Clearly the End is nigh. With that in mind, and while tooling around with the NUKEMAP, the Deadspin staff discussed various apocalyptic death scenarios today, to determine which ones seem good. Here is a ranked list of some—not all!—apocalyptic death scenarios, in order from best to worst.
1. Nuke (fireball)
A sudden blinding white light and then you’re dust. Quick and relatively clean, yet extremely metal.
2. A giant meteor or asteroid or whatever (big enough to destroy Earth)
Basically the same deal, only with the possibility that you’d know about it months in advance and spend those months in terror and grief, wasting your time on some futile scheme to save yourself. That’s not nearly as cool as just going, “Oh, dang, I guess we’re having nuclear war toda—” and turning to ash.
3. Nuke (air blast)
Okay, so you don’t get to get vaporized in an instant, but maybe, just maybe, if you happen to be wearing extremely dark sunglasses and looking in the right direction at the right moment, you catch a glimpse of a fireball the size of Mount Everest right before you go out like Sarah Connor up there at the top. That would (will?) be pretty bitchin’.
4. Taken by the earth while sleeping
Like this guy. Pretty good way to die! Forever after, your descendants and all who learn of your death will oscillate between shivering at the thought that the universe is cold and chaotic enough to swallow a completely random person for no reason whatsoever, and the possibly even more chilling thought that your death was not random at all, but the specific wrath of God.
5. Volcano (nearby)
I think you have to be pretty close to a volcano for death-by-volcano to be good. Like that old hermit, Harry Truman, who refused to leave the slopes of Mount St. Helens as it was getting ready to blow up in 1980, and then (presumably) caught a pyroclastic flow to the chest and went down hard; he had a good and probably near-instantaneous death. But if you’re farther away from the volcano, you die by drowning in a lahar or suffocating in the poisoned air or starving to death in the denuded wasteland or whatever, and that sucks. Thankfully, the Yellowstone Caldera, when it erupts, might be big enough to qualify as “nearby” even if you’re not chilling in northwest Wyoming at the time.
6. The animals rise up
As a practical matter, probably a pretty nasty way to die, unless the particular animal that happens to rise up near you is, like, a giant tiger that just bites your entire head off in one go. But still, even if it’s an extremely angry cloud of mosquitos that happen to do you in, while your neighbor is over here getting squashed flat by an elephant, I like to think you’d find something reassuring about those final moments. Ah, this makes sense. (Plus, going down while machine gunning a charging platoon of grizzly bears in the Great Man Vs. Animal War would be pretty fucking rad.)
7. Nuke (thermal radiation radius)
Pretty rotten way to go. Third degree burns all over your body. You still die pretty quickly, in all likelihood, but in agony and misery.
8. A huge wave
You can’t really trust the huge wave to do the job right. What if it just fucks your shit up, washes you a hundred miles inland, and leaves you stranded on a mountaintop with all your bones broken? Then you’re basically dying of exposure, only after an extremely bad swimming experience. In a huge wave scenario, you’re basically hoping for some other thing—a well-placed wall, prolonged submersion, surfing piranhas—to do the actual work of killing you. When you get right down to it, a huge wave is really just a mode of mass transportation that sometimes leads to death. Like any other.
9. The Pacific Northwest mega-quake
Remember that terrifying New Yorker article about how the Pacific Northwest is doomed to be eradicated by a monstrous earthquake? Doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?
10. The biblical apocalypse
I’m not actually sure how most people die in that. Plagues? Bugs? Earthquakes? Take a rain of nukes over any of that shit, if you’re smart.
11. The machines rise up
At this point the only question about this scenario is whether we’ll survive long enough to see it. The drag here is that it vindicates old Luddites.
12. Nuke (fallout/radiation)
Nobody wants to melt and get cancer.
13. The sun expands and consumes the earth
At first this seems excellent. Who wouldn’t want to be devoured by the sun? But then you realize that long before the sun actually consumed Earth in its purifying flames, it would have scoured all life off the planet with excruciating heat. Which means you probably starve to death as the food chain collapses. That’s no way to go.
14. A giant meteor or asteroid or whatever (not big enough to destroy Earth)
Now you’re talking about a The Road type of situation. Shambling through a blasted wasteland with your rusty grocery cart, looking for canned goods and hoping to avoid the cannibals. Or as I like to call it, shopping at Walmart.
15. Global pandemic
Woof. No thank you. Pretty much all the really spectacular diseases kill or incapacitate so quickly that they limit their own spread; this means that the potentially pandemic diseases, pretty much without exception, are shitty miserable ones like the flu that don’t even make for good hysterical TV movies.
16. Being hit by a car
17. The fear and then eventual exhausted recognition that human society and humanity itself long ago passed a point of no return and are in irretrievable decline, but you can’t just kinda lay down and switch off because that’s not how it works, so you keep muddling through figuring maybe you and then your kids might fit in a last couple generations of relatively stable, secure life before the collapse begins in earnest, or before it reaches you, or while you still can pretend not to recognize it happening all around you, or while you still can convince yourself that faithful work toward ideals like peace and justice has some chance to dignify and redeem this entire doomed wreck, even if only so long-distant alien visitors to our planet will find the fate of humanity tragic rather than hilariously just
Ugh. Fuck that.
What apocalyptic death scenarios are you excited about?