Highest-Rated Versus Most Popular Costume C-Drama 2019 to 2023

Most Popular Chinese drama

If you are someone who likes costume Chinese series from mainland China and is always on the lookout for something to add to your watchlist, you may check the following titles. 

The highest-rated versus the most popular costume C-Drama every year, from 2019 to 2023 in Douban. Some of these highest-rated series are not known to overseas fans because they are not starred by traffic stars, but the script is really good! Especially Love and Destiny which is part of the Eternal Love and Eternal Love of Dream franchise. 

2019

The Highest-Rated: Love and Destiny

Douban rating: 8.3 rated by 242,744 users. Genre: Xianxia. Episode: 60. Streaming network: iQIYI. Main leads: NiNi and Chang Chen. Released in the summer of 2019, Love and Destiny quickly endeared to domestic drama viewers due to its production value and acting  the performances of the main leads. NiNi and Chang Chen have an extensive list of filmography and known for appearing in popular Chinese movies. 

Love and Destiny is actually based on the xianxia novel, Three Lives, Three Worlds, the source novel of Yang Mi's Eternal Love (2016) and Dilraba's Eternal Love of Dream (2020).

Love and Destiny costume drama
Love and Destiny

Love and Destiny is set in the same fictional world as Eternal Love with the heaven tribe, the demon tribe, the mortal realm, and the peach blossom forest arcs. 

It tells the love story between the God of War, Jiu Chen (Chang Chen), and a young fairy maiden, Ling Xi (NiNi) who accidentally awakens Jiu Chen in the ice chamber.

Ling Xi is the last descendant of the Dan bird tribe.  She was adopted by Le Bo (Li Yu), and hidden away in the Peach Blossoms forest to prevent the demon tribe from discovering her due to her demonic energy. Her true form is a Phoenix, waiting to be awakened.

Jiu Chen noticed that Ling Xi could attract demons. Sensing she might be the chosen one to awaken the demon lord, he took her as his servant to be closely observed. 

Most Popular Chinese costume drama

The Most Popular: The Untamed

Douban rating: 7.7 rated by 1,762,055 users. Genre: Xianxia. Episode: 50. Streaming network: Tencent. Main leads: Wang Yibo and Xiao Zhan. Released in the summer of 2019.

This is the drama that catapulted Wang Yibo and Xiao Zhan to fame. After The Untamed aired, their lives were never been the same again as the success of this drama made them global celebrities. 

The Untamed was adapted from a novel however, the script was altered to pass the strict censorship in China. While the original web novel depicted an explicit romance between the two main male characters, the adaptation was toned down into just good friends due to China's ban on LGBT portrayals in films and series.

2020

The Highest-Rated: Love In Between

Douban rating: 7.9 rated by 90,761 users. Genre: Wuxia. Episode: 43. Streaming network: Youku and Tencent. Main leads: Zhang Yao and Zhang Yaqin.

Most Popular Chinese costume drama
Zhang Yao and Zhang Yaqin in Love In Between

Love in Between follows Zuo Qingci (Zhang Yao), a young noble disguised as a skilled physician and Su Yunluo (Zhang Yaqin), a thief who is a master of disguise.

Zuo Qing Ci is a Marquis's son who is posing as a physician. His mission is to find the elusive Mountain River Painting scroll for the Imperial Courts. 

He encounters Fei Kou Er, a mysterious bandit with a hidden identity as Su Yun Luo. When her true status is exposed, they become targets, and Zuo Qing Ci bravely defends her. Together, they delve into national intrigue, unearthing an old secret.

The Most Popular: Love and Redemption

Douban rating: 7.4 rated by 374,069 users. Genre: Xianxia. Episode: 59. Streaming networks: Youku, Tencent, and Mango TV. Main cast: Cheng Yi and Yuan Bingyan.

Most Popular Chinese costume drama
Yuan Bingyan and Cheng Yi in Love and Redemption

It looks like the year 2020 was not a good year for costume dramas. Just imagine its highest-rated costume series that year, Love In Between was only rated 7.9, which is strange!

Love and Redemption starring Cheng Yi and Yuan Bingyan was the most popular and most successful costume series from mainland China in 2020, and the third highest-rated costume Chinese drama in Douban after Love In Between (7.9) and Ancient Detective (7.8)

Love and Redemption tells the story of Chu Xuanji and Yu Sifeng who were sent to the mortal realm to undergo tribulation and trials. The script was written by Liu Fang and was directed by Yin Tao.

2021

The Highest-rated: Word of Honor

Douban rating: 8.5 rated by 591,000+ users. Genre: Xianxia. Episode: 36. Streaming network: Youku. Main cast: Zhang Zhehan and Gong Jun.

This was the last BL C-drama aired before Chinese authorities banned the theme. It was adapted from the novel written by Priest, known for her BL story theme.

This was also the last drama of Zhang Zhehan aired in mainland China before he was canceled and banned by the Chinese authorities due to unpatriotic issues.

The story follows Zhou Zishu (Zhang Zhehan), the leader of the assassin organisation, "The Window of Heaven". He quits his position in pursuit of freedom with drastic measures. 
During his travels, he meets Wen Kexing (Gong Jun), the reclusive leader of Ghost Valley who wants nothing but revenge. 

The two become entangled in various machinations within the martial arts world, and eventually become soulmates instrumental in each other's redemption. 

Most Popular Chinese costume drama

The Most Popular: Douluo Continent

Douban rating: 6.4 rated by 893,723 users. Genre: Xianxia. Episode: 40. Streaming network: Tencent. Main cast: Xiao Zhan and Wu Xuanyi

The story follows Tang San (Xiao Zhan) who grew up relying on his father just as much as his father relied upon him. With extraordinary talent and wit, he was sent to Ruoding Academy, at the age of six, to begin pursuing his dream of becoming a great soul master. 

There, under the tutelage of Yu Xiao Gang (Calvin Chen), he befriends an orphan by the name of Gu Xiao Wu (Wu Xuan Yi), and together they begin the long and difficult journey of cultivation. 

2022

The Highest-Rated: The Long River

Douban rating: 8.4 rated by 40,608 users. Genre: Historical. Episode: 40. Streaming/TV network: Mango TV and Hunan TV. Main cast: Luo Jin, Huang Zhi Zhong, and Yin Fang.

This drama received positive feedback from domestic fans due to the concept of the story. Unlike the recent trend of romantic stories in the costume genre, The Long River is purely historical and follows the concept of patriotism to solve a national crisis. 

The Long River tells the story of the young Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty (played by Luo Jin) and his effort to solve the severe flooding in the Yellow River. To find good candidates to tackle the problem, he conducted civil service examinations to recruit talented individuals.

Most Popular Chinese costume drama
Luo Jin as the young Kangxi emperor in The Long River

He picked Chen Huang and Jin Fu to take control of the flooding. After working despite winds and rains, and dealing with countless turmoils from the court for almost half a century, the emperor and the ministers gradually pacified the flood, leaving the future generations a legacy to be praised for the great achievements of the true historical story.

According to the review of the Newhanfu website: "The Long River puts emphasis on the interpretation of history and flood management strategies. Unlike most of the costume dramas today, which are dressed like historical stories but with a core of romance stories, the Long River focuses on the flood in the Yellow River and honors the tradition of mainstream historical dramas".

Most Popular Chinese costume drama

The Most Popular: A Dream of Splendor

Douban rating: 7.9 rated by 866,000+. Genre: Historical/Wuxia. Episode: 40. Streaming network: Tencent. Main leads: Liu Yifei and Chen Xiao

This was the most anticipated costume drama in China in 2022 because this was the comeback acting project of Liu Yifei on television/series after 12 years!

Liu Yifei won Best Actress and A Dream of Splendor won Best TV Series at the 2022 Macau International Film and TV Festival. She was also nominated for Best Actress at the 2023 Seoul International Drama Awards. 

The story follows Zhao Pan-Er (Liu Yifei), the owner of a famous tea shop in Qian-Tang. She supported her fiancé, Ou-Yang Xu, for three years before he went to Eastern Capital to take the imperial exam, promising to marry her once he passed. But never returned.

She meets Gu Qian-Fan (Chen Xiao), an upright commander from the Imperial City, and they become entangled in a big case in Jiang-Nan where he is framed and becomes a wanted man.

2023

The Highest-Rated: An Ancient Love Song

Douban rating: 8.6 rated by 169,000+ users. Genre: Historical/Time Travel/Mystery. Episode: 14. Streaming network/TV: Bilibili, Chongqing TV.

This is also our top favorite drama in 2023 due to its very unique screenplay and fresh approach to storytelling. You will continue to guess what happens next. 

It follows a time travel theme but the episodes were arranged in a reverse order so you would never guess what's next, making An Ancient Love Song one of the most interesting costume series in 2023.

Most Popular Chinese costume drama

The Most Popular: Mysterious Lotus Casebook

Douban rating: 8.5 (second highest-rated costume drama in 2023) rated by 600,000 plus users. Genre:Wuxia/Investigation. Episode: 40. Streaming network: iQIYI. Also aired on CCTV-8 and Guangdong TV. Main leads: Cheng Yi, Joseph Zeng, and Xiao Shunyao

In the official list of Douban, Mysterious Lotus Casebook is both the highest-rated and most popular costume C-Drama in 2023. Mysterious Lotus Casebook is the most awarded C-Drama in 2023.

Popular Chinese costume drama

OVER-ALL RANKING (scores and popularity) 2019-2023

The Highest-Rated Costume Drama from 2019 to 2023

1. An Ancient Love Song (2023) - Rating: 8.6

  • Reviewers: 169,000+ 
  • Sub-genre: Historical/Mystery/Time Travel
  • Main cast: Zhang Yaqin and Guo Jianan
  • Original network: Bilibili/Chongqing TV
2. Mysterious Lotus Casebook (2023) - Rating: 8.5 
  • Reviewers: 600,000+
  • Sub-genre: Martial Arts/Investigative
  • Main cast: Cheng Yi, Joseph Zeng, Xiao Shunyao
  • Original network: iQIYI
3. Word of Honor (2021) - Rating: 8.5
  • Reviewers: 591,139
  • Sub-genre: Martial Arts
  • Main cast: Zhang Zhehan and Gong Jun
  • Original network: Youku
4. Ripe Town (2023) - Rating: 8.5
  • Reviewers: 162,000+
  • Sub-genre: Martial Arts/Investigative
  • Main cast: Bai Yufan and Ning Li
  • Original network: Tencent
5. Be With You (2023) - Rating: 8.5
  • Reviewers: 76,000+
  • Sub-genre: Martial Arts/Comedy
  • Main cast: Xie Xingyang, Su Mengdi, Wang Hanwen, Mickey Zhao
  • Original network: Mango TV
6. The Long River (2022) - Rating: 8.4
  • Reviewers: 40,000+
  • Sub-genre: Historical
  • Main cast: Luo Jin, Huang Zhi Zhong, and Yin Fang
  • Original network: Hunan TV
7. Love and Destiny (2019) - Rating: 8.3 
  • Reviewers: 242,000+
  • Sub-genre: Fantasy
  • Main cast: Chang Chen and NiNi
  • Original network: iQIYI
8. The Blood of Youth (2022) - Rating: 8.3 
  • Reviewers: 123,000+
  • Sub-genre: Martial Arts
  • Main cast: Li Hongyi, Ao Ruipeng, Liu Xueyi
  • Original network: Youku
9. Legend of the Undercover Chef (2023) - Rating: 8.2
  • Reviewers: 88,000+
  • Sub-genre: Martial Arts/Historical
  • Main cast: Zhao Benshan, Song Xiaobao, Song Xiaofeng
  • Original network: Tencent
10. Love Between Fairy and Devil (2022) - Rating: 8.1 
  • Reviewers: 735,000+ 
  • Sub-genre: Fantasy
  • Main cast: Dylan Wang and Esther Yu
  • Original network: iQIYI
11. The Longest Day in Chang'an (2019) - Rating 8.1 
  • Reviewers: 485,000+
  • Sub-genre: Historical/War
  • Main cast: Lei Jiayin and Jackson Yee
  • Original network: Youku
12. The Wind Blows From Longxi (2022) - Rating: 8.1
  • Reviewers: 114,000+
  • Sub-genre: Historical/War/Spy
  • Main cast: Chen Kun and Bai Yu
  • Original network: iQIYI

The Most Popular Costume Drama, from 2019 to 2023

1. The Untamed (2019) - reviewers: 1,762,000+
  • Douban Rating: 7.7
  • Sub-genre: Fantasy
  • Main cast: Wang Yibo and Xiao Zhan
  • Original network: Tencent
2. Joy of Life Season 1 (2019) - reviewers: 1,037,000+
  • Douban Rating: 7.9
  • Sub-genre: Historical/Suspense
  • Main cast: Zhang Ruoyun, Li Qin, Chen Daoming, Wu Gang
  • Original network: iQIYI
3. Doulou Continent (2021) - reviewers: 893,000+
  • Douban Rating: 6.4
  • Sub-genre: Martial Arts/Fantasy
  • Main cast: Xiao Zhan and Wu Xuanyi
  • Original network: Tencent
4. A Dream of Splendor (2022) - reviewers: 866,000+ 
  • Douban Rating: 7.9
  • Sub-genre: Historical
  • Main cast: Liu Yifei and Chen Xiao
  • Original network: Tencent
5. Love Between Fairy and Devil (2022) - reviewers: 735,000+ 
  • Douban Rating: 8.1
  • Sub-genre: Fantasy
  • Main cast: Dylan Wang and Esther Yu
  • Original network: iQIYI
6. Mysterious Lotus Casebook (2023) - reviewers: 600,000+ 
  • Douban Rating: 8.5
  • Sub-genre: Martial Arts/Investigative
  • Main cast: Cheng Yi, Joseph Zeng, and Xiao Shunyao
  • Original network: iQIYI
7. Immortal Samsara (2022) - reviewers: 591,911 
  • Douban Rating: 5.9
  • Sub-genre: Fantasy
  • Main cast: Cheng Yi and Yang Zi
  • Original network: Youku
8. Word of Honor (2021) - reviewers: 591,139 
  • Douban Rating: 8.5
  • Sub-genre: Martial Arts
  • Main cast: Zhang Zhehan and Gong Jun
  • Original network: Youku
9. Love Like The Galaxy (2022) - reviewers: 568,000+ 
  • Douban Rating: 7.6
  • Sub-genre: Historical/War
  • Main cast: Wu Lei and Zhao Lusi
  • Original network: Tencent
10. The Longest Day in Chang'an (2019) - reviewers: 485,000+ 
  • Douban Rating: 8.1
  • Sub-genre: Historical/Suspense/War
  • Main cast: Lei Jiayin and Jackson Yee
  • Original network: Youku

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