Here are my lists of potential apocalypses and the media that portrays them.
This would be the one I’d prefer if I got to pick. They tend to take out landmarks in the movies, but rarely bother small towns in Montana. Even a more realistic invasion wouldn’t be likely to reach my family for quite some time due to our lack of population.
Falling Skies did a good job showing a bit more depth than the movies. It showed a post-apocalyptic situation, not one where the aliens went home after a week. It also showed that the invaders had conquered other planets. Earth wasn’t special, though humans were scrappy enough to impress the aliens fighting the invaders. (Showing that other aliens stand against the invaders was also a bonus.)
War of the World: Goliath was a much more traditional alien invasion, but added a steampunk twist. Granted, this one did little worldbuilding, but it was fun.
Under Alien Stars gets credit for a somewhat realistic alien invasion. These guys didn’t actually want Earth, they just wanted to keep the other species off the planet.
Animorphs put some serious thought into the different alien species and gave a good reason for aliens to invade. It was much more empire building than the old, “We’re smart enough to travel hundreds of light years, but the reason we’re doing this is because we aren’t smart enough to grow food for ourselves.”
They’re slow-moving, stupid, and this method of apocalypse is so popular that many guys have a plan for what they’ll do if zombies show up. My family would be well-prepared to deal with this, as would most rural areas. There’s just too many guns.
World War Z (the book) tried to be realistic about this and does decently. Trouble is, I’ve never seen a zombie apocalypse where it made sense. Zombies may be able to take the cities, but once they got out of the city, ranchers and hunters would quickly end the apocalypse.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Hollowland also have zombie apocalypses, but the same issue still exists.
Enclave deals with creatures a bit like zombies, but they’re smart and reproduce on their own, making it more believable that they’d be able to fight humans.
Not the most common apocalypse. The only times I’ve seen it done is A Time to Die, where it has caused serious issues, and in Life as We Knew It, one hit the moon. The Destiny trilogy also mentioned it, though I’m not sure if it was the only reason Earth was in such bad shape.
My family’s a long ways from the coast, so this wouldn’t be too bad for us. It tends to be a more costal issue, and I can’t think of anything where an earthquake on its own caused the apocalypse. The Dead and the Gone deals with a tsunami (actually changing tides) after the moon gets closer to Earth. The Living tells about a kid trying to survive on a cruise ship during and after a tsunami, but I haven’t read the sequel.
Not something most Montanans worry about. The Drowned Cities deals with the child soldiers and different ragtag armies who fight over flooded Washington DC, which has turned into a brutal place, while Dark Life is much lighter and softer. It tells the story of an undersea pioneer who has trouble with ocean pirates on a submarine. I don’t think a bit of rising oceans would cause as much trouble as most people think since there’d still be a lot of land, at least in the US.
World War III
I’d rather not have to deal with this one. Rural areas would be safer, but still in danger due to complete social collapse. Cinder is set after WWIV, Hunger Games is long after the war ended, and City of Ember is about people who moved underground to escape the war.
We’re in Montana. Please don’t let this happen.
I’ve only seen it in Trapped, and that was more giant blizzard than global cooling.
Electro Magnetic Pulse or Solar Flares
This would be a sudden apocalypse that would kill very few people outright, but would lead to a lot of people starving as infrastructure breaks down.
The Pulse was a somewhat realistic version of this, though the writing was more survivalist than written for YA. Ashes was interesting, but also involved a form of zombies, and I never finished it due to the violence level.
This collapse is especially scary because, like the EMP or solar flare, it doesn’t kill anyone outright, but leaves them starving, which would lead to people killing each other on a massive scale.
Patriots, and probably others I can’t think of. It seems to be pretty rare in YA.
This could be pretty bad if it hit Planet of the Apes scale.
This one is quite common in stories. A few interesting ones are The Eleventh Plague, Partials, which deals with superhumans as well as plague, Inhuman, the new Planet of the Apes trilogy. One advantage of this apocalypse is that it kills more outright, leading to less people living long enough to kill each other.
Yellowstone Volcanic Eruption
I really don’t want this because my family is downwind. Ashfall portrays it somewhat realistically, and is the only version I’ve seen.
Tyrannical Government Rising to Power
Just turn on the news. It’s not fiction.
Nameless is more a case of all morality going out the window, while For the Win shows large corporations who treat their labor force badly, and Unwind is about a world where, instead of abortion, people have their children cut apart for organ donation when they turn thirteen.