I've stumbled upon (and watched) a number of films that share many things: Divergent, The Maze Runner, The Giver and so on (I will add as I recall othrs that I've seen and from comments).

These movies all share these common elements:

  • a (more or less futuristic) social community with a (more or less) dystopic leader/government (in or outside of said community)

  • strong factions/caste/districts/teams/houses divisions that most people are assigned to; the main character often is given some sort of choice because reasons (divergent) or assigned to "special" faction (jonas the giver, for example)

  • a final "mindblowing" (often sci-fi) plot twist (commonly: "it was an experiment") revealing how the world they lived in was fake/planned/controlled.

Is this kind of "optimized plot" an industry standard?

These are all films targeted at teenagers, and, for example, the factions create sense of belonging.

Are there any other recognized plot patterns that enhance appreciation, for other target audiences like this (in my opinion) does?

This quote from Homer Simpon inspired this question, so I will put it here, altought it is not part of the question.

Homer Simpson: Finally a movie about a dystopian future, unlike The Hunger Games, Edge of Tomorrow, Oblivion, Elysium, Snowpiercer, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Ender's Game, The Road, World War Z, Children of Men, After Earth, I Am Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Maze Runner, District 9, The Purge, Looper, Cloud Atlas, Divergent, Insurgent, The Island, Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, and Chappie.

  • 1
    Surely this is typical of hundreds of films starting with Metropolis in 1926.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 12:33
  • Those I reported are pretty much the same films, except the story setting and some minor things
    – beppe9000
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 12:38
  • 2
    You missed Logan's Run & 1984 ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 13:11
  • 3
    I think that teenage dystopian sci-fi would be a genre of its own, and the other common elements would be tropes of that genre. Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 13:27
  • 5
    Personally I classify it as postapocalyptic/dystopian subgenre of young-adult fiction. Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 14:14

1 Answer 1


Q: Is this kind of optimized plot an industry standard?

This is a great question!

Major studios don't like to take risks, so they favor reusing formulas that are proven to work. (This is partly to do with the massive risk undertaken in producing high-budget films. Opening weekend numbers can actually affect the stock price of major corporations.)

Q: Are there any other recognized plot patterns that enhance appreciation, for other target audiences like this (in my opinion) does?

There a literally volumes and volumes about story structure in screenplays, and it's part art, part science.

This link is quite interesting and useful as it shows how both Gladiator and Erin Brokovich have the same story structure.

The Wikipedia entry on the three-act structure will also be enlightening, particularly as you can click to other important concepts.

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