Why is it called Squid Game? Netflix show’s name explained and alternate title revealed

The Netflix hit series almost had a very different title – but what was it?

Squid Game

South Korean drama Squid Game is still dominating the Netflix streaming chart despite arriving on screens over a month ago and viewers just can’t get enough of Hwang Dong-hyuk’s hit series, which has become Netflix’s biggest original series of all time.


Starring Lee Jung-jae, the nine-part series follows a group of debt-ridden people who are invited to take part in a mysterious tournament for the chance to win 45.6 billion Won– but if they lose the game, they also lose their lives.

The group has to get through six Squid Game rounds and stay alive before getting their hands on the competition’s big piggy bank – but why exactly is the show called Squid Game? And what was the alternative title that Netflix were thinking of using instead?

Read on for everything you need to know about Squid Game’s title.

Why is Squid Game called Squid Game?

Squid Game HoYeon Jung

Netflix’s hit series Squid Game gets its name from the final round of the mysterious tournament, in which the finalists have to play the titular children’s playground game.

The game is a version of tag, where players are split into two teams – the attackers and the defenders – and tasked with stopping their opponents from advancing across the squid diagram drawn in the ground. You can learn more about how to play Squid Game with our true story guide.

The Squid Game is a recurring theme throughout the series, with Gi-hun and Sang-woo seen playing it as children in the very first episode, while the Squid Game symbols – a square, triangle and circle – which feature on the game’s calling card and the guards’ uniforms, are taken from  the game’s diagram.

Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk spoke to RadioTimes.com last month about the title of the show, saying in an exclusive interview that the series was inspired by his own childhood.

“Squid Game is a game I used to play as a child in the schoolyard or the streets of the neighbourhood,” he said. “This is a story about people who used to play this game as children and return to play it as adults.

“It was one of the most physical and it was also one of my favourite games. I felt that this game could be the most symbolic children’s game that could represent the kind of society we live in today.”

What was Squid Game’s original title?

Squid Game

It may surprise you to learn that Squid Game wasn’t the Netflix show’s original title, with the nine-part series originally going by the name Round Six – which is the last round of the tournament where the finalists play the Squid Game.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix executive Minyoung Kim said that the streamer was initially worried that the title Squid Game wouldn’t resonate with those outside of South Korea.

“Squid Game, or ojingeo in Korean, is a real kids’ game here, but not all Koreans actually know it. My generation knows it, but my niece’s generation probably wouldn’t.

“So, initially, we knew we wanted this show to travel but we were worried the title Squid Game wouldn’t resonate because not many people would get it. So we went with the title Round Six instead, wanting it to be more general and helpful for telling people what the show is about — there are six rounds to the game.”

She added that Hwang convinced Netflix to call the show Squid Game after all, as it was the “essence” of the game.

“I think the more authentic title has actually played really well. The title, Squid Game, together with the eye-catching artwork, really capture interest within our service — especially for audiences who have never watched a Korean show before but are looking for fun things to watch.”

Read more about Squid Game

Squid Game is available to view on Netflix. Looking for something else to watch? Visit our guides to the best series on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix, or check out our handy TV Guide for more inspiration.