20+ Survival Movies with a Dash of Romance

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Survival movies are great, but the shows on most lists focus solely on the hardcore prepper aspect, the scary, suspenseful drama of it all.

This list has that but also has a slightly different angle, the romance angle.

image: man and woman sitting on couch eating popcorn watching survival movie on laptop

My Criteria for Selecting these Survival Movies

At first, when I started looking for “survival movies” with romanceany sort of love interest or romance, I was a bit stumped. Action movies are an obvious place to look for “survival” but not necessarily for any interesting “romance.”

In my search, I considered everything from comedies to kid movies. How could I avoid having just a full-out stress-inducing violence-fest? When it comes to survival entertainment, do emotional (not physical) survival stories count?

It wasn’t easy tracking down movies that met my criteria of including both survival and romance!

This list includes a variety of genres from a variety of time periods. I also included movies focusing on mental survival skills and surviving financial disasters.

There are a few silly ones with no basis in reality (Zombieland and Joe Versus the Volcano, in particular), but most are either period pieces (WWII, French Revolution, Great Depression) or deal with the sort of “everyday disasters” that we all fear, like a viral epidemic or plane crash.

Some of these will be more suitable for family viewing than others. Please read reviews and make educated decisions. And for those survival movies you do decide to share with your kids, discuss the survival elements together.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

TV Series’ with a Romantic Element

image: jeremiah tv show

Jeremiah (TV series) is two seasons in a post-apocalyptic world where a disease killed all the adults. Luckily, the kids who survived are able to grow into adulthood safe from the virus.

Sliders (TV series) is not one that leaps to mind for the Survival genre, and yet they had to survive all kinds of disasters and be prepared for, fairly literally, anything. For those who aren’t familiar, this five-season series followed a small group of four people as they jumped between parallel dimensions, each one slightly (or radically) different.

image: lost tv series dvd cover

Lost (TV series) is about a group of plane crash survivors who last six seasons on a deserted island. Plenty of romance here.

image: jericho tv series

Jericho (Cable TV series) is a real favorite in prepper and survival circles and includes a bit of romance and meaningful glances between characters.

Historical / Period Movies

Cabaret (Liza Minnelli) is a musical set in 1930s Germany and shows how a group of Cabaret singers manages to live in denial of what is happening in the country around them.

Gone With the Wind (Vivienne Leigh, Clark Gable) is the story of a woman who is a born survivor. Scarlett O’Hara survives the Civil War, Sherman’s March, Reconstruction, heartbreak, loss, and more.

les mis dvd cover

Les Miserables (Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried) is about survival in 19th-century France.

paper moon dvd cover

Paper Moon (Ryan O’Neal, Tatum O’Neal, Madeline Kahn) is set in the Great Depression.

tears of the sun dvd cover

Tears of the Sun (Bruce Willis) revolves around a mission by US Navy SEALs to go into a hostile area of Nigeria and rescue an American doctor.

Silly / Fun Survival Movies

blast from the past dvd cover

Blast from the Past (Brendan Fraser, Alicia Silverstone) is a fun, light-hearted movie about a family who goes into their Kennedy-era bomb shelter shortly before their son is born and emerges 35 years later.

joe vs the volcano dvd cover

Joe Versus the Volcano (Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan) is an utterly unrealistic, awesomely sweet movie about love, living, and the importance of really good luggage.

image: tarzan dvd cover

Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan) has been done more than once, but this is a box set of four with the original Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller.

warm bodies dvd cover

Warm Bodies (Nicholas Hoult) is the story of how his love for a living girl helps one zombie return to (nearly) human.

zombieland dvd cover

Zombieland (Woody Harrelson) chronicles one man’s search for Twinkies during the zombie apocalypse. Seriously. He and his friend cross the country in search of safety – and Twinkies.

Six Days, Seven Nights (Harrison Ford, Anne Heche) is added under duress since I don’t like this movie, but it does meet the criteria. Let me know what you think of this rom-com-stranded-on-a-deserted-island-chased-by-pirates-survival movie.

Survival Movies Inspired by True Events

image: adrift survival movie cover

Adrift is the shipwreck tale of an engaged couple hired to sail a luxury yacht from Tahiti to San Diego, California, and getting caught in a catastrophic hurricane.

image: the impossible movie dvd cover

The Impossible (Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor) hits home more for its depiction of self-sacrificial love than romance. And it gives me hope we won’t all turn into self-seeking a-holes when SHTF.

Other Genres

image: cover of dvd It's a wonderful life

It’s a Wonderful Life (Jimmy Stewart) illustrates the importance of mental resilience and our most important survival tool–our mind. The importance of community is also demonstrated. And, of course, the twitterpated Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

image: swiss family robinson movie dvd cover

Swiss Family Robinson has a romance storyline that gets you rooting for one brother or the other to win the cute girl!

image: The Amazing Adventure movie dvd cover

The Amazing Adventure (Cary Grant) follows the adventures of a rich, bored playboy who agrees to spend one year earning his own way. He can’t use any of his own money to survive.

image: dvd cover of movie Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged trilogy (various) is thought of as being more about politics than romance, but I’ve always thought of it as a romance. Dagny Taggert follows her heart as the world around her collapses.

image: dvd cover of contagion

Contagion (Marion Cottilard, Matt Damon) follows the chain of events that cause one small action to lead to a deadly global epidemic.

image: the mountain between us survival movie dvd cover

The Mountain Between Us (Kate Winslett, Idris Elba) has been dubbed a “Harlequin-worthy” romance disaster. Following a plane crash on a remote mountaintop, the pair must work together to survive.

Here’s a quick tip: If these inflationary times have made your typical entertainment less affordable, check out some of these super-frugal tips for entertainment and holidays!

What survival-themed movies with a romantic twist can you add? Let me know in the comments!

Originally published February 10, 2015; updated by The Survival Mom editors.

23 thoughts on “20+ Survival Movies with a Dash of Romance”

  1. Hell in the Pacific
    During World War II, an American pilot and a marooned Japanese navy captain are deserted on a small uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean. There, they must cease their hostility and cooperate if they want to survive, but will they?

  2. Six Days, Seven Nights starring Harrison Ford and Anne Heche. Stranded on an island, fighting pirates, comedic timing and sweet chemistry.

  3. Becky got to it first! I love “Six Days Seven Nights.”

    I’d also suggest “Father Goose” with Cary Grant as a beach bum turned spy during WWII. He’s working as a spotter on a Pacific island when he finds himself responsible for a teacher (Leslie Caron) and several girl pupils, also stranded on the island. It’s a comedy, but things get tense when a contingent of Japanese soldiers lands on the island as well.

  4. All of these are disaster/survival movies with romance in them:

    The Day After Tomorrow
    Red Dawn (the new one)
    The Core
    Deep Impact

  5. Double feature it with Red Dawn old and new.
    LOVE Father Goose. I have to watch it every few years.
    I have nothing original to contribute. Great post!

  6. How could one leave out the magnificent ‘Starship Troopers’? A love story with a bittersweet ending, and two of the greatest lines in cinematic history: “The only good bug is a dead bug!!!”, and possibly Michael Ironside’s finest roll, including getting to stick his fingers into a guys drained noggin and deliver “They sucked his BRAINS out!” with a straight face.

    1. Oh, my word, my DH loves that movie. We’ve seen it so many times that we could just about quote the entire movie.

      “It’s an ugly planet! A bug planet!”
      “We’re in this for the SPECIES, boys and girls!”
      “It’s afraid!”

  7. Shaun of the Dead! A great British comedy about overcoming zombies, taking on the mantle leading your friends to safety, and winning back your ex (because who wants to die single?) It starts out strong, and ends even better.

    And for the guys, this film even has a “bromance” between Shaun and his ne’er-do-well best friend.

  8. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison. – a 1950’s movie with Robert Mitcham & Deborah Kerr as U.S. soldier and a nun trying to survive on an island in the Pacific during WW II after it’s taken over by the Japanese. Excellent survival story, with a tiny touch of romance. Great movie!

  9. …eh… Robinson Crusoe… ?? (book by Daniel Defoe) with his friend Friday. Example: met Pierce Brosnan en William Takaku (1997)

  10. “Goodbye World” with Adrian Grenier is so good and has multiple romances: When a mysterious terrorist attack causes chaos in the cities, a group of friends take refuge in their countryside cabin.

  11. I don’t understand why no one has mentioned the movie: “The 5th Wave”. If you are listing zombie movies, then alien movies should be here, too.
    (Sorry, I’m just not into zombies at all…)
    “The Day After Tomorrow”
    Good movie about an ELE ice storm
    Based on these suggestions, I got both “The Book of Eli” and “The Mountain Between Us”. Both GREAT movies!!!
    I actually have a lot of these movies, and a few of the TV series. Both Jericho and Jeremiah are out of stock on Amazon, but I’ll just keep looking.
    My mom raved about “Atlas Shrugged” the book. The movies are out of sight cost wise, though.

  12. Oh, Also, anyone seen “The Andromeda Strain”? Very interesting, not sure it would be considered a survival movie, and there is NO romance at all. But a good movie.

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