The Panic

Panicked People (image from clipart) The Mercury Theater production of The War of the Worlds caused an estimated 1.2 million listeners to become "excited, frightened or disturbed."(8) During the broadcast, and for several hours afterward, many listeners experienced mass hysteria which caused them to behave irrationally.(2)

People raced around warning friends and neighbors that the world was coming to an end. They jammed roads and communication lines as they rushed to escape the alien attack and called emergency services for help. They loaded their guns, hid in their basements and were rushed to hospitals to be treated for shock. (3) At one point, distinguished geologists from Princeton actually came out to search for a Martian meteor that was reported to have landed.(2)



Learn about the origins of the broadcast
Learn how the performers updated the War of the Worlds novel
Learn how the broadcast unfolded
Panicked people
Learn about the aftermath of the broadcast