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15 Dystopian Teen Dramas You Need To Watch Before The World Ends

Step into the captivating world of Dystopian Teen Dramas, where the trials of adolescence collide with the chaos of post-apocalyptic futures. These shows and movies unravel the complex lives of teenagers navigating the challenges of a world gone awry, portraying their flaws, resilience, and the authenticity of growing up in the midst of dystopian nightmares.

By Alaa Bahaa Last updated

The Last of Us (2023)

From mind-controlling fungi to rebel factions, this genre seamlessly blends the struggles of youth with the eerie landscapes of dystopia, offering a riveting lens into the teenage experience against a backdrop of societal collapse.

The Hunger Games (2012)

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Rotten tomatoes84%
iMBD68
Metacritic7.2
Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence

Josh Hutcherson

Josh Hutcherson

Liam Hemsworth

Liam Hemsworth

Woody Harrelson

Woody Harrelson

Elizabeth Banks

Elizabeth Banks

Lenny Kravitz

Lenny Kravitz

Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci

Donald Sutherland

Donald Sutherland

Wes Bentley

Wes Bentley

Toby Jones

Toby Jones

Alexander Ludwig

Alexander Ludwig

Isabelle Fuhrman

Isabelle Fuhrman

Directed by Gary Ross

'The Hunger Games,' based on Suzanne Collins' best-seller, reigns as the most popular dystopian movie for young adults. In a world marred by authoritarian rule after devastating wars, the annual spectacle selects two youths from each district to compete in a deadly game. The grotesque fascination of the Capitol's elite, evident in elaborate costumes and televised obsession, amplifies the dystopian theme.

'I Volunteer as Tribute!' Scene - The Hunger Games (2012)

Praised for its powerful message by critics, the film introduces Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, becoming an iconic figure in popular culture. 'The Hunger Games' sets a compelling tone for the blockbuster series, skillfully adapting the source material with cinematic flair and introducing new dimensions to the narrative.

The Maze Runner (2014)

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Rotten tomatoes65%
iMBD57
Metacritic6.8
Dylan O'Brien

Dylan O'Brien

Kaya Scodelario

Kaya Scodelario

Ki Hong Lee

Ki Hong Lee

Aml Ameen

Aml Ameen

Blake Cooper

Blake Cooper

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Will Poulter

Will Poulter

Dexter Darden

Dexter Darden

Chris Sheffield

Chris Sheffield

Joe Adler

Joe Adler

Alexander Flores

Alexander Flores

Jacob Latimore

Jacob Latimore

Directed by Wes Ball

'The Maze Runner,' a quintessential dystopian movie, delves into the captivating lives of teenagers navigating a mysterious maze. Protagonist Thomas, played by Dylan O'Brien, awakens with no memory, thrust into a dystopian society where adolescents grapple with forgotten pasts. Adapted from James Dashner's dystopian books, the series unfolds as a suspenseful teenage drama, challenging the characters' resilience and interweaving their quest for survival.

THE MAZE RUNNER (2014) - "Thomas And Minho Survive The Maze" Scene

Beyond its cinematic allure, 'The Maze Runner' serves as a compelling exploration of the emotional and societal struggles faced by teens in a dystopian landscape. The maze becomes a metaphorical backdrop, symbolizing both the physical and existential challenges that adolescents confront, making it a standout in the realm of dystopian teenage dramas.

Divergent (2014)

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Rotten tomatoes41%
iMBD48
Metacritic6.6
Shailene Woodley

Shailene Woodley

Theo James

Theo James

Zoë Kravitz

Zoë Kravitz

Miles Teller

Miles Teller

Jai Courtney

Jai Courtney

Ansel Elgort

Ansel Elgort

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd

Tony Goldwyn

Tony Goldwyn

Ray Stevenson

Ray Stevenson

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet

Maggie Q

Maggie Q

Mekhi Phifer

Mekhi Phifer

Directed by Neil Burger

'Divergent' explores a society divided into five factions, each with its unique rules and values. As teenagers face a pivotal choice between factions, the film explores the consequences of societal divisions. Adapted from Veronica Roth's popular dystopian book series, 'Divergent' navigates a world where young people must pass rigorous tests to secure their place in society or risk exclusion. The narrative gradually unveils the reasons behind a post-apocalyptic Chicago, echoing themes seen in other dystopian books and movies.

Divergent (2014)

Drawing comparisons to 'The Hunger Games,' 'Divergent' introduces powerful female leads and a corrupt government. Despite its popularity, the film's reception reflects the challenges of translating beloved dystopian books into successful cinematic experiences.

Ready Player One (2018)

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Rotten tomatoes72%
iMBD64
Metacritic7.4
Tye Sheridan

Tye Sheridan

Olivia Cooke

Olivia Cooke

Ben Mendelsohn

Ben Mendelsohn

Lena Waithe

Lena Waithe

T.J. Miller

T.J. Miller

Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg

Mark Rylance

Mark Rylance

Philip Zhao

Philip Zhao

Win Morisaki

Win Morisaki

Hannah John-Kamen

Hannah John-Kamen

Ralph Ineson

Ralph Ineson

Susan Lynch

Susan Lynch

Directed by Steven Spielberg

'Ready Player One,' adapted from Ernest Cline's dystopian book, immerses viewers in a visually dynamic dystopian world dominated by the virtual universe OASIS. Tye Sheridan's Wade Watts navigates a contest within this immersive realm, blending '80s pop culture nostalgia with futuristic CGI.

Dazzling in form and a chase film at its heart, Ready Player One is exhilarating, but it also can’t sit still.The Playlist

The film expertly captures the teenage struggle against otherworldly challenges and the allure of escaping reality through OASIS. 'Ready Player One' contributes to the dynamic landscape of dystopian teenage dramas, offering a thrilling exploration of a future shaped by virtual reality.

The Giver (2014)

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Rotten tomatoes35%
iMBD47
Metacritic6.4
Brenton Thwaites

Brenton Thwaites

Odeya Rush

Odeya Rush

Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep

Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes

Alexander Skarsgård

Alexander Skarsgård

Cameron Monaghan

Cameron Monaghan

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Emma Tremblay

Emma Tremblay

Katharina Damm

Alexander Jillings

James Jillings

Directed by Phillip Noyce

'The Giver,' a dystopian movie featuring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, immerses viewers in a seemingly perfect yet controlled world. Brenton Thwaites' character, Jonas, unravels the facade of a utopia through lessons from 'The Giver.' In contrast to chaotic dystopias, this film explores a meticulously controlled society void of diversity.

The Giver (2014)

Adapted from Lois Lowry's dystopian book, The Giver advocates for independent thought and free will, emphasizing the importance of confronting both joy and pain. The storyline, centered on Jonas preserving memories, delves into the tension between imposed social norms and genuine freedom, offering a nuanced perspective in the realm of dystopian movies.

The Last of Us (2023)

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Rotten tomatoes96%
iMBD84
Metacritic8.8
Pedro Pascal

Pedro Pascal

Bella Ramsey

Bella Ramsey

Qiu Tonglan

Qiu Tonglan

In 'The Last of Us,' the dystopian show unfolds with authentic portrayals of flawed youth navigating trauma and losses in a chaotic world. Amid societal collapse, survivors Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) form an unlikely duo, navigating the terrifying aftermath. The show captures the raw realities of adolescence, portraying teenagers like Ellie as authentic and relatable characters. It skillfully explores both the ups and downs of being a teenager in a dystopian setting, showcasing their innocence and tough exteriors.

The Last of Us (2023) - Ellie & Riley Gets Bitten By Clicker Scenelicker

Ellie brings a grounded and raw authenticity to her role, embodying the challenges of growing up in a post-apocalyptic world. 'The Last of Us' masterfully intertwines the struggles of adolescence with the harsh realities of a dystopian existence, offering a unique perspective on teenage life in a challenging and chaotic environment.

The 100 (2014)

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Rotten tomatoes93%
iMBD64
Metacritic7.6
Eliza Taylor

Eliza Taylor

Marie Avgeropoulos

Marie Avgeropoulos

Bob Morley

Bob Morley

Henry Ian Cusick

Henry Ian Cusick

Christopher Larkin

Christopher Larkin

Isaiah Washington

Isaiah Washington

Devon Bostick

Devon Bostick

Tasya Teles

Tasya Teles

Thomas McDonell

Thomas McDonell

Chuku Modu

Chuku Modu

JR Bourne

JR Bourne

In the dystopian show 'The 100,' juvenile delinquents banished from a space habitat, the Ark, confront the harsh realities of a post-apocalyptic Earth, devastated by nuclear catastrophe. This gripping series unfolds the struggles of these young survivors thrust into an unknown world, navigating the challenges of rebuilding society amidst the remnants of a fallen civilization.

The 100 is better than it has to be, a little more exciting and surprising and intense. New York Magazine (Vulture)

'The 100' masterfully captures the essence of teenage resilience and tenacity, exploring the intricacies of forging alliances and facing adversaries in a landscape forever altered by disaster. As the characters grapple with morality, leadership, and survival, 'The 100' emerges as a compelling narrative that immerses viewers in the visceral experience of a dystopian world, echoing themes prevalent in dystopian books and shows.

Never Let Me Go (2010)

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Rotten tomatoes71%
iMBD69
Metacritic7.1
Carey Mulligan

Carey Mulligan

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley

Andrew Garfield

Andrew Garfield

Charlotte Rampling

Charlotte Rampling

Sally Hawkins

Sally Hawkins

Nathalie Richard

Nathalie Richard

Andrea Riseborough

Andrea Riseborough

Domhnall Gleeson

Domhnall Gleeson

Izzy Meikle-Small

Izzy Meikle-Small

Ella Purnell

Ella Purnell

Charlie Rowe

Charlie Rowe

Kate Bowes Renna

Directed by Mark Romanek

'Never Let Me Go,' a British dystopian movie, delves into the lives of young clones created exclusively for organ donation. Starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Keira Knightley, the film unfolds in a boarding school where cultural education masks the harsh reality of their purpose. Adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro's best-selling dystopian book, the narrative follows these clones as they gradually give up their organs, grappling with the injustice of their predetermined fate.

Never Let Me Go (2010)

This poignant exploration challenges societal norms, prompting critical reflection on the moral implications of scientific advancements. 'Never Let Me Go' provides a compelling portrayal of the struggles faced by teenagers in a dystopian reality, contributing a thought-provoking perspective to the genre of dystopian movies.

City of Ember (2008)

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Rotten tomatoes54%
iMBD58
Metacritic6.4
Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan

Harry Treadaway

Harry Treadaway

Bill Murray

Bill Murray

David Ryall

David Ryall

Tim Robbins

Tim Robbins

Mackenzie Crook

Mackenzie Crook

Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Mary Kay Place

Mary Kay Place

Toby Jones

Toby Jones

Lucinda Dryzek

Lucinda Dryzek

Martin Landau

Martin Landau

Ian McElhinney

Ian McElhinney

Directed by Gil Kenan

In 2008, 'City of Ember' brought dystopian intrigue to theaters, revealing a world sustained by fading lights in the aftermath of a nuclear war. The film, based on Jeanne DuPrau's novel, follows two young adults navigating a crumbling underground city facing darkness as their essential electricity generator falters. This dystopian tale, featuring Saoirse Ronan, Toby Jones, and Bill Murray, explores the struggle for survival and escape in a post-apocalyptic setting.

Entertainment-wise, City of Ember is a good family deal: exciting and simple enough for anyone over 8 to follow yet mature and mildly satirical enough for parents. Portland Oregonian

The narrative revolves around the urgency to confront a failing system, capturing the essence of dystopian challenges and the fight for a better future. 'City of Ember' remains a compelling entry into the realm of dystopian movies, blending suspense with a quest for hope in a darkened world.

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

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Rotten tomatoes62%
iMBD53
Metacritic7.3
Rosa Salazar

Rosa Salazar

Christoph Waltz

Christoph Waltz

Jennifer Connelly

Jennifer Connelly

Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali

Ed Skrein

Ed Skrein

Jackie Earle Haley

Jackie Earle Haley

Keean Johnson

Keean Johnson

Lana Condor

Lana Condor

Jorge Lendeborg Jr.

Jorge Lendeborg Jr.

Eiza González

Eiza González

Jeff Fahey

Jeff Fahey

Idara Victor

Idara Victor

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

'Alita: Battle Angel' paints a vivid picture of a divided world – the lofty utopia of Zalem hovering above, casting its shadow over the near-dystopian Iron City below. Alita, a cyborg with no memory, becomes a symbol of aspiration for those trapped in Iron City's decay, yearning to ascend to Zalem's promised perfection.

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

This adaptation of Yukito Kishiro's cyberpunk manga delves into the struggles of a forgotten cyborg, offering a gripping exploration of a fragmented society and the pursuit of hope amid technological ruins. With stunning visual effects by Weta Digital, Alita's journey stands as a testament to the complexities of existence in a dystopian future.

The Host (2013)

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Rotten tomatoes10%
iMBD35
Metacritic5.8
Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan

Diane Kruger

Diane Kruger

Max Irons

Max Irons

Jake Abel

Jake Abel

William Hurt

William Hurt

Frances Fisher

Frances Fisher

Chandler Canterbury

Chandler Canterbury

Boyd Holbrook

Boyd Holbrook

Stephen Rider

Stephen Rider

Alex Russell

Alex Russell

Rachel Roberts

Rachel Roberts

J.D. Evermore

J.D. Evermore

Directed by Andrew Niccol

The Host immerses us in a dystopian world where alien parasites control human minds. Saoirse Ronan's portrayal of Melanie reveals a gripping internal struggle against the invader Wanderer. The narrative delves into the complexities of coexistence as Melanie's emotions resist the alien takeover. The film, adapted from Stephenie Meyer's post-Twilight novel, offers a unique exploration of teenage dystopian drama, showcasing the challenges of shared existence and the unexpected alliance between protagonist and invader.

The Host (2013) - Chase Scene

Despite Ronan's compelling performance, The Host faced challenges in capturing the attention of dystopian movie enthusiasts, falling short of the success seen in Meyer's earlier works. In its attempt to blend elements of popular dystopian books, the film struggled to carve a lasting space in the genre, ultimately fading into obscurity.

Ender's Game (2013)

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Rotten tomatoes63%
iMBD51
Metacritic6.6
Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford

Asa Butterfield

Asa Butterfield

Hailee Steinfeld

Hailee Steinfeld

Viola Davis

Viola Davis

Ben Kingsley

Ben Kingsley

Abigail Breslin

Abigail Breslin

Aramis Knight

Aramis Knight

Moisés Arias

Moisés Arias

Nonso Anozie

Nonso Anozie

Suraj Partha

Suraj Partha

Khylin Rhambo

Khylin Rhambo

Jimmy 'Jax' Pinchak

Jimmy 'Jax' Pinchak

Directed by Gavin Hood

Ender's Game, featuring Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, and Hailee Steinfeld, presents a dystopian world with a military force defending against an alien threat. This action-adventure seamlessly blends technology, youth, drama, and action, offering an entertaining binge-worthy experience.

Ender's Game (2013) - "Ender's Army" Scene

Adapted from Orson Scott Card's dystopian novel, the film explores the challenges faced by young recruits undergoing rigorous training to combat the alien invasion. Survival hinges on the intense physical and psychological trials, with Andrew Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) emerging as a standout leader in charge of his squad.

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

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Rotten tomatoes13%
iMBD33
Metacritic5.8
Lily Collins

Lily Collins

Jamie Campbell Bower

Jamie Campbell Bower

Robert Sheehan

Robert Sheehan

Kevin Zegers

Kevin Zegers

Jemima West

Jemima West

Lena Headey

Lena Headey

Aidan Turner

Aidan Turner

Jared Harris

Jared Harris

Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Kevin Durand

Kevin Durand

Harry Van Gorkum

Harry Van Gorkum

Godfrey Gao

Godfrey Gao

Directed by Harald Zwart

Mortal Instruments, adapted from Cassandra Clare's best-selling novel, brings an inventive depiction of the underworld and palpable chemistry between Lily Collins's Clary Fray and Jamie Campbell Bower's Jace Herondale. Despite the film feeling overstuffed due to intricate lore and numerous Shadowhunter identities, it stands out for its stylish world-building.

Mortal Instruments (2014)

Lily Collins leads this fantasy action flick, unveiling the narrative of warriors combating demons and navigating the alternate reality of the Shadow World. 'Mortal Instruments,' with its flaws, captures attention with its dynamic characters and remains a notable addition to the realm of teenage dystopian dramas.

The 5th Wave (2016)

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Rotten tomatoes17%
iMBD33
Metacritic5.2
Chloë Grace Moretz

Chloë Grace Moretz

Nick Robinson

Nick Robinson

Ron Livingston

Ron Livingston

Maggie Siff

Maggie Siff

Alex Roe

Alex Roe

Maria Bello

Maria Bello

Maika Monroe

Maika Monroe

Zackary Arthur

Zackary Arthur

Liev Schreiber

Liev Schreiber

Tony Revolori

Tony Revolori

Talitha Bateman

Talitha Bateman

Nadji Jeter

Nadji Jeter

Directed by J Blakeson

'The 5th Wave' stars Chloë Grace Moretz as the resilient heroine in this gripping dystopian movie, adapting an alien invasion trilogy. Moretz begins as a "normal" American teen before dystopia unfolds, featuring the expected elements of two love interests, family protection, and a mysterious villain played by Liev Schreiber. The film explores the thematic waves of alien attacks, providing a unique narrative within the realm of dystopian movies.

Enough of Yancey’s ambitious narrative has made the final cut to reflect an arrestingly original spin on trendy genre tropes. Variety

'The 5th Wave' stands as the sole cinematic representation of the trilogy, bringing a mix of familiar tropes and a compelling alien invasion story. With Moretz at the helm, the movie contributes to the rich genre of teenage dystopian dramas, offering a captivating experience.

The Darkest Minds (2018)

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Rotten tomatoes15%
iMBD39
Metacritic5.7
Amandla Stenberg

Amandla Stenberg

Harris Dickinson

Harris Dickinson

Patrick Gibson

Patrick Gibson

Skylan Brooks

Skylan Brooks

Mandy Moore

Mandy Moore

Miya Cech

Miya Cech

Gwendoline Christie

Gwendoline Christie

Grace DeAmicis

Grace DeAmicis

Faye Foley

Faye Foley

Mark O'Brien

Mark O'Brien

Wallace Langham

Wallace Langham

Golden Brooks

Golden Brooks

Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson

'The Darkest Minds,' a dystopian movie based on Alexandra Bracken's novel, stands out for its memorable futuristic visuals and strong performances. Despite its box office struggles, the film offers a compelling portrayal of teenage struggles in a dystopian world. Amandla Stenberg leads the cast as 16-year-old Ruby, navigating a society where youth with superpowers are hunted by the government amid a global crisis.

The Darkest Minds (2018)

The ensemble, including Harris Dickinson and Skylan Brooks, elevates the narrative, making 'The Darkest Minds' a noteworthy entry in the genre of dystopian movies. Its exploration of themes like authority, rebellion, and the resilience of youth adds depth to the overall portrayal of teenagers facing challenges in a dystopian future.

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