Whether you just like to watch people try and survive in ridiculous places, you like to watch people drink water that is likely going to make them vomit or worse, or you are just seeking to learn how to survive situations that you will likely never be in, Netflix and Television have had a great run in recent years of shows just like that for us to watch.
From the more ridiculous and game-show style (think Survivor) to the serious (anything by Bear Grylls or legitimate survivalists); or to those that are aimed at people who think we’re on the precipice of the end of global order; there are a lot of shows that you can find to help scratch your itch for the latest in crazy survival ideas and scenarios.
Keep in mind that Netflix is continuously evolving their lineup, so there is always the chance that a few of these titles may not be available if you’re looking for them too long after publication of this post. Without further ado, let’s take a look at a few of the shows available for your Netflix needed.
See below for our List of Best Prepper and Survivalist Shows on NetFlix and our reviews
Not Currently Running on Netflix
Man Vs. Wild With Bear Grylls Review
There are many survival shows out there starring individuals with questionable credentials for teaching about survival. Bear Grylls is not one of them. He’s been on countless expeditions, he’s hiked through and survived in some of the roughest terrain in the world, and he served in the 21st SAS, which includes some pretty rigorous training in survival. He’s so well known in the survival game, that he has even paired up with Gerber Knives to produce his own custom line of knives that are affordable and sold in all sorts of sporting goods stores. Bear Grylls is also somewhat famous for his constant use of his own urine for hydration and other needs(which is a legitimate survival skill, sure, but not necessarily one you want to resort to right away).
This show follows ex-British Special Forces soldier Bear Grylls for five Man Vs. Wild (also known as ‘Ultimate Survivor’ and ‘Born Survivor: Bear Grylls’, depending on where you live) pits Bear Grylls and his training against the elements in such places as The Rockies, The Alps, The Moab and Savannah Deserts, and more. His show has him surviving in some of the most unforgiving climates in the world, as well as some that you might actually encounter (like a bog in Ireland, for example). His show also has some ridiculous survival tricks that, though workable (like the ‘sheeping bag’ in Ireland), most people will never use.
Despite criticisms of the show’s authenticity, the show is a lot of fun to watch, and definitely can teach you some interesting survival tips. This is why it’s one of the top options for great survival shows on Netflix.
Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
Yes, I’ve included Survivor on this list. I know, it’s not really a classic survival show. The show is heavily staged, it takes place in areas that are carefully selected and are made safe from outside intrusion, and the real lesson to be learned from this show (or the one I learned, anyway) is that if you take a bunch of people and stick them on an island, they will absolutely undermine each other if there is a promise of money at the end.
However, not only is the show entertaining, but it also can teach you a little bit about survival and a whole lot about teamwork and the dynamics of not just motivating people to work in their own best interest in a survival situation, but also about the importance of careful leadership and not turning on each other. Almost every season, invariably, the team that bickers and argues will end up on the bottom for most of, if not all of, the seasons.
If you’re looking to watch a show that shows some of the most entertaining arguments you’ll see on TV, as well as to see what happens when someone thinks that they can scheme their way to the top, then this is the show for you.
Rating: 3.1 / 5.0
3. Combat Zone
Combat Zone Review
In a survival situation, it may be unavoidable that you have to come into conflict with people. Trust me, I’ve watched Mad Max (all three) and series of shows about the apocalypse, and it always happens. All kidding aside, if you’re in a survival situation because society has crumbled, chances are that one of the biggest threats to your wellbeing are going to be people around you who have ill intent.
This is basically a standard Military Channel series. They interview people who were there, or who know a lot about the fighting that occurred in a specific battle, and talk about what happened during the fight. Some offer more insight, some less.
This is a great show for people who think that, if everything goes wrong, they’re going to be John Rambo out there, mowing down communists with an M-60 as they move to a safe place. The people in this show are almost all ex-soldiers, many of whom were involved in these fights, and the battles discussed are generally ones that did necessarily go perfectly.
Combat Zone really drives home the point that no plan survives contact with the enemy, an important thing to understand when trying to survive in any environment.
Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Black Hawk Down Review
There are few people on Earth who can say that they know what it is like to be in a fight where it seems like an entire city is against them and dedicated to their destruction. Surviving such a battle is the kind of thing that is a Herculean feat, on par with the Spartans who held back the might of the Persian war machine.
Black Hawk Down is a film retelling just such a story, based on a heavily-researched book by Mark Bowden, telling the tale of Task Force Ranger and their fight against what seems like the entire city of Mogadishu, Somalia. Less than two hundred Rangers, Delta Force operators, and various other Special Operations personnel from the Navy and Air Force CSAR, along with the Night Stalkers of the Special Operations Aviation Regiment set out on a simple snatch and grab mission to pick up high-level leaders of a local warlord, and found themselves having to deal with two downed helicopters and massive casualties.
This is a great film that everyone should see. It’s a story about hard decisions, hard men who won’t quit even though they’re facing an entire city. It’s also a story about how decisions made at the top can doom the average soldier. If nothing else, this film about the Battle of Mogadishu (also known as the Battle of the Black Sea) is a modern example of just how wrong a fairly simple operation can go, and of how the most modern and elite fighting force on Earth can face a hard fight with a local populace.
Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment Review
Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment is the second season of ‘The Alaska Experiment’. Where the first season was kind of a ‘fish out of water’ show about urban professionals trying to succeed in Alaska in teams of two, the second season is based around nine volunteers who are trying to get across Alaska. Each participant has a personal GPS locator that allows them to leave the experiment whenever they desire to.
This is another show about pitting yourself against the elements, as well as about how far you’re willing to go to get to your objective. You’d be shocked by how quickly some of the contestants decide that they’ve had too much. However, there are people in the Experiment who show that you can survive in conditions that most people would find grueling, and it’s a fun show to watch in general.
Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Life After People Review
Have you ever wondered what the world is going to look like when we’re gone? What will become of the carefully manicured lawns of suburbia, the giant concrete monoliths of the urban metropolises, the grocery store where the clerk was incapable of ringing up your food in a decent timeframe?
This is another show about pitting yourself against the elements, as well This show is the perfect way to find the answers to those questions. The show consists of two seasons, preceded by one special. The premise is that mankind has suddenly vanished, and all our great works are left behind like the Ozymandias of fable.
The two-hour special is a good indicator of what the rest of the series is like, as it talks about Pripyat, the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which has since become an irradiated no-man’s land.
Episodes center around things like what will happen to our cities, our factories, our livestock, things like that. An episode even centers on what will happen to our religious iconography, which I had never even considered. It’s definitely an interesting take on what the world might look like if society and civilization ever falls and humanity cannot figure out how to rebuild or restart.
Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
I Shouldn’t Be Alive Review
I Shouldn’t Be Alive is a UK-produced show that tells stories (along with a dramatic reenactment, of course) of people who found themselves in dangerous and terrifying circumstances outside of civilization, things that they somehow survived. The episodes are basically a retelling of how, against all the odds, someone managed to survive.
With five astonishing seasons of episodes, there’s a lot of meat to the series. Some of my favorites were the story of a British Army office captured in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge, a man who survives being shipwrecked for two and a half months, and the man lost in the jungle near the Mayan ruins for nineteen days with nothing more than the usual tourist equipment.
The show does a great job of talking about how the person survived, and how the choices they made (especially early on in their situation) allowed them to survive when most people would be dead.
Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
I Shouldn’t Be Alive Review
Most people don’t travel alone, and they don’t explore alone. They go with the people who they enjoy spending time with, the people they love, with friends, whoever. Man, Woman, Wild is a show that stars US Army Special Forces veteran Mykel Hawke ( who was a Special Forces Medic, Communicator, and Intelligence Operations NCO, before becoming a Special Forces officer) taking his wife with him to places that are not friendly to the average person, and teaching her (and the audience) how to survive.
Special Forces soldiers spend a long time learning survival skills that will keep them alive anywhere in the world, and Mykel Hawke has a lot of great advice to give. The first season spends a lot of time talking about surviving in particular places, like Botswana or Mexico or even the Smoky Mountains, while the second season concentrates partly on specific situations, such as a bear encounter, or having to live off of roots in Kentucky.
If you’re looking to learn about how to survive, Mykel Hawke has much to teach you, and his show is always a thrill.
River Monsters Review
River monsters is another show that takes place mostly in the water. Its host, biologist and ‘extreme angler’ Jeremy Wade, travels the globe, looking for freshwater creatures that have taken a life or threatened the local populace or things like that. He also dispels stories that people have bought into, like the idea that piranhas are a huge threat to people all the time (they’re pretty much only a threat in the dry season, which I didn’t know until watching a bit of this show).
If you’re looking for tips on angling, for some information about fish and crocodiles, or just to watch a guy as he stalks through waterways searching for some sort of mythically terrifying water beast (or snake) that poses a threat to the locals, River Monsters is a great show for you to watch. If you don’t think you’ll ever need to know how to survive in the water, you can look elsewhere.
Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
10. Remote Survival
Remote Survival Review
Remote Survival is one of the shortest entries on this list, having lasted a whopping four episodes. It was run on the National Geographic Channel, and the idea behind the show was simple. You have two experts, Cliff Hodges and Alex Corker. On each episode, they get their own contestant that they will guide through the area they’re operating in to the finish point. Each contestant has a GPS locator that they can activate if they have had enough and want to leave.
While it’s not clear how long the whole thing takes, there are a few survival skills showcased in each episode. Of the eight contestants they had over the run, a full fourth decided to evacuate rather than completing the objectives, which doesn’t sound too good when you consider that they were trying to survive in the coastal rainforest in Washington and the desert regions of Southern Utah, places people have been surviving in for hundreds of years. Still, it can be a fun show and a great way to familiarize yourself with things that can help you survive in a forest or desert environment.
Survivorman is a show starring Les Stroud in which he survives in various scenarios with the things that someone would reasonably have available to them. This is good, because it can provide good lessons not only on things that you should always carry, but on what you can do to make yourself better able to survive if you need to. Furthermore, Les is alone (although his team is within radio range), operating his own cameras at all times once he is in the area.
The episodes show Les surviving in a wide variety of conditions and areas, from the swamps of Georgia to the Arctic Tundra. He carries all his cameras with him the entire time, and constructs his own shelters (seems to be a huge fan of the lean-to), finds his own food and water, and in some cases, even constructs his own paths.
This is another one of those shows that can teach you a lot, including the value of being able to leave behind equipment rather than risking your life for it.
Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
12. The Last Ship
The Last Ship Review
I know, it’s shocking that a Michael Bay-produced show ended up on here, but here we are. The Last Ship is the story of a US Navy vessel and its crew survive after the world is decimated by a plague that kills 80 percent of the population. This is another show where morality comes into play repeatedly, because not only can they not help everyone, but bringing people onto the vessel poses numerous problems.
Further, because it’s a military vessel, almost everyone on the ship is without contact with their family. This creates an even greater amount of tension, because the people they most want to be able to contact, they often cannot.
The story follows the ship as it finds its way back to a safe port, while navigating fears of the sickness spreading all the while, and even taking on ships from foreign navies (it’s the Russian Navy, because heaven forbid we take on another navy).
Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Survivalist Shows that are Currently on NetFlix
1. Top Sniper
Top Sniper Review
Snipers are masters of survival, stealth, and arms. These are the kind of men (and women, in some countries), who can sneak up to a target, surveil them from afar, and take their life from eight hundred meters away, only to disappear without a trace. Slow, purposeful movements, caution, and cool thinking are their tools, along with an intense knowledge of trigonometry and the physics of bullet flight. They’re part survivalists, part soldier, part physicist, rolled into one package. Snipers operate in two-man teams consisting of a sniper, the triggerman, and a spotter, often a more seasoned sniper who ensures that shots are accurate and that good tactical decisions are made.
And every year at Fort Benning, home of the US Army Infantry’s training facilities, as well as many more advanced schools, snipers from all over the world come together to show off their craft. These represent some of the greatest marksmen in the world, and they compete in events throughout a three day period in order to determine who is the very best of them. These events include such competitions as stalking a target without detection and long-range marksmanship.
If you want to see what the best snipers in the world look like, and what the most effective, most force-multiplying two-man teams that the world has ever developed are capable of doing, this is the show for you. You can get a look at modern sniper tactics, learn a bit about concealment (and what makes for good concealment) and find out that the US Army Green Berets win a lot of these competitions. You can also see what modern sniper teams are using for their weaponry, their optics, and more.
This is definitely entertaining, as well as a show that will let you learn a bit about the profession and the skills of a sniper. If you ever have to survive in a hostile environment, understanding concealment is one of the most important skills you can possibly have.
Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
The Walking Dead Review
The end of the world due to a zombie outbreak is not just an ever more common trope for stories, it’s also a great way to start a tale about scrappy survivors. Follow a Sheriff named Rick who wakes up in the middle of a hospital after being shot by a criminal during a traffic stop. The world is no longer the world he knew, a small town with friends and neighbors, but rather a world filled with the dead, the undead, and the few survivors.
The Walking Dead is a work of fiction, but it does have a lot to offer in the way of great content (it was based on an award-winning comic book series that is even darker than the show, after all). It’s a story that touches on the kind of people who are likely to be left after such an apocalyptic event. Good people who find themselves becoming cruel, hard, and without remorse in their action. People who were already on the fringes of modern ethics and found it very easy to go from being a cold-hearted person to killing their fellow man to make sure that they can find another meal or another safe place to hide from the zombies.
Eventually, communities begin to arise, walled or hidden communities made up of survivors who just wish to return to the life that seemed like a utopia now. But with constant fighting over scant resources and safe places, can any of these communities stand? Can a cogent group be formed and find themselves capable of not falling apart due to infighting? We still don’t have an answer.
If you’re looking for survival tips, there is a lot to be learned about group dynamics from this show, without a doubt. But more than that, it is one of the most addicting stories currently on Netflix and television, and well worth the watch.
Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
Storm Chasers Review and Overview
When you’re trying to survive in the wilderness, you don’t just need to contend with a lack of food and a lack of fun things to read. I’ve found in my travels that one of the worst things that you’ll need to contend with is the weather. Yes, indeed, mother nature hates you and I, and she is not willing to be passive-aggressive about it.
Storm Chasers is a show about people visiting Tornado Alley (the part of our lovely United States where the majority of tornadoes occur every single year). Because chasing tornadoes is insanely dangerous (I would go far as to say stupid if you value your life, but we can debate that), they do so in specially designed vehicles that are meant to keep them safe from the damage that usually accompanies a tornado. Essentially, they take these very high-end vehicles, and they drive them into, or very close to, tornadoes, trying to learn more about tornadoes and what happens inside them. The hope is that this information will yield answers that can lead to better understanding of the causes of tornadoes, the reason that they choose the paths that they do, and the like.
If you’re interested in learning more about why tornadoes do what they do, and how they do it, then this is the show for you to sink your teeth into. And if you’ve ever been in or near a tornado, or even seen the aftermath on the news, you probably understand how important a bit of knowledge about tornadoes can be.
Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
4. Z Nation
Z Nation Review and Overview
Yes, it’s another zombie show. They tend to be very big on the whole ‘survival’ aspect, after all. And, while I don’t think this one is as good as the Walking Dead, it is still a great show on its own merits. It’s certainly one of the best shows that the SyFy network has put out in recent history, without a doubt.
The show begins three years after a zombie outbreak that is still ongoing. A survivor of the outbreak, known as Murphy, was bitten in the initial outbreak, and three years later is still not a zombie, meaning that his blood carries antibodies that could, possibly, help to prevent further zombification. As such, a group is trying to move Murphy from New York to the final operating CDC facility in California, in order to make a cure or vaccine from his antibodies.
This is another zombie show, and the acting is SyFy standard, but if you’re a fan of zombie shows, it is definitely worth the watch.
Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Revolution Review and Overview
Mankind is very reliant on our electronic devices (says the man who’s writing on a computer while in cold air from an AC unit). What would happen if we suddenly faced something that caused us to lose all power?
That is the premise of the show ‘Revolution’. The show begins in 2027, fifteen years after a world-wide electrical blackout wiped out all our technology. People refer to this blackout as ‘The Blackout’ (which is very original, of course) which shut down everything electronic on the planet. Basically, imagine if Y2K actually happened, and it was the worst-case scenario. Government fell apart, and now some parts of the world are ruled by militias and generals who rule with a despotic iron fist. The show revolves around young child who has a pendant around his neck that not only holds the key to figuring out what happened, but if there is a way to reverse the blackout and return order to the world.
The show is another show about people in an apocalyptic world that has fallen apart trying to fix the world, or at least to get by any way they can. There are also plenty of examples of the cruelty of man, which is an important lesson to learn in this kind of situation. Definitely a must-watch if you worry about EMP or solar flares and the like.
Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
Jericho Review and Overview
There are few things that man has ever made that are more capable of wiping out our progress on this planet, as a species and as a group of civilizations, than the nuclear warhead. During the Cold War era, a lot of people wrote about what the world might look like after the detonation of such a weapon. No one was very hopeful.
Jericho is a show that takes place in the fictional city of Jericho, Kansas, after a ‘limited nuclear strike’ on 23 cities in the US, which left most of the major cities of the US destroyed. In the aftermath, the US splits into various smaller nations (including the Independent Republic of Texas, which I would absolutely live in). The story is about restoring life in Jericho, Kansas, to some semblance of normalcy as new governments are formed, and of course there are the usual underlying tales of people trying to survive and live normal lives.
It’s a good story, even though it was cancelled once, and well worth a watch if you’re the kind of person worried about nuclear war. That being said, I’m of the opinion that nuclear war is probably the least likely scenario right now for the end of the world as we know it.
Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
Survivors Review and Overview
Survivors provides us with a much more realistic idea of the reason why social order collapsed. It wasn’t nuclear weapons, it wasn’t some sort of EMP, it was a flu. This actually has a basis in history, with things like the Spanish Flu that wiped out huge swaths of the population having happened before.
This is a British drama that revolves around a group of people surviving after what is being called the ‘European flu’. Society has, of course, broken down, and there is now no law, no social groups bigger than a few city blocks, and no police.
The story follows a group of survivors led by a matriarch, Abby Grant, as she looks to find her missing son, Peter, who she is absolutely certain survived the flu. Because she and her son survived the flu without being exposed to it beforehand (and are allegedly the only two to have done so), they often have to contend with the agenda of a group of shadowy corporations who created the flu and now seek a cure.
This is another one of those ‘life after society collapses’ stories, although to me it has a lot of elements of the Resident Evil movies to it (minus the zombies, of course), including the machinations of shadowy corporations that released a lethal virus for hard-to-fathom reasons.
Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
8. The Colony
The Colony Review and Overview
The Colony is a sci-fi film, set in the future, that presents us with a world that has been destroyed by something we always hear about yet rarely see any real catastrophic impact from; global warming. To be specific, it is mankind’s reaction to global warming that doomed humanity; we built giant machines to control the climate, and one day it simply begins to snow and doesn’t stop. Mankind lives indoors in colonies, rarely going outside, and never travelling too far from the safety and warmth of their colony.
The inhabitants of Colony 7, including Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus from the Matrix, if you don’t recognize the name), receive a distress call from Colony 5, which is a few miles’ walk away. Worried for the colony, they go to investigate, and find that Colony 5 has been butchered by cannibals. They have to survive, and get back to the colony to make sure that their colony survives, after the encounter with the cannibals.
This is another film about what happens when society falls apart, and it explores a much darker aspect of it; people who not only are willing to prey on other people in a general sense, but in a literal sense. It also has a nice message about hope, and even a bit of a message about what you risk when you stick your neck out in an attempt to save someone else.
Rating: 3.2 / 5.0
9. The Road
The Road Review and Overview
The road touches on something that a lot of other films and shows on here don’t really touch on, or only touch on in passing (although the Walking Dead is trying); raising a child in a world that has fallen apart.
The Road is a film that tells its story with a few flashbacks thrown in. It’s basically the story of a man and his child, trying to survive. It shows how the father struggles with the fine line between teaching his son to be a decent human being and teaching his son that he has to be skeptical about everyone he meets and their true intentions.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a story without tension. In this case, that tension is provided by the father and son encountering armed cannibals who they manage to fight and break contact with during their first encounter. In this confrontation, another problem is revealed; unlike many shows and movies, the supply of ammunition that is easy to find dwindled quickly in the wake of the apocalyptic events that lead to society’s breakdown, and so you can’t just fire lead downrange at people until the problem is solved. In fact, during the first confrontation with the cannibals, one of them even remarks that there’s probably nothing in the revolver our hero brandishes at the aggressors.
This is a film based on a book, and it can be a real tearjerker for some (especially if you’ve got kids). I can tell you, though, that it has a happy-ish ending. I mostly enjoyed the fact that this film didn’t treat every problem like it was solved through firepower; if society falls apart tomorrow, our world will look like the world of the Road in that ammunition will quickly be hard to find.
Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
There are many other films and shows about survival out there, and these are just a small sample. Keep in mind, Netflix is constantly updating, and content may shift without warning.