Chinese drama shows have become very popular in recent years. The availability of good Mainland series has created a community of C-drama addicts. Today, we bring you the best 30 Chinese showcasing drama series that mainly focus on fantasy, romance, action, and historical costume dramas. If you are new to the Chinese media scene or an old-time lover of Chinese shows, you might just find your next big series to watch!
30/30. Legend of Fuyao
(Image Source: RAKUTEN VIKI)
Based on the novel Empress Fuyao by Tianxia Guiyuan, this Chinese TV show takes us to mainland China’s five kingdoms. Fuyao (played by Yang Mi) begins a journey to collect magical artifacts across the kingdoms to lift the curse that has blighted her life. Politics, an unexpected romance, and secrets reveal a conspiracy threatening the 5 Kingdoms that hinder her quest.
Visually, this is one of the best Xianxia Dramas from 2018. Each episode makes you want more. The acting is top-notch, especially the romance between Fuyao and the Crown Prince of Tianquan, Yuan Zhaoxu (played by Ethan Juan), which is sweet and hilarious. However, the main complaint of this show is that Fuyao comes off as a Mary Sue. Her technique “Po Jiu Xiao” is unbeatable. Where is the challenge?
29/30. A Love So Beautiful
Being a teenager is rough. Being a teenager and in love is even more challenging. Chen Xiaoxi (played by Shen Yue) and Jiang Chen (played by Hu Yitian) have been good neighbors and classmates since kindergarten. However, Chen Xiaoxi has fallen head over heels for Jiang Chen and does everything she can to gain his affection. Their lives take a drastic turn as they prepare for their university entrance exam and their futures.
Firstly, if you love C drama, then this is one of the best Chinese TV shows that has a good mixed bag. While it gets better later as the characters develop, the earlier episodes are tough to watch. Chen Xiaoxi’s almost stalker-like behavior and Jiang Chen’s emotional unavailability and sometimes cruel actions make it hard to root for these characters. However, it does get better. While the characters do annoy you, the acting is splendid.
28/30. Day and Night
Next on our Best Chinese TV Shows list is the crime drama Day and Night. What would you do to protect your loved ones? Would you face your worst fears? That is the question facing Guan Hongfeng (played by Pan Yueming). A former captain of the Changfeng Criminal Investigation Detachment, Hongfeng must return to the field after his twin brother is framed for the murders of an entire family.
If you are a fan of crime and action TV shows, this Chinese action series will not disappoint. With a tight and complex storyline filled with multiple surprises (that make sense), the drama keeps viewers on their toes. Another pleasant surprise is Pan Yueming’s acting. Pan Yueming’s acting chops complement the story and the distinctively different characters he is playing.
27/30. Skate Into Love
Next on our list of the best Chinese TV shows, is a story of two childhood classmates reuniting through attending the same university. Tang Xue (played by Janice Wu) and Li Yubing (played by Zhang Xincheng) share a love for ice skating, though they take different paths. Due to an injury, Tang Xue quit ice speed skating, whereas Li Yubing became a famous university Ice Hockey player. Through their reunion, both face challenges on and off the ice.
The backstory of Tang Xue and Li Yubing is one of redemption on both sides. They don’t start as friends, but they learn from one another. It also helps both characters be defined outside of their romance. Of course, this being a Chinese rom-com, there are plenty of hilarious and romantic moments between the characters. This is a strong recommendation if you are looking for a light C-drama to pass the time.
26/30. The Romance of Tiger and Rose
Chen Xiao Qian (played by Zhao Lusi) is an aspiring screenwriter about to shoot her first play. However, after multiple criticisms from her lead male actor Han Ming Xing (played by Ding Yuxi), Xiao Qian enters a deep sleep after making corrections. However, when she wakes up, she realizes she is now the hated third princess, Chen Qianqian, who is to die by Han Shuo (also played by Ding Yuxi). Her goal is to get her two leads together and complete the story to get back to her time.
While the romance and cast are excellent, this Chinese TV show’s main draw is unique world-building. Two cities serve as a commentary on the battle of the sexes. Xuanwu town is ruled by men, where females are to help men. In Huayuan City, women are in charge. It’s uncomfortable to watch when either side is put down for their gender, especially when it’s characters we like. This is thought-provoking and adds to the uniqueness of the drama.
25/30. The Brightest Star in the Sky
The music industry is ruthless, especially in East Asia. Trainees give everything they have to be considered for debut, let alone making it. In this drama, Yang Zhenzhen (played by Janice Wu) is an aspiring musician who becomes the manager of C-pop star Zheng Boxu (played by Huang Zitao). Through their partnership, both strive to make their dreams come true in the brutal business of the music industry through their passion for music.
With this Chinese tv series being about music, it is no surprise that the music used in this drama is top-notch. Even without the soundtrack, this is still a solid drama. While some episodes go into the business side of music, the acting and characters are solid. It’s a light drama that many people would enjoy.
24/30. Arsenal Military Academy
In the early 20th century, China was in a war against the imperial Japanese army. Xie Xiang (played by Bai Lu) disguises herself as a boy to enroll in the Arsenal Military Academy in Shunyuan, hoping to follow her deceased brother’s steps in protecting their country. Through making friends and training, she and her friends uncover a conspiracy between the Japanese occupiers and a defunct royal dynasty.
Be a man! Sorry, I had to. But, in all seriousness, the premise makes this C-drama sound like a more modern version of Mulan. Regardless, the plot is interesting as we see the military brotherhood, others pushing themselves through the limit, and the pride soldiers feel about fighting. The romance between Bai Lu and Xi Kai is hilarious and easy to believe. The stunning cinematography and action scenes are just the cherry on top.
23/30. Princess Agents
Based on the novel 11 Chu Te Gong Huang Fei by Xiao Xiang Dong Er, viewers are transported to the Northern Wei (383-535 CE), where citizens are kidnapped to become enslaved people and targets for the wealthy lord’s hunting adventures. When Chu Qiao (Zhao Liying) demonstrates her strength in the gladiatorial ring, she is taken under the wing of Yuwen Yue (played by Lin Gengxin) and trained as a spy. Within the bloody power struggles, politics, and betrayal, enemies are around Chu Qiao, each with their own plan.
When this C-show first came out, it broke records of National Average ratings for a drama airing on a non-primetime time slot on a non-holiday weekday. This is also the first drama to reach 40 million views. However, the visual aspects are not up to par, as many green screens were used. Still, this is a drama worth watching today for its stellar acting and complex characters.
22/30. Go Go Squid!
Who said gaming couldn’t have a bit of romance? Tong Nian (played by Yang Zi) is a talented computer science university major and online singer. She falls in love with Han Shangyan (played by Li Xian), a high-level e-sports idol who struggles to express himself outside of gaming. However, both motivate one another to overcome their fears and insecurities.
The Chinese TV show’s premise of overcoming one’s shortcomings to achieve their dreams is not new for C-dramas. The main romantic couple is quite sweet together. Though they suffer multiple obstacles and misunderstandings, it’s nice to see both characters develop in and away from one another. However, there are a lot of flashbacks. So be prepared for that. It’s nothing revolutionary but still fun to watch.
21/30. The Bad Kids
Zhu Chaoyang (played by Rong Zishan), Yan Liang (played by Shi Pengyuan), and Yue Pu (nicknamed Pupu) (played by Wang Shengdi) are three children who become embroiled with a murderer after recording his crimes for money.
What would you do in this position? We would all say we would do the right thing and tell the cops. This series disagrees. No character is innocent. However, the most compelling character to watch is Zhang Dongsheng (played by Qin Hao), who goes down a deadly spiral. The acting, cinematography, and plot are stellar. Be warned that this is probably one of the darkest dramas on this list.
20/30. Put Your Hand On My Shoulder
Based on the novel of the same name by Zhao Qianqian, this coming-of-age Chinese drama features Si Tu Mo (played by Xing Fei). As her graduation looms, she is like many graduates who are unsure of their future. However, after being forced to move into an apartment by her mother, she finds herself enamored by Gu Wei Yi (played by Lin Yi), a physics student.
Put Your Head On My Shoulder is a classic rom-com. The character of Si Tu Mo is quite relatable, as someone young but does not have a solid idea. The principal leads are adorable in their own way. Lin Yi and Xing Fei play the innocent and naïve young couple to a T. The cinematography leads to some beautiful shots. Overall, this is one drama that makes you feel good.
19/30. Word of Honor
Based on the novel Faraway Wanderers by Priest, Word of Honor is about two martial arts masters uncovering a master conspiracy through the world of martial arts. Zhou Zi Shu (played by Zhehan Zhang) and Wen Kexing (played by Jun Gong) begin a ‘friendship’ in their hunt for a legendary treasure and solve the conspiracy.
An abundance of danmei (Chinese BL drama) novels are adapted into a TV C-drama. This is one of the best to start with if you are just getting into the C-drama scene. For one, the plot is quite interesting. There were plenty of times when we laughed and cried in a single episode. All the cast members were terrific, and all the characters were interesting. Unfortunately, the law in China forbids an outright gay couple on screen. However, Zhehan Zhang and Jun Gong still convey this budding romance without getting physical to subtle gestures and intense chemistry.
18/30. Meteor Garden
This C-drama is a remake of the 2005 Japanese rom-com drama Boys over Flowers, it was later adapted into a Korean school drama by the same name. For this adaptation, the main character is Dong Shancai (played by Shen Yue), an ordinary girl accepted into the prestigious university Ming De University. However, she immediately clashes with the elite F4. However, she soon finds herself in a love triangle between two of its members, Daoming Si (played by Dylan Wang) and Huaze Lei (played by Darren Chen).
If you are a long-time drama fan or someone new, almost everyone has heard of at least one of the adaptations of Boys over Flowers. The F4 characters have their charm and smarts, rather than just being liked for their looks and wealthy parents. Each character clicks, and the drama mixes hilarity with romance. It’s a genuinely lovely adaptation that feels familiar but still brings something new to this story.
17/30. Joy of Life
Joy of Life is a tale of time travel, martial arts, politics, and revenge. Fan Xian (played by Zhang Ruoyun) is the son of the emperor with memories from the 21st century. Armed with the knowledge of martial arts and poisons, he becomes acquitted with Lin Wan’er (played by Li Qin), the sickly illegitimate daughter of Princess Royal. This leads him to the palace, where the trajectory of his life changes forever.
This series was one of the highest-rated C-dramas of 2019. Firstly, the cinematography of this series is beautiful. Everything from the costumes to the scenery of the set is well-designed and attractive. Fans of the novel this series is based on the novel Qing Yunian by Mao Ni were pleasantly pleased by the adaptation of the plot in this drama. It also helps that there is a lot of natural chemistry between Li Qin and Zhang Ruoyun. If you’re looking for an easy-flowing story featuring complex characters and hilarious scenes, give this one a go.
Reset, one of the latest C-dramas in the new year is a whodunit thriller. Xiao Heyun (played by Bai Jingting) and Li Shiqing (played by Zhao Jinmai) board a bus destined to be blown up. Being stuck in a time loop, the two strive to ensure they do not die and discover who is behind the bombing. The question is, is there a way out?
The idea of being stuck in a time loop like it is Groundhog Day makes for excellent mystery drama. The short run time means the action and suspense are fast-paced, keeping viewers on their toes. The cast, especially the leads Bai Jingting and Shiqing Jinmai, all portray the urgency of this situation. It’s fast, full of twists, and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
15/30. The Long Night
Everything points to Zhang Chao (played by Ning Li) being the murderer of prosecutor Jiang Yang (played by Bai Yu) when Jiang Yang’s body is found in his suitcase. However, Zhang Chao has an alibi. Pieces of a photograph are sent anonymously to news outlets, with the threat of a bomb being blown up if they are not printed. It’s a hunt for the truth for Yan Liang (played by Fan Liao) to uncover the hidden secrets of this murder.
If you are looking for an easy-going drama, stay away from this one. This C-drama is one of iQYi’s (Chinese Netflix-like service) Lights on Series, putting quality over quantity. The smaller episode count means that more must be said in one episode. Only through watching the whole drama do you find out the entire truth. The main drawback is that you must be careful and pay close attention to the show.
14/30. Eternal Love
Also going by Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossom, this C-drama is based on the novel of the same name by Tang Qi Gong Zi. This is a tale of two gods falling in love through multiple lifetimes, war, reincarnation, and even erased memories. This is a love-conquers-all story.
This summary is shorter than the others because much happens in this drama. However, the focus is always on the bond between Yang Mi and Mark Chao’s different personas. Personally, Yang Mi steals the show as Bai Qian. This is one C-drama that looks beautiful from visual effects, action cinematography, and costumes.
13/30. Love O2O
Our lead character in this show is Bei Weiwei (played by Zheng Shuang). An aspiring game designer and university student, she is one of the top players in the game A Chinese Ghost Story. There she gains the attention of the top player of the game, Xiao Nai (played by Yang Yang). Together, they enter the couples’ in-game competitions. This relationship then goes offline too.
Anyone who has played MMORPG games for a long time would know you can make some close friends while questing together. This premise makes games seem wholesome, rather than the usual negative tone these games get. As a Chinese tv drama, this is a classic feel-good romance. It’s not trying to be revolutionary or doing something new.
12/30. The Rise of Phoenixes
If there is one thing any historical drama has shown us, fictional or not, palace life is full of schemes, betrayal, power grabs, and treachery around every corner. Ning Yi (played by Chen Kun) learned this through the death of his mother. Hiding behind a carefree façade, Ning Yi has secretly established an information network with Qingming Academy’s headmaster Xi. Alongside him is Feng Zhiwei (played by Ni Ni), a cross-dressing woman who becomes the Ultimate Scholar. Together, they face palace life and get ready to strike their enemies down.
This C-drama keeps viewers on their toes with its plots within plots and hidden character motivations. We, as the audience, begin to care about our trio of characters, especially near the end when something fundamentally changes their relationship. Excellent acting from all the cast, hilarious moments, beautiful visuals, and soundtrack; this is an easy recommendation.
11/30. You are My Glory
Ok, this is just setting unrealistic experiences over online gaming. In this romantic comedy based on the novel of the same name by Gu Man, two childhood friends reunite through the online mobile game Honor of Kings. One is the famous actress Qiao Jingijing (played by Dilraba Dilmurat). Although she is the game’s ambassador, she is terrible at the game at first. However, when her video playing the game is leaked, she asks her former classmate Yu Ti (played by Yang Yang) to coach her.
The best thing that strikes me about this C-drama is the characterization of Qiao Jingijing. Dilraba Dilmurat does a fantastic job portraying the facade she has to put up for her image. She knows her self-worth and knows what she wants. Yu Ti is just as compelling to watch as he is extremely relatable. The romance is a slow burn, but it seems all logical and worth it in the end.
10/30 Legend of Fei.
Based on the novel Bandits by Priest, this C-drama tells the story of Zhou Fei (played by Zhao Liying), the granddaughter of the founder of the 48 Strongholds, Li Zheng (played by Hu Bing). Sick to her sheltered life, she tries to escape. While helping her cousin, she is rescued from drowning by martial arts master Xie Yun (played by Wang Yibo). Together, they begin to hone their sword skills and find the secrets of the hidden martial arts world.
Usually, this show focuses on male martial artists who are training to become masters. This C-drama puts a female protagonist in the front role who is well-developed. The two main characters are so playful toward one another. It is joyful and hilarious to watch. However, the scenery has too much green screen in it.
9/30. My Girlfriend is an Alien
Usually, aliens are seen as dangerous extraterrestrial beings we should all fear. However, if aliens are anything like Chai Xiaoqi (played by Wan Peng), they are more than welcome to come to Earth because it would be the most awkward and hilarious encounter ever. Chai Xiaoqi is an alien stuck on Earth. When she absorbs hormones emitted by men on Earth, she enters a “boy-crazy state.” Through her encounters throughout the world, she meets Fang Leng (played by Thassapak Hsu), who suffers from “rainy weather heterosexual amnesia.” This means that when it rains, he forgets the women around him.
You can already tell this is a weird, wacky, and unforgettable Chinese show from the premise. Massive props to the two actors of the main leads, Thassapak Hsu and Chai Xiaoqi, for playing these roles. There were some moments when it became hard to breathe. This is one of the most unique C-dramas out there that you need to watch to appreciate its weirdness fully.
8/30. Douluo Continent
Based on the fantasy novel of the same name by Tang Jia San Shao, Douluo Continent tells the story of Tang San (played by Zhan Xiao). At the age of 16, the talented and witty Tang San is sent to Nuoding Academy to learn how to be a great soul master. Through the training, he befriends Xiao Wu (played by Wu Xuanyi). They then go to Shrek Academy. Here, they both find themselves in the middle of an imperial power struggle and unveiling lost secrets such as the death of Tang San’s mother.
The plot is straightforward, filled with tense battles and charming moments. The Shrek Seven Devils grow from being individuals on a path to forming a strong team and friendship. Also, huge props to the visual effects. These visual effects put some big-budget films to shame. If you are looking for an easy-to-follow fantasy c-drama, this is one of the top recommendations. Douluo Continent is the first book to be adapted, so I look forward to more of the Shrek Seven Devils.
7/30. Battle Through The Heavens
Battle Through The Heavens is based on the novel Doupo Cangqiong by Tiancan Tudou. After the death of his mother at the age of 9, Xiao Yan (played by Leo Wu) lost all his martial arts abilities. He meets old man Yao Chen (played by Baron Chen), makes great strides in his martial arts, and enrolls in the Jianan Academy. However, after being framed for something he did not do and having his family assassinated, Xiao Yan seeks revenge for their murders.
There have been some complaints from fans of the original novel. There was an animation that won over multiple people but also divided fans. However, there is still a C-drama worth watching for those of us who have not read the novel or seen the animation. There is a lot of action, humor, and stunning visual effects.
6/30. Nirvana in Fire
Revenge is a dish best served cold, even more so when death is looming over you. Based on the novel Lang ya bang by Hai Yan, Lu Shu (played by Hu Ge) seeks revenge and justice for his family, who were framed as traitors. Lu Shu survived but was poisoned by the Poison of the Bitter Flame. Treatment changed his appearance and weakened his resistance to the cold. Now, under the alias Mei Changsu, he returns with allies to seek justice and find out the truth before the poison kills him.
We have previously talked about this drama on another list. We didn’t get into why this Chinese series is considered one of the best costume dramas even to this day. Excellent visuals, a soundtrack few other C-dramas have matched in epicenes, a fantastic ensemble cast, and a plot that keeps viewers on their toes.
5/30. Falling Into Your Smile
We are back with gaming and romance with Falling Into Your Smile. Based on the novel of the same name by Qing Mei, amateur gamer Tong Yao (played by Xiao Cheng) becomes the first female player in the professional gaming team ZGDX. Many are doubtful she has what it takes, including ZGDX leader Lu Si Cheng (played by Kai Xu). However, as she proves her skills, feelings emerge between the two.
While Love O2O does touch on females in gaming, Falling Into Your Smile goes even further. Showing the male-dominated thinking of fanbases and players highlights how big of a step this is for gaming. The Chinese TV series also investigates the dismissive tones many of the older generation (particularly Asian) have towards gaming, not seeing it as a real job. This is put into an excellently paced plot and characters that feel natural. It’s a feel-good and inspirational tale of someone fulfilling their dreams.
4/30. The Wolf
Zhu Youwen (played by Darren Wang) was abandoned as a baby and was raised by wolves. He falls in love with Lady Ma Zhai (played by Li Qin), and after being falsely accused of murder, he is rescued by Chu Kui (Ding Yongdai). Chu Kui had just overthrown the previous emperor. Chu Kui adopts Zhu Youwen and grants him the title of Prince Bo. It is eight years until Lady Ma Zhai reunites with Zhu Youwen after the death of her family. Together, they do whatever they can to protect the civilians, even going against harsh political reforms and stopping his brothers from destroying the kingdom in a fight for the throne.
When you mix the loyalty of wolves with the betrayal and scheming of the palace, fireworks will occur. The cast did an excellent job, but extra credit must be given to Darren Wang, as he portrayed every emotion so well. The one thing you should be warned about is a love triangle. So, be warned. Besides that, The Wolf deserves its high place on this list of the best Chinese TV shows!
3/30. The Oath of Love
Getting a cancer diagnosis in your family sucks. It puts your whole life into a mess, leaving you to pick up the pieces. That is what happened to Lin Zhi Xiao (played by Yang Zi), a budding cellist just graduating from university. Her life hits rock bottom with uncertainties when her father is diagnosed with cancer. Her father’s physician is Dr. Gu Wei (played by Xiao Zhan), a cold and aloof man at first but with a warm heart for those he cares about. Together, they bond and learn from one another.
This is one of those dramas that gets better with time. The plot is well-written and paced based on the novel Entrust the Rest of My Life to You by Bo Lin Shi Jiang. And when you have acting powerhouses such as Yang Zi and Xiao Zhan, you know the acting will be superb. The characters also do develop. Lin Zhi Xiao changes the most, becoming more focused on what she wants, while Gu Wei learns to healthily deal with failure and setbacks. It’s a tale of healing and maturing through tragedy.
2/30. Ashes of Love
The three realms are in constant turmoil. When the Flower Deity gave birth to her daughter Jin Mi (played by Yang Zi), she fed her daughter a magic petal that blocked romantic feelings. Growing up imprisoned within the Flower realm, she encounters Fire Deity, Xufeng (played by Deng Lun). It is then a battle to find the truth about her parents and prevent a war between the realms.
Again, these C-dramas have people willing to start wars for one girl’s love, and most of us can’t get a text back. But in all seriousness, a love triangle is critical to this plot. If you like that, this is right up your alley. The romance and chemistry between the main leads are nice, but the romance between Liuying (played by Chen Yuqi) and Muci (played by Zou Tingwei) is also intriguing. There are plenty of moments you will cry, so grab tissues.
1/30. The Untamed
Based on the novel Mo Dao Zu Shi by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, The Untamed tells the story of the former cultivator Wei Wuxian (played by Zhan Xiao), who is resurrected 16 years after his death. Reuniting with his former friends, including his soulmate Lan Wanji (Wang Yibo), he begins to uncover the secrets that led to his demise in his first life.
When people recently talked about good Chinese TV Shows, Danmei, and the rise in Western consumption of Danmei, most of that happened because of The Untamed. The chemistry between Lan Wanji (who barely talks but is so expressive at the same time) and Wei Wuxian rivals some straight couples on this list. It’s a drama you will never forget once you watch it.