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Life Below Zero

Life Below Zero

Photo Credit:  BBC Worldwide
  • Premiered: 
    May 19, 2013
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: Nat Geo
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter:
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Plot Synopsis

LIFE BELOW ZERO follows six people as they battle for the most basic necessities in Alaska, the state with the lowest population density in the United States. Living at the ends of the world's loneliest roads and subsisting off the rugged Alaskan bush, they battle whiteout snow storms, man-eating carnivores, questionable frozen terrain and limited resources through a long and bitter winter. Some of them are lone wolves; others have their families beside them. All must overcome despairing odds to brave the wild and survive through to the spring. Each 60-minute episode delves deeper into the winter, following residents as they struggle in their different corners of this merciless territory to stay one step ahead of storms and predators. Money is practically worthless; food, fuel and fur are the real commodities. Experience has taught them to take a shotgun to the bathroom in case of a surprise bear attack; that the heart is the best bite of a cooked ptarmigan; and that caribou hooves make the best "mukluk" boots. The six people featured in this series are: Sue Aikens, 50, who is as tough as the grizzly bear that attacked her and left her for dead three years ago; Erik Salitan, 28, who lives 67 miles north of the Arctic Circle, residing in a primitive tent with no floor for his first two years in Alaska; Andy Bassich, 54, and his wife, Kate, who live on the Yukon River, where the only way in or out is by boat or snow machine; and Chip Hailstone, 43, and his native Inupiaq wife Agnes, 41, who live with their seven children on the Kobuk River in the North West of Alaska.

LIFE BELOW ZERO returned for a new season on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 9pm ET/PT on Nat Geo, with all six Alaskans returning for another year of isolation and endless work to survive the many months of winter in the Alaska bush. This winter, Sue gets the chance to face down a grizzly bear that's been taunting her camp for years, and by purchasing a new all-terrain vehicle, she navigates a hundred miles of desolate tundra in the dark and bitter temperatures. Chip and Agnes seek out new hunting grounds in time for the all-important annual moose hunt, which could yield several hundred pounds of fresh meat for their family. Andy and Kate take on an apprentice in hopes of training a whole new generation of off-the-grid pioneers, and this newbie is thrown into the deep end to learn the ins and outs of surviving off the land in the Alaskan bush. Erik returns home from guide season to his home in Wiseman, and his mission is to take down an elusive wolf whose fur could provide him the means to purchase fuel, food and other winter necessities.

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 9pm ET/PT, Nat Geo premiered a new season of this series, using a new title, LIFE BELOW ZERO: THE THAW. After a long and relentless winter, the blossom of spring is a welcome change for Alaskans living in the bush. But for many, the end of the deep freeze doesn't mean the challenges are over; in fact, the hard work has only just begun, as they seven Alaskans deal with melting ice, rising waters, waking wildlife and low supplies.

Nat Geo premiered the fourth season of LIFE BELOW ZERO on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 9pm ET/PT. In the season opener, fall season in the Arctic means the final preparation is in full swing for the long winter months ahead. In Kavik, Sue sets off on a quest for food to survive the coming freeze. In Eagle, Andy and Kate race to get their fish wheel turning before the chum salmon run hits. With their annual caribou hunt on the horizon, the Hailstones build a cache to store their meat for the season. And in Chandalar, Glenn sets out on the most critical hunt of his year as he hopes to harvest a moose that will yield nearly six months' worth of meat.

Season 5 of LIFE BELOW ZERO premiered on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 8pm ET/PT on Nat Geo. In the season opener, "The Resurrection," spring arrives in Alaska, and it is time to get to work in preparation for the next freeze. After months in town recovering from her injury, Sue Aikens returns to Kavik and must deal with the damage of four months away from home. The Hailstone family sets up their camp for the summer along the Kiwalik River. In Nenana, Jessie Holmes repairs his boat for the summer fishing season ahead. And Glenn Villeneuve hunts for small springtime game in the Brooks Range.

On Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT, Nat Geo premiered a new season of LIFE BELOW ZERO. In the season opener, "Unfamiliar Territory," Alaskans must harvest necessary resources in unfamiliar territories to prepare for a dark and cold winter.

Nat Geo premiered a new season of LIFE BELOW ZERO on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at 8pm ET/PT, introducing a new tough Alaskan to the series, Ricko DeWilde. Premiering on the heels of winning its third consecutive Emmy one week earlier, the fall season builds to a celebration of the 100th episode milestone with a full-day marathon featuring the most popular episodes, airing on Tuesday, January 1, 2019. Each Alaskan's extreme remote lifestyle gives viewers a whole new appreciation of the word "rural." With the race against time, the Hailstones, Sue Aikens, Andy Bassich, Jessie Holmes, Glenn Villeneuve and our newest Alaskan, Ricko DeWilde, must utilize years of bush knowledge to ensure survival. In this unforgiving extremity of America, these individuals are some of the toughest in the world, and their jaw-dropping lifestyle in unthinkable circumstances never ceases to give viewers chills ... literally.

LIFE BELOW ZERO returned for a new season with a special 90-minute season opener on Monday, September 7, 2020 from 8-9:30pm ET/PT on Nat Geo, moving to its regular timeslot -- Tuesdays from 8-9pm -- the following day on September 8. Things are about to get real in this new season: really dark, real emotional, real intense and real cold. Ricko DeWilde travels to cursed lands to finally lay his brother's spirit to rest while also passing down Athabaskan traditions to his children. The Hailstones brave the freeze to seek new land for their expanding family, while Andy Bassich and Denise Becker race against the cold to complete their dream home along the Yukon River. Jessie Holmes trail blazes deep into the wilderness in search of new hunting grounds and a training outpost. Before the tundra storms arrive, Sue Aikens repairs vital safety equipment and replenishes her resources to survive through the brutal weather.

Season 17 of LIFE BELOW ZERO debuted on Monday, September 6, 2021 from 8-9:30pm ET/PT on Nat Geo. Subsequent episodes debut Tuesdays at 8pm, beginning the following day on September 7. In the season opener, "Winter's Surprise," the return of winter brings new challenges for Alaskans.
On Monday, September 5, 2022 from 8-9:30pm ET/PT, National Geographic Channel premiered a new season of LIFE BELOW ZERO. In the season opener, "Blood on the Ground," Sue Aikens confronts a nemesis from years past; Ricko DeWilde embarks on a crucial hunt with his eldest daughter, Simone; Jessie Holmes travels the Denali motorway; Andy Bassich and Denise Becker search for big game along the Yukon River.

Other Titles

  • Title in Nov/Dec 2014: Life Below Zero: The Thaw

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Adjacent Productions


  • - Alaska USA