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This article is about the second nuclear apocalypse. You may be looking for the first nuclear apocalypse.

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."
Clarke and Roan [src]

The Second Nuclear Apocalypse or Apocalypse Two, also known as the Death Wave, Second Praimfaya, or simply Praimfaya, was a cataclysmic event that occurred in 2150. It was caused by the failing nuclear power plants around the world which resulted in a wave of radiation spreading across the world.

As a result of the rise in atmospheric radiation, the ground was uninhabitable for everyone except Nightbloods for the next five years.

Over 131 years later, the Earth has regenerated from the apocalypse and is once again a lush and habitable world.


"After the Second Fukushima Disaster, Panacea Power patented a fail-safe system with multiple redundancies. By 2048, two dozen mega reactors were built to withstand any disaster, even a nuclear attack." However, "the plants were built to be self-sustaining for [only] a hundred years." After the first Nuclear Apocalypse, which occurred in 2052, no one maintained the power plants, so by 2150, the plants started to melt down. By the late February 2150, "there are more than a dozen at-risk plants around the world and 7 are currently burning." "Global radiation levels are rising." According to A.L.I.E.'s calculations, "96% of the Earth's surface will be uninhabitable [in less than six months] even for those born in space."

At the end of season 3, A.L.I.E. reveals to Clarke Griffin that a second nuclear apocalypse would be coming. A.L.I.E. had first detected the issue four months before using drones. The AI tries to convince Clarke that the best way to save the human race was to digitize them into the City of Light, but Clarke remains unconvinced and terminates A.L.I.E.

At the start of season 4, Raven Reyes confirms the rising radiation levels and that they have no more than six months before they would be dead. At first, black rain would start and there would be no drinkable water. Then people will start developing pre-cancerous lesions and the air would become toxic. And finally, "a wave of radiation would kill everything in its path." Afterward, the atmospheric radiation would still be too high for five years for anyone except Nightbloods to live on the ground.

Throughout the fourth season, Sky People and Grounders worked on several solutions on how to survive Praimfaya. They search for a Second Dawn Bunker and find one but it turns out to be a decoy. They try to radiation-proof Arkadia, but Ilian burns it down.

When Luna and several of her clan come to Arkadia, suffering from acute radiation syndrome, only Luna survives. Its also discovered that they only have two months or less rather than the six months that A.L.I.E. had predicted. Abby Griffin realizes that Luna's Nightblood helped her metabolize radiation and filter it out of her system. A group travels to Becca's lab to research and try to recreate Nightblood. They develop synthetic Nightblood from Luna's bone marrow and inject it into a Grounder scavenger. While the procedure initially appeared successful, it turned out to be insufficient and the scavenger died during a test. Eric Jackson realizes the issue and fixes it, but they need to test the new serum, so Clarke injects herself with it, but Abby refuses to run the tests on her own daughter and destroys the radiation chamber, leaving it unclear if the serum worked.

Meanwhile, Thelonious Jaha realizes where the real bunker might be. With Monty Green and Marcus Kane, he travels to Polis and finds the bunker under the temple and opens it with Gaia's help. With all the clans converging in Polis and the bunker only being able to sustain 1,200 people, the clans agree to hold the Final Conclave. Octavia Blake wins the conclave and decides that each of the twelve surviving clans (including the Sky People) would get 100 spots within the bunker and together they would form Wonkru. Everyone else is locked out of the bunker and left to their deaths.

A small group, consisting of Clarke, Raven, Bellamy Blake, Monty, Harper McIntyre, John Murphy, Emori and Echo, decide to try a risky plan to try to survive Praimfaya in space. In Becca's lab, the group watches drone footage of the death wave moving through Polis, destroying everything in its path. They have ninety minutes to liftoff or the death wave will be too close. They successfully retrieve the oxygen generator and prepare the rocket, but Clarke gets delayed at the satellite tower. The other seven are forced to launch without her and hope that Clarke can successfully send the satellite signal to open the Ark's hangar door. Clarke manages to manual override the satellite dish to send the signal and runs back to Becca's lab with the death wave raging towards her.


The death wave ravaged the majority of the planet, leaving only one spot of green, Shallow Valley. However, even there, the atmospheric radiation was too high for anyone except Nightbloods to survive. The only people to have escaped the death wave were the -1,200 within the Second Dawn Bunker, the seven on the Go-Sci Ring, and two Nightbloods (one of whom is Clarke Griffin, proving the synthetic Nightblood serum a success).

46 days after Praimfaya, in the Second Dawn Bunker, Kara Cooper stages an unsuccessful coup with some of her fellow Skaikru members to take control of the hydro-farm, but were thwarted, and their punishment, issued by their new leader, Octavia Blake, was a gladiatorial fight for freedom, where only one emerged as the ultimate winner by being the last person standing. After the rebellion, Octavia took solo control of Wonkru and became Blodreina ("Red Queen" in Trigedasleng). About two years after Praimfaya, Wonkru went through the "Dark Year", a period of time when Wonkru were forced to eat and cannibalize those who died in the gladiatorial fighting pits, for one year in the Second Dawn Bunker. The events during the Dark Year has led to Octavia's dark nature. After those six years, there are only 814 people alive in the bunker, in which 386 people died under Octavia's rule.

Over the next five years, the radiation levels decrease to a survivable level. During that time, the two Nightbloods, Clarke and Madi, lived in Shallow Valley, regularly trying but failing to make contact with the others. Even after five years, no one returns to the ground. Those within the bunker are trapped under Polis' debris and are unable to get out. The seven in space, lack the fuel to safely return to the ground.

Six years after Praimfaya, in 2156, Clarke notices a ship descending to Earth. At first, she thinks it is her friends, but soon realizes the ship is too big. The Gagarin, which was a prisoner transport vessel owned by the Eligius Corporation, lands in Shallow Valley. Later, the seven in space use fuel from Eligius IV to safely return to Earth. Bellamy Blake manages to strike a deal with the Eligius prisoners for them to open the bunker. However, there are multiple factions wanting the only habitable land, Shallow Valley, all for themselves.

The Second Nuclear Apocalypse and the Damocles Event six years later leave the planet a barren wasteland. When the Earth shows no signs of regeneration after 30 years, Monty Green believes that the planet is not coming back.

Over 125 years after the Damocles Event and over 131 years since the Second Nuclear Apocalypse, its discovered that the Earth has regenerated and is once more habitable with plant and animal life and water sources.


A.L.I.E.: "If you pull that... you will be killing everyone. See for yourself. The nuclear power plants that weren't destroyed by the bombs have begun to melt down. My drones detected the first of them four months ago. There are more than a dozen at-risk plants around the world, seven currently burning. Global radiation levels are already rising. By my calculations, in less than six months, ninety-six percent of the Earth's surface will be uninhabitable... even for those born in space, so, you see, the City of Light is the only thing that can save you."
--Perverse Instantiation (Part 2)

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."

Madi Griffin: "Fine. Then we won't eat either. After the death wave, I didn't eat for more than two weeks."
Lee: "Death wave?"
Madi Griffin: "A wave of radioactive fire taller than any tree. The fire jumped our valley. The radiation didn't. Everyone I knew died. My parents. I was alone for 58 days. I still dream about it sometimes... But Clarke helped me through it. Friends can be good at that, too."
--The Stranger
Madi Griffin: "It's so green."
John Murphy: "Earth is back."
--A Sort of Homecoming


Notes and Trivia

  • Praimfaya was first shown hitting the African and Asian continents as it was shown hitting The Great Pyramids of Egypt at the end of Echoes.
    • The former northeastern United States fell victim to it a month after Egypt did.
      • Assuming Praimfaya happened in the same month that Echoes aired, that means that Praimfaya was going 8.8mph.
  • According to Madi Griffin in "The Stranger," Shallow Valley survived because the death wave "jumped" it though the radiation didn't which is why everyone except for her still died.
  • Despite apparently being beyond healing, Earth actually regenerated by the time of "A Sort of Homecoming," at least 131 years later.

See Also