The 10 Best Living Off the Grid TV Shows
Watching TV every once in a while can be a good way to unwind from thinking about survival preparations – or a way to learn about what works in real situations. There are a wide variety of TV shows that center around living off the grid or survival situations, from fictional post-apocalyptic dramas to reality TV shows that force individuals to confront and move through harsh environments. These survival shows and living off the grid TV shows – the 10 best (according to me!) I’ll highlight in this article - are great entertainment for those who already spend their free time thinking about survival situations and can even increase your preparedness by allowing you to think about hypothetical scenarios and see how others react in them. Enjoy!
1) Jericho (IMDb 8.0/10.0)
Jericho is a fictional drama set in the town of Jericho, Kansas, that begins with a bang – a mushroom cloud erupting into the sky in the direction of Denver as all power and communication lines stop functioning in the town. Messages received shortly before communication stopped indicate that the nuclear detonation was a coordinated attack, with cities all over the US being similarly bombed. The show then follows the town’s residents as they try to cope with the post-nuclear apocalypse world, finding food and water supplies and working to re-establish communications with the outside world to find out more about what is going on. The town also enters into a partnership, and ultimately a war, with its neighboring city of New Bern after a dispute over trading supplies and blame for issues in the wake of the disaster. In the second season, Jericho encounters the newly formed regional government, against which they ultimately rebel because of its harsh treatment of the town’s people. Good stuff for a fictional show!
2) Survivorman (IMDb 8.3/10.0)
Prepper favorite - Survivorman mixes reality television and documentary-style filmmaking, following Canadian survival expert Les Stroud on seven- to ten-day expeditions in remote locations around the world. Stroud brings little to no supplies – including no food, water, or shelter – on these expeditions and films the majority of each episode himself, as he also has no production crew standing by just beyond the periphery of the camera. Since Stroud visits a number of places around the world throughout the show, the environments and challenges he faces in each episode are relatively unique and the “everyday” items that he is carrying with him vary based on what is common among locals in the area. In addition, this show is particularly useful to survivalists because Stroud does some self-analysis of what survival techniques do and do not work, and why, as he tries them for himself.
3) Mountain Men (IMDb 7.3/10.0)
Mountain Men differs from many other survival TV shows in that it focuses predominantly on surviving through the harsh winters of North America. The show follows several outdoorsmen who are experts in surviving off the grid, using hunting and trapping to obtain food, relying on natural resources to make winter shelters and provide for their other needs, and safely navigating natural hazards like avalanches, mudslides, and flooded rivers. Overall, Mountain Men has a reputation for being a fairly accurate representation of life off the grid, although the specific places where the primary cast of the show live are particularly unforgiving mountainous terrain.
4) Alaska: The Last Frontier (IMDb 7.8/10.0)
Alaska: The Last Frontier focuses on the Kilcher family’s life on their homestead about 11 miles outside of Homer, Alaska. The show illustrates what life off the grid on an Alaska homestead looks like, but for dramatic purposes focuses largely on preparations for the Arctic winter – including frigid hunting trips, ice fishing, and the steps required to batten down the homestead for the long winter months. In later seasons, however, the show also provides insight into the many facets of running a farm off the grid during the productive spring and summer months – such as taking cattle to pasture and repairing the buildings around the homestead.
5) The Colony (IMDb 7.8/10.0)
The Colony is an experimental show that blends reality television and post-apocalyptic fiction, throwing ten people into an environment that simulates scenarios following the end of the world as we know it. The simulation required the ten strangers to come together to find food and water, and to protect their supplies from bandits who were sent in at intervals by the production crew. Each episode features a distinct set of projects that the survivors have to deal with, ranging from developing a sustainable energy source to trying to make contact with the outside world to trading with other survivors for food and supplies. The show ran for two seasons, featuring two separate groups of ten people with varied backgrounds.
6) Dual Survival (IMDb 7.6/10.0)
Dual Survival has some resemblance to shows like Survivorman in that it pits survival experts in extreme scenarios all over the world, but there are some major differences as well. First, Dual Survival includes two survival experts working together, each with their own styles that sometimes work well together and other times clash. The pairs of survival experts remain constant for long stretches of the show, such that there were only six different survivalists appearing over the seven seasons of the show. Dual Survival also differs from Survivorman in that the experts have a production team with them, which takes away from the authenticity of the survival situation but also makes the show more aesthetically pleasing to watch.
7) Naked and Afraid (IMDb 6.6/10.0)
Naked and Afraid is a reality survival show in which two people – one man and one woman – meet for the first time at the start of each episode and are immediately dropped into a remote location without any clothing. However, each person is allowed to take one useful item, such as a fire starter, a hatchet, or another item of their choice, with them at the beginning of the episode. The pair then has 21 days to move across the landscape, finding food, water, shelter, and supplies, to a designated extraction point, although they can decide to quit earlier and request extraction. This ability to opt out, as well as the presence of a production crew around the pair, makes this survival show somewhat less authentic than others.
8) Alone in the Wild (IMDb 7.3/10.0)
Alone in the Wild is a short, one-season documentary TV series in which extreme photographer and survivalist Ed Wardle attempted to survive for three months alone in the Yukon Territory of northern Canada. Although he brought supplies and rations with him, these were minimal and required Ed to hunt, fish, and gather food from the natural environment as well as to build his own shelter. The three episodes focus on his attempts, often unsuccessful, to stay ahead of his own food needs and to move camps in search of additional food. The theme of loneliness in the backcountry is a prominent feature in this show, which called for Ed to be more isolated for a longer period than in most comparable survival shows. Ultimately, Ed requests extraction after 50 days to bring the show to a close.
9) Survivor (IMDb 7.1/10.0)
Survivor is the classic reality survival show, now in its 37th season and renewed for a 38th, in which contestants work together and compete for a $1 million grand prize over the course of 39 days in the wild. Each season of Survivor features a new group of people, who begin as strangers divided into two tribes and must work together within each tribe to build shelter and find food and water. The survival aspect of the show is frequently interrupted by physical and mental challenges that pit the two tribes against one another, as well as tribal council meetings in which the survivors are asked to vote one of their own out of the show. The rules of the show have changed slightly from season to season in order to prevent a single dominant method of winning from emerging.
10) Life Below Zero (IMDb 8.1/10.0)
Life Below Zero, now in its 11th season, follows the lives of several different individuals and families who live in various remote field camps in northern Alaska. These people are primarily subsistence hunters and gatherers, finding food from the landscape throughout the year and surviving through the freezing Arctic winter. The cast includes, among others, the owner of a sled dog team, a hunter, a Native American woman and her family, and several others who visited the Alaskan tundra from the continental US and never left. While these people are not “survivalists” in the sense of many other reality survival shows, they do live far off the grid and depend almost solely upon themselves for their continued survival in the harsh environment.