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Life After People: The Series is a 10-part documentary television mini-series that premiered on April 21, 2009 on the History Channel. The program is a spin-off of the documentary film Life After People. The series features material not previously mentioned in the original documentary film.

The series shares the same tagline as original documentary film: "Welcome to Earth...Population: Zero."

With an audience of 5.4 million viewers, the original documentary film was the most watched program ever on the History Channel. Aftermath: Population Zero, a program with a similar premise, aired on the National Geographic Channel in March 2008.


In the program, scientists and other experts speculate about what the Earth, animal life, and plant life might be like if, suddenly, humanity no longer exists, as well as the effect humanity's disappearance might have on the artificial aspects of civilization. Speculation is based upon documented results of the sudden removal of humans from a geographical area and the possible results that would occur if humanity discontinues its maintenance of buildings and urban infrastructure.

The series features the gradual and post-apocalyptic disintegration of urban civilization in a time span of 10,000 years after humanity suddenly vanished. The hypotheses are depicted using CGI dramatizations of the possible fate of iconic structures and landmarks (e.g., The Pyramids, the Empire State Buildingmarker, the Sears Towermarker, the Space Needlemarker, the Eiffel Towermarker, the Golden Gate Bridgemarker, and the Hoover Dammarker).

Life After People does not speculate about the cause or manner of humanity's sudden disappearance.

List of episodes

Season one (2009)

Episode Title Original Airdate

Prediction timetable

The series makes predictions as to what will happen after humanity disappears. The following table lists some of the highlighted events.

Time Period Predictions
1 hour At an oil refinery in Houstonmarker, pressure in the oil distillation tanks, which is monitored by a human operator, is released into the atmosphere by emergency valves in a cloud of flammable gas. A spark ignites the cloud and the whole refinery explodes. The fuel tanks catch fire and burn for days.
1 day Without humans to maintain them, power plants across the world begin to shut down. In New York Citymarker, Times Square is still ablaze with light, but is silent without people. As museums lose power the ideal conditions for the preservation of Egyptianmarker mummies no longer exists and they begin to naturally deteriorate.
2 days Breweries in St. Louismarker explode when built-up pressure ruptures fermentation tanks. Without power to run pumps, the New York City Subway begins to flood within 36 hours. Times Square finally goes dark.
3 days The first heavy rainstorm floods Chicagomarker when man-operated flood gates remain open, leading to a series of events that will eventually flood the entire city. Without air conditioning, the wax celebrities at Madame Tussaudsmarker in Las Vegasmarker melt. The machinery that filters and oxygenates the tanks at the Aquarium of the Americas shut down and the fish begin to suffocate and succumb to increased bacteria levels. Without human hosts, Head lice begin to die off.
4 days Near Pearl Harbormarker, the hands atop the clock of the iconic Aloha Towermarker in Honolulumarker stop moving.
1 week In Londonmarker, Big Benmarker stops running when no one is around to rewind it. Without people to control their spread, water hyacinth (imported from South America) takes over Floridamarker and Texasmarker. Without humans to clear them away they absorb all the oxygen from the water and suffocate surrounding plant life.
10 days Some greyhounds have escaped from the many dog tracks around the United Statesmarker. Their competitive nature keeps them from working together to get the food they desperately need. In New York Citymarker, the Asian Long-horned beetle which arrived from Chinamarker in the 1990s easily infest the trees in Central Parkmarker without humans to curtail the infestation.
2 weeks At Buckingham Palacemarker, the Queen of England's corgis have been trapped inside and are desperate for food. Worldwide, animals trapped inside homes die unless they can escape. In zoos, many animals suffering from starvation will have escaped their cages. From Japanmarker to Californiamarker, 3.5 million tons of garbage goes uncollected and storms wash some of it out to sea increasing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In North America, starving wolves begin to make their way to the smell of rotting food in kitchens formerly occupied by humans.
3 weeks The pumps that send water down the aqueducts from Owens Valleymarker to Los Angelesmarker fail and the water supply has run out.
1 month The 400,000 human embryos cryonically frozen in clinics in the United States begin to thaw and decompose. Aboard the International Space Station the "Immortality Drive", a computer disk containing the digitized genetic information of some extraordinary humans remains the last hope for some future intelligence to restarting the human race. Kudzu grows freakishly in the southern United States. In Los Angelesmarker, without water, the green grass has dried up and many non-native species of plants like the Canary Island palms wither and the city begins to be reclaimed by the desert. In Washington, D.C.marker the opposite is happening, with no water being pumped away from the city, it begins to flood.
2 months Most starving domesticated pigs will have broken out of their barnyards. They begin breeding with wild pigs, creating a leaner, more aggressive species of wild hog. Without electrical power, the automatic relighting system of the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flamemarker fails when a heavy rainfall extinguishes it forever.
3 months In Romemarker, Michelangelo's artwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapelmarker has been without protection since the computerized climate control system failed, but the lack of moisture and body heat from visitors is actually helping preserve the works of art. After depleting all the food supplies in Buckingham Palacemarker, the Queen of England's corgis try to survive in the outside world. With no one to inoculate them, escaped domestic animals catch rabies. Discovered in 1940 but drawn tens of thousands of years ago, the paintings in the Lascaux Cavesmarker in Southern France, continue to live on.
4 months Deep in the ice of Norwaymarker, the Svalbard Global Seed Vaultmarker is the world's reserve of crops. Seeds from every plant in the world are kept here in case agriculture ever needs to be restarted on Earth. Without people, it is beginning to warm up threatening the lifespan of the seeds.
6 months On Ross Islandmarker in Antarcticamarker, the expedition hut of Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton remains preserved as it has for 100 years. With the help of abandoned swimming pools, mosquitoes thrive and the West Nile Virus spreads. Lakes and rivers all over Arizonamarker completely dry up, killing everything that once lived there. The birds of Hawaiimarker are flocking to their new favorite Island paradise, the wooden decks of the USS Missourimarker.
9 months In Bostonmarker, the USS Constitutionmarker, the world's oldest commissioned warship is still afloat, but the automatic bilge pumps have stopped working when the power died, causing the ship to fil with water and sink within the year.
1 year The ivy at Wrigley Fieldmarker in Chicagomarker begins to grow out of control. In New York Citymarker, the ice rink at Rockefeller Center Plazamarker becomes a garden. The gold skin of the Prometheus statue, is stripped away over the years exposing the bronze beneath. Plants begin to grow in the multiplying cracks over the highways of Los Angelesmarker. The last survivor of the Aquarium of the Americas, a rare white alligator, dies. Humid air ravages the Burj Al Arabmarker with mold and bacteria. Burmese pythons, once escaped pets, begin an invasion in the Florida Evergladesmarker, growing so large they compete with alligators. The series takes a look at the Americana Amusement Park in Ohiomarker showing a real example of a level of decay that can take place in just a few short years after people.
2 years The wires holding the trolleys in San Franciscomarker rust and snap, sending the cars careening out of control all over the city. Across the bay, the weakened ropes holding a 50,000 ton ship snap sending it adrift on a collision course with a bridge and sink.
3 years The International Space Station loses altitude and falls to Earth, destroying the "Immortality Drive" with it. The wind powered Ricoh sign in Times Square finally goes dark when the light bulbs burn out. Horses go wild and thrive on America's grassland. Those used by the NYPD and to pull carriages leave the city and may roam to the grassy beaches of Long Islandmarker.
5 years Weeds transform the historic streets of Bostonmarker. The walls and stands of Wrigley Fieldmarker are now covered in ivy and thick buckthorn while shrubbery takes over the ball field. In Miamimarker, escaped chimpanzees follows flocks of birds into downtown apartment buildings to eat their eggs. One intelligent chimp realizes that they need to let some of the eggs survive to extend the food supply. Every casino in Atlantic Citymarker has become a potential bat cave as the animals move in.
10 years The Willis Towermarker (formerly known as the Sears Tower) is slowly deteriorating. Forest fires spread out of control and parts of Los Angelesmarker burn to the ground, including the interior of the U.S. Bank Tower, the plant life in between the fireproof stainless steel panels of the Walt Disney Concert Hallmarker, Grauman's Chinese Theatremarker and the latex paint of the Hollywood Signmarker. At Independence Hallmarker, broken windows allow sunlight to beam down on the Declaration of Independence. Protected from the elements in it's airtight case, the sunlight will cause the letters to fade away. Massive sandstorms called haboobs run rampant over Phoenixmarker. In Francemarker, "Lascaux 2", a plaster replica of the prehistoric cave Lascauxmarker crumbles away, but the original cave continues to thrive.
15 years In Atlantic Citymarker, the deteriorating structure known as Lucy the Elephantmarker is on its last legs, and soon a bad storm knocks it down. In Hawaii, the lines holding the USS Missourimarker to the docks succumb to corrosion and decay. The warship, now free of its moorings, floats away but only gets so far when it bottoms out in the mud.
20 years Houstonmarker turns back to a swamp and the Astrodomemarker becomes an enormous bat cave where insects and fungi also thrive. Miamimarker begins to look like a jungle as invasive plants like Brazilian Pepper begin taking over habitats. At the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Centermarker, the hundreds of stored military aircraft begin to decay once their protective tarps open and coatings peel and off in the wind. Birds build nests in the exposed engine intakes and cowlings.
25 years In museums, without functioning environmental systems to preserve them, insects and fungi ravage the Egyptianmarker mummies. The same fate happens to the enbalmed body of Lenin. Soon nothing is left but dust and bones. At the bottom of the Pacific Oceanmarker, a nuclear Russian submarine lies intact, but water pressure and corrosion develops cracks in the casings of its payload of nuclear warheads and they explode when chemicals inside make contact with seawater. The explosions however, are not powerful enough to detonate the nuclear warheads. The series gives a real life example of 25 years of abandonment by visiting Centralia, Pennsylvaniamarker, whose population has largely fled since 1981; the result of a coal mine fire which began in 1962 and continues to burn to this day.
30 years By now, most of the world's dairy cows have died out. Those that figured out how to mate have managed to preserve the species and the process of evolution starts taking them back to the wild.
35 years Without humans caring for the land and fortifying the beaches regularly, on Long Islandmarker low-lying areas become flooded without human control beach front erosion. In Boston, the steeple of the Old North Churchmarker collapses. The series gives a real life example of 35 years of decay by visiting Hashima Islandmarker, once a thriving coal mine where thousands of people were housed in apartments. Abandoned in the 1970s, the island now holds a small city of skeletal and gutted buildings battered by the sea.
45 years The series gives a real life example of 45 years of decay with North Brother Islandmarker just off Manhattan Islandmarker in New York City. The island has served many purposes over the years, from housing returning World War II veterans to quarantining victims of infectious diseases, and as a rehabilitation clinic for drug addicts. For the last 45 years however, it has been abandoned and structures on the island are in shambles.
50 years Most buildings in Atlantamarker are brought down by invasive kudzu. In Chicago, Wrigley Field is almost unrecognizable under a heap of overgrown vegetation and shrubs. In Los Angeles, a 8.0 magnitude earthquake collapses the top floors of the U.S. Bank Tower. The quake also topples the Los Angeles City Hallmarker once the foundation shock absorbers fail to steady the structure. On the hill overlooking the city, the metal letters of the Hollywood Signmarker are finally brought down. Ravaged by pyrite disease, dinosaur skeletons in museums across the globe begin to fall apart. The gargoyle statues of the Chrysler Buildingmarker fall to the ground after corrosion loosens their mounts. The plant seeds frozen in the Svalbard Global Seed Vaultmarker will have died. Atlantic Citymarker's Steel Piermarker is now just a skeleton of its former self. In San Antoniomarker, the Tower Life Buildingmarker leans to such an extremity that it topples. Mold and metal corrosion finally collapse the Burj Al Arabmarker in Dubaimarker.
65 years Here the series gives a real life example of 65 years of decay with the British village of Tynehammarker which was abandoned during World War II when the British government took over the area to use it as a training ground for American troops. No one has lived there since 1943 and nature has partially collapsed the stone buildings.
70 years In Shanghai, flooding in the city weakens the foundation of the Oriental Pearl Towermarker and causes the tower to collapse. In Pearl Harbor the USS Missourimarker is now under a cover of green. Seeds dropped by birds have made their way into every crack in the wooden deck, causing vegetation to grow over the hull.
75 years Bridges begin to collapse when their protective paint flakes off and are no longer protected from moisture and corrosion. Among them is Boston's Leonard P.marker Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridgemarker. The supports under the sky bridge of the Petronas Twin Towersmarker buckle because of corrosion, and the sky bridge collapses. In Philadelphiamarker, the Liberty Bellmarker falls to the ground and cracks completely in half. The former village stray dogs have now evolved back into the wild predators they were before they were domesticated. Their population however, has dwindled.
90 years Here the series gives a real life example of 90 years of decay with the western ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevadamarker. A former gold mining town it was once a booming city built on the backs of miners. Now, 90 years after the gold dried up, the town has been left to die. The masonry buildings have nearly withered away by winds and sand.
100 years Big Benmarker, the Brooklyn Bridgemarker, the Golden Gate Bridgemarker, the Houston Astrodomemarker and the Chicago 'L' collapse. Washington D.C.marker reverts back into a swamp where beavers thrive damming up the Potomac River. In Los Angelesmarker, some areas of the former highways collect rainwater forming small lakes and ponds that attract wildlife during their migrations. In New York Citymarker, the Roosevelt Island Tramwaymarker collapses. Without humans there to constantly rebuild the beaches of Miamimarker, once luxurious beachfront hotels are completely overrun by the ocean water. The Blue and Green Diamondmarker towers collapse into each other and the Seven Mile Bridge falls apart. In Phoenix, decades of sandstorms and monsoon rains leave it devastated. Many of the buildings collapse from the weight of mud and sand that have collected. At Cape Canaveralmarker, the Rocket Garden is destroyed by hurricanes. At the Louvre Museummarker in Parismarker, the Mona Lisa is eaten away by death watch beetles. In Las Vegasmarker, the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas"marker sign is faded away by windblown sand and the once magnificent Luxor Hotel Pyramidmarker is now in ruins.
150 years In Boston, the Hancock Buildingmarker collapses into the lush gardens that have overrun the city. Elephant herds roam free in the American West filling the ecological niches that mammoths and mastodons left vacant at the end of the last ice age. In many cities, skyscrapers have become high-rise ecosystems, with house cats as the apex predators. Detroitmarker's Renaissance Centermarker shatters and collapses after decades of extreme weather.
200 years In Houstonmarker, the JPMorgan Chase Towermarker finally collapses. The same thing happens to most tall structures in Chicagomarker, such as the Willis Towermarker. With the collapse of the apartment buildings in Miamimarker, the inhabiting chimps have moved to the Everglades. What they have learned over the last 200 years could give them the building blocks they need to create a new civilization. The "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign falls flat on the ground. In San Franciscomarker, only the skeletal towers of the Golden Gate Bridgemarker remain after the road deck collapses. The Grand Canyon Skywalk breaks away from its mountings and falls into the canyon. In New York Citymarker, the Empire State Buildingmarker and the Chrysler Buildingmarker finally collapse. In Denvermarker the Wells Fargo Centermarker collapses way under the weight and corrosion caused by 200 years of snowfalls. Outside of Denvermarker on the Colorado prairie, the descendants of domestic cattle have carved out a new way of life. Bison, however, dominate the landscape once again.
250 years In Chicago, the John Hancock Centermarker finally collapses but outlives the more massive Willis Tower. The weight of the Statue of Freedommarker on top of the United States Capitolmarker collapses the corroded iron dome. By now, the United States Constitution has faded away inside the collapsed rotunda of the National Archives and Records Administrationmarker. In St. Louismarker, the Gateway Archmarker falls when the keystone buckles and finally gives way. In Hawaii, water has penetrated the hull of the USS Missourimarker. It floods and begins to sink deeper into the mud of the harbor bottom. Some experts say it could last as long as 20,000 years. Eventually, the warships will become an underwater reef teaming with sea life.
300 years In New York Citymarker, the Statue of Libertymarker breaks in pieces and sinks into the Atlantic Oceanmarker. The rabies outbreak finally reverts to natural levels. Philadelphiamarker is now a forest, but the Liberty Bell still remains proudly within its protective walls. 100 yards away, the Declaration of Independence lies in the rubble of Independence Hall. Heat and light have left the paper brittle and a blast of air penetrates the worn case causing the fragile document to disintegrate.
500 years Though Michelangelo's frescos are still recognizable after so many centuries, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapelmarker collapses, bringing down the entire building. In Georgiamarker, The Confederate Memorial on Stone Mountainmarker outside Atlantamarker, and the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.marker may stand as the sole evidence of those city's locations. Not far away, the Petronas Twin Towers collapse after five centuries of tropical sun and moisture.
600 years What remains of the U.S. Bank Tower finally collapses after a moderate earthquake. The series gives a real life example of 600 years of abandonment with Cambodiamarker's Angkor Watmarker temple city where nothing is left but stone structures overgrown with trees.
1,000 years Almost all traces of human culture are buried beneath vegetation and sand. The Earth itself will have buried all of man's cities. The ruins of New York Citymarker have been swallowed by nature. Rivers flow where taxicabs once drove. The Taj Mahalmarker in Agramarker collapses after a fairly large earthquake, and rising sea levels flood the area where Washington D.C.marker once stood, leaving a highly degraded, but still erect Washington Monument emerging over the waves. After 10 centuries without people, Las Vegas has completely disappeared. Meanwhile, on the Moon, the three Lunar Roving Vehicles left behind from the Apollo 15 through Apollo 17 missions will remain in near-mint condition barring degradation or destruction from meteor impacts.
2,000 years As it was after the last ice age, Phoenix again becomes a vast savanna. Plants and creatures now flourish in this lush paradise. New species rule old habitats, familiar landscapes have been transformed, and man's works have fallen. Because it is basically held together by gravity, the medieval Cathedral of Notre Damemarker in Parismarker may still stand and be recognizable.
5,000 years The Confederate Memorial, carved on Stone Mountain in Atlantamarker, is one of few indications that man ever inhabited the area. Most of what man has built has long eroded or been destroyed.
10,000 years Almost all traces of human civilization have been buried under sand and vegetation. Descendants of escaped New York Citymarker horses roam the beaches. Because of the lack of nutrients available, they have evolved to be much smaller than their ancestors, but they survive. Buried underground, the vault of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York Citymarker, still holds $200 billion of gold bars intact. In New Orleansmarker, plastic and glass Mardi Gras beads are still intact, buried under soil and vegetation.
20,000 years The final seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vaultmarker die. Atlantic Citymarker is now surrounded by an inland forest.
1,000,000 years The Golden Record aboard the Voyager space probes are damaged beyond recognition after centuries of collisions with dust and space debris. A new species of camelid, descending from escaped camels from a ranch near Las Vegas, evolves in the plains to resemble the guanaco with the low lying vegetation created by the new ice ages.
10,000,000 years San Franciscomarker has completely disappeared.
100,000,000 years All that will remain from the existence of human beings are our fossilized bones.

Cities featured


Atlantic Citymarker,


Buenos Airesmarker,


Chichen Itzamarker,






Kuala Lumpurmarker,

Las Vegasmarker,


Los Angelesmarker,


Miami Beachmarker,

Monroe Countymarker,


New Orleansmarker,

New York Citymarker,





St. Louismarker,

San Antoniomarker,

San Franciscomarker,


Siem Reapmarker,

Washington, D.C.marker,

See also


  1. "Depopulation Boom", The Washington Post, March 8, 2008.

External links

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