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The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows 

Ranker TV
Updated May 15, 2020 5.5k votes 1.3k voters 45.2k views 53 items

Across all types of sci-fi, the one type that seems to permeate the genre the most is dystopian fiction. The concept of a future that isn't as perfect or utopian as we might like is nothing new thanks to dystopian films like Metropolis, but finding good examples of dystopian TV shows is a relatively new concept. The idea itself revolves around an idealized future society that appears perfect on the outside, but once a layer or two are peeled back, things get bad—for most people, at least—really quickly. 

Think of TV shows like Altered Carbon where technology has brought humans to other planets and made death meaningless. It's not as perfect as you might imagine once you see just how screwed up everything truly is. Other series like the animated TV show Futurama show a future we could all enjoy... only, it's not perfect and many of the same problems we face in modern life are mirrored more than 1,000 years in the future. 

This list compiles the best of all the dystopian TV, whether they are animated or live-action. For more recommendations on the best dystopian TV shows, browse this list and feel free to add any similar series you think are missing! And if you like these shows, be sure to check out our list of dystopian future movies.

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1
The 100 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Thomas McDonell

Premiered: 2013

The 100 (The CW, 2014) is an American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama television series developed by Jason Rothenberg, loosely based on the book by Kass Morgan. 97 years after a nuclear ...more

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2
The Handmaid's Tale is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski

Premiered: 2017

The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu, 2017) is an American web television series created by Bruce Miller, based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. In a dystopian future where women are brutally ...more

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The Best Characters On 'The Handmaid's Tale' #167 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time #93 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate

3
Black Mirror is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell, Rory Kinnear

Premiered: 2011

Black Mirror (Netflix, 2011) is a British television anthology series created by Charlie Brooker. The show features speculative fiction with dark and sometimes satirical themes that examine ...more

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Wildly Convincing Black Mirror Fan Theories That Somehow Make The Show Even Crazier #81 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #74 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

4
The Society is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
sherry9531 added Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon, Sean Berdy

Premiered: 2019

The Society (Netflix, 2019) is an American mystery drama television series created by Christopher Keyser. After discovering everybody else in their town has vanished, a group of teenagers must ...more

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5
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright

Premiered: 2016

Westworld (HBO, 2016) is an American science fiction western thriller television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and based on the 1973 film. In a technologically advanced Wild ...more

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6
Altered Carbon is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Joel Kinnaman, Renée Elise Goldsberry, James Purefoy

Premiered: 2018

Altered Carbon is an American science fiction television series created by Laeta Kalogridis, based on the novel by Richard K. Morgan. In a future where human minds are digitized and downloaded ...more

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Every Episode of 'Altered Carbon,' Ranked #277 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #55 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

7
3% is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Bianca Comparato, João Miguel, Michel Gomes
3% (Netflix, 2016) is a Brazilian dystopian thriller series created by Pedro Aguilera. The show is set in a future wherein people are given a chance to go to the "better side" of a ...more

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8
The Man in the High Cast... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank

Premiered: 2015

The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Video, 2015) is an American dystopian alternative history television series created by Frank Spotnitz, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick. In an alternative ...more

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9
Firefly is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

Premiered: 2002

Firefly is an American space western science fiction drama television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. Whedon served as an executive ...more

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13 Crazy Yet Plausible Fan Theories About Firefly #51 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #1 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

10
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber

Premiered: 2004

Battlestar Galactica is an American military science fiction television series, and part of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The show was developed by Ronald D. Moore and executive produced ...more

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The Best Battlestar Galactica Characters #98 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #4 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

11
Fringe is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble

Premiered: 2008

Fringe (Fox, 2008) is an American science fiction television series created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. An F.B.I. agent (Anna Torv) is forced to work with an ...more

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The Best Seasons of Fringe #54 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #13 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

12
Colony is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Josh Holloway, Sarah Wayne Callies, Peter Jacobson
Colony (USA Network, 2016) is an American science-fiction drama television series created by Carlton Cuse and Ryan J. Condal. In the wake of a mysterious alien invasion, a family fights to stay ...more

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#347 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #145 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time #361 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

13
Terra Nova is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Jason O'Mara, Shelley Conn, Christine Adams

Premiered: 2011

Terra Nova is an American science fiction drama television series. It premiered on September 26, 2011 with a two-hour premiere, and concluded on December 19, 2011 with a two-hour, two-episode ...more

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#58 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time #18 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #5 of 291 The Best Shows Canceled After a Single Season

14
Dollhouse is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz

Premiered: 2009

Dollhouse is an American science fiction television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon under Mutant Enemy Productions. It premiered on February 13, 2009, on the Fox network and ...more

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#264 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #69 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time #36 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time

15
Continuum is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lobo, Victor Webster

Premiered: 2012

Continuum is a Canadian science fiction series created by Simon Barry and produced by Reunion Pictures Inc., Boy Meets Girl Film Company, and GK-TV. The series centers on the conflict between a ...more

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16
Lost in Space is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Toby Stephens, Molly Parker, Ignacio Serricchio
Lost in Space (Netflix, 2018) is an American science fiction web television series created by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, and a reboot of the 1965 series. After encountering a rip in ...more

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17
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber

Premiered: 1978

Battlestar Galactica is an American science fiction television series, created by Glen A. Larson, that began the Battlestar Galactica franchise. Starring Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch and Dirk ...more

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#14 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time #42 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #8 of 291 The Best Shows Canceled After a Single Season

18
Revolution is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Tony Stapleton added Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos, Giancarlo Esposito

Premiered: 2012

A family struggles to reunite in a post-apocalyptic American landscape: a world of empty cities, local and heroic freedom fighters, where every single piece of technology -- computers, planes, ...more

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19
Into the Badlands is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Daniel Wu, Orla Brady, Sarah Bolger

Premiered: 2015

Into the Badlands (AMC, 2015) is an American TV series set in a post-apocalyptic world approximately 500 years after an event that left civilization in ruins. Regent Sunny (Daniel Wu), a ...more

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20
The Rain is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Iben Hjejle, Alba August, Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen
The Rain (Netflix, 2018) is a Danish web series created by Mosholt Esben, Toft Jacobsen, and Christian Potalivo. After a brutal virus wipes out most of the population, two young siblings embark ...more

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21
Futurama is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal

Premiered: 1999

Futurama is an American adult animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the ...more

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19 Futurama Fan Theories That Are Just Crazy Enough To Be True #52 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watchlisted on Longest Running Animated Series

22
Dark Matter is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Marc Bendavid, Melissa O'Neil, Anthony Lemke

Premiered: 2015

Dark Matter (Syfy, 2015) is a Canadian science fiction series created by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, based on their comic book. Onboard a starship called the Raza, six people awaken in ...more

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23
12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull, Kirk Acevedo

Premiered: 2015

12 Monkeys (SyFy, 2015) is an American television series on Syfy created by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, and loosely based on the 1995 film. In the year 2043, scavenger James Cole (Aaron ...more

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24
Humans is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Manpreet Bachu, Emily Berrington, Ruth Bradley

Premiered: 2015

Humans (AMC, 2015) is a science fiction television series created by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley. In a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a 'Synth' - ...more

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25
Philip K. Dick's Electri... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Timothy Spall, Anthony Boyle, Tuppence Middleton

Premiered: 2017

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams (Amazon Video, 2018) is a British-American science fiction television anthology series developed by Ronald D. Moore and Michael Dinner. Based on the works of ...more

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