Prophets of doom from John the Revelator to Al Gore have been predicting the demise of humanity since we all came down from the trees and turned human in the first place. Yet rather than killing our spirits, it seems the prospect of annihilation mainly just fires up our libidos as we try to live life to the fullest before (to quote another famous doomsayer) "party over, oops, out of time". And so, in tribute to The Walking Dead season finale this Sunday, Nerve salutes the greatest moments of the apocalypse with ten of our favorite "last days" lovers.
1) THE WALKING DEAD (Glenn & Maggie)
When city-boy Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) gets full-on hot and busy with farmer's daughter Maggie (Laurie Cohan) on a dirty prison floor, it's not so much provocative as…sweet. Maybe that's because, as two of The Walking Dead's most likable zombie survivors, the plucky city kid and the soulful country girl help each other to preserve the crucial humanity that's gone missing from the rest of their death-ravaged world. Both characters' basic decency is what defines them more than anything else, making us root (and fear) for them more than just about anyone else in the show's notoriously expendable cast.
2) BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Gaius Baltar & Number Six)
For most people, bad sexual choices lead to the walk of shame, a trip to the free clinic or a contract with MTV'sTeen Mom. But for Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis), hot sex with a mysterious blonde (Tricia Helfer) leads to a devastating attack by hostile robots and billions of deaths as humanity is forced to find a new home in the stars. On top of everything else, Baltar's paramour turns out to be a kinky Cylon who lives in his head when she's not off fooling around with other dude-and-fem-bots. See what happens when you don't bother learning the names of your hook-ups? Fortunately, the flawed scientist eventually redeems himself, and he and Number Six live happily ever after. Like really forever.
3) WALL-E (EVE & WALL-E)
In a hyper-wired world where today's cutting edge gizmos barely recognize yesterday's technology, it's reassuring to think that an "Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator" (a.k.a. EVE), circa 2805, might still be able to communicate (and couch surf old movies…and eventually space-dance) with an obsolete "Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth Class" like WALL-E (…or, technically, WALL-EC). Even more heartening is PIXAR's hopeful message that love can transform the end of a doomed, wasteful civilization into the beginning of a new (and hopefully better) one.
4) THE ROAD (Man & Woman & Boy)
Marriage can be tough under the best of circumstances. But under the worst of circumstances (like, say, an unspecified doomsday scenario that wipes out civilization and despoils the Earth) it can really be a strain – even for a couple as genetically perfect as Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron (totally rocking a wool hat long after fashion has ceased to exist). In the end, though, nuptial bonds aren't enough to keep "Woman" alive in this cinematic adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's grim end of the world fable, where true love comes down to the unnamed Man's stubborn devotion to his Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) even when hope and happiness have died.
5) SHAUN OF THE DEAD (Shaun & Liz)
But who says the apocalypse has to be depressing? Aside from losing his stepfather and mother to a zombie outbreak (which, admittedly, is pretty heartbreaking), doomsday turns out pretty well for British slacker Shaun (Simon Pegg). After his long-suffering girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) dumps him for screwing up one too many times, Pegg's lovable loser is reborn as a hero, eventually winning back his fair maiden when they're forced to face down an undead uprising with their mates. The romantic moral of the story is to never take relationships for granted (and, whenever possible, keep your most obnoxious friends away from your love nest by chaining them in a shed out back).
6) THE STAND (Frannie Goldsmith & Stu Redman)
If you think it's hard finding a date now, just wait until a super-virus wipes out most of humanity and the only guy for miles around is the creepy kid with acne who lives down the street. That's the nightmarish romantic scenario facing Ogunquit, Maine resident Frannie Goldsmith (Molly Ringwald) until she meets (and falls for) Texan mensch Stu Redman (Gary Sinise) en route to a gathering of "good" survivors in Nebraska. No such luck for the aforementioned creepy kid, who winds up going to the dark side — and, really, who can blame him when he's literally one of the last men on Earth and still getting shot down by the ladies?
7) THE TERMINATOR (Sarah Connor & Kyle Reese)
Sure, it sounds romantic when a soldier from 2029, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), rescues an L.A. waitress from Arnold Schwarzenneger's unstoppable killing machine, then admits, "I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have." But think about it: if you were stuck in an apocalyptic future hellscape full of killer robots, wouldn't you volunteer for a mission where you got to have sex with soft, supple 1980s Linda Hamilton (before she got buff enough to pass for a Terminator herself)?
8) NIGHT OF THE COMET (Sam & "DMK")
The near extinction of the human race results in an equally diminished dating pool for Valley girls Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Samantha (Kelli Maroney) in this B-movie classic. When the Earth passes through the tail of an especially nasty comet, most of the population dissolves into red dust (while half the survivors devolve into cannibalistic mutants). Yet while "Reggie" at least finds a handsome trucker to keep her company, kid sister "Sam" is stuck with an empty dance card (and a bad case of sibling rivalry), which kinda takes all the fun out of battling homicidal mall employees and deranged government scientists. Fortunately, though, the story takes place in Southern California, where even a galactic cataclysm can't wipe out all the cute guys in slick convertibles ready to whisk a gal off into the (eerie red) sunset.
9) SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (Dodge & Penny)
Starting or maintaining a relationship in a post-apocalyptic environment can be challenging, but finding a viable partner just before the world ends is the doomsday equivalent of last call at your neighborhood meat market. When the rest of your life can be measured in days (or hours), it's easy to confuse Mr. Right Now with Mr. Right – and why not? All the best romances burn fast and bright (before settling into the dull glow of familiarity), and with humanity's clock ticking down to zero, there aren't many consequences to worry about if things don't work out. Or at least that's the premise behind all the Armageddon amour in movies like On The Beach, Miracle Mile, Apocalypse Bop, Last Night — and this 2012 dramedy featuring an end of days romance between Dodge (Steve Carrell) and Penny (Keira Knightey), a pair of Manhattan neighbors seeking closure and comfort before a cataclysmic meteor strike (in a relationship that would never, ever happen under any other circumstances).
10) A BOY AND HIS DOG (Vic & Blood)
Love takes many forms in the wasteland, and sometimes loyalty trumps romance (not to mention basic humanity). Or at least that's how things play out in this controversial, black comic adaptation of a Harlan Ellison story about Vic (Don Johnson) and his "telepathic" dog, Blood (voiced by Tim McIntire). After a series of devastating wars, humanity has devolved into marauding surface dwellers and "downunders" like the residents of Topeka, a fascist parody of small town "normality" where radiation has rendered all the menfolk impotent. Young, virile and horny, Vic seems like the perfect guy to impregnate the female population and overthrow the resident dictatorship – or at least that's the optimistic hope of a nice young lady named Quilla (Susanne Benton) who pays a gruesome price when she makes Johnson's bad boy choose between feminine charm and "man's best friend."