Korean Drama Rankings 2016

Welcome to the page of Dramatop: Korean Drama Rankings 2016, a post series that ranks Korean dramas in 2016 based on their nationwide viewership ratings. It is very likely that you come to visit this page in order to find out which Korean dramas in 2016 are successful in terms of viewership ratings. Or maybe you just stumbled upon this page while looking for the best Korean dramas to watch. Either way, you’re on the right page because this will give you an idea as to which Korean dramas in 2016 are probably worth your time.

Things You Should Know About the Korean Drama Rankings 2016

Before you read the rest of the content of this article, be informed that this ranking is based solely on viewership ratings. We ranked the dramas according to their nationwide viewership ratings which we obtained from Nielsen Korea; dramas with higher ratings rank higher as compared to those with lower ratings. In addition, the ranking does not include all Korean dramas that aired in 2016. The list you would see only include those that have aired all or at least half of their episode count in 2016, have at least 12 episodes, and can be categorized into one of the following categories:

  • Free-to-Air (FTA) drama – a drama that airs on a public television network (KBS, MBC, or SBS) every Mondays and Tuesdays or Wednesdays and Fridays at 22:00 Korean Standard Time (KST).
  • Cable drama – a drama that airs on a cable television network (tvN, JTBC or OCN) every Mondays and Tuesdays or Fridays and Saturdays during the evening time slot (20:30 or 23:00 KST).

With the above-mentioned scope, you will not be able to see a daily drama on our Korean Drama Rankings 2016, nor can you see a Saturday-Sunday FTA drama included in the lists. We ranked a total of 50 dramas — 29 FTA and 21 cable dramas — and separate the ranking of the two categories. Of course, we cannot compare an FTA drama with a cable drama because the two have a different base of viewers, with the latter usually receiving lower rating values than the former. Below is the complete list of dramas included in our rankings.

  • KBS
    1. Moorim School
    2. The Master of Revenge
    3. Uncontrollably Fond
    4. On the Way to the Airport
    5. Oh My Geum-bi
    6. Descendants of the Sun
    7. Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho
    8. Beautiful Mind
    9. Moonlights Drawn By Clouds
    10. Sweet Stranger and Me
  • MBC
    1. Monster
    2. Lucky Romance
    3. Shopping King Louis
    4. One More Happy Ending
    5. Goodbye Mr. Black
    6. Woman With A Suitcase
    7. W-Two Worlds
    8. Night Light
    9. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
  • SBS
    1. Jackpot
    2. Come Back Ajusshi
    3. Entertainer
    4. Jealousy Incarnate
    5. Remember: War of the Sons
    6. Doctors
    7. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo
    8. Wanted
    9. Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim
    10. Legend of the Blue Sea
  • JTBC
    1. Madame Antoine
    2. Ms. Temper & Nam Jung-gi
    3. Mirror of the Witch
    4. Age of Youth
    5. Fantastic
    6. My Wife’s Having An Affair This Week
  • OCN
    1. 38 Task Force
  • tvN
    1. Cheese in the Trap
    2. Pied Piper
    3. Oh Hae Young Again
    4. Let’s Fight Ghost
    5. Drinking Solo
    6. Rude Miss Young-ae Season 15
    7. Signal
    8. Memory
    9. Dear My Friends
    10. The Good Wife
    11. Cinderella and Four Knights
    12. The K2
    13. Entourage
    14. Goblin

Lastly, we have seven ranking categories that equate to a total of 16 rankings. These ranking categories are the following:

  1. Top 10 Highest-Rated Dramas (FTA & Cable)
  2. Top 5 Dramas by Network (KBS, MBC, & SBS)
  3. Top 5 Dramas by Showtime (Mon-Tue, Wed-Thu, & Fri-Sat)
  4. Top 10 Dramas by Pilot Episode Rating (FTA & Cable)
  5. Top 10 Dramas by Final Episode Rating (FTA & Cable)
  6. Top 10 Dramas by Peak Rating (FTA & Cable)
  7. Complete Ranking (FTA & Cable)

To read about the significance of Korean drama ratings and how Dramatop was conceptualized, read the first part of the series: Dramatop Introduction: 50 kdramas included in 2016 ranking.

Top 10 Highest-Rated Dramas

Dramatop: Korean Drama Rankings 2016 has separate posts for dramas that occupy a spot in this ranking category. To read those entire posts which contain basic information about the dramas and some details on their ratings, just click the drama titles in the ranking below. You can see the complete ranking of the dramas at the end of this page.

10 Highest-Rated Free-to-Air Dramas
  1. Descendants of the Sun (28.58%)
  2. Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim (20.39%)
  3. Doctors (18.41%)
  4. Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (18.29%)
  5. Legend of the Blue Sea (17.58%)
  6. Remember (15.00%)
  7. Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho (12.88%)
  8. W-Two Worlds (11.63%)
  9. Jealousy Incarnate (10.51%)
  10. Monster (9.73%)
10 Highest-Rated Cable Dramas
  1. Goblin (12.81%)
  2. Signal (8.82%)
  3. Oh Hae Young Again (6.88%)
  4. Cheese in the Trap (5.96%)
  5. Dear My Friends (5.07%)
  6. The K2 (4.86%)
  7. The Good Wife (4.67%)
  8. Drinking Solo (3.56%)
  9. Let’s Fight Ghost (3.39%)
  10. 38 Task Force (3.34%)

Top 5 Dramas by FTA Network

5 Highest-Rated KBS Dramas

KBS produced 10 dramas in 2016, including the biggest hit Descendants of the Sun. Of these 10 shows, only three are on the 10 highest-rated list. What about the seven others? How do they compare with the top 3 in terms of ratings? We won’t mention the bottom 5 dramas, but we assure you that the bottom 3 really suck at attracting viewers with a combined average ratings of 4.33%. Read the complete post: 5 highest-rated KBS dramas in 2016.

  1. Descendants of the Sun (28.58%)
  2. Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (18.29%)
  3. Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho (12.88%)
  4. Uncontrollably Fond (9.41 %)
  5. On the Way to the Airport (8.36 %)
5 Highest-Rated MBC Dramas

2016 is not a good year for MBC. Only one drama got an average rating higher than 10%, making the combined average ratings of 9 dramas from the network to be 7.56%. That number is far lower than KBS’ 10.39% and SBS’ 11.74%. Read the complete post: 5 highest-rated MBC dramas in 2016. 5 highest-rated MBC dramas in 2016.

  1. W-Two Worlds (11.63 %)
  2. Monster (9.73 %)
  3. Shopping King Louis (9.06 %)
  4. Woman With a Suitcase (8.39 %)
  5. Lucky Romance (8.16 %)
5 Highest-Rated SBS Dramas

KBS may have Descendants of the Sun to boast the combined average nationwide ratings of its 10 dramas, but DOTS is not enough to beat SBS whose 5 out of 10 shows are included in the list of 10 highest-rated dramas in 2016. These five shows make SBS the winner among the three big networks when they are compared based on the ratings of the dramas they produced last year. Read the complete post: 5 highest-rated SBS dramas in 2016.

  1. Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim (20.39 %)
  2. Doctors (18.41 %)
  3. Legend of the Blue Sea (17.60 %)
  4. Remember (15.00 %)
  5. Jealousy Incarnate (10.51 %)

Top 5 Dramas by Showtime

5 Highest-Rated Monday-Tuesday FTA Dramas

Now let’s move on to the ranking of Mon-Tue dramas (for FTA television only). MBC, SBS and KBS aired three, four and five dramas at this schedule last year, respectively. You can notice that all the dramas included on this ranking are also on the list of the 10 highest-rated FTA dramas in 2016. Read the complete post: 5 highest-rated Mon-Tue dramas in 2016.

  1. Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim (20.39 %)
  2. Doctors (18.41 %)
  3. Moonlight Drawn By Clouds (18.29 %)
  4. Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho (12.88 %)
  5. Monster (9.73 %)
5 Highest-Rated Wednesday-Thursday FTA Dramas

SBS ruled the Mon-Tue time slot with Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim on top of the list. Although it has three of its six Wed-Thu dramas on the Wed-Thu ranking, Descendants of the Sun is unbeatable so it is KBS this time that holds the highest record. Read the complete post: 5 highest-rated Wed-Thu dramas in 2016.

  1. Descendants of the Sun (28.58 %)
  2. Legend of the Blue Sea (17.60 %)
  3. Remember (15.00 %)
  4. W-Two Worlds (11.63 %)
  5. Jealousy Incarnate (10.51 %)
5 Highest-Rated Friday-Saturday Cable Dramas

Cable networks, especially tvN, are famous for their dramas that air during Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 pm KST. In 2016, tvN and JTBC are the main competitors on this time slot. OCN had 38 Task Force aired also on these days but at a different time (11 pm KST). Read the complete post: 5 highest-rated Fri-Sat dramas in 2016.

  1. Goblin (12.81 %)
  2. Signal (8.82 %)
  3. Dear My Friends (5.07 %)
  4. The K2 (4.86 %)
  5. The Good Wife (4.67 %)

Top 10 Dramas by Pilot Episode Rating

Descendants of the Sun is the highest-rated kdrama in 2016, but its first episode rating is not high enough to beat Legend of the Blue Sea. The main driver of LOTBS‘s very successful start is its lead actors Jun Ji-hyun and Lee Min-ho who are more popular than their counterparts in Oh My Geum-bi and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-jo.

For the cable category, Goblin sure knows how to endlessly beat Signal and other dramas. Its success could be attributed mainly to writer Kim Eun-sook who also penned the highly successful Descendants of the Sun and its lead cast Gong Yoo and Kim Go-eun who starred in hit projects Train To Busan and Cheese in the Trap, respectively, earlier in 2016. Let’s Fight Ghost and The Good Wife complete the top 5. Read the complete post: Legend of the Blue Sea, Goblin top drama ranking based on first episode ratings.

Top 10 FTA Dramas Based on Pilot Episode Rating
  1. Legend of the Blue Sea (16.4%)
  2. Descendants of the Sun (14.3%)
  3. Doctors (12.9%)
  4. Uncontrollably Fond (12.5%)
  5. Jackpot (11.8%)
  6. Lucky Romance (10.3%)
  7. Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho (10.1%)
  8. Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim (9.5%)
  9. Sweet Stranger and Me (9.0%)
  10. W-Two Worlds (8.6%)
Top 10 Cable Dramas Based on Pilot Episode Rating
  1. Goblin (6.32%)
  2. Signal (5.42%)
  3. Dear My Friends (4.90%)
  4. Let’s Fight Ghost (4.06%)
  5. The Good Wife (3.97%)
  6. Memory (3.81%)
  7. Cheese in the Trap (3.60%)
  8. Cinderella and Four Knights (3.55%)
  9. Pied Piper (3.31%)
  10. The K2 (3.23%)

Top 10 Dramas by Final Episode Rating

If we rank kdramas based on their first episode ratings, of course we would not forget to rank them based on how good (or bad) they performed during the final episode. Unlike in the previous ranking, there are almost no changes in the lineup of dramas which are included in this ranking. That’s because well-loved dramas usually end up with decent ratings. Read the complete post: Descendants of the Sun, Goblin top drama ranking based on final episode ratings.

Top 10 FTA Dramas Based on Final Episode Rating
  1. Descendants of the Sun (38.8%)
  2. Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim (27.6%)
  3. Moonlight Drawn By Clouds (22.9%)
  4. Remember (20.3%)
  5. Doctors (20.2%)
  6. Legend of the Blue Sea (17.9%)
  7. Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho (17.3%)
  8. Monster (14.1%)
  9. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (11.3%)
  10. Jealousy Incarnate (11.0%)
Top 10 Cable Dramas Based on Final Episode Rating
  1. Goblin (18.68%)
  2. Signal (12.54%)
  3. Oh Hae Young Again (9.99%)
  4. Cheese in the Trap (6.89%)
  5. Dear My Friends (6.87%)
  6. The Good Wife (6.23%)
  7. The K2 (5.47%)
  8. Drinking Solo (5.02%)
  9. 38 Task Force (4.56%)
  10. Let’s Fight Ghost (4.31%)

Top 10 Dramas by Peak Rating

Descendants of the Sun is on top again, and all the 10 highest-rated dramas in 2016 are also on this ranking. DOTS, Romantic Doctor, Remember, Neighborhood Lawyer, and Monster achieved their peak ratings in their final episodes while the rest recorded their highest ratings one to five episodes before the finale or even within the first 10 episodes. In cable category, Goblin is still number 1 and as a result, Signal occupies the second highest spot. Read the complete post: Descendants of the Sun, Goblin still no. 1 in drama ranking based on peak ratings.

Top 10 FTA Dramas Based on Peak Rating
  1. Descendants of the Sun (episode 16, 38.8%)
  2. Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim (episode 20, 27.6%)
  3. Moonlight Drawn By Clouds (episode 17, 23.3%)
  4. Doctors (episode 15, 21.3%)
  5. Legend of the Blue Sea (episode 19, 21.0%)
  6. Remember (episode 20, 20.3%)
  7. Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho (episode 20, 17.3%)
  8. Monster (episode 50, 14.1%)
  9. W (episode 7, 13.8%)
  10. Jealousy Incarnate (episode 10, 13.2%)
Top 10 Cable Dramas Based on Peak Rating
  1. Goblin (episode 16, 18.68%)
  2. Signal (episode 16, 12.54%)
  3. Oh Hae Young Again (episode 18, 9.99%)
  4. Dear My Friends (episode 15, 8.09%)
  5. Cheese in the Trap (episode 9, 7.10%)
  6. The K2 (episode 6, 6.64%)
  7. The Good Wife (episode 16, 6.23%)
  8. Drinking Solo (episode 16, 5.02%)
  9. 38 Task Force (episode 16, 4.56%)
  10. Let’s Fight Ghost (episode 16, 4.31%)

Korean Drama Rankings 2016: Complete List

Complete Ranking of FTA Dramas
  1. Descendants of the Sun (28.58%)
  2. Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim (20.39%)
  3. Doctors (18.41%)
  4. Moonlight Drawn By Clouds (18.29%)
  5. Legend of the Blue Sea (17.60%)
  6. Remember: War of the Sons (15.00%)
  7. Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho (12.88%)
  8. W – Two Worlds (11.63%)
  9. Jealousy Incarnate (10.51%)
  10. Monster (9.73%)
  11. Uncontrollably Fond (9.41%)
  12. Jackpot (9.33%)
  13. Shopping King Louis (9.06%)
  14. Woman With a Suitcase (8.39%)
  15. On the Way to the Airport (8.36%)
  16. Lucky Romance (8.16%)
  17. Entertainer (7.74%)
  18. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (7.59%)
  19. The Master of Revenge (7.33%)
  20. Goodbye Mr. Black (6.52%)
  21. Wanted (6.37%)
  22. Oh My Geum-bi (6.06%)
  23. Sweet Stranger and Me (5.56%)
  24. One More Happy Ending (5.23%)
  25. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-jo (4.619%)
  26. Night Light (4.615%)
  27. Come Back Ajusshi (4.46%)
  28. Beautiful Mind (3.91%)
  29. Moorim School (3.53%)
Complete Ranking of Cable Dramas
  1. Goblin (12.81%)
  2. Signal (8.82%)
  3. Oh Hae Young Again (6.88%)
  4. Cheese in the Trap (5.96%)
  5. Dear My Friends (5.07%)
  6. The K2 (4.86%)
  7. The Good Wife (4.67%)
  8. Drinking Solo (3.56%)
  9. Let’s Fight Ghost (3.39%)
  10. 38 Task Force (3.34%)
  11. Memory (2.92%)
  12. My Wife’s Having an Affair this Week (2.82%)
  13. Cinderella and Four Knights (2.76%)
  14. Rude Miss Young Ae Season 15 (2.60%)
  15. Fantastic (2.36%)
  16. Mirror of the Witch (2.34%)
  17. Ms. Temper and Nam Jung-gi (2.24%)
  18. Pied Piper (2.14%)
  19. Age of Youth (1.33%)
  20. Entourage (1.00%)
  21. Madame Antoine (0.71%)

OK, that’s it. Are you happy to see your favorite dramas on top of the list? Maybe you’re so disappointed to see them at the bottom of the ranking. If it’s the latter case, it’s alright. Like what I’ve said in the intro of Dramatop: Korean Drama Rankings 2016, low ratings do not necessarily imply that a drama is poor in quality (in directing, writing, acting, etc.). What they tell us is that only a small portion of the audience bothered to watch the drama during its run. And why is that the case? Aside from a number of factors that affect how the viewers decide which dramas to watch, every individual has his/her own drama preference. One might think that drama X is so bad or so-so but others may think otherwise. Read the complete post: Complete ranking of Korean dramas in 2016 based on viewer ratings.

In sum: Korean Drama Rankings 2016 Record Holders

  1. Highest-Rated FTA Drama — Descendants of the Sun
  2. Highest-Rated Cable Drama — Goblin
  3. Highest-Rated KBS Drama — Descendants of the Sun
  4. Highest-Rated MBC Drama — W-Two Worlds
  5. Highest-Rated SBS Drama — Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim
  6. Highest-Rated Monday-Tuesday Drama — Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim
  7. Highest-Rated Wednesday-Thursday Drama — Descendants of the Sun
  8. Highest-Rated Friday-Saturday Drama — Goblin
  9. Highest-Rated FTA Drama Based on Pilot Episode Rating — Legend of the Blue Sea
  10. Highest-Rated Cable Drama Based on Pilot Episode Rating — Goblin
  11. Highest-Rated FTA Drama Based on Final Episode Rating — Descendants of the Sun
  12. Highest-Rated Cable Drama Based on Final Episode Rating — Goblin
  13. Highest-Rated FTA Drama Based on Peak Rating — Descendants of the Sun
  14. Highest-Rated Cable Drama Based on Peak Rating — Goblin

About the Post Series: Dramatop: Korean Drama Rankings 2016 is a Kdramapal post series that ranks kdramas based on their nationwide average viewership ratings from Nielsen Korea. It was published from January 16 to February 6, 2017. It includes in its ranking only prime time dramas that air from Monday to Saturday. We ensure the accuracy of our ranking result by collecting data directly from Nielsen Korea’s website and other reliable sources. If you have feedback or questions regarding the rankings and this post series in general, you can send them to postseries@kdramapal.com or via the Contact Us page.