Top 13 Chinese Dramas to Add to Your Watchlist Now

by | Mar 1, 2024 | Movies

Chinese dramas and movies have exploded in popularity in recent years. From historical epics to modern romances, these shows offer glamorous costumes, gripping storylines, and high production values that have gained millions of fans across the world.

13 Greatest Modern Chinese Dramas

As someone who loves getting sucked into an entertaining new series, I’ve watched my fair share of fantastic Chinese dramas.

If you’re looking to get into the genre, here are 13 incredible shows that need to go on your watchlist.

The Untamed (2019)

1. The Untamed (2019)

This fantasy epic is adapted from the hugely popular BL novel Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation. It follows Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji – two powerful cultivators who start off as rivals but are forced to team up to solve a series of mysteries and defeat evil forces.

Though censorship limited the overt BL elements, the subtle romantic chemistry between the two male leads is palpable. Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo put in incredibly nuanced performances. The show is also stunning visually – the lush landscapes and sweeping martial arts sequences make it a breathtaking viewing experience.

Nirvana in Fire (2015)

2. Nirvana in Fire (2015)

This critically acclaimed drama is set during the tumultuous Tang dynasty. It follows the cunning strategist Mei Changsu as he returns to court under a new identity to clear his family’s name after they were wrongfully accused of treason.

The plot intricately weaves politics, martial arts, and mystery together into a complex tapestry. The pacing is superb, keeping you hooked across all 54 episodes. Mei Changsu is an unforgettable protagonist, using his keen intellect to outmaneuver foes at court. I loved watching his plans play out and the dominoes fall!

The Legend of Haolan (2019)

3. The Legend of Haolan (2019)

This recent time travel romance took Chinese social media by storm for its sweet, progressive storyline. It centers on the love story between Yin Haolan, the successor of the top martial arts sect, and the intelligent doctor Fu Hongyu.

What struck me about this drama is how it subverted conventional gender dynamics. Hongyu is determined to pursue her career over marriage. Meanwhile, Haolan supports her goals and values her intellect and skills as an equal. Their relationship built on mutual trust and respect was beautiful to watch unfold. No frustrating forced tropes!

Story of Yanxi Palace (2018)

4. Story of Yanxi Palace (2018)

Set in the 18th century Qing dynasty, this drama follows the cunning Wei Yingluo as she enters the Forbidden Palace as a seamstress to investigate her sister’s suspicious death. This sets her on a dangerous path, embroiled in the scheming rivalry between Emperor Qianlong’s consorts.

With its magnificent costumes, sharp writing, and top-notch acting, it’s easy to see why Yanxi Palace became such a huge international hit. One of my favorite moments is when the Empress slyly poisons a rival consort just by spraying her favorite fan! Wei Yingluo is an amazing protagonist – her intelligence and determination had me rooting for her the whole way through.

Eternal Love (2017)

5. Eternal Love (2017)

Get ready for a sweeping fantasy romance between an immortal and a fox spirit! This drama follows the mischievous Fengjiu who falls for the aloof Donghua Dijun after he saves her life. Their fated love endures across three lifetimes in the face of heavenly law and vengeful enemies.

Yang Mi and Mark Chao have insane chemistry as the steadfast lovers – every longing gaze and stolen moment will give you butterflies. The sets and costumes are visually stunning, bringing the fantasy world to life. If you enjoy epic, mystical romances, Eternal Love needs to top your watchlist!

The Long Ballad (2021)

6. The Long Ballad (2021)

This historical drama is set during the Tang dynasty and centers on the fierce princess Li Changge. After her family is betrayed and killed, she survives death and disguises as a man to join the army. She becomes caught in court intrigue while falling for Prince Ashile Sun.

Dilraba Dilmurat slays in the action sequences as the fearless protagonist. Changge wielding her bow and arrow to enact revenge against enemies is SO badass. Meanwhile, the romance between her and the prince subverts gender norms, showing Changge as the confident pursuer. If you want a strong feminist lead, check this drama out!

Word of Honor (2021)

7. Word of Honor (2021)

Adapted from the BL novel Faraway Wanderers, this wuxia drama was groundbreaking for bringing an LGBTQ+ romance to life. It centers on Wen Kexing and Zhou Zishu – former martial arts prodigies reuniting years later and solving mysteries about a secret organization.

Despite censorship constraints, the chemistry between Zhang Zhehan and Gong Jun leaps off the screen. Their layered relationship transitions seamlessly from friends to lovers. The stylish action sequences are another draw, with the leads looking super slick fighting enemies! Word of Honor left fans all over the world swooning.

Princess Agents (2017)

8. Princess Agents (2017)

Get ready for action, drama and romance! This historical drama follows the tough journey of Chu Qiao, who goes from being a slave to a powerful spy and assassin. But she becomes caught in cruel betrayals by the people she serves, forcing her to team up with kind Prince Yan Xun for survival.

Zhao Liying is phenomenal in the action scenes, making her transition from damsel to fearsome fighter incredibly convincing. Meanwhile, the romance builds up steadily from mutual understanding to deep attachment. The plot twists will keep you glued to the screen the whole way. Chu Qiao remains one of the most badass heroines out there!

Ashes of Love (2018)

9. Ashes of Love (2018)

This fantasy romance centers on flower deity Jin Mi, who loses her memory and unknowingly falls for Xu Feng, the Crown Prince fated to become a dark god. Their fate echoes the tragic myth of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl, two lovers separated by the Heavens.

The gorgeous costumes and settings bring the fantasy universe to life. But the standout is the poignant romance depicted through Deng Lun and Yang Zi’s passionate acting. Xu Feng’s unwavering devotion for Jin Mi despite her rejection and misunderstanding of him left me in tears! Their bittersweet story will capture your heart.

Goodbye My Princess (2019)

10. Goodbye My Princess (2019)

Get your tissues ready, because this tragic romance is heartwrenching! It follows Gu Xiaowu and Li Chengyin, once deeply in love but torn apart by betrayal. Xiaowu descends into vengeance while Chengyin is swallowed up by darkness.

The leads’ powerful performances convey the devastating transition from innocent love to cold bitterness and regret. Every scene overflowed with emotion – I was crying bucketloads by the end! Rather than typical palace conspiracies, this drama delivers a raw, painful observation on human nature. A unique, unforgettable viewing experience.

Who Rules the World (2022)

11. Who Rules the World (2022)

This recent hit is an action-packed ride following general Su Mo and aristocrat turned warrior Lu Zhaoyao taking down their enemies. While the plot is fast-paced and exciting, the real draw is the romantic journey between the leads.

Yang Yang and Zhao Lusi’s chemistry lights up the screen, transitioning smoothly from initial dislike to deep admiration and love. I adored Zhaoyao’s fearless, assertive pursuit of Su Mo, subverting gender norms. Her intelligence and martial arts skills make her an equal match for his military genius. An empowering, swoon-worthy story!

Ancient Love Poetry (2021)

12. Ancient Love Poetry (2021)

This fantasy romance portrays the fate-defying love between Bai Jue, a dragon prince forced to shoulder his clan’s dark history, and the cheerful nine-tailed fox Zhaoyao. Their romance faces opposition from vengeful ghosts, celestial laws and clan politics.

The lush visuals are stunning, while the poetic dialogues conveyed the leads’ budding romance beautifully. But the true stars are Yang Mi and Zhang Binbin, whose nuanced acting depicts the transition from wariness to an unbreakable soulmate bond.

Legend of Fei (2020)

13. Legend of Fei (2020)

Fans of wuxia looking for a strong female lead – Legend of Fei is the drama for you! It centers on Zhou Fei, who overcomes gender discrimination in the pugilist world and relies on her intelligence to survive betrayals.

Zhao Liying vividly depicts Fei’s underdog journey, fully capturing her courage and emotional turmoil. The action sequences are slick and seamless too. Zhou Fei proves her skills again and again in a world trying to underestimate her – she remains one of my favorite heroines of all time!


And there you have my highly subjective list of 13 incredible Chinese dramas you need to see! From historical epics to cutesy romances, these shows run the gamut in genres, plots and characters.

I’ve dropped some personal highlights and opinions to give you a taste of why I love each one. Gorgeous cinematography, intricate plotting, charismatic actors and lavish production values are just par for the course.

Immerse yourself in these binge-worthy stories from the Middle Kingdom – I hope you find a new favorite from these recommendations! Let me know which drama you end up enjoying the most.