A collaborative post by Rolamb and Syrinx2.

In Philp K. Dick, a mastermind, but underrated for television? we looked into the themes that Philp K. Dick used in his work. and asked for some suggestions which films and television series were influenced by him. In this post we dive into this world.

So, what do we have out there?


Natural City - a Blade Runner set in South Korea (2003). From viewing it it’s clear that it fits the profile. It has memory implants, a police squad hunting cyborgs and a love story between a human and an android. The imagery that struck me as most alike was one with a ad-blimp shouting out “A new life to begin again.” Not in those words, but a close cut.
I can’t put this on PKD solely as the film owes to Richard K Morgan who wrote Altered Carbon, as well. The memory implants used in Natural City are spine rods that can be saved and reused upon retirement. Just don’t shoot the target in the head. Morgan also uses intelligent ads. Something that occurs in Natural City also.

The movie The 5th Element (1997) Luc Besson is a lot like Blade Runner. Flying cars and all that. The hectic traffic in mid air made me think of Dick’s Paycheck. Which incidentally is filmed as well. By Jon Woo (2003) starring Ben Affleck. Here, the story is altered quite a lot compared to the source material. It does remind a bit like something William Gibson would have written. There’s a chunk of memory being locked inside Jennings’ brain. He’s stuck with a few mementos and is on his own against a large company. A theme we recognize.

Not to forget gems like Brazil (1985) and 12 Monkeys (1995) by Terry Gilliam. They both have a dystopian feel to them and handle dual realities. More recently Sucker Punch (2011) by Zack Snyder had influences from both Brazil and Philip K Dick. The hero in Sucker Punch is locked up in an asylum and lives in an imaginary world. The three samurais nods to the robot villain in the dream sequences of Brazil. What´s a common denominator between Brazil and Blade Runner is the way architecture works. Both have a serious heating and ventilation problem. Vents are built on externally and we have very dark backdrops to both worlds. Where Blade Runner goes techno-electric, Brazil steers mechanical-plastic with cogs and gears. A kind of retro-future compared to the Spinners (flying cars) in Blade Runner.

Other films that did work was Oblivion (2013) that movie oozed PKD! Then we have The Adjustment Bureau (2011) and Inception (2010) , Sourcecode (2011), Shutter Island (2010), The Island (2005). All those are great movies on their own but need to be attributed to PKD. If you ask me. Some of them are based on short stories by him. Can you tell which ones?

When writing about the works influenced by PKD, I’ve found that I’m not the first to do so. Lately we’ve had quite an addition of films that can fit the bill of being Dickian. Reading the release dates of the above films is testament to that.

This was what’s already here. What’s in the near future?

The Sector (2014). "In a dystopian future, a bounty hunter sets out to capture a band of outlaws and uncovers a governmental conspiracy that leads him to an unsettling truth about his own existence. ". Directed by Josh Ridgway.

There are even more films to be mentioned. Minority Report (2002), Total Recall (1990, 2012), Next (2007). Total Recall really should be spelled Total Rekal as the company in ’We can remember it wholesale’ which is the short story it’s based on. As far as I know, one of two novels by PKD getting a film treatment is ‘Do androids dream of electric sheep’, later known as Blade Runner. The second one is A scanner Darkly filmed under that name (2006). I’ll be glad if someone can correct me here.

One movie I really liked was Screamers (1996) based on short story Second Variety. The lines between what it is that is likable when you get the duality of having read something and watching a reincarnation of that work are being blurred. You recognize things from the source material and you might even use that prior knowledge to enhance the viewing experience. However blurred the lines were when I watched Screamers, I found it cool that I had watched something from PKD that wasn’t Blade Runner. From that moment I guess I’ve started seeing traces of PKD in all kinds of places.
And, no - I didn’t get to chose the red pill or the blue pill before writing this. That’s just brushing against the fact that PKD did use drugs for his inspiration. Let’s not peek down that rabbit hole...

I’m sure I will get a handful of additions to this list. Checking back on the comments from the last post, I have to agree on eXistenZ (1999) and The Matrix (1999), I do believe eXistenZ is more a Tom Clancy’s Netforce Explorers, The deadliest game (1999) homage. Matrix does have a feel of William Gibson could be my confusion with Keanu Reeves in the lead, he's forever Johnny Mnemonic (1995) to me.

Now, let’s watch some TV!


I guess that PKD's works suit the movie format more than the serialized TV-format. A police show being the exception. Read - Almost Human (2013) FOX.
When we look at Almost Human, we see some of the same themes we saw in the other series. It is concerned with a burned out main character, in a world where good and bad aren’t that easy to discern anymore, will have to deal with human – humanoid relations. His humanoid partner is getting more human every episode.
I have not seen that many TV-series that I can point to are Philip K. Dick in spirit. The ones I can mention are Robocop (1994-95). We also have Total Recall: 2070 (1999) and that one really should be renamed Blade Runner: 2070, if you ask me.

From the comments in the previous post I learnt that Fringe (FOX) had an episode 'Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?’. And the tv-series Awake (NBC) had Dickian undertones. It was about a half burned out policeman who seemed to live in two worlds. Which one was the real one, which memories were real, who were the humans and who the dreams.

In the first post, Rolamb already mentioned Holmes and Yoyo (ABC) and at the same network Future Cop. The one thing all human- humanoid detective series had in common was that they were cancelled after a low number of episodes. One robot infested TV-series that could qualify might be The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-09) it tops out on 31 episodes.

One show that is still running is Real Humans (2012-) and it has the who owns an android if it has emotions? If it has no purchaser can it be allowed to exist? What if a human and an android fall in love, is that acceptable? Those questions are valid to be connected to PKD.

Turning back to The Sector, that also is suggested as a TV-series, Screenrant.
A future cop either hunts "rogue androids" or "genetically enhanced humans." Either way, they've sneaked to Earth from some off-world colonies, and it's the paramilitary police unit's job to hunt them down.
If he were to hunt ‘rogue androids’ its really like Blade Runner, if he hunts ‘genetically enhanced humans’ it’s more of a The tomorrow people (CW), Heroes (NBC) kind of thing. But the way the dystopian future will be depicted will make or break the series. The names behind it are great.

What’s in the pipeline?

One thing from Philip K. Dick that's becoming a TV-series is, according to Crave Online, The Man in The High Castle. It’s a what-if scenario: what if Germany and Japan won WWII?

Should a novel be made to a film or TV-series in the future, my vote goes to Flow my tears the policeman said. It’s about a talk-show host getting framed in a police state future. Get Conan O’Brian as the star of the show and start shooting!

What’s your favourite pick of PKD’s novels and short stories to get the screen treatment?

Results of the Voigt-Kampff test

"Let me tell you about my mother" Leon

To find signs from PKD in TV-series is harder than finding them in films. Following the first post on Philip K. Dick, me and Rolamb wrote, this one has been more my random thoughts on films while Rolamb analyzed the themes more thoroughly in the initial one. In the comments you guys gave some good examples on TV-series and films owing to be credited in some way to said author. Seeing the shortage in TV-series with a human-android relationship I guess it’s hard to keep that premise for a long time. As a friend told me: “Not everything is influenced by PKD.” (I beg to differ…)

Top picture CC Harry NG @flickr

PKD - Mastermind?

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Comments (8)
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Nov 16, 2013
You really got some of my favorite stories there: Blade Runner and Brazil (movies), Total Recall 2070 and Real Humans (TV shows), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and The Man In The High Castle (novels). In terms of TV, I might add, Welcome to Paradox(which had some very weird and dystopian stories, but unfortunately I can't find it anywhere). As for alternate history books, Bring the Jubilee, though these are not from PKD.
Nov 16, 2013
I´ll have a look at WTP. I'm in the process of gathering info on works adapted from Ursula K. LeGuin. A hard thing to do as she's not released that many rights to convert her works. Hopefully I wind up with something good.

A nugget is The Field of Vision. It will be one of the seeds of the story.

It has a certain Alien vibe to it!
Now, I'm off researching some more...
Nov 16, 2013
If you want PKD like on your TV. If you have the change check out black mirror just started on DirectTV. very distopian.
Nov 16, 2013
I'll have a look. Thanks!
Nov 17, 2013
I've had a three-part marathon of Black Mirror. I agree it's very Dickian with implants and observers, regulators and who-is-my-enemy stuff.
Good one!
Nov 15, 2013
We have robots!
Guess Asimov would have wanted commission on the lot of them films, yo.
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