rose when his bindings were removed.
- Call-Forward: Carmen and Manny make mention of having witnessed a huge horde of zombies in Arizona. Possibly the same one that the Z Nation cast would eventually drive into the Grand Canyon.
- Darker and Edgier: Described by the creators as "before the zombie apocalypse got weird and was just scary". It's a pretty apt description, virtually none of the humor of Z Nation is present.
- Dangerous Deserter: The army unit that was transporting Spears is revealed to have been this by episode 7. According to Spears, they were busy looting and wanted him to lead them to a cache he allegedly knew of. The two surviving members the group meets in the same episode attempt to kidnap Spears and continue the search.
- Decoy Protagonist: Barbara is introduced like the other survivors and is part of Sun and William's group, but is killed in a car crash by the second episode. She revives as a zombie and is killed by Spears when they arrive at the diner.
- Doomed by Canon: While survival isn't completely impossible, it's established in Z Nation that Black Summer was when the majority of humanity died, making the survivors' chances very small.
- Dwindling Party: An even worse case than the original series, due to the short timespan. Several characters don't even make it past the first episode. Rose, Spears and Sun are the only ones who make it to the end (Lance isn't shown dying, but is last seen fleeing a large group of zombies, so his chances aren't too good).
- Friendly Fire: The hundreds of armed survivors arriving at the stadium causes several incidents like this when the zombies attack. Carmen is killed by a stray bullet and turns into a zombie.
- Game-Breaking Injury: William has an old knee injury that begins to flare up and makes it difficult to run in the later episodes, which is rather problematic in their current situation. It finally becomes impossible for him to even limp right on the threshold of the stadium, and he has them perform a Mercy Kill on him so he won't get eaten alive.
- Jerkass: Phil, the survivor travelling with Carmen and Manny, who quickly proves himself to be The Social Darwinist and eventually tries to convince William to use Sun as bait for the zombies. The survivors in the diner finally turn on him, beat him to a pulp and throw him out to the zombies.
- Kids Are Cruel: The child survivors in "Summer School", though the teenagers running the place are worse.
- Kill and Replace: "Spears" is actually a military prisoner who killed the army private guarding him and stole his uniform and identity. His real name is revealed to be Julian James.
- Language Barrier: Sun only speaks Korean, with the exception of a few stilted words in English, and has trouble communicating with the other survivors. Luckily, she can understand English perfectly well.
- Safe Zone Hope Spot: Most of the characters are trying to reach the refugee camp at the baseball stadium. Three guesses for how well that turned out.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Earl, the strange, quiet survivor the group first met wandering around whistling outside the high school, turns out to have been looking for his dog this whole time. When the remaining survivors emerge from the tunnels at the end of episode 7, Earl tries whistling again, and sure enough, the dog comes running (and turns out to have been the dog Lance saw in episode 4). He puts a leash on his dog, and walks off without so much as a look back and that's the last they see of him.
- Teens Are Monsters: The teenage survivors in "Summer School" who lure survivors into the high school using the younger children as bait, then kill them and steal their weapons. After one of the kids accidentally shoot Ryan, they force Rose and Spears to fight him when he zombifies.
- Too Dumb to Live: Almost all of the survivors, who constantly screw up while fighting zombies. Somewhat excusable since it's still early in the apocalypse, but still.
- Zombie Infectee: Rose's husband, who was trying to hide a bite mark from the army, and eventually dies and turns while he and Rose are hiding.