If the wasteland in the Mad Max world is so horrible, why don't the people surviving there just leave and settle somewhere safer?

  • 11
    Ability to relocate. Resources to relocate. Availability of "anywhere safe". Link to "home". Better the devil you know. Anyone who could have, has. Take your pick.
    – Radhil
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 21:15
  • 8
    It's been a while since I watched Mad Max, but is there actually anywhere safer? I was sort of of the impression that this a post-apocalyptic world and there is no where else to go (other places may not be as sandy, but they're still post-apoc hellholes.) Happy safe zones only exist in myths and stories passed around by hopeful survivors.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 21:31
  • Then what was the appeal of fleeing to the outback in the first place instead of say some of the less environmentally hostile coastal areas? The wasteland attracted the gangs because there were people/resources to scavenge, implying that survivors from the cities chose to try and survive in the desolate and previously deserted outback. It's safe to assume that if the majority of survivors settled on the coast then we'd be watching movies about beach bandits lol
    – Justin
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 21:33
  • Bill and Ted haven't come back with the time machine yet, that's the biggest reason. Aside that, Have you seen Fury Road? Nothing in the surrounding but salt. Venturing into the unknown where murder and violent weather almost positively ensure death may not be top on the list if they have the bare basics where they currently are... But less philosophically, take a look at Flint Michigan. Why is anyone still living there? It's not the post apocalypse and they still can't get out.
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 21:55
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    This should be closed for lack of research, as the questioner obviously hasn't seen Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome, both of which feature groups of people trying to do exactly that.
    – J Doe
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 23:21

4 Answers 4


They do try. But it's difficult, and doesn't really work out.

There's nowhere else to go. That's the world now.

Given the events of Fury Road, it's clear that there's been an environmental disaster, in addition to the societal collapse. Additionally, it's not clear exactly where this stuff is happening. I wouldn't be surprised if the wasteland we see was previously a verdant paradise.

Even if there was a safe haven somewhere, and one somehow found out about it, getting there would be nearly impossible for almost everyone. They'd have to cross the wasteland, which is difficult enough even with the resources of a warlord like Immortan Joe.

As further evidence, look at the plots of Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome, and Fury Road. All of them are about groups of people trying to find some fabled paradise. They need Max's help to even make the attempt, and none truly succeed.

The group he helps in Road Warrior forms the "Great Northern Tribe". It's still a tribe in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, just near the coast. The group in Beyond Thunderdome settles in the "nuclear-devastated ruins of Sydney". Probably better than the middle of the desert, but still a tribe in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The group he attempts to help in Fury Road finds that the Green Place is now an uninhabitable swamp, and decides to return to the Citadel, as it's the best place available.


Every Mad Max film set in the wasteland is about people trying to escape it.

In Mad Max, the world hasn't become a wasteland yet. I don't think anyone desired to go anywhere.

In The Road Warrior, Max helps a group of settlers who are trying to escape a siege and reach Paradise.

In Beyond Thunderdome, Max helps a tribe of children who are trying to reach Tomorrow-morrow Land.

In Fury Road, Max helps Furiosa lead her band of escapees to The Green Place.

As their names suggest, Paradise, Tomorrow-morrow Land, and the Green Place are perceived as hopeful destinations, safer and more verdant, and Max helps each group to get there.

People are always trying to leave the wasteland. Max's mission in life, as shown by every movie depicting the wasteland, is to help people try to escape it. The whole point of the wasteland is to set up a conflict where people seek to escape it.


Looking at the Wikipedia Articles for the four movies

Max Max 1: "A few years from now", when society is teetering upon the brink of collapse

Max Max 2: With supplies of petroleum nearly exhausted in the near future following a major energy crisis and a global nuclear war

Max Max - Beyond Thunderdome: With the world climate altered to a parched nuclear summer

Max Max - Fury Road: Following a nuclear holocaust, the world has become a desert wasteland and civilization has collapsed

all of these indicate that it's the apocalyptic future and our society of law and order has collapsed. if we keep reading he 3rd movies plot it says

Max Rockatansky crosses the Australian desert in a camel-drawn wagon

which is backed up by where the children end up at the end of the movie

given the scarcity of petroleum we can assume that the petroleum-based fuel used for planes are in short supply too and since we know Max is in Australia and what we are told about the environment Australia is now just one giant outback surrounded by water. if you want to escape you'll need a boat which can work without any fuel and is easier to build (a raft is the most basic boat design after all), where as a plane needs fuel which is hard to come by and probably any working planes have already been snatched up by everyone else.

the other option is to swim but just like with a boat you have to remember remember that there is alot of water out there. not only are you going to need to prep a lot (get a working compass or learn star charting, food, water and planning for rough seas) and if you start to accumulate lot of resources you're going to become a target by other gangs if they find out. even if you were able to fix up a boat and supplies for your escape, given what we see of Australia in the films there's no guarantee the rest of the world is any better and who knows what the gangs are like there.

though as we have seen some people are trying to create and maintain their small paradises like Bartertown as we have seen with Pappagallo's oil refinery gangs will raid these new settlements, we don't see Bartertown attacked because it is protected by it's own armoured guards which is proably a good enough deterrent by small gangs. for most people leaving Australia isn't going to be an option so you either be like Max and tough it out alone with your trusty canine companion or find people who will protect you like living in a place like Batertown or joining a gang

  • 1
    I am pretty sure 160 days of Salt means that there are no bodies of water, just a salt desert
    – Andrey
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 20:25

Everyone in that movie wants to drive around with big vehicles that need lots of petrol. So there's not enough petrol.

  • 1
    Not a bad supposition, but you're basing that on the assumption that everyone wants to drive big cars. Maybe they have no other choice?
    – Möoz
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 21:48

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