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Series / Surviving Disaster

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"Be a survivor. Not a statistic."

Surviving Disaster is a "survival show" that aired for a season on Spike TV in 2009. Cade Courtley, US Navy SEAL, teaches the audience how to survive various disasters that could plausibly happen on any day to nearly anyone: airliner hijacking, skyscraper inferno, hurricane, avalanche, mall terrorist attack etc. Notable in its highly dramatized presentation meant to draw the viewer into the disaster scenario and complete lack of consideration for a Fourth Wall.


This show contains examples of the following tropes

  • Badass Bystander: Discouraged unless the person knows what is doing and has the support of other people. In the "Hijack" episode a passenger alone charges head-on against the terrorists hijacking the plane, all while screaming an insulting them, only to be stabbed in the back by a backup terrorist that has hidden among the passengers.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The avalanche disaster scenario features a bear attack. Really.
  • Breaking the Bonds: In the "Home Invasion" episode, Courtley shows you how to get out of zipties.
  • Could This Happen to You?
  • Crash Course Landing: "Hijack".
  • Deadly Gas: The first part of the "Pandemic" episode has Courtley escaping a subway that's been hit with a gas attack.
    • To a lesser extent, the radioactive cloud in "Nuclear Attack".
  • Disposable Pilot: "Hijack". Given his age, there might even be Retirony involved.
  • Follow the Leader: The show bears more than a passing similarity to Man vs. Wild
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  • Hide Your Children: For obvious reasons, no children are depicted during any of the disasters, though it's certain that some would have been killed during the large-scale disasters (especially the nuclear attack and pandemic).
  • Heroic Mime: Most of the people surrounding Courtley never talk, not even when they sustain grievous injuries.
  • Hope Spot: After the titular one in "Hurricane" passes over and leaves the city flooded, forcing the survivors to seek refuge in the roof of a house, one of them spots a unmanned boat floating away, jumps on the water to retrieve it - and is attacked by an alligator.
  • Life or Limb Decision: In the "Hurricane" episode, it's implied that a guy will lose his arm when Courtley wraps a tourniquet around it to stop a gushing wound.
  • Man on Fire: In the "Fire" episode, obviously.
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  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The flood in the "Hurricane" episode brings an alligator with it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Only once in the series does a character take Courtley's advice and end up dead: in the "Home Invasion" episode, they try to escape from their kidnappers, but end up captured again, and the kidnappers shoot one of them to show they are serious.
  • No Fourth Wall
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Subverted in the "Fire" episode; once a man gets severely burned, Courtley quickly apply some first aid and then leaves him in a room with a fire-resistant door because trying to take him with the rest of the group would slow them down. They do tell fire rescue about the man once they're safe, though.
  • A Nuclear Error: Subverted, though the nuclear attack scenario could have been a lot more informative.
  • Prove I Am Not Bluffing: In "Hijack", the cold execution of a passenger in front of the others is used to indicate that this is a suicide mission - the hijackers "do not value life", nor do they care about adding more crimes to their resume since they are not planning to survive.
    • In "Home Invasion", the invaders execute one of the hostages after they catch them attempting to escape.
  • Threatening Shark: A shark attack is featured in the "lost at sea" disaster scenario.
  • Time for Plan B: Tends to happen a lot.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In most episodes, the characters listen to Cade Courtley and thus make it out alive, but there are a few exceptions:
    • In the fire scenario, a group of people take the elevator to escape. It doesn't work.
    • In the "Earthquake" episode, the quake causes power lines to fall on Courtley's car while he's in it. A bystander approaches to help and doesn't listen when Courtley warns him not to touch the car.
    • The kidnappers in the "Home Invasion" episode qualify. They bind their victims' hands together in front of them, not behind them - twice. They also let them go to the bathroom, stand outside while they're doing it, and let them close the door behind them, so that Courtley can slip out of his restraints without them seeing.
  • We Need a Distraction: "Home Invasion" - the guy sets off the alarm on his car parked in the driveway. The kidnappers take the bait and they all run out of the house to see what's happened.
    • In the "Hijack" episode, the passengers make a cell phone ring behind the terrorists so they turn their backs to them, then attack.

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