For part of September 2021, a new series took the reins and became the top TV show on Netflix, and that is Squid Game. The 2021 Netflix TV series captured audiences with its compelling story, interesting take on children’s games, and the intense (fictional) competition that would follow. The South Korean drama became a hit.
However, with only nine episodes, all of which are easily bingeable, you might find yourself without a show after watching all of the dark series in one night (guilty as charged). Have no fear, as we have some of the best shows (and one special movie) you can watch now if you’re craving something similar to Squid Game.
Alice In Borderland (Netflix)
The popular Japanese Netflix series, Alice in Borderland, is based on the beloved manga of the same name. It follows a group of friends who are transported to a parallel dimension called the Borderlands. In order to get out alive, they must compete in a series of deadly games that not only test their abilities, but their friendships as well.
No, this isn’t related at all to the Borderlands video game adaptation, but if anything, I think this is even better. For fans of Squid Game, the games will remind you often of the show, and the compelling friendships between characters is really what carries the series, from the beginning to the end. You don’t want anyone to die - but it’s inevitable.
Darwin’s Game (Netflix)
Darwin’s Game follows high school sophomore Kaname Sudo, who accepts an online invitation by a friend to play an app game called ‘Darwin’s Game.’ But, unbeknownst to him, this game involves a life and death fight. Now, it’s up to Kaname to beat the game, and kill the game master.
Kaname reminds me a lot of Seong Gi-hun in Squid Game, except without the gambling addiction. He has a good heart and genuinely wants to figure out what the heck is going on and why this is happening to innocent people, so he takes it upon himself to figure out the truth. He’s very easy to support as an ally, and his newfound ability (You'll see it soon enough!) is so badass.
Deadman Wonderland (Funimation Now)
Moving onto another anime, Deadman Wonderland follows Ganta, a normal everyday man who is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. He is later sentenced to Deadman Wonderland, a prison that doubles as a theme park. Now, he needs to fight for his life and get out of this hell hole, one activity at a time.
If you liked the ending of Squid Game, this series is for you. It’s basically just a continuation of people paying to watch others fight because they have money and...what else are they going to do with it? But, what really carries Deadman Wonderland is Ganta himself. He’s such a likeable character, and you really want to root for him, especially for him to, somehow, survive to the end.
In this international series from Netflix, 3% takes place in a dystopian world where there is 3% of the world’s population that lives in utter harmony, and the rest are left to rot. Certain 20-year-old individuals are pitted against each other every year to compete for a chance in this 3%, and have a better life.
I absolutely love this show. I’ve always enjoyed post-apocalyptic and dystopian-era movies/shows, but 3% takes it to another level. The characters all have interesting backstories and work well off of each other, and the games show that the characters are not only full of skill, but mere wit, as well, as each person tries to outdo the others to get into a spot at the top. There’s no cash prize like Squid Game, but there is a chance to change their lives forever.
Kingdom is a South Korean drama series set in the Joseon period of Korea, and follows the story of a Crown Prince, who sets out on a journey to investigate the source of a mysterious plague that begins to ravage the country and turn people into flesh-eating monsters.
I’ll be honest - Kingdom doesn’t have any games like Squid Game, but it certainly has the drama that you would expect. Not only are the acting performances great, and the cast extremely talented, but the scenery and the set design will blow you away. Plus, if you’re not bothered by gore or zombies, this show is perfect. As someone who loves The Walking Dead, I feel like this is a good mix of that show and the drama that Squid Game provided. It’s seriously such a great watch.
Snowpiercer (HBO Max)
The TNT original, Snowpiercer, is based on the movie of the same name. Set in 2026 (Not too far from now, huh?), it's seven years after the world has become a frozen wasteland, and the last remaining humans have taken shelter on a perpetually moving luxury train.
While this isn’t an international series or an anime, Snowpiercer is an excellent show for fans of Squid Game, namely because of the dystopian era that it is set in, and the story it tells. Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly are great as the stars, and have wonderful chemistry, and the rest of the cast is awesome as well. This is one of those shows where I can’t give too much away without spoiling it - you just need to check it out for yourself.
Black Mirror (Netflix)
Black Mirror is set in a world not that far from our own, unveiling how modern technologies can fail their makers, and the rest of humanity. With new characters and stories every single episode, there’s always something new.
For fans of Squid Game, this show is a great fit for you, as it gives you not only good drama and great stories to follow along, but strange dystopian worlds that really set the scene. What I love the most about Black Mirror is that it’s not afraid to dig deep into those societal messages. One of my personal favorite episodes of Black Mirror is “Nosedive,” a commentary on the harmful effects of social media, but I won’t spoil the plot here. Trust me on this, give it a try if you haven’t seen it already.
Sweet Home (Netflix)
South Korea seems to have some awesome hits on their hands, because Sweet Home is another great pick for Squid Game fans. Sweet Home tells the story of a group of people who live in an apartment building, and must lock themselves inside when monsters begin trying to wipe out all of humanity. Now, it’s up to them to survive somehow, when the world is falling apart.
One of my favorite parts about Squid Game were the sweet and heartwarming (sometimes heartbreaking) moments between Seong Gi-hun and Oh Il-nam, and that’s exactly what Sweet Home provides consistently with its characters. Mixed in with the end of the world background and really scary looking monsters, you grow to care for these characters and their relationships, and want to see them succeed - but with these creatures trying to kill everything in sight, it definitely makes that kind of hard. Luckily for you, you get to sit back and watch from the couch and not have too much to worry about.
The Future Diary (Hulu)
You want some more battle royale style shows? Check out The Future Diary. This anime is about a deadly battle royale game set between 12 different individuals who are given ‘Future Diaries,’ a special diary that can somehow tell the future, by Deus Ex Machina, the God of Time. The last survivor will become his heir.
I feel like The Future Diary has everything Squid Game fans would enjoy. Relatable and interesting characters? Check. Bloody games that end in death? Check. Many twists and turns that will make you sit up straight in your seat and yell “What?!” at the TV. Check. The only thing different here is that The Future Diary feels a little bit more like a fantasy series with the inclusion of gods, but it’s still an extremely interesting anime nonetheless, that more people should watch.
Last but not least, we take a look at D.P. This Netflix original tells the story of a team of Korean military police, who are tasked with the mission of finding deserters and bringing them to justice.
While it’s not a game show or a battle royale like Squid Game, the South Korean TV series offers a lot of social commentary that many people will enjoy if you liked the messages behind Squid Game. The cast is incredibly talented, leading a meaningful story that will have changed you by the end, in my opinion. Or, at the very least, entertained you thoroughly.
Honorable Mention: Battle Royale (Amazon Prime)
I can’t have this list and not mention Battle Royale. This film, released in 2000, puts a group of ninth graders from a Japanese high school up against each other in a Battle Royale. They all must kill each other, until one survives. If no one kills anyone, they all die.
While it’s not the first battle royale film ever, Battle Royale is often credited as one of the bigger films that catapulted the genre into fame, and without it, who knows if Squid Game might have been as popular. It’s bloody, gory, and everything you would expect, with characters who you come to love and cry for when they die, and characters that you’d like to push off a cliff, just like Squid Game (looking at you, Jang Deok-su). If you’ve watched films like The Hunger Games, you’ll definitely like this.
While it’s unknown if Squid Game will receive a Season 2, I’ll still always love the series for its interesting story and characters. But, hopefully, you’ve now found a new series (or film) to love just as much.
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Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!