Top 10 Cyberpunk TV Shows You Should Watch in 2022
There’s nothing the corporations would like more than for you to mindlessly watch TV, consume media and believe in their propaganda. While they shouldn’t get what they want, there’s no denying the world’s “Netflix and Chill” culture of watching shows online after work, for fun or to relax. Well, if you’re going to binge watch anyways, we here at Cyberpunk Matrix have 10 series you can try to binge that will hopefully help you wake up to the reality that these evil corporations are trying to hide from you. So let’s get into our top 10 Cyberpunk series to watch in 2022! (Try as we might, we couldn’t rank them, so they are presented in no particular order).
Psycho Pass (2012)
Ever wonder what it would be like if you could take the technology in Minority Report and put it in a bad-ass gun? Then you’d get something similar to what Psycho Pass has to offer. Set in a dystopian future in Japan, a complex network of psychometric scanners called the Sibyl System measures the minds of the populace using a “cymatic scan” to give every citizen a “Psycho-Pass.” If their Psycho Pass is higher than an acceptable threshold, the person can pursued, captured, and eliminated if need be. Police detectives then use “Enforcers” to hunt down these individuals. Enforcers are humans with higher-than-acceptable crime coefficients who are used as hunting dogs to find the latent criminals. Both Enforcers and Detectives use these large handguns called “Dominators” that change their lethality based on the crime coefficients of the targets they are aimed upon, in real time. The series follows Akane Tsunemori, a new recruit, as the team fight crime and then later learn more about the darker side of their crime-fighting system.
With inspirations from such other notable Cyberpunk works like Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Gattaca, another big inspiration was the film-noir L.A. Confidential. The series garnered critical acclaim from both the west and the east, as the series explored psychological themes in society and morality. It’s a classic Cyber-Noir psychological thriller which shouldn’t be missed. You can check out our full review of the series here.
Batman Beyond (1999)
While not 100% Cyberpunk, you will often find Batman Beyond on any proper Cyberpunk fan’s top 10 list. Set in a future filled with all the best kinds of futuristic tech, this sci-fi classic had several Cyberpunk episodes, which we at Cyberpunk Matrix went over in detail here. The future Gotham features an old and wizened Bruce Wayne who has passed on the Batman mantle to young Terry McGuiness when he stumbles into Bruce’s mansion one day. Bruce now mans the Batcave and helps Terry on his missions to keep a new Gotham clean from criminals, while Terry tries to continue navigating High School. With Kevin Conroy coming back to voice Bruce Wayne once again, he’s joined by Will Friedle to voice Terry McGuiness, and both do an excellent job. The series ran for two years, until 2001, spanning 52 episodes and leading to The Justice League right after it ended. With its dark and very Cyberpunk artwork, the series featured many dark issues, particularly in reference to teenage issues such as substance abuse, subcultures, child abuse and neglect, school violence, peer pressure and more while still staying a kid-friendly cartoon.
Blade Runner: Black Lotus (2021)
Having just come out last year, Blade Runner: Black Lotus follows the story of female replicant Elle as she attempts to regain her memory to figure out who she is, with the only clue being the mysterious tattoo of a lotus on her shoulder and an encrypted data cube. Set after the original Blade Runner but before Blade Runner 2049, the series is a fun, true-to-form modern return to the Blade Runner universe. Both in story and in visuals, it feels better than Ghost in the Shell_SAC_2045. This series may fly under the radar for many, but is well worth the viewing. It’s also one of the most recent modern good Cyberpunk series, having just come out last year.
The Animatrix (2003)
The Animatrix is comprised of 9 short films which explain the origins of the Matrix, including how the machines rose to power and why the Earth turned into the dystopian nightmare that it did, but also provides side-stories set in the Matrix universe. Released in June 2003, it does an amazing job of showing different parts of the Matrix universe, questioning reality, and telling the intimate stories of humans, machines, programs, and everything in between. It’s as cyberpunk as you’ll ever get. The artwork for each short story also varies widely. There are some classic anime styles, some digital animation, a black and white anime, and lots of different artists with different styles as well. For a quick and concise explanation of the world before the Matrix, watch the second and third episodes called The Second Renaissance (parts 1 and 2). Fora prelude to Matrix Reloaded, with an incredible artistic digital animation, watch episode one: The Final Flight of the Osiris. The episode also has a great musical track by Juno Reactor, called Conga Fury. And for a true Film Noir style episode, check out A Detective Story, episode 8.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002)
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is probably the golden standard for Cyberpunk TV Shows, and should always be in any proper top 10 Cyberpunk shows list. Ghost in the Shell originally started as a Manga that ran from 1989 to 1997, with the first book running from 1989 to 1991. In 1995 an anime film with the same name came out, which also became an instant Cyberpunk classic. Stand Alone Complex would later come out in 2002 and run for two years with two seasons. The story follows Major Motoko Kusanagi and her team with Public Security Section 9 in the future year of 2030 in Japan as she investigates issues of cyberterrorism from a mysterious hacker only known as the Laughing Man. It’s a thrilling detective story set in the future with hacking and cybernetics, delivered in true stylistic Cyberpunk fashion in downtown Tokyo.
Black Mirror (2011)
Black Mirror is a live action series of 5 seasons, with each season having between 3 and 6 episodes only. Most episodes are psychological thrillers, some more dark than others, but for the most dark and thrilling of episodes, I will definitely say that Black Mirror is not for the faint of heart. Generally critically acclaimed, the series shows the absolute worst that could happen from specific technologies if they were taken too far. First released in December 2011, the last season aired in 2019. Black Mirror also had one episode, called Bandersnatch, that featured one of the first and perhaps only episodes on Netflix to be interactive, meaning that viewers can choose how characters respond to certain situations, resulting in 5 distinct different endings to the episode. One of the episodes, Metalhead, featured a technology that has an uncanny resemblance to some tech that is developing today. We reviewed the episode and its implications a few years ago here. Other noteworthy episodes that feature technology that we may soon see someday include:
- Fifteen Million Merits (social media, online currency, and TV game shows, from season 1)
- Nose Dive (Social Currency, Season 3)
- San Junipero (Virtual Reality, Season 3)
- Men Against Fire (Augmented Reality, Season 3)
- Hated in the Nation (Social Media and Cancel Culture, Season 3)
- Black Museum (Digital Consciousness, Season 4)
Love, Death, & Robots (2019)
Love, Death, & Robots is now a 2-season animated adult anthology on Netflix. The animated shorts vary just like the Animatrix in anime style, animated style, and digitally animated style, and each episode is standalone and not at all connected with any other episode. The stories themselves vary as being sci-fi, fantasy, a mix of both, or simply absurdism. Most episodes are serious, some are tongue-in-cheek, others facetious, but they are all great. Not all are Cyberpunk–in fact, most of them aren’t. But the ones that are Cyberpunk, are actually really good, and thus merit putting the series in this top ten list. We here at Cyberpunk Matrix already reviewed the Cyberpunk episodes here and here.
3. Cowboy Bebop Live Action (2021) and Anime (1998)
Although Genre-bending and not 100% cyberpunk, it’s close enough that many Cyberpunk fans consider it Cyberpunk. Plus the original anime is a legend, considered by many to be the best anime of all time. Thus it merits a spot in our top 10, especially considering it was very recently adapted to a live action series on Netflix. Although the anime is almost 2 decades old, it definitely stands the test of time, and although the live action adaptation had mixed reviews (I personally really liked it), its modernity qualifies it to also have a spot on this list.
Cowboy Bebop is about a team of Bounty Hunters who live on board the space vessel Bebop, and their antics as they all try to earn a living while observing their own versions of moral values. There’s also a loose plot centered on Spike’s departure from the mob as his past comes back to haunt him. Both the anime and live action feature episodes that can mostly stand on their own, a bit like the Mandalorian in the sense that each episode they go somewhere with their ship, things happen, and then they get back on their ship and go to the next place for the next episode. Due to its music, visuals, hilarious irreverence from its characters in their interactions with others and themselves, and very punk nature of the series, you should definitely watch both of these series. The live action follows some episodes and events of the anime but then also deviates a bit, in particular with the ending.
2. Upload (2020)
Upload is now 2 seasons long, the first one coming out in 2020 and the second coming out in March 2022. It’s the most recent cyberpunk media to come out as of this writing, and it’s very good. It’s also a comedy, with a sprinkling of mystery and drama, which is rare to find in the Cyberpunk genre. It’s quite a genre outlier, more unusual even than Cowboy Bebop’s genre-bending. But it definitely qualifies as Cyberpunk as it has all the high-tech, low-life elements that you can come to expect.
Set in the year 2033, humans are able to upload their consciousness to a virtual afterlife, with the better afterlife constructs being ones their users pay more for. When computer programmer Nathan dies prematurely due to an accident on the highway with his self-driving car, his girlfriend convinces him to upload to “Lakeview”, an expensive digital afterlife, only to find himself under her oppressive thumb as she holds total control of his funds and thus, his afterlife. He later develops feelings for his “angel handler”, Nora (a real-life customer service rep), which becomes somewhat awkward for all involved, in a very humorous way.
1. Altered Carbon (2018)
Ever wonder what it would be like if we had a future where our consciousness could be stored in a little “black box” of sorts called a stack implanted below our brain in our spine? Well, if you did, then you’d get the world of Altered Carbon. The series was released on Netflix in 2018, an adaptation from Richard Morgan’s 2002 novel of the same name, and then renewed for a second season before the series was cancelled.
Both the novel and Altered Carbon season 1 really did a great job in getting the Cyberpunk aesthetic right. The novel is a true detective noir which the series adapted very well, although there’s a considerable amount of differences between both, especially for the endings.
Altered Carbon is about Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-elite soldier called an envoy, the last of his squad. He wakes up 250 years after his death when his digital consciousness, or stack, is inserted into a new organic body, or sleeve, so that Kovacs can help an ultra-rich man, Laurens Bancroft, solve his own murder. Kovacs’ investigation will lead him down dangerous paths with mistrustful cops, lethal Russian mobs, and more. With a dark thrilling mystery, gore, and a charming AI companion, you get everything you need with Altered Carbon.
Top 10 Cyberpunk TV Shows you need to watch in 2022
So that’s our top 10 roundup! What did you think of our list? Are there any shows we didn’t include that you think should be included? Let us know in the comments below!
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