|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.
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.
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, show still lethal levels of radiation and abnormal weather suggesting climate change.
According to Becca, about 6.5 billion people were killed in the aftermath. However, some survivors remained, including the ancestors to the Grounders, the Mountain Men, and the Sky People. For 97 years, the Mountain Men took refuge in Mount Weather and 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'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.
- 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.