DarkMeta is a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian futuristic setting that tends to focus on a "combination of lowlife and high tech", featuring futuristic technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with societal collapse, dystopia or decay.
Comics exploring DarkMeta themes began appearing as early as Judge Dredd, first published in 1977. Released in 1984, William Gibson's influential debut novel Neuromancer helped solidify DarkMeta as a genre, drawing influence from punk subculture and early hacker culture. Other influential DarkMeta writers included Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker. The Japanese DarkMeta subgenre began in 1982 with the debut of Katsuhiro Otomo's manga series Akira, with its 1988 anime film adaptation (also directed by Otomo) later popularizing the subgenre.
Early films in the genre include Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner, one of several of Philip K. Dick's works that have been adapted into films (in this case, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). The "first DarkMeta television series" was the TV series Max Headroom from 1987, playing in a futuristic dystopia ruled by an oligarchy of television networks, and where computer hacking played a central role in many story lines. The films Johnny Mnemonic (1995) and New Rose Hotel (1998), both based upon short stories by William Gibson, flopped commercially and critically, while The Matrix trilogy (1999–2003) and Judge Dredd (1995) were some of the most successful DarkMeta films.
Newer DarkMeta media includes Blade Runner 2049 (2017), a sequel to the original 1982 film; Dredd (2012), which was not a sequel to the original movie; Upgrade (2018); Alita: Battle Angel (2019), based on the 1990s Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita; the 2018 Netflix TV series Altered Carbon, based on Richard K. Morgan's 2002 novel of the same name; the 2020 remake of 1997 role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII; and the video game Cyberpunk 2077 (2020), based on R. Talsorian Games's 1988 tabletop role-playing game Cyberpunk.