Cyberpunk Is Techno

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

If the future consists of massive computer networks, corrupt corporations / governments and augmented humans, and is dirty and grim (i.e. Cyberpunk), you can bet that the music of choice will be techno, electronica, and/or industrial music. Ambient music of choice? Techno. Hanging out at the Coolest Club Ever? No hip-hop, punk rock, or any other dance music here, just techno.

Since techno, industrial music, and electronica require electronics (hence the name) to work, the use of such can bring a futuristic feel to it. The music is usually played to give a dystopian mood. Since cyberpunk is usually set in Dystopia, and in a technological world, this kind of music is perfect for that setting.

Examples of Cyberpunk Is Techno include:

Anime and Manga

  • Serial Experiments Lain: While the opening and ending themes don't fall under this trope, all the in-show music is dark electronica.
  • Its Spiritual Successor Texhnolyze also puts techno on the opening theme.
    • But not, in turn, in the series universe itself, which is mostly modelled after old-school Yakuza films, stylistically speaking.
  • Armitage III
  • Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 uses techno for its background music.
  • Notably averted in the film versions of Akira and Ghost in the Shell, where the soundtrack instead consists of a combination of synthesizers and traditional Asian chanting and instrumentation.

Comic Books

  • 90s-era Judge Dredd comics frequently had posters up on the walls for Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie and other industrial-metal acts. The tendency of the dystopian future setting to use this kind of music was lampshaded during the Doomsday For Megacity 1 arc across 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine: Anderson meets a contact at a nightclub and comments that the music is giving her a headache and she can't understand why its so popular.


  • Hackers. Mid-90s techno music is almost constant throughout this film.
  • The Matrix: Seeing that the movie is the epitome of Cyberpunk, techno is, of course, found here, as is some actual punk.
  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • Played with in the Tech Noir nightclub in The Terminator: the music is initially normal 80s pop, until the electric/metallic Leitmotif of the Terminator kicks in.
  • The Gene Generation soundtrack. Mostly the music is EBM/Industrial (several songs from EBM/Industrial/Electro act Combichrist are used), and even the non-Industrial music is written by Ronan Harris from VNV Nation (a popular Futurepop act). Add the fact that the director and all the characters constantly dress as futuristic goths and you have a film that basically is one giant advertisement for the entire catalogue of Metropolis Records.
  • The original Tron score was composed by Wendy Carlos, a pioneer in electronic music. It was not so much techno as (much like her Clockwork Orange score) a symphonic score with electronic sound effects and instrumentation. The score to the sequel Tron: Legacy, however, was done by French house duo Daft Punk, mixing straight orchestral violins and pumping electronic beats.
  • One scene from RoboCop takes place in a club, where Robocop arrests one of Clarence Boddicker's minions. Industrial techno plays in the background. The track? Show Me Your Spine by Ministry side-project PTP.
  • The music in Blade Runner (by Vangelis) is not quite techno, but makes heavy use of synthesizers (except for the famous "love theme", played on a saxophone).

Live-Action TV


  • Perhaps some justification for the trope; Industrial music act Front Line Assembly deliberately aimed for a Cyberpunk sound with their albums Tactical Neural Implant and Hard Wired.
  • Justified Trope: "Techno" differentiated itself from other electronically produced music in 1980's Detroit, which pretty much _was_ an industrially driven dystopia. Explicit themes of futurism, technological advancement, corruption, industrial dehumanization and consequently dark mood are all over techno from the beginning. See 1983's "Industrial Lies" and 1985's "Future"

Video Games

  • Most of the Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death soundtrack.
  • Deus Ex: The night clubs are all techno. The music has a very dark feel to it.
  • The Longest Journey
  • Mega Man Battle Network: Although Battle Network is more of a Post Cyber Punk, because of its more positive view of massive networks, electronica and techno are the music of choice during the game.
    • On the other hand, given that the games appear on the Game Boy Advance system, it could very well just be Retraux 8-bit style music (a la the 8-bit Game Boy).
  • Hard War had a soundtrack comprised of artists from the British Warp Records label, which was an eclectic mix of techno, ambient, and drum n' bass.
  • Shadowrun: Sometimes averted, Hair metal is the music of choice at times.
    • The Cyberpunk RPG sometimes averts this as well: the music of choice is "chromatic rock", which is hair metal set to techno beats (so basically industrial?), but supplements imply that hip-hop, spoken word and more stripped-down forms of rock still exist.
  • The soundtrack to San Francisco Rush 2049 (excluding the N64 version) is almost entirely techno.
  • Descent I and II had Industrial and Industrial Metal soundtracks. The third game also has many techno and industrial tunes, along with liberal use of a Theremin and ethnic/tribal instruments.
  • The Wipeout series is noted for its all-star techno soundtracks. The soundtrack to the third game was produced by well-known DJ/producer Sasha, and included his single "Xpander".
  • F-Zero AX/GX has tons of techno tunes. A little polarizing since F-Zero X had nothing but rock music.
  • Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas has a techno soundtrack produced by Brian "BT" Transeau. Excluding the credits theme, which is hip-hop.
  • P.N.03, with some of it reused for Resident Evil 4's mercenaries mode (as well as the game engine).
  • In Dystopia, all music packaged with the game is techno, and a muffled techno track can be heard near a club.
  • Perfect Dark has several levels with electronica soundtracks, since the game's genre is a combination of Cyberpunk and Science Fiction.
    • Subverted in Perfect Dark Zero, where the Nightclub Stakeout music starts with a banging techno track, then changes to the disco-house tune "Limelight" (a real song by Kepi & Kat). Much of the other in-game music is rock/metal. Played straight with the intro and ending themes.
  • Final Fantasy XIII has an undeniably cyberpunk theme to go along with its purely sci-fi setting, so naturally there are quite a few ambient trance and techno tracks within the soundtrack.
  • The Ray Series.
  • Rez.
  • The original Quake was scored by Trent Reznor, although that's more dark ambient.
  • Sensory Overload for the Macintosh, with its mind control technology-based plot, had techno-industrial music. Crowning Music of Awesome, although there were only four BGM tracks.
  • Lethal Skies uses mostly techno, Industrial, and Industrial Metal.
  • Contra: Shattered Soldier features techno and industrial metal produced by Sota Fujimori and Akira Yamaoka. And it's awesome.
  • Raiden III is somewhat of a musical odd man out in the series, as much of the soundtrack is techno, except for the Stage 1, 2, and 3 themes, which are the usual J-synthpop.
  • Vegas Stakes, a casino game by HAL Laboratory for the SNES, has the "2020", a futuristic, Cyberpunk-themed casino complete with repetitive techno music blaring in the background.
  • Played with in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, which is undeniably cyberpunk, but accompanied mostly by a sort of techno/light jazz fusion. The straight-up techno elements are also heavier in Snake's chapter; Raiden's has more of a jungle slant, until returning to techno right at the very end when everything goes to hell.
  • Averted with Beneath a Steel Sky—despite being cyberpunk-themed, it has mostly traditional-sounding tunes, the one nightclub plays jazz, and the cyberspace level's theme has a surreal New Age-y feel.
  • Splinter Cell series.
  • Spectre VR, being set in Cyberspace, has the obligatory techno and industrial tunes, but also New Age and neo-classical music.
  • Syndicate
  • The X Universe series uses an electronic music score and has several aspects of the Cyberpunk setting.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog's Scrap Brain Zone, which has a cyberpunk theme, uses a sped-up Jimmy Hart Version of the credits music from Blade Runner.
  • Aside from being Darker and Edgier, Mass Effect 2 gave us a dose of this trope with the Afterlife nightclub on Omega, an old and rickety space station that's practically the capital of the galactic underworld. The upper section plays a slow electronic piece (Callista from Saki Kaskas) while the lower section has drum and bass (Techno Madness from Jesse Allen). Too bad you don't get to start a fight here...

Western Animation