I’ve loved everything L.M. Montgomery since I was a little girl. The obsession started with the absolutely phenomenal Kevin Sullivan adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. I laughed and cried with Anne. I swooned over Gilbert Blythe. Not to mention, I even swore up and down that I would marry a Gilbert one day (He was always my Mr. Darcy.)
Then, of course, I had to read the actual Anne of Green Gables for myself. From there, there was no going back. Soon, Emily of New Moon and sequels became my favorite of Montgomery’s stories. The touch of the supernatural spoke to me on a deeper level. Sadly, I’m still waiting for that definitive adaptation… Of course, Road to Avonlea also remains one of my favorite shows of all time. Indeed, I still believe Kevin Sullivan’s Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea to be two of the finest period dramas of all time with some of the best characterization and underrated performances to hit the small screen.
Over time, and after watching the beauteous settings of these shows, I dreamed of visiting the dreamy fairy-like Prince Edward Island. (I finally visited after graduating from Grad School – It didn’t disappoint.) But what else was out there for me to devour? I wanted to experience the feeling of joy Anne of Green Gables brought to me. So, I created a list of period dramas worth watching when you need that old-fashioned Anne fix. From adaptations of Anne to feel good period dramas (mostly), there’s something here for other kindred spirits who also love Kevin Sullivan’s Anne of Green Gables.
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
NOTE: Each title links to IMDB for more information including summaries and trailers when available. And as an FYI, while the list is mostly in alphabetical order, I start the list with the actual Anne adaptations. So, without further ado, I give you:
85 Period Dramas to Watch If You Love Anne of Green Gables
(In Mostly Alphabetical Order)
1. Anne of Green Gables (1934)
Why Anne fans will love it: Watch this one when you only need a small dose of Anne. It’s a pretty good classic film with an actress named Anne Shirley playing Anne Shirley. She literally changed her name for the movie.
2. Anne of Avonlea (1975)
Why Anne fans will love it: Sadly, the first part is lost to time. But for those who already know the story, this 1970s mini-series is also lovely.
3. Anne of Green Gables (1985)
Why Anne fans will love it: How can you not love this uplifting adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic children’s novel? The dialogue, the impeccable performances by the cast (particularly Megan Follows as Anne and Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert), the humor (the dry asides from both Marilla and gossipy Rachel Lynde are hilarious), the romance (swoon away fellow kindred spirits), and just the feeling. Anne makes you feel better. By the end, you’ll want to visit Prince Edward Island just as much as I did. Once you do, you’ll want to go back just like you’ll revisit this adaptation over and over again.
4. Anne of Avonlea (1987)
Why Anne fans will love it: Who didn’t want a sequel? Now, we can finally see Anne and Gilbert get their much deserved happy ending on repeat. This is just as wonderful as the first. While there are changes to the books, the spirit of Anne is present and very much alive.
Why Anne fans will love it: Look, this isn’t Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. But our favorite cast is back and the romance is spectacular. I adore the charming chemistry between Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie (R.I.P.). Plus, the WWI story as a stand-alone is absolutely beautiful.
6. Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (2008)
Why Anne fans will love it: It comes from the same Kevin Sullivan production company and tells Anne’s story from a different perspective. Personally, I can’t bring myself to watch it due to a couple of creative choices I don’t agree with, but you may feel otherwise. On a good note, Patricia Hamilton (our wonderful Rachel Lynde) makes a cameo appearance.
7. L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables [See also The Good Stars and Fire and Dew] (2016)
Why Anne fans will love them: While not my favorite adaptation, these new films definitely stay true to Anne of Green Gables. For the most part, they’re enjoyable to watch. I like seeing different interpretations so maybe you will too.
8. Anne with an E (2017-)
Why Anne fans will love it: Personally, I have a difficult time with this new adaptation because it’s just so dark and loses the optimism of the novels. This isn’t Anne of Green Gables. Nevertheless, the production quality is excellent, the characterization good, and there’s even a familiar face. Avonlea‘s Jasper Dale plays Matthew to perfection! Once you see this as a separate entity, this well-written period drama may grow on you.
9. Alias Grace (2017)
Why Anne fans will love it: This is also much darker fare so beware. That being said, the story is captivating. Furthermore, Sarah Polley (Sara Stanley of Avonlea) adapted the screenplay from the Margaret Atwood novel. What’s even cooler is that Mag Ruffman (Olivia Dale of Avonlea and Anne of Green Gables) is in 3 episodes.
10. Annie (1982)
Why Anne fans will love it: Why wouldn’t you love another period drama about an orphan girl with red hair? It’s fun, super entertaining, and the songs are fabulous.
Why Anne fans will love them: Anne Shirley was fascinated by Arthurian chivalrous romance, particularly when she recites the beautiful Tennyson poem, “Lady of Shalott.” Like the Lady of Shalott who watches Camelot and Lancelot from her mirror, you can too! There are so many adaptations to enjoy. But, if you happen to be a Lancelot fan like me, I recommend Merlin (Santiago Cabrera is divine as Lancelot), First Knight, Camelot, King Arthur (Ioan Gruffudd makes this movie), and Excalibur. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
12. Avonlea [AKA Road to Avonlea] (1990)
Why Anne fans will love it: Road to Avonlea is basically a sequel to Kevin Sullivan’s Anne of Green Gables with a whole new cast inspired by L.M. Montgomery’s The Story Girl. Rachel Lynde and Marilla Cuthbert even join the show (with a memorable guest appearance from our beloved Gilbert). But aside from the Anne connections, the Road to Avonlea cast of characters and stories are equally exceptional. Again, the spirit of L.M. Montgomery is alive here and revisiting the series just makes you feel all gooey and warm inside.
13. Back to Hannibal (1990)
Why Anne fans will love it: Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are all grown up in this well-executed Disney sequel. Plus, Megan Follows plays an older Becky!
14. Ballet Shoes (2007)
Why Anne fans will love it: An interesting story about three orphans who follow their dreams. A great choice to watch with the family.
15. Becoming Jane (2007)
Why Anne fans will love it: A fictionalized biopic about Jane Austen, Anne fans will appreciate Jane’s journey as a young female writer. Plus, the romance is so swoony your hearts will surely melt. Guaranteed.
16. Belle (2013)
Why Anne fans will love it: Belle is splendidly romantic. Once again (a theme in this list), Belle tells the story of an orphan raised by her Uncle instead of an Aunt this time around. But there’s a twist. It’s the eighteenth century and Belle is mixed race. Think Mansfield Park meets Amazing Grace.
17. Berkeley Square (1998)
Why Anne fans will love it: For those interested in Anne’s time as a teacher! The series follows three Edwardian nannies in upper-class homes.
18. By Way of the Stars (1992)
Why Anne fans will love it: This is another period drama miniseries from the Sullivan production company. Additionally, the series stars Felicity (Gema Zamprogna) and Felix (Zachary Bennett) from Road to Avonlea.
19. Call the Midwife (2012-)
Why Anne fans will love it: The themes are more somber but the characterization is equally compelling. I love the focus on female friendships.
20. Christy (1994)
Why Anne fans will love it: Christy goes into the When Calls the Heart optimistic/inspirational period fare genre and nothing could be more fitting for us kindred spirits.
21. Cinderella (2015)
Why Anne fans will love it: Is anyone else obsessed with stories about orphans who are mistreated? Plus, there’s a sweet romance. Oh, and absolutely gorgeous costumes.
22. Courage Mountain (1990)
Why Anne fans will love it: Heidi grows up and falls in love in this wonderful family period drama sequel to the classic children’s novel.
23. Cranford (2008) and Return to Cranford (2010)
Why Anne fans will love them: Cranford very much has that Avonlea small town type vibe on the verge of change. Not to mention, the well-acted acted miniseries also explores the lives of older ‘spinsters’ like Marilla Cuthbert.
24. Cross Creek (1983)
Why Anne fans will love it: This award-winning biopic follows the author of The Yearling. In the story, author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings definitely loves Cross Creek just as much as Anne loves Green Gables.
25. Doctor Thorne (2016)
Why Anne fans will love it: From the creator of Downton Abbey, Doctor Thorne is a captivating adaptation of a Trollope novel about a girl with unknown parentage living with her Uncle. Of course, a beautiful star-crossed romance follows.
26. Downton Abbey (2011)
Why Anne fans will love it: Now’s the time to revisit Downton Abbey before the movie comes out! And if you haven’t seen it yet, you definitely should if you love the Edwardian Period, World War I romantic scenes, and several memorable love stories.
27. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993)
Why Anne fans will love it: There are so many similar themes as Avonlea I can’t see Anne fans disliking Dr. Quinn. Furthermore, there’s an epic romance and interesting characters to fall in love with as well.
28. The Durrells in Corfu (2016-)
Why Anne fans will love it: I believe you’ll love this British series for the humor and the interesting family dynamics.
29. Emily of New Moon (1998)
Why Anne fans will love it: I watched the first episode years ago and absolutely hated this Montgomery adaptation. With ghosts running around and too much melodrama, I wasn’t sure the writers quite ‘got’ it. However, years later, I went back. Sure, it’s not perfect. But the show vastly improves from episode one and I loved seeing scenes from the books. Plus, they gave us the perfect Perry!
Why Anne fans will love it: This is such an underrated film. It’s funny, romantic, and you will fall in love with the townsfolk just like you did with the townsfolk of Avonlea.
31. Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)
Why Anne fans will love it: Same reasons as for Cinderella above! Extra points for the brilliant evil stepmother characterization.
32. Far From the Madding Crowd (2015)
Why Anne fans will love it: Several period dramas focus on tortured romantic heroes but in Far From the Madding Crowd, Gabriel Oak could give Gilbert a run for his money. He’s just so faithful, patient, and simply swoon-worthy! (At least in this particular adaptation of the classic novel.)
33. Finding Neverland (2004)
Why Anne fans will love it: Author biopics are always fascinating. Finding Neverland captures the power of the imagination of J.M. Barrie. Anne Shirley would have loved this well-written movie. It’s seriously one of the best period dramas of all time.
34. A Good Woman (2004)
Why Anne fans will love it: Aside from being a wonderfully underrated movie, A Good Woman also has intelligent dialogue that all Anne fans can appreciate.
35. Grand Hotel (2011)
Why Anne fans will love it: If you can’t get enough sweeping romances in your life, watch Grand Hotel, a Spanish Edwardian period drama, and enjoy your addicting binge watch. You’re welcome.
Why Anne fans will love it: How could you not fall in love with this unabashedly romantic period drama? While the book is equally amazing, you will also fall in love with this near perfect film. The old-fashioned feel to the movie full of letter writing and a love for books is utterly charming. I’m in love and all Gilbert fans should definitely fall in love with Dawsey Adams too.
37. Hanako & Anne (2014)
Why Anne fans will love it: If you can find a copy with English subtitles, this Japanese period drama is a must see! The story follows the true life of the woman who translated Anne of Green Gables and brought the novel to Japan.
38. Heidi (1937)
Why Anne fans will love it: At some point in your life, all Anne fans need to watch a Shirley Temple movie! Heidi is one of her best about an orphan girl who softens the gruff heart of her grandfather.
39. Hidden Places (2006)
Why Anne fans will love it: A wonderful period romance in the style of an old TV Disney movie. This one went under the radar but is a sweet, wholesome movie everyone can enjoy.
40. The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)
Why Anne fans will love it: This hilarious Edwardian romantic comedy is here when you need something light, super funny, and just plain enjoyable.
Why Anne fans will love them: Since this isn’t a Jane Austen list, I want to at least briefly mention that any and all Jane Austen adaptations need to be devoured for all Anne fans. From Colin Firth’s iconic Pride and Prejudice to the adorable version of Northanger Abbey with a particularly perfect and flirty Mr. Tilney, there are endless movies to choose from. I suggest all die-hard romantics get on this ASAP if you haven’t already.
42. Jane Eyre (2006)
Why Anne fans will love it: Well, L.M. Montgomery writes about Jane Eyre quite a bit in her journals. It’s also clear to me that Emily of New Moon was heavily influenced by the Gothic novel. So, if you’re looking for another orphan period drama with an epic romance but with a darker tone, I highly suggest Jane Eyre. There are several adaptations to choose from. 2006 is definitely one of the best! I also highly recommend the 2011 film and 1983 adaptation starring Timothy Dalton.
43. A Jewel in the Palace (2003)
Why Anne fans will love it: If you’re looking for a foreign series, I recommend Jewel in the Palace, a Korean Drama about another amazing orphan.
44. The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)
Why Anne fans will love it: Does anyone else remember this Disney film about a brave teen girl during the Great Depression? For those who missed it, The Journey of Natty Gann is a terrific movie for the entire family.
45. Ladies in Lavender (2004)
Why Anne fans will love it: I love stories that explore the lives of older women. Plus, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are always amazing together.
46. Lantern Hill (1989)
Why Anne fans will love it: Lantern Hill is a more obscure L.M. Montgomery adaptation but it’s also excellent. The movie’s also directed by Kevin Sullivan and features two familiar faces: Sarah Polley and Colleen Dewhurst.
47. Lark Rise to Candleford (2008)
Why Anne fans will love it: This small town British period drama will make you feel just as good inside as when you watch Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea. There’s romance, gossipy townsfolk, an aspiring protagonist writer, interesting characters, and a fabulous script. Don’t skip this one!
48. The Lightkeepers (2009)
Why Anne fans will love it: I recently discovered this obscure little gem and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. The Lightkeepers is a fabulous period piece full of romance, lighthouses, and three-dimensional characterization for characters over 50. The setting of Cape Cod also feels similar to Prince Edward Island.
49. Little House on the Prairie (1974)
Why Anne fans will love it: There’s a reason why this family period drama is still beloved by millions.
50. Little Men (1998)
Why Anne fans will love it: Little Men has that wholesome Canadian period drama feel full of heart that feels like home. Sure, this is nothing like Alcott’s novels (though I love the elimination of Professor Behr), but the series is enjoyable nonetheless.
51. A Little Princess (1995)
Why Anne fans will love it: For anyone who never stopped believing in fairy tales! Anne Shirley herself would love this tale of a young girl overcoming every terrible obstacle with grace. This is a film for those who embrace the imagination. As an added bonus, this beautiful little film is also directed by Alfonso Cuarón who directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. His directorial style is always unique, powerful, and creative.
52. Little Women (1994)
Why Anne fans will love it: I’m a firm believer that anyone who loves Anne Shirley will also love Jo March. They’re both fiery writers with fiery tempers we adore. The 1994 adaptation is definitely the best. Sadly, Jo and Laurie don’t get their Anne and Gilbert ending …Team Laurie or Team Jo March single!
53. Little Women (2018)
Why Anne fans will love it: While the newest take on Alcott’s classic isn’t quite as authentic, the production from the creator of Call the Midwife is well done. And Angela Lansbury is superb as Aunt March. On another Anne note, I really feel like the actor playing Laurie was influenced by Jonathan Crombie’s Gilbert.
54. Looking for Miracles (1989)
Why Anne fans will love it: Kevin Sullivan directed this family period drama about brothers. The movie also stars a young Zachary Bennett (Felix from Avonlea).
55. Love Comes Softly Movies (2013-2011)
Why Anne fans will love them: These movies are charming feel-good period dramas that will melt your heart. There are 11 films in total.
56. Love on the Land (1999)
Why Anne fans will love it: A Sullivan production period drama full of romance and interesting characters. Or, so I’ve heard. Love on the Land is a drama on my own watchlist.
57. Pollyanna (2003)
Why Anne fans will love it: I recently discovered this ITV British adaptation and fell in love. The PERFECT movie for those of us seeking something similar to Anne of Green Gables. Plus, extra points for casting Tom Ellis as Tim. Trust me, you’ll love this one.
58. Polly: Comin’ Home (1990)
Why Anne fans will love it: This is an excellent adaptation of Pollyanna featuring an African American cast. The famous story of the positive Polly who goes to live with her Aunt is definitely worth watching if you like Anne of Green Gables. This particular retelling of the novel is extra fabulous because there are Broadway-style songs! To top it all off, the movie’s directed by the always amazing Debbie Allen.
59. The Magic of Ordinary Days (2005)
Why Anne fans will love it: A heartwarming period drama romance for those of us who love old-fashioned happily ever afters.
60. The Man From Snowy River (1982)
Why Anne fans will love it: This Australian film still holds up years later! A great choice if you’re seeking a romantic period drama without the explicit content.
61. Mansfield Park (1999)
Why Anne fans will love it: Okay. One more Jane Austen to mention and then I’ll stop because that’s for a whole other list. What I love about this Mansfield Park is that the screenwriter combined the novel and Jane Austen as a writer and then wrote this witty script. Mansfield Park also deals with more serious themes. Still, I believe you’ll appreciate this story of a young woman who must endure horrible treatment from her family just because she’s poor. These stories of young girls going to live with Aunts or unknown family members have always appealed ever since I first watched Anne of Green Gables. Perhaps you feel the same.
62. Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Why Anne fans will love it: Okay, watch Mary Poppins first if you somehow haven’t and then watch this wonderful new sequel. It makes you believe in magic again and feel nostalgic for your childhood in the best possible way. I love those period films that just make you feel good inside. Mary Poppins Returns is bound to put a smile on your face. The subtle romance between Emily Mortimer and Lin Manuel Miranda is as sweet as a spoonful of sugar.
63. Mercy Street (2016)
Why Anne fans will love it: Watch if you love period dramas about women making a difference.
64. Middlemarch (1994)
Why Anne fans will love it: This excellent British period drama is perfect for those seeking another miniseries about small-town life with memorable female characters.
65. Miss Austen Regrets (2008)
Why Anne fans will love it: Miss Austen Regrets is an intelligent biopic about Jane Austen and her life as a ‘spinster’ writer and Aunt. It’s simply wonderful.
66. Miss Potter (2006)
Why Anne fans will love it: Does anyone else adore almost all period dramas about aspiring female writers? This biopic is top notch with a gorgeous (if super depressing) romance between Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor (fans of the underrated Down with Love rejoice!).
67. The New Adventures of Pippi Longstalking (1988)
Why Anne fans will love it: Another film that is pure nostalgia for those of us who also remember watching this silly movie as a kid! I remember loving this story about another fun redheaded girl. Whether or not the quality holds up years later as an adult, I have no idea…
68. The Paradise (2012)
Why Anne fans will love it: Similar to Anne of Green Gables, The Paradise focuses on depth and strong female characters. Like Anne, Denise fights for her dreams no matter what obstacles stand in her way. The romance will also leave you swooning from beginning to end.
69. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938)
Why Anne fans will love it: Another children’s classic adaptation Anne of Green Gables readers can appreciate.
70. Reign (2013)
Why Anne fans will love it: Megan Follows is a revelation as Anne Shirley. Similarly, she’s a revelation as the conniving Catherine de Medici in Reign. She makes this show. Just don’t go in expecting a similar period drama to Anne of Green Gables. This is steamier on a PG-13 level. It’s also far from historically accurate. But as a historical fantasy, it is fun entertainment.
71. A Room with a View (1985)
Why Anne fans will love it: While the first Anne of Green Gables series begins in the 1890s (the Sullivan adaptation that is), it transitions into the Edwardian Era in the sequel. A Room with A View captures this time period with elegance and exquisite romance. Plus, 1985 was a fantastic period drama year… Check it out.
72. Rose Hill (1997)
Why Anne fans will love it: Watch a young Jennifer Garner in this wholesome family movie. I haven’t actually seen this one but I reckon it’s similar to other period Hallmark Hall of Fame movies.
73. The Ruby Ring (1997)
Why Anne fans will love it: The old-fashioned historical setting with a side of romance is enjoyable to watch as a family. This time travel movie is fun in the best possible way. Sure, it’s cheesy, but who cares?
74. Sarah, Plain, & Tall (1991)
Why Anne fans will love it: Glenn Close and Christopher Walken star in this fabulous story for the whole family. Their chemistry is authentic and the style of the film definitely compares to the essence of a good L.M. Montgomery story.
75. The Secret Garden (1993)
Why Anne fans will love it: If you love adaptations of classic children’s novels, you can’t go wrong with The Secret Garden. This version is my particular favorite but there other wonderful takes on the novel as well.
76. Sweet Land (2005)
Why Anne fans will love it: I think sweet in the title says all. Sweet Land is a sweet romance in the best possible way. Anyone who fell in love with Anne and Gil will fall in love with Inge and Olaf.
77. Tea with Mussolini (1999)
Why Anne fans will love it: One of the highlights of Anne for me was all the wonderful female friendships and fascinating conversations between women. Tea with Mussolini has that in spades. Plus, the cast includes some of the best!
78. Under the Piano (1996)
Why Anne fans will love it: Kevin Sullivan produces Megan Follows in another lovely period drama.
79. Victoria (2016-)
Why Anne fans will love it: For anyone who dreamed of puffed sleeves, Victoria is a fabulous romantic period drama series that may or may not become your new obsession.
80. The Waltons (1971)
Why Anne fans will love it: This still hugely popular show is still beloved for a reason. For sure, The Waltons compares to a Sullivan Production movie or show.
81. When Calls the Heart The Movie (2013)
Why Anne fans will love it: It just has the lovely old-fashioned romance us Anne and Gilbert can appreciate.
82. When Calls the Heart TV Series (2014)
Why Anne fans will love it: The tone to the series is clearly influenced by Road to Avonlea. It’s not as good (what is?) but it’s super romantic and enjoyable to watch as a family. Hearties are loyal to the show for good reason (even through the hard times).
83. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (1991)
Why Anne fans will love it: Chances are if you watched Anne of Green Gables or Road to Avonlea, you also watched Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken (particularly if you had the Disney Channel). It’s an exceptional family film with a lovely romance.
85. Wind At My Back (1996)
Why Anne fans will love it: Another TV Series from Kevin Sullivan, Anne fans will appreciate the high-quality family entertainment. Once again, the characterization is fantastic.
85. Wives and Daughters (1999)
Why Anne fans will love it: If you love classic adaptation miniseries with top-notch acting and writing, Wives and Daughters should be at the top of your list. I think Anne fans will appreciate the love story too.
WHERE TO WATCH: Most of these movies and series can be found on either DVD or various streaming services. If you’re looking to stream Sullivan’s Anne of Green Gables Collection or Road to Avonlea, you can find them exclusively on Gazebo TV along with some other great Kevin Sullivan titles on this list. Furthermore, IMDB will almost always tell you if the title is available on Amazon Prime or DVD. I also suggest checking out the PixL Channel Add on, Britbox, or Hallmark Movies Now for some more obscure titles if you can’t find them on Gazebo, DVD, or one of the more mainstream streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu.
What’s your favorite adaptation of Anne of Green Gables? Do you have a period drama to recommend to fellow kindred spirits? Sound off below…
Top Photo Credits: Anne of Avonlea and Road to Avonlea (Sullivan Entertainment), The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Netflix/Studio Canal), and Little Women (Columbia Pictures)Want to help us spread the popularity of Romance in Entertainment? Share this article with your friends!