When it comes to personal readiness, there’s always something to do, something to improve. Your list of chores and homework will never end if you are serious.
But, we need R&R also, just like anyone else but it’s easy to feel guilty when you just want to veg out in front of the TV…
But you don’t have to feel guilty if you tune in to the right kind of survival-based entertainment. From conservative TV shows to high-stakes reality shows, there’s something here for everyone.
Keep reading and you’ll find your next favorite!
1. Revolution (2012)
This captivating post-apocalyptic television series is set in a future where all electricity on Earth has suddenly, inexplicably, shut off.
The mother of all blackout/EMP scenarios, the show focuses on a family’s struggle to survive in a world that has instantly regressed back to a pre-industrial age.
A thrilling exploration of human resilience and adaptability, it offers valuable insights into survival strategies and community building.
Another grim but all-too-plausible sci-fi epic, Helix is a thriller about a team of CDC scientists who venture to the Arctic to investigate a mysterious disease outbreak that’s potentially apocalyptic in scale.
As they navigate the harsh icy wilderness and grapple with an ominous viral threat, viewers get a chilling glimpse of a potential pandemic scenario.
This show underlines the importance of scientific expertise in coping with unseen threats and quick thinking in survival situations, making it highly relevant (and entertaining!) for preppers.
3. Bear Grylls Escape from Hell
One of Bear Gryll’s many survival-themed presentations, this is probably my very favorite: Here we see the renowned British adventurer revisit documented real-life survival stories from people who have managed to survive them in some of the world’s harshest environments.
Grylls not only narrates these harrowing tales but also puts himself into similar situations to demonstrate essential survival techniques. It’s a perfect watch for any prepper intent on learning from real-world experiences.
4. Naked and Afraid
One of the many reality survival TV shows spawned in the middle part of the 2010s, this show takes survival to the extreme by dropping contestants, completely nude, into some of the most unforgiving environments on the planet.
As naked as the day they were born, with limited tools and resources, participants must rely on their wits and survival instincts to last 21 days.
It’s a grimly humorous yet compelling testament to human endurance and adaptability, offering valuable lessons in resourcefulness we can all learn from even if you’re really starting from zero, there’s always something you can do to improve your situation.
5. Doomsday Preppers
Arguably the most famous (or infamous) of the early “survival-mania” shows, this National Geographic series offers an intimate look into the lives of various individuals and families preparing for the end of the world.
From building underground bunkers from fleets of decommissioned school buses to stockpiling massive amounts of food, the show more than any other made prepping a household word- for good or ill!
It’s still an eye-opening look at the lengths some people will go to ensure their survival in worst-case scenarios, and even though it does not cast some of its participants in the best light, it does nonetheless show that prepping is something accessible to everyone.
6. Dude, You’re Screwed
This totally unique survival show features a group of friends, all seasoned survival experts, who take turns kidnapping each other, blindfolded, before dropping the hapless captive into a dangerous situation or harsh environment, usually, with nothing more than the clothes on their back and a small survival kit!
The captured expert then has 100 hours to find civilization or be declared “screwed,” i.e. left for dead.
It’s only slightly tongue-in-cheek: the danger is real in many cases, as are the skills and techniques demonstrated for survival.
This show is a blast and one of the most enjoyable demonstrations of survival skills under pressure you’ll ever watch.
And let’s be honest: at least among us guys, haven’t you always wanted to maroon one of your bros before?
7. Fat Guys in the Woods
In another entertaining, lighthearted series, survival expert Creek Stewart of Willow Haven Outdoor takes a few average joes into the wilderness to survive with only basic resources for one week.
The premise is simple, but inspiring and illuminating.
In a week’s time, they learn to build shelter, find water, make fire, and hunt for food.
This show is a fun yet insightful introduction to survival skills for those of us who aren’t up to speed and a great way to introduce friends or family to the lifestyle.
The show also illustrates in vivid detail the importance of physical fitness to survival; if you’re out of shape, everything is going to be ten times harder, and it is already hard enough!
8. Beyond Survival
Beyond Survival is almost totally unique among survival programming.
In it, survival expert Les Stroud takes viewers on an extraordinary journey as he ventures into the world’s most remote corners to learn survival techniques from indigenous tribes who have practiced them for generations.
Sometimes the time-tested and proven ways of these people are a far cry from what you and I might learn from a book!
It’s a unique blend of adventure, culture, and survival knowledge, offering rare insights into ancient survival methods that have been passed down since time immemorial, and Stroud is, as always, one of a kind in his presentation.
9. Lone Target
What if the premise of the Jason Bourne movies was real? This thrilling series follows former Navy SEAL Joel Lambert as he tackles that exact premise.
In Lone Target, the host attempts to evade some of the world’s most elite tracking teams in various hostile environments, putting a decidedly deadly spin on the typical problems of survival.
Each episode offers a masterclass in evasion tactics, stealth movement, and survival techniques, and a real education on the basics of avoiding detection and capture in potentially dangerous situations.
10. The Last Ship
A post-apocalyptic drama, the show centers on a naval crew’s efforts to find a cure for a pandemic that has wiped out 80% of the world’s population.
Safely at sea while things got progressively worse on land, the crew of the ship is, at first, spared the threat of contagion.
But as they navigate the challenges of isolation and ever-dwindling resources at sea, the audience is given a unique perspective on the real grit of survival, camaraderie, and leadership in truly extreme circumstances.
It offers plenty of lessons that might hit a bit too close to home after what the world faced during a similar pandemic in the past few years…
11. The Colony
Part roleplay, part reality TV show, The Colony simulates a post-apocalyptic environment where the participants, thrown together as survivors of a society-toppling pandemic of unknown origin, must utilize their unique skills to secure food, water, and shelter, and deal with raids, abduction, injury, and illness.
The show’s focus on intergroup dynamics and resource management in post-apocalypse scenarios makes it a great watch for preppers who always dream fearfully about TEOTWAWKI and those who are looking to understand the complexities of communal survival.
It isn’t as easy as you might think to present a united front among your fellows when the pressure is on, especially after hunger, wounds, and weariness have taken their toll.
The Last Frontier: This reality series follows one family’s off-the-grid life in remote, rural, and frigid Alaska as they hunt, farm, and prepare for the harsh and unforgiving winters.
It’s a fascinating glimpse into a self-sufficient lifestyle, offering practical insights into hunting, farming, and homesteading that can be invaluable to survivalists and preppers.
13. Man vs. Wild
In this iconic series, probably the most famous on this list, host Bear Grylls showcases his exceptional survival skills by taking on adventures in some of the harshest and remotest environments on Earth with minimal gear.
From the Amazon rainforest to the Sahara Desert and everywhere in between, Grylls demonstrates a variety of survival techniques that are both educational and inspiring for aspiring survivalists.
Sometimes criticized for flamboyant and over-the-top solutions and risk-taking, it should be pointed out that Grylls is indeed the real deal; a former member of the UK’s SAS and an expert climber even before he made it big on screen.
Still a tremendously entertaining show, and Gryll’s enthusiasm and grit are infectious.
14. Man, Woman, Wild
This show follows former US Army Special Forces survival expert Mykel Hawke and his journalist wife, Ruth England, as they survive together in remote parts of the world with limited supplies.
As you might imagine, the dynamics of a husband-wife couple get put to the test, for better or for worse, during their trials and tribulations.
Notably, the danger of the show was too real at points: Ruth fell victim to heat exhaustion during one well-remembered segment and had to be airlifted out!
It’s a great show for learning about teamwork with your partner, joint problem-solving, and remaining adaptive to changing circumstances in survival situations.
15. I Shouldn’t Be Alive
This documentary series retells real-life accounts of individuals who found themselves in harrowing survival situations and somehow, by miracle or sheer tenacity, lived to tell the tale.
Each episode is a testament to human will and survival instinct, serving as both cautionary tales and sources of inspiration for survivalists.
Frankly, many of the stories found in the show should be a gut check for most of us. Survival isn’t a game, and this show more than most others illustrates that point in chilling detail.
16. Ray Mears’ Northern Wilderness
In this series, prolific British survival expert Ray Mears explores the Canadian wilderness, sharing survival tips, historical facts, and cultural insights.
It’s a treasure trove of wilderness survival knowledge, highlighting the importance of understanding and respecting nature for survival, and Mears’ expertise and skill as a presenter are at the fore as always.
It is an especially good show for anyone living in the remote regions of the North American interior, as much of the knowledge applies just the same for Canadian preppers as it does for US residents.
An intense, fresh reboot of a common survival reality series trope, participants in Alone are left, of course, alone in remote locations with precious little in the way of supplies and gear.
Then, they simply must survive as long as they can, not knowing if other contestants are still in the game or not.
It’s a really intimate look at the mental challenges of solo survival and shows how important toughness and self-reliance really are when the chips are down.
Another one of my favorite shows, it offers a raw and honest insight into solitary survival; something most of us are probably not prepared for.
18. Dual Survival
One of The Discovery Channel’s longest-running and best-loved shows, Dual Survival pairs two survival experts with contrasting philosophies and backgrounds, forcing them to work together to survive in challenging environments.
The flagship duo was, no question, that of Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury, both survival experts of significant repute prior to the show coming out.
From pacifist naturalists to hardened military operatives, the diverse perspectives offer viewers a comprehensive but contrasting understanding of different survival methodologies and philosophies.
19. Hunting Chris Ryan
In this British survival show, former SAS soldier Chris Ryan (famous author of Bravo Two Zero and survivor of a disastrous SAS mission in the first Gulf War) uses his elite skills to evade capture in all sorts of challenging scenarios.
Another “Manhunter” show that explores the importance of evasion and survival techniques, offers a unique perspective on how tactical military training can be applied to legitimate situations whenever you might be dealing with a hostile human presence.
This plausible drama series explores the aftermath of a nuclear attack on the United States through the eyes of the residents of the eponymous small town of Jericho, Kansas.
As they grapple with the realities and isolation of their newly post-apocalyptic world, we as the audience are offered valuable insights into community building, resource management, and psychological resilience in similar scenarios.
This show is a weekly drama, no doubt, with all of the intrigue and character, clashes that entrails, but you can tell the writers and showrunners did their homework when it comes to the greater social and survival elements. A real gem, and a total shame it did not run for very long.
An acclaimed series, and the flagship show of survival expert Les Stroud, the program follows Stroud as he spends a week alone in various wilderness locations with minimal gear, demonstrating how to survive in the wild.
Most notably, Stroud does it all truly alone: he serves as a performer, host, camera crew, and all.
There is not one and nothing out there with him! Survivorman is an enlightening guide to wilderness survival that holds up well today.
22. Surviving Disaster
Hosted by former Navy SEAL Cade Courtley, this show provides step-by-step instructions on how to survive a variety of disaster scenarios, from home invasions to plane crashes.
Amateur participants on the show first attempt to deal with the specifics of the disaster however they can, with Courtley offering insights and tips, then it is Courtley’s turn to show the ideal way to cope with the same problems.
Equal parts practical pressure test and informative how-to resource for preppers, this is one of the better shows of its kind.