The Ebola virus is no joke. Although the disease was first discovered in the 1970s, the latest outbreak has been the deadliest yet, claiming the lives of thousands in West Africa, sickening even more and threatening to bring that entire region to the brink of economic and social collapse. The human cost is immeasurable and sobering. And now that the first case ever diagnosed in the U.S. has ended fatally, what once seemed like a horrific, yet still somehow distant calamity has suddenly, shockingly come into clearer focus than before for many Americans.
Just as it has predicted so many other things -- climate change, the Internet, artificial intelligence -- science fiction has also long prophesied the spread of apocalyptic plagues and viruses, some of them emerging from nature and some of them hatched in laboratories. To be sure, Ebola does not show signs of becoming a worldwide pandemic capable of wiping out the human race -- at least not yet -- but some of sci-fi's most terrifying films have laid out just that scenario.
Here are some of sci-fi's best films about how the smallest enemy imaginable can end humanity as we know it ... and let's hope that the current crisis is the worst we ever see.