Cover Photo: Netflix

There’s something relatable about the struggle to survive in extreme situations like the protagonists in these shows

Have you ever wondered why survival shows and the idea of watching challenging situations unfold for its participants (read: victims) are so popular?

A person stranded in the middle of nowhere with no food or shelter; strangers grouped together and put through a 'social experiment' before being eliminated one by one (sometimes through audience votes); contestants having to complete both mental and physical demands to earn their escape (or in some cases, money)—it's safe to say that we've seen them in almost every shape or form.

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It’s absolutely engrossing as we watch characters overcome hurdles and try to find strength in themselves. The best survival shows engage us and often times, unknowingly consume us as we wonder what'll happen next and what'll become of them. Check out some survival-themed titles on Netflix that'll keep you at the edge of your seat, guessing until the very end.

Squid Game

Squid Game is a unique series in that the 456 participants willingly sign up to compete in games for a 45.6 billion Korean won (about RM1.5 billion) prize. While most survival shows feature situations where individuals are pitted against unwanted circumstances, the case is very different for Squid Game.

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The players are unaware of the deadly cost of losing at first, but things change with each game. With the participants playing childhood games to stay alive and win, you won’t be able to stop watching as they face unknown obstacles. Don’t let the childhood games fool you; this series is gritty and shows the dark side of human nature in a most entertaining way.

Stream Squid Game on Netflix.


Adrift is inspired by the true story of a young couple sailing when they encounter a catastrophic hurricane. If you love a good survival story with some romance, this film should be your pick.

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Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) meet in Tahiti and fall in love. They later receive an offer to sail a yacht to San Diego and set sail for their adventure. Unfortunately, they end up in the eye of the storm and become adrift at sea. Being stranded in the vast ocean and trying to survive with limited resources is an incredible feat. You’ll find yourself wondering what you would do and if the budding romance between Tami and Richard could survive these tough conditions.

Stream Adrift on Netflix.

The Martian

If the ocean isn’t your scene, what about space? If you haven’t already watched The Martian, it'll definitely be worth your while. The film follows an astronaut struggling to survive alone on Mars after being left behind. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a dust storm, but he wakes up and strives to survive.

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Being the only human on Mars is obviously daunting and we can’t help but root for Watney as he figures out different ways to sustain himself and find a way off the planet. This survival story has fun, more realistic aspects of space and science tied to a gripping story.

Stream The Martian on Netflix.

I Am Legend

For people who enjoy more science fiction, I Am Legend will satisfy. This film follows military scientist Robert Neville (Will Smith) who is the last human in New York after a cure for cancer mutates into a virus that wipes out most of humankind.

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Neville is immune but he has to defend himself from nocturnal mutants while trying to develop a cure and find other surviving humans. As a lone survivor, Neville also fights loneliness daily and only has his German Sherpard Sam for a companion. I Am Legend is a heartrending apocalyptic survival film that will hit you in the feels.

Stream I Am Legend on Netflix.

Cast Away

Then there’s Cast Away, a classic survival movie. The famous story focuses on Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), a FedEx systems engineer, who flies to Malaysia for work. Unfortunately, the cargo plane he's on gets caught in a storm and crashes in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

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Chuck is the lone survivor and washes up on an uncharted and uninhabited island. He ends up stranded for years and develops a friendship with a volleyball he names Wilson. This extraordinary tale about survival, mental fortitude, and the need for human connection will move your heart.

Stream Cast Away on Netflix.

The Decline

What happens when you gather a bunch of survivalists in one place? The Decline shows six survivalism enthusiasts joining a survivalist training program in a rural region of Quebec, Canada. They're trained by the experienced survivalist Alain (Réal Bossé) and learn helpful survival skills until a fatal accident occurs.

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The group becomes bitterly divided on how to resolve the matter and a brutal fight for life ensues. With intense action set against a beautiful snowy backdrop, The Decline will have you contemplating how survival can be upended by human nature itself.

Stream The Decline on Netflix.

Sweet Home

Sweet Home is a great K-drama to watch if you enjoy engaging characters and intriguing developments. The story centres on troubled teen Cha Hyun-su (Song Kang) and his apartment neighbours when humans suddenly turn into savage monsters.

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Wreaking havoc everywhere, the strange phenomenon changes life as they know it. The type of monsters humans transform into depends on their deepest desires which means a variety of different monsters for viewers to enjoy. With monsters lurking everywhere, the apartment residents remain trapped and fight to survive as well as to hold on to their humanity.

Stream Sweet Home on Netflix.

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