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30 Fictional Diseases Ranked by Suffering and Mass Devastation

In 2020, the world was confronted with the unimaginable. Many likened the pandemic to the apocalypse, and photos from around the globe exposed empty, dystopian places that are normally teeming with life. Thankfully, modern science was used to create vaccines to deliver hope, but the surreal experience of living through the pandemic showed that it’s no wonder that similar situations are common storytelling vehicles for science fiction. Pandemic movies, television shows, video games, and books explore the ramifications of viral outbreaks in creative, compelling ways. In fact, there are some lessons to be learned from fictional viruses and fictional diseases, and they often expose the strengths and weaknesses of society as a whole. To this end, the CEUFast team has taken a look at a list of fictional viruses and other diseases:


Here are the fictional diseases and fictional viruses explored in our infographic:

  1. Tyrant Virus (Resident Evil): The Tyrant virus from Resident Evil was an intentionally developed virus that was used as a bioweapon by many organizations. Entire cities were decimated. It mutates and consumes the body’s cells, transforming victims into ravenous cannibals.
  2. Descolada (Ender’s Game): The Descolada virus from Ender’s Game is a superintelligent, artificially created virus that uncoils DNA, causing horrendous mutations and rejected flesh as the immune system attacks its own body.
  3. Protomolecule (The Expanse): The protomolecule is an infectious agent of extraterrestrial origin that is described as “a set of free-floating instructions designed to adapt to and guide other replicating systems.” It melds with the body, feeding on biomass, with effects akin to radiation and hemorrhagic fever. It can also meld with machines.
  4. Geostigma (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children): Geostigma is a disease that causes exhaustion and dark sores and rashes. It is the symptom of the planet’s “life blood” being tainted by alien matter.
  5. TS-19 (The Walking Dead): TS-19 is a pathogen that reanimates dead humans into “walkers,” or zombies with ravenous hunger who can only be killed if the brain is destroyed.
  6. Simian Flu (Rise of the Planet of the Apes): Originally a retrovirus tested on apes in hopes of curing Alzheimer's disease, the Simian Flu proved lethal to humans but imbued apes with incredible power. A high fever and bleeding from multiple orifices are the primary symptoms.
  7. The Taint/Blight Sickness (Dragon Age): The Taint is a wasting disease spread by darkspawn blood and fluids or tainted objects and creatures. Madness and deformities are common. In time, the victim begins hearing the calls of the Old Gods. Both humanoids and animals are affected.
  8. Grayscale (Game of Thrones): Grayscale is a dreaded, highly infectious disease that renders the flesh cracked, flaking, and stone-like. Victims slowly die over the course of years, with more suffering as it progresses. People with the disease form isolated colonies.
  9. Purity (The X-Files): Purity is a sentient alien virus that lurks in petroleum deposits. It enters through bodily orifices, taking control of the host. The black oil is the “life blood” of that alien species and their means of conquering planets.
  10. Hepatitis V (True Blood): Hepatitis V is a purposely corrupted strain of Hepatitis D that causes “True Death” in vampires. It kills victims from the inside out, causing inescapable heat and pain until they dissolve into a pool of blood.
  11. Rage (28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later): Rage is a bloodborne virus that triggers uncontrollable rage in hosts. The scientists responsible for its creation intended to develop an inhibitor for anger control issues, but this backfired due to mutations in the delivery system.
  12. Forced Evolutionary Virus (Fallout): FEV is an artificial mega-virus that alters DNA, forcing rapid and often monstrous mutations that vary across species. How much radiation the host has been exposed to can affect the outcome of the transformation.
  13. Barclay’s Protomorphosis Syndrome (Star Trek: The Next Generation): Barclay’s Protomorphosis Syndrome is an artificial virus that causes victims to “de-evolve” into ancient lifeforms from their respective origin worlds.
  14. Corprus (The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind): Corprus is a disease that inflicts the host with cancerous growths, eventually causing violent insanity in later stages. It is caused by volcanic ash storms.
  15. Boneitis (Futurama): Boneitis is an excruciating bone disease that causes abrupt twisting and breaking.
  16. Krippin Virus (I Am Legend): Krippin Virus is a genetically engineered virus derived from measles and meant to cure cancer. It mutated into a lethal strain that kills 94% of the infected and turns 5% into predatory monsters called Darkseekers.
  17. Motaba Virus (Outbreak): The Motaba virus is a hemorrhagic disease that infects a small town in California. Hoping to use it as a bioweapon, the U.S. military attempts to hide and protect the disease by any means necessary.
  18. Andromeda Strain (The Andromeda Strain): The Andromeda strain is an extraterrestrial microorganism brought to Earth by a meteor. It kills through instantaneous blood clotting, and it directly transforms energy into matter, making it impossible to combat with standard weapons.
  19. Monkey Business (Cowboy Bebop): Monkey Business is a virus used by an eco-terrorist group in an attempt to return humans to an earlier time in which they lived more harmoniously with nature. It edits human DNA from the 98% shared with chimpanzees to 100%.
  20. MM88 (Virus): MM88 is an accidentally created lethal virus that amplifies the potency of any other virus or bacteria it comes into contact with. It is inactive below -10 degrees Celsius, sparing those who are stationed in Antarctica.
  21. Carnosaur Virus (Carnosaur): The Carnosaur virus is a lethal airborne virus that impregnates women with dinosaur embryos. It was derived from genetically modified chickens.
  22. Empty Child (Doctor Who): Empty Child is a technological plague that transforms the victim’s face into a gas mask. The first human it encountered was wearing one, so it confused this for humanity’s actual appearance. Victims also repeat, “Have you seen my Mummy?” as the original victim was searching for his mother.
  23. Flesh-Eating Virus (Cabin Fever): The flesh-eating virus from Cabin Fever is an infection that begins with vomiting blood and ends with skin peeling off until death. It can contaminate the water supply rapidly, suggesting that it can wreak havoc on society.
  24. Maze Virus (The Cured): Maze Virus is a plague that puts victims into a homicidal, zombie-like state. Although a cure was discovered, it only worked for 75% of the infected. Those infected are held in captivity. The cured have vivid, excruciating memories of what they did while infected, and many suffer from PTSD.
  25. The Flare (Maze Runner): The Flare is a man-made disease that slowly eats away at the brain, eventually turning victims into bloodthirsty, volatile beings who seek to kill, torture, and cannibalize. These people are called “Cranks,” and large cities contain them in “Crank Palaces.”
  26. Spattergroit (Harry Potter): Spattergroit is a wizarding disease caused by an infectious fungus. It causes a breakout of purple pustules and extreme fatigue and can lead to the inability to talk.
  27. Methuselah Syndrome (Blade Runner): Methuselah Syndrome is a genetic disease that speeds up the aging process. The name comes from Methuselah, a biblical patriarch who died at the age of 969, the longest living mentioned in the Bible.
  28. Captain Trips (The Stand): Captain Trips was developed as a biological weapon. It begins with symptoms similar to a common cold before developing into unbearable pain, swelling, and delirium. Its fast-evolving nature makes curing it impossible.
  29. The Host’s Disease (The Host): The Host’s disease was a virus fabricated by the U.S. military to justify the forced quarantine of people who have come into contact with a horrific monster they created.
  30. Hanahaki Disease (Hanahaki Otome): Hanahaki Disease inflicts those suffering from unrequited love. It causes immense pain and flowers blooming in the heart and lungs, which eventually get vomited up. Breathing may be inhibited, turning the condition lethal.
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