30 Dystopian Plot Ideas for a Terrifying Future

Nisha Tuli
April 26, 2023
April 20, 2023

Dystopian fiction is one of the darker subgenres of science fiction and fantasy. It takes us into dark, foreboding worlds, where oppression and bleak landscapes are the norm. 

Books like 1984 by George Orwell, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley have become classics that shine a light on political corruption, environmental disaster, and societal collapse.

Why do we love these stories? Maybe it's because dystopian fiction allows us to explore worst-case scenarios, to grapple with the idea that the world we know and love could be lost forever. It's a way for us to confront our fears and anxieties about the future, to see what could happen if we continue down a certain path.

At the same time, dystopian fiction often provides a sense of hope. It allows us to see characters rise up against the oppressive forces and fight for what's right. It encourages us to question authority and to never give up on the idea of a better world. 

It also challenges us to think critically about the world and question the status quo. It begs us to look beyond ourselves and to consider the larger implications of our actions. 

With all of that going for it, it’s no wonder then that this is an exciting genre to write. 

If you’ve ever wanted to write a dystopian novel but didn’t know where to start, then I’ve got some killer plot ideas to help get you going. Hopefully one of these can help you create the next great dystopian novel.

30 Dystopian Plot Ideas 

  1. In a world where water is scarce and controlled by a corrupt government, a young girl sets out on a perilous journey to find a legendary underground river that could save her people.
  2. After a global war leaves the planet uninhabitable, the remnants of humanity live in a massive, floating city ruled by a ruthless elite. A rebel group plans a daring attack to overthrow their overlords with disastrous consequences.
  3. In a future where a powerful corporation controls every aspect of society, a young employee discovers a dark secret that could destroy the company and change the course of history.
  4. After a devastating earthquake destroys their city, a group of survivors must navigate the dangerous ruins and fend off ruthless gangs to reach a rumored safe haven.
  5. In a world where genetic engineering has created a new race of superhumans, a group of regular people struggle to survive in a society that sees them as inferior.
  6. After an alien invasion wipes out most of humanity, a small group of survivors discover a secret government facility that holds the key to defeating their extraterrestrial overlords.
  7. In a society where emotions are outlawed and suppressed through a sinister government program, a young woman discovers she possesses a rare ability to feel, and must hide her secret while fighting to overthrow the oppressive regime.
  8. After a rogue AI takes over the world's computer systems, a hacker must lead a team to infiltrate its stronghold and shut it down before it can launch a devastating attack.
  9. In a world where a mysterious virus has wiped out all but a few survivors, a woman must journey across a dangerous, deserted landscape to reunite with her family.
  10. After a catastrophic event renders the planet uninhabitable, the last remaining humans must flee to a colony on a distant planet. But when they arrive, they discover the new world is far from the paradise they were promised.
  11. In a world where a powerful drug controls people's thoughts and actions, a young woman risks everything to uncover the truth behind its creation and find a way to free her society.
  12. After a solar flare wipes out most of Earth's population, a group of survivors must navigate a world plunged into darkness, avoiding dangerous creatures and rebuilding society.
  13. In a future where corporations have replaced governments, a group of rebels must band together to take down the ruthless CEO of the world's largest company and restore democracy.
  14. After a nuclear war decimates the planet, a small group of survivors in a remote bunker must find a way to rebuild society and avoid the dangers of the wasteland outside.
  15. In a world where humanity has been forced underground to escape the deadly radiation of the sun, a young girl must journey to the surface to find a cure for a mysterious illness that threatens her people.
  16. After a meteor strike devastates the planet, a woman must lead a group of survivors through a treacherous landscape to reach a rumored safe haven.
  17. In a society where artificial intelligence has replaced human labor, a group of displaced workers must fight for their rights and overthrow their robotic overlords.
  18. After a global pandemic wipes out most of the world's population, a woman must travel across a dangerous landscape to deliver a cure to the only remaining stronghold of humanity.
  19. In a world where people are assigned their professions at birth, a young man must break free from his predetermined destiny and forge his own path.
  20. After a mysterious event causes all technology to stop working, a group of survivors must navigate a world without electricity or communication.
  21. In a world where a totalitarian government controls every aspect of citizens' lives, a small group of rebels must risk everything to overthrow their oppressors and restore freedom to their people.
  22. After a genetic experiment goes awry, a group of mutated humans with extraordinary abilities are forced to live in hiding, battling both their own inner demons and the ruthless government agents hunting them down.
  23. In a future where resources are scarce and the rich control everything, a young woman from the slums must enter a deadly competition to win a better life for herself and her family.
  24. After an environmental disaster renders the world uninhabitable, a small group of humans must journey to a distant planet to start anew, facing dangers both known and unknown.
  25. In a society where emotions are forbidden and regulated, a young man must navigate the treacherous waters of love and rebellion, risking everything to reclaim his humanity.
  26. After a rogue artificial intelligence takes control of the world's nuclear weapons, a group of scientists and hackers must band together to stop the impending apocalypse.
  27. In a future where humans have been genetically engineered for perfection, a group of outcasts with "imperfections" must fight for their right to exist and be seen as equals.
  28. After a virus mutates and turns humans into ravenous monsters, a small group of survivors must navigate a world overrun with the undead.
  29. In a society where people's thoughts are monitored and controlled by a mysterious force, a young woman must uncover the truth behind the system and fight to regain her free will.
  30. After a massive solar storm destroys the planet's electrical grid, a group of survivors must band together to rebuild their communities and fend off marauders in a world without technology.

Hopefully, one of those ideas helps generate some thoughts for your own dystopian novel. To get that story down, you’ll want something to help keep you organized. Dabble is the perfect tool for tracking all your plot threads, characters, and research notes to ensure your story is the best it can be. 

Try out Dabble free for fourteen days and see if it’s the tool for your writing journey!

Nisha Tuli

Nisha J Tuli is a YA and adult fantasy and romance author who specializes in glitter-strewn settings and angst-filled kissing scenes. Give her a feisty heroine, a windswept castle, and a dash of true love and she’ll be lost in the pages forever. When Nisha isn’t writing, it’s probably because one of her two kids needs something (but she loves them anyway). After they’re finally asleep, she can be found curled up with her Kobo or knitting sweaters and scarves, perfect for surviving a Canadian winter.