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Shows Like Squid Game That Survival Drama Fans Need To Watch

Right now, one of the biggest Netflix shows that everyone's buzzing about is the intense survival drama "Squid Game." The series centers on a man named Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) who is down on his luck and strapped for cash thanks to his gambling problem. When a mysterious man offers Gi-hun an opportunity to win money by playing simple games, he takes the opportunity, only to find himself in a much more risky situation than he'd anticipated: Gi-hun arrives to the game site and soon realizes he's part of a group of contestants vying to win a ₩45.6 billion (US$38.5 million) cash prize — with deadly consequences for those who lose.

"Squid Game" is a surreal survival show with interesting social commentary that offers a look at what happens to people when they are put into life and death situations, and the lengths they'll go to for self-preservation. If you're already a fan of the tantalizing series — and you're impatient waiting for a possible "Squid Game" Season 2 – here are some shows with similar themes that you can check out in the meantime.

Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor is about a desperate gambler

The action-thriller anime "Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor" is similar to "Squid Game" in both plot and tone, making it a perfect watch for fans of the Netflix show. "Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor" is based on the first part of the "Kaiji" manga, and centers on a gambler and petty thief named Kaiji Ito (Masato Hagiwara). Much like Gi-hun, Kaiji is approached by a mysterious man who offers him a chance to win a large sum of money by playing games.

In "Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor," Kaiji boards a ship called Espoir where he meets hundreds of other people in similarly dire financial situations, and they all try their hands at different games to win the cash prize. Throughout the series, each new game has unique rules and varied outcomes — sometimes losing means forced manual labor, while other times, it means death.

Those who enjoyed the high-stakes thrills and creative (yet messed-up) game sequences in "Squid Game" will surely enjoy "Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor" for the exact same reasons.

Alice in Borderland is a popular Netflix series

"Alice in Borderland" is also based on a manga by the same name, though it's a live-action series rather than an anime. The 2020 sci-fi thriller centers on a young man named Ryōhei Arisu (Kento Yamazaki) who is obsessed with video games. One day, Arisu and his friends Chōta Segawa (Yūki Morinaga) and Daikichi Karube (Keita Machida) find themselves in an alternate version of Tokyo that's essentially empty, except for other unwitting players who are trapped in the same game arena.

Arisu, his friends, and the other competitors are forced to play life-or-death games that are determined by playing cards. After each game, winners get cards known as "visas" which allow them to live a little longer in the arena. Once a player runs out of time, they're killed by laser beams hidden somewhere outside of the playing area.

"Alice in Borderland" has a dystopian feeling similar to "Squid Game," and the brutal games will leave you wincing as you watch. Plus, the mystery as to the origin of the games — and who is behind them — will leave you at the edge of your seat.

3% is a dystopian thriller

Another show that's great for fans of "Squid Game" is the Brazilian dystopian thriller series "3%." The show takes place in a future where the majority of the world's population lives in poverty in a place called the Inland, as opposed to the Offshore, which is a faraway affluent paradise. The only opportunity for people to make it to the Offshore is through The Process, where 20-year-olds compete for the privilege to live a better life. While many competitors simply lose and are sent away, some don't make it out of the quest alive — and only 3% of the contestants succeed.

"3%" is another series that takes a hard look at humanity, and shows what can happen to normal people whose futures are on the line. If you liked "Squid Game" for the intensity of the games and the ways the different contestants reacted under pressure, then "3%" may just be the perfect show to follow it up with.

Liar Game is an oldie but a goodie

The 2007 Japanese drama series "Liar Game" is also based off of a popular manga by the same name, and features similar plot points to "Squid Game." It follows a young woman named Nao Kanzaki (Erika Toda) whose honesty and naïveté attracts unwanted attention. One day, Kanzaki gets a mysterious delivery of 100 million Yen (1 million USD), along with a message that she's now part of the Liar Game Tournament, which has contestants lie and cheat their way into their opponent's pockets. Those who lose in the Liar Game Tournament are indebted to the winners, and depending on the amount they lose, their debts also vary in severity.

The end of "Squid Game" Season 1 saw Gi-hun on a mission to end the violent games once and for all, and in "Liar Game," Kanzaki also becomes determined to put a stop to the tournament. There's also a 2014 South Korean version of "Liar Game," so if you enjoy the 2007 version, you can watch it all over again from a new perspective.

The Future Diary is a grim anime

Our final suggestion for fans of "Squid Game" — check out the anime series "The Future Diary." The series protagonist Yukiteru Amano (Misuzu Togashi) is a young loner who spends most of his time talking to his imaginary friends Deus Ex Machina (Norio Wakamoto) — the God of Time and Space — and his assistant, Murmur (Manami Honda), who are his only friends.

When Deus transforms Yukiteru's cell phone into a Future Diary, Yukiteru realizes he can see 90 days into the future. Not only that, but Yukiteru learns that 11 other people have received Future Diaries, and are now part of a survival game that Deus created, where each player competes to become Deus' successor and save the world from the apocalypse. And of course, to win the game — fitting with the general theme, here — you have to kill all the other competitors.

The intensity and brutality of the competitors in "The Future Diary" are similar to those in "Squid Game" who did whatever they had to do to survive. Consider watching "The Future Diary" if you're in the mood for more fast-paced action with a hint of philosophical musings to keep things interesting.