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The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows

Updated December 3, 2020 11.3k votes 2.3k voters 73.5k views58 items

List RulesVote up the television series that do the best job of incorporating dystopian elements and themes, however non-traditionally.

As common as the concept is, good dystopian TV shows can be hard to find. 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, more surprising, dystopian 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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  • The 1001
    1,222
    390

    The 100

    Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco

    Premiered2013

    NetworkThe CW

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  • The Handmaid's Tale2
    863
    264

    The Handmaid's Tale

    Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes

    Premiered2017

    NetworkHulu

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  • Black Mirror3
    649
    192

    Black Mirror

    Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell

    Premiered2011

    NetworkChannel 4, Netflix

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  • The Society4
    595
    200

    The Society

    Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon

    Premiered2019

    NetworkNetflix

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    #43 of 684 The Best Original Streaming Shows of the Last Few Years#22 of 39 New TV Shows of the Last Few Years You Love to Hate

  • Altered Carbon5
    378
    166

    Altered Carbon

    Joel Kinnaman, Renée Elise Goldsberry

    Premiered2018

    NetworkNetflix

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  • 3%6
    338
    148

    3%

    Bianca Comparato, João Miguel

    Premiered2016

    NetworkNetflix

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    #28 of 69 Sci-Fi Shows You Should Be Watching Now#31 of 33 The Best Current TV Shows No One Is Watching

  • Westworld7
    384
    176

    Westworld

    Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton

    Premiered2016

    NetworkHBO

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  • The Man in the High Castle8
    257
    106

    The Man in the High Castle

    Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans

    Premiered2015

    NetworkAmazon Video

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    #5 of 105 The Best Amazon Original Series#133 of 389 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate

  • Snowpiercer9
    114
    20

    Snowpiercer

    Daveed Diggs, Jennifer Connelly

    Premiered2020

    NetworkTBS

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  • Colony10
    227
    90

    Colony

    Josh Holloway, Sarah Wayne Callies

    Premiered2016

    NetworkUSA Network

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    #4 of 27 The Best Current Shows About Aliens#14 of 49 The Best USA Network Original Series

  • Revolution11
    120
    29

    Revolution

    Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos

    Premiered2012

    NetworkNBC

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    #90 of 277 The Most Overrated TV Shows Of All Time#122 of 139 The Best High School TV Shows

  • Firefly12
    215
    93

    Firefly

    Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres

    Premiered2002

    NetworkFox Broadcasting Company

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  • Lost in Space13
    149
    51

    Lost in Space

    Toby Stephens, Molly Parker

    Premiered2018

    NetworkNetflix

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    #4 of 56 The Best Newer TV Shows the Whole Family Can Enjoy#7 of 185 The Best New Shows That Premiered in 2018

  • The Rain14
    151
    56

    The Rain

    Iben Hjejle, Alba August

    Premiered2018

    NetworkNetflix

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    #54 of 124 All The TV Shows That Ended in 2020, Ranked#78 of 506 The Best Netflix Original Series

  • Battlestar Galactica15
    194
    87

    Battlestar Galactica

    Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell

    Premiered2004

    NetworkSyfy

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  • Fringe16
    181
    80

    Fringe

    Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson

    Premiered2008

    NetworkFox

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  • Terra Nova17
    154
    69

    Terra Nova

    Jason O'Mara, Shelley Conn

    Premiered2011

    NetworkFox Broadcasting Company

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  • Continuum18
    142
    65

    Continuum

    Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lobo

    Premiered2012

    NetworkShowcase, SyFy

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    #14 of 82 The Best Syfy Original Shows#64 of 300 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time

  • Dark Matter19
    89
    26

    Dark Matter

    Marc Bendavid, Melissa O'Neil

    Premiered2015

    NetworkSyfy

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    #126 of 284 The Best Female-Led TV Shows#95 of 141 The Best Comic Book & Superhero Shows of All Time

  • Dollhouse20
    122
    56

    Dollhouse

    Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix

    Premiered2009

    NetworkFox Broadcasting Company

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    #254 of 339 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years#47 of 59 The Best Teen Sci-Fi And Fantasy TV Series

  • Brave New World21
    52
    5

    Brave New World

    Stuart Walker, Mark Arends

    Premiered2020

    NetworkPeacock

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    #228 of 861 The Best New Shows That Have Premiered in the Last Few Years#31 of 328 The Best 2020 Original Streaming Platform Shows

  • 12 Monkeys22
    86
    35

    12 Monkeys

    Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull

    Premiered2015

    NetworkSyfy

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    #222 of 253 The Best TV Shows Streaming On Hulu#6 of 12 The Best Current Shows About Time Travel

  • Humans23
    103
    53

    Humans

    Manpreet Bachu, Emily Berrington

    Premiered2015

    NetworkAMC

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  • Futurama24
    121
    81

    Futurama

    Billy West, John DiMaggio

    Premiered1999

    NetworkComedy Central, Fox Broadcasting Company

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  • Watchmen25
    56
    20

    Watchmen

    Regina King, Don Johnson

    Premiered2019

    NetworkHBO

    Amazon buy button

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