Series: Magnificent Century

"We all have come here as slaves. If you pull your act together, you won't stay as a slave. Get your education. Shut your mouth. Behave. All the girls here are being prepared for the Sultan. If you are chosen, and you satisfy the sultan and also bear a son, then you will be the Sultan's favorite concubine. And you will rule the world."
Nigar Kalfa

Known in Turkish as Muhteşem Yüzyıl and translated to English as Magnificent Century is a Turkish Soap Opera based on the life of Süleyman the Magnificent, the longest reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

After the death of his father, Sultan Süleyman is called to reign over the ever-expanding Ottoman Empire at 26 years of age. He resolves to uphold the justice of the law and make the Ottoman Empire greater than it has ever been.

Thus begins his romance with Hürrem, a Ukrainian concubine in his harem. Originally named Alexandra Lisovska she was transported to his palace in Istanbul along with other slaves for his harem. The bold woman detests the people who captured and sold her, resisting her captors and wishing to follow her deceased family in death, until she falls in love with the Sultan.

However, this earns her the ire of Mahidevran Sultan, mother of Süleyman's firstborn son, and Pargalı İbrahim Paşa, the Sultan's closest advisor and right hand man.

The show begins with the Sultan's ascension to authority, but the focus of the series are the workings and intrigue of the Sultan's inner circle and the rivalries between members of the household. The budding romance between İbrahim and Hatice, the Sultan's sister, the rivalry between concubines and heirs and the manipulations taking place behind the scenes.

The series began on the January of 2011 and currently has three seasons.

This series provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: Eunuch Sumbul Aga, the supervisor of the harem.
    • At the beginning of the series Hürrem puts a mask of this to attract Sultan's attention.
  • Alpha Bitch: Mahidevran at the beginning of the series. Later on, Hürrem gradually transforms into one. The real one, though, is Valide Sultan.
  • Animal Motifs: The Sultan and his heirs are often called lions, especially by Valide Sultan, Süleyman's mother.
  • Badass Mustache: Bali Bey sports one.
  • Costume Porn: Since the cast is composed of royals and their inner circle, expect to see a lot of elegant dresses and ornaments.
  • Decadent Court: Downplayed enough to present the glory of the Ottoman golden age and values of Islam. That being said, various characters from Sultan Süleyman's court indulge in endless intrigues and backstabbing. The only person above that all and unambiguously honest is probably Süleyman himself.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Several younger characters have those once they start to play a more important role in the series:
    • For Mihrimah, Hürrem's daughter is when she damages Hürrem's crown and blames a servant for that. Then, when said servant is fired, she decides to fix that... by blaming her brother, Mehmet.
    • Selim and Bayezid have one in series 3: in an argument, it turns out that younger Bayezid can easily hand his brother's ass to him.
      • Selim has another one soon after, when he vomits during an execution of an Italian prisoner and then yells at the janissary who laughed at him.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Valide Sultan, which in Turkish means "Queen Mother"
  • Fanservice: Group of harem girls steambathing wrapped in towels in episode one. Scene included in the opening sequence.
    • The same group dressed in fancy dresses and doing belly dance, with Hürrem's solo. Bare Your Midriff averted, but they show some cleavage. Also a brief nude scene later.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Sultan Süleyman and İbrahim Pasha, who later gets promoted to the Grand Vizier. Naturally, having such a great influence on the monarch earns him Hürrem's enmity.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Sultan Süleyman, his family, Hürrem and many people from the ruling class of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The Pope. How would you expect someone who looks so much like Palpatine to be a good guy?
    • Leaders of enemy states. King of Hungary in particular, portrayed as an Asshole Victim.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Nigar Kalfa, a harem maid (and no, she's not black)
  • Made a Slave: Hürrem originally lived in Ukraine with her parents, sister and fiance until they were attacked by Crimean Tatar raiders. While the rest of her family was killed, she was kidnapped and brought as a gift to the new Sultan's palace.
  • Large Ham: Sumbul Aga.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Mahidevran attempts to kill Hürrem by having a slave serve her poisoned sweets.
  • Mother Makes You King: While the sultanate is patriarchal Lineage Comes from the Father, you'll never become sultan unless your mother is fighting for you.
  • Never Suicide: The girl who served Hürrem poisoned sweets is found having hanged herself in the cellars. İbrahim, however, is insightful enough to realise that Gülşah, Mahidevran's maid, killed her and then staged her suicide to cover up their guilt.
  • Royal Harem
  • Smug Snake: Behram Pasha
  • Spiritual Successor: Despite some obvious differences between the two shows (historical instead of fantasy, fewer nudity, not so much violence), some people call this series "Turkish Game of Thrones".
    • This show owes a lot to shows like The Tudors and The Borgias, particularly given the periods practically overlap.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Prince Selim after witnessing an Italian prisoner being beheaded. This doesn't help his reputation among the janissaries.
  • Yandere: After her first pregnancy, Hürrem becomes very possessive of the Sultan, going so far as to beat her best friend into submission and send her poisoned fur to ruin her face. Again, this is almost exactly the same what Mahidevran did to her at the beginning of the series.