For Father’s Day, we decided to put together a list of 15 post-apocalyptic (or at least apocalypse-themed) movies, shows, and one-off episodes you can watch with your kids!
Let’s face it, kids today see a lot of stuff that’s way too old for them, but if you’re one of those parents who like to pretend your kid isn’t watching scenes from Game of Thrones behind your back, here are some age-appropriate movies and shows to get them hooked on post-apocalyptic stuff instead!
(Please note, the list begins with shows for age 3 or 4 and goes up to a PG-13 rating, so use your parental discretion. My 4-year-old loves The Mitchell’s and the Machines, for example, but it might not work for other 4-year-olds.)
The ultimate post-apocalyptic story for kids, this 2008 movie still has eye-catching graphics and a fun plot. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching this movie, Wall-E is about a robot left on earth after it becomes uninhabitable. He spends his days compacting mountains of garbage left behind by humans into towering, more organized piles until another robot, Eve, shows up on a mission to re-colonize the planet.
Honestly, this movie is funny, poignant, adorable, and exciting.
Story Bots – Season 3, Episode 2
If you want your kids to watch a show that’s entertaining and educational, Story Bots is quite awesome. It stars these robots who spend each episode trying to answer a kid’s question about why something is the way it is (e.g. “how do eyes work?”). In addition, each episode features a celebrity guest (Snoop Dogg, for example) and many songs. Season 3, Episode 2 – “Why Do I Have to Recycle?” is a fantastic homage to Mad Max that anyone who loves the movies has to watch.
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts
The Netflix show follows a girl named Kipo Oak, who is searching for her father after being forced to flee from her burrow, and must explore the post-apocalyptic surface world ruled by mutated animals to find him. Along the way, she befriends human survivors Wolf and Benson and the mutant animals Dave and Mandu. It’s been critically acclaimed for its design, characterization, music, world-building, voice acting, and diversity.
Not just for stoned adults, Adventure Time is a great show to watch with kids because you never know what will happen next (and each episode is only 11 minutes)! While it seems only vaguely post-apocalyptic in the earlier seasons, the later episodes delve deep into how the world is not some magical fairyland. In truth, everything in the land is a mutation from nuclear radiation. Yes, even Jake the Dog.
The Mitchells vs the Machines
A runner-up in our 2021 Boomie Awards, The Mitchells vs the Machines is a great way to teach your kids not only about the dangers of having their phones in their faces all day, but how to survive a robot apocalypse! It’s also full of humour (with Danny McBride as the dad) and really interesting animation that will appeal to Gen Z humour and make geriatric Millenials feel hip again.
Now over twenty years old, this “classic” is still a lot of fun. The movie bombed when it first came out, but many of us who were kids or young teens at the time have a great deal of nostalgia for it. The story follows a young man who learns that he has to find a hidden Earth ship before an enemy alien species does to secure the survival of humanity. There’s lots of fun space action, and the CGI isn’t too bad today (unlike many movies from that period).
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
When most people think of Hayao Miyazaki, they think of My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, or even Princess Mononoke, but Nausicaä was an earlier movie (1984) that is probably my favourite of his films. It follows a young girl living in a post-apocalyptic world where spores from nuclear war 1000 years ago make most of the earth uninhabitable. There are battles, weird creatures, and wasteland settlers. Nausicaa discovers that the planet may be healing, but will anyone listen?
The Day After Tomorrow
This 2004 movie stars Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhall as father and son stuck in the middle of a climate disaster of epic proportions. The world has started to freeze over, and a massive storm is heading toward the United States. Of course, Jake is trapped in New York City, so his dad braces the storm to rescue him. It’s still a lot of fun almost twenty years later and not too scary for kids.
The History Channel series is on Season 9 right now, so if you have a kid who’s really into camping and the outdoors, it might be a show they’d enjoy. It’s a reality show where survivalists are sent into the wilderness to see who can survive the longest on minimal supplies. It’s a lot of fun!
Raya and the Last Dragon
Less post-apocalyptic than dystopian, Raya follows a young woman whose world has been overrun by these monsters called “Droon” that turn anyone they touch into stone. Having lost her father to this curse, she is searching for a way to bring back the mystical dragons who were said to have a way to stop it. This Disney movie is packed with action and takes place in barren, deserted places, so it has the feel of a post-apocalyptic movie.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
An adaptation of the 80s show, this show is aimed at kids (that I, a 37-year-old woman, initially watched without my kids). It is set in Eternia, a world existing on the remnants of a long-dead civilization. There’s a lot of the “ancient, super-powerful tech that we don’t know how to use” trope. There are also a few episodes in season 3 set in a wasteland area of the planet, complete with mutants and raider-like thugs. These are the best episodes of the series, in my opinion. A mutant cat-girl fighting a leather-coat-wearing lizard-man named “Tongue Lashor?” It’s a blast. The show is very LGBTQ+ friendly and full of body positivity.
Maya and the Three
Also not exactly post-apocalyptic, this limited series on Netflix has a massive celebrity cast (including Zoe Saldana in the leading role, as well as Stephanie Beatriz, Alfred Molina, Diego Luna, and Danny Trejo) and spectacular animation. It follows Maya, a spitfire princess of the Teca clan in pre-colonial Mesoamerica who refuses to be sacrificed to the God of War, bringing his wrath down on the world. It’s FULL of battles and can get pretty dark.
A Netflix show for older kids, it deals with six teenagers trapped in Jurassic World after the Ignonimus Rex incident. They are stuck there for so long they are forced to build shelters, raid the abandoned facilities for supplies, and evade hungry dinosaurs. It has fun survival aspects, special effects, and dinosaur attack scares.
Two Movies Apocalyptic in Theory Only:
This might make you never want to watch the movie again, but could the Pixar movie Cars, starring Owen Wilson as race car Lighting MacQueen, be set thousands of years in the future where human-car hybrids have taken over? Check out the theory here.
This “theory” has been around for a while, but it hinges on a joke Genie makes. He says Aladdin’s clothes are “so third century,” but given the Genie was trapped in the lamp for 10,000 years, or so he says, he would have no knowledge of fashion trends during that time. He also references people like Jack Nicholson, whom, as we know, is a product of today. The argument is that Aladdin takes place in the year 11,900 (or so), in a post-apocalyptic world where only a blend of Middle Eastern cultures has survived. And the “magic,” like the flying carpet, the genetically-enhanced parrot who can talk (not just mimic), and the “Cave of Wonders” are remnants of past technology.
Happy Father’s Day!