My Top 15 Best Chilean Telenovelas

Carolina

Carolina

Argentinian Carolina has an extensive movie background in the cinematic universe. She is our resident TV analyst and a seasoned expert in global streaming platforms. She showcases her comprehensive knowledge through her love for Netflix 'Originals', Frozen, The Good Place, and The Dragon Prince.

Chile began its run with telenovelas or teleseries in the late 60s, a little bit later than other countries.

Chilean production has always been smaller in comparison with other countries like Mexico, Venezuela or Argentina. Among Chilean telenovelas, there are several adaptations from Brazilian, Mexican, and Argentine telenovelas.

The period between 1990 and 2005 is considered the Golden Age of Chilean telenovelas. The Televisión Nacional de Chile started to decentralise the settings of its telenovelas to different regions of the country by creating stories with topics related to local culture and idiosyncrasy.

Vicente Sabatini is the director most prolific and famous for telling stories portraying popular culture during this period.

What I love most about Chilean telenovelas is, that although they’re highly influenced by other Latin American countries, they break the mould from traditional tropes.

Now, let’s take a ride through the best Chilean telenovelas!

1. La fiera (1999)

Drama, Romance – 106 episodes

Directed by Vicente Sabatini and written by Víctor Carrasco, La Fiera is one of the most successful Chilean telenovelas, earning several accolades.

The plot focuses on Catalina Chamorro, famous for her bad temper, who turns down all her suitors, often violently.

Catalina’s behaviour is due to a promise her father made 20 years ago that he wouldn’t give his youngest daughter in marriage if his older daughter is not married yet.

Catalina is the older daughter, and getting married is not part of her plans.

The main roles are played by Claudia Di Girolamo, Francisco Reyes and Luis Alarcón. La Fiera is available on TVN Play Internacional.

2. Machos (2003)

Drama

Machos was a success produced by Canal 13.

This telenovela breaks many moulds from the traditional standard, first for focusing on a group of male characters, prevailing their point of view of relationships, love, and family, and second, because it touches on avant-garde topics for the Chilean society of the beginning of 2000s.

Set in the city of Viña del Mar, the story follows the patriarch Ángel Mercader (Héctor Noguera), a retired doctor.

Mercader is married and has seven sons, he is also manipulative and a conservative chauvinist. His seven sons must confront their father for different reasons, while they deal with their lives, loves, fatherhood, and professions.

3. La madrastra (The Stepmother) (1981)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 75 episodes

La Madrastra is one of the most important Chilean telenovelas ever produced for many reasons.

From a practical and technical point of view, this telenovela was the first to be produced and broadcast in colour, reaching the highest ratings in the audience for that time.

Currently, besides being considered a classic, La Madrastra is also a symbol of Chilean popular culture from the 80s. Also, it was ahead of its time for mixing elements of crime and thriller with typical tropes of melodrama.

The story is the memoir of Marcia Espínola, an innocent woman accused of murder in the US, who is freed from prison twenty years later and returns to Chile to get her revenge.

The story begins in 1961 with a group of friends visiting the US. In the hotel where they are staying, Marcia hears a shot, and when she goes to check, finds her friend Patricia was killed.

Since she was at the murder scene, Marcia is accused of the crime, while all her friends including her husband leave her alone. After being released from prison and back to Chile, she’s resolved to find out the true murderer and get back her children.

4. Pacto de sangre (2018)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 133 episodes

Pacto de sangre mixes elements of a traditional telenovela with a suspense series. Aired in the primetime time slot, this telenovela aimed at a wider audience.

A group of friends consisting of Raimundo, Marco, Benjamín, and Gabriel travel together to a town to celebrate a stag party for Raimundo. They hired a stripper named Daniela.

The party goes out of control, and Daniela dies in strange circumstances in the swimming pool. The men decide to leave the body behind and go back to Santiago and keep going with their lives.

What they don’t know is that Daniela is underage, and her mother is searching for her. When they realise this, Benjamín and his wife decide to quarter Daniela’s body to erase any evidence.

As you can see, Pacto de sangre has more in common with Criminal Minds than with any other telenovela. Pacto de sangre is available on ViX in the US and Latin America.

5. Aquelarre (1999)

Comedy, Drama, Romance – 105 episodes

Inspired by the play La Casa de Bernarda Alba by Spanish author Federico García Lorca, Aquelarre is set in a fictional town where for more than thirty years only women are born.

Jorge Patiño, a rich landowner, is concerned with this situation and calls a geneticist from Santiago. After Patiño’s sudden death due to a heart attack, his family is now led by Bernardita, his strict, severe, and catholic wife, who declares a forever mourning for her and her five daughters.

The story follows the classic tropes of melodrama with forbidden loves, manipulation, and secrets.

Aquelarre is available for streaming on TVN’s official YouTube channel.

6. Perdona nuestros pecados (2017)

Drama – 2 seasons – 312 episodes

One of the longest Chilean telenovelas mixing the TV series format by splitting the arcs into seasons, Perdona jNuestros Pecados aired in the primetime slot.

The story follows Reynaldo Suarez, the new priest in Villa Ruiseñor, who secretly seeks revenge for the death of his sister twenty years ago.

The telenovela follows the classic tropes with the setting in a small town and the characters’ complex relationships of love, family, and secrets.

Perdona nuestros pecados is available on Prime Video in Latin America.

7. Brujas (2005)

Adventure, Comedy, Drama – 135 episodes

Brujas is a classic telenovela full of secrets, betrayals, and romance. The story focuses on Beatriz González, a beautiful woman with humble origins, who has worked hard to be the best professional in the Angeles agency, a leading company offering professionals to assist women with homework.

Beatriz loves Vicente Soler, a handsome and intelligent man owner of the company.

When Vicente dies of a heart attack after a night at the hotel where he had sex with one of his employees, Beatriz becomes a revengeful woman

She hires a young man to seduce each of the five women suspected of having slept with Vicente. This is only the beginning of a complex plot of lies, secrets, hate and love.

8. ¿Dónde está Elisa? (2009)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 112 episodes

¿Dónde está Elisa? Is a different telenovela, with a plot more focused on mystery and thriller.

This was one of the most successful telenovelas in Chile with audience ratings.

Created by Pablo Illanes, who admitted he got his inspiration from the Swedish novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the real-life case of Madeleine McCann, the story follows the disappearance of a teenage girl, the titular Elisa, after going to a friend’s party.

Besides the main topic of the frantic search Elisa’s parents start, suspecting their family, friends, and acquaintances, the story deals with several serious themes, such as how fragile human relationships are when a tragedy strikes.

The success of the series led to international adaptations from the US, Colombia, South Korea, India, and Turkey, among others.

You can find ¿Dónde está Elisa? on the NBC and USA network in the US, and it’s also available on TVN’s official channel on YouTube.

The Telemundo remake can be found on Hulu, Peacock, and the USA network.

9. Los títeres (1984)

Drama – 110 episodes

Los títeres is still considered the best Chilean telenovela in history. The complexity of the story combined with the psychology of the characters, thanks to the writing of Chilean dramaturg Sergio Vodanović, has been a big influence on a whole generation of Chilean fiction creators.

The story begins in 1962 with a 17-year-old girl, Artemisa Mykonos, coming to Chile from Ecuador with her father. There, she meets a group of friends that makes her unhappy.

Adriana, one of the girls in the group and Artemisa’s cousin, is always plotting to make Artemisa’s life impossible. Artemisa’s father, who was going through several struggles, dies in a car accident, leaving her daughter alone.

After a cruel “prank” by Adriana, Artemisa returns to Ecuador, trying to forget what she has lived through in Chile.

Twenty years later, Artemisa is back in Chile, now a successful businesswoman. She’s resolved to get revenge for what she suffered as a teen, but what she doesn’t know is Adriana is still ready to ruin her life.

10. La intrusa (1989)

Drama – 87 episodes

La intrusa follows Texia González, a young woman looking for her destiny, who enters into her biological family’s life without suspicion. Texia was born as the result of an affair between a businessman, Felipe Peralta, and a chorus girl.

Felipe has always taken care of Texia and wishes to tell his wife about her. But Felipe’s wife suffers from a chronic illness, a situation that Blanca, Felipe’s sister-in-law, is going to use to her advantage.

Blanca has two sons, Eloy and Gabriel. Both are very different. Gabriel is Felipe’s favourite nephew, till the point he has engaged his daughter Diana with him.

However, when Texia enters the scene, Gabriel will feel attracted to her.

11. Romané (2000)

Comedy, Drama, Romance – 115 episodes

Inspired by the play The Visit of the Old Lady, commonly known as The Visit in English, by Swiss dramatist Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Romané is set in Mejillones town, with the return of a Gypsy family with a past in the city.

This telenovela has been praised for the accurate portrayal of Roman culture and the use of the Roman language in the dialogues along with Spanish. Romané is among the most successful telenovelas with high audience ratings, being adapted in the US.

The story follows Gypsy woman Jovanka Antic, who returns to Mejillones, the town where she grew up. Jovanka finds the town is struggling with economic issues, in contrast with her Gypsy caravan.

In an act of generosity, she donates millions to the town, so they can fix all their issues. However, the offer comes with one condition; the death of Rafael Domínguez, her ex-boyfriend from youth, who got her pregnant and abandoned her, and even paid two witnesses to deny his fatherhood.

Rafael is now a respected and admired man in the Mejillones community, however, he sees how money and power change the people around him, even his family.

Jovanka treats him with kindness, but her thirst for vengeance has no limits. She left Mejillones as a poor Gypsy single mother and returned as the richest woman after becoming a widow.

Romané is available on the official TVN YouTube channel.

12. Los 80 (2008)

Drama, History – 7 seasons – 78 episodes

Inspired by the Spanish TV show Cuéntame cómo pasó, Los 80 is more a TV series than a telenovela. Produced by Canal 13 and Wood Entertainment, the series was part of the celebration of the Bicentennial of Chile.

The inspiration it took from the Spanish series is only regarding the narrative format, so it can’t be considered an adaptation or remake.

Los 80 focuses on the events during the 80 decade in Chile, addressing important historical events such as the Crisis of 1982 and the Santiago Earthquake in 1985, everything from the point of view of the Herreras, a middle-class family living in Santiago.

The series also portrayed how life in Chile was during Pinochet’s dictatorship. Los 80 received positive reviews from the critics, being welcomed by the audience, and also winning several accolades. I highly recommend watching this series for its production values and the piece of recent history it shows.

Currently, it is available for streaming on Prime Video in Latin America.

13. Oro verde (1997)

Drama, Romance – 104 episodes

Directed by Vicente Sabatini, Oro Verde was ahead of its time with a topic about ecology and how big corporations destroy nature.

The story follows Antonia Sandoval, an ecology activist who fights against Forestal Meyer, a company owned by a rich family whose purpose is to cut down a whole Alerces forest.

Besides the ecological topic, Oro Verde follows the classical tropes of a telenovela with very evil bad guys and romance full of obstacles.

Oro Verde is available on TVN’s official channel on YouTube.

14. Tic Tac (1997)

Comedy, Drama, Romance – 90 episodes

Tic Tac has, perhaps, the best intro you can find in a telenovela in Latin America.

With high doses of humour, Tic Tac is set in the Santa María Palace, where Emilia Santa María and Eva Félix, her lady’s companion, scare people using a machine that moves the palace’s furniture.

People believe the palace is haunted. However, Emilia and Eva know that in the palace there are ghosts. During a seance, they invoke the spirit of a rich young man, Maximiliano “Max” Ossa, who died in 1925 in strange circumstances.

Now he’s back in 1997 to get back the love of Pola Santa María, Emilia’s older sister. But Max meets Emilia’s grandniece, who is identical to Pola and shares the same name.

Although Tic Tac has romance following traditional tropes, the mixing of humour with paranormal events makes this telenovela a delightful watch.

Another interesting feature is the soundtrack, based on the disc Tributo a Queen, featuring Spanish covers of the most emblematic Queen songs from Latin American artists.

The intro to the telenovela is a cover of Another One Bites the Dust by Argentine rap duo Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas.

Tic Tac is available on the official TVN YouTube channel.

15. Destinos cruzados (2004)

Comedy, Drama, Romance – 108 episodes

Destinos cruzados is a traditional telenovela with all intrigues, romance, and secrets typical of the genre.

The story follows Laura Squella, a woman who is back in Chile after 10 years. Searching for the son she gave in adoption before leaving, she finds a country very different to the one she left behind.

She’s not welcome in her family because of the dramatic past situations regarding her pregnancy. Laura got pregnant after being raped by her half-brother Mateo, and her grandmother forced her to give the baby up for adoption.

Now in Chile, Laura starts falling in love with Daniel Riquelme, a humble mechanic who adopted her son. The problem is Daniel is married.

If you’re interested in watching Destinos Cruzados, you can find it on the TVN official YouTube channel.

Summary

Chilean telenovelas have always had another flavour different to the rest of Latin America.

Besides the classic tropes, Chilean productions have dared to mix successfully other genres with high production values.

Although Chile is not as big a producer as countries like Mexico, Colombia or Brazil, their telenovelas stand out for their quality in acting, stories, and production in general.

In this list, I choose the most popular 15 Chilean telenovelas that are worth watching for many reasons.

I hope you enjoy this list as much as I enjoyed writing it, so please let me know which one is your favourite. Also, please let me know if I missed some titles you think deserve to be part of this list. I’m eager to know!

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