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The Odds of the World Ending

You never know how the world might end. There could be a finger on the Big Red Button right now – but have you thought of all the other possible apocalypses? Check out these odds of some of the more unusual options.

Situation Odds Comparison How this will end the World Fictional / Scientific / Religious  Examples Survey Headline
Zombies 1/1000 Mali were 4-0 down against Angola in a football game in 2010, with 11 minutes left, and were given 1000/1 odds of making a comeback. Final score: 4-4 A plague or curse that turns humans into mindless zombies quickly spreads, until the whole human race is infected or undead. Fictional World War Z, The Walking Dead 25% of those infected by a zombie would run from survivors to protect others
Giant Monsters 1/1,59m A 30p bet turned into a £500,000 accumulator win, at 1/1,666,666 odds. Giant monsters (either created by humanity or from space) arrive and destroy everything. Fictional Godzilla, Pacific Rim, King Kong 10% of people believe that we could do nothing to stop the rampage of Godzilla or King Kong
Pandemic 1/2 Superbugs have sprung up several times in the last few years, but none has yet succeeded in human extinction. A superbug such as Swine Flu or Bird Flu or Ebola springs up and wipes out humanity before a cure can be found. Scientific Pandemic
Aliens 1/500 A "flush" hand in poker has a 508/1 chance of appearing. Aliens with superior technology come to Earth and use powerful weapons to destroy it. Fictional/Scientific Independence Day, War of the Worlds 35% of people would fight an alien invasion
Sentient Plants 1/600 One "small" asteroid has a 1-in-600 chance of hitting Earth in 2040. Plants evolve to levels where they are mobile and carnivorous, and outmatch the human race. Fictional/Scientific Day of the Triffids
Black Hole 1/125 Getting a straight in poker is less likely, at 254/1. A supermassive black hole enters our Solar System and consumes the Earth along with other planets and eventually the Sun itself. Scientific Hyperion
Vampires 1/35m The odds of having identical quadruplets is only 1-in-13 million. Vampires with superior strength and agility, as well as supernatural powers, take control of the Earth and use humans as cattle. Fictional Daybreakers Being a vampire wouldn’t be so bad to the 1/3 of people who would love to be able to walk this world forever
Mayan Calendar 1/2112 While multiple bookmakers have offered odds on the end of the world, they've remained cryptic as to how they would make your payout. The Mayan Calendar suggested the world might end in 2012. We're not sure how. Religious 2012
Judgment Day According to Harold Camping: 1/1 Harold Camping predicted the end of the world four times. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse sweep across the land, and the good ascend to Heaven, with the rest of the world burning in Hell forever after. Religious This is the End
Robot Uprising 1/80 There's better odds on this than on getting a full house in poker - 693/1. Robots fail to follow the Three Laws of Robotics and set about improving themselves and taking over the planet. Fictional/Scientific Terminator 35% of people think the Terminator films might be right about the future of robotics
Grey Goo 1/100 There were at one point 1000/1 odds on man landing on the moon by 1970. Nanobots are created which consume matter in order to produce more of themselves, and go on to consume the entire planet on an unstoppable rampage. Scientific/Fictional Jam, Grey Goo, Deus Ex: Invisible War
Natural Disasters 1/45 All these natural disasters have shorter odds than dying from a car accident - 1/84. Natural disasters like World Earthquakes, Droughts, Ice Age, Lava everywhere or Super Storms Scientific The Day After Tomorrow 24% who thought rising water levels was the most likely natural disaster to end the world
Bioweapons 1/60 The Biological Weapons Convention is supposed to prevent countries from developing, or using biological weapons, but this doesn't make the odds much longer. Scientists develop a weaponised biological substance which infects or consumes humanity. Scientific The Stand, 12 Monkeys, Resident Evil
Ape Uprising 1/4600 Odds on Leicester City winning the Premier League in 2016 (which happened) were 1/5000 Apes evolve to be as intelligent as humans, and with their natural higher strength and ability, take over the world. Fictional Planet of the Apes 19% would try to broker peace with intelligent, warlike apes
Solar Flare 0/1 You could try betting on solar flares destroying Earth, but NASA says it's impossible. A powerful solar flare irradiates the Earth beyond liveable conditions. Scientific Knowing
Asteroid Impact 1/63,000 You have better odds of being murdered first - 1/18,000. A massive asteroid hits the Earth and destroys the world as we know it. Scientific Judgement Day
Ancient Evil 1/1b Still more likely than getting two royal flushes in a row in poker - 1 to 42 trillion. An evil from the past, probably magical or arcane, is awakened, and returns to destroy humanity. Fictional Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Thor II: The Dark World A fifth of people fear the rise of some ageless evil from the darkest corners of the world
Nuclear Missiles 1/30 Odds of a roulette wheel landing on any single number is 1/35. World War III involves the launching of nuclear missiles, with everyone dying either from the initial explosions or from the fallout. Scientific Fallout, Mad Max
Large Hadron Collider 1/1m There's better odds on this than there are of you being an astronaut, at 1/13,200,000. The LHC creates a black hole and destroys everything in the nearby galaxy. Scientific The Flash TV series 30% of people were concerned that a scientific experiment would bring about the end of times
Sun Consumes Earth 1/1 While a long way off, the odds are exceptionally short, as the event is guaranteed. The Sun expands, becomes what is called a Red Giant and its radius will be large enough to envelop the Earth. Scientific The Day the Earth Caught Fire

Methodology

Ape Uprising - World ape population: 500,000

Assuming 1 ape can overpower 3 humans, that's approximately 500,000-in-2,300,000,000 or 1-in-4600 odds of the apes succeeding, should they develop intelligence and prove vengeful.

Ancient Evil - There are approximately 120 known Egyptian pyramids. As the curse of the tomb of Tutankhamun supposedly killed 8 people, and we assume each pyramid possesses as much evil magic, the pyramids can kill a total of about 960 people. Odds of total extinction are less than that of giant monsters - 1-in-1,000,000,000

Vampires - Should vampires appear, their rate of reproduction is likely to be low. Assuming a single nest of vampires (~5), and each vampire is able to successfully plague a town of 200 people, that's still odds of 1-in-35,000,000 on them taking over.

Sentient Plants - Plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso says plants are already intelligent, so it's the odds of the carnivorous ones becoming mobile and wreaking havoc. Compared to robots or aliens, that seems less likely - but more plausible than zombies, making for odds of about 1-in-600.

Giant Monsters - If one monster arrives for each city, that's odds of 4,416-in-7 billion, or about 1-in-1,590,000 of wiping out every single human.

Bioweapons - There are allegations of 10 countries potentially working on or possessing bioweapons. Assuming odds of it being released as approximately the same as nuclear war, and of extinction as the same as a pandemic, that's about 1-in-60.

Grey Goo - Slightly less plausible than a robot uprising, but assuming technology is created capable of self-replicating, it would only require a programming error to produce it. 1-in-100.