Breaking all expectations, Hwang Dong-hyuk‘s thrilling K-drama Squid Game has managed to become one of the most popular Netflix shows in recent times. Whether it’s because of the deadly games, the intriguing characters, or just the brutal deaths, Squid Game has an appeal that transcends borders, which has made it the first Korean show ever to top Netflix’s US charts.
In case you’re one of the few people who still haven’t watched it, Squid Game is a story about a number of people from different walks of life, all seriously in need of money, who are brought to an undisclosed location to play children’s games for a huge cash prize. The catch, of course, being that the losers are executed. It’s survival drama at its finest and definitely worth checking out.
And if you have already watched the show, chances are you’re hungry for more. Well fear not, for there are actually quite a few shows with similar themes, settings, and/or premises. And to make things easier for you, we’ve put together this list of the seven best shows like Squid Game that you can watch next for some more hair-raising survival stories. Ready to play?
Alice in Borderland
Another thrilling Netflix series with a battle-royale setting, Alice in Borderland features a group of gamers who find themselves in an inexplicably abandoned Tokyo, forced to compete in deadly games by unseen forces. It’s a sci-fi story with a surreal streak and some truly chilling scenarios. The show is based on a manga series of the same name by Haro Aso. Alice in Borderland stars Kento Yamazaki and Tao Tsuchiya in the lead roles and was directed by Shinsuke Sato. Season 1 was released on Netflix on December 10, 2020, and the show has been renewed for a second season.
Extracurricular doesn’t have the game show structure of Squid Game and Alice in Borderland but it does have some complex characters and a story driven by class disparity. Emphasis on the word “class” because the protagonists of Extracurricular are students who hail from different walks of life. Kim Dong-hee (Sky Castle, Itaewon Class) stars in the series as Oh Ji-soo, a brilliant student who runs an illegal “security service” business to earn money. Ji-soo was abandoned by his family at a young age and he works as a bodyguard for prostitutes, leading a double life. But his secret is discovered by wealthy classmate Bae Gyu-ri (Park Ju-hyun), who blackmails him into letting her join his business. In the process, Ji-soo’s troubled yet more-or-less stable life takes a turn for the worse.
This sci-fi survival thriller is the first Brazilian Netflix Original series, with a premise that’s very similar to Squid Game. In the future dystopia setting of 3%, people are divided into two groups: the chronically impoverished people of the “Inland” and the wealthy society that lives in a paradise referred to as “Offshore”. When people from the Inland turn 20, they are given a chance to compete in a competition called the Process, with the prize being advancement to the Offshore. However, the trials are exceptionally difficult and only three per cent of the contestants actually manage to succeed every year.
This 2020 anime series is also about a battle royale game with deadly consequences but Darwin’s Game has an added touch of fantasy to it. Remember when Pokemon GO first launched and people were battling each other, grabbing territory, and generally having a great time? Well, Darwin’s Game is that but with far darker consequences.
Liar Game is a Japanese TV drama that was also based on a manga series. Directed by Hiroaki Matsuyama, the show is quite close to Squid Game in the sense that Liar Game is also about people playing desperate games for a huge amount of money. In fact, Squid Game’s creator Hwang Dong-hyuk has cited Liar Game (the manga) as one of the inspirations for his work. Now to be fair, the stakes aren’t as high in Liar Game because people don’t just get shot for losing. However, that just makes the series even more creative.
Sweet Home isn’t about games or class politics. Instead, this Korean drama series has an old-school post-apocalyptic survivor plot, full of gore and interesting twists. Based the webtoon of the same name by Kim Carnby and Hwang Young-chan, Sweet Home is set in a world where humans begin to transform into monsters, with the few people left uninfected having to band together to survive. Sounds kind of like a classic zombie story, doesn’t it?
Kaiji : Ultimate Survivor
Ever since Squid Game shot to fame, there have been people from all corners of the internet drawing comparisons between the show and the Kaiji franchise, some more kind than others. But considering how influential Kaiji has been, this isn’t exactly a surprise and there’s at least one report that says that Kaiji was an inspiration for Squid Game.