The Day After (1983)

TV Movie  |  Unrated  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  20 November 1983 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 10,190 users  
Reviews: 157 user | 27 critic

A graphic, disturbing film about the effects of a devastating nuclear holocaust on small-town residents of eastern Kansas.



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Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen Klein (as Steven Guttenberg)
Jim Dahlberg
Lori Lethin ...
Calvin Jung ...
Clayton Day ...


The frightening story of the weeks leading up to and following a nuclear strike on the United States. The bulk of the activity centers around the town of Lawrence, Kansas. Written by Anthony Ventarola <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Apocalypse... The end of the familiar... The beginning of the end. See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 November 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dagen efter  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


SEK 1,953,591 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The mushroom clouds were created by injecting colored oil plumes into a tank of water (which accounts for the fact that the clouds are dark red, rather than a more realistic hue). See more »


When the missiles are launching behind the Medical Center and behind the park gazebo, you can see dents and imperfections in the rear-projection screen. See more »


Airman: [missiles from both sides are still en route] You know what that means, don't you? Either we fired first and they're going to try to hit what's left, or they fired first and we just got our missiles out of the ground in time. Either way, we're going to get hit.
Airman Billy McCoy: So what are we still standing around here for?
Sergeant: Where do you want to go?
Airman Billy McCoy: Well, how about out of here for starters? I've got to get my wife and my kid!
Sergeant: We're still on alert, Billy! No one leaves this facility. Not until the choppers get ...
See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Can't Stop the Music (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A lesson with images
9 February 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I was a naval aviator deployed aboard the USS Ranger (CV-61) when I first saw this film. The show had aired back in the States some time before the film reels (this was before video tape decks were commonplace) were flown out to our Battle Group, so we knew that the telecast had had a big impact on the American public before we had the chance to view it.

That didn't matter. The film had as great, and possibly even more of, an impact on those of us out on the "tip of the spear" as it did on those back home. The military characters seen in the film were not actors -- they were contemporaries of ours, some even familiar faces -- so we felt a true connection to the story. The tension between the US and the Soviet Union was real and nobody knew better than we how nasty things could get in a short period of time. Even as we watched the film over the ship's closed circuit television system, Soviet military units were intent on locating and targeting our Battle Group. Our job, our daily routine, was part of the story, which emphasised the point that we were responsible for keeping the peace and to not allow events to escalate as we all feared could happen.

The reaction I remember most from this film was worry for family back home. -SPOILER- The one airman who left the silo area to reach his family before the missiles arrived displayed a sentiment that we all felt. No one aboard our ship would shirk his duty, but we all understood the sentiment that once duty is done, family is foremost in mind.

The argument could be made that the film was rife with error, but I maintain that it ultimately succeeded in what it was designed to do...make people seriously consider the consequences of nuclear war. That point was not lost on those of us aboard the Ranger at the time. While I watched the film again just recently (21 years after the first viewing), the lesson was still not lost. We may or may not be vulnerable to such a massive strike as what was feared back in the 1980s, but nuclear terror is still a very real possibility. It is as imperative now, as it was then, that we ensure that this type of calamity is never visited upon anyone, especially those about whom we love and care.

Yes, better special effects would make from some jaw-dropping images, but would that improve upon the film's message? In my opinion, no.

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