An interesting sci-fi subgenre is the "last man on Earth" story. Invariably, films about a lone survivor on the planet Earth reveal a desperate person who ultimately finds other survivors. Even the television series The Last Man on Earth featured a large cast of characters, though, like the films, it began with a lonely guy looking for other people.
Of course, the genre isn't limited to men alone, as there are several impressive selections focusing on women (plus lovable robot Wall-E, although he's too well-known to make this list). The "last being on Earth" genre (to phrase it more inclusively) has been around for a long time, and there have been some strong entries over the years. Here are 14 of the most underrated "last person left alive" films ever made. Make sure to upvote your faves!
- Photo: Universal Pictures
Who's Left?: Jack Harper and his housemate and communications expert, Victoria "Vika" Olsen, are two of the only people left on the planet. Their job is to repair a network of drones tasked with hunting any "scavs," aliens who made an incursion 60 years previously. They also ensure the security of fusion generators that extract energy from the ocean water. A woman named Sally works from a station in orbit, and after a five-year mission, they will return to humanity's new home on Titan.
Are They Really Alone?: As it happens, they aren't alone at all. The scavs aren't aliens; they're actually human survivors who hide and fight against the drones.
What Happened To Earth?: In the year 2017, aliens encroached upon the planet, and while Jack believes the ensuing conflict resulted in the ruination of Earth by atomic devices, in reality something far darker occurred. The aliens cloned Jack and Vika after capturing them in Earth's orbit. They made armies of the clones, who swept across the planet, slaying most of humanity. Jack and Vika are themselves clones who believe the nuclear conflict story but are merely caretakers of the equipment being used by the aliens to extract every usable resource from the planet.
Is There Any Hope?: Yes. The film concludes with Jack and the scavs targeting the mothership, so the alien menace is taken out. This should leave the planet open for the survivors to rebuild their civilization, though it will likely take a long time.Underrated?
- Photo: Warner Bros.
Who's Left?: Lt. Col. Robert Neville works desperately to stay alive and find a cure for a genetically reengineered measles virus, which has wiped out 90% of the world's population. Of the remaining 10%, 9.8% have mutated into vampiric mutants who are vulnerable to sunlight but otherwise incredibly tough. Neville appears to be the only human left in Manhattan - and possibly even the world.
Are They Really Alone?: Just as it appears he has lost all hope, Neville is saved by a woman named Anna and a young boy named Ethan. The two are making their way to a survivors' camp in Bethel, VT, but Neville doesn't believe the camp truly exists.
What Happened To Earth?: The virus was developed to cure cancer, and it did. The nasty side effect nobody saw coming was the mutation of a small number of survivors and the demise of 5.4 billion people. The world is essentially left uninhabited, as the surviving "Darkseekers" are holed up in dark places throughout the day.
Is There Any Hope?: Yes, but one version of the film is a bit darker. In the theatrical release of the film, Neville sacrifices himself so Anna and Ethan can take the cure he engineered to the survivors' camp, thus saving humanity. In the director's cut, the original ending sees Neville come to realize that he is the one terrorizing the Darkseekers, snatching them up during the day to experiment on them. He then joins the two other survivors, and they all head to the camp to hopefully save the human race.Underrated?
- Photo: Warner Bros.
Who's Left?: Col. Robert Neville, MD, is the lone surviving human in all of Los Angeles. He is immune to a disease that turns people into mutant albinos who are vulnerable to sunlight.
Are They Really Alone?: At first, Neville appears to be alone, but he eventually meets three survivors named Dutch, Lisa, and Richie. However, they lack Neville's immunity and begin to succumb to the disease shortly after meeting him. Neville is able to save them by creating a serum derived from his own blood.
What Happened To Earth?: In March of 1975, a conflict between the Soviet Union and China resulted in the deployment of biological weapons. The majority of the Earth's population perished as a result, and Neville was only able to survive thanks to an experimental vaccine he took as the plague was devastating the human race. Those who survived were mutated and became a new race, calling themselves "The Family." They go after Neville night after night, and he puts up a fight throughout the duration of the movie.
Is There Any Hope?: The movie ends with Neville having perished at the hands of The Family and Dutch leading a group of survivors. They take the serum Neville developed and leave the city, planning to make a home for themselves in the wilderness. Their hope for survival is fairly high, so long as they don't come into conflict with The Family sometime in the future.Underrated?
- Photo: MGM
Who's Left?: Regina "Reggie" Belmont is working in a movie theater when a cataclysm of epic proportions - a comet's tail passing over the Earth - devastates life around the globe. She is saved alongside her sister, Samantha (AKA Sam), because the two happen to be in a steel room at the time of the comet's passing. There are other survivors, but not many.
Are They Really Alone?: Not entirely. Reggie's boyfriend survives as well, though he is soon finished off by a zombie. Reggie and Sam meet up with other survivors, including a group of scientists who have survived the initial cataclysm but are slowly expiring.
What Happened To Earth?: The film reveals that a comet passes by the planet every 65 million years; and the last time, the dinosaurs were wiped out. When it passes, the comet litters the atmosphere with deadly red dust that disintegrates any living thing it touches. Others who are partially protected are turned into mindless zombies.
Is There Any Hope?: Yes, thanks to the rain. When the rains finally come, the dust is washed away, and the zombies crumble into dust. The survivors can rebuild, although their descendants will have to pay attention to the night skies in about 65 million years - or suffer the same fate.Underrated?