Loved in the Purple / The Purple Hairpin ending thoughts

A little while ago Dee wrote this comment on my previous post about Loved in the Purple / The Purple Hairpin (紫钗奇缘):

I endured all the way to the end hoping for a final twist in the plot but it was disappointing.. If you have not finished this series, don’t waste any more of your time..

At the time I had another 6 episodes to go and surprisingly between about episode 13 to maybe episode 30 I was actually enjoying this drama. I was expecting the ending to be bad, but didn’t expect it to be THIS BAD!!! >< I can only recommend this drama for Raymond or Michelle fans. If you’re a fan of the RM ship, proceed with caution – it will be extremely frustrating. Actually, shippers should just stop watching after their ‘fake’ marriage and accept it as canon.


Since this is a post about the ending there’ll be spoilers galore!


Throughout this drama I’ve had issues with TVB’s editors who made lots of cuts to the drama from its original 43 episodes to 37. I know without watching the original I can’t be sure whether it’s just bad story telling or bad editing, but let’s just say I never really felt any strong feelings between Michelle Ye’s Xiao Yu and Raymond Lam’s Nalan Dong. So when it was revealed (at episode 23) that Xiao Yu and Nalan Dong were actually half siblings (they share the same mother), I was kinda hoping maybe Nalan Dong can finally develop feelings for Jing Lan (Tammy Chen), who has been in love with him since the early episodes and just a great character anyway. Even though she tends to disappear for a few episodes at a time, she always appear at critical moments to save our main characters.

Plus my preference for Nalan Dong x Lu Jing Lan reminds me of a pair I shipped SO SO hard many years ago. I think it was the only Raymond Lam drama I have ever truly shipped him and another character. That drama was 2004’s Twin of Brothers! In there his character was also originally in love with one of the female leads (Tavia Yeung) but after experiencing many adventures / life and death situations with the secondary lead (Li Qian), he eventually falls in love with her and chose her at the end. OK, so I have digressed a bit here but really, I won’t be complaining if the writers did take the story down this other route. Because after Nalan Dong found out Xiao Yu is his sister, he breaks up with her without telling her why and went on this quest to find out more about his family history. And who was there with him? Jing Lan. Despite her father’s objections, she secretly went with Nalan Dong to help him.

Since I’m here writing / ranting about the ending of course it didn’t turn out that way. I understand that not all dramas can have happy endings but Loved in the Purple just took tragedy to a new level. It just feel like everyone had bad endings just for the sake of it. I don’t really see any overarching message or meaning behind most of it. (Except ok, the bad guys had to die – I get it.)


Xiao Yu and Nalan Dong

Well, even before I started watching this drama I knew they wouldn’t end up together. I was thinking once it was revealed they’re siblings there’s nowhere this relationship could go? Unless it turns out they’re not siblings at all? Well GUESS WHAT? Depends on which version you watched, the ending is different!


In the last few minutes of the final episode, Nalan Dong leaves to continue his nomadic life, while Xiao Yu ended up with Li Yi (they were already married a few eps before). Insert a scene where Xiao Yu’s mother reflect on what a sad tale everything was…


Original version – there’s a flashback where it was revealed the “real” Xiao Yu actually died when she was a baby so she switched her with another baby in the household. After all this angst, they are not actually brother and sister! WTH!


TVB version – this flashback was deleted so if I just watched this version Xiao Yu / Nalan Dong would’ve remained as siblings?

I don’t know which ending is worst? Despite their love they can’t be together because they *THINK* they’re siblings… or they can’t be together because they’re actually siblings? I don’t really understand why the mother chose not to tell them anyway. She’s the one who can clear up everything but instead of just reminiscing on how “tragic” everything is, why doesn’t she just say something? Is this her way to ‘ultimate revenge’? Afterall, Xiao Yu is her enemy’s daughter. But at the very beginning she was against Xiao Yu / Li Yi because she WANTED her daughter to be with Nalan Dong? See how it all doesn’t really make sense?


Lu Jing Lan x Nalan Dong

So despite my bias for this couple I knew I was only dreaming they will end up together. But geez, everyone in this drama had a tragic ending but maybe Jing Lan had the most tragic of them all. In the last few episodes, there was this WTH subplot about someone just invading the palace and decided he’s going to become Emperor. On one occasion to save the princess (Nalan Dong’s mother), Jing Lan was raped!!!! The poor girl! So of course after that she doesn’t think she’s good enough for Nalan Dong anymore and avoids him.


After his mother told him about what happened, Nalan Dong felt obligated to propose to her. Originally, she was touched by his gesture (not caring about she was raped etc) and they hugged… so let’s just say I was surprised. Is this actually a happy ending for them? Even though Nalan Dong never really loved Jing Lan, two wounded souls accompanying each other is not so bad? RIGHT????

NOOOOO. Guess what. After even more deaths (more on that below), Jing Lan’s father – who has been the evil guy for the latter part of this drama has been banished to the faraway countryside and eventually killed by one of his enemies, we see Nalan Dong all packed up like he’s going away somewhere at the front of Jing Lan’s house. He asks the servants to give a letter to Jing Lan and they tell him she already left, to somewhere far far away and probably won’t return soon.


At least she dumped him before he has the chance to disappoint her, AGAIN. ARGH, I’m assuming he’s giving her a breakup letter? After everything that happened he wants to go back on his promise again? I’m throwing daggers at this guy. And I’ve been on his side for most of this drama. Ohhh I so had enough with you writers.


And… everyone else

Since a lot of the story also focused on Xiao Yu’s two best friends, with the three dubbed – “Most beautiful entertainers / dancers / singers in Chang An”, in the theme of tragic endings both of the other girls Yi Long and Mo Yu also died.


Mo Yu was pretty much the most kind hearted and innocent of the trio but she also had a very tough life. When her father had gambling debts she was sold to some rich man to be his ‘wife’. And even when she did find a man who loves her, he did all sorts of weird / evil things which meant he can’t escape death either. Since she doesn’t want to live without him, she died with him.


Yi Long – the more cynical one, who never truly trusted anyone but herself, found someone who understood her (Wei Bo Wen) but because of their own ambitions, they could never be together. Can’t say I’ve ever sympathised with Wei Bo Wen at any stage of the drama but it became quite wacky when he decided to stick a knife in Yi Long before killing himself.

Talking about whacky deaths, this has to take the cake. This is Yi Long’s mother (who actually looks like her sister at best, but let’s just assume in ancient times people have children early) – I won’t explain the circumstances in detail, since it’s also rather whacky but she decided to kill herself by… running into a pole. OK, it’s more like a big beam that’s holding up a building, but still. What? One bang and she’s dead. Usually in ancient dramas people kill themselves pretty gracefully with a knife across their necks, jumping into a river, take some poison, hang yourself and whatnot, running into a big pole is just unintentionally hilarious.



I’m fairly certain I started this post at least 3 weeks ago. Right after I finished this drama I just had to write down this rant. Now that I’ve had time to think things over (and rewatched the final episode) the annoyance still remains. Do I regret watching this? I can’t say it was a complete waste of time because it did remind me why I became a Raymond Lam fangirl years ago. His subtlety and crying scenes bring back all these feels! But at the end of the day, I don’t think the story as a whole was interesting enough (it’s not really a “grand adventure” type story?) to sustain so many episodes. I’m thinking about writing another post about this drama but that would depend whether I’m still motivated to talk about it.



26 responses to “Loved in the Purple / The Purple Hairpin ending thoughts”

  1. Celine Avatar

    I noticed that a lot of c-dramas that I’ve watched always leave me with a WTF expression on my face towards the end. This is why I don’t tune into c-dramas often except for when I am really bored. The plots are long and draggy and endings tend to feel like it’s not completed? I don’t know if this is the right word to use to describe it though. Are the writers even reading what they are writing?
    I checked out that c-drama with George Hu playing a bumbling cop, don’t recall the name, but you did mention it in one of your posts. But anyways, I skipped right to the last episode and the show ends with three people pointing guns at each other and then one party shoots and the show rolls credits. After seeing that I was like, ‘so where’s the rest of it? Is that how it ends?’
    C-dramas, you are confusing!

    1. kat Avatar

      I haven’t watched a lot of cdramas but really?? Somehow I had the impression that it should lean more towards a ‘black & white’ type ending (ie good guys win, bad guys die etc…) <- maybe that's just for ancient dramas. oooOOhhh that Detective Alliance one, SERIOUSLY??? That is horrible!!! I was planning to watch that if I ever had the time...!!! (Have to reconsider it now.) The name of the series hints that there're a few more parts but I thought it will be a reimagining of other famous detectives, and not a sequel or anything.

      1. Celine Avatar

        I wouldn’t not want you not to watch it. B/c I didn’t watch it either. I just skipped right to the end and the ending discouraged me from watching it b/c it was a WTF ending. Plus George’s voice was dubbed.

        1. kat Avatar

          Yeah~ before watching just have to find some reviews of it and see if there’s an ep missing or something lol. Unfortunately the dubbing is unavoidable, but his Mandarin is so cute it sounds like English sometimes.

    2. lin Avatar

      Very frustrating indeed! Was hoping the ending would be a happy one. ..

  2. heisui Avatar

    Haven’t watched the drama (aside from going to a few random episodes for a glimpse of Tammy’s character) but I have to say, I’m not surprised at all at the WTF ending. But WOW what a tease, they almost gave you the ship you wanted but NOOO!!!!!! Poor Jing Lan! Do you remember which episode is the proposal in? I WANNA SEE THAT SCENE!

    1. kat Avatar

      The proposal was at the beginning of the final episode, 37 for the TVB version. Yeah, my hopes didn’t even last for half an hour. >< Maybe it's karma, in their first collaboration they were the main couple and I didn't ship them at all LOL.

      1. heisui Avatar

        Yay thanks! I’m glad that Tammy’s character is mainly wearing bright yellow so it is easy to spot her scenes haha. 😛 I’m glad I didn’t get into this because I probably would’ve shipped that couple too…. T__T”

        1. kat Avatar

          Hahaha yeah I love that yellow colour! It looks good on her.

          But yeah it really is one frustrating drama, if the ending wasn’t so annoying I might’ve still recommended it.

  3. Angelina Avatar

    Just finished the series today. Totally watched it for Raymond-Michelle and already knew they wont be tgt before I started on this. Lots of WTH plots and moments but I stayed on for Ray-Mich…as for the ending, to me it’s sadder they broke off thinking they were siblings…I would be more forgiving if they are really siblings but oh well..I wish they will collaborate again in a drama with a happy ending….*sigh*

    1. kat Avatar

      Must be so frustrating watching those two after their ‘fake marriage’!!!! There were so few happy scenes of them and the whole siblings thing was just getting crazy at the end. Maybe Michelle will produce another drama with Raymond later on lol, hopefully it won’t take another 10 years!

  4. Gil Avatar

    Your ending thoughts are hilarious! I had a good laugh. Though, after reading it, I know that I def won’t have the patience to even start this drama. It just looks boring and long winded. But thanks for the thoughts, it saved me alot of time and anguish!

    1. kat Avatar

      LOL glad I could help. I think the ones who end up watching this are most likely Raymond or Michelle fans and then they’ll probably be disappointed because of the torturous plot and wacky ending.

  5. Dee Avatar

    I’m not sure about you but my system still refuses to digest the ridiculous ending to Purple Hairpin – and it’s been more than half a year since I watched the series! Any chance they will produce an alternate ending to save us from the ‘high blood pressure’ caused by this series? How could artists like Michelle Ye and Raymond Lam do a series that frustrates the hell out of every single viewer like this? I think it will definitely have a negative effect on their credibility. I can’t no longer look at a movie and say, “this movie has Michelle and Raymond in it, must be good!”

    1. kat Avatar

      Which ending? Separated thinking they’re siblings or separated because they were siblings? LOL. Doesn’t matter really. Funny that a few weeks ago I asked a friend what she thought about the series and she just said ‘RUBBISH’.

      I guess if you get paid a 6 figure sum for ONE episode maybe you’re willing to overlook the plot holes. Although they can’t control the final edit? (but then Michelle is like the producer right? She should have some say in this!) I don’t know about the credibility issue…. I remember Lofy Waters Verdant Bow was not that great either. I guess some fans loved Eternal Happiness so much RM will always have a special place in people’s hearts.

  6. Dee Avatar

    It’s been more than 10 yrs since Lofty Waters Verdant Bow: RM are much more famous (and maybe a lot richer?) shouldn’t they be more selective in what films to make? Instead of signing up for such RUBBISH! Although I must admit Raymond looked extra attractive in those beautiful costumes!

    1. kat Avatar

      Yeah, I thought Raymond’s acting was actually a lot better in this than say… Highs and Lows. Less exaggerated. The story was a let down that’s for sure. I was reading this article a few days ago that Mainland productions are complaining TVB actors are going ‘up north’, being paid so much to make crappy dramas. (I think it was specifically talking about Kevin Cheng / Bosco Wong, but it applies to lots of other actors.) It’s hard to find a quality productions these days, TVB ones are mostly crappy and with Mainland productions there’re so many going on plus with the SARFT restrictions who knows, a good script might be butchered in the end anyway.

  7. Jas Avatar

    Just finish watching this drama, the love twists and turns between Michelle and Raymond was complicated and yet in the end it was a disappointing ending whereby Xiaoyu’s mama did not disclosed what was really happening and allow the couple to reconcile their love, and to stop commiting the same surname crime by bring Li Junyu and Xiaoyu together, is she nuts?

    Wonder if second volume of this drama will be aired/act, to bring the couple together again after the xiaoyu’s mum feel remorseful and when nalan dong comes home.. really think the mum is nut, don she wants to keep her son with him after separating for so long?

    Raymond is attractive wearing those costumes, charming & sentimental looks….

    1. kat Avatar

      YES, Xiao Yu’s mother is so inconsistent. In the beginning she really wanted her daughter to marry Nalan Dong but in the end she could’ve brought them together by telling the truth. Gosh… whatever. I wasn’t a fan of Xiao Yu / Nalan but watching them like this was forture.

      Since this drama didn’t do too well, don’t think it was ever aired by the larger channels, a sequel is probably unlikely. Maybe they can star in a new story together…

      Yeah he did look good in this series, too bad the story was so bad.

  8. Sharon Lee Avatar

    I was looking for synopsis on the episodes because I find it super confusing since I missed a few at the start and then I found your review. I guess I won’t waste my time watching this LOL

    1. kat Avatar

      Yeah I think only Raymond or Michelle fans will really enjoy this. The story itself was not very good.

      If you still need the synopsis, Baidu has it up to ep 40 (I assume this is the version aired in China with 43 eps) and TVB has a website for their heavily edited 37 ep version.

  9. lkoexo Avatar

    I watched ep23 just a few minutes ago, when I watched I already knew that NaLan Dong and Xiao Yu can’t not be siblings because I knew XiaoYu’s mother has something haven’t tell… I was thinking about the ending with NaLan Dong and Xiao Yu live happily “forever after” after find out the truth… Not what I’m reading right here… “Fck” that what I said when I know the ending… Are they kidding me? After 37 episodes, they told that “DongYu are not siblings and they can’t be together because they think they are siblings.” I’m not Mi or Ray fan but I watched this drama from the beginning and I can’t stop watching it, after three episodes I’ve even Google the film because I couldn’t wait for the next episode , I spend 4hours a day watching it and now when I knew the ending, it’s hurt my feelings… They’re kidding me right…. I love DongYu so hard that I even dream about them and I love Jing Lan… At least if DongYu couldn’t work so why don’t they make DongLan together… My poor girl , Jing Lan. She is my fav… Don’t get me wrong, I love NaLang Dong and Xiao Yu too but I have a big expressed in Jing Lan… Ugh… After knowing the ending, I feel so confused…. Even Mo Yu , too? They must be kidding… Lots of feelings right now… Should I watch the last 14 eps or stop watching it before It hurt my feelings because of the final episode….
    The first and the most dramatic drama that I have ever seen… Even more drama than Bu Bu Xin Xin…

    1. kat Avatar

      *sigh* Yeah the ending is the real let down of this drama. I mean, we can’t have happy endings all the time but they need to make sense, and this one DEFINITELY does not! If you like the actors and the costumes and have some spare time then I guess it wouldn’t hurt (at least you’re prepared for the train wreck now!!!!) but then, 14 eps is still a lot and maybe your time could be better spent. 😉

  10. Zen Driver Avatar
    Zen Driver

    …….. Was trying to hunt for a specific episode online and this interesting post. Read it and also a lot of WTF moments but from the the comments not the series. Please do realise that this is a classic novel. Just like Romeo and Juliet. People don’t watch a Shakespear tragedy Romeo and Juliet expecting an happy end. That’s all I have to say. I am also a huge fan of Lam Fung and have absolutely enjoyed his amazing acting and preparation for this role.

  11. Ellie Avatar

    Hi! This is random, but I finally watched Twin of Brothers after 16+ years since it was out. Loved the relationship between Raymond and Li Qian, so I was looking for old discussions on the series. Unfortunately, most old forums like and are now gone and I have no outlet to gush. I came across your post and thought you may be interested in seeing this deleted version of their date in Episode 40, if you haven’t seen it yet. They are just so beautiful. I have been rewatching their story, which was very well written (except for the inconsistencies when Tavia came back into the picture), full of details and lovely moments.

    Their last date scene was touching, full of humorous and loving memories. I always thought Yuzhi should have laid next to him to watch the stars, and defiantly decided to imagine it myself. But wait, I did not need to do so, because years later, the director himself released the original filming of this scene!

    He chose a different background music, 你是我最深爱的人 by 永邦演唱歌曲, “You are the woman I love most”. Not an anvil, huh? Lol. This video can be found on

    They are walking side by side, fingers interlocked, him squeezing her hand tightly as previously shown. There are longer close ups of her lips and eyes to match the lyrics.

    “You have the most beautiful lips
    You have the most moving eyes”

    It is the original filming, Raymond speaks Cantonese and Li Qian speaks Mandarin. Even with the 2 different languages, they are harmonious. Her voice is soft and sweet. As she is tells him that she will love him no matter who may be in his heart, he closes his eyes contently and the music fades and it is quiet. The scene pans out, this is where TVB cuts off.

    We return to see Yuzhi smiling. She hears Kou Zhong softly snoring. She looks down incredulously and annoyed that he fell asleep on their date. Her face changes. She laughs to herself and gently lays down next to him.

    The music kicks up again. “You are the woman I love most…” His hand wraps around her shoulder! She looks up to see him gazing into her eyes. So much love. “You cheat”, she murmurs. He puts his forefinger to his lips, “Shh, don’t spoil the mood.” So playful. He holds her close to him, smiles and sighs completely fulfilled. They look up at the stars. He pulls her in even tighter. The scene ends with the roaring fire.

    So perfect. If only TVB didn’t insist on the ridiculous love triangle we would have had this ultimately romantic scene. They have a beautiful intimate connection based on friendship, supporting each other through trials and tribulations, and laughing together.
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