SHTF Scenario Meaning (Be Prepared or Else!)

shtf scenario meaning

In the prepper community, many new comers ask “what does shtf mean?”, and ” shtf preparedness? “Shummer Hits The Fan”, or “Shit Hits The Fan”, scenarios have served as a rallying cry, against whatever future catastrophe that may occur for the prepper community. But many newcomers and average people alike ask, where did the term originate? How did it become popular? Why is it so prevalent? It might be surprising but according to history, the term has been around for a lot longer than most people would imagine. So when someone asks, “what is the SHTF scenario meaning,” you will answer like a boss!

most likely shtf scenario

Where did it originate?

According to multiple sources, the author Hugh Rawson, who wrote “Wicked Words,” in 1989; seems to be the originator of the SHTF scenario and term. It is found within a joke written in a passage. The joke goes as follows, “A man in a crowded bar needed to defecate but couldn’t find a bathroom, so he went upstairs and used a hole in the floor. Returning, he found everyone had gone except the bartender, who was cowering behind the bar. When the man asked what had happened, the bartender replied, ‘Where were you when the shit hit the fan?’.”

Interestingly, the word “shit” means purging or diarrhea in Olde English, which also could be used in another way, meaning to defecate or to alleviate your bowels. However, it changed within the 1580’s in which the term changed into an insult for an obnoxious person. It was only in 1922, that it changed connotations and was able to be used in different situations, similar to those of the modern age.

What is the real connotation of an SHTF scenario?

The general connotation of SHTF is a situation or scenario, in which “shummer” or “shit” hits the fan. It generally implies a situation wherein individuals suffer in a chaotic setting or crisis, “It flies all over the place, innocent and guilty alike get covered. It implies something being found out, and indiscriminate unpleasant repercussions. As like up is down and everyone is scrambling for their own safety and for those they care about.”

What scenarios qualify as SHTF situations?

SHTF is any scenario in which the world collapses irreversibly, whether it be natural or man-made. It can be an Electromagnetic Pulse, a Yellowstone volcanic eruption, a nuclear explosion, or pandemic. In these instances, anything can happen, and no-one is the real villain. Everyone is just trying to seek shelter and survive.

Why is there fear of a SHTF scenario now?

SHTF scenarios have always frightened society. The idea that everything that we have may be gone in a second by a natural disaster, or other outside force as it has in the past. These past scars from natural disasters or other outside threats have sustained a mark on humanity’s psyche, making some hyper vigilant and prepared for the worst. The real question many people have is why it seems it is becoming more and more prevalent in mainstream media. This has been coming more into the public eye, due to every year there seems to be one more thing to worry about. Whether it be climate change, the threat of war, or more looming natural disasters.


Anyone looking into becoming a prepper or who has been one for awhile knows one thing that brings everyone together; that is preparing for the apocalypse. When SHTF, it can be a tsunami or a nuclear apocalypse, but this is the one reason why there are preppers. Those who will be prepared for an apocalypse, for the unforeseen. So while things are all quiet, and there are not any warning to watch the skies, maybe it might be a good idea to stock up on some extra food and water. It does not hurt to be prepared and ready, but it will hurt when the “shit” has already begun to cover everyone in the proverbial room.