So you just finished Squid Game and now you’re feeling empty inside waiting for Season Two. Even though there’s no exact replacement for the exciting and horrific hit series, there are definitely many other TV shows and movies you might also enjoy if you liked Squid Game.
If you watched Squid Game with an English dub, though, go ahead and rewatch the series in its original Korean audio with subtitles before trying out any of our recommendations—we promise you’ll get so much more out of it that way.
Alice in Borderland
Where to watch: Netflix
The 2020 TV show Alice In Borderland has a similar concept to Squid Game; this Japanese thriller series follows two leads competing for their lives in dangerous games after the Tokyo streets mysteriously empty out.
For people with self–identified short attention spans, Alice in Borderland won’t disappoint with its fast–paced episodes. Instead of watching hours of exposition at the beginning of the series, it gets right on with the most important events—no long explanations for each character.
Viewers find out more about the main characters as their various traits become relevant to the plot, and the audience becomes immersed in the dystopia—you find out more about what’s happening at the same time as the characters.
Lethal games are doled out to the players with their difficulty level and type determined by playing cards. The game participants receive instructions about the games through cell phones, and if they can’t complete the various challenges, they lose their lives. Alice in Borderland is very similar to Squid Game in concept, and is also reminiscent of Japanese phenom Battle Royale.
Exciting, engaging, and clever, Alice in Borderland is certifiably binge–worthy. Plus, all of the eight episodes in the first (and only) season are under an hour, meaning if you really want to know what happens to the main characters, you only need one weekend to find out.
Train to Busan (2016)
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video
Despite all of the moral debates we could have about Squid Game, I think most people can agree on one thing—we needed more screen time from the mysterious guy at the train station who played with red and blue envelopes against potential contestants.
If you’re interested in seeing more from Squid Game’s Gong Yoo, Train to Busan is a great thriller of his. This 2016 Korean action horror film follows a father, played by Gong, and his daughter through a sudden zombie apocalypse boasts an impressive 94% on Rotten Tomatoes with a compelling story and strong performances from its leads.
Like Squid Game, the zombie flick considers themes of selfishness and sacrifice, in addition to being a nail–biter throughout its two–hour runtime. While the zombie trope has been overplayed by Hollywood, Train to Busan offers a fresh take on a tired concept and focuses on complex characters, all with their own lives and motivations to consider as they fight for safety against monsters who used to be just like them. Thrilling to watch, Train to Busan has a lot in common with Squid Game: a scary, but somewhat recognizable world, fast–paced action, and an emotional look into self–interest.
Where to watch: Netflix
This Brazilian dystopian drama series follows young competitors who have one chance when they turn 20 to complete “The Process,” which will allow them to move off of poverty–stricken "Inland" to the affluent "Offshore" society. The catch? Every year, most of the contestants are unsuccessful, meaning they are eliminated. The Process is designed as a meritocracy, intended to favor the top 3% of each class—the tests include a series of mental and physical challenges in order to separate the weak from the strong.
Again, this show features a diverse array of individuals, all with their own motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. 3% raises issues of economic disparity, like Squid Game, but doesn’t stop there. When the reward for outcompeting most of their peers is an affluent, “easy” life, will the winning young adults still remember their roots and work to dismantle the system that they benefited from?
Rife with moral gray areas and impossible questions, this Brazilian show has four seasons and a total of 33 episodes. The concept is definitely Squid Game–esque, but this TV series takes some time to heat up, so don’t give up on it after only one episode.
Where to watch: Netflix
While this movie doesn’t feature any games like tug of war or the dalgona candy task, Snowpiercer is still a gritty thriller exploring class tensions and the impact of desperation on everyday people in an unfair and bleak society. Oh and also, it stars Chris Evans.
Written and directed by Korean director Bong Joon–ho, Snowpiercer takes place on a train that carries the last people on Earth after a failed attempt to curb the effects of global warming led to catastrophic consequences.
Evans’ character, a lower–class passenger, leads a rebellion against the elite who reside at the front of the train; the disparity between the gross opulence of oblivious rich residents and the starving, suffering lower class is a theme strikingly similar to the difference between the “VIPs” and contestants in Squid Game.
Featuring shocking developments and sharp class commentary, Snowpiercer is an action–packed look into the recesses of hopelessness and financial inequality. Strong performances from Evans and supporting castmates also bolster the emotional narrative, which might leave audiences sitting in silence at the movie’s close. Snowpiercer is a strong pick for those who were particularly interested in Squid Game’s harrowing psychological elements, as well as its obvious commentary on wealth disparity and capitalism.
Where to watch: Hulu
We’re sure you’ve heard of Parasite—this Korean dark comedy thriller (also by Bong Joon–ho) follows a low–income family as they attempt to raise their financial and social status by working for an affluent family. Again, like Snowpiercer, this film doesn't feature any of the intense games that Squid Game is known for, but it’s still filled with action that will leave viewers holding their breath.
The most similar component to Squid Game is its class commentary, but Parasite also incorporates comedic elements. The movie lures audiences in with hilarious levity as one of the main characters, Kim Ki–woo, leverages his new position as a personal English tutor to get his sister, father, and mother jobs working for the wealthy Park family. However, their antics quickly devolve as they make a shocking discovery that forces them to confront reality. An incisive look into morality under the pressures of financial burdens, Parasite is a slow burn that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats while also raising questions of class tension and inequality.
Whether you decide to try out these recommendations or choose to revisit a familiar YA classic like The Hunger Games, don’t let subtitles scare you off from finding more gems like Squid Game. And while the global success of Squid Game speaks to the value of watching international movies and shows, director Bong Joon–ho said it best: “Once you overcome the one–inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”