10 Cyberpunk Movies and Shows If You Already Watched Blade Runner 100 Times
While Ridley Scott's film is an undeniable pillar of the genre, there are many other fascinating installments that have been created over the years.
Cyberpunk is a particularly interesting branch of the sci-fi genre that emerged around the 1980s and immediately captured the minds of countless fans.
Defined by its dark and hopeless nature that describes the future as "high tech-low life," there have been many installments in the genre over the years, but one of, if not the most influential, was of course Blade Runner.
It was so groundbreaking that William Gibson, one of the founding fathers of the genre, had to rewrite a third of his novel Neuromancer after seeing Ridley Scott's movie because he happened to be working on his book at the time and was afraid of being accused of plagiarism.
But there are plenty of other great cyberpunk movies and TV shows created in the genre, so let's take a look at them if you want to explore the genre further on screen.
1. Strange Days (1995)
Written by James Cameron himself, the film is set in the last days of an alternate 1999 in a dystopian Los Angeles.
Lenny Nero, portrayed by Ralph Fiennes, sells people's recorded memories on the black market, but he has a rule of not dealing in anything truly perverse and illegal.
When he accidentally stumbles upon a recording of a real murder, it sets him on a path to solving the mystery behind the disturbing crime.
2. Altered Carbon (2018-2020)
The first season of this show is an exemplary and self-contained cyberpunk story with many intriguing twists and turns, so we'll focus on it instead of the disappointing second season.
Set in a world where humanity has become virtually immortal due to a person's consciousness being recorded on small implants called "stacks," the show follows Takeshi Kovacs, an old member of a rebel group with exceptional training.
The first season revolves around him, awakened after 250 years of imprisonment, being hired by wealthy magnate Laurens Bancroft to investigate the latter's apparent suicide (which Bancroft survived thanks to a backup copy of his stack).
3. Upgrade (2018)
Directed by Leigh Whannell and starring Logan Marshall-Green, the film is set in 2046 and follows Grey Trace, who enjoys his job repairing old (by future standards) cars and doesn't rely on advanced technology more than he needs to.
However, Grey's life is turned upside down when an armed assault leaves his wife dead and him paralyzed from the neck down.
Thanks to an experimental STEM implant, Grey gets back on his feet, but the device, which contains an AI, allows him to do much more, including finding those who ruined the mechanic's life.
4. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002-2005)
The 1995 animated feature film Ghost in the Shell is almost as iconic as Blade Runner thanks to its massive influence on the genre, but the later installments of the franchise are not mentioned as often.
2004's Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was a pretty good sequel, though inferior to the original, and barely featured fan-favorite Motoko Kusanagi, but the Stand Alone Complex TV series revolves entirely around her.
While it doesn't raise as many deep questions as the 1995 movie, it's a great police procedural that expands the world of the franchise significantly and is incredibly entertaining.
5. Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Vaguely based on the short story of the same name by the aforementioned William Gibson, this Keanu Reeves-starring film is not the greatest cyberpunk movie ever made, but it's still pretty entertaining, especially if you're into nostalgic 80s-90s retro-futurism.
It follows the titular Johnny, who has traded some of his memories for a data storage device that allows him to work as a "mnemonic courier," delivering valuable information uploaded into his head.
After a deal goes awry, Johnny is stuck with an overloaded brain and must find a way to get rid of the data before it kills him.
While the movie deviated significantly from the original story, it still retained some signature elements of the source material, such as a stunning dystopian futuristic world, assassins with deadly implants, and... a cybernetically enhanced dolphin that can decipher data.
6. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners (2022)
This animated TV series serves as a prequel/spinoff to the 2020 video game Cyberpunk 2077, which is itself based on a tabletop role-playing game setting.
The show follows street kid David Martinez, who after a tragic accident ends his hopes for a bright future and instead uses a military-grade implant to rise to the top of the food chain in Night City's underworld.
While not the most thought-provoking installment in the genre, like 1995's Ghost in the Shell, it is an intriguing story with quite well-written characters and visually stunning action scenes.
7. RoboCop (1987)
Yes, Paul Verhoeven's sci-fi action classic also belongs to the cyberpunk subgenre, as it shares most of its characteristics.
After Alex Murphy, a police officer in a dystopian Detroit, is fatally injured in the line of duty, he is turned into a prototype cyborg by the Omni Consumer Products Corporation.
Now more machine than man, he serves the law, or so he thinks, because the corporation that "saved" his life has some nasty secrets.
If you are put off by the age of the film, you might want to check out the 2014 reboot, which, while inferior to the original, is still a good sci-fi action flick.
8. Existenz (1999)
Directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law, Existenz is a mind-bending story set in a cyberpunk (or rather biopunk, one of the subgenre's branches) world where bioengineered virtual reality gaming consoles have become the norm.
After a famous game designer, Allegra Geller, survives an assassination attempt during the presentation of her latest project, a chain of strange events begins as she and a publicist Ted Pikul try not only to stay alive, but also to figure out what's real and what's just a simulation.
9. Dredd (2012)
The original 2000 AD comics, first published in 1977, were among the forerunners of the cyberpunk genre, so it's no surprise that the 2012 adaptation shares many familiar genre traits.
The futuristic metropolis of Mega-City One is so plagued by crime that a special organization of law enforcers had to be invented to serve as judge, jury, and executioner on the spot.
The movie follows the titular Judge Dredd, portrayed by Karl Urban, as he storms a mega-building run by drug lord Madeline Madrigal, played by Lena Headey.
While the story is fairly straightforward, the visually stunning and bloody action, along with the great dystopian atmosphere, make watching Dredd a time well spent.
10. Psycho-Pass (2012-2013)
A spiritual successor to Minority Report (as the Tom Cruise-led movie was one of the sources of inspiration), this anime series is set in a world where every citizen has a numerical index based on their psychological state that indicates their propensity to commit a crime.
The first season of the show (which is the best) revolves around a police department made up of borderline criminals who are tracking a serial killer who not only manages to avoid constant surveillance, but also improves his index with each kill, which should be impossible.