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The Greatest Dystopian TV Shows

Updated November 23, 2020 9.6k votes 1.9k voters 62.8k views57 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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  • 1
    The 100
    1,017
    329

    The 100

    Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco

    Premiered2013

    NetworkThe CW

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  • 2
    The Handmaid's Tale
    733
    224

    The Handmaid's Tale

    Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes

    Premiered2017

    NetworkHulu

    Amazon buy button

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  • 3
    Black Mirror
    559
    175

    Black Mirror

    Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell

    Premiered2011

    NetworkChannel 4, Netflix

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  • 4
    The Society
    500
    173

    The Society

    Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon

    Premiered2019

    NetworkNetflix

    Amazon buy button

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    #12 of 117 All The TV Shows Ending in 2020, Ranked#6 of 48 The Best Shows That Speak to Generation Z

  • 5
    Altered Carbon
    315
    143

    Altered Carbon

    Joel Kinnaman, Renée Elise Goldsberry

    Premiered2018

    NetworkNetflix

    Amazon buy button

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  • 6
    Westworld
    333
    155

    Westworld

    Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton

    Premiered2016

    NetworkHBO

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  • 7
    3%
    276
    134

    3%

    Bianca Comparato, João Miguel

    Premiered2016

    NetworkNetflix

    Amazon buy button

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  • 8
    Revolution
    95
    15

    Revolution

    Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos

    Premiered2012

    NetworkNBC

    Amazon buy button
  • 9
    Firefly
    198
    86

    Firefly

    Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres

    Premiered2002

    NetworkFox Broadcasting Company

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  • 10
    The Man in the High Castle
    221
    102

    The Man in the High Castle

    Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans

    Premiered2015

    NetworkAmazon Video

    Amazon buy button
  • 11
    Colony
    184
    82

    Colony

    Josh Holloway, Sarah Wayne Callies

    Premiered2016

    NetworkUSA Network

    Amazon buy button
  • 12
    Battlestar Galactica
    177
    81

    Battlestar Galactica

    Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell

    Premiered2004

    NetworkSyfy

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  • 13
    Fringe
    163
    78

    Fringe

    Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson

    Premiered2008

    NetworkFox

    Amazon buy button
  • 14
    Lost in Space
    114
    43

    Lost in Space

    Toby Stephens, Molly Parker

    Premiered2018

    NetworkNetflix

    Amazon buy button
  • 15
    Terra Nova
    135
    64

    Terra Nova

    Jason O'Mara, Shelley Conn

    Premiered2011

    NetworkFox Broadcasting Company

    Amazon buy button
  • 16
    The Rain
    103
    42

    The Rain

    Iben Hjejle, Alba August

    Premiered2018

    NetworkNetflix

    Amazon buy button
  • 17
    Dollhouse
    108
    50

    Dollhouse

    Eliza Dushku, Harry Lennix

    Premiered2009

    NetworkFox Broadcasting Company

    Amazon buy button

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  • 18
    Dark Matter
    70
    20

    Dark Matter

    Marc Bendavid, Melissa O'Neil

    Premiered2015

    NetworkSyfy

    Amazon buy button
  • 19
    Continuum
    120
    62

    Continuum

    Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lobo

    Premiered2012

    NetworkShowcase, SyFy

    Amazon buy button

    More Continuum 

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  • 20
    Snowpiercer
    44
    8

    Snowpiercer

    Daveed Diggs, Jennifer Connelly

    Premiered2020

    NetworkTBS

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  • 21
    Battlestar Galactica
    99
    61

    Battlestar Galactica

    Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell

    Premiered1978

    NetworkAmerican Broadcasting Company

    Amazon buy button

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    #229 of 507 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time#7 of 303 The Best Shows Canceled After a Single Season

  • 22
    Humans
    86
    50

    Humans

    Manpreet Bachu, Emily Berrington

    Premiered2015

    NetworkAMC

    Amazon buy button
  • 23
    Futurama
    112
    78

    Futurama

    Billy West, John DiMaggio

    Premiered1999

    NetworkComedy Central, Fox Broadcasting Company

    Amazon buy button

    More Futurama 

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  • 24
    12 Monkeys
    65
    33

    12 Monkeys

    Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull

    Premiered2015

    NetworkSyfy

    Amazon buy button

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  • 25
    Into the Badlands
    82
    51

    Into the Badlands

    Daniel Wu, Orla Brady

    Premiered2015

    NetworkAMC

    Amazon buy button