The world’s leading streaming entertainment service Netflix has gone into overdrive with the phenomenal release of the Korean survival drama, Squid Game. Just four days after its September launch, the streaming TV show becomes the first Korean drama to hit the platform’s No. 1 spot.
The latest report reveals approximately 132 million viewers watched at least two minutes of Squid Game in its first 23 days. The hit K-drama is now the biggest series launch ever in the history of Netflix, dethroning Bridgerton. The UK costume drama formerly wore the crown as the most-streamed TV show with 82 million accounts in the first 28 days.
Moreover, Squid Game categorically takes the internet by storm for four definitive reasons: bloody, violent, addictive, and binge-able. The massively sensational Korean survival mini-series contains disturbing nine episodes in its first season. That’s why it is easy to binge the incredibly thrilling and addictive show all for one day.
After watching the finale with burning questions on your mind, you feel the need to fill the void. While it sounds possible, a Squid Game season 2 remains unofficial at the moment. Hence, in the meantime, watch some dystopian and dark movies or TV shows to entertain you during your downtime.
So, for your viewing pleasure, we gathered the 12 best movies and shows like Netflix’s Squid Game that are currently up for streaming. But before that, let’s first dig into some interesting details about the survival K-drama and its unprecedented success.
Squid Game: Everything to Know
Writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk is the genius behind the wildly popular Korean survival drama series. Oddly named Squid Game focuses on a heavily indebted group of people in South Korea.
All 456 players from different walks of life put risk their lives in a twisted series of elevated children’s games. They all have one goal in mind: win a whopping cash prize of 45 billion South Korean won ($38 million). However, the odds of survival in this deadly tournament don’t look good for the desperate contestants.
From the looks of it, the Korean survival drama may seemingly share a palpable likeness with U.S. blockbuster films like Saw and Hunger Games and Japan’s Battle Royale.
Squid Game, however, is a terrific horror/drama masterpiece that doesn’t come close to being a copycat. The top Netflix show has developed rich backstories, not just for the deadly tourney players but for those who run the game.
Further, the Korean thriller offers full-packed suspenseful twists and turns. It has greatly hooked audiences with its cliffhanger-heavy plotting and bizarre costumes and sets.
The show explains what the squid game means in its first episode. Major character Seong Gi-hun (played by Lee Jung-jae) revealed that it’s a game his neighbor kids once played on a squid-shaped court. It’s quite similar to Red Rover or a complicated version of the tag game.
All nine episodes simultaneously dropped on Sept. 17 are detailed as follows:
- 1st Episode: Red Light, Green Light
- 2nd Episode: Hell
- 3rd Episode: The Man Without the Umbrella
- 4th Episode: Stick to the Team
- 5th Episode: A Fair World
- 6th Episode: Gganbu
- 7th Episode: VIPs
- 8th Episode: Front Man
- 9th Episode: One Lucky Day
The Korean survival drama series’ cast includes Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, and Kim Joo-ryoung.
Squid Game received positive reviews from fans and critics, with a 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.2/10 rating on IMDb.
Movies and TV Shows Like Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’
After watching the series finale, you might want to sate your craving for the best movies and TV shows like Squid Game. There’s a slew of excellent choices to go for from dystopian dramas, Korean horror thrillers, and supernatural death game cinematic pieces.
Now, while we impatiently wait for a new season of the hit streaming TV series, check out our guide to the 12 best movies and TV shows like Squid Game.
3% is a Brazilian sci-fi thriller that takes audiences to an indeterminate dystopian future, in a world of desperate population.
In the series, the world is divided into two separated zones. The first is called Offshore, a secluded island separated where 3% of the population live in a utopian society, with wealth and comfort. The other is Inland where everyone else lives in poor and filthy conditions in remote cities.
Each year, everyone in the Inland has one shot at a better life by becoming one of 3%. They have to go through a hard and meticulous selection called “The Process.”
The series of challenges in 3% are less horrifying than in Squid Game. However, the scenes become more violent toward the succeeding episodes of season 1 as candidates fight for survival. To make it more interesting, a resistance group named The Cause is thrown into the mix.
You’ll also love 3% for two reasons: it’s reminiscent of the hit Korean thriller but it’s less graphic. But it’s more complicated compared to what seems to be the simple Battle Royale.
Just like Squid Game, 3% became one of the most popular binges in the world in 2017. All four seasons of the series are available for streaming on Netflix.
The cast includes Bianca Comparato, Vaneza Oliveira, Rodolfo Valente, Zezé Motta, Rafael Lozano, Cynthia Senek, Bruno Fagundes, Laila Garin, and others.
No. of Seasons: 4
IMDb rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 67%
Alice in Borderland (2020)
Avid fans cite Alice in Borderland as one of the early recommended shows like the Squid Game series. It doesn’t come as a surprise since the two contents are available for streaming on Netflix.
Alice in Borderland shares a very similar premise with Squid Game as it highlights nightmarish challenges and lethal consequences.
Released in December 2020, Alice in Borderland is a Japanese science fiction suspense-thriller drama streaming television series. The eight-episodic series is based on the manga of the same name by Haro Aso.
The series follows Ryōhei Arisu, a young slacker with a knack for video games and puzzles, and his best friends Chōta and Daikichi. The three perplexingly find themselves in an abandoned version of Tokyo. In this strange world that they’re caught in, the three have to compete in a series of death-defying games to survive.
Anyone who dares to escape while the game of death is in progress will be shot through the head by a mysterious red laser from the sky. The lead protagonist teams up with Yuzuha, a hobbyist mountain climber and survivalist. The two now have to outwit the game maker to work their way out and go back home alive.
Netflix officially confirmed earlier that season 2 of the streaming TV series is in the works. So, that’s something we can all look forward to.
Directed by Shinsuke Sato, the show stars Kento Yamazaki and Tao Tsuchiya in lead roles. The supporting cast includes Yūki Morinaga, Keita Machida, Nijirō Murakami, Sho Aoyagi, Ayaka Miyoshi, and many more.
No. of seasons: 1
IMDb rating: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 83%
Darwin’s Game (2020)
Darwin’s Game is a Japanese anime show adapted from a manga series of the same name by writer/illustrator FLIPFLOPs. It first aired in January to March last year and is currently available for streaming on Netflix.
To some degree, viewers will satisfy their craving for more Squid Game-like action by watching Darwin’s Game. However, it’s nowhere near the strategy, skill, or commentary of capitalism’s harmful rapacious nature.
In addition, this mystery-thriller anime may at first look strikingly similar to Alice in Borderland. Nevertheless, the two Japanese hit series also have some notable differences.
The anime’s story focuses on Kaname Sudou, a high school sophomore who accepts his friend’s online invitation to play the mysterious mobile game, Darwin’s Game. Little does he know that what he just got into is some kind of a ruthless life-or-death battle.
The protagonist soon finds himself pitted against a vicious player in a panda suit who has a unique supernatural ability referred to as a “Sigil.” A player might end up dead both in the game and in real life.
When his friend and fellow player died defending him from his assailant, he swears to avenge him. He swears to find the game’s creators and exact revenge on the ones responsible for his friend’s death.
The so-called games in this manga-turned-anime series come in a form of super-powered battles involving two persons or groups of players. In this aspect, Darwin’s Game lacks external challenges like the ones in Squid Game.
The first season of the Japanese survival game-like anime contains 11 episodes and is currently available for streaming on Netflix. Studio Nexus has not confirmed whether Darwin’s Game will return for a second season.
The well-received 2020 anime show features voice actors Yûsuke Kobayashi, Alexis Tipton, Reina Ueda, and Tia Lynn Ballard.
No. of seasons: 1
IMDb rating: 7.3/10
Sweet Home (2020)
Sweet Home is a South Korean apocalyptic horror streaming TV series released in late 2020. It’s based on the phenomenal Naver webtoon by Kim Carnby and Hwang Young-chan of the same name which hit more than 2.1 billion net views.
You’ll love this Korean fantasy horror drama as it also ticks a few boxes that made you all hooked on Squid Game. Both these shows share the same vein in tackling deep relationships, violence, and survival.
The series follows Cha Hyun-soo, a suicidal teenager who moves into an apartment. He decided to leave his home after his family died in a car crash. Soon, he finds himself trapped inside the apartment with his neighbors as monsters start to decimate humanity.
While monsters prey on people outside, Hyun-soo and the rest of the residents unite in a bid to survive the apocalypse. It doesn’t come easy for them, however. Each carries emotional baggage, thus, creating a fraught environment amid an existential threat.
Sweet Home season 1 has a 10-episodic run and is currently streaming on Netflix. As of this writing, the giant streaming platform has not confirmed a second season for the Korean fantasy horror drama.
The dark K-drama is directed by the renowned filmmaker behind Mr. Sunshine and Goblin, Lee Eung-bok. The cast includes South Korean stars Song Kang, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Si-young, and Lee Do-hyun.
No. of seasons: 1
IMDb rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 83%
#Alive is a 2020 South Korean zombie flick by filmmaker Cho Il-hyung. The apocalyptic thriller is based on Hollywood screenwriter Matt Naylor’s 2019 script #Alone. Taylor worked on the screenplay of the movie with Director Cho for the Korean audiences.
Just like Sweet Home, #Alive doesn’t have deadly survival games in the story. However, it centers on a survival story of a friendship forged during an extremely disturbing time, resonating with the vibe of Gi-hun and Il-nam in Squid Game.
The film’s story revolves around Joon-woo, a young video game live streamer, and his chance at surviving a zombie apocalypse. He’s all alone in his family’s apartment in Seoul when the zombie outbreak happens.
As he locks himself inside, he starts to lose it as he runs out of food, water, and internet access. While on the brink of committing suicide, someone in the building opposite from where he’s at sends him a signal.
The two send supplies to each other using a zipline and communicate using a walkie-talkie. But amid a horde of relentless zombies, the two will have to team up to fight for their lives.
#Alive was released in South Korea in mid-2020 and premiered internationally on Netflix in September last year.
The film generally received positive reviews from fans and critics. The film’s cast includes Yoo Ah-in, Park Shin-hye, Lee Hyun-wook, Oh Hye-won, Jin So-yeon, and others.
Run Time: 1 hour 39 minutes
IMDb rating: 6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 88%
Battle Royale (2000)
The Japanese action-thriller is based on an eponymous novel by author and journalist, Koushun Takami. The film hit theaters in late 2000.
Squid Game writer and director Hwang Dong-hyuk admittedly said that he drew inspiration from the comics of Battle Royale for the no.1 Netflix series. But he wants a simplified version using children’s games.
Battle Royale is like Squid Game by having the same graphic nature. This controversial Japanese cinematic piece, however, criticizes totalitarian governments.
The film’s story follows 42 ninth-grade students who are sent to a deserted island and forced by legislation to compete in a no-rule game to the death. They kill each other until only one stays alive, otherwise, they all die.
While some of them engage in the twisted brutal death game, the rest attempts to evade such violence and escape. But with only a few of them left alive, Shuya and his classmates must find a way to survive.
Japanese Director Kinji Fukasaku isn’t the first filmmaker to take on the last-man-standing survival piece when he created Battle Royale. However, this sci-fi action-thriller has become a frequent reference for many movies under the same genre.
The cast of Battle Royale includes Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Chiaki Kuriyama, Tarô Yamamoto, and others.
Run Time: 1 hour 54 minutes
IMDb rating: 7.6/10
RT rating: 88%
As the Gods Will (2014)
Filmmaker Takashi Miike adapted the first arc of the eponymous manga series into a supernatural horror movie, As the Gods Will. Just like other Japanese survival pieces on this list, the film’s story is reminiscent of Squid Game.
Some fans took to social media to share their views on the uncanny similarities between Squid Game and As the Gods Will. In particular is the Red Light, Green Light death game.
Director Hwang Dong-hyuk, however, clarified that he has started working on Squid Game since 2008. On the other hand, As the Gods Will arrived in 2014.
Meanwhile, As the Gods Will follows students who are forced to participate in deadly games to survive. Before the death games, protagonist Shun Takahata is a typical high schooler who loves to play video games most of his time. He complains about having a boring life.
But that’s all about to change. He’s now caught in a game of Daruma-san ga koronda and the consequence of losing is death. Together with his friends, Takahata tries to find out who is running the sick games.
If death games are your cup of tea, you must add this Japanese horror movie to your to-stream list. It’s currently available to watch Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video.
As the Gods Will is directed by Takashi Miike. The cast features Sota Fukushi, Hirona Yamazaki, Ryūnosuke Kamiki, Mio Yūki, Shōta Sometani, and Jingi Irie.
Run Time: 1 hour 57 minutes
IMDb rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 57%
The eponymous French dystopian comic was adapted both into the 2013 Boon Joon Ho-directed movie and the 2020 TNT series. The Snowpiercer movie as well as the TV series counterpart are as graphically violent as Squid Game.
Set in an apocalyptic dystopian future, the Snowpiercer series depicts Earth as a frozen wasteland. Snowpiercer is a gigantic train carrying the last survivors of humanity that circumvents the world post-apocalypse. It’s perpetually moving to produce sufficient electricity and heat to keep the passengers warm.
The train is divided into classes, however, a group of unexpected passengers known as the Tailies sneakily hopped on the train before it departed. Being at the bottom of the food chain, the Tailies fight for equality and sparked a revolution.
Snowpiercer may not fall under the battle royale genre. Both the movie and the TV series are dystopian survival thrillers as it features a battle for freedom and survival. The TNT series, however, offers a much broader view of the revolution contrary to its film version.
The first two seasons of Snowpiercer are available for streaming on Netflix. A season 3 is currently in the works.
Snowpiecer stars Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs in lead roles. The supporting cast includes Mickey Sumner, Annalise Basso, Sasha Frolova, Alison Wright, Benjamin Haigh, Roberto Urbina, Katie McGuinness, Susan Park, Lena Hall, and others.
Season 2 adds new main stars like Rowan Blanchard, Steven Ogg, and Game of Thrones actor Sean Bean.
No. of seasons: 2
IMDb rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 75%
Escape Room (2019)
Escape Room also gives audiences that Squid Game feels. The 2019 American psychological horror is touted as the gamified version of Final Destination so it fits the bill.
The story follows six strangers who can solve a puzzle cube receive an invitation to join a game. Competing players will have a chance at winning the $10,000 prize. But the participants don’t have a clue that they’re tricked into a game that’ll unleash hell upon them, literally.
Escaping from each room spells death for any of them as they face a series of death-defying stunts orchestrated by the game master. As the story progresses, shocking secrets will be unearthed.
Despite receiving mixed reviews, Escape Room saw a huge commercial success. It made a box office record of $155.7 million against a $9 million budget.
Escape Room is directed by Adam Robitel and written by Bragi F. Schut and Maria Melnik. The horror thriller stars Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Nik Dodani, Jay Ellis, and Yorick van Wageningen.
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
IMDb rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 51%
Netflix’s first original Korean series Kingdom debuted on the top streaming platform in early 2019. The political period horror thriller is an adaptation of the webcomic series entitled The Kingdom of the Gods.
The Korean political drama takes place in a fictional medieval era of the Joseon dynasty. It centers on a Crown Prince as he looks into a political conspiracy and rumors surrounding the King’s passing.
Amid discord and the monarch’s death, the prince investigates the source of the baffling plague that’s devastating the country. The horrifying pestilence brings the dead back to life and spawns chaos across the land.
Kim Seong-hun and Park In-je created Kingdom for television together with Kim Eun-hee for the screenplay.
The first season of the horror-thriller streaming TV series received critical acclaim and sprung a second season in 2020. Netflix has not yet confirmed the renewal or cancellation of the show.
The Netflix original stars Ju Ji-hoon, Ryu Seung-ryong, Bae Doo-na, Kim Sang-ho, Kim Sung-kyu and Kim Hye-jun.
No. of seasons: 2
IMDb rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 96%
Most Dangerous Game (2020)
Most Dangerous Game is an American action series created for the small screen by filmmaker Phil Abraham. Released in 2020 on Quibi, it’s an adaptation of a 1924 short story of the same name by Richard Connell.
The action series narrates the story of a broke real estate developer who’s on his final days because of a serious illness. In his desperate attempt to still take care of his pregnant wife after he’s gone, Dodge Maynard takes the bait. He dares to play a deadly game and will soon realize that he’s not the hunter, but the hunted.
Written by Nick Santora, Scott Elder, and Josh Harmon, the first season of Most Dangerous Game aired in a 15-episodic run on Roku Channel. All 15 episodes are currently available for streaming on Prime Video.
Season 1 main cast features Liam Hemsworth, Sarah Gadon, and Christoph Waltz. Other stars include Zach Cherry, Aaron Poole, Chris Webster, Billy Burke, Jimmy Akingbola, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Patrick Garrow, and Carolina Bartczak.
Also, Most Dangerous Game will return for a second season set in New York. Waltz will reprise his role in the series while Umbrella Academy star David Castañeda joins the show as the new lead actor.
No. of seasons: 1
IMDb rating: 7/10
The last but not the least entry to our 12 best movies and shows like Netflix’s Squid Game is Nerve. The 2016 American techno-thriller adventure film is based on the 2012 eponymous novel by author Jeanne Ryan.
Nerve focuses on hard-working high school senior Vee Delmonico who’s getting bored of living a passive life. With peer pressure, she joins an online truth or dare game where people can enlist as either players or watchers.
As the game gets to the next level, players receive invites to participate in riskier and more perilous dares. All players have the stakes of winning money once they complete random dares. Soon, the game takes a twisted sinister turn, putting Vee in a series of progressively dangerous feats.
Nerve is directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman and written by Jessica Sharzer. The cast includes Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Juliette Lewis, Emily Meade, Miles Heizer, Kimiko Glenn, Samira Wiley, and Colson Baker.
Run Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
IMDb rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 66%