Watchworthy
224 voters

The Best TV Shows About Disease Outbreaks

Updated October 1, 2020 1.5k votes 224 voters 7.0k views39 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. 

Photo:
...more
  • 1
    The Walking Dead
    128
    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

    More The Walking Dead 

    The Strongest Survivors On 'The Walking Dead,' Ranked'The Walking Dead' Is As Big A Nightmare Behind The Scenes As It Is On-Screen

  • 2
    The Strain
    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

    More The Strain 

    #26 of 64 The Creepiest Shows In TV History#20 of 49 The Best Vampire TV Shows of All Time, Ranked

  • 3
    Containment
    84
    21

    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
  • 4
    The Stand
    61
    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

    More The Stand 

    The Best Characters From The Stand Miniseries‘The Stand’ Mini-Series Is A Lot Cheesier Than We Remember

  • 5
    The Last Ship
    65
    22

    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
  • 6
    12 Monkeys
    68
    25

    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

    More 12 Monkeys 

    #269 of 389 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate#76 of 84 The Best TV Shows Based on Movies

  • 7
    Helix
    54
    17

    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

    More Helix 

    #506 of 537 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time#21 of 33 The Best Zombie Related TV Series

  • 8
    Fear the Walking Dead
    71
    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

    More Fear the Walking Dead 

    The Best Characters On 'Fear the Walking Dead'The Best Seasons of 'Fear the Walking Dead'

  • 9
    Ash vs Evil Dead
    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
  • 10
    Z Nation
    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
  • 11
    Kingdom
    37
    21

    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

    More Kingdom 

    #6 of 55 The Best Historical KDramas Of All Time#101 of 101 The Best Horror TV Series

  • 12
    The Rain
    24
    7

    The Rain

    Iben Hjejle, Alba August

    Premiered2018

    Genres (Tv)Sci-fi, Thriller

    Check out more shows like The Rain.

    Amazon_watch buy button
  • 13
    Life After People: The Series
    27
    11

    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
  • 14
    The Hot Zone
    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

    More The Hot Zone 

    #5 of 22 Dark Dramas Inspired By Real Events#121 of 123 The Best Historical Drama TV Shows

  • 15
    The Andromeda Strain
    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
  • 16
    Zoo
    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
  • 17
    The Expanse
    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

    More The Expanse 

    #358 of 639 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch#239 of 351 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

  • 18
    The Last Man on Earth
    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

    More The Last Man on Earth 

    #211 of 452 The Funniest TV Shows of All Time#51 of 138 The Funniest Shows To Watch When You're Stoned

  • 19
    Coronavirus, Explained
    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
  • 20
    Cordon
    15
    10

    Cordon

    Wouter Hendrickx, Liesa Van der Aa

    Premiered2014

    Amazon_watch buy button
  • 21
    Jeremiah
    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

    More Jeremiah 

    #30 of 54 The Best Apocalyptic And Post-Apocalyptic Fiction TV Shows#35 of 43 The Best Recent Survival Shows & Movies

  • 22
    Love in the Time of Corona
    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

    More Love in the Time of Corona 

    #153 of 319 The Best Female-Led TV Shows#11 of 27 New Shows Filmed In (And Around) Social Isolation

  • 23
    Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak
    14
    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

    Amazon_watch buy button

    More Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak 

    #142 of 158 The Best Miniseries in TV History#115 of 210 The Best Documentary Series & TV Shows

  • 24
    Survivors
    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
  • 25
    Kissing Game
    0
    0

    Kissing Game

    Caio Horowicz, Denise Fraga

    Premiered2020

    Genres (Tv)Mystery, Thriller

    Kissing Game (Netflix, 2020) is a Brazilian mystery thriller television series created by... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

    More Kissing Game 

    #47 of 47 The Best Shows That Speak to Generation Z#130 of 171 The Greatest Thriller Shows in TV History