There’s a zombie in the well. It’s been there for awhile, and it is waterlogged and disgusting. It’s moaning for your brains and thrashing about. You’re having problems getting it out, so you send your best scavenger down there to put a rope around it so you can haul it out.
You’re captured by the troops of an evil post-apocalyptic warlord and have managed to escape while the troops are preparing for imminent tornado. You escape, but are recaptured by the leader of said troops, and he drags you into a storm cellar. This guy’s been pretty abusive, using you as a boxing dummy, etc. The ceiling suddenly collapses and the troop leader is trapped and about to be crushed to death by heavy machinery. He appeals to your morality, and you save him.
The two above examples are from The Walking Dead and Revolution, two shows set in a post-apocalyptic America… and the main characters make some terrible decisions in every single episode.
The Walking Dead I can kind of justify. It hasn’t been too long since the outbreak of undead flesh eaters started, and most people don’t understand the extent of what the walkers can do. Still, when you have a guy trained in medicine (he’s a veterinarian, sure, but he’s still better than nothing), your best bet isn’t to take him into a zombie infested area, especially when you have a lady in your group about to give birth. (Don’t get me started on Lori, she is bad decisions incarnate.)
Revolution, on the other hand, is senseless. Fifteen years ago, society collapsed after electricity stopped working (although, in the aforementioned storm, there was plenty of lightning… and electricity is needed for brains to function… but whatever), but most of the people on the show seem completely clueless about how to survive in a lawless world, and don’t understand the depths of depravity to which humanity can sink.
The main character, a girl named Charlie, seems to be decent with a crossbow and works as a scavenger, but she trusts EVERYONE. She knows that there is a soldier trailing them, who is sent by the bad guys (this plot also doesn’t make sense to me. What’s he there to do? Report their location? I guess.). Charlie, of course, instantly starts crushing on him. She also seems to vacillate between finding her brother (the kid who saved his captor in the story above) and helping rebels bring the United States back.
Here’s what I’m saying: if you’ve lived in the apocalypse for 15 years, you should know a little bit about what other people will do to you in order to survive. Charlie is annoyingly clueless.
Also, there’s this bearded guy who used to work at Google who is still fat after 15 years. It’s the end of civilization, dude, do some jumping jacks. (I might be a little biased since the guy seems absolutely cowardly and useless, and I myself am a fat bearded guy.)
I’m not a fan of stories where characters make bad decisions for the sake of plot. I think it’s lazy. I’d much rather get a glimpse of how people would actually live in the situations on these shows. The Walking Dead is slowly getting better in this regard. Revolution has yet to impress me.