Why cyberpunk is always sad and depressing

Hello everybody! Today we are going to continue talking on our lofty topics; to be exact, we will discuss why cyberpunk is always sad and depressing – this is such an incredible art cliché all over the world. Every work with the slightest trace of cyberpunk is a tragedy or a drama.

 Even Keanu Reeves feels sad

Even Keanu Reeves feels sad because of this fact :) Well, and who won’t get depressed when there are nothing but global corporations, cyber criminals and mobsters around you? And it gets worse and worse as it goes on: if that’s the case, with the girls you have to be even more careful than usual. As if in Thailand. But now she can turn out to be not just a man, but a robot man!

Last time we were talking about fantasy and we came to the conclusion that characters usually contain the most part of genre specificity. But in this case characters are ordinary people.

ordinary people in cyberpunk

Keanu shows us again what does an expression “ordinary people” means in cyberpunk :) The truth is that cyborgs represent an integral part of the genre. And, one way or another, it is high technologies that distinguish cyberpunk among the other genres. It’s all about the confrontation of a nature-made human being with technolization and globalization. I don’t mean that the personality of the character is no longer important. Quite the contrary! It is more important than usual, because the personality of the character is contrasted with all these “sounds of the future”.

Garry Kasparov during his brain battle with chess-playing computer Deep Blue

Just for you to know: we see on this picture Garry Kasparov during his brain battle with chess-playing computer Deep Blue.

Actually, this is a typical confrontation between man and machine. The Future Is Now. But apart from the technological component, cyberpunk involves dystopia as well.

So, we have come to the conclusion that ideal cyberpunk is when a person begins to realize that the world around him is determined to destroy his spirituality and intend to turn him into a slave. And this person begins a struggle. It is very important for artist to show the tragedy: what happens if the man loses – the world will never be the same as before.

cyberpunk city

Good old noir-style gives the best fit to reproduce this sad tragedy. It turns out that there is really no place and time for laughter when we have the destiny and the future of humanity at stake. Nevertheless, we should remember that even cyberpunk is a reflection of life. So you shouldn’t deny the truth of life in your creation. There is no need your characters look like those who listen to gothic rock all day and repeat over and over again “life is pain”. The surroundings should be suitable for life, remember that people have to live their whole life in this environment.

life is pain

If you read the works of the greatest science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, you will realize that there is always a place for humour. There is always a place for people to demonstrate their emotions. Every person behaves and acts in his own way. In the words of William Gibson: “the street finds its own uses for things”.


That’s as it may be :)

Still, let’s discuss high technologies since they form the background and the main condition of the genre. High technologies in cyberpunk represent an extreme evolution of existing technologies. Something like Google Glass. But now Google Glass should become a Google Contact lenses. And if before you could see that someone was wearing Google Glass and avoid contact with this person to keep your privacy, now you can’t understand whether a person having this lenses on or not. Or even it isn’t lenses but a brain implant, which always has Internet connection and is transmitting video images to the server regardless of person’s wishes. What is more: this implant has a hidden feature that allows to control person’s behaviour. Besides, the fact that this implant is permanently connected to the Internet permits a good hacker to hack it and get an unauthorized access to person’s brain. Actually, these my fantasies resemble the plots of a half of the cyberpunk books.

 technologies of the future

There is another way to describe the technologies of the future: try to draw an exquisite high-strength thing. In other words, you must show that this technology is highly developed. A good example of this is a turret from “Portal”.

Are you still there

Sometimes vehicles also help to reproduce the atmosphere of the future. The mere flying platform may give the impression that this is the future. I draw your attention to the fact that the film “The Fifth Element” has been never numbered among cyberpunk movies, although the actions begin in a traditional cyberpunk city, where we can find both high technologies and the notes of dystopian.

component of high technologies is weapons

The next important component of high technologies is weapons. On the one hand, the weapon of the future should be humane, because the people of the future must be very conscious citizens. On the other hand, it must be ruthless. Ruthless but non-lethal weapon will actually add some more despair. For example, it should be a shocker, which disables the transmission of nerve impulses to skeletal muscles. It will immobilize a person without the slightest difficulty and he or she is ready for brainwashing.


Or it should be really a ruthless weapon which causes immediate fatal outcome, inhumane at all.

And now the most important thing. Don’t ever confuse cyberpunk and post-apocalypse. Post-apocalypse usually comes after cyberpunk :) That is to say, humanity practically is at the peak of technological development. And from time to time appear some individuals or organizations that want to bring the end of the world, to wash away from the face of the earth this nasty little world.


Now you can gather all that we have discussed here in a single universe and get down to business. Just don’t go too far with special effects. Look at the face of Kyle Reese and try to do everything so that we still have hope.

face of Kyle Reese

Have a nice render!

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  1. Awesome article! I love your take on the cyberpunk genre.

    • Thank you, Charles!