The 15 Best Turkish Series of 2023

The 15 Best Turkish Series of 2023

With over 70+ shows produced in 2023, Turkish series continues to captivate global audiences with their compelling narratives, rich cultural portrayals, and top-tier production values. Between instant hits like Yabani and fav-favorite rom-coms like Ruhun Duymaz, the year served up a little bit of something for everyone, unfolding a tapestry of creativity that kept viewers on the edge of their seats.

Let's recap the best of the best—our favorite shows of 2023.

Shows that revolve around kidnapping are a dime a dozen, but Yabani somehow stands out as fresh and new. Premiering in the fall season, the series about Yaman Ali reuniting with his long-lost family soon became a hit with viewers.

The plot of Yabani centers on Ali, portrayed by Halit Özgür Sarı, who was kidnapped as a child and subjected to years of suffering under the gang that abducted him. After escaping from his captors, he changes his name to Yaman and starts a new life with his chosen family.

One fateful day, as Yaman was going about their daily routine of trying to earn a living, he crosses paths with Rüya (Simay Barlas), a beautiful girl from the rich side of town. A chain of events unfolds as a result of this encounter instigated by Rüya's spoiled boyfriend, Alaz (Bertan Asllani). Alaz, who nearly overdoses, is saved by Yaman. However, this rescue leads to Yaman's best friend being assaulted in retaliation for revealing Alaz's drug problem to his mother. In response, Yaman decides to seek revenge and confronts Alaz at his home. In the midst of seeking revenge at Alaz's home, Yaman Ali makes a startling discovery. It is within those familiar walls that he realizes that he is actually Ali Soysalan and Rüya’s boyfriend is, in fact, his long-lost brother, from whom he was separated years ago during a traumatic kidnapping incident.

Yabani’s ensemble cast is terrific, however, the true strength of the series lies in the writer's skillful ability to balance the arc of each character. Consequently, it forges a connection between the audience and the characters by delving into relatable aspects of oneself through the highs and lows experienced by each character.

Hudutsuz Sevda is the textbook definition of “edge of a seat.” With the 2+ hour length of Turkish dramas, it’s nearly impossible not to get bored at some point, but Hudutsuz Sevda intensely absorbs the viewer's attention.

In the series, we follow the story of the brave Halil İbrahim Karasu, who returns to the Black Sea village where he was born and was later forced to flee when he was just five years old after his father was murdered by the local crime boss Rızvan Leto. Halil returns to his hometown to marry his childhood sweetheart. However, his mission takes a tragic turn when she is murdered by Rızvan’s son, leading him on a new path.

Halil becomes a one-man army with the sole purpose of destroying Rızvan Leto. On his path of revenge, Halil finds unlikely allies in his efforts to dismantle Rızvan’s criminal operations, one of whom is none other than Rızvan’s daughter, Zeynep.

Eager to distance herself from her family’s shady lifestyle, Zeynep feels compelled to assist Halil once she discovers the truth about her family's actions against Halil. As she aids Halil, her former schoolgirl crush on him reignites, evolving into a profound love for her father’s biggest adversary.

Whether it be from the action-packed scenes or the unintentional giggles sponsored by characters like Levant, Hudutsuz Sevda is one of those rare ambitious dizis from which one emerges feeling fully satisfied after each episode.

Before Aile even had a premiere date, it was already ahead of the curve with leads as strong as Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ and Serenay Sarıkaya. To further sweeten the pot, the series is produced by the powerhouse Ay Yapım, with a script penned by the Hakan Bonomo.

Aile, follows Aslan Soykan (Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ), who, despite being the head of Istanbul's most notorious crime family, takes a backseat to his mother, Hulya (Nur Sürer), when it comes to asserting authority at the dinner table. 

Hülya, who has managed to keep the unruly Soykan clan together with a set of unbreakable traditions for many years, loses her mind, among other things, when the apple of her eyes, aka her son Aslan, disrupts one of their hallowed family dinners, for the sake of a woman he just met, the beautiful psychologist Devin.

While Aslan and Devin, two people who are like fire and gunpowder, meet at the wrong time, in the wrong world, they fall in love. Aslan and Devin’s honeymoon phase is short-lived as the baggage each one brings into their new relationship proves toxic in combination with the demands of their respective lives.

With all the markings of what makes an excellent crime drama series, Aile comes out on top in every aspect, and the dynamite chemistry between Tatlıtuğ and Sarıkaya doesn’t hurt either.

Blu TV’s steady commitment to delivering top-of-the-line Turkish dramas should be studied.  Magarsus, the most recent addition to the streaming platform’s already rich library, follows the struggle of the Kurak family, who trade citrus fruits in Sarıbahçe, a coastal district of Çukurova, both within themselves and with external forces trying to dominate the region. 

Filmed by a talented crew in the backdrop of some of Türkiye’s most beautiful scenery, the series unpacks the complexity of family relationships, taking the viewer on a fun but stressful action-packed ride.

With a tightly crafted script framed by a handful of powerhouse performances, the series juggles the extremities of the Turkish drama genre while still being authentic to its roots.

If there was ever a case to be made for how much the Turkish “dizi” industry has to offer, Magarsus would be at the very top of the docket.

Özge Özpirinççi is very much revered in our books, as we have yet to watch a series that she stars in that isn’t stellar. Her latest, Sandık Kokusu, is no different.

Özpirinççi stars in the O3 Medya-produced series as Karsu, a resilient mother of three stuck in an unhappy marriage. After years of being subjected to the abusive husband, Reha (Necip Memili), the birth of her third child is a wake-up call for Karsu, who makes the difficult decision to send her three-year-old son, Kuzey, to Istanbul to stay with her Mother, Filiz (Demet Akbağ), for a while.

Karsu's worst fears materialize as her son disappears during the journey to Istanbul, exacerbating the already tense relationship with her mother. Determined to locate her son, Karsu's quest concludes three long years later when she stumbles upon Kuzey, now going by Deniz, who fails to recognize her. Karsu fights to win her son back, but that’s just the beginning of a steep, uphill battle.

Karsu's story provides an up-close look at the pressures and challenges of motherhood in modern society. The sincerity that Özge Özpirinççi brings to her embodiment of an everyday mother is major, setting the series up for success from the get-go. With a stellar supporting cast at its core, Sandık Kokusu, currently only a few episodes in at press time, exhibits a promising potential that is poised to evolve into a classic in the years to come.

Between last year’s Kızılcık Şerbeti and the newly minted Kızıl Goncalar, production house Gold Film continues to set itself apart from its peers for its willingness to take risks exploring thought-provoking themes in storytelling.

Kızıl Goncalar tells the poignant story of Meryem (Özgü Namal), who was married off at 14 in an Islamic sect. Events in the series kick-off when Meryem, her husband, and their teenage daughter Zeynep relocate to a new city where the sect is concentrated. Unbeknownst to Meryem, her disgruntled husband has made plans to marry off Zeynep to the sheik’s grandson Cüneyd (Mert Yazıcıoğlu). With the clock running out and the odds stacked against her, Meryem devices a plan to save her daughter from suffering the same cruel fate as hers. To earn the money they would need to survive away from the sect, Meryem takes up a job as the caregiver for the father of Levant Alkanlı, a famed psychiatrist.

Despite conflicting with his beliefs, Levant is eager to assist Meryem, and as time progresses, the undeniable attraction between them continues to grow. However, Meryem and Levant are in for an even bigger surprise when they learn that Zeynep's long-lost twin, previously thought to have died at birth, is the daughter Levant adopted many years ago.

While entirely fictional, Kızıl Goncalar stands out as the first Turkish drama in several years to offer a raw and realistic portrayal of the inner workings of religious sects. This audacious approach has not been without controversy, as it has sparked a significant backlash, with some advocating for the show's outright cancellation.

That in itself serves as a testament to the incredible job everyone behind the series has done thus far. While series like these tend to lean into sensationalism eventually, the plot of Kızıl Goncalar has all the trademarks of a classic drama that, if it continues to be so meticulously written, will ultimately benefit from the emotions, strong or otherwise, it evokes from its viewers.

Kendi Düşen Ağlamaz is the longest-running summer series of 2023, and with good reason.

The series, an adapation of a book with the same title, stars newcomer Eylül Tumbar as the self-absorbed Alize, who thinks the world resolves around her. Having lost her mother during childbirth, Alize was raised by her father, Nurettin, who, in his role as a single parent, tended to overcompensate, leading to his child becoming rather spoiled.

Alize's world crumbles when her father announces his upcoming wedding. In retaliation, she plans to marry someone he would never approve of. Alize teams up with Serkan, a mechanic, hoping to persuade her father to change his mind, but as stubborn as she may be, her father is even more stubborn. While Alize thinks she has the upper hand, her father and Serkan have secretly teamed up behind her back.

With her old life now in the rearview mirror, Alize, who has been pampered all her life, must now learn to live like a commoner, an experience that drastically changes her life. Despite the odds, what starts as a marriage of convenience between her and Serkan soon transitions into the real deal.

Kendi Düşen Ağlamaz is a fuzzy, warm blanket of a series. With a little bit of something for everyone, the series takes its audience on a humorous, heartwarming journey that is elevated by a well-put-together cast.

The word Şahane (wonderful) is the word that best describes this Ay Yapım series, written by Meriç Acemi.

Hilal Altınbilek delivers a tour-de-force performance as Şebnem, a social climber who has spent the better part of her life crawling her way up from a life of limited options. As a child, Şebnem earned a scholarship that awarded her the opportunity to attend an elite private school. Despite being there on her own merit, she was subjected to bullying from all angles.

Fed up with leading a life on other people’s terms, Şebnem saves up enough money to undergo a complete transformation, and in combining plastic surgery with unwavering ambition,  she achieves the ultimate goal: securing a wealthy husband named Onur. Their union promises luxury, privilege, and the envy of all who bear witness. However, the illusion crumbles when the ghosts of Şebnem's past resurface, threatening her picture-perfect existence. Şebnem finds herself entangled in a dangerous web of secrets and intrigue as she tries to protect her family, preserve her status, and reconcile with her past.

The witty and fast-paced script of Şahane Hayatım features enough twists to keep viewers on their toes. The authenticity of Hilal Altınbilek's remarkable performance shines through and as we join our streetwise anti-heroine in the ring where she battles enemies on every front, we can’t help but root for her triumph.

Veda Mektubu is one of those shows that really deserved more attention than it got.

In the series, we follow the present life of Alanur (Nurgül Yeşilçay), which is shaped entirely by a letter she received over 30 years ago that put an abrupt end to the life and love she once shared with Ziya (Selim Bayraktar). While Alanur is still trying to comprehend the events that transpired, the universe plays a trick on her as her daughter Aslı (Rabia Soytürk) falls in love with Mehmet (Emre Kıvılcım), the son of none other than Ziya. This unforeseen turn of fate once again intertwines the destinies of the Yıldız and Karlı families, reigniting the smoldering flames of a fire that had not been extinguished for over 30 years.

Aslı, initially set on relocating to France to pursue her dreams, and Mehmet, who had achieved significant success in his family business and was on the verge of getting married, have an unexpected encounter that leads to love at first sight. Unbeknownst to them, their deep connection dates back 30 years, when Mehmet's father, Ziya, and Aslı's mother, Alanur, were on the brink of marriage. However, Ziya abruptly disappeared, leaving Alanur alone and altering the course of their intertwined destinies.

A delight to watch, Veda Mektubu is a beautifully written love letter to fans of the second chance romance trope. It takes you on a rollercoaster of emotional intrigue, and as the antagonists vow to keep the lovers apart, the potent chemistry between the leads keeps you coming back for more.

Projects written by Ayşe Üner Kutlu have become a staple in the summer season, and the beloved rom-com writer delivered once again with Ruhun Duymaz, which left its mark on FOX in the summer.

Şükrü Özyıldız stars in the series as Onur Karasu, an undercover agent on a tunnel-visioned mission to take down diamond smuggler Civan Koral (Tuğrul Tülek). To get closer to the Koral family, he deceives Civan's sister, Hilal (Asli Sumen), by making her fall in love with him. Onur's plan is working like a well-oiled machine until Ece (Burcu Özberk), Hilal's friend from London, enters his life.

Ece, with the many skills she has picked up over the years as a career thief, immediately becomes suspicious of Onur upon meeting him. Ece drops like a bomb into Onur's operation and turns everything upside down. Subsequently, the unlikely duo is forced to team up, and, in true enemies-to-lovers fashion, their constant bickering evolves into a love story, short-lived but long-loved.

OGM Pictures is the production house behind Sakla Beni, and that should tell you what you need to know about the quality of Turkish drama it is.

The series, which premiered in the fall season, begins the story of Mete (Uraz Kaygılaroğlu) and Naz (Asude Kalebek), born into wealthy and influential families and bound together by a promise made during their childhood. This promise stems from a tragic incident where Naz’s innocence was compromised, and Mete’s family offered unwavering support. As they grow older, their relationship becomes a rollercoaster of heated arguments and passionate reconciliations.

Mete, deeply committed to keeping the childhood promise, returns from studying abroad to marry Naz. However, fate intervenes when he crosses paths with İncila, Naz’s loyal servant. İncila, who has found a family within Naz’s household after a troubled past, accidentally becomes a pivotal figure in the unfolding drama.

Both Mete and İncila share similar wounds from their respective pasts, and they discover their emotional connection runs deeper than they initially thought. This realization complicates Mete’s already confused feelings and leaves him torn between two women.

The riveting debut of Sakla Beni, nearly marred by a controversial scene in its first episode, cleverly sets the story up to just where it needs to be to reel the audience in. To support what is already a promising story, the ensemble cast of the series further adds to its appeal.

Say what you want about FOX Türkiye, but the channel sure has had its share of short-lived-yet-incredible dizis.

Gülcemal follows the titular character, portrayed by Murat Ünalmış, who was abandoned by his mother as a child after he killed her lover, the man responsible for his father’s death. Before washing her hands off of her son, Zafer (Ayda Aksel) lays a curse on his life, condemning him to a loveless existence. Years later, haunted by his past, Gülcemal turns into a dark monster driven by the hatred he harbors.

As he embarks on a journey of vengeance, he encounters Deva (Melis Sezen), a stunning and radiant woman who catches everyone's eye. Deva is all set to be married, but her plans are soon disrupted by Gülcemal’s own plan to use her as an instrument in getting back at his mother, who also happens to be Deva’s spiritual mother.

Because Gülcemal was canceled before its time, the series never really got to reach its full potential, but in the little we saw, the show delivered what can be considered a solid Turkish mini-series.

Written by Gül Abus Semerci and Burcu Över, Safir, set in magical Cappadocia, centers on the prominent Gülsoy family. The family consists of Gülfem Gülsoy (İpek Tuzcuoğlu), the mother of the house, and her sons Okan Gülsoy, Yaman Gülsoy (Burak Berkay Akgül), and prodigal son, Ateş Gülsoy (İlhan Şen). Ateş left home years ago to escape his domineering grandfather, Ömer Gülsoy (Müfit Kayacan), who had been in charge of the Gülsoy household since his son's passing. After learning of his mother's illness, Ateş makes the difficult decision to return home, only to find that things are not as they were when he left.

Upon his brother's return, Yaman decides to reveal his true love. However, a violent altercation ensues, putting Feraye (Özge Yağız) in danger and Yaman in protective boyfriend mode. Unfortunately for them both, the altercation involved the psycho son of shady businessman Vural Bakırcıoğlu (Erkan Bektaş), who just wouldn't take no for an answer. After getting his behind whooped by Yaman in public, Bakırcıoğlu Jr. makes his way to the Gülsoy mansion late at night for his revenge, and he doesn't come empty-handed.

With a bone to pick, Bakırcıoğlu Jr. makes his way to Yaman's quarters with one mission: to shoot him. As they argue back and forth, Yaman's younger brother, Okan, happens to overhear the conversation and comes rushing to his brother's aid, hitting Bakırcıoğlu Jr. in the head with the first object he finds. Bakırcıoğlu Jr. falls to the ground, marking the beginning of the end of Feraye and Yaman's once-beautiful love story. Here's where things get complicated: Feraye's wicked stepmother, Cemile, watched the whole thing unfold, and instead of calling for help, she manipulates the outcome in her favor, forcing  Yaman to marry her daughter, Aleyna, in exchange for keeping her mouth shut.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Yaman accepts Cemile's offer, and shortly after, a Feraye finds out, shattering her heart into a million pieces. Subsequently, Feraye, who comes to find out she is pregnant with Yaman’s child, marries Ateş, setting off another chaotic chain of events.

Love triangles are the oldest trick in the book when it comes to crafting a hit show. This rings particularly true when the tangled emotions involve brothers as the drama reaches new heights of intensity and complexity.

Burak Berkay Akgül delivers a breakout lead performance, a credit to the excellence of his co-leads İlhan Şen and Özge Yağız. While some may rightfully argue that the series only delivered a couple of compelling episodes before veering off course, it's undeniable that the standout episodes were truly great.

As time passes, our appreciation grows for Turkish series that break away from conventional norms. Bambaşka Biri, a calculated gamble that pays off, marks the reunion of fan favorites Burak Deniz and Hande Erçel, who last worked together on the hit 2016 rom-com Aşk Laftan Anlamaz.

Here, Deniz stars as Kenan, a famous anchorman whose path crosses with that of ambitious prosecutor Leyla (Erçel) following a gruesome murder. As Leyla investigates the murders, she is confronted with a gut-wrenching dilemma that leaves her facing a tough choice between justice and her family. Kenan, on the other hand, is embattled with a mysterious illness that transforms him into the unpredictable Doğan. As the investigation draws them closer to each other, love comes knocking, but the dark secrets that come to light threaten their union.

Bambaşka Biri does a fine job of balancing murder mystery with romance, but the show’s greatest trait lies in its majestic direction that serves up an exhilarating visual feast.

Anyone who has ever worked or has had a friend/family who works in a rich neighborhood can affirm that there is an abundance of juicy dirty laundry. Over the years, there have been a number of maid-fronted drama series, some hits, some misses, but in meddling in a whodunit murder mystery, FOX’s Kirli Sepeti reels the viewer in its very first episode.

The series follows a group of resilient women who spend their lives cleaning up after others, beginning with the untimely demise of Meryem, one of these women. Uneasy with the circumstances surrounding her death, İlkgül, Meryem's friend, and Kahraman, a journalist, join forces to uncover the truth. As they seek justice for Meryem, they also begin to unravel the hidden complexities of the households Meryem and the other ladies serve, shining a light on the walls between "us" and "them" in society.

Between the sheets, Kirli Sepeti effectively captures the opposite ends of the wealth and class divide, while also highlighting the importance of perseverance through adversity.