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What is utopian fiction in film and television? Definition and examples

A utopia seems like a great place to live. What could go wrong?

The famous maxim is: “In the village of happy people there are no stories.” Even so, we have seen utopian fiction flourish in film and television since the dawn of time. Maybe that’s because something always goes wrong in utopia – but we’ll come back to that later.

Right now I want you to think about a TV show or movie that the world you would like to live in. Take a moment now to see if you made up your mind Jurassic ParkThey’re likely to be eaten and when you’ve picked Titanic, You may only have a week to spend with the people you love.

When considering what world to live in, it may be best to choose a utopia.

In fiction, we see people striving to create those perfect worlds where things are fair to all. Utopia is a powerful world. Today we want to cover its definition, some examples in film and television, the specific tropes within the genre, and the characters who inhabit these worlds.

Get ready to experience pure joy … just before it all falls apart.


“Things That Will Come” (1936)Recognition: United artists

What is utopian fiction in film and television?

We have a whole post cover for dystopia, I thought we should spend some time on the opposite. The truth is that there are many genres trying to show utopias and many ways they can inspire and complement your writing.

Let’s find out the word and then go from there.

Utopian definition of fiction

Utopian fiction depicts an idyllic setting or a society striving for perfection. At the center is an imaginary community that has almost perfect properties for its citizens.

The term “utopia” was coined by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describes a fictional island society. The opposite of a utopia is a dystopia that dominates most of film and television. Even so, utopias exist and writing about one can help you stand out from the crowd.


“Rollerball” (1975)Recognition: 20th Century Fox

Utopian Fiction Tropes

Working in this type of writing speaks about the ideal state of society. It can focus on equality, destiny, love, and higher callings. In these societies we do not see any racial, gender or gender segregation.

These types of stories almost always involve doom. Either society is failing, or some of the mechanisms that hold society up are perverted by human nature.

“There is nothing better than a dream to shape the future. Utopia today, flesh and blood tomorrow.” – – Victor Hugo

Utopian fictional characters

Who lives in a utopia? We have our list of character archetypes, and as you’d expect, you need philosophers and intellectuals. You need healers and maybe a few people who seem to have otherworldly powers, especially if you fit into the fantasy genre. You also need warriors, not only to protect the place but to make sure everyone stays in line.


“Demolition Man” (1993)Recognition: Warner Bros.

Utopian Fiction Worldbuilding

When working on a utopia, you have to think about how it exists and what other genres you bring into play. Is it like Rivendell in the Lord of the Rings or is it more like Washington, DC, in Minority report?

The world building here can mean building a place or a whole globe.

Things to be aware of are whether or not you are following a system of government, a corporation, or a secret enclave. Also, think about the action you want. Are you tearing this utopia apart or setting it up?

“A map of the world without utopia is not even worth looking at, because it omits the one country in which humanity always ends up. And when humanity lands there, it looks out and sets sail for a better land. Progress is the realization of utopias . “- – Oscar Wilde

Feminist utopias in film and television

One of the largest sub-categories of utopian fiction is that of feminist utopia. Feminist utopia envisions a society without gender suppression and envisions a future or an alternative reality in which men and women are not stuck in traditional roles of inequality but are equal. Or even a society without men. Look at Themyscira in Wonder woman. It is an island habitat that is only populated by Amazon warriors.

Or how about a TV show? The bold guy, that shows women working together in a magazine and supporting each other? Another twist would be the one to come Y: The last man TV show on FX. This is a world where all men but one are dead and women are working to fix the world.

And you don’t have to create such a show just for women. In theory, everyone should be the same in a utopia anyway.

Let’s look at some more examples of utopian fiction in film and television.


‘Wonder Woman’ (2017)Recognition: Warner Bros.

Examples of utopian fiction in film

Let’s start with a masterpiece. Peter Weirs The Truman Show is about a man who lives in the perfect city. Outside, billions of people watch his life unfold on television. But this utopia is about to crack when the person in the middle begins to see the mistakes.

At the end of this film, Truman has a choice between a life of perfection or a flawed world where anything can happen.

Another film that I wanted to highlight is the overlooked film. The circle. It’s about a more informed look at a tech utopia. In it we follow someone who takes his dream job. In this twist, we see someone working to build a personal utopia by stepping into someone else’s.

Again the twist is that the world falls apart when the notion of perfection is challenged, but you can see how this is true of a grounded version of a world as well.

Finally, let’s step in and visit classic Hollywood metropolis, Fritz Lang’s science fiction masterpiece. We see a futuristic city where someone says a savior will come to unite them. This is a utopia without a twist. It is a story of sustaining society where drama is building, not collapse.

We often see these tropes more on television than in the cinema. But this one has stood the test of time.


“Metropolis” (1927)Recognition: Paramount Pictures

Examples of utopian fiction on television

Television is the best place to watch utopias build and destroy. You have multiple episodes to steep people in the world. First, let’s look at a show whose title is literally the subject we’re talking about.

Utopia is about a group of young adults fighting the deep state to save the world. While this seems like a dystopia, I think we are classifying it into the category where people try to build a much better world after knowing what is going on below the surface. (Also check out the original UK version of this show if you can. It’s amazing.)

Another one of my favorite shows of all time is The good place. For those who haven’t seen it, the pilot takes place in a utopia where it feels like heaven. It’s the perfect place … but we’re following a girl who thinks she shouldn’t be there …

It’s one of the funniest performances in TV history, and the show builds on the real-world idea of ​​what a “good place” should look like and also asks what kinds of people should go there. It’s a great way to subvert the expected tropes.

Most recently, I wanted to watch multi-camera sitcoms. In the world of network television, most of these characters live in relative utopias. The Friends Apartment is huge, the gang is out His field doesn’t see any real ramifications for her actions until the finale, and it’s rarely a matter of life and death.

While there are a few exceptions to the rule, I find that when you’re writing a multi-cam sitcom, people want to see an idyllic life with superficial problems.

So keep that in mind!


“The good place” (2016)Recognition: NBC

Summary of utopian fiction in film and television

Hopefully by today we learned a lot about storytelling and the idea of ​​perfection in society. As you can see, utopian history is really malleable, just a “perfect society”. You can use it to examine human error, existence, and even the way we structure our governments.

The idea of ​​perfection and utopia may seem far-fetched, but the best writers know how to feel forward-looking in our society.

I want to hear about your favorite utopian literature in film and television. What are the lessons you learned and the characters you loved?

Let me know in the comments.

And then write again.

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