The 30+ Best Dystopian TV Shows, Ranked by Fans
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.
- Premiered: March 19, 2014
- Network: CW
Earth has been deemed uninhabitable for almost a century, but when 100 juvenile delinquents are sent back to the planet as an experiment, they discover that survival is anything but easy. Led by Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) and Bellamy Blake (Bob Morley), this group must navigate hostile environments, warring factions, and their own personal demons. As one of the best dystopian TV shows, The 100 showcases moral dilemmas in a post-apocalyptic world where every decision can mean life or death.
- Premiered: April 26, 2017
- Network: Hulu
Set in a totalitarian society called Gilead, women are stripped of their rights and forced into subservient roles. Elisabeth Moss stars as Offred/June Osborne, who struggles to survive as a handmaid under oppressive rule while seeking her stolen daughter. This chilling series explores themes of power dynamics and resistance against overwhelming odds – making it an unforgettable example of dystopian television.
- Premiered: December 4, 2011
- Network: Channel 4, Netflix
Unsettling yet captivating, Black Mirror presents standalone episodes that delve into the dark side of technology and human nature. Each story features unique characters facing ethical dilemmas in disturbingly plausible futures, from virtual reality gaming gone wrong to social media dictating self-worth. With its thought-provoking narratives and stellar cast, including Jon Hamm and Bryce Dallas Howard, Black Mirror stands out as one of the most gripping dystopian series available.
- Premiered: May 17, 2020
- Network: TNT
Aboard a perpetually moving train that circles the frozen Earth after an apocalyptic event rendered it uninhabitable, passengers find themselves divided by class systems with stark differences between them. Daveed Diggs plays Andre Layton –a lower-class passenger turned reluctant revolutionary– fighting against tyrannical forces led by Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly). Snowpiercer masterfully blends action-packed sequences with biting commentary on societal inequality within its thrilling dystopian narrative.
- Premiered: May 10, 2019
- Network: Netflix
When teenagers from a small town suddenly find themselves in a parallel world devoid of adults, they must establish their own rules to survive. Kathryn Newton stars as Allie Pressman, who rises to the challenge and navigates complex relationships amidst brewing tensions. The Society explores themes of power struggles and human nature within its gripping dystopian framework.
- Premiered: January 14, 2016
- Network: USA Network
In a near-future Los Angeles occupied by alien forces, Will Bowman (Josh Holloway) is forced to collaborate with the enemy while his wife Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies) secretly joins the resistance. Colony delves into family dynamics under oppressive surveillance and showcases how far individuals will go for freedom – making it an enthralling example of dystopian television.