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The Best TV Shows About Disease Outbreaks

Updated December 17, 2020 1.6k votes 230 voters 7.7k views40 items

List RulesVote up the best documentary series and scripted shows with the central theme around outbreaks and pandemics.

The best shows about disease outbreaks can be both escapist fantasy or become painfully relevant. Some people prefer to watch dramas or documentaries related to viruses so that they can learn more about the pathology of such organisms and how an epidemic spreads. Some pandemic TV shows are more topical than others and are based on real events, such as the National Geographic miniseries The Hot Zone. Other television series about medical pandemics are less sober - and offer escapism rather than facts. We probably don't have to worry about the world transforming into The Walking Dead just yet. From the fantastical to the scarily plausible, it's time to rank the best outbreak shows around. 

When you're tasked with social distancing and need to binge-watch, what pandemic series plague your watchlist? Perhaps you turn to the 2016 drama Containment about an epidemic breaking out in Atlanta, forcing the entire city to be quarantined. There's also The Last Ship about a crew onboard a naval destroyer who need to confront their new reality when a pandemic kills off much of the planet's population. 

A lot of good shows about disease outbreaks have been made over the years. Which television series do you find yourself turning to in times of isolation? Don't forget to vote for your favorites, and make sure to wash your hands afterward. 

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  • The Walking Dead1
    132
    44

    The Walking Dead

    Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal

    Premiered2010

    Genres (Tv)Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Suspense, Drama

    The Walking Dead (A&E, 2010) is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • The Strain2
    102
    30

    The Strain

    Corey Stoll, David Bradley

    Premiered2014

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Vampire horro

    The Strain (FX, 2014) is an American horror drama television series created by Guillermo del... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Containment3
    84
    22

    Containment

    Chris Wood, Claudia Black

    Premiered2016

    Genres (Tv)Drama

    Containment (The CW, 2015) is an American medical and speculative drama television series... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • The Stand4
    62
    11

    The Stand

    Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald

    Premiered1994

    Genres (Tv)Miniseries, Fantasy

    The Stand (ABC, 1994) is an American horror miniseries directed by Mick Garris, and based on... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • The Last Ship5
    68
    24

    The Last Ship

    Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra

    Premiered2014

    Genres (Tv)Action, Drama, Sci-fi

    The Last Ship (TNT, 2014) is an American action drama television series created by Hank... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 12 Monkeys6
    68
    27

    12 Monkeys

    Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull

    Premiered2015

    Genres (Tv)Adventure, Drama, Mystery

    12 Monkeys (SyFy, 2015) is an American television series on Syfy created by Terry Matalas and... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Helix7
    54
    18

    Helix

    Billy Campbell, Kyra Zagorsky

    Premiered2014

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Science Fiction

    Helix is an American science fiction thriller-drama television series that premiered on Syfy... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Fear the Walking Dead8
    72
    42

    Fear the Walking Dead

    Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis

    Premiered2015

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Horror

    Fear of the Walking Dead (AMC, 2015) is an American post-apocalyptic horror drama television... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Ash vs Evil Dead9
    37
    10

    Ash vs Evil Dead

    Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago

    Premiered2015

    Genres (Tv)Action, Comedy, Horror

    Ash vs Evil Dead (Starz, 2015) is an American comedy horror television series developed by Sam... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Z Nation10
    37
    15

    Z Nation

    Kellita Smith, DJ Qualls

    Premiered2014

    Genres (Tv)Action, Comedy, Horror, Drama, Sci-fi

    Z Nation (Syfy, 2014) is an American action/horror/comedy-drama/post-apocalyptic television... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Kingdom11
    38
    22

    Kingdom

    Ju Ji-hoon, Bae Doona

    Premiered2019

    Genres (Tv)Historical, Fantasy, Thriller, Horror

    Kingdom (Netflix, 2019) is a South Korean historical horror television series based on the... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • The Rain12
    24
    8

    The Rain

    Iben Hjejle, Alba August

    Premiered2018

    Genres (Tv)Sci-fi, Thriller

    Check out more shows like The Rain.

    The Rain (Netflix, 2018) is a Danish web series created by Mosholt Esben, Toft Jacobsen, and... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • The Hot Zone13
    37
    24

    The Hot Zone

    Julianna Margulies, Topher Grace

    Premiered2019

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Thriller

    The Hot Zone (National Geographic, 2019) is an American medical thriller television drama... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Life After People: The Series14
    27
    12

    Life After People: The Series

    James Lurie, Steven S. Ross

    Premiered2008

    Genres (Tv)Speculative fiction, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Documentary, Science Fiction

    Life After People is a television series on which scientists, structural engineers, and other... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • The Andromeda Strain15
    24
    12

    The Andromeda Strain

    Viola Davis, Holly Marie Combs

    Premiered2008

    Genres (Tv)Miniseries, Science Fiction

    The Andromeda Strain is a 2008 science fiction miniseries, based on the novel of the same name... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Zoo16
    18
    7

    Zoo

    James Wolk, Kristen Connolly

    Premiered2015

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Thriller

    Zoo (CBS, 2015) is an American drama television series based on the 2012 novel by James... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • The Expanse17
    18
    7

    The Expanse

    Thomas Jane, Steven Strait

    Premiered2015

    Genres (Tv)Mystery, Sci-Fi

    The Expanse (Syfy, 2015) is an American science fiction television series developed by Mark... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • The Last Man on Earth18
    18
    12

    The Last Man on Earth

    Will Forte, January Jones

    Premiered2015

    The Last Man on Earth is an American post-apocalyptic comedy television series created by and... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • The Stand19
    0
    0

    The Stand

    Alexander Skarsgård, James Marsden

    Premiered2020

    Genres (Tv)Adventure, Drama, Dark Fantasy, Horror

    The Stand (CBS All Access, 2020) is an American apocalyptic horror drama television... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak20
    15
    10

    Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak

    Syra Madad, Jake Glanville

    Premiered2020

    Genres (Tv)Documentary

    Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak (Netflix, 2020) is an American documentary television series. The docuseries follows the heroes on the front lines of the battle against influenza and learn about their efforts to stop the next global outbreak. ...more

    Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak (Netflix, 2020) is an American documentary television... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Cordon21
    15
    10

    Cordon

    Wouter Hendrickx, Liesa Van der Aa

    Premiered2014

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  • Coronavirus, Explained22
    0
    0

    Coronavirus, Explained

    J.K. Simmons, Peter Daszak

    Premiered2020

    Genres (Tv)Documentary, Miniseries

    Coronavirus, Explained (Netflix, 2020) is an American documentary limited series produced and... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Jeremiah23
    17
    12

    Jeremiah

    Luke Perry, Malcolm-Jamal Warner

    Premiered2002

    Genres (Tv)Action/Adventure, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Drama, Adventure film, Action

    Jeremiah (Showtime, 2002) is an American-Canadian post-apocalyptic action drama television... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Love in the Time of Corona24
    0
    0

    Love in the Time of Corona

    Leslie Odom Jr., Nicolette Robinson

    Premiered2020

    Genres (Tv)Dating, Comedy

    Love in the Time of Corona (Freeform, 2020) is a dating comedy television series created by... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Survivors25
    0
    0

    Survivors

    Julie Graham, Max Beesley

    Premiered2008

    Genres (Tv)Sci-fi, Drama

    Survivors (2008) is a British science fiction television series, loosely based on the novel of... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button