While watching "The Road" (2009), I had a strong feeling of similarity of the movie with Stephen King's "The stand": survivors of a terrible disaster traveling to find a better life.

Of course, the two are significantly different from several points of view, but the similarity is there.

So, is this similarity intended or not? If yes, what was the reason to use the theme?

A few more details. In both works...

  • a disaster "eliminated" most people;
  • of the people remained, some are good, some are bad;
  • all people travel towards a better life; some of them settle;
  • life is tough;

About the differences, in "The Road"...

  • we do not know what was the original disaster;
  • the good people do not get together, do not join forces (except the people at the end, with their children, "adopting" the boy); we still do not know if they are actually good people;
  • almost all life (animals, plants insects included), not only people, was destroyed;
  • even buildings and infrastructure were destroyed;

There are probably other similarities and differences, but this is what I remember now.

  • Can you expand on how they are similar?
    – Joachim
    Dec 15, 2022 at 9:17
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    I did my best, I am not sure I can do better :)
    – virolino
    Dec 15, 2022 at 9:27
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    It seems like they both simply feature tropes of postapocalypsism.
    – Joachim
    Dec 15, 2022 at 11:46
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    I seems to me you find them similar, because you didn't really got their meaning. Other than both being adaptations of postapocalyptic books, they are about as far in their essence as possible. This may be less obvious from movies than books, though. There the difference is extreme, starting with size of the books and ending with message.
    – Mithoron
    Dec 15, 2022 at 17:48
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    Just checking you're aware that The Road (2009) movie is an adaptation of the 2006 novel The Road, by Cormac MacArthy? So the question is probably, was MacArthy's novel influenced by King's. Dec 15, 2022 at 20:20

2 Answers 2


If you find similarities, it's because they (most than) probably, exists.

Who can't think of 2 books/movies that have the same plot? How many (successful or not) books/movies rely on the same tricks? The good vs the bad is one of the most common, but there are so many of them. Actually, according to French author Georges Polti1: 36, known as The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations.

There is also (some of his writing are disputed, pros and cons) The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker that you may want to check (with a grain of salt) if you want to dig deeper.

Knowing that writers can't reinvent the wheel, they usually use the same kind of plot, and then work a story around. In order to appear being different and attractive for the audience, they mix plots and situations, but the background and arrangements are very common, the way they "twist around" and cliffhangers make the difference.

They also need their audience to identify to the hero or recognize strong feelings (common within human being, as most of us react to the same feelings). The way we react isn't that important, they need the audience to react and feel something.

In your case, is it intentional? Probably not, they play with the cards they were dealt. They just have to be careful not to plagiarize. Sometimes, it's just a tribute to a specific book/movie, but then, it's clearly explained.

More reading : BBC's every story in the world has one of these six basic plots and Story Archetypes

1. for information and reference only, there's no translation in English

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    The information in the answer is very interesting, but not really an answer (not to my taste, at least). If I try to "decode" your message, I might understand that "Mad Max" is also similar with "The stand" - since they are both post-apocalyptic. However, they are so different in content that they were probably never seen as similar.
    – virolino
    Dec 15, 2022 at 11:13
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    Mad Max would be a "post-apocalytic / revenge / good-bad" movie but you can find this in other stories. Writers also mix the situations and plots
    – OldPadawan
    Dec 15, 2022 at 12:05
  • @virolino: expanding a little on that, I'd say that The postman is also a post-apocalyptic good vs bad type of movie. But it's very different of Mad Max, even though they share dramatic plot similarities.
    – OldPadawan
    Dec 17, 2022 at 6:36

I think all post-apocalypse stories are bound to have some similarities -- the main one is how dangerous man becomes to man.

But the fundamental differences of The Road from The Stand are profound -- the former's lack of anything supernatural as well as lack of hope.

The focus on the father and the son, the son who knew nothing of the time before the disaster.

I see no similarities beyond that they are both about a breakdown in civilization due to an apocalypse -- no indication that McCarthy was influenced by King's book at all.

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