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15 Movies like Children of Men and Other Dystopian Thrillers

Movies like Children of Men

There’s always a special place in our heart for movies like Children of Men and others of its kind. Even though most times we get to see a future that we absolutely want no parts of, fans remain drawn to stories based on these hypothetical futures. Children of Men contains such a unique premise that has garnered the love of fans and critics alike, and that is why we’ve created a list of 15 movies just like it.

Based on the 1992 novel of the same name written by P.D James, Children of Men is set in the year 2027, in a time when infertility has rendered human civilization on the brink of collapse. Clive Owen plays Theo Faron, a civil servant who tries to help a refugee named Kee escape the police state which the United Kingdom has now become. Featuring stars like Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, as well as Owen himself, there is a lot of great acting on show, and has been praised for its use of single shot action sequences.

Children of Men was one of the best movies in its year of release, evident from the awards it carted home at the Academy Awards, as well as the BAFTAS. If you’re looking for more movies that match it in terms of tone, and premise, here are 15 movies like Children of Men. Enjoy!

List of Movies like Children of Men

1. The Day After

2. Escape from New York

3. A Clockwork Orange

4. Fahrenheit 451

5. Stalker

6. The Trial

7. Blade Runner 2049

8. What Happened to Monday?

9. Snowpiercer

10. Sunshine

11. District 9

12. I Am Legend

13. Equilibrium

14. The Book of Eli

15. Thread

1. The Day After (1983)

Set in a police state similar to those seen in movies like Children of Men, The Day After is one of the older movies in this genre, a theme that will carry on for the first half of this list. It focuses on the US in the mid-1980s, as the country is on the brink of nuclear war, and annihilation. Everyone goes about their normal routines, until one day the threat comes to fruition and the bombs actually hit.

An American television film aired on the ABC television network, over 100 million people watched the special as at the time of its airing, setting a record as the highest-rated television film in history at the time. Due in no small fact to the atmosphere of the times, when nuclear war was more of a possibility. If you want to have a glimpse of what had audiences so enamored back then, make sure to give this a watch.  

2. Escape from New York (1981)

The theme from the previous movie is maintained in yet another look into a not-so-distant future, similar to films like Children of Men. Escape from New York, is set 16 years in the future from the time of its release, and is centered around a war between the United States and the Soviet Union which is heading into its climax.

Manhattan, New York, has now been converted into a maximum security prison, and things come to a head when Air Force One is hijacked and crash-landed into the prison island. To save the President, a Special Forces agent known as Snake Plissken is deployed to rescue him. Escape from New York has an intriguing premise that I’m sure you would enjoy. This was White House Down, even before White House Down.

3. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The legendary Stanley Kubrick adapts, produces, and directs A Clockwork Orange, a movie set in a dull, dreary, dystopian England, and follows the story of a juvenile delinquent who is taken on a series of psychological rehabilitations by the English government, reminiscent of the type of heavy handed governments we see in movies similar to Children of Men.

Based on the Anthony Burgess novel of the same name, this movie gives a lot of commentary on themes like psychiatry, violence, and other socio-economic topics which could arise in a dystopian setting such as this. This is a movie with a lot of depth, and if that’s what interests you the most then you’ve got to give it a watch.

4. Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

HBO films sanctioned the 2018 film Fahrenheit 451, a re-adaptation of the 1953 book of the same name, written by Ray Bradbury. Set in a not so far off dystopian future, in the same vein as films similar to Children of Men, Fahrenheit 451 is set in a society where books are now illegal, and is centered around Michael B. Jordan’s Guy Montag, who starts out as a fireman engaged in burning books.

Also starring Michael Shannon as Fire Captain John Beatty, Fahrenheit 451 does veer quite a bit away from its source material, but it remains an intriguing watch, and a look into a future and society which even for some moments can start to feel plausible and real. Check this out if you’re a lover of premises such as this.

5. Stalker (1979)

Stalker is another dystopian thriller similar to films like Children of Men. This movie however, is set in an unnamed country, and in an unspecified time. All that we know is that the characters exist in a wasteland known as The Zone. The plot is centered on an illegal guide who takes a writer and a scientist on a journey to find a place never before seen, known as The Room.

According to the stories, anyone who finds the room will have all of their earthly desires fulfilled. In a world as dire as this, this is one thing that every single person hopes for. Although it was released at the time to lukewarm reviews, Stalker has since become regarded as one of the best films of the 70s, even getting ranked at #29 among the 100 Greatest Films of All Time, by the British Film Institute. There’s no better advert than that.  

6. The Trial (1962)

Citizen Kane writer, director, and producer Orson Welles features in The Trial. The plot is centered on a very amusing yet sinister premise. Josef K., played by Anthony Perkins, is an American Bureaucrat who is placed under open arrest by the police, but much to his dismay, is never given a reason for his arrest, up till the point in which he is sentenced to death!

Praised for its magnificent set design and gripping cinematography, The Trial has an uneasy atmosphere about it, quite similar to films like Children of Men. This movie was a polarizing piece of art upon its release back in the 60s, although it got an eager audience in France. However, its reputation has since grown, enough to be labeled as one of the best films of its time, and enough to make it onto this list. 

7. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 features Once Upon A Time in Hollywood star Ryan Gosling, as Officer K, a blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department. While undergoing his usual routine, he soon discovers a secret that has the risk of changing the whole society as they know it.

Blade Runner 2049 also features Harrison Ford, who reprises his role from the original 1982 film. We also get treated with a host of other movie stars in the cast, like Ana De Armas, Dave Bautista, as well as Jared Leto. Although it was widely considered one of the best movies of 2017, it actually bombed at the box office. If you were one of those that slept on this movie, make sure to grab a DVD, especially if you’re a fan of movies like Children of Men.

8. What Happened to Monday? (2017)

Set in a dystopian future similar to those seen in movies like Children of Men, What Happened to Monday? is centered on a group of septuplets who live in a world where families are allowed only one child each by the government, due to overpopulation and depletion of resources. To combat this problem, each sister gets to go out once a week, as all share a single identity.

Their lives are put in risk, when Monday doesn’t return home one day, and the other sisters have to put their lives on the line to find out why. What Happened to Monday? is a high concept story with an intriguing premise, and you can find it on Netflix nowadays.

9. Snowpiercer (2013)

In Snowpiercer, we are treated to another enthralling story set in a dystopian future, comparable in many ways to movies similar to Children of Men. Snowpiercer is set in the time of Earth’s second ice age, and follows the lives of people living a luxury train that runs in perpetuity.

While the rich and wealthy live in comfort and splendor on the train, the poor live in squalor, and it hits a climax when those poor residents decide enough is enough, and set out a plan to take over the train’s engine room, and the train as a whole. This movie is a wild ride, literally, and you definitely have to give it a watch.

10. Sunshine (2007)

Set in a not-too-distant future, similarly to films like Children of Men, Sunshine focuses on humanity on its last legs, as their sun is about to die. To prevent the apocalypse, a group of eight scientists are sent into space to make use of a device that will be capable of reviving the dying star, and save humanity.

It’s a dangerous and desperate mission that takes a turn for the worse, when their spaceship is involved in an accident, and sent into a tailspin. This movie, directed by Danny Boyle, is flush with acting talent, including Oppenheimer’s Cillian Murphy, and The Avengers’ Chris Evans. If you want a look at their acting careers a few years before their star turn, then this is the movie for you.

11. District 9 (2009)

District 9 is a movie about aliens who arrive on Earth to gain refuge after leaving their dying planet. Humans keep them separated from the rest of the world, in a place known as District 9. In a smart way used in exploring issues like xenophobia and segregation, a company known as Multi-National United keeps them there simply to master their technology.

Similar to movies like Children of Men, in terms of tone, District 9 was a big box office success, garnering Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Visual Effects among others. If you love movies with crazy and never before seen premises, you’ll love District 9.

12. I Am Legend (2007)

I Am Legend is one of Will Smith’s most iconic films. Smith plays the part of Robert Neville, a scientist, and apparently, the sole survivor (at least in New York) of a plague that turns humans into blood-thirsty monsters. He spends his days roaming New York City with his dog while searching for a cure to the plague.

I Am Legend made a whopping $585.4 million in the box office off of a $150 million budget, and has been praised especially for Will Smith’s performance as a lone ranger, living in a world on his own. There have been talks of a sequel to be produced by Michael B. Jordan in 2022, so catch up on the first part, before that comes to fruition, especially if you’re a fan of films similar to Children of Men.

13. Equilibrium (2002)

Equilibrium, starring The Dark Knight’s Christian Bale, is set in a futuristic world, similar to those seen in movies like Children of Men. In this world, the government has passed laws all with the aim of suppressing emotions. This means all books, art and music are banned, and reading or even having feelings is a crime, punishable by death.

Christian Bale’s Cleric John Preston is a high-ranking government agent who is responsible for killing off those who commit the crime of feeling. This is until one day, he himself begins to feel. This plot, although a tried and tested one especially in dystopian movies, is executed to a high level in Equilibrium, and you’ll definitely enjoy it.

14. The Book of Eli (2010)

Denzel Washington plays the character of Eli, a nomad going through a wasteland world. But there is one thing special about him, and this is the fact that he holds with him the last hope for all of humanity. He is also hunted with a vengeance by the only other person who knows what he holds in his possession.

The Book of Eli is a grim and dour look into a dystopian future, as seen in films similar to Children of Men. An attention gripping storyline, with powerful performances by Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman, who plays his antagonist, you won’t regret seeing this film.

15. Threads (1984)

Threads takes us back to where we all started, with the threat of nuclear war brewing in the background. It is set in a quiet town of Sheffield, England, as the lives of the townsfolk are thrown into jeopardy, when a nuclear attack destroys a base 20 miles away from them, and the fallout makes its way to their town and to their homes.

Similar in plot to movies like The Day After, and in tone to movies similar to Children of Men, Threads was the first movie to depict a nuclear war and got nominated for seven BAFTAs, winning the awards for Best Single Drama, Best Design, among many others.

Honorable Mentions

Here are some movies like Children of Men that didn’t quite make the list but you can watch regardless:

  1. The Lobster (2015)

2. Mad Max (2016)

3. Soylent Green (1973)

When Lost aired over a decade ago, its successful narrative created a pop culture impact and changed the landscape of television. If you are a fan and want to watch shows like Lost then you can have a look at this list we made just for you.


The hugely successful television series Lost aired in 2004. The premise, as we know, deals with a group of people surviving a commercial passenger plane crash on a remote island. The show masterfully explores supernatural and sci-fi elements on this mysterious south Pacific island.

The use of cliffhangers at the end of each episode of Lost kept the viewers on the edge of their seats, desperately craving for the next episode to come. Even though it's a large ensemble cast, most of the characters receive a justifiable personal arch. Lost was inspired by the movie Castaway and became one of the most expensive pilots to be shot at the time! Lost continues to be appreciated for its originality in storytelling and dynamic character arcs. 

List of TV Shows Like Lost

  1. The Leftovers
  2. Manifest
  3. Lost Room
  4. Twin Peaks
  5. The Prisoners
  6. Battlestar Galactica
  7. The New People
  8. Flight 29 Down
  9. Fringe
  10. Alcatraz
  11. Under the Dome
  12. Dark

1. The Leftovers (2014)

IMDB ratings: 8.3/10

Cast: Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman and Margaret Qualley

Creator: Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta

The director of Lost, Damon Lindel also created a supernatural drama series called The Leftovers. The show begins 3 years after an unexplainable global event called ‘Sudden Departure’  where almost 2 per cent of the population, nearly 140 million people, disappear. The Leftovers isn't about WHY people are gone, it's about how the ones who remain dealt with their loss, people often try to comfort themselves with dreams, angels, gods, or even death.

The Leftovers will leave you with so many questions but beyond words, you have to feel it and savour its unanswered questions to find peace. The Leftovers is an incredible television series that starts incredibly well but loses its way by the series's end. I have to say though, Carrie Coon has brilliant moments in the end. The Leftovers is so weird, fragmented and nonsensical at times that it reminds me of Lost. If you are looking for shows like Lost, I recommend that you give The Leftovers a try.

2. Manifest  (2018) 

IMDB ratings: 7.1/10

Cast: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas and J.R. Ramirez 

Creator: Jeff Rake

The Manifest is a supernatural drama show about a bunch of people who discover that they lost 5 years of their lives when they landed in New York after their aeroplane faced severe turbulence. All the people on the plane were presumed to be dead. Now, these people have to find a way to adjust themselves to a new life around their loved ones. Mild spoiler! They learn their loved ones and the rest of society is not as they left it.

I found that the show’s premise was very intriguing and the actors give a very convincing performance. The narrative details of the show, however, in my opinion, are a bit sloppy and inconsistent. The writers surely have room for improvement but their concept is incredibly thrilling. Every episode of Manifest keeps you on your toes. Manifest has completed 3 seasons up until now and continues to be on air. Manifest is a pretty good choice if you want to watch TV shows like Lost.

3. Lost Room (2006)

IMDB ratings: 8.1/10

Cast: Peter Krause, Julianna Margulies and Peter Jacobson

Creator: Christopher Leone, Laura Harkcom

This lesser-known show The Lost Room is an American Sci-fi television miniseries which only had 3 episodes of 90 mins each and no follow-up seasons. The show was based on a very unique idea where the room in question (known as the ‘Lost Room’) and the objects in the said room had supernatural powers. This strange room is set in a 1960s motel along the iconic U.S. Route 66.

One day the protagonist (Peter Krause) Joe Miller’s daughter disappears inside the room. Joe, with the help of objects present in the room, tries to find his daughter Anna (Elle Fanning). The story of Lost Room was intensely engaging. I found the direction and the actor’s performances to be absolutely brilliant. It baffles me that the creators did not return to make another short season within the same concept. If you have been searching for TV series like Lost then I can assure you that Lost Room will be worth a watch.

4. Twins Peaks (1990) 

IMDB ratings: 8.8/10

Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Mädchen Amick, Sherilyn Fenn and David Lynch

Creator: David Lynch

David Lynch, the well-known director of weird and captivating films such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet created an iconic show called Twin Peaks. It is a hauntingly eccentric show about the investigation of the mysterious murder of a small-town homecoming queen named Laura Palmer. Believe me, as odd as the show may seem at first, you will grow to love it, after all, it is considered to be one of the best mystery shows ever created.

With the mysteries, the supernatural elements and the list of bizarre characters, Twin Peaks has it all. In my opinion, the cinematography of the show was truly ahead of its time. Kyle’s Dale Cooper was especially entertaining. Twin Peaks’ experimental formula of the satirical soap opera is extremely unsettling yet rewarding to watch, I must warn you, it’s not for the faint-hearted!  If you are in search of TV shows like Lost then Twin Peaks won’t disappoint you.

The Prisoners (1967)

IMDB ratings: 8.5/10

Cast: Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat and Geroge Markstien

Creator: Patrick McGoohan

The Prisoner centres around an unnamed British agent (Patrick McGoohan) who tries to flee his country after abruptly quitting his high-ranking government job. He is abducted and held captive in a strange ‘sea-side’ village that is isolated from the rest of the world. This village is a highly secure and monitored place filled with weird technology. There are only 17 episodes to this late 60s show but it manages to bring up such surreal surprises, it's sure to leave a great impact on the viewer.

The Prisoner’s unique concept influenced many popular shows including Lost. The creators of Lost even cited the show. I was very impressed by how ahead of its time The Prisoners proves to be. If you want to watch more shows similar to Lost the Prisoners should definitely be on your list.

6. Battlestar Galactica (2004)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Katee Sackhoff, Edward James Olmos and Tricia Helfer 

Creator: Glen A. Larson

The 2004 Battlestar Galactica is a reboot of the original 1978 miniseries of the same name. Do not be mistaken by the title, the show is not related to Star Trek.  Battlestar Galactica is set in the 7th millennium AD and follows Cylons, the robot enemy of humanity that resurfaces to destroy the 12 colonies of Mankind. Only a few survive and are able to escape on ships led by a powerful warship called Battlestar Galactica. Mankind struggles to fight the Cylons and work their own political agendas and disputes while finding their long-lost 13th colony Earth.

The show is a dark, intense and gritty socio-political commentary with EPIC cinematic value. The script is especially clever and as a huge fan of sci-fi shows, this show ticks the boxes in all the right categories. When the show was released, it blew the viewers and critics away. As far as an obsessive and gripping story goes, Battlestar Galactica is one of the most similar to shows like Lost. 

7. The New People (1969)

IMDB ratings: 7.3/10

Cast: David Moses, Zooey hall and Tiffany Boiling

Creator: Larry Gordon Aaron Spelling

The New People is an American Tv series that aired only for 1 season and is focused on a couple of college students who survive a plane crash. The incident takes place while they were returning from a trip to Southeast Asia, their plane crashes on an island in the south of the Pacific ocean. 

By now this show must already be sounding a lot like Lost to you, and it surely is. The remaining group of people discover an unusual truth about the island: there’s an above-ground unused nuclear test site filled with supplies for the survivors. If you want to see more plane survival stories like Lost then The New People should definitely be on your list.

8. Flight 29 Down (2005)

IMDB ratings: 7.2/10

Cast: Allen Alvarado, Halle Hirsh and Corbin Bleu

Creator:  Stan Rowgow D. J. MacHale

The show Flight 29 Down is a drama series about a group of pre-teens/teens who are stranded on a South Pacific island after their plane crashes in a tropical storm while they were flying from an eco-adventure camping trip in Palau. The show is in many ways a younger version of the Adult-centred show Lost but sans the supernatural elements. I’d say that the show draws inspiration from the show The New People.

Flight 29 Down uses the technique of a video diary as a plot device for the viewers to keep up with the story of these children. It was very engaging to watch young intelligent characters finding their way on the island. The first two seasons of the show are quite engaging but I seemed to lose interest in its 3rd and final season. Regardless, Flight 29 Down is a really good series to watch if you want to see TV shows like Lost.

9. Fringe (2008)

IMDB ratings: 8.4/10

Cast: Anna Torv, John Noble and Joshua Jackson

Creator: J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci

Fringe is a popular Sci-fi crime drama television series. It may seem like a standard procedural drama at first, but the show actually explores the parallel universe, alternate versions of people filled with crazy scientific experiments. I personally had a great time watching this show.

Fringe is actually inspired by shows like Lost, The X-files and The Twilight Zone. The 3 main characters of the show work with a special division called Fringe. There are so many brilliant twists and turns in Fringe that in my opinion, the show is at the top of its category. If you are searching for TV series like Lost, I strongly recommend you watch Fringe

10. Alcatraz (2012)

IMDB ratings: 6.9/10

Cast: Sarah Jones, George Garcia and Jonny Coyne 

Creator: Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt

This American fiction show is based on the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary built on Alcatraz island in San Francisco Bay. The prison is now closed but once kept some of the most dangerous criminals of America. The show takes the liberty to make a show around the conspiracies of the place.

In the interesting premise we see that under unknown circumstances, 256 inmates and 46 guards of the prison disappear without a trace. Later the disappeared ones start to appear one by one without ageing a day and resume their criminal activities with no realisation of disappearance. A special government unit is dedicated to finding and putting those criminals back in prison. If you are looking for mystery shows similar to Lost, try watching Alcatraz. 

11. Under the Dome (2013)

IMDB ratings: 6.5/10

Cast: Alexander Koch and Rachelle Lefevre

Creator: Stephen King

Based on a novel written by the sci-fi legend Stephen King, Under the Dome tells the story of the residents of the fictional small town called Chester's Mill, when a huge, transparent and indestructible dome suddenly cuts them off from the rest of the world.

Now the trapped residents try to find a way to discover the truth, origin and purpose of these domes. This journey forces them into situations where they learn more about each other than they ever knew. Under the Dome may not be on the top of this list but it’s quite a decent watch if you’re looking for mystery shows similar to Lost

12. Dark (2017)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Louis Hofmann, Lisa Vicari and Gina Stiebitz

Creator: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese

The German-language Netflix series Dark is an interesting blend of Science fiction and Mystery. Truly a compelling and mind-bending story to watch. At the beginning of Dark, many children suspiciously start disappearing in the German town of Winden. The dark past of generational mysteries of 4 families living in the town namely, Kahnwald, Nielsen, Doppler, and Tiedemann is brought to light.

After the discovery of a wormhole, the lives of the families intertwine more than one can imagine. I believe every element of the show is top-notch, especially Dark’s cinematography, which is a TRUE masterpiece. If you are looking for TV series similar to Lost then the intense and gripping story of Dark is sure to keep you engrossed.

Honourable Mentions

Here are a few TV shows like Lost that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless: 

  1. Carnivale
  2. Yellowjackets
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. Black Mirror
  5. Flashforward
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