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Welcome to a bleak, grey world where a brief life shines brightly. Where Big Brother is watching you. Where you could do nothing but eternally scream. Welcome to a world where hope comes to die.

"Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy — everything."
O'Brien, Nineteen Eighty-Four

"Dystopia", Ancient Greek for "bad place", is a setting that takes a sociopolitical issue and amplifies it, creating a society that many of us would fear to live in.

Often, they can be too one-note. The author is thinking "capitalism sucks!", for instance, and everything wrong with the world turns out to clearly be the fault of nasty Corrupt Corporate Executives and their nasty, greedy megacorporations. Conversely, it could be "government sucks!" and the corporations are the last line of defense against the evil, totalitarian bureaucrats. Either way, it is one-note.

Other Dystopias are about how a multitude of things have gone wrong, and now here we are, surviving with as much grace as possible. It is common in literature to create a dystopia through the Deconstruction of an earlier creator's Utopia, showing how horrible it would be to live in that Utopia. Another purpose is to serve as a Big Bad for The Hero and his friends to revolt against; World As Obstacle, as it were. These are more likely to be toppled, or at least escaped from, than others.

Occasionally, a Fish out of Water will seem to arrive in a Utopia, only to find that it's really a dystopia for all but the elite.

Here are some common flavors of dystopia:

Contrast with Utopia, its Inverted Trope.

Though based on deconstruction, the Dystopia genre has been subject to being deconstructed itself: see also Dystopia Is Hard and Artistic License – Economics (true oppression, especially of the Big Brother variety, is really expensive), and how people, in general, are resistant to the creation of a society that they believe is against their general well-being.

For when someone is actually pursuing this type of society as an end in itself, see Dystopia Justifies the Means. For more types of Dystopias, see You Would Not Want to Live in Dex. For the game, click here. A specific exact subtrope is the Techno Dystopia: that is, a dystopia caused and run by futuristic technology. Dystopian Oz is a specific subtrope that focuses on Land of Oz works and references.

If you want to try your hand at writing one of these yourself, we've got you covered.


    open/close all folders 

  • The Apple Computer Superbowl launch ad, featuring a gray dingy Nineteen Eighty-Four style dystopia.
  • A Blue Moon commercial has a young woman walking around in a beautiful looking city,flashing to a dystopia every 5 seconds, the version that was aired in 2020 cut it out though, showing only the scene with various families enjoying blue moon instead of that and the dystopic city

    Anime and Manga 
  • Runessa's homeworld in Lyrical Nanoha, as revealed in StrikerS Sound Stage X. Living in a land of nationalism, racism, and pointless wars, there was a severe lack of food and daily necessities, but there were plenty of weapons to go around. Runessa mentioned that, for as long as she remembered, she had always slept with guns on her side, and she had always thought that she was going to live there for the rest of her life until she was shot and an NGO rescued her. So war-torn was her land, that even during the Jail Scaglietti incident of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, which can best be described as "all hell breaking loose", she considered Mid-childa to be an unbelievably peaceful place.
  • Death Note: One that, in an unusual twist, is controlled by the Villain Protagonist. At the height of Light's power in the second half of the series, we see that the world has become a dark shadow of its earlier self. Crime is way down, almost completely nonexistent, but when all it takes for someone to die at the hands of Light/Kira and his Artifact of Doom is a name, a face and a criminal record (possibly even if it's fake), everyone lives in terror of the supernatural vigilante with a god complex.
  • The BLAME! universe certainly qualifies, with emphasis on Abara and Biomega. Blame! itself is more of a terrifyingly vast cyberpunk. Biomega is probably the best example, with a tremendously powerful Mega-Corp trying to spread a virus over the decayed planet while the few survivors try not to get caught up in collateral damage from android fights. And then things get much, much worse.
  • Eden in Mother Keeper is said to be this by the people living in the slums, though it seems like the people in Eden will completely disagree.
  • Psycho-Pass takes place in a Japan ruled by the Sibyl System, which arrests and isolates/exterminates people based on only their psychological profile and likelihood to commit crime. It's an unusual example in that the protagonist supports the system, and it does seem to be an effective means of maximizing prosperity and happiness, so long as your numbers stay low.
  • The setting in Genma Wars is a throughout oppressive one to live in both the modern times and the distant future:
    • The future (where the story initially takes place in) is a post-apocalyptic nightmare where humanity was conquered by a extra-dimensional race of demons known as Genma, who keeps them in line through their army of mutants and monsters, and humans themselves are treated as both cattle and slaves. The demon king that rules over this world routinely rapes human girls to breed half-human children and set them to fight against each other (the titular Genma Wars) for his own depraved amusement.
    • When the protagonists travel to the past which would be modern times, they find out its not much better than the timeline they lived. The Genma are revealed to have ruled over mankind in this time period as well, though subtly from the shadows masquerading as the media and corrupt government officials. The population's will is crushed under their control and there is a special plaza where people hang themselves to escape from their difficult lives. Not to mention, the special elite that does whatever the hell they want and can get away with running little children in the street if they flash the police with their cards.

    Comic Books 
  • In the evangelical Chick Tract 'The Last Generation,' the future, as described by Jack Chick, is one where some weird spiritual religion has taken dominance over all others, best described as a cross between Hinduism and Wiccanism, as well as most people apparently being gay and/or divorced, where all Christians are persecuted for believing in Jesus and not the "Mother Goddess," kids are apparently Nazis who can send their parents to concentration camps just for telling them to go to bed and are fully willing to rat their parents out for being Christian, as it's apparently against the law to be anything else than the religion that's dominated society. It's run by a new age healer dictator, who will see to it personally that the last remaining sects of Christianity are wiped out from existence. It's as insane as that sounds.
  • Watchmen is set during the darkest days of a Cold War made worse by the presence of a superhero with godlike power. More or less subverted in the end, when there is finally world peace, though there are millions dead and one of the world's largest cities is destroyed.
  • Subverted in Transmetropolitan. The future setting appears at first to be a filthy, crowded, cruel dystopia. As the story progresses, though, it becomes clear that they're dealing with essentially the same issues we deal with today, just with the volume turned up by technology and increased population. Furthermore, some of the modern world's problems have been defeated; pollution has ceased to be an issue for example, though in Spider's childhood it apparently still was a severe threat. The subversion is further driven home by the protagonist's ultimately optimistic nature. There's even a Christmas special where he explicitly states that things tend to be better in the future.
  • Mega City One, home of Judge Dredd, due to being a satire on zero-tolerance policing. Actually, all of the mega cities in Judge Dredd's world qualify. And nearly all of the habitable land outside them is a wasteland, peppered with radioactive areas and populated by mutants — the result of a series of nuclear wars. So the whole of Judge Dredd's world qualifies.
  • The world of Strontium Dog is not quite so horrible as Judge Dredd, but it's still pretty nasty. In the aftermath of a nuclear war, mutants are a victimised underclass and big tycoons casually commit genocide in the name of profit.
  • Latveria, the country ruled by Doctor Doom, perennial Arch-Enemy to the Fantastic Four. Latveria is a virtual paradise, with no disease, No Poverty, and almost no crime... and no freedom, since Doctor Doom rules the place as king and tyrant and makes all the decisions. For anyone who steps out of line, the Disintegration Chamber is accessible by the throne room, via Trap Door.
  • In Nil: A Land Beyond Belief the land of Nil has outlawed hope, and the only crime is to believe.
  • The world of the Birthday Gift series (a.k.a. Fansadox-verse) is a colorful dystopia with a compulsory enslavement law for women.
  • V for Vendetta is set in a totalitarian future Britain ruled with an iron fist.
  • Sin City is one of the few non-futuristic versions of a dystopia. Crime is everywhere, the government and the police are corrupt, and you never know when you might become a snack for a cannibal serial killer, or have even worse things happen to you.
  • Apokolips is a hellish Greco-Roman style, technologically advanced alien world ruled with an iron fist by the tyrannical God-Emperor Darkseid, who is a literal God of Evil and has placed himself at the centre of a global and compulsory Religion of Evil that revolves around the perpetual worship of him, mainly in the form of mass forced labour whose sole task is to endlessly build monuments to him the old fashioned way (ie. by hand, with a few basic tools, with whips to keep you in line). As mentioned the planet is technologically advanced, and this system is thus designed not simply for Darkseid to glorify himself but also to completely break the spirits of the populace. It works, and though he treats them horribly nearly everyone on the planet would give their life for him, even if they hate him. To make matters even worse, Apokolips is locked in a millenia-old Cold War with its sister planet New Genesis, because Darkseid is an imperialistic warmonger with the ultimate ambition of taking over the entire universe and remaking it in his image... and he has the means to do it. His fondest desire is to eradicate free will and make every living thing everywhere a mindless, miserable automaton who will live and die at his command. And this only begins to describe why Apokolips is perhaps the single most horrible place in the entire DC Universe.
  • In Guy Delisle's Pyongyang, the author compares North Korea to Nineteen Eighty-Four, suggesting Truth in Television.

    Fan Works 
  • Antipodes: Stalliongrad, the city that Rubidium has come to rule for 10,000 years, is a strict police state dominated by Rubidium's enforcers and whose machinery and magical shield are powered by draining the life from captive unicorns.
  • Lightwaves: The city-states are Cyberpunk dystopiae, with Fascists' Bed Time and Happiness Is Mandatory (if kind of fake). The Propaganda Machine is hard at work, Individuality Is Illegal to a large extent, and flowers are banned as health hazard.
  • Miraculous: The Phoenix Rises: The town of Wincestre and America at large. Evil corporations rule over the mindless masses as governments, the police, and the school systems are all grossly mismanaged, to the point where the Big Bad face little resistance outside of the main team.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos: The whole galaxy has been torn apart by religion, greed, and the pursuit of power — embodied by the countless factions and figures bringing the galaxy to ruin. The Emirate of Mecca is easily the most brutal example — a totalitarian Muslim theocracy Recycled IN SPACE!, ruled by the iron fist of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim women are turned into literal baby factories, rape and murder are legal, free speech is literally an alien concept, nearly the entire population are brainwashed fanatics, and typical living conditions range from barely livable to total hellholes. The entire Muslim leadership are also complete hypocrites, flagrantly sinning and breaking their own laws with impunity.
  • With Strings Attached: Played with. The Baravadans (at least the skahs) feel that they're living in a dystopia and pine for the monster- and combat-filled world of 25+ years ago. They rarely do anything useful, choosing to sit around and wait for something to happen, or to go off chasing the faintest rumors of monsters. Many of them are so bored that they end up killing themselves, and they've long since quit breeding. But Baravada itself is otherwise incredibly pleasant and safe, filled with magic and freedom. The four much prefer Baravada as is.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • George Lucas' 1971 film THX 1138 takes place in an antiseptic future that seems to have combined the most self-destructive tendencies of both socialism and capitalism. Religion is illegal except for worship of the Almighty State, and the residents all work for the government, in one capacity or another, and are expected to inform on their neighbors for crimes such as computer hacking or refusing to take their medication; at the same time, though, they are encouraged to work long hours, make money, and buy as much material property as they can. (We see THX himself buying a red thing at a store that sells nothing but different-colored things; he takes it home and promptly throws it down the garbage disposal, which is what you're apparently supposed to do with them.)
  • Any fully Imperial-controlled world in the Star Wars franchise during the period covered between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi could be considered to be a dystopia due to the oppressive, absolute rule imposed on citizens by the Emperor.
  • Soylent Green: Massive population growth combined with deforestation means that there isn't enough food or housing, and human life has very little value. Rioters are scooped into large trucks and taken away, never to be seen again. The plot of the movie revolves around finding where exactly they go...
  • Remarkably, in Woody Allen's film Sleeper, he uses the setting of a future dystopia to pay homage to the style of old silent comedies.
  • Brazil by Terry Gilliam. A future world so consumed by bureaucracy that a simple typo on a single form can destroy a man's life. Criminal suspects are made to pay for their own interrogation and torture, and asked to confess before it ruins their credit rating.
  • Equilibrium features a future where human emotion has been outlawed in an effort to stop another disastrous war from coming to pass. Emotion is kept in check by a drug called Prozium, anything inducive of emotion is destroyed (books, movies, music, art and cute little dogs), and "sense offenders" who refuse to take the drug are terminated with extreme prejudice.
  • Terminal City Ricochet takes place 20 Minutes into the Future (from 1990, that is) in a city ruled by an evil corporate overlord in a world besieged by nuclear fallout, pollution, big business, and falling space junk from a disintegrating space colony. The population is kept in line with a privatized force of trigger-happy leatherclad "bikercops" and a tightly-controlled media apparatus that constantly spews Blatant Lies and frames dissident artists and musicians as "terrorists".
  • The setting of Zone 39 is polluted and desolate, with warring factions, crowded cities, and a drain on resources.
  • In Time: set in the future (2169) genetic alteration has allowed people to stop aging at 25. However, as soon as you turn 25, your kill-switch nanomachines wake up, display the time credits you have left on your arm, and will execute you if you run out of time. This forces everyone on Earth to work for a mega-corporation or die. Naturally, the rich have rigged the economy so that the poor are always a few days or hours away from their deaths at all times.
  • Logan's Run: Everyone lives in an idylic, hedonistic pleasure-and-youth obsessed paradise... but everyone is executed the day they turn thirty. What makes it standout from other examples is that no one really enforces it exactly; there's no Big Brother or upper class who benefits from this system, or profits from keeping the masses enslaved with Bread and Circuses. Even the Master Computer that runs it all is only following its programming. The whole thing perpetuates because it's been that way for so long nobody remembers it can be any other way.
  • The Matrix: A dystopia brought about by Humans Are Bastards, leading to the Robot War.
  • The world of Repo! The Genetic Opera is ruled by a corporation that has had murder sanctioned by law, who rose to power on a pile of harvested organs. It is exactly as icky as it sounds.
  • Idiocracy was presented as a dystopia based on the extreme dumbing down of America. However, it also included extreme cases of mass consumerism and product placement (brought to you by Carl's Jr.). And apparently Mike Judge had an axe to grind about celebrities being elected into office (Wrestler, turned porn star, turned president).
  • RoboCop is essentially everything wrong with 1980's America made into the basis for a futuristic setting.
  • The Hunger Games franchise shows USA After the End. The backstory is that after rising oceans consumed huge areas of land, drought and fires destroyed agricultural land people waged war over the dwindling resources. Hunger crisis and war decimated population. The USA disintegrated. A new state Panem was set up from the ashes. The people in the 13 districts rebelled against the governing Capitol city. Humankind nearly went extinct in that rebellion. After the rebellion got defeated, the Capitol imposed gladiatorial games upon the districts as a permanent warning against future disobedience. The situation of Panem at the begin of the movie series resembles a futuristic version of the Roman Empire combined with a police state keeping a watchful eye on all citizens and ensuring peace.
  • The Island starts as a pretty straightforward one, it's later subverted in that the real world is not dystopic at all.
  • The film adaptation of Æon Flux is set in the last habitable place on Earth after a plague devastated the human race. The cure made everyone sterile and everyone's DNA has been recycled for the past 400 years.
  • Children of Men: in a world in which no child has been born for two decades, only Britain "soldiers on".
  • Back to the Future Part II: Biff Tannen created an alternate version of 1985 when he gave the Gray's Sports Almanac to his younger self in 1955. As a result, he became "the luckiest man on Earth" by betting on everything from horse racing to boxing and always winning due to the answers in the almanac. He founded Biffco, a company that dealt with toxic waste reclamation. He bought out police departments, and altered the state of international history, by prolonging the Vietnam War and getting Richard Nixon elected to his fifth term. As a result, Hill Valley, now heavily polluted and known as "Hell Valley", had been reduced to rubble, where biker gangs and criminals made their home.
  • Pleasantville. The main character, David, watched the show on TV and always saw it as a utopia. When he and his sister end up getting sucked into the TV, though, things aren't as great as they appeared. The place starts out as a nostalgic and pretty view of the 1950's, but later on the uglier side of the decade (like sexual repression and racial discrimination) start to rear their ugly heads.
  • Elysium. Neill Blomkamp's previous film District 9 may count as well.
  • Ultraviolet (2006) is set in a world run by a Knight Templar health organization trying to eradicate a disease which gives anyone infected superpowers. But they seem to have given up on finding a cure and instead just kills the infected.
  • Escape from New York and its quasi-sequel Escape from L.A. are both about major cities becoming overrun by crime after the equally corrupt government abandoned them after a major disaster.
  • Double Dragon (1994) is set in a post major earthquake LA. It is so crimeridden that the police don't go out at night. Good thing all this is Played for Comedy.
  • Demolition Man. Everything in San Angeles with bad connotations is illegal. It's inhabited by Perfect Pacifist People so no one knows how to deal with violence. Everyone dresses conservatively because the ozone layer is depleted. Those who don't follow this way of life live in the sewers. The scene of the naked woman accidentally calling Spartan shows that not everyone in the surface world likes it.
  • Cloud Atlas: Nea So Copros/Neo Seoul. How dystopic? Sonmi refers to other dystopian authors as "optimists".
  • Minority Report, also by Dick, is set in a world where the police can predict your actions, and convict you of murder simply for thinking it, even if involuntarily. The film version goes a step further in that retinal scanners track every movement of every citizen, ads call people by name by reading their identity, and mechanical spiders are used to conduct unwarranted searches, eliminating any semblance of privacy.
  • Shredder Orpheus retells the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in a 1980s post-apocalyptic dystopia where the 99 percent is barely hanging on, distracting themselves from the cost of survival with the soothing rays of Hades' Euthanasia Broadcast Network, which slowly kills them. Dying sends them to have their memories erased and either be reborn to make the same mistakes again, or made to work for the same network that's killing people.

  • Effectively universally-recognized "canon" dystopian literature:
  • Speaking of Orwell, the titular Animal Farm is considered a true animal paradise free from man's corruption. Everyone believes Humans Are the Real Monsters and Dumb Is Good. Unfortunately the pigs emulate humans and take over, subverting every precept of Old Major's code of Animalism to suit themselves and their agenda before ultimately doing away with the entire thing and replacing it with one precept: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
  • The 1907 novel Lord Of The World by Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson shows Western civilization as having turned into a socialist, technologically-advanced society that persecutes those still clinging to religion and individualism, and attempts to stamp out Christianity once and for all. This is brought to a head with the arising of The Antichrist...
  • Philip K. Dick:
  • Bend Sinister, a book by Vladimir Nabokov in which a fictitious East European country is taken over by the Ekwilist Party of the Average Man, who want to end conflict by equalizing all personality attributes and making everyone the "average man." In reality, all they succeed in doing is ruining the lives of the country's inhabitants, murdering the family of the country's only internationally renowned figure, the philosopher Adam Krug, and driving him insane.
  • Grimoire's Soul: Kesterline is a deeply misogynistic and classist society where the only people who get any real benefits for the most part are male nobles, and keeps control by making people believe that the outside world is little more than an irradiated wasteland.
  • Heechee Saga by Frederik Pohl. An ultra-capitalist society where everything has price but nothing has value... in space.
  • Chung Kuo, a series by David Wingrove where 36 billion people live in domed cities run by a Chinese oligarchy
  • Watership Down:
    • Efrafa. Both a classic ruled-by-dictator-with-a-fist-of-iron dystopia and also a rabbit warren!
    • Earlier in the story is Cowslip's warren. On the surface it appears to be a rabbit Utopia, with no predators in sight and plentiful food, leaving the inhabitants time to become quite cultured, but there's a reason its nickname is the Warren of Shining Wires.
  • Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, with an America where all books are banned. In the end, there is a bit of twisted hope, as all the cities get blown apart, leaving the chance for those who have kept the literary tradition to rebuild. Also made into a movie.
  • The Guild in Flawed was created to make society better, after everyone blamed flawed politicians for society's failings. The effort to prevent Flawed people from getting into office snowballed into treating flawed people like second-class citizens, and everyone else living in fear of being caught doing anything out-of-line.
  • Robert Sobel's Alternate History classic For Want of a Nail has the United States of Mexico, a bellicose and imperialistic Police State that retains slavery until 1920 and is largely run behind the scenes by a ludicrously successful Mega-Corp.
  • The Giver, a once-rare dystopian novel for kids, with a society that has gotten rid of pain and conflict through "The Sameness."
  • In Myst: The Book of D'Ni, the survivors of the fallen Utopia D'Ni discover Terahnee, which appears to be everything D'Ni was and more, but it is not what it appears. While D'Ni's Utopia was built on semi-magical technology, Terahnee is built on slavery. In fact, slavery of the same people the D'Ni survivors intermarried with. Time to run!
  • Danish author Dennis Jürgensen wrote a book titled Dystopia, which hits all the main points, and offers an interesting solution... two youths from a dystopia where the 'social issues' are xenophobia, intolerance and mistrust, are thrown into a Fish out of Water situation in another world, named 'Dystopia', where the issue is apathy and defeatism. Can two different, and equally flawed, attitudes cancel each others out? Maybe so. Good luck finding a translation of that book, tho...
  • This Perfect Day by Ira Levin depicts a communist technocratic dystopia controlled by a computer. In fact at the end it is revealed that the computer is controlled by a programmer elite.
  • Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Everything is rationed by the theocratic government - including fertie women; the environment's a mess.
  • The People's Republic of Haven from the Honor Harrington series practically defines this trope. Also a deconstruction, as the cost of maintaining a police state is what forces Haven into an expansionist mode and ultimately into open conflict with Manticore.
  • The world of Jennifer Government is an ultra-capitalist Dystopia, where everything is for sale if you have enough money. Also, at one point, the antagonist John Nike reads an old sci-fi novel The Merchants in Space, and dismisses the classic notion of a big government dystopia, and is disappointed when the book turns out to be a satire of capitalism.
  • Kurt Vonnegut:
    • "Harrison Bergeron", a short story focusing on the problem of government forcing equality by any means possible. The beautiful must wear hideous masks, the strong and agile carry sacks of iron on their it goes. It is still to this day debated whether the story is intended as a serious satire on egalitarianism or intended as a Stealth Parody of dystopias like Ayn Rand's; since Vonnegut was both a socialist and an anarchist, both interpretations have their believers.
    • Vonnegut's recurring character Kilgore Trout is a science fiction author said to specialise in dystopian stories. In one of them, human beings have become so irrelevant in the face of advanced technology that suicide is seen as an act of great virtue and patriotism since it rids the nation of one useless mouth to feed.
  • The Hunger Games: Panem sacrifices twenty-four teenagers (one girl and one boy from each of the twelve districts) each year in a violent death match broadcast live in order to show the citizens of the nation the cosequences if they try to rebel again. And that's not even taking into account how horribly and unfairly the country is run year round. Even most Capitol citizens don't have it as good as you may think.
  • Genetics Chronicles: Set in a half-ruined London recovering from World War III where Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke, the orphaned main character grapples with her desire for freedom despite being turned into a Tyke Bomb by the fascist government.
  • Oddly approached in The Cure by Sonia Levittin. The near-future society depicted does not allow sex, art, inventiveness, and most forms of emotion, and like "Harrison Bergeron", differences between individuals are stamped out as best as possible. The main character is musically inclined, so the leaders of the society consider having him Released to Elsewhere—but as a last-ditch effort they put him through a simulation of the Middle Ages, attempting to show him why they fashioned their society as an opposite to that time period. (It sort of works—the main character decides both societies are horrible and there must be a way to Take a Third Option.)
  • The late Octavia Butler's books Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents are this. They are America in the 2020's and 2030's respectively (the books were written in the 90's). People are sold into slavery by the police, given dog collar-like things, and every city is a Wretched Hive.
  • Cyril M. Kornbluth's The Marching Morons has similar themes to the film Idiocracy, above. Except that the super-intelligent aristocracy are the ones slaving away, to keep the vast mentally-challenged majority from killing themselves out of sheer incompetence. Kornbluth produced some other memorably nasty dystopias. The two worst are probably the eponymous militarized, back-stabbing city-state in "The Luckiest Man in Denv" with its endless, pointless nuclear war against Ellay, and "Shark Ship's" sadistic Merdeka cult, whose ideas of parenting include "child-flogging benches" and cheerful nursery rhymes such as
    Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water
    She thrust him down and broke his crown; it was a lovely slaughter.
  • The School for Good Mothers has a Department of Child Disservices that declares mothers unfit for anything from explicit and ongoing abuse to leaving an infant with a tween baby-sitter. It also features Sinister Surveillance both at the home of the protagonist and at the school, where mothers practice parenting skills on life-like dolls as stand-ins for their children.
  • Ayn Rand's:
    • Novella Anthem follows the awakening and rebellion of the main character in a collectivist dystopia where individual identity is suppressed, and all citizens are taught to consider themselves interchangeable and replaceable parts in a great machine. On top of that, the government has mandated cultural and technological stasis at a pre-Industrial Revolution level.
    • The villains of Atlas Shrugged are aiming to create an effectively dystopian America, but the country collapses on them because they lack both charisma and competence. Towards the end, one of the villains insinuates that the decimation of children and the elderly might be in order to prevent starvation for the rest of the people.
  • "Utopia for the Devil" : James Parkes' 2010 novella focuses on a utopia where society is controlled and regulated by a system known as Eden, due to The Evils of Free Will. The protagonist, Leon, exists outside of Eden and challenges the society.
  • Xeelee Sequence: A Hard Science-Fiction soap opera based around futurology, time travel and theoretical physics. It is infamous for being a universe so bleak and oppressive that it is often compared with the likes of 1984 than its contemporaries. If you want to be scared of the prospects of state-controlled time travel, mass xenocides on a universal scale, the creation and utilisation of child soldiers to an almost technical and realistic level, grotesque body modifications, insane levels of totalitarianism, the sheer scale of things and the literal end of the universe, the Sequence is the go-to series to read.
  • Yawning Heights by Alexander Zinoviev is an exaggerated picture of the Soviet society with names and key words (like "Khruschev" or "party") replaced with caricature substitutes in Bland-Name Product style (like "Boar" and "fratry"). Black Comedy with Fictional Document fragments containing scientific analysis in very plain words including his view on pop science — he was a professor, specialist in Mathematical Logic.
  • Poul Anderson's short story "Sam Hall" is about a dystopian society where everything about everyone is recorded in a massive national database. One clerk creates a fake file about a fictional dissident named Sam Hall (named after an angry drinking song) into the database as a joke, who escapes all police searches because he doesn't actually exist. The nation eventually tears itself apart trying to track down a nonexistent criminal.
  • Allie Condie's Matched series takes place in The Society, where you are "matched" with your optimum partner for marriage and having children, the only person you're allowed to pursue a romantic relationship with. The Society decides everything from what you eat and where you work, to when you can have kids and when you'll die. People declared Aberrations are treated as 2nd class citizens.
  • The Delirium Series is set in a future America where love is considered a disease and every citizen has to be "cured" via brain surgery at eighteen.
  • In Divergent, the city of Chicago has split into five factions based on the virtue they believe needs to held up to stop society falling into ruin again. Everyone who turns sixteen must take a test to see which faction they best fit into, and those who fail the initiation or refuse to join become Factionless, living on the streets excluded from the rest of society. Anyone who is considered Divergent (i.e. their thinking doesn't fall squarely into the ideology of a single faction) is hunted down for threatening the system.
  • In the world Uglies is set in, anyone over sixteen is given an operation that leaves their faces and bodies flawless... and their minds empty.
  • The Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The world seems similar enough to the world in Real Life, with people going about their lives. However, there are indications that the world in this series is actually a Dystopia. The courts are unable to deliver justice, because the balance of power leans too heavily towards the defense attorneys, and the prosecutors are lucky if the defendant does not get Off on a Technicality, let alone win a single case. Also, the prosecutors need proof before they charge someone, but strangely, there never seems to be proof to find. On the plus side, if a character gets in legal trouble, s/he can call up a defense attorney and be assured that s/he is perfectly safe. The President of the United States has three men with gold shields at his disposal. These three men have carte blanche, can break laws with impunity, answer only to POTUS, and if they come for you, well, you better pray that they don't kill you! In Las Vegas, the casinos have more security than Homeland Security can ever hope to get! Also, the casinos are monitored by men who will have you beaten up or thrown in jail if you prove to be a threat to the casinos. When you put these details together, you get a picture of a country that is more fascist than democratic. Yikes!
  • The online short story "ILU-486" takes place in a world where conservative Christian views on birth control and abortion have become law, and follows the women that need medical assistance and the outlaw doctors that provide it. Chillingly, all the oppressive laws (apart from the return of gibbets) are based on actual submitted legislation from American politicians.
  • In Poul Anderson's A World Called Maanerek, the Hegemony is out to force all mankind in unity, to hold loyalty only to the Cadre. They choose their mates, who are allowed contact seldom, and all children are raised in creches. Your life position is choosen when you are bred for it, and entails burning out parts of your mind if you are lowly enough. When ships sent out to find more humans to bring them into the fold, they will freely, when problems mount too high, take over part of a planet and let the men run wild with Cold-Blooded Torture and rape to release their aggressions.
  • The White Men by Kenneth Bøgh Andersen takes place in future Denmark where the government has put a series of vicious laws in place to counter an over-population crisis, which includes the euthanasia of a broad group of "unwanted", including everyone over the age of 65 and everyone who drops under a set national average in their grades. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the laws have essentially been rendered meaningless, the country actually suffers from a brewing under-population problem, and that the government's sole reason to uphold them is that they allow them to stay in power.
  • Sinclair Lewis' 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here, in which the U.S. becomes a totalitarian state.
  • Those That Wake is set in a future New York where the city becomes more hopeless every day, and people have withdrawn into themselves. The sequel, What WE Become, turns the city into a Crapsaccharine World.
  • Of Mice and Mooshaber is set in a country that is only vaguely alluded to by names or background events. The state is controlled by a dictator Albin Rappelschlund who governs the country, nominally with support from the rightful ruler Duchess Augusta. The civilization and technology of the country appear advanced, there is metro, satellite transmission, television broadcasting, and flights to the Moon are common; however, this bizarrely contrasts with things like child labour, horse-drawn wagons, rural-like inns in the capital city or State Office for suppressing and annihilating witchcraft. People fear everything and cannot trust one another, so this vision of society is certainly very bleak with very unsettling feel.
  • Beta takes place on the island 'paradise' of Demense, where wealthy humans are served by clones. It's heavily implied that the rest of the world has been devastated by climate change and that not all of the clones are happy being slaves.
  • Humane Tyranny provides a milder variant. The government selects one person a night to die in order to keep the population down, but most people know how screwed up this is and are allowed to protest and complain so long as they do not interfere with the process.
  • More than half of what Janusz Zajdel wrote consists of exploring various dystopiae from various angles. The best known are "Paradyzja", which has a government paranoid about things like earphones dangling off a table for a good reason..., and "Limes Inferior" with its rigidly stratified society that claims to take the best from capitalism and communism (actually achieving the worst of both).
  • The world of Kronk has roaming bands of murderous "pre-pubes", gangs of scholars, and bounty hunters who swoop down on car wrecks to grab the organs of any occupants not able to resist. The media acts as a law of its own, staging crimes to get footage for their reality show, the police will charge and brutalize anyone involved in a crime, including the victims, and religion is computerized and controlled by the State. A sexually-transmitted Peace Disease gets introduced, and everything goes to Hell...
  • The Iron Heel by Jack London is an early enough example (published in 1908) that it may well be the Trope Maker, and is certainly at least widely considered to be the first modern example of this trope. While it's not as well known as some other examples, George Orwell himself acknowledged it as an influence on Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • Battle Royale is set in a Dystopian Japan where the regime gets teenagers to kill each other in televised death games. This cows the population and helps solve the delinquency problem, in theory.
  • The Tamarisk Hunter: The people around the Colorado River have lost most if not all of their water rights to California, resulting in the collapse of civilization around the river.
  • Utopia: Perhaps ironically enough, the perfect society envisioned by Sir Thomas More, which gave us the word "Utopia," has more in line with this from a modern perspective. In their society, it's true that nobody is poor, homeless, or hungry, they only has to work six hours a day, they can follow any faith they wish, and they have plenty of leisure time. However, communal living is the only option, jobs are a requirement, slavery is practiced as punishment for criminals (although they can be freed for good behavior), their leaders are in power for life, privacy and personal possessions don't exist, you can't travel freely without a passport, and if you have sex before marriage, you can be forbidden from receiving either. And while all faiths are tolerated, atheists are hated due to the ever-present fear that they would have no reason to act moral without a belief in God (although instead of being killed or exiled, they're simply sent to priests to change their mind about their beliefs).
  • The Sister Verse and the Talons of Ruin has this as its initial act 3 setting — a surveillance state where political dissidents are detained for reeducation, and low-income families are regularly culled.
  • A Sojourn in the City of Amalgamation, in the Year of Our Lord, 19—, by Jerome B. Holgate, published in 1835, may well be the Ur-Example of the Dystopian future novel. Only trouble is, the sociopolitical movement Holgate depicts as having led to moral, political and social degeneration in his far future world is human rights for black people. Yeah.
  • The infamous Neo-Nazi novel The Turner Diaries begins with a 1990s America (the book was written in the 70s) where guns have been outlawed, the government has begun behaving like a second Gestapo, and white people are finding their dominion threatened by Jews and people of color (who, as fitting for a piece of white supremacist propaganda, are depicted in as racist and dehumanizing a fashion as possible). The "heroes" of the novel are violent white supremacists who not only want to kill every non-white person on earth but also every white person who isn't as racist and genocidal as they are. Their actions not only create a world that is dystopian in itself to anyone who is not a white supremacist, but result in the wiping out of ninety percent of humanity, which only a white supremacist would consider a happy ending.
  • Rainbow: The World Hegemony is a One World Order that has conquered a future Earth. It is a militaristic, autocratic dictatorship and police state that enforces state atheism and uses its women (from thirteen, no less) effectively as breeding slaves.
  • In George and the Ship of Time, the sixth and final book in the George's Secret Key to the Universe series George, having left Earth on the Artemis at the end of the previous book, arrives in one of these when the Artemis finally touches down. It is the year 2081, George having taken off in 2018, although thanks to Time Dilation George is still a young boy. In this dystopia, two corporations took over the world in an event known as the Great Disruption, one of them named Eden and led by a man named Trellis Dump, with the other only referred to as 'Other Side' and led by a woman named Bimbolina Kimobolina. Most people don't have access to any form of transport apart from walking and are dressed in medieval clothes, although the rich literally live above the clouds.
  • Tom Kratman's Caliphate revolves around a brutal, tyrannical Islamic state after fundamentalists hijack democracy with their superior numbers to take control of most of Western Europe and Northern Africa. Drawing, music and entertainment are forbidden and heavily policed, Christians are tolerated so long as they give up their civil rights and get treated as second class citizens by paying up the jizya tax (they are also forbidden to convert to Islam because the Caliphate is heavily dependent on it). Christian boys are taken to become janissaries while girls can be treated like sex objects. Women in general (both Christians and Muslims) live under a misogynistic hell where they are punished if they are raped.
  • Snow Crash is an interesting case as it is a libertarian dystopia rather than a totalitarian one. The USA has broken down into city-states run by Mega Corps. Fenced neighbourhoods are guarded by cyborg guard dogs that can outrun cars and are packing miniguns. Pizza delivery boys will not allow anything to make their customers wait... because the company they work for is The Mafia and a pizza arriving at any temperature other than "piping hot" means the boy gets a bullet in the back of the head. Messages are passed along by teenage couriers on razor skateboards and they have enough self-defence gear to break out of an FBI building. But it's played with as no matter how violent and scary the world is, it's undeniably cool shit.
  • Liv in the Future: Despite all the colorful and exciting trappings, the year 3000 isn't a great place to live. Wearing government-issued Unizon ID watches is mandatory; anyone found without one is suspected of having arrived via a portal and taken in for study. The government is a dictatorship that's been run by the enigmatic Mr. Prez for the past 23 years and the existence of highly skilled assassins is openly advertised on magazines. On top of that, there's an ever-changing variety of bizarre environmental hazards such that daily alerts about them are issued on people's Unizon watches. Most citizens don't seem to mind what's going on because it's all they've ever known.
  • Truancy is set in a totalitarian city ruled by its Mayor and Educators, who treat students and minors as second-class citizens, encourage bullying, and make sure that every student's life is a living hell in order to curtail any rebelliousness early in life.
  • Reborn as a Space Mercenary: I Woke Up Piloting the Strongest Starship! has the police-state version. The ultra rich elite get to live planet-side, a simple home with a garden runs for hundreds of million of Enel (roughly US dollars), while just about everyone else lives on space-stations, as second-class citizens. The government officials running said stations are rife with corruption, able to arbitrarily hand down summary judgments, with no courts to make appeals to. The "safety net" for people who find themselves with a fine they can't pay back, even if they liquidate all their assets, is the slums, where people have no rights whatsoever, women routinely getting gang-raped and drugged with highly addictive substances against their will, forced into prostitution, and then abandoned, left in piles of their own waste, and the withdrawal symptoms, when their profitability ends. The alternative is forced labor in a Prison Colony to repay the debt, but prisoners are not segregated by gender, so Prison Rape is an ever present threat.
  • In Ship Core, things pointedly did not get better after Humanity fought long and hard to earn their freedom from an AI known as The Entity. Human controlled space broke down into at least 9 different inter-stellar territories and they all come with their own distinct flavor. The protagonist Alex and her Only Friend Elis, both from originally opposite sides of the AI WAR, now having to work together to survive are sickened at the sheer callousness of two of these powers, the Solarian Federation and The Corporate Systems. The latter will happily provide goods and services until they milk you dry and then spit you out, while the former ships off colonies to a world with very, very hostile fauna, with only the barest of information and explanation and then dumps them there to be left on their own, but the most recent arc (currently ongoing as of this chapter), the colonial dropship not only drops them right on top of a nest of insects that could pass for dragons, but when Alex and Elis undertake an emergency rescue mission, the lead freighter captain goes out of his way to hinder and antagonize any kind of rescue attempt.
  • In Waking Up As A Spaceship, there are several flavors. The Freedom Union is a False Utopia People's Republic of Tyranny that uses brainwashed child soldiers, and that's the tip of the iceburg. The Dawning Star Empire is both a police state and a megacorp run government. The New England country is a Feudal Future and all the horrors that come with it. The neutral space? The Maw of Lawless Space, intentionally left as a pirate haven so the major power blocs can all enjoy their proxy wars without a care.
  • The Asterisk War: The entire world is all but completely controlled by six Mega Corps which forced countries back into the system of monarchic rule, and the one place that isn't a Crapsack Location, Asterisk, is used primarily as a stage for very dangerous martial arts duels and tournaments among the teenage students.
  • In Starting A New Life For The Discarded All Rounder, the home country of the protagonist Roa has a false meritocracy system in place. It's a very strict apprenticeship system to decide your career path if you're a citizen there. As an apprentice, you are dismissively called "an all-rounder" and that's if the mentor is being charitable. Only 20% of the apprentices ever get certified and proceed to a successful life as an adventurer or craftsman. The remaining 80% are left to wallow with their own devices, in abject poverty until they die. The top brass blames them for failing and refuses to acknowledge the many flaws in the system, most notably that the mentor, without supervision of any kind, is the ultimate arbiter of which apprentice he certifies or not. Heck, the mentors don't even have to teach their apprentices at all. Any apprentice who tries to get a second mentor, after being driven to quit, or expelled, is not likely to find one, because they're treated as "cowardly quitters" or "loser failures" respectively. How they were mentored, if they were mentored at all, is never examined. Should the apprentice succeed in spite of this crippling handicap, assassins are sent at them to try and cover up the systems' flaws. Surrounding countries have repeatedly stated that this is not sustainable, but the top brass just doesn't care.
  • Oddly Enough: "Old Glory" is set in a dystopia future where by 2041, freedoms have eroded, free speech is no longer a thing, and a government organization exists to shoot dissenters on sight. Worst of all, the kids of this time think this is good.
  • Redfern Jon Barrett's Proud Pink Sky is set in the world's first gay state and plays with the genre, combining utopian and dystopian elements to create a work of 'ambitopia'.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Alphaverse in Charlie Jade, a corrupt megacorp-dominated plutocracy where chip implants are mandatory, people are divided into castes, justice is an illusion, and pollution and depletion of natural resources are so ridiculously high that the dominant megacorp plans to use its trans-universe link to steal water from a utopian parallel Earth.
  • The Mirror Universe in Star Trek is a dystopia and its own trope. Various different takes on Trek's particular mirror universe fiddle with the extent of its dystopian nature. One novel posited that it was a relatively recent thing, caused by the Enterprise-E crew not wiping Zefram Cochrane's memories before they left the past, thus causing humanity to venture into space paranoid about the threat of the Borg. Another posited that the society had simply always been more cruel and ruthless, as proved by things such as Achilles refusing to return the body of the king's son (one of his few acts of mercy) in The Iliad. Deep Space Nine seemed to have a take on it closer to just making everyone in the mirror universe a Jerkass.
  • Several alternate universes and/or timelines seen in Stargate SG-1 featuring the breakdown of society, the defeat/near defeat of Earth by its enemies, etc.
  • Two episodes of Dollhouse are set in the year 2019 after the show's technology had been used to transfer the rich into younger bodies permanently. The situation snowballed until the city is a war zone, some people going insane and others getting kidnapped for their bodies. Morale of the story is advanced technology will be abused by the privileged.
  • Kamen Rider Decade has Diend's World, which is essentially the Missing Ace movie split off from Blade and combined with Decade to make an original story with Diend as the protagonist. On the outside, the world seems to be an Utopia with everyone helping each other out and being nice, but it turns out that they have to be nice or else a monster comes out, grabs them, then brainwashes them to be nice. It also sucks for Riders because the brainwashed people will attack any and all riders. Tsukasa even tells the ruler of the world, Jashin 14, that he made a hellhole, not a paradise. When Jashin 14 is destroyed, Diend's older brother reveals that he was acting of his own free will and will become the new Jashin 14.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has the episode "The Wish" in season three, in which Willow and Xander are vampires. The Master has taken control of Sunnydale and Angel is Willow's (and arguably Xander's) sex slave.
  • The Shadow universe in Lexx is a grungy cyberpunk world with religious overtones (the church of the shadow) and some steampunk looks, a classic Shadowland dystopia.
  • As with the novel it's based on, The Man in the High Castle is set in an Alternate History in which Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan won World War II. Saying that it falls under this trope is probably redundant.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) has envisioned some very unpleasant future worlds. Most notable is the world of "The Obsolete Man" where anyone the state deems obsolete (ie, anyone it doesn't like) is disposed of.
  • On Halloween 2016 for the holiday and to encourage everyone to vote, The Daily Show broadcast an episode from Halloween 2020, where Donald Trump is president In this future Iceland has been nuked ("because that's where ISIS come from obviously"), the dollar's value has collapsed to the point where Trevor eats it as food rather than spending it, women must wear a device on their arm that gives their "hotness" rating (with their rights being determined by their rating), the US government regularly holds yard sales to pay the bills, and comedy has been banned, among other things (and, for some reason Trever's pirate broadcast has ad breaks). All the while, Trevor begs the viewers to go vote in the election. It's just as dark (and ridiculous) as it sounds.
  • Black Mirror is an anthology series with the main theme of the episodes being the nasty consequences caused by the use of technology, so most of the episodes set in the future would somewhat count, but the most notable example is in the episode "Fifteen Million Merits", in which people live underground, having to ride exercise bicycles to generate energy, while television literally rules the society.
  • 1990, a 1970s BBC TV series depicted a then-future Britain which has fallen apart after a national bankruptcy, and the country has turned into a rigidly-controlled totalitarian state under the Home Office's "Public Control Department" or P.C.D., everything is rationed according to perceived social status, and malcontents are sent to "Adult Rehabilitation Centres".
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "Examination Day", child prodigies such as Dickie Jordan are killed for scoring too well on government tests.
    • "To See the Invisible Man", possibly; Mitchell Chaplin undergoes a lengthy government-mandated Cool and Unusual Punishment aimed at correcting his morality rather than due to a specific crime, and there are enforcement drones buzzing around everywhere, but the society as a whole seems peaceful and prosperous.
    • In "Room 2426", Dr. Martin Decker lives in an oppressive society where people are routinely arrested for committing intellectual crimes against the State such as wrong thinking or being an outsider and are taken to the titular room to be tortured.
  • Brave New World: New London operates on a strict caste system, people take drugs constantly to take away any unhappiness, family has been abolished as everyone's artificially conceived, no one is supposed to have privacy or monogamous relationships and religion isn't something most even know about.
  • Utopia Falls: New Babyl is a city where everyone lives in a sector based on profession. While they believe diversity is their greatest strength, with people of all races living in harmony together, any independent personal expression isn't acceptable, deemed subversive and a cause for disunity you will be interrogated over by the Authority, the city's Secret Police who censor culture. Moving outside of the city's bounds or seeking knowledge about the past too is forbidden. They all wear uniform jumpsuits most of the time, and have a very authoritarian culture with ritual submission to their long-deceased founder Gaia, who's treated as almost like a god. Particularly defiant dissidents are given Un-person treatment, or “ghosted”. They also practice eugenics, as people who have DNA deemed “unfit for reproduction” are also labeled “dissonant” by the government, all babies being tested at birth, and prohibited from having children. The dissonant also get assigned work, usually dangerous things like mining, due to being deemed “expendable” after turning 18. Finally, it turns out that the government has lied for centuries to its people about the outside world being uninhabitable-it actually is, with two other cities, one of which secretly controls them.

  • Daft Punk's third album, Human After All, uses minimalism, emotional detachment and repetition to assert that with our reliance of technology, dystopia may not be a thing of the future. It may already be here.
  • In their 2011 album Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay paints a story in which music and color are outlawed by the government.
  • Rush:
    • 2112 is in part a concept album based on Anthem by Ayn Rand. Although individual identity is not as suppressed as it is in the book, technology, and especially music, is outlawed. The main character discovers a guitar and learns to play; and when he bring it back to share with the rest of the world, the ruling elite arrest him and smash his guitar. He reacts by committing suicide in despair.
    • Red Barchetta from the album Moving Pictures based on the story A Nice Morning Drive, written by Richard Foster (itself a kind of dystopia-by-over-watchfulness). The song is about a young man driving a car in a world where cars and/or driving is outlawed.
  • David Bowie:
    • Diamond Dogs was originally intended to be a rock-opera based on George Orwell's 1984; but he was unable to license the rights from the Orwell estate. Elements of 1984 are clearly present in the work.
    • Outside is the first volume in what was intended to be a trilogy set in a Cyberpunk dystopia, where murder has become an underground art form. The other two albums in the trilogy, Contamination and Afrikaan, never materialized; and the project appears to have been dropped.
  • A number of other artists have done songs and albums based on 1984; most notably Rick Wakeman, Supertramp, Genesis founder Anthony Phillips, Muse, and Megadeth. Eurythmics performed the soundtrack for the 1984 film versionnote .
  • Dystopian themes occur regularly in later albums from Pink Floyd, most notably Animals (inspired by Orwell's Animal Farm) and The Wall; as well as Roger Waters' solo work Radio Kaos and Amused To Death.
  • Kilroy Was Here by progressive rock band Styx tells the story of a young rock musician in a future fascist dystopia, where music is outlawed on the order of a powerful right-wing religious group.
  • The Protomen are an indie rock band whose main act is a dystopian rock opera based on the Mega Man (Classic) series.
  • Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails, is about a dystopian future where the far right has taken over America and the "Bureau of Morality" has eroded civil liberties and generally act as a Culture Police against any form of expression, particularly music, that dissents against the powers that be.
  • Tubeway Army, the project of noted electronica pioneer Gary Numan, produced a semi-concept album Replicas; the theme of which was humans living in a society dominated by androids and machines. It draws heavily from the writings of Philip K. Dick, particularly Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep.
  • The entire schtick of sludge-metal band Dystopia.
  • "Brave New World" by Iron Maiden is based on the Aldous Huxley 0.
  • Oingo Boingo's Perfect System depicts a totalitarian socity ruled by a Big Brother figure. A number of other songs off of the album Only a Lad (which Perfect System is from) fit into such a setting as well in addition to pointing out potentially dystopian elements of modern life.
  • Radiohead's OK Computer, while not having an explicitly dystopian story, does incorporate dystopian themes.
  • Frank Zappa's Joe's Garage is a rock opera set in a semi-religious dystopia where music and sex are soon to be illegal, and all illegal activities are punished pre-emptively. The story is narrated by "The Central Scrutinizer", a McCarthy-like observer who is charged with detecting and punishing actions which will be crimes in the future.
  • Del tha Funkee Homosapien's Deltron 3030 concept album deals with the titular character's struggles to survive in a future that may have outlawed music, that has strict, bullet-enforced curfews, and is described via references to Neuromnancer and Akira.
  • The Who's song 905 (which was originally intended for a full Rock Opera by bassist John Entwistle) and the aborted Lifehouse album (which would be released decades later by Pete Townshend)
  • "Control" by MDFMK. And it's not 20 Minutes into the Future. Not even one.
  • "Dystopia" by Iced Earth.
  • The music video for "The Wild And The Young" by Quiet Riot depicts a dystopian future where Rock and Roll has been outlawed. The video even has a Downer Ending where the rock and roll fans are lined up and executed by masked soldiers.
  • Oceania by Surveillance, the side project of Assemblage 23. Named after the nation in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • Asia's "Wildest Dreams" is about a nation slowly turning into a dystopia.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Misspent Youth by Robert Bohl is a game where teenage kids battle a tyrannical regime or system in a dystopian future world. There's even a step of play called "Dystopia Creation," where you group-create the world that you're playing in.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • The Warhammer 40,000 universe is one gigantic Dystopia, born from the sheer, horrific build-up of intolerance, hatred, repression, religious fanaticism, cruelty, hedonism, decadence, greed, and every other vice you could possibly imagine, over the span of millennia. Quite possibly the worst component, however, is simply neglect. The fact that many of said vices have physical form, are sentient, and actively working towards the eventual destruction of everything probably doesn't help. Nothing is ever going to get better there. There's a faction of Well Intentioned Extremists who are considered to be naive because of that belief. Given the setting, there's probably a kernel of truth to that.
    • In Necromundanote , the mid-levels of Hive Primusnote  is a wretched place consisting of massively overcrowded hab zones and heavily polluted manufactory zones where the population labour to produce goods and services for their Houses and the elite on the Spire. These levels are probably the safest part of the hive. The underhive (where the majority of the game is set) is where those exiled from further up the hive go where even the safer districts, protected by vicious gangs loyal to the Clan Houses, are still places where life is nasty, brutish and short and law extends as far as a gun can shoot. Even further downhive, outlaws and mutants fight to the death over a few scraps of food and law has completely broken down. Oh, and the Spire? It's a Decadent Court where the Noble Houses live off the wealth produced by the Clan Houses and cold-bloodedly murder each other for control of the hive, and they look on sending a small band of their kids down to the worst parts of the underhive as a ''training mission''.
  • Paranoia is an RPG set After the End, in Alpha Complex, an underground city. The Complex is ruled by Friend Computer, a supercomputer whose databases were corrupted following a disaster that wiped out human civilization. The Computer is quite insane and utterly paranoid, and rules with an iron fist, society being organized in a hierarchy of security clearances based on the colors of the rainbownote  and supported by swarms of robots, omnipresent surveillance and an endless bureaucracy. Players are Red-level Troubleshooters, whose job is to find trouble and shoot it, and whose main targets are traitors, Communists and other members of secret societies, as well as unregistered mutants and Commie Mutant Traitors. This is complicated by the fact that every human in Alpha Complex has some kind of mutant power, and is also a member of one of the secret societies, making everyone a Commie Mutant Traitor. The game provides you with six backup clones, as you WILL be found out and terminated. Or terminated by accident. Or for the hell of it. Did we mention that the entire thing is Played for Laughs?
  • Feng Shui : The 2056 juncture of the Tabletop Game is equal parts Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The Buro government monitors its citizens constantly, same-race relationships are frowned upon at best as "racist" and punished at worst, guns and kung fu are outlawed, it's a crime to be unhappy, all TV (except for advertising) is pay-per-view, you can't get ahead unless you work for the Buro, and the only thing worse than falling into the Public Order (2056's brutal police) machine is letting the Bureau of Happiness and Productivity get hold of you — Mind Rape is the absolute kindest term for what these guys do to people. And that's not even mentioning the CDCA (the group responsible for arcanowave technology and the Abominations) and the creepifying horrors that they get up to.
  • Shadowrun. One of the most famous cyberpunk RPGs set in a Dystopia, one that is played to the hilt just as described at the top of the page. Corporations are huge, often evil, and all of them employ multiple packs of criminals to do their dirty work. Old fashioned racism has been given up, but only in favor of Fantastic Racism— there are much bigger differences to make each other miserable over between metaspecies than there ever were between races. There's even this one bit from the fourth edition core book, talking about the availability of medical treatment, which cites privatized health care as one of the causes of dystopia (oddly enough, using the criticisms usually leveled at socialized/universal healthcare):
    "Thanks to privatized healthcare, most people are forced to throw themselves and their ailments on the not-so-tender mercies of an overstressed public healthcare system. Spirits help you if you're seriously sick or hurt and have to deal with a public hospital: most of them mean well, but they're notoriously understaffed, awash in red tape, and generally a nightmare to navigate."
  • Cyberpunk 2020 is like Shadowrun minus the fantastic part. Massive megacorps with private armies battle for the control of the world, while (at least in the US) poverty and unemployment are rampant, people die there too for being unable to pay the expensive costs of healthcare, Earth is dying under uncontrolled contamination and spills, criminal gangs are everywhere, and your life is just worth of the cost of the body organs that can be harvested for transplants from your cooling corpse. Oh, and the Middle East is a glassy, nuked wasteland and the stock market is said to be walking in a razor-sharp edge between prosperity and economic meltdown.
  • Genius: The Transgression features a couple of them in the form of Bardos:
    • Tsoka, a dreary, grey empire built from the conceptions of fascism taking over the world. Ironically, it's actually one of the safer Bardos-the Party that runs the place treats Geniuses with the proper papers as foreign dignitaries. Often used as a recruitment ground for Beholden, who are all too happy to become slaves to the Genius if it means getting out of there.
    • The Seattle of Tomorrow, a Zeerust vision of an Atomist utopia. As the game points out repeatedly, Atomists frequently have absolutely no clue how people work.
  • SIGMATA: This Signal Kills Fascists is set in an alternate 80s era America that has been taken over by homegrown fascism, but is meant to draw parallels to America under Donald Trump, who was President when the game was released. The police and the military have been consolidated into one body called the "Freedom Fist" that enforces a nationalistic and oppressive rule across America. Women and minorities racial, sexual and otherwise are subjected to serious oppression by the Regime and its supporters, and immigrants are hauled into internment camps for daring to outstay their welcome. The media are controlled, and all forms of communication are used to try to catch would-be resisters; the only hope the five groups that make up the resistance have is The Signal, which gives those that have been attuned to it the power to fight back against the Freedom Fist and the Regime.

    Video Games 
  • The world of Akatsuki Blitzkampf is set in a fictional future (year 266X AD), involves characters that more or less resemble the German and Japanese soldiers of World War II, and seems to be ruled by heavily militarised governments. And there's a Nazi-inspired Secret Society, Gesellschaft (later Perfecti Cult), that is looking to get even more power...
  • Beholder and its sequel Beholder 2 both take place in a hyper-totalitarian police state that takes cues from Oceania and various real-life dictatorships both current and historical.
  • Bioshock is a series about the fallacy of trying to impose an overly-idealistic utopia on realistically-flawed people. With superpowers.
    • The first game features an undersea Randian utopia Gone Horribly Wrong.
    • The sequel has the undersea ruin attempt the opposite extreme, showing a collectivist dystopia that potentially becomes even worse.
    • Bioshock Infinite is a caste-based Confederate's 'utopia', where the ultra-racist Founders lord over a floating city by forcing former prison inmates into back-breaking labor for scraps, and even kill them off for sport. And then the violence gets so bad that the floating city stops working, with everyone either at war or fleeing from purges on both sides.
  • The Crapsack World of BlazBlue is this thanks to NOL. They're also pretty justified in that, following the 'Playing With' page of this trope straight and justified.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Megacorporations rule the world - badly. There's as much garbage as there is crime, which is outright sponsored by the corpos to ensure local communities stay broken. Animals in general have been driven to extinction, and it is illegal for the poor to own pets. Night City is powered by empty promises of wealth and glory, and the only technologies that have been truly innovated by corps over the past 57 years have been new means of brainwashing and controlling the civilians who could never harm them. One of the city's owners outright desires the total humiliation and destruction of America.
  • Deus Ex and its sequel. The United States' economy is failing and is rampant with La Résistance forces, Europe is under a dictatorship-like rule thanks to MJ12 having enough power to work in the open, the majority of food that you find is either artificial or candy bars that mention they are made from "recycled material". All of this is happening while a pandemic is bringing the human race to its knees.
  • The series Half-Life 2 features several levels of Dystopia: Alien Invasion (a result of New Technology Is Evil), also featuring a variation on the No Sex Allowed rule: No More Children.
  • Iron Storm: World War I has been dragging on for a horrifying 50 years and has become a Forever War. Everything is saturated with industrial grimness and in general decay. The global economy has become dominated by greedy and ignorant MegaCorps and completely dependent on keeping the war running. As if that wasn't bad enough, humans in general have become militaristic Crazy Survivalists. There's an oppressive new Eurasian empire, which is ruled by a completely insane quasi-religous zealot, who claims to be the new Genghis Khan. And if you think the supposed good guy countries of the setting are any better, think again: they're militaristic jingoists and crumbling democracies masquerading as brave saviors of civilization. Seriously, it's as if someone did a Spiritual Adaptation shooter game adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four...
  • The Metal Gear series tends to feature a dystopia 20 Minutes into the Future with each release. In Metal Gear Solid 4, the dystopia is driven mainly by the mass appeal of private military services, the use of warfare as a means of economic stimulus and the growth in the application of nano-machine technology (the game's Applied Phlebotinum).
  • Oni definitely uses this trope. The first social issue is the environment. The environment is polluted like you would not believe. The government not only does nothing to address it, apart from using Atmospheric Processors to make the cities livable, but it brands anyone who tries to bring it up as enemies of the state and will crush attempts to reveal it. The second social issue is the development of science and technology. The government keeps an eye on scientists and carefully checks to make sure any technology developed is approvable (in other words, will not threaten it). They use the Technological Crimes Task Force as a Secret Police force to enforce this.
  • The Secret World would be a crapsaccharine version of Deus Ex, the surface of it looks normal, but everything is watched and controlled by The Templars, The Illuminati, and The Dragons, and hidden in the shadows are Eldritch Abomination that lie and wait to devour anyone who are within their reach.
  • Shaun White Skateboarding, as unlikely as it may sound, is all based around how the 'Minstry' has taken control of the people, forcing them to conform to a bland unemotional state and being constantly monitored. The only way to save the city is to skate around it, as which point colours start to appear and suddenly people no longer want to wear a tie.
  • The setting of the Facebook game War Metal, the game is set in Acheron where the player is a commander of the Imperium, where he has to fight of rebellious Raiders, invading Xenos, horrid Bloodthirsty, and the fanatical Righteous.
  • Grand Theft Auto 2: One disc jockey complains his car's been stole five times. This month alone.
  • Crackdown's setting is unique in that it has three different flavors of dystopia, each just as crapsack as the next. Do you prefer the "Lawless gangland hell, with lots of crumbling infrastructure" flavor? Check out La Mugre (eng. The Dirt). Is the "Bleak communist dictatorship with everything run by the mob" flavored dystopia more your style? The Den has you covered. Or maybe you're more the "Hi-tech cyberpunk dystopia with everything (and everyone) owned, enforced and manipulated by an absurdly powerful Mega-Corp" type? Look no further than The Corridor. They were all intentionally orchestrated by The Agency to make Police State look like a reasonable alternative. And then they also screw it up. Twice.
  • Fallout: America was this in the backstory with a corrupt, fascist government, corporations running unchecked and a military police that used soldiers wearing Power Armor and firing energy weapons to put down protests. The situation was made worse by a combination of a resource crisis, food shortage and the new plague, all of which caused America to go to war with China. Then they start lobbing nukes at each other. The resulting wasteland has dozens of small dystopias picking on the honest settlers of the post-apocalypse.
  • Light Fairytale: The empire is situated in a pillar where everyone is separated by class, and the party needs fake clearances to get anywhere other than the lowest level. The soldiers have free reign to abuse people and animals without repercussion. Worse yet, those who get exiled from the empire, often for reasons beyond their control, are sent to a snowy wasteland where it's even harder to find resources.
  • Ancillary material reveals that Cybertron was either becoming or had already become this by the time of Transformers: War for Cybertron. Cybertron's Golden Agenote  came to a crashing halt when the incredibly virulent Rust Plague began spreading, eventually forcing Cybertron's leader Sentinel Zeta Prime to order the space bridges destroyed in a desperate attempt to prevent Cybertron itself from being infected. Alpha Trion notes that following that horrific sacrifice and loss, it seemed as though life itself had been sucked right out of the Cybertronian race as a whole. Where once experimental wonders like Crystal City were the order of the day, art and culture stagnated to the point some Transformers were being born without names, since they saw nothing to live for. Just about the only thing that seemed to fire Cybertronians up in any way anymore were the highly illegal and violent bloodsports known as gladitorial combat... which is where Megatron came from. Even Orion Pax, the future Optimus Prime, was initially inspired by Megatron's rhetoric that there had to be something more to life than merely existing.
  • The Witcher 3: in this Dark Fantasy game, both sides of the continent-spanning war are horrible. The Redanian 'Federation' is ruled by a mad, sadistic, warmongering tyrant and its corrupt state church persecutes sorcerers, druids, herbalists, hedge witches, and nonhumans. Nilfgaard is an imperialist den of corruption, obsessed with conquering the entire continent and willing to throw entire armies and psychotic secret agents at anything that stands in their way.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Team Avatar arrives in the 'Promised City' Ba Sing Se, the supposed last 'free' place from the Fire Nation after 100 years of war, only to find out that it's "just a bunch of walls and rules", which suppresses its inhabitants more efficiently than the Fire Nation ever could (to the point of brainwashing everyone who dares to mention that there's a century-long war going on in the whole world outside the walls).
    • The Fire Nation itself is revealed to be this. The people are actually quite friendly but they are ruled by a militaristic regime whose leader is continuing his father's obsession with taking over the world.
  • Sequel Series The Legend of Korra reveals that Ba Sing Se, despite its technological modernization, has barely improved from what it was 70 years ago; the secret police from the original series are still around and feared, the different social classes are still forcibly segregated, and its highly selfish and tyrannical queen even seems to have a cult of personality around her. It's telling that when the queen is assassinated and the walls separating the classes are brought down, the entire city instantly dissolves into an orgy of looting and vandalism.
  • Futurama combines tropes from both Dystopia and Utopia to good effect. It balances out to being more or less like the modern world but weirder.
  • The American Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) show definitely counts. For those who haven't heard of it, it features an alternate version of the Sonic universe where Sonic is a member of a resistance force who rebels against the oppressive rule of Robotnik, who has already taken over the world and turns anyone who does not willingly submit to him into robotic slaves.
  • Samurai Jack, where Aku rules the world as a dictator.
  • The titular Motorcity, which is run down in contrast to Detroit Deluxe, the supposed Utopia actually run by a dictator named Abraham Kane.
  • Two examples from The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • "Speed Demon" has Him controlling the world after the girls race home and go so far into the future that they never had a chance to stop him.
    • The 10th anniversary special "The Powerpuff Girls Rule!!!" has everyone racing to find the Key To The World which would give whoever possesses it the ability to rule the world. Each of the girls entertain their own ideas of what they'd do—Blossom's is a world where women rule and men are sub servant.
  • According to press releases the main setting of Major Lazer is a dystopian Jamaica. The state of the most of the world has yet to be seen, but Ibiza at least is inhospitable.
  • Invader Zim: There’s nowhere else where Jhonen Vasquez’s first cartoon portrays Human Injustice, Futuristic Technological Failure, and Human Society that’s just like a ship without a rudder.
  • One episode of Phineas and Ferb has Candace traveling into a Bad Future where busting her brothers in the pilot episode somehow snowballed into Doofenshmirtz taking over Danville.
  • The first two television movies of The Fairly OddParents!:
    • Abra-Catastrophe! has Mr. Crocker use magic to change the world into his own rule, changing Dimmsdale into "Slavesdale" and every person is forced to dress the same and worship Crocker.
    • Vicky's dystopia in Channel Chasers is much worse and much more realistic, containing barbed wire and officers being sent everywhere. The adult versions of Timmy, Chester, and AJ are the resistant forces.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Straw Dystopia, Negative Utopia, Dystopian


The Year 6969

In "6969", the World is under the despotic rule of the Dick Elders. All human touch (and by extension sex) has been outlawed.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / Dystopia

Media sources: