|This article is about the first nuclear apocalypse. You may be looking for the Second Nuclear Apocalypse.|
|“||Becca: "What is the root problem, A.L.I.E.?"
A.L.I.E.: "Too many people."
|— A.L.I.E. and Becca in a videotape from 2051 [src]|
It began when the Artificial Intelligence A.L.I.E. instigated a global nuclear exchange. Earth was left in ruins as a result, with the majority of inhabitants killed and the planet simmering in radiation.
This apocalyptic event is also known as "the Bombs" or "the Fire".
The Nuclear Apocalypse took place in 2052 after A.L.I.E. was accidentally released by Chris. A.L.I.E. quickly broke through the black ice encryption and the Faraday cage and began to hack launch codes from countries around the world. Chris attempted to stop her by releasing A.L.I.E.'s poison pill virus but that was unsuccessful.
Soon after, A.L.I.E. successfully launched nuclear missiles from various countries around the world. This included 27 missiles launched from China towards the United States. A.L.I.E. planned to kill 6.5 billion people, in order to reduce the population. However, it killed 11 billion people.
During this cataclysmic event, people all over the world with connections were stated to be scrambling for bunkers due to how sudden and unexpected the Nuclear Apocalypse was, giving them no warning at all. Having prepared for this eventuality, despite only learning of the apocalypse when the missiles were launched, 92% of the Level 12 members of the Second Dawn doomsday cult made it to their bunker before a nuclear missile destroyed Baltimore, saving 1,104 people. Meanwhile, the ancestors to the Mountain Men took shelter in Mount Weather. Those who survived in space stations, became ancestors to the Sky People.
While the specifics of the world collapse are not known, it is apparent that nuclear exchange resulted in worldwide widespread destruction and the near-annihilation of the human species, and it left civilization in ruins throughout the radiation-affected globe.
Becca's flashbacks in "Thirteen," offered the first indication of the condition on the surface two years following the nuclear exchange and show still lethal levels of radiation and abnormal weather suggesting climate change.
According to Callie Cadogan, about 11 billion people were killed in the aftermath. After Becca arrived on Earth, her use of the Flame allowed Bill Cadogan to unlock the Anomaly Stone code to Bardo. Having found the Stone in South America 12 years before, he had never been able to unlock it. During her time with the Second Dawn, Becca warned Bill Cadogan after entering "the final code" into the Anomaly Stone that using it would bring Judgment Day. Though Cadogan called the Nuclear Apocalypse Judgment Day, Becca stated that it wasn't Judgment Day which will be the true end of the human race. After Becca was executed in order to get the Flame, Cadogan eventually led his followers, now called the Disciples, through the Temporal Anomaly to Bardo, rejecting any chance of rebuilding life on Earth. However, Callie convinced a group of people to take Becca's Nightblood serum and join her in saving humanity on Earth. The group intended to search for other survivors, bringing with them enough Nightblood doses for 2,000 people and the language that Callie had created as a child as well as the Flame itself. Callie's group and those that they met along the way would become the ancestors of the Grounders, people who were able to survive on Earth's surface for the next 95 years. According to Titus, they were the first Natblidas.
For 97 years, the Mountain Men still remained in Mount Weather, but as a result had no resistance to the radiation on the surface and were stuck underground. At the same time, the Sky People survived in space stations, isolated from their former natural environment.
- Chris: "I tried to stop her...but I lost control. She got the launch codes. It was her. She did it...but it was my fault."
- — "Blood Must Have Blood (Part 2)"
- Chris: Becca, she got through the black ice encryption...
- Becca: OK, Chris. Slow down.
- Chris: I have no idea how...
- Peri Gordon: I'm locking in the signal.
- Chris: And now she's out of the Faraday cage. It's A.L.I.E. She got out. She's on the grid. She's cracking systems. She just got through portal security for STRATCOM in Omaha.
- Peri: What is she doing?
- Becca: She's hacking nuclear launch codes.
- Peri: Why?
- Becca: "Too many people." Send A.L.I.E.'s poison pill virus through the web. Do it now. Kill her.
- Chris: I did that 10 minutes ago. She's locked me out of everything.
- Becca: Chris, get to the lighthouse bunker. Do it now.
- — "Thirteen"
- Cole McAdams: Doctors, there's a situation on the ground. 27 ICBMs have been launched from China. No one knows why, but it's real. They're headed for the United States.
- — "Thirteen"
- Clarke: Something's coming, something unlike anything we've seen before.
- Roan: What's coming?
- Clarke: You know the fire that ended the world. Lexa called it Praimfaya. It'll be like that, a wave of radiation that'll kill everything in its path.
- Roan: Our ancestors survived Praimfaya, and so will we.
- Clarke: No, you won't, not this time, not without us. Look. I don't know if we can stop it, but if we can't, all of us will be dead in 6 months. Science is our only hope.
- — "Echoes"
- The cause of this disaster was first not widely known to the characters. On the Ark, it was originally told that countries and politics caused a nuclear war. John Murphy was the first to discover the truth when he saw Chris' suicide video. Later, Clarke and a few other Sky People learned the truth from Becca's journal. And after A.L.I.E.'s defeat, everyone have presumably discovered the truth.
- The Apocalypse killed most of the human population.
- A.L.I.E. was responsible for the Nuclear Apocalypse.
- A.L.I.E. planned to kill 6.5 billion people to reduce the population, but instead, it killed 11 billion people.
- Radiation from the nuclear fallout was present on Earth after 97 years.
- Grounders call this event Praimfaya (Trigedasleng).
- In the "Pilot", Jasper's shirt had "Earth Day 2052" printed on it.
- The video Murphy watches in "Blood Must Have Blood (Part 2)", that has been filmed on the day of the apocalypse, was stamped May 10, 2052.
- According to the "Thirteen" script, some of the North America locations directly hit were: Washington DC, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, Havana, St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas, Mexico City, Los Angeles, and Anchorage.
- In the novels, the Nuclear Apocalypse is called the "Cataclysm" by the Colonists and the "Forsakening" by the Earthborns.
- 27 missiles from China targeted the U.S. during the Nuclear Apocalypse.
- In "Anaconda," when Becca mentions Judgment Day, Bill Cadogan believes that she means the Nuclear Apocalypse. Judgment Day is what the Nuclear Apocalypse is called in the Terminator series which was also caused by a rogue AI.