Entertainment

The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows  

Ranker TV
4.2k votes 1k voters 29.7k views 51 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.

list ordered by
1
The 100 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Thomas McDonell
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
2
The Society is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
sherry9531 added Gideon Adlon, Domenic Arduino, Sean Berdy
The Society (Netflix, 2019) is an American mystery drama television series created by Christopher Keyser and unofficially inspired by the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding. A group of ...more
3
The Handmaid's Tale is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski
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
4
Black Mirror is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell, Rory Kinnear
Black Mirror is a British television anthology series created by Charlie Brooker that features speculative fiction with dark and sometimes satirical themes that examine modern society, ...more
5
Altered Carbon is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Joel Kinnaman, Renée Elise Goldsberry, James Purefoy
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
6
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright
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
7
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber
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
8
Firefly is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk
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
9
3% is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
Colony is listed (or ranked) 10 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
11
Dollhouse is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix, Fran Kranz
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
12
Dark Matter is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Marc Bendavid, Melissa O'Neil, Anthony Lemke
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
13
Fringe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole
Fringe is an American science fiction television series created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. It premiered on the Fox Broadcasting network on September 9, 2008, and concluded ...more
14
Battlestar Galactica is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber
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
15
Terra Nova is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Jason O'Mara, Shelley Conn, Christine Adams
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
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
17
12 Monkeys is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull, Kirk Acevedo
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
18
The Man in the High Castle is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank
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
19
Continuum is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lobo, Victor Webster
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
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
21
Revolution is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Tony Stapleton added Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos, Giancarlo Esposito
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
22
The Feed is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Guy Burnet, Nina Toussaint-White, David Thewlis
The Feed (Amazon Video, 2019) is a British psychological thriller drama television series based on the novel of the same name by Nick Clark Windo. In a near future London, people’s minds are ...more
23
Childhood's End is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Daisy Betts, Charles Dance, Osy Ikhile
24
Black Summer is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Jaime King
Black Summer (Netflix, 2019) is an American television zombie apocalypse drama series, created by Karl Schaefer and John Hyams, and a companion prequel series to Z Nation. When a mother (Jaime ...more
25
Freedom is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows
Georg Stanford Brown, James Morrison, Bodhi Elfman
Freedom is a short-lived 2000 American science fiction television show on the UPN network. There were 12 episodes filmed but only 7 were aired in the US. Some episodes were further aired ...more