We have made our list of K-dramas based on Korean novels that you need to watch.
So here are our 20 picks of C-dramas based on Chinese novels you really should watch:
1.Love Me if You Dare (2015)
This romantic crime drama is an adaptation from Ding Mo’s novel of the same name published in July 2014.
It stars Wallace Huo, Sandra Ma, Zhang Luyi, Wang Kai and Yin Zheng.
The plot tells the story of Simon or Jin Yan (Huo), a criminal psychologist who survived the notorious serial killer Flower Cannibal.
After his returns from the US, he hires Jian Yio (Ma) as his assistant/translator.
Along with police officer Li Xunran (Wang Kai) and friend Fu Ziyu (Yin Zheng), the group forms a crime-solving team to handle mysterious and violent cases.
However, what they did not know is that the Flower Cannibal is still lurking in the dark trying to finish what he has started on Simon.
Overall, the story development is well-paced and it offers enough tension as well as romance to keep viewers watching.
Thus, it is no surprise that the drama is one of the highest rated television series on Viki.
Here is a little trivia for you; in the first episode where Jian Yao is browsing through the bookshelves while she waits for an interview, you can see the titles of four books namely Battle of Changsha, All Quiet in Peking, Ode to Joy and When a Snail Falls in love. All these Chinese novels have been adapted into dramas.
2.When a Snail Falls in Love (2016)
Beside Love Me if You Dare, novelist Ding Mo also published a highly rated novel entitled When a Snail Falls in Love.
It follows the story of Detective Ji Bai (Wang Kai) who is the team leader of the Violent Crime Unit.
One day, a profiling intern named Xu Xu (Wang Ziwen) is assigned to join Ji Bai’s team.
Ji Bai is having a hard time with Xu Xu on his team. While she is talented in profiling, she lacks in physical ability as well as communication skills.
Xu Xu, on the other hand, turns to drawing comics to express herself better. In her comic, she portrays herself as a snail and Ji as a lion.
Do not be fooled by the title of this drama; the crime and suspense parts are heavier than the romantic plot.
For this reason, we absolutely love this drama.
The series may have aired from Oct 24 till Dec 12, 2016, but by Nov 15, the show had already reached 1 billion views online.
3.Memory Lost (2016)
Here is another C-drama based on one of Ding Mo’s masterpieces. Memory Lost is based on the detective trilogy of the same name by her.
It follows the story of highly intelligent police officer Bai Jingxi (Yang Rong) who works with her partner Han Chen (Bai Yu) to solve many difficult cases.
Despite the fact that they started off from a misunderstanding, the duo manages to work their ways out their differences to focus on their jobs.
The series has three seasons with every season comes with its own twists and turns.
Memory Lost was not only a hit in China but also internationally since it was aired on iQiYi.
Overall, the series is estimated to have garnered a total of 2.3 billion online views.
4.Love O2O (2016)
Based on the novel of the same name written by author Gu Man, this campus romance Chinese drama stars Yang Yang and Zheng Shuang.
It tells the story of Bei Weiwei (Zheng Shuang), a computer science student who aspires to be an online game developer.
To kill time, she engages in an online role-playing game “A Chinese Ghost Story” using the ID Luwei Weiwei.
After being dumped by her online husband Zhenshui Wuxiang, she is ‘proposed’ to by the number one player Yixiao Naihe who suggests that get married so they both can participate in the couples in-game competition.
After playing a few rounds together, the ‘virtual’ newlyweds start to hit it off.
What Weiwei does not know is that her online husband is her college senior who is the popular student jock and academician in campus.
After physically meeting each other for the first time, the duo start a romantic relationship.
The series is one of the most-watched Chinese modern dramas with 25.2 billion views online.
5.The Eternal Love (2017)
Qu Tan’er (Liang Jie) wakes up to find that another person has entered her body named Qu Xiaotan, who has time-traveled from the modern world.
Both girls share a different personality, with Qu Tan’er being gentle and submissive while Qu Xiaotan is wild and uninhibited.
Whenever one of them tells a lie, the other takes over their shared body.
Duty forces Qu Tan’er to marry Mo Liancheng (Xing Zhaolin) thus beginning an unexpected romance between two people thrown together by circumstance.
Things are complicated because Tan-er is in love with Liancheng’s older brother Yi Huai (Wang Rui Chang).
At the same time, Liangcheng is slowly falling in love with the modern girl, Xiaotan.
This transmigration drama is based on the novel ‘Hilarious Pampered Consort: Lord I Will Wait For Your Divorce’ by Fan Que.
6.Princess Agents (2017)
This commercially successful drama is based on the novel 11 Chu Te Gong Huang Fei written by Xiao Xiang Dong Er.
It stars Zhao Liying, Lin Gengxin, Shawn Dou and Li Qin.
The story takes place during the chaotic times of the Wei dynasty, where innocent citizens are often kidnapped and turned into slaves.
Slave girl, Chu Qiao is thrown into a forest along with other slaves and becomes the next hunting target for the rich lords.
She is saved by the Prince of Yanbei, Yan Xun.
Afterwards, she is brought into a powerful family of Yu Wen and witnesses their bloody power struggle. Seeing this, she swears to take her younger sister and flee from the situation.
However, she catches the attention of Yu Wen Yue and undergoes strict training to become a spy while building a sense of companionship with Yan Xun.
Like most of the dramas on this list, this series is a commercial success with more than 40 million views on Chinese streaming sites Youku, Tencent and iQiyi.
7.The King’s Avatar (2017)
In the multiplayer online game Glory, Ye Xiu (Yang Yang) is well known as the textbook-level expert and top-tier player Ye Qiu.
Due to a series of circumstances, he was forcefully expelled from his professional team.
After leaving the pro-gaming scene, he resides at an Internet Café employed as one of the managers.
When Glory launches their tenth server, he throws himself into the game once more—equipped with ten years of gaming experience, memories of the past, and an incomplete, self-made weapon.
This live-action streaming television series is based on Chinese webnovel of the same name by Hu Dielan.
During this era when esports is popular among young adults, there is no surprise why this drama was instantly a hit when it first came out.
It attracted more than 3 billion views on Tencent Video as well as moire than ten million views from other platforms such as WeTV and Youtube.
8.The King’s Woman (2017)
Set during the Warring States Era, Gong Sun Li (Dilraba Dilmurat) is the granddaughter and disciple of the powerful military commander Gong Sun Yu.
The first disciple Jing Ke (Liu Chang) and Li have always been in love with each other childhood.
When the Qin troops attack, Jing Ke is poisoned while trying to protect Li.
In order to save Jing Ke, Li agrees to marry Ying Zheng (Zhang Bin Bin), the King of the Qin State.
Ying Zheng finds out Li is already pregnant with Jing Ke’s child but accepts the child as his own.
Although she hates Ying Zheng at first, she slowly falls in love with him once she gets to know the kinder, gentler side of the ruthless ruler.
But what happen when Jing Ke comes to the palace to assassinate Ying Zheng?
Where will her allegiance lie? With her new or old lover?
This historical romantic drama is adapted from the novel The Legend of Qin: Li Ji Story written by Wen Shiren.
9.A Love So Beautiful (2017)
This slice of life drama follows the story of a group of high school friends.
Chen Xiao Xi (Shen Yue) and Jiang Chen (Hu Yi Tian) are neighbours who go to the same high school.
Their circle of friends include swimmer Wu Bo Song (Gao Zhi Ting) who has a crush with Xiao Xi and Lin Jing Xiao (Wang Zi Wei), the most beautiful girl in school.
Xiao Xi doesn’t like to study but has a talent for drawing. In the meantime, Jiang Chen is popular in school for his good looks and high grades.
The storyline takes you from their high school years, to college days and well into adulthood.
It is based on the novel To Our Pure Little Beauty by Zhao Qianqian.
How about some science fiction drama on this list?
Set on the Earth-like planet of Haixing, populated by a native human population and two alien races.
The Yashou are aliens to shapeshift into plants and animals while the Dixing are super-powered beings who live deep underground.
The plot circles around the hotheaded Zhao Yunlan (Bai Yu) leads the Special Investigation Department (SID).
It is a group that works with the Black Robe Envoy to uphold peace and investigate cases related to the Dixing people.
While investigating an incident at the local university, Zhao is assisted by Shen Wei (Zhu Yilong), a biological engineering professor.
This mystery, science fiction drama is an adaptation of the 2012 web novel of the same name by Priest.
In the novel, the relationship between Zhao Yunlan and Shen Wei is depicted as romantic in nature. However, the web series depicts the relatiohip as platonic friendship with some homoerotic subtext.
The series was a hit when it came out and received a total of 1.8 billion views by August 2018.
11.Legend of Fuyao (2018)
Based on the Chinese novel Empress Fuyao by Tianxia Guiyuan, this fantasy-adventure drama has 66 episodes altogether.
It follows the story of Meng Fuyao (Yang Mi), a young woman who was born out of a divine lotus petal.
Adopted as an orphan, Fu Yao served as a slave for the Xuan Yuan sect in the Taiyuan Kingdom.
After a series of tragedies, she journeyed across the lands searching to lift the curse that blighted her life.
Along the way, she meets the Crown Prince of Tianquan, Zhang Sun Wu Ji (Ethan Juan), and falls in love with him.
Together, they tackle political issues in the five kingdoms and unearth secrets regarding her birth.
Unfortunately, the drama was not well-received among the Chinese audience. It was criticized for having cliche plots and a ‘Mary Sue’ protagonist.
Some even claimed it has a similar storylines to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Regardless of the harsh criticism, the series still managed to gain 14 billion views in 50 days becoming the most viewed online drama of the summer season that year.
12.The Untamed (2019)
Are you familiar with danmei? It is Chinese genre of literature and other fictional media that features romantic relationships between male characters. Danmei which also means indulging beauty, is typically created by and targeted towards a heterosexual female audience.
One of the most famous danmei novels out there is Mo Dao Zu Shi by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu.
The drama adaptation of the novel is The Untamed (2019), starring Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo.
It follows the adventures of two soulmate cultivators who travel to solve a series of mysteries that link to a tragic event in the past.
Wei Wuxian (Xiao Zhan), a loathed cultivator of what some called “dark and demonic arts”, is resurrected 16 years after his tragic death.
His return to the world brings him to reunite with the people in his first life, including his soulmate, the honourable Lan Wangji (Wang Yibo).
Wei Wuxian then begins to remember his time before his demise, from his beginning as a young cultivator using traditional tools like the sword and musical instruments, to his very personal methods of using resentful energy of departed beings, with the help of innovative tools of his own creation.
While the original web novel featured an explicit romance between the two main male characters, the adaptations have homoerotic subtexts instead.
Regardless, the drama was one of the highest-earning Chinese dramas of 2019.
13.Put Your Head on My Shoulder (2019)
As Si Tu Mo (Xing Fei), an accounting student’s graduation nears, she is unsure about her future plans although she dreams of joining an advertising company.
While living at the dorm, she is forced by her mother to move into an apartment coincidentally owned by Gu Wei Yi’s mother.
Unlike Tu Mo, Wei Yi knows exactly what he wants from life and he isn’t afraid to chase his dreams.
Watching Tu Mo figuring out her future plan during her last fleeting days of university life, Wei Yi decides to step in and help her out.
Unbeknown to both, their mothers were classmates who thought their two children would make a good match and set them up.
Before they know it, the matched couple begins to fall in love.
This campus drama is based on Zhao Qianqian’s novel of the same name.
14.Le Coup de Foudre (2019)
Zhao Qiao Yi (Janice Wu) and Yan Mo (Zhang Yujian) may have been high school classmates, but the only thing they had in common was the desk they shared in class.
While Yan Mo is a top student, Qiao Yi is failing miserably, these two couldn’t have been more different, and yet, it doesn’t take long for a strong bond to form between them.
Promising to study abroad together after high school, this unlikely pair seems to have the world before them. But when an unexpected family emergency forces Qiao Yi to back out on their plans, the two drift apart and eventually lose touch.
Four years later, the long-lost friends are reunited, and old flames are quickly rekindled.
Finally willing to accept her feelings for Yan Mo, Qiao Yi moves to the city, determined to pick things up where they left off all those years ago.
But with Yan Mo already in a relationship, Qiao Yi’s love seems destined to fail. But is it really?
Unbeknownst to Qiao Yi, Yan Mo hasn’t forgotten his old friend, nor the feelings he has for her.
This is one of the most realistic Chinese dramas that surely will make you cry and laugh throughout the series.
It is a story about love, friendship and family.
Based on the Chinese novel I Don’t Like This World, I Only Like You by Qiao Yi, the drama does a great job in portraying the realistic struggles of young adults.
15.First Romance (2020)
This series is an adaptation of a Chinese novel of the same name by Wei Mian Jun.
It follows the story of Yan Ke (Riley Wang) and Xiong Yi Fan (Wan Peng) who were schoolmates.
But back in her younger days, Yi Fan never discovered that she had a secret admirer in Yan Ke, who kept his crush a secret and loved her from afar.
Now things are very different for both of them, and Yan Ke is at college, where he is one of the most popular and well-loved students on campus.
Dashing, sensitive, a hit among the female students, and unfailingly charming, he has also become a budding young pianist.
This time, it is Yi Fan’s turn to be smitten by Yan Ke. What would happen to ther pair?
16.Word of Honour (2021)
Here is another danmei novel turned into a drama that made it into this list.
Word of Honour (2021) is an adaptation from the novel Faraway Wanderers by Priest.
Here is a fun fact about the author Priest. She is a woman born in 1988 whose works have been adapted into manhua, donghua and Chinese dramas. Her novels have also been translated into Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese versions.
The drama tells the story of the leader of assassin organisation “The Window of Heaven”, Zhou Zishu (Zhang Zhehan).
In order to leave the assassin organization, he performs an obligatory departure technique, leaving him with three years left to live.
He disguises his face and tries to live the remainder of his days as a drunkard wandering the martial arts world.
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.
This series was featured on Teen Vogue’s Best BL dramas of 2021.
17.Falling into Your Smile (2021)
In the world of e-sports, the all-male ZGDX OPL team is second to none. They have armies of adoring female fans follow the team wherever it goes.
But when one of the team’s star players suffers a hand injury, the tall, handsome, and notoriously hard-to-please ZGDX captain Lu Si Cheng (Xu Kai) will not be rushed into choosing a replacement.
Meanwhile, Tong Yao (Cheng Xiao) is a budding amateur gamer – obsessed with OPL.
When the ZGDX team manager learns of her skills, he contacts her, thinking that recruiting her as the scene’s first female player will help score a major PR coup.
Lu Si Cheng is dismissive of her initially, but eventually agrees to accept her as part of the team.
As they grow closer as teammates, the duo also starts to have feeling for each other.
KajoMag previously picked this series as one of the must-watched e-sports dramas.
It is adapted from the web novel ‘You’re Beautiful When You Smile’ by Qing Mei.
18.You Are My Glory (2021)
Speaking of esports dramas, here is another one that is based on the novel You are My Glory by Gu Man.
It mainly tells the story of the popular actress Qiao Jingjing (Dilraba Dilmurat) and her former high school classmate Yu Tu (Yang Yang) as they unexpectedly reunited through the mobile game Honour of Kings.
The drama was an instant hit due to the popularity of its original work. As of August 2021, the series has reached 4 billion views.
19.Love between Fairy and Devil (2022)
According to legend, in order to obtain a terrible power, Dongfang Qingcang (Dylan Wang) of the Moon Tribe became an emotionless monster.
He killed his father, seized the position of Moon Supreme and led an army of 100,000 Moon Tribe soldiers on a path of devastation.
Shuiyuntian (the immortal fairy realm), Cangyan Sea (the Moon Tribe), and Yunmeng Lake (the mortal world) were in grave danger.
To save the world and stop Dongfang Qing Cang and his army, the first God of War of Shuiyuntian destroyed her primordial spirit.
Dongfang Qing Cang’s army and primordial spirit were sealed and his body was locked away in Haotian Tower under the immortal bonds of the Haotian Matrix.
But due to a mishap, a fairy named Xiao Lanhua (Esther Yu) unwittingly sets him free. In the process of setting him free, some bizarre magic appears to have taken place – the two have swapped bodies.
Though they are able to sort that out quickly, there’s another problem – somehow, when Xiao Lanhua woke him, she cast the “One Heart Curse”, which links them so that he suffers her injuries, feels her emotions, and would even die if she did.
Now his life is at the mercy of a fairy who doesn’t even know the curse exists.
Since she is his biggest weakness, he has to protect her life in order to protect his own.
As he searches for a way to undo the spell, a forbidden love begins to blossom between the fairy and the devil.
This fantasy series is based on the novel of the same name written by Jiu Lu Fei Xiang.
20.Who Rules the World (2022)
Based on the novel Qie Shi Tian Xia by Qing Ling Yue, this wuxia drama follows the story of Hei Feng Xi (Yang Yang) and Bai Feng Xi (Zhao Lu Si).
The series is set in the Dadong Empire whereby the country is divided into seven factions with six autonomous states with their respective lords.
Emperor Chunxi rules over them but knows each of them is coveting the throne.
The legitimacy of the dynasty’s rule comes from the Empyrean token. With the token suddenly declared missing, there is a fight among the states to get hold of it.
In the midst of all these chaos, two great martial artists get drawn into the tussle.
They are Bai Feng Xi of the Tianshuang Sect and Hei Feng Xi of Fountain Abode. Bai Feng Xi has no interest in politics but ends up with the token by accident. Thus, she becomes a target and is shadowed by Hei Feng Xi who also saves her in the process.
The pair then continues their journey together as they find out who is the villain behind the scene that masterminds the political chaos in their country.