List of dystopian films

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This is a list of films commonly regarded as dystopian.

A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia,[1] kakotopia, cackotopia, or anti-utopia) is the vision of a society that is the opposite of utopia. A dystopian society is often a planned structured society in which the conditions of life are deliberately made miserable, characterized by poverty, oppression, violence, disease, scarcity, and/or pollution for the benefit of a select minority or some unnatural societal goal.

Many of the listed works below are generally considered as being dystopian because their story emphasizes one or more detrimental societal characteristics that would be considered unusual if practiced in a utopian society. However, there are some stories with similar detrimental societal characteristics that are not considered as dystopias by some critics because these same characteristics are now currently or have in the past been practiced to varying degrees in the real world. Despite these menacing and dehumanising elements portrayed by a society in some dismal stories—it is really an attempt to depict a heterotopia, a society that is neither Utopian, nor entirely bad, but different from our own.

Such debates frequently surround literary and cinematic works that do not show the classic characteristics of dystopian fiction, such as a government-like entity that seeks total control of individuals' lives.

The following movie list is broken down into several categories: those that display an obvious dystopian theme, post-apocalyptic, those that ultimately follow a more cyberpunk theme, and those that are more miscellaneously categorized, being that they are in between dystopia/cyberpunk and something else, as previously noted, "not like our society." While the movies appearing under the miscellaneous theme may have dystopian qualities, they do not focus on their dystopian society as the main plot. Dystopian films usually display pivotal traits that most utopian societies would avoid. One common trait is mass dehumanization. Where nearly all individuals are required, voluntarily or by force, to eliminate some "natural" emotional, physical, or free will quality as to conform to a society's "unnatural" greater good goals. A Clockwork Orange seems dystopian, but may not qualify since it is only one criminal individual who is voluntarily dehumanized and not the whole of society. This film then becomes a heterotopia. In Blade Runner, it is rather ambiguous whether Los Angeles in 2019 is depicted in that film to be a dystopia, or a utopia, however evidence from the film suggests that it was a dystopia, due to the climate, pollution, and over-population of the city. Many of the movies under the heading of miscellaneous are subjective and up for more careful scrutiny when considering the definition of dystopia.


A typical dystopia paints a picture of government or society attempting to exert control over free thought, authority, energy, freedom of information. Others focus on systematic discrimination and limitations based on a variety of factors - genetics, fertility, intelligence, and age being a few examples.

Title Year Comments
12 Monkeys 1995 Based on Chris Marker's 1962 short film La jetée.
1984 1956 Loosely based on George Orwell's novel of the same name.
2081 2009
A Scanner Darkly 2006 Adapted from Philip K. Dick's novel of the same name.
Aachi & Ssipak 2006
Æon Flux 2005 Adapted from Peter Chungs's animated television series of the same name.
A Clockwork Orange 1971 Adapted from Anthony Burgess' novella of the same name.
Alphaville 1965
Atlas Shrugged: Part I 2011
Babylon A.D. 2008
Batman Begins 2005
Battle Royale 2000 Based on the novel and manga of the same name.
Battle Royale II: Requiem 2003 Sequel to the 2000 film, Battle Royale.
Blade Runner 1982 Based on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.
Blindness 2008
Bones 2001
Book of Eli 2010
Bothersome Man The Bothersome Man 2006
Brave New World 1998
Brazil 1985
Breed The Breed 2001
Bunraku 2010
Children of Men 2006 Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, based on P.D. James' Novel.
Class of 1999 1990
Cloud Atlas 2012
Code 46 2003
Dark City 1998
Dark Metropolis 2010
Daybreakers 2010
Dead End Drive-In 1986
Death Race 2008 Remake of the 1975 film, Death Race 2000.
Death Race 2000 1975
Demolition Man 1993
District 9 2009
District 13 2004
District 13: Ultimatum 2009 Sequel to the 2004 film, District 13.
Divergent 2014
Doomsday 2008
Dredd 2012
Elysium 2013
End of Evangelion The End of Evangelion 1997
Escape from L.A. 1996 Sequel to the 1981 film, Escape from New York.
Escape from New York 1981
Equilibrium 2002
Fahrenheit 451 1966 Based on Ray Bradbury's novel of the same name.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions 2004
Fortress 1993
Fortress 2: Re-Entry 2000 Sequel to the 1993 film, Fortress.
Gamer 2009
Gattaca 1997
Handmaid's Tale The Handmaid's Tale 1990
Harrison Bergeron 1995 A cable television movie adapted from the short story of the same name by Kurt Vonnegut.
Hunger Games The Hunger Games 2012 Directed by Gary Ross, Based on Suzanne Collins' novel of the same name.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 2013 Directed by Francis Lawrence, Based on Suzanne Collin's Catching Fire
Idiocracy 2006
In Time 2011
The Inhabited Island 2009 Based on the 1969 book by Strugatskies
Island The Island 2005
Judge Dredd 1995 Based on the comic of the same name.
Kin-dza-dza! 1986
La jetée 1962
Land of the Blind 2006
Lockout 2012
Logan's Run 1976
Looper 2012
The Manchurian Candidate 2004 Remake of the 1962 film of the same name.
Matrix The Matrix 1999 The first installment of The Matrix trilogy.
Matrix Reloaded The Matrix Reloaded 2003 The second installment of The Matrix trilogy.
Matrix Revolutions The Matrix Revolutions 2003 The third installment of The Matrix trilogy.
Maximum Shame 2010
Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 1999
Metropolis 1927 By Fritz Lang.
Minority Report 2002 Based on Philip K. Dick's short story, The Minority Report.
Moon (film) 2009
Never Let Me Go 2010 Based on Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel of the same name.
Nineteen Eighty-Four 1984 Based on George Orwell's novel of the same name.
Oblivion 2013
Priest 2011
Privilege 1967
Punishment Park 1971
The Purge 2013
Repo Men 2010
Revengers Tragedy 2003
RoboCop 1987
RoboCop 2014 Remake of the 1987 film of the same name
Running Man The Running Man 1987 Loosely adapted from Stephen King's novel of the same name.
Screamers 1995 Based on Philip K. Dick's short story Second Variety.
Serenity 2005 A continuation of the canceled Fox television series Firefly by Joss Whedon.
Silent Running 1972
Sin City 2005 Based on Frank Miller's graphic novel series.
Sleeper 1973
Sleeping Dogs 1977
Soldier 1998
Southland Tales 2007
Soylent Green 1973 Based on Harry Harrison's novel Make Room! Make Room!.
Stalker 1978 By Andrei Tarkovsky.
Strange Days 1995
THX 1138 1971
Trial The Trial 1962
Total Recall 1990 Loosely based on Philip K. Dick's short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.
Total Recall 2012 Remake of the 1990 film of the same name.
Turkey Shoot 1982
Ultraviolet 2006
V for Vendetta 2006 Based on Alan Moore's graphic novel.
Welt am Draht 1973
Z.P.G. 1972

Alien controlled dystopias (both governmental and societal)[edit]

Alien controlled dystopias are separate from general dystopias in that they are enacted on a people by an outside invader rather than members of the oppressed's own species.

Corporate based dystopias (nongovernmental)[edit]

A corporate based dystopia is similar to a government/societal dystopia with the exception that the repressing power is a private company or small faction rather than a government. These stories generally include the motive of commercial profit instead of, or in addition to, the benefits of increased power and authority.


Cyberpunk is a science fiction subset, characterized by a focus on "high tech and low life" where advanced technology itself (not AI) is dystopian. "Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, a ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body."[2]


Post-apocalyptic storylines take place in the aftermath of a disaster - typically nuclear holocaust, war, plague - that justifies a civilization's restructuring itself with dystopian like behaviors. These dystopian traits commonly insure some societal/technological system's continuing existence or some attempt to restore/preserve some desired pre-disaster qualities. Although not a requisite, many post-apocalyptic visions have a man-made cause. However, there are some simplistic post-apocalyptic films that mainly have desperate survivors engaged in some Hobbesian struggle over scarce resources. These films are more heterotopian in nature since there is a general lack of some greater societal goal being served and thus becomes people merely justifying their survival over others.

Title Year Comments
9 2009
12 Monkeys 1995 based on Chris Marker's 1962 short film La jetee
20 Years After 2008
2019, After the Fall of New York 1983
28 Days Later 2002
28 Weeks Later 2007
A Boy and His Dog 1974
Bed-Sitting Room The Bed-Sitting Room 1969
Beneath the Planet of the Apes 1970
Blindness 2008
Blood of Heroes The Blood of Heroes 1989
Book of Eli The Book of Eli 2010
Carriers 2009
Casshern 2004
Cherry 2000 1987
Children of Men 2006
City of Ember 2008
Cyborg 1989
Damnation Alley 1977
Downstream 2010
Def-Con 4 1985
Delicatessen 1991
The Final Programme 1974
Five 1951
Genesis II 1973
Hell Comes to Frogtown 1988
Hunger Games The Hunger Games 2012
I Am Legend 2007
La jetee 1962
The Last Chase 1981
Le Dernier Combat 1983
Logan's Run 1976
Last Man on Earth The Last Man on Earth 1964
No Blade of Grass (film) 1970
Noah The Noah 1975
Mad Max 1979
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior 1981
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome 1985
The Matrix 1999
The Matrix Reloaded 2003
The Matrix Revolutions 2003
Oblivion 2013
Omega Man The Omega Man 1971
On The Beach 1959
On the Beach 2000
Origin: Spirits of the Past 2006 Anime
Panic in Year Zero! 1962
Parasite 1982
Phase 7 2011
Planet Earth 1974
Planet of the Apes 1968
Planet Terror 2007
Postman The Postman 1997
Quiet Earth The Quiet Earth 1985
Quintet 1979
Robot Holocaust 1986
Road The Road 2009
Rock & Rule 1983
Six-String Samurai 1998
Slipstream 1989
Snowpiercer 2013
Stand The Stand 1994
Tank Girl 1995
Terminator Salvation 2009
Testament 1983
Things To Come 1936
Threads 1984
Time of the Wolf 2003
Titan A.E. 2000
Ultimate Warrior The Ultimate Warrior 1975
Ultraviolet 2006
Ultra Warrior 1990
Virus 1980
WALL-E 2008
Warrior of the Lost World 1983
Waterworld 1995
World, Flesh and Devil The World, the Flesh and the Devil 1959
Zardoz 1974
Zombie Strippers 2008
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox 2013 Adaptation of the 2011 comic book crossover "Flashpoint" by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert.


Disputed dystopias[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cacotopia (κακό, caco = bad) was the term used by Jeremy Bentham in his 19th century works ([1], [2])
  2. ^ Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto - Person, Lawrence first published in Nova Express issue 16, 1998, later posted to Slashdot