Year End C-Drama Special: Our Top 10 Best Chinese Drama in 2023

Editor's Choice: Below are our top picks of 10 Best Chinese series in 2023. Please be reminded that these are our personal choices based on our personal viewing experiences and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other drama fans.

Drama reviews are based on personal viewing experiences, depends on one's preferences, and on what aspects in filming influences us to watch a series - technical merits or purely entertainment. 

We can only share with you the dramas that we think of high-quality production value, logically written, and worthy of one's time based on the following criteria:

  • Unique script 
  • Screenplay/Coherent plot development
  • Cinematography 
  • Surprising plot twist 
  • Acting performances 
  • Entertainment Value 
  • Wisdom of the story 


1. Unique script (highly innovative story concept) - a story that's uniquely crafted, beautifully written, an interesting plot that catches attention, gripping, and with an enticing dramatic appeal.

2. Screenplay/coherent plot development - A good screenplay is a script with a compelling storyline and logical plot/character development, the protagonist has a single motive, has problems to solve, the flow is consistent with the main plot, and has rich dialogues.

3. Surprising plot twist - A drama that catches attention is one with a surprising plot twist, a major turn of events in the story that shocks us or catches us by surprise in a way that we did not see things coming. A major turn of events that is still connected to the main plot. 

4. Cinematography - Generally speaking, cinematography is the art of motion picture photography, how it is visually appealing, the lighting, the shot techniques (wide shot or close-up), and how the environment and characters are captured artistically.

5. Acting Performances - cast members must deliver strong performances to make a drama generally interesting. Lousy acting performances - performers who cannot internalize the role properly or cannot properly deliver the appropriate emotion required in a specific scene make the drama extremely dull.  

6. Entertainment Value - Dramas with high entertainment value are those with vibrant storytelling techniques that keep us glued, won't make us feel sleepy or lose interest, and motivate us to continue watching.

7. Wisdom of the story -  Dramas that help us realize our own shortcomings. Dramas that impart a strong message about life, learning lessons, and positive values.

Based on the above criteria, here are our top picks of the Best Chinese Drama in 2023:

Best Chinese Drama 2023
Guo Jian Nan and Zhang Yaqin in An Ancient Love Song

1. An Ancient Love Song - Genre: Costume Historical/Fantasy.

This drama surprised us this year. It has a unique, unpredictable script, surprising plot development, and beautiful screenplay! We can't help but rave about its script quality. 

Despite its low production budget, An Ancient Love Song offers great entertainment value, a clear stand-out as one of this year's beautifully written costume dramas. Very impressive! 

The screenplay is uniquely written as the story is told on reverse, meaning the last episode was the first timeline of the characters while the first episode was the last. Main Cast: Zhang Yaqin, Guo Jian Nan, and Quan Yilun.

Best Chinese Drama 2023
Xiao Shunyao, Cheng Yi, and Joseph Zeng in Mysterious Lotus Casebook

2. Mysterious Lotus Casebook - Genre: Costume/Martial Arts/Investigative. 

One of the best martial arts series from mainland China in recent memory, Mysterious Lotus Casebook has received praise from practically all sectors in China. 

In a country where martial arts drama is an obsession, the Mysterious Lotus Casebook offers all the elements that domestic drama viewers are looking for in a martial arts drama. 

China's Radio and Television authority, the country's censorship authority, says Mysterious Lotus Casebook is the most successful costume drama this year from the mainland (because its success is attributed to word of mouth and not because there's a large fan base supporting the drama). 

Cheng Yi receives numerous awards for his role in Mysterious Lotus Casebook

What we love about this drama is its ability to build tension and thrill through its investigative arc, and many surprising plot twists seamlessly woven into the main plot so the script has a coherent plot progress. 

We also love the positive values that Li Lianhu's character imparted. That we should not live our lives in regret. That living every day with food on our table is enough to live a happy life. Main cast: Cheng Yi, Joseph Zeng, and Xiao Shunyao

Best Chinese Drama 2023
The Long Season

3. The Long Season - Genre: Crime Thriller/Suspense

This is a slow-burn crime-thriller drama but the way the screenplay is written is just so impressive! It will leave you rooting for more episodes, which makes it totally interesting.

Veteran actor, Fan Wei, also delivered a solid performance as if he was just doing his daily things and not acting in front of the camera. We were in awe of his superb acting ability!

Best Chinese Drama 2023
Fan Wei receives his Best Actor award for The Long Season at the 2023 Seoul International Drama Awards

This drama also has surprising plot twists that viewers need to pay attention to every episode to understand the flow better because there are some clues presented that needed to be deciphered carefully. The cinematography is also spectacular. Overall, this is a high-quality production!

The Long Season is also this year's highest-rated Chinese drama and the most popular in Douban overall. It is also the most-awarded drama from mainland China this year both locally and internationally.

Best Chinese Drama 2023
Jin Shijia, Mark Chao, and Mao Xiaotong

4. The Heart - Genre: Medical drama/Slice-of-Life drama

This is a well-written drama, presenting the balance of the professional and personal lives of the three main characters played by Mark Chao, Jin Shijia, and Mao Xiaotong. What we love about this drama is the fact that the story focuses more on the medical aspect and not on the romance arc. 

The story delves deeper into the daily struggles faced by medical practitioners, especially the surgeons, in the hospital, and the challenges, both professionally and personally, they need to overcome to strike a well-balanced life.

What we love about this drama is its main focus on the medical aspect of the story. We were able to see the daily struggles of heart surgeons and other medical practitioners and the challenges they face in responding loyally to their profession.

5. Lost You Forever - Genre: Costume/Fantasy

We love how Yang Zi played her two-dimensional characters in this drama. She excelled in both! This drama has a good entertaining value. But it has weaknesses too, the trouble when the lead character has so many men buzzing around. Audiences are compelled to take sides.

Best Chinese Drama 2023
Wang Hongli, Zhang Wanyi, Yang Zi, Deng Wei, Tan Jianci

Among the male lead characters, we were impressed with Zhang Wanyi. He was so solid in his acting performance in this drama. He delivered his lines pretty well and also pulled the right emotion needed in a particular scene.

Best Chinese Drama 2023
Liu Haocun and Lin Yi

6. Derailment - Genre: Sci-Fi/Modern Romance

Talking about modern romance series, we are usually not a fan of them, but Derailment is different in the sense that the two characters, Jiang Xiaoyuan and Qi Lian played by Liu Hao Cun and Lin Yi respectively, are facing serious troubles that they need to resolve. Read our review

Lin Yi Chinese actor
Lin Yi in Derailment

We also like the part that this drama did not focus on the romance arc but on resolving the mysterious identities and life's circumstances of the two main characters.

The screenplay is beautifully written, with plenty of character development to explore as the story progresses. It has surprising plot twists that we did not see coming! 

Liu Haocun Chinese actress
Liu Hao Cun

Derailment is Liu Hao Cun's series debut but she has been acting since 2020. She debuted in acting in the thriller movie, One Second in 2020, starring veteran actors Zhang Yi and Fan Wei, and directed by Chinese legendary filmmaker, Zhang Yimou.

She was in fact discovered by Zhang Yimou, who has a good pulse for discovering talented performers such as Gong Li, NiNi, and Zhou Dongyu.

Liu Hao Cun starred in critically acclaimed films such as A Little Red Flower with Jackson Yee, Cliff Walkers with Zhang Yi also directed by Zhang Yimou, Only Fools Rush In with Liu Haoran and Shen Teng, and Sniper with Zhang Yi.

7. Unshakeable Faith - Genre: Spy Thriller

We love this drama! Liu Xueyi in one of his best performances. We love how he carried his role here. He is so convincing as a genius mathematician. The thrill aspect is also good! 

Best Chinese Drama 2023
Peng Xiaoran
Best Chinese Drama 2023
Liu Xueyi

Although it's so hard to appreciate the revolutionary concept as we are not from mainland China, the way the script is written is so impressive! Main cast: Liu Xueyi and Peng Xiaoran

Best Chinese Drama 2023
Back From The Brink

8. Back From The Brink - Genre: Costume/Xianxia

We love the dynamics of the three characters played by Neo Hou, Zhou Ye, and Riley Wang. They are so fun to watch! They both have strengths and weaknesses that complement each other's progress in the story. 

Zhou Ye played a bubbly but courageous character and loved her sweet side too. She performed better in this drama than in her two succeeding series: Scent of Time and Love Me Love My Voice. 

Riley Wang is a big revelation here. He is so damn gorgeous at the same time funny but with a deep and rather sad backstory. The learning lesson provided by Back From The Brink is also great, if we are too consumed by greed and power, it will eat up our whole system. 

Best Chinese Drama 2023
Meet Yourself

9. Meet Yourself - Genre: Modern Romance/Rural Living

This is a relaxing drama to watch and also very inspiring. That life is a choice. That happiness is a choice. If things are no longer fascinating, then we can always move out and have a change of environment.

We do have big dreams. But if life in the city is already taking a toll on our mental health, we can always go somewhere to relax and de-stress. We love the rural environment! Main cast: Liu Yifei and Li Xian.

Best Chinese Drama 2023
Romance on the Farm

10. Romance on the Farm - Genre: Costume/Business

We are actually confused about what will be our 10th favorite C-drama this year: We are choosing between The Knockout, A Journey To Love, Thirteen Years of Dust, The Youth Memories, and Romance on the Farm. 

However, none of us were able to finish watching The Knockout, Thirteen Years of Dust, and The Youth Memories (although all these series are pretty good), and we were disappointed with the incoherent plot progress and character development of A Journey To Love so we chose Romance on the Farm.

Romance on the Farm has a light story and we love the rural scenery, the farm life, and the village culture during ancient times. Joseph Zeng and Tian Xiwei showed great timing in comedy. They also delivered strong acting performances and most scenes (sans the annoying Lian family) were really funny and had great entertainment value. It has also a surprising plot twist in the end.

There are tons of Chinese series this year that are really good but we can only choose 10 to wrap up 2023. But actually, we are still watching Blossoms Shanghai, this falls under 2023 dramas, let's see how things will turn out as the plot progresses. So far, it is good!

Hopefully, the year 2024 will give us another set of amazing series to watch from mainland China and hopefully, there will be great costume dramas worthy of our time next year.

Wishing everyone a prosperous 2024. Happy New Year!

10. Romance on the Farm 

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