The C-Drama has grown in popularity over the last few years. Dipping into the story traditions of mythology and soap opera, these television shows are often gripping, explosive, and masterfully told.
There are a plethora of compelling Chinese TV dramas across numerous genres and styles, with special success in the wuxia genre where ancient heroes battle for honor and justice with swords and flying kicks.
Almost as popular are the universally beloved romance TV dramas, where questions of love and loyalty are of key importance.
Here are my picks for the best Chinese dramas on Netflix that represent the best of the form and are very worth watching.
10. The Little Nyonya (2008)
The earliest C-Drama to appear on this list, The Little Nyonya follows a Peranakan family in the 1930s. Over seventy years, we watch as the members of the family strive for love, power, and status.
Though it doesn't have some of the same high points as other series on this list, it was an influential drama that's worthy of admiration.
9. The Rise of Phoenixes (2018)
The Rise of Phoenixes is kind of like a Chinese version of Game of Thrones, of course with its own twists on plot and flavor.
The story follows Ning Yi, a cunning and calculated prince who masquerades as a lackadaisical libertine in order to lower the guards of his enemies—the ones who charged his mother with high treason.
The plot follows him on his way to get revenge, and the path is both thrilling and full of unexpected obstacles.
8. The Princess Weiyoung (2016)
Princess Feng Xin Er has just barely escaped death—but she's not happy enough with that. Survival is the bare minimum for her and she now wants revenge on those who sought her demise.
In order to do so, she decides to masquerade as Li Weiyoung, the noble warrior who saved her from certain death.
While there are a couple of trite moments in the series (as well as a few out-of-character plot-oriented decisions here and there), The Princess Weiyoung is still a fantastic show to sit down and binge.
7. Unrequited Love (2021)
Unrequited Love is one of the more muted Chinese TV dramas on this list, but that's why it stands out. It's realistic, emotional, and oftentimes a very accurate depiction of adolescent love.
It follows the love story of Luo Zhi and Sheng Huainan, an epic saga that lasts over fifteen years of their lives. With spiteful friends and cosmic forces at work, it's uncertain whether their love will endure.
6. Handsome Siblings (2020)
Handsome Siblings is one of the finest wuxia shows of recent years. It's as mythological as any wuxia film or TV show could be: two brothers, separated at birth, both grow up to become martial arts masters.
When they finally come into contact with each other for the first time, it's as champions of rival factions. Plus, an external force threatens the stability of their entire universe.
Will they be able to unite in time to protect the fate of mankind? This is the kind of high-stakes plot that makes for an exciting watch.
5. Use for My Talent (2021)
Use for My Talent is what you'd get if Love, Death & Robots met a Chinese romance drama. This show isn't as well-known as many of the others on this list, but it's still one of the best C-Dramas out there.
Use for My Talent follows Gu Renqi (the owner of a fastidious cleaning company) and Shi Shuangjiao (the owner's employee). After they form a bond together, they realize they have a lot more to clean up in their lives than just other people's apartments.
At its heart, Use for My Talent is a story about trauma and healing. It's a wholesome television series that everyone should see.
4. Ashes of Love (2018)
Ashes of Love brought in over 100 million views in the first fifteen minutes of it being made available to stream. That's how excited people were to watch this mystical love story.
The story follows Jinmi, the daughter of the capricious Floral Goddess. Jinmi was hidden away from all life for years by her mother, and when she's finally released, she falls in love with Xufeng, the Emperor's son.
Unsurprisingly, he's smitten with her as well. However, there are forces beyond their control that strive to keep them apart...
3. Eternal Love (2017)
Eternal Love is a Chinese drama series that can lay claim to one of the most impressive statements in television history: it's the most watched drama television show of all time.
That's not an exaggerartion. From when it was first released in 2017 to the time of this writing, Eternal Love has garnered 50 billion views across various streaming platforms.
In Eternal Love, Zhe Yan brings Bai Qian to Kunlun Mountain, where Qian then becomes the Goddess of War. However, her heart is still human enough to fall in love—which she does with Ye Hua.
What are the bounds of their love? How far can they go before the strains of fate and differences tear them apart?
2. Word of Honor (2021)
Word of Honor is one of the best wuxia TV series of all time. It follows Zhou Zishu, the leader of a supreme assassin organization, who decides to resign from his position in search of freedom.
However, he comes across a number of passionate warriors along his journey, some of whom become inextricably linked to his own path towards redemption.
While there was a lot of controversy surrounding Zhang Zhehan (the main star) in China, that doesn't detract from Word of Honor's status as one of the greatest wuxia TV shows worth watching.
1. The Ghost Bride (2020)
The Ghost Bride isn't just one of the best C-Dramas on Netflix. It's one of the most mysterious and atmospheric TV shows I've ever seen.
The story follows Pan Li-lan, a woman in the 1890s who sacrifices herself to save her family from crippling debt. How does she do this? By marrying a ghost. If that doesn't hook you, there's still more...
Attaching herself to a wealthy family, she agrees to marry their dead son—and in doing so, she becomes the ghost bride. However, there are some truths that she remains unaware of.
When she begins to find out the nature behind some of these secrets, she does whatever it takes to try to escape.
The Ghost Bride is a must-watch series unlike any other, and it's no surprise that it's the best C-Drama on Netflix right now.