Tumblr user Destination Toast has done a lot of statistical analyses of fandom — all of it very impressive — but the latest analyzes how the kinds of apocalypses in fiction have changed over time. We're worried about a lot more now than we used to be.
The chart below covers the different kinds of apocalypses and how often they've popped over the decades. It's probably not a coincidence that war spikes during World War II and during the 80s — especially if the 80s stats include nuclear war stories.
Also, wow were people in the 1900s worried about the sun just giving up and killing us all.
The numbers are, Destination Toast admits, probably not entirely accurate. They're based off of Wikipedia's list of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction:
For data, I used Wikipedia's List of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. (See the article for definitions). It's unfortunately woefully incomplete; a lot of my faves aren't on there, especially from recent years (and you can see the drop-off in number of works per year during the 2010's in the final graph — I totally don't believe that is accurate.
Take this with a large grain of salt — and please go add any missing books/films/shows to the list on Wikipedia! The apocalypse fandom clearly has a lot to contribute here (especially, I suspect, in terms of fiction by women, POC, and non-Western/non-English language authors), and I will be doing the same.
As noted, it's hard to believe the drop off in the totals for recent works:
It's been rising pretty consistently, so it's unlikely that we've just suddenly stopped writing, filming, and playing games about the apocalypse. We have, however, really invested some heavy fear in wars, eco-causes, and disease. Surprisingly, the sun takes up a smaller proportion of end of the world tales these days:
You can see more graphs and the raw data gathered and crunched by Destination Toast here.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.