Ten years ago, Scientific American put together a list of their favorite apocalyptic plots from fiction and film. The grouped them by category, like astronomical catastrophes, war, geophysical disasters, machine-driven takeovers, and, of course, pandemics. Of course, this is far from a comprehensive list of the greatest tales of the end times. Check out their selections and then add your favorites in the comments! From SciAm:
Earth Abides (novel 1949)
After humanity is wiped out by a deadly airborne illness, a small band of survivors set about rebuilding civilization.
A Sound of Thunder (short story 1952, film 2005)
A time-traveling hunter inadvertently crushes a butterfly during an excursion to the Jurassic period. It causes a succession of "time waves" to batter present-day Earth–and its embattled human occupants–and wrenches reality onto a different evolutionary path. Think baboon-dinosaurs besieging your local gas-mart.
I Am Legend (novel 1954, films 1964 (The Last Man on Earth), 1971 (Omega Man), 2007 (I Am Legend))
One lone man is immune to a pandemic virus that ravages humanity. He struggles to develop a treatment to save the infected.
The Andromeda Strain (novel 1969, film 1971, TV miniseries 2008)
A satellite returns to Earth with a deadly microbe that wipes out an entire town except for a baby and an old man.
"Death to Humans! Visions of the Apocalypse in Movies and Literature" (Scientific American)
image: detail of cover of "Earth Abides" by George R. Stewart (Corgi Books, London, 1970)