If you are just getting started in prepping, you have already learned that your list of tasks and chores never ends. There’s always something to do, something to learn, and something that can be improved.
Sometimes that mountain seems impossible to climb, and that makes it easy to give up before you even get started or just lose your will to persevere.
Sometimes a little bit of motivation and inspiration is all it takes to get your own prepping journey jump-started, or to reinvigorate you after a period of burnout.
Watching what other people are going through, including their successes and failures, is just the thing.
So, the next time you are enjoying a little bit of R&R watching your favorite show you can be learning valuable survival insights at the same time.
Below is a list of 50 shows that all feature survival information or scenarios in the premise, or place their fictional characters in the same situations.
1. Man, Woman, Wild
Originally airing on the Discovery channel between 2010 and 2012, Man, Woman, Wild chronicles the adventures, or rather misadventures, of a husband and wife survival duo dropped into a variety of survival scenarios in all sorts of locales around the world.
The general dynamic consisted of the husband, former United States Special Forces member Mykel Hawke (a survival expert) trying to bring his wife, Ruth England, up to speed on a variety of survival skills relevant to the environment and the situation.
From eating bugs to purifying water and making shelter, they had to do it all.
Though the situations they were trapped in might have been contrived, oftentimes the danger was entirely real: In the first season Ruth was zapped by severe heat exhaustion and had to be airlifted out of a remote desert environment. Scary stuff!
The dynamic of the two on the show and the entirely legitimate, real-world experience possessed by Michael contrasted wonderfully with the near total inexperience of his wife.
It occasionally runs on various streaming services and TV, and remains one of the best and most entertaining shows of its kind.
2. Running Wild with Bear Grylls
A bit more light-hearted than the previous entry, Running Wild with Bear Grylls features the famed British adventurer and survivalist leading a rotating group of celebrities on “survival” trips into remote and often dangerous locations.
The show airs on NBC and while the danger is real-ish, it’s clear that there is a significant production team behind the scenes making sure that everything goes smoothly (though not without a dramatized few bumps and bruises along the way).
Grylls is an engaging host and does an excellent job of teaching his temporary charges about various aspects of wilderness survival, such as building shelter, finding food and water, and dealing with dangerous wildlife.
It’s all very exciting stuff, though perhaps not quite as legitimate as it could be. Nevertheless, it’s a fun show that provides some excellent entertainment along with survival tips and tricks.
3. I Shouldn’t Be Alive
This Discovery Channel series chronicles the real-life survival stories of people who have found themselves in the most extreme circumstances imaginable.
From being lost at sea to being stranded in the middle of a desert, each episode features a different story told through interviews, reenactments, and dramatizations.
It’s an absolutely fascinating show if somewhat sobering at times: the events are entirely real, and you can see the toll they took on those who lived through them.
Nevertheless, it’s incredibly well done and provides a great deal of insight into what it takes to survive in some of the most hostile environments on Earth. A great show if you need a “gut check” about what might be needed if you want to survive.
4. Alaska: The Last Frontier
Another Discovery Channel reality show, but one that chronicles the life of a family of homesteaders in remote Alaska.
The focus is on their day-to-day struggle to live off the land, from hunting and fishing to farming and dealing with the harsh Alaskan weather.
Though the people living in this remote and most pristine wilderness area aren’t experiencing what you and I would classify as a “survival” situation, it must be pointed out that they live in a survival situation: a single mistake in such a place could cost them their lives.
It’s a great look at what it takes to live a truly self-sufficient lifestyle in a genuinely inhospitable place, and how difficult it can be to do so in such a remote and hostile environment. The show is currently in its tenth season and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
5. Ray Mears’ Northern Wilderness
Ray Mears is one of the most prolific and famous survival instructors in the world, and for good reason: he’s an expert in all things wilderness survival.
In this show, which aired on the BBC, Mears took viewers on a journey through some of the most remote and beautiful parts of Canada, following the trails and milestones of various pioneers who first charted the expanse.
It’s an excellent look at both wilderness survival and the history of the people who have lived in these areas for centuries.
Mears is an excellent instructor, an engaging and knowledgeable host, and does a great job of teaching his viewers about various aspects of survival in different environments.
The show is beautifully shot and edited, the scenery is absolutely stunning and it provides a great deal of information about survival in general, as well as specific tips and tricks for surviving in different kinds of cold climates. If you get a chance to see this one, don’t miss it.
6. Survive This
2009 was a big year for television. One of the most talked about shows of the year that aired on Cartoon Network of all places, was the survival-reality series Survive This.
Headlined by Les Stroud of Survivorman fame, the show followed the lives of a group of teenage students who are stranded in the remote wilderness of an island and must learn to adapt and survive using what skills they already have.
Stroud would present the survivors with challenges to overcome, check on their status periodically, and offer the kids an “out” if things got too bad, but ultimately their decisions and solutions to problems were all up to them.
All the usual reality TV tropes are present, including the requisite interpersonal relationship drama and the “Alpha Male/Female” trying to take charge, but there’s also a lot of real information about survival techniques and how to use them effectively.
Particularly the genuine growth and perseverance of the kids make this an interesting take on the genre.
Despite some passing controversy and hand-wringing from critics, the show was a rating success, and it was renewed for a second season.
7. Doomsday Preppers
The one that kicked off prepper mania. Doomsday Preppers was a National Geographic reality show that ran for four seasons from 2012-2014.
The premise of the show was simple: each episode would focus on a different person or family who were preparing for some major catastrophic event.
This could be anything from a massive economic collapse to an electromagnetic pulse attack to a full-on, actual (or at least perceived) zombie apocalypse.
No matter the threat, these preppers were serious about being prepared and had dedicated a large part of their lives (and often their livelihoods) to make sure they could weather the storm.
While the show was undeniably entertaining, and did a lot to bring prepping into the mainstream consciousness, whether it hurt or helped the idea of being prepared for a disaster is debatable: many of the people featured were highly “colorful” or eccentric.
It also didn’t hurt that many of the doomsday scenarios they were preparing for seemed far-fetched at best. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining show for sure, and a fascinating look into a subculture that most people don’t know exists.
8. Survival with Ray Mears
Another Ray Mears show, and a good one. This time around, Mears is tracking predators through their various natural environs, and demonstrating what adaptations, of man and beast, are required to survive in those environments.
The first episode has him tracking leopards, the second following bears, and the third pursuing wolves.
Through his work Mears shows us that there is a lot we can learn from nature about how to survive in difficult situations, whether it’s being able to read animal tracks or knowing which plants are edible.
He also makes it clear that while some predators may be more dangerous than others, they all ultimately want the same thing: to eat.
And if you’re their next meal, then you’d better be prepared. The show is beautifully shot and Mears’ passion for the subject is evident in every frame.
If you’re looking for a more serious, educational take on survival television, this is the show for you.
The originator of the spinoff Norwegian show of the same name, Alone follows a group of ten people who are dropped off in various remote locations around the world with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a few basic supplies.
The catch? They have to stay there for sixty days, completely alone. No camera crew, no producers, no contact with other contestants or the outside world.
Nothing: Just them and the elements. If they persist (and pass medical checkups), they win a cool half-million dollars.
The show is part survival test, part psychological experiment, as we get to see how these people react to being isolated from everything and everyone they know and love.
We see what strategies they use to find food and shelter, how they deal with loneliness and boredom, and how (or if) they manage to hold onto their sanity.
It’s a fascinating show and one that really makes you think about what you would do in a similar situation.
10. Naked and Afraid
The year is 2013. Survival TV has been a craze for some time now. If you are a new survival show, you need a gimmick that will really set you apart from the pack.
What to do? How about, instead of just dropping people off in the wilderness with a few supplies, you also make them do it completely naked?
That’s the premise of Naked and Afraid, a show that takes two strangers (one man, one woman), drops them in a remote location with no food or water, and gives them only 21 days to find a way back to civilization.
Oh, and did I mention they’re naked? Completely naked! The show is equal parts fascinating and cringeworthy, as we get to see how these people react to being dropped into a situation that most of us would find unimaginable.
If they want to salvage their dignity they even need to fashion coverings.
The show is also a reminder that no matter how prepared you think you are there’s always the possibility that you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’re completely out of your depth.
Les Stroud is a bit of a legend in the world of survival television. A musician and documentary filmmaker, Stroud has been making Survivorman since 2004, and the show has become something of a cult classic.
Each episode sees Stroud dropped into a different remote location, where he then proceeds to survive for seven days using only the supplies he was able to carry with him.
Plot twist: There is no crew- Stroud has to do his own filming!
The show is fascinating because it really puts Stroud’s survival skills to the test. Unlike some of the other shows on this list, Survivorman is completely unscripted, which means that Stroud has to rely on his own wit and resourcefulness to make it through the seven days.
Since he also doesn’t have the “luxury” of a camera crew he has to set up his own cameras and shoot the footage himself.
This gives the show a very raw and realistic sort of “found log” feel, and it’s clear that Stroud is genuinely putting himself through the wringer for the sake of the show.
12. Remote Survival
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to not only survive in a remote location but also travel through it to meet an evacuation deadline? And to do it all with only the supplies you can carry on your back?
That’s the premise of Remote Survival, a show that follows survival experts Cliff Hodges and Alex Coker as they drop people off in various remote locations and challenge them to find a way back to civilization, demonstrating survival skills and overcoming challenges along the way.
The show is interesting because it really puts the survival skills of its participants to the test. Unlike some of the other shows on this list, Remote Survival forces the contestants to demonstrate that they have what it takes.
If they cannot hack it, or just want out, they can activate an emergency transponder to call for evacuation.
13. Lone Target
Lone Target is a reality television show that follows the real-life adventures of former Navy SEAL and survival expert, Joel Lambert, as he attempts to evade capture by some of the world’s top tracking teams from militaries and law enforcement agencies.
Lambert must use all of his skills and knowledge to stay ahead of his pursuers, while also trying to find food and shelter in some of the most inhospitable environments on earth.
The show is an excellent example of what can happen when someone with the right experience is pitted against equally experienced professionals.
The cat and mouse action is highly engaging, and the show highlights the necessity of good fieldcraft when it comes to avoiding and staying out of trouble when lives are on the line.
It is also a great reminder that even the most prepared person can find themselves backed into a corner if they are not careful!
14. 10,000 BC
10,000 BC is a British miniseries that follows the adventures and tribulations of a group of people who are forced to survive in a group while enduring literal Stone Age conditions and technology.
The show is set in a time when man was still learning to use fire and forge tools, and the characters must find food and shelter while also trying to protect themselves from the many dangers that lurk in the wild.
The characters must use all of their ingenuity and resourcefulness to stay alive, and the show highlights the importance of cooperation and working together in order to survive.
It is also a great reminder that even in the most primitive of conditions human beings are still capable of amazing feats of endurance and courage.
The series is an excellent example of how difficult it can be to survive without any modern conveniences or tech, and the high attrition rate of the group, both in walk-offs and in removals, shows how intense the challenge was.
15. Man vs. Wild
One of the pillars of the survival-tainment sector, Man vs. Wild is a reality television series that aired on the Discovery Channel from 2006 to 2011.
The show followed the real-life adventures of British adventurer and survival expert Bear Grylls as he was dropped into some of the most inhospitable environments on earth and tasked with finding his way back to civilization.
It is perhaps most infamously remembered for the episodes where Grylls had to drink his own urine or shelter inside the rotting carcass of some big animal!
Grylls used all of his skills, determination, and training to stay alive, and the show provided viewers with an insight into what it takes to survive in some of the most extreme conditions on earth.
Although panned for its scripting and the fact that Grylls would take needless risks that were better avoided in real survival situations, the series was still highly entertaining and provided some valuable lessons on how to stay alive in the worst-case scenario.
16. Ray Mears’ World of Survival
Yet another Ray Mears’ show, an early and really good one at that. This show ran from 1997 to 1998 and was one of the first to show how indigenous and historic peoples survive in various biomes and locations around the globe, including deserts, mountains, jungles and more.
It was very popular in the UK, but not so much in the US although it has a rapidly growing cult following in the wake of Mears’ other successful recent programs.
Mears as always is a wonderful narrator, presenter, and host, and his passion for the subject is evident in every episode.
The show provides a valuable look at how people have managed to survive in some of the most hostile environments on earth for ages, and it is also proof positive that there is always more than one way to solve a survival problem.
17. Survivorman: 10 Days
A follow-up show to the original Survivorman show, and one with a simple riff on that proven and compelling recipe: Keep Les out in the sticks even longer! This time around, Les Stroud was given 10 days to find his way back to civilization, with only the clothes on his back and a few essential tools.
The rest of the setup is the same, as Les must not only do what he needs to in order to survive, but he must document the whole thing so he has a show when he makes it back.
Les Stroud is the real deal, and the nuanced, calm approach he has to problem-solving is a master class in how to stay alive when everything is against you.
If anything, the 10 days format allows for an even greater sense of immersion and connection with Les as he tries every method he can think of to find his way back to safety.
The show also does a great job of highlighting just how difficult it is to survive in the wild for any extended period of time, no matter how prepared you are.
18. The Rain
The first fictional, dramatic series on the list, The Rain is a show about a rain-borne virus that has wiped out most of humanity (or at least most of the population of Denmark), and the struggle of a small group of survivors to find a way to avoid infection and find their father after emerging from a six-year stay in a sealed bunker.
The Rain is interesting in that it focuses as much on the interpersonal relationships of the survivors as it does on the dangers they face from the infection, the desperate survivors, and the hostile, wasted environment they find themselves in.
This makes for a more complex and nuanced take on the “apocalyptic virus” tale than many others in the genre, and one that is well worth watching if you are a fan of such.
19. The Last Ship
Another fictional, post-apocalyptic drama and one with a harrowingly real premise. The Last Ship is set in a world where a virulent pandemic has killed off most of the human population, and the crew of a U.S. Navy destroyer must find a way to create a vaccine and save what is left of humanity as it plies the seas.
With equal parts mystery, action and pathos, this is one survival-themed show that will get your pulse pounding and your nerves fraying.
The show is intense and grounded, but it is also one that provides a real sense of how systems of authority and fraternity could be strained to the limit by the enormity of such a disaster.
The Last Ship is one of the more plausible post-apocalyptic dramas out there, and it is definitely worth a watch if you are looking for something that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
20. Revolution (2012)
A post-apocalyptic drama with a “what if” premise that is as old as science fiction itself: what if the world lost all electricity and we had to start over?
Revolution is an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic genre in that it focuses less on the danger of the new, wild world and more on the toll on people who are living through the formation of such a world.
While there are certainly plenty of threats to be found in a new dark age, the show is more interested in how people react to and adapt to such a cataclysm.
Old nations crumble as governments dissolve. New nations and power blocs form. Some greater threats grow in importance and the world is once again expanded: there are no engines, cars, chips, or radios.
You might say that the analog world violently reasserted itself with an event called simply The Blackout.
If you are looking for a show that is more interested in genuinely global, real threats and the human condition than it is in zombies, viruses or marauding bands of survivors, then Revolution is worth checking out and gets a big thumbs up from me.
21. Bear Grylls Escape from Hell
In this show, Bear Grylls isn’t the one doing the surviving: he is instead presenting the true-life accounts of others who were trapped in unthinkable survival situations and what they were forced to do in order to survive.
A short six-episode run on Discovery is not a black mark against the show: on the contrary, it did exactly what it set out to do, which was tell six different, harrowing stories in such an effective way.
It’s also a good reminder that while Grylls may be one of the most famous survival “personalities” in the world, but he is also an excellent authority on survival in his own right, and certainly understands the challenges and rigors of survival as few others do.
22. Life After People
Life After People is a TV series that imagines what would happen if all human life suddenly disappeared.
Each episode explores how different aspects of society would be affected by the absence of people, from transportation and architecture to nature and wildlife.
While the show is mostly speculative, it does offer some interesting insights for preppers, namely what might happen to the planet if none of us survived.
For example, the episode on food production highlights the importance of diversifying one’s food sources. It also demonstrates how quickly our built environment would start to crumble without regular maintenance.
Overall, Life After People is an enjoyable series that provides a thought-provoking look at what life could be like without us.
23. The Andromeda Strain
Based on the Michael Crichton book of the same title though differing significantly in premise, The Andromeda Strain is a miniseries about a deadly virus that threatens the human race.
A team of scientists must race against the clock to find a cure before the virus, landing in a crashed satellite in a small American town, wipes out all of humanity.
While the show is admittedly a bit dated (it aired in 2008), it’s still a tense and exciting series with plenty of lessons for preppers.
For instance, The Andromeda Strain highlights the importance of having a plan for dealing with a major pandemic but also the attendant second- and third-order effects it will inflict on society.
It also underscores the fact that experts in different fields don’t always work well together in order to find a solution: sometimes, they prove as fallible as the rest of us humans.
While the show may be somewhat far-fetched it’s nonetheless an enjoyable sci-fi watch with some valuable insights for preppers.
24. Ray Mears’ Bushcraft
Ray Mears and Bear Grylls are neck and neck when it comes to how prolific their respective survival properties can be, but I am not complaining when they are this damn good.
This particular show is half guided tour through some of the most remote and wild locales on earth, and half instructional guide for survival techniques in the same settings.
The show is fantastic not just because it’s entertaining (though it definitely is), but also because it provides some great tips for preppers on how to survive in a variety of situations and climates.
For instance, Mears emphasizes the need to be able to identify edible plants and animals as well as how to build shelter and find water sources in the wild.
If you’re looking for a survival show that will both educate and entertain, Ray Mears’ Bushcraft is yet another stellar choice.
25. Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls
Mears is on his tail, but Grylls is relentless! All jokes aside, Bear Grylls never fails to captivate and this show, Get Out Alive, is certainly up to the usual standard.
Part survival reality show and part competition, Get Out Alive features 10 teams of two competing to see who can survive the longest in New Zealand’s backcountry. At stake? $500,000!
Grylls is, as always, the host and resident expert, and while the show does have its share of drama (it is reality TV after all), it also provides some great tips and insights for preppers.
In one example we see how important it is to be able to make a fire in a survival situation. In another, we see how crucial it is to have a plan and stick to it when things start going wrong.
Watching the pressure slowly build up and eventually crack the composure of even the toughest contestants is a guilty pleasure, but a delectable one. Each week, Bear must pick a team to eliminate, adding insult to injury for the losers.
Overall, Get Out Alive is an exciting series that provides plenty of useful information for preppers.
26. Surviving Disaster
A fresh spin on survival programming, Surviving Disaster is part educational show and part sandbox experiment.
In each episode, former Navy SEAL Cade Courtley and his team of volunteers attempt to survive a different disaster scenario.
These range from being stranded in the wilderness to dealing with an active shooter, hijacking, home invasion, and everything in between.
Courtley offers expert advice to the volunteers, who then try to get themselves and others out of the worst-case scenario. Courtley also participates.
While there are definitely some staged elements to the show, Surviving Disaster is nonetheless a valuable resource for preppers.
It provides useful information on how to deal with a variety of potential disasters, as well as insights into the mindset one needs to have in order to survive.
Perhaps most importantly, it lets you learn from the mistakes of other “everymen” in the situations that we might find ourselves in one day if we are unlucky.
Colony was a terrific science fiction miniseries set in a near-future Los Angeles. The premise is one where an advanced alien race has descended on Earth and is forcibly partitioning the populations of human settlements via massive walls.
Checkpoints, collaborators, strict rationing, and brutal crackdowns are all the hallmarks of oppressive occupation, and are definitely on display here.
The show follows a group of survivors in one such settlement, L.A., as they attempt to eke out an existence and find a way to escape the “colony.”
While it may not be the most realistic scenario, Colony is nonetheless a riveting show with plenty of suspense, drama and action.
It’s also jam-packed with useful what-ifs for preppers; aliens aren’t a real threat, but totalitarian governments definitely are.
The characters are constantly having to improvise, barter on the black market and make do with whatever they have on hand, from jury-rigging vehicles to fashioning weapons and armor, Colony is a veritable goldmine of information on how to survive under the iron fist of a seemingly omnipotent.
28. Extreme Survival
Another Ray Mears show, this one more akin to the traditional format that set the stage for his later successes.
In each episode, travels to a different corner of the world to take on solo survival challenges in which he must rely on his wits and skills to make it through.
Simultaneously, he presents real-life tales of survival that took place in whatever environment he is in.
Mears is an expert tracker, hunter, and woodsman, so there’s definitely a lot to be learned from this show.
One of the most prepper-centric things that Extreme Survival demonstrates is the importance of having the right mindset when faced with a survival situation.
Mears frequently talks about how his years of experience have taught him to remain calm and think clearly when everything around him is falling apart.
This is a valuable lesson for any prepper, as it’s easy to get caught up in the panic when the situation is going to hell in a handbasket.
29. The Colony
Not to be confused with the fictional serial “Colony” above. The Colony was a reality TV show that aired on Discovery Channel in 2009.
It followed a group of people who are living together in an isolated compound on the outskirts of a major city, trying to survive after a catastrophic event has decimated the world around them.
The catch? The entire thing was staged, both for better and worse. The survivors were real people with real personalities, but the other scavengers were actors who had their own “objectives” when interacting with the group of protagonists.
While it may not have been truly real, The Colony did a good job of showing what kinds of challenges people would face in a real-world society-toppling disaster scenario.
From rationing food and water to dealing with illness, injury, and unknown contacts, The Colony is definitely worth a watch for any urban prepper looking to get an idea of what they might be up against in the event of a SHTF scenario.
30. Alone in the Wild
This one is a bit of a different take on the survival show format. In Alone in the Wild, British extreme photographer Ed Wardle sets out into a section of remote wilderness with nothing but a few basic supplies and his camera gear.
The catch? He can’t tell anyone where he’s going, and he has to stay out for 60 days.
Alone in the Wild is more of a character study than anything else. It’s interesting to see how someone copes with being completely isolated from the world, with only their own thoughts and the wilderness around them for company.
It also shows, in some cases, the brutal physical consequences of malnutrition and exposure. However, there are also plenty of useful tips to be gleaned from Wardle’s experience.
From building a shelter to weighing the risk-benefit ratio of procuring food, this show is definitely worth a watch for any prepper looking to learn more about surviving in the wild when truly alone.
31. Dude, You’re Screwed
The name is humorous, but the stakes are not. In Dude, You’re Screwed, a group of “real-life MacGyvers” take turns dropping, or rather sentencing, each other to some of the most remote and hostile environments on Earth with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a few basic tools, along with anything else they manage to smuggle in. The goal: find civilization within 100 hours.
Dude, You’re Screwed is interesting because it puts preppers in a more uncomfortable position than most other shows on this list. Most preppers focus on surviving in familiar surroundings, like their own backyard or a nearby forest.
But what if you were suddenly transported to a completely alien environment, with no idea how to even begin finding food or shelter? Talk about a duck out of water!
This show attempts to answer that question, and while watching these seasoned survivors struggle (and fail) to adapt is humorous, the lessons are entirely practical. This one is still an interesting watch for any prepper looking to think outside the box.
32. Out in the Wild: The Alaska Experience
Out in the Wild: The Alaska Experience is a reality TV show that aired on the National Geographic Channel in 2007.
It followed a group of people who were dropped off in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness with nothing but basic supplies and a few hand-picked survival experts.
The show was interesting because it showed how difficult it can be to survive in even the most seemingly bountiful environments.
The participants had to deal with everything from severe weather to dangerous wildlife, and they quickly realized that the skills they thought would keep them alive were often useless in the face of real danger.
While Out in the Wild: The Alaska Experience is certainly not a how-to guide for surviving in the wilderness, it is an excellent reality check for anyone who thinks they know everything there is to know about survival. It’s a sobering reminder that, in the end, nature always has the upper hand.
33. Dual Survival
One of the all-time great survival shows, Discovery’s Dual Survival pits two experts with vastly different backgrounds to work with each other in some of the most hostile environments on Earth in order to survive.
Using only their wits, teamwork and the supplies they can find or craft they must pull together to make it out alive.
The first few seasons starred Dave Canterbury and the inimitable Cody Lundin, one an outdoor pathfinding school instructor and the other a primitive skills and living expert.
The contrast between their mindsets and approaches is fascinating, and watching them reconcile their differences in order to survive is both educational and entertaining.
The show has since gone through a few cast changes, but the premise remains the same. If you’re looking for a survival show that’s heavy on education and light on drama, Dual Survival is definitely worth a watch.
34. Fat Guys in the Woods
Creek Stewart is one expert survival instructor who does not get nearly the recognition that some of the other big names do. That’s a shame because he’s one of the best in the business.
In Fat Guys in the Woods, Stewart takes a group of overweight, out-of-shape guys and drops them in the middle of the woods with nothing but the clothes on their backs and his expert instruction. The charge? Survive in the woods, of course!
Creek takes the time to walk his erstwhile students from basic to advanced survival techniques in a way that is down-to-earth and easily understood.
Watching the students’ confidence grow as they slowly master the skills necessary to survive is both heartening and inspiring.
But don’t let the title fool you; while Fat Guys in the Woods is certainly geared towards an “everyman” audience, there is plenty of valuable information for preppers of all shapes and sizes.
35. Ray Mears Goes Walkabout
Ray Mears just cannot be stopped. At least not on this list! In this series, he takes on one of the deadliest and least populated regions on the planet: Australia.
Here, he journeys through the most desolate and inhospitable Outback, accompanied by various Australian survival experts.
The goal is to learn various survival techniques specific to the region while also learning about the culture, history and geography of the place.
Part survival demonstration and part history lesson, this show definitely has Ray Mears at his best.
36. Lost Survivors
Another show starring Mykel Hawke and wife Ruth England, teaming up again to survive dangerous and deadly scenarios. But there is a big curve ball this time, in that they do not know where they are.
Dropped off alone, with minimal supplies and not much clue on how to reach rescue or civilization, the pair must use everything they can think of, including intuition, to reach safety.
The survival challenges they face are naturally front and center, but compared to earlier efforts Man, Woman, Wild more is made of the disagreements.
Tensions and outright conflicts arise in uncertain and potentially life-threatening situations when survivors disagree, even (or maybe especially) when the survivors are as close as husband and wife.
The rigors of survival are bad enough, but preppers would be wise to consider how much harder things will be when cohesion breaks down in a group or even between partners under the same circumstances.
37. Bear Grylls: Mission Survive
Bear Grylls is back again with this British celebrity survival reality show.
The premise is simple: a group of eight celebrities are dropped in the wild and tasked with completing a number of challenges to make it back to civilization. The show aired its first season in 2015, and a second and final season in 2016.
The catch here is that Grylls himself can disqualify the contestants for all kinds of reasons, along with his companion experts who accompany the celebrity contestants on their journey.
The experts’ job is to make sure the celebrities are completing the challenges in a safe and proper manner, but they also have the power to veto any contestant they feel is not up to the task or is putting themselves or others in danger.
One of the most successful (and most contrived) reality survival shows, and the first to turn into an international smash hit, Survivor has been running since 1997 with no end in sight.
The concept is a simple one: a group of strangers are stranded in a remote location, split into tribes, and then must work together to survive the elements and each other, voting each other off one by one until only one is left standing.
While some may argue that Survivor isn’t really a survival show because the contestants are given some assets, the fact is that they are still put in tough situations and must endure downright Machiavellian group dynamics.
They have to rely on their own wits, strength, and cunning to make it through. In addition, the show does present some genuinely valuable lessons on human nature and how people react under stress.
39. Ray Mears’ Bushcraft
This Ray Mears series is a bit different than his other shows which consist of equal parts history, lore, and skills.
Bushcraft focuses on teaching the viewer various bushcraft and survival skills, and the applications thereof.
Far more intimate and focused in its scope compared to his other work, this series is a lot more hands-on, with Mears frequently getting down and dirty to demonstrate various techniques.
40. Under the Dome
Another fictional tale, and one with an outlandish but strangely compelling premise. Under the Dome is set in the small town of Chester’s Mill, Maine, which is instantly cut off from the rest of the world by a transparent and, seemingly, impenetrable dome.
Entirely unreachable from the world and people beyond the dome, the story revolves around the intrigue of the event, dwindling resources, and the government’s attempts to get a handle on something it can hardly understand.
The residents must find ways to survive both the situation imposed by the dome itself and each other as they attempt to unravel its mystery and find a way out.
Setting aside the far-out cause of the isolation, all preppers would be smart to consider the various scenarios that could lead to isolation and limited resources, and how to best deal with being cut off from the world.
41. Hunting Chris Ryan
Taking hide-and-seek to a whole new level, this UK show (re-aired in the US as Special Forces: Manhunt) features former SAS operative Chris Ryan evading a team of hunters in hot pursuit as he tries to complete an objective, evade, and ultimately escape from an area.
Relying on various frameworks taken from typical special operations missions, the game is one of deadly, high-stakes feint and counter.
While the premise of the show has been done before, what is most notable is just how hostile and hazardous the environments are.
In the second show, Chris Ryan is hunted through the Arctic Circle and experienced legitimate, dangerous hypothermia, and had to be actually rescued from his shelter position.
Harsh conditions, difficult terrain, and dangerous adversaries are all things the intrepid prepper should be prepared for, too.
42. Alaskan Bush People
Another take on the show that shows what some would call a deadly survival scenario, others just call “life”.
The Alaskan Bush People are exactly what they sound like: a family who lives together in the Alaskan wilderness, far removed from civilization.
The Brown family lives off the land, homeschool their children, and operates as a self-contained unit, only going into town every now and then for supplies.
While some may argue that this isn’t really survival in the classic sense since they have chosen to live this way, there is no denying that what they do is impressive and that they have to work hard every day just to sustain an existence.
One bad day, one bad turn or an unexpected accident could start the disaster dominoes falling with no hope of recovery.
Sometimes survival is just mundane drudgery, and this show more than most sharply illustrates that.
Jericho tells a story that most of us, or at least most Cold War and GWOT babies have long imagined: what would happen if a nuclear bomb went off in America’s heartland?
The show starts with just that premise, as the small town of Jericho, Colorado is rocked by a series of nuclear explosions that level several US cities.
Isolated and cut off from the world, the residents of Jericho must find ways to survive in a suddenly uncertain, hostile, and dangerous world.
The series does an admirable job of exploring various aspects of post-nuclear disaster survival, from food and water shortages to radiation sickness and dealing with roving bands of raiders and marauders.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however – there are also stories of hope and resilience, as people come together to help one another in a time of need.
All in all, it’s an excellent example of what could happen in the aftermath of a major disaster, and how people might react and respond. And there is plenty of intrigue for good measure!
44. Y: The Last Man
Y: The Last Man is a post-apocalyptic survival story with an earthshaking twist: in this world, it’s only the men who have died off, leaving the women to fend for themselves.
The story follows the last man on Earth, Yorick Brown, and his monkey companion as they travel across a suddenly very different world trying to find out what happened and why Yorick is the last man left alive.
While not explicitly a survival show, Y: The Last Man does an excellent job of exploring what could happen in a world where a huge fraction of the population was wiped out in the blink of an eye.
45. Wild Britain with Ray Mears
Don’t count him out yet. Ray Mears has yet another appearance on this list with Wild Britain.
This time, he’s not so much focused on hardcore survival as he is on discovering wildlife, living off the land and foraging for food in the British countryside.
If you’re looking for a more down-to-Earth show that doesn’t focus on doomsday scenarios or post-apocalyptic wastelands, Wild Britain is definitely worth a watch.
Sometimes the core of applicable survival skills starts with the basics, and Wild Britain definitely covers that angle.
46. Beyond Survival
Another Les Stroud production, this time focusing on the cultures that have to survive in some of the most austere or harsh conditions found anywhere on the planet.
From the jungles of Papua New Guinea to the deserts of Mongolia, Stroud goes outside his comfort zone to show how different cultures have had to adapt in order to endure and prosper in their lands, however inhospitable they might seem to outsiders.
While not explicitly a “how-to” survival show, Beyond Survival does an excellent job of exploring how different cultures have had to adapt and change in order to survive in extreme environments.
This should give every prepper cause to think:
- Are you only prepping for your local environment and seasons?
- What about travel for work or play?
- Where do you go?
- What differences are in those environments?
- What if you have to evacuate and live far from your usual stomping grounds?
Best to start learning from those people who have to do it year in and year out.
47. Ultimate Survival Alaska
A group of outdoor enthusiasts is put to the test in this reality TV show that drops them into the middle of the Alaskan wilderness to compete in brutally challenging races and other competitions.
Each episode follows a different team as they attempt to navigate their way through some of the most rugged and remote terrains in the world, battling hunger, exhaustion, and the elements as they go.
If you’re looking for a survival show with a bit of an extreme competitive bent, Ultimate Survival Alaska is basically one of a kind.
48. The Island with Bear Grylls
The Island was a one-season series, but one that answered perhaps the most elemental survival question of all: could you hack on a deserted island?
Bear Grylls decided to find out, marooning a group of city slickers on an uninhabited island in the Pacific for six weeks and filming the results.
Armed with their wits and the most basic medical supplies, the group of men has to put aside egos and work hard just to cover the most basic survival necessities.
The show is fascinating for its approach to documenting the experience. You get to see how people react when faced with the prospect of being isolated from society, as well as how they adapt once they’re actually on the island.
There are no prizes, no weekly eliminations, and no contests. There will be no prizes. It is just survival: who is left and what is left of them!
And of course, there are plenty of Bear Grylls-style survival commentary and tips thrown in for good measure. One of the better “real” survival experiments for sure.
A near-future sci-fi horror plot with a wickedly fun survival twist, Helix follows a group of CDC scientists who are sent to investigate a potential disease outbreak at an Arctic research facility.
Soon enough, they find themselves fighting for their lives against not only the deadly virus, but also the crazed and violent survivors who are infected with it.
What starts as a containment mission quickly spirals into all-out survival mode, as the team must find a way to escape the facility before the virus wipes them all out.
The combination of real-world procedure and intervention is braced by the fact that things rapidly go completely out of control.
When faced with an unthinkable scenario where you are nearly certain of death if you try to leave, what would you do? Pray you never find yourself in such a situation!
50. Wild Food
Last, but never least, Ray Mears closes our list with another great show. This time, he turns his focus to the wild foods that can be found in nature.
He travels all over the United Kingdom and the world, foraging for everything from mushrooms and berries to insects, seafood, and small mammals.
Ray also examines the cultural and primitive techniques surrounding the preparation of those foods and how our ancestors from generations past might have hunted, gathered, and cooked.
While it might not be the most action-packed survival show on TV, it is definitely one of the most informative and showcases skills that are sorely underdeveloped in most preppers.
Whether you’re looking for extreme survival tactics or just a few tips on how to better utilize the wild foods available to you, there is something for everyone in this list of 50 survival TV shows. You can also check out our other list of best survival movies.
Watching these programs can help not only spark your interest in preparedness, but also give you the tools and knowledge you need to survive whatever comes your way.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.