Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
The holidays are almost here and unless you’re travelling, you may have some free time on your hands. Why not spend it watching prepper and survivalist shows? Netflix has several great TV shows to choose from. There many great movies and documentaries I could have included as well, but the list would have been too long.
Keep in mind that most of this is “edutainment.” While you can learn a lot, you should always double check what you learn from these shows because some of them–cough! man-vs-wild! cough!–have been known to give very bad advice. Others are pure fiction (such as The Walking Dead), but are still the kind of shows preppers might enjoy.
For each show, I made a note at the end indicating whether it is available to stream, on DVD, or both. Also, I was going to link directly to the Netflix pages, but then I realized that if you don’t have Netflix, the links just take you to a page asking you to sign up. So instead I linked to the Wikipedia entries. Now, on to the list.
Last Update: 3/16/17
1. Combat Zone – A documentary series about the many operations and missions the U.S. military has fought around the world. Each episode is about a different battle, invasion, ambush, gunfight, rescue operation, you name it. This show is a good wake-up call for people who imagine themselves capable of serious combat after the SHTF. DVD only.
2. Falling Skies – This sci-fi series is set in a post-apocalyptic world where extraterrestrials have invaded Earth and killed most of the population. A group of survivors, led by a retired U.S. Army Captain, mount an insurgency against the aliens. This is a very well-done show that gets better as it goes. DVD only.
3. I Shouldn’t Be Alive – This series tells true stories of people who survived life-threatening situations against all odds. Through interviews and dramatic reenactments, we learn about the endurance and decisions of survivors who got through scenarios like being shipwrecked, lost at sea, trapped under a boulder, and more. DVD only.
4. Jeremiah – In a post-apocalyptic future, nearly everyone over 13 has been killed by a deadly virus. 15 years after “The Big Death,” a young man named Jeremiah and his friend Kurdy travel the country is search of the “Valhalla Sector” where his father–a viral researcher–may still be alive. DVD only.
5. Jericho – This series follows the residents of a small town in Kansas after the largest cities in the United States have been destroyed by nuclear missiles. Since they have no power or communication with the outside world, they have to manage with limited resources while trying to figure out what has happened. Available on DVD and to stream.
6. Life After People – This show asks the question, “What would happen to the world if humanity suddenly disappeared?” Scientists and engineers speculate about the fate of skyscrapers, bridges, certain plants and animals, and pretty much anything else built or impacted by humans. It extends from one year to several million years into the future. Very interesting show. DVD only.
7. Man vs. Wild – In this show, survival expert Bear Grylls is dropped into a different scenario in each episode–lost in the desert, jungle, mountains, forest, etc. He teaches you how to construct a shelter, forage for food, build a fire, and generally survive until you can reach civilization. Unfortunately, he makes a lot of foolhardy decisions in order to increase the entertainment value. DVD only.
8. Man, Woman, Wild – A husband-and-wife team attempt to survive inhospitable environments around the world with only a few supplies. Most of it features Mykel Hawke teaching his wife, Ruth England, various survival skills. It’s a pretty good show, although sometimes Ruth gets on my nerves. DVD only.
9. Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment – This series follows nine volunteers who make their way through the Alaskan wilderness with only a few supplies. They have to forage for food, build shelters, and stay warm amid freezing temperatures. Each volunteer has the option to summon a rescue team if they want to quit the experiment, and most of them do. DVD only.
10. Revolution – A post-apocalyptic sci-fi show about what happens too the world after all the electronics abruptly stop working. It’s an interesting look at how society would function after all the current institutions experience a permanent blackout. Available on DVD and to stream.
11. Storm Chasers – Meteorologists visit Tornado Alley in order to study twisters and capture them on video. This show doesn’t teach any survival skills, but it’s very well done. At times it is very suspenseful and instills a sense of awe at the power of these deadly phenomena. DVD only.
12. Survivorman – Probably one of the best survival shows ever. Filmmaker and survival expert Les Stroud ventures into the wilderness completely alone with just a few supplies and his camera. Although there is a support team monitoring him from a distance, he manages to survive on his own for at least a week and teaches viewers exactly how he does it. DVD only.
13. Survivors – After a pandemic wipes out over 90% of the world’s population, the people remaining have to survive in a world without power, running water, and many other things we all tend to take for granted. The show follows a specific group of people who encounter many obstacles, the worst of which are other people. Available on DVD and to stream.
14. The 100 – A post-apocalyptic science fiction show life on Earth nearly a century after a nuclear apocalypse. A group of teens become the first humans to return to Earth after the disaster. The teens are 100 “expendable” prisoners who are sent to Earth as a test to see whether the planet is habitable. They have to find a way to survive in a dangerous new world. Available on DVD and to stream.
15. The Barkley Marathons – While this isn’t technically a survivalist show, it should still be of interest to survivalists. It’s about a yearly race that pushes marathon runners to their absolute limit. The course is about 100 miles and takes about 60 hours to complete, during which the runners get no sleep and have no map. It takes place in some of the most difficult terrain in America (Frozen Head State Park). Available to stream only.
16. The Colony – This reality show follows 10 volunteers with various skills and backgrounds who are placed in a simulated post-apocalyptic environment and asked to rebuild civilization. Although it’s pretty entertaining, unless you’re a complete newbie prepper you may find yourself yelling at the TV. Available on DVD and to stream.
17. The Shannara Chronicles – An epic fantasy set thousands of years after the destruction of civilization. The show follows three heroes who go on a quest to stop a force of demons from destroying the planet. Available on DVD and to stream.
18. The Walking Dead – I love this show! Lots of great action and intense drama. Don’t expect to learn anything useful, though. In fact, there are several things that get on my nerves: They seem to have a never-ending supply of canned food, vehicles that have been abandoned for over a year run just fine, and even though zombies stagger along slowly no one can outrun them. But it’s still great if you enjoy post-apocalyptic shows. Available on DVD and to stream.
19. Top Sniper – A documentary series about the annual International Sniper Competition in Fort Benning, Georgia. This more than just a shooting competition. They have to compete in simulated war conditions and display multiple skills including camouflage, stalking, and urban combat. DVD only.
20. Z Nation – This series is a blend of action, drama, horror, and post-apocalyptic science fiction, and it’s as good as it sounds. The story starts several years after a the beginning of a zombie apocalypse caused by a virus. One of the main characters is the survivor of a zombie bite because his blood contains special antibodies. The group needs to get him to the CDC alive and well in order to save humanity from the virus. Available on DVD and to stream.