In Ghostbusters II, Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) hears a rather ominous prediction on his television show, World of the Psychic. One of his guests prophesies that the world will come to an end on February 14, 2016. In other words, Valentine’s Day — the day on which Hallmark Cards and florists routinely make millions. A day that, as it turns out, is here.
Exactly how feasible Ghostbusters II‘s end-of-the-world prediction actually is remains to be seen. Considering the validity of past movie and television prophecies (e.g. Back to the Future II), however, its chances aren’t so good. In the spirit of finding love in the not-so-end-times, though, Uproxx has put together a list of these cinematic and televised scenarios and we ranked them according to their believability. To accomplish this, we used a simple scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “not feasible at all” and 5 being “maybe-kinda-whatever.”
End of Days
Throughout the year 1999, all of America was equally fascinated and horrified by the Millennium. Why? Because the year 2000 would supposedly freak out some outdated software on major computer systems and send modern life back into the stone age. (See: “supposedly.”) Cultists, the super-religious, and lay people alike were drawn to the new date, especially Hollywood. Hence the Arnold Schwarzenegger-vehicle End of Days, in which the devil possesses a human (Gabriel Byrne) and tries to have a child moments before the clock strikes midnight. Not that time zones mattered or anything…
Rank: 1, because it should’ve taken place in Greenwich
Based on the popular Christian novels penned by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, the 2000 Left Behind film series starred Razzie Award-winner Kirk Cameron and featured the story of Armageddon as interpreted by Christian eschatology. Or, the study of “last” or “end things.” Toward the dawn of the new millennium, the anti-Christ appears via a global conspiracy of elites and Israel is attacked. Meanwhile, the Rapture occurs — by which two percent of the world’s population suddenly disappears. Essentially, God redeems his predetermined few to Heaven and lets the rest of the world fall into chaos.
Rank: 1, because Kirk Cameron
Because of the Earth’s magnetic field, its effects on the planet’s climatological and geological forces, and how these are all influenced by the alignment of certain celestial bodies, the 2009 disaster movie 2012 imagined a near future in which the oft-touted Mayan calendar’s supposed prediction that the world would come to an end on December 21, 2012 was true. Not because of aliens or divine prophecy, per se, but because of science. Well, it’s 2016, and nothing that occurred in Roland Emmerich’s film has actually happened.
Rank: 1, because John Cusack isn’t a convincing author
Christopher Walken is the angel Gabriel, and that’s pretty much anyone needs to know about The Prophecy. But in the interest of fleshing out this last entry, this 1995 film concerns a second war in Heaven — one separate from Lucifer’s best efforts to defeat God and conquer it all for himself — and the possession of a powerful human soul. This soul will tip the conflict’s balance in favor of whoever possesses it, so Walken’s Gabriel decides to try and nab it for himself.
Rank: 1, because we don’t want to fight against angelic Christopher Walken
The J.J. Abrams-produced and Jon Favreau-directed series imagined a world in which a planned strike of some kind renders all electricity and electrical devices on the planet inert. Years later, the surviving humans of 2027 attempt to live on in a world that, per the show’s premise, seemingly cannot function all that well without power, computers, and other modern conveniences. Revolution didn’t last past two seasons, but its initial attachment to a mysterious pendant’s ability to resist the initial scourge and re-power electrical devices gave the characters some sense of times-will-get-better longing.
Rank: 2, because Y2K didn’t keep us down either
The Mothman Prophecies
What otherwise appears to be a creepy thriller starring Richard Gere is actually based on a 1975 book by parapsychologist John Keel. Not that this makes the so-called “Mothman prophecies” any more true than they probably aren’t, but the events that inform the movie actually did occur. The Silver Bridge across the Ohio River did collapse in 1967, and Keel’s research suggested that it all had something to do with UFO sightings and visions of a figure known as the “Mothman” in Point Pleasant, W.Va. A subsequent investigation found no validity in these claims.
Rank: 2, because corrosion ≠ aliens
The Matrix Trilogy
According to the strangely-dressed terrorist offering Keanu Reeves drugs, a Jesus-like figure is going to save humanity from its current imprisonment inside a computer system at the hands of the very machines its early efforts with artificial intelligence helped to create. You know this story, because it’s the prophecy of the One (Keanu) as foretold to Morpheus (strangely-dressed terrorist) by the Oracle (an old woman who’s actually a computer program). This all made sense in The Matrix, then got weird in The Matrix Reloaded, and utterly confusing in The Matrix Revolutions, but hey — the One did save humanity in the end.
Rank: 3, because how do you know your toaster oven won’t try to kill you?
Among the many awesome things about the rebooted Battlestar Galactica television series, perhaps the most unique was its inclusion of an ancient Greek-like religion of sorts. One that, per the Book of Pythia, part of the old Colonial religion’s so-called sacred scrolls, foretold of the displaced humans’ return to the mythical planet of Earth. Battlestar teased these prophecies throughout its run on Syfy. Such a return finally happens in the series finale, which reveals that Battlestar was actually a fantastic reimagining of our prehistoric past instead of a look into a possible future.
Rank: 4, because “Aliens”
The Fifth Element
An alien race with ties to ancient Egypt prophesies the return of an ancient evil that comes to life every 5,000 years. Said evil must return to a specific temple on Earth in order to essentially destroy the universe, but the aliens have equipped the temple with four sacred stones and a fifth, powerful figure — the five of which comprise five elements. So when the evil decides to plague the Earth once more in Luc Besson’s 1997 sci-fi classic, the aliens’ human contacts must rely on soldier-turned-cab driver Bruce Willis to deliver the elements to the temple and save everything.
Rank: 4, because if Willis’ progeny still exists in 2263, we’ll have a fighting chance
Left Behind (with Nicolas Cage)
Fourteen years after Cameron’s attempts to play an unbiased journalist in a Canadian Christian film, a second Left Behind film was made with Nicolas Cage. Instead of playing the same journalist character, however, the Cage played a pilot on a plane whose other pilot and several passengers are suddenly swept away into nothingness by the Rapture. The film generally focuses on Cage’s character — whose name is Rayford f*cking Steele — and his efforts to bring the plane safely down to the ground. This despite the fact that the world is coming to an end.
Rank: 5, because Nicolas Cage (Rayford f*cking Steele)
Influenced by many of the same apocalyptic interpretations of the Bible as the Left Behind films, Damon Lindelof’s The Leftovers takes a much darker, deeply psychological look at the aftermath of the Rapture-that-isn’t-called-the-Rapture. With a third and final season on the way from HBO, the hit show is about to answer all of the annoyingly nagging questions that have been plaguing fans since the second season finale. It’s a rather chilling look into the lengths people will (and could) go if prompted by such a scenario, and its feasibility is scarily higher than we’d like to think. (How society breaks down, per se. Not all the Rapture stuff.)
Rank: 5, because without Nicolas Cage we’d probably murder and maim each other in the end times