13 Dystopian Movies & Shows to Stream Right Now
There are hundreds of stories predicting how the world will end—zombie apocalypse, EMP devices, alien invasions—there’s no limit to what could happen. But, have you ever wondered what happens after the world seemingly “ends?” Dystopian movies and shows explore just that.
From contained communities with strict rules and stricter consequences, to a society that strips its inhabitants of all individuality, dystopian stories tell us what could be if humans are left unchecked.
From EmmyⓇ-winning hits, like The Handmaid’s Tale, to movies that take us places no one has gone (or wants to go), like Pleasantville’s 1950s sitcom, check out some seriously good dystopian movies and shows streaming right now.
Best Dystopian Movies
In a secret underground facility called “The Hive,” the Umbrella Corporation’s scientists are developing viral bioweapons—and testing them on animals and humans. However, when a deadly virus is released, it turns employees and animals into zombies.
In an attempt to contain the virus, The Hive’s AI leader (aka The Red Queen) kills every living thing in the lab. When the zombie virus returns, a military unit enters the facility to defeat the monsters created by the outbreak.
If you like Resident Evil, check out the rest of the series:
- Resident Evil: Apocalypse
- Resident Evil: Extinction
- Resident Evil: Afterlife
- Resident Evil: Retribution
Watch: Resident Evil
David and his sister Jennifer could not be more different. While Jennifer is a typical teenage girl, David would rather spend his time watching a black and white 1950s sitcom about a picture perfect town called Pleasantville. When the siblings are suddenly transported into black and white utopia, they quickly realize that a “perfect” society is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Starring Toby Maguire and Academy AwardⓇ winner Reese Witherspoon, Pleasantville explores what happens to a society without color.
Aging actress Robin Wright (played by herself), is given the opportunity to be a film star indefinitely by taking advantage of new technology and preserving her likeness in an animated avatar. The digital version of her is then used in a number of animated films and shows, including an especially popular animated franchise.
When she travels to speak at an entertainment conference in Abrahama City, she’s shocked to find an animated “utopia,” where participants are required to take hallucinogenic drugs that allow them to enter the animated world as whoever they want to be—celebrities included.
Watch: The Congress
In a future dystopian society controlled by “The City,” all single adults are arrested and sent to “The Hotel,” where they must find a mate within 45 days, or face being transformed into an animal and released into the wild. However, if residents want to extend their time, they can hunt down the rebel singles hiding out in the woods.
When his wife leaves him for another man, David (Colin Ferrell), is sent to The Hotel where he must make a connection with someone or risk becoming a lobster.
Watch: The Lobster*
*The Lobster requires SHOWTIME® on Hulu add-on subscription.
If you’re into sci-fi dystopian movies, Demolition Man is a must-see.
For the worst criminals, prison is not enough. Rather than being locked in a cell, vicious criminals are sent to cryogenic facilities that keep them in suspended animation and reprogram their brains to become upstanding members of society. However, when a former cop (Sylvester Stalone) and the most brutal criminal in Los Angeles (Wesley Snipes) are defrosted in 2032, they resume the war they started forty years earlier.
Watch: Demolition Man
In the future metropolis of Neo-Tokyo, Shotaro Kaneda (Mitsuo Iwata) is the leader of a biker gang called the “Capsules.” When his friend and gang member Tetsuo (Nozomu Sasaki) is injured during a violent protest, he’s taken to a top-secret government facility where he develops psychic abilities—the same abilities as Akira, the force that destroyed Tokyo 31 years earlier.
In this popular anime film, Tetsuo chooses to use his newfound powers for evil, forcing Shotoro Kaneda to keep Tetsuo from repeating history and destroying Neo-Tokyo.
In a self-contained apartment building, Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleson) seeks complete and total anonymity. In this enclosed setting, he seemingly has everything—an office, a grocery store, a gym, a spa, restaurants, and even a school. No one needs to leave, and most people don’t, which makes privacy hard to come by.
The high-rise is broken up by income—the lower earners live on the bottom floors, while the wealthy elite live closer to the top of the 40-story building. However, when a class struggle erupts, the “perfect” place to live quickly dissolves into violence and murder between the building’s wealthy top floor-dwellers and those stuck closer to the ground.
*The High-Rise requires HBO Max on Hulu add-on subscription.
Dystopian TV Shows
The Handmaid’s Tale
In Gilead, a future society led by men, women are stripped of their rights and, oftentimes, their freedom. Any woman deemed “amoral” is forced to become a Handmaid, or, in other words, a concubine, whose only purpose is to bear children for the elite families of Gilead.
The Hulu Original series follows June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss), a handmaid renamed “Offred,” who refuses to fall under the government’s control. As Gilead’s leaders try to “reform” her, it becomes clear that if June goes down, all of Gilead goes down with her.
Watch: The Handmaid’s Tale
When Earth’s resources are used up, a new solar system becomes home to all of Earth’s inhabitants. In this new solar system, dozens of planets were transformed into Earth-like civilizations. The central planets formed “The Alliance,” which forced all of the other planets to live under their rule.
The cult classic series follows Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) as he leads a renegade crew on a “firefly-class” spaceship called “Serenity.” The crew’s work consists mainly of smuggling and cargo runs—until they find something worth fighting for.
In the TV adaptation of the hit film series, The Purge explores an alternate America ruled by a totalitarian governement in which all crime is legal, including murder, for 12 hours each year. The horror series follows seemingly unrelated characters as they make their way through purge night.
Watch: The Purge
Following a war that destroyed all other life on earth, a colony called New Babyl has risen from the ashes. Within the dome-covered community, citizens are ruled by a government known as the Tribunal. When children turn 16, they are invited to participate in a yearly performing arts contest called the “Exemplar.”
When a group of teens set to perform stumble upon an ancient archive hidden in the woods, they find books, music, and other artifacts that lead them to question everything their society has taught them.
Watch: Utopia Falls
In the year 2043, James Cole (Aaron Stanford) has been chosen to go back in time and stop the release of a deadly virus that would wipe out nearly all of the people on earth. The Army of the 12 Monkeys is the organization responsible for the virus’s 2015 release and are Cole’s targets in his journey back to save the fate of humanity. The only question is: can he stop the 12 Monkeys before they succeed again?
Watch: 12 Monkeys
“Have you ever tried to clean an actual slate? You always see what was on there before.”
In a secret underground facility known as “The Dollhouse,” Echo (Eliza Dushku) lives a different life every day. The members of the Dollhouse, called “Actives,” or test subjects, have their personality wiped clean each night and are given a new one each morning, allowing them to be whoever the Dollhouse’s elite clients are looking for.
Echo, one such Active, is becoming self-aware—and that’s a problem.
Need a break from dystopian societies? Find some comic relief with funny movies and shows streaming now on Hulu.