Series: Reign

"Since Mary, Queen of Scotland was a child, the English have wanted her country and her crown. She is sent to France to wed its next king, to save herself and her people, a bond that should protect her. But there are forces that conspire. Forces of darkness, forces of the heart. Long may she reign."

Reign is a CW television series that premiered October 2013, concerning the young adult life of Mary, Queen of Scots. After a would-be assassin discovers her hiding in a convent, Mary flees to the protection of the French court. She hopes that by honoring her childhood engagement to Francis, the future king, she'll be able to protect her country and herself.

But it's not clear sailing at court. Queen Catherine has been warned of a prophecy foretelling her son's imminent death if he marries Mary, and she'll do anything to prevent it. Francis and King Henry are not keen to bind themselves to Scotland unless it benefits France. Henry's illegitimate son Bash is hiding something. And there's a mysterious woman called Clarissa haunting the castle, who seems to have Mary's best interests at heart...

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Reign contains examples of:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Kenna is engaged in this when caught by an aroused Henry. They move on from there to making out.
  • And This Is for...: What Catherine says to Diane as she chokes her to death.
    This is for killing my babies. This is for taking my husband. This is for tearing my family apart. And this is for turning my daughter against me.
  • Age Lift: Francis and Mary were thirteen and fifteen (respectively) when she arrived back at court, but in the show they're in their late teens to early twenties. Nostradamus, meanwhile, was in his mid fifties during the period where the show is set, but is played by an actor of 36.
  • All the Other Reindeer: Poor Clarissa was demonized for her facial deformity.
  • Anachronism Stew: The show doesn't even pretend to be historically accurate.
    • The names of Mary's four ladies are especially egregious: Greer, Lola, Kenna, and Aylee? Why not rename Mary 'Cher' while you're about it?
  • Arranged Marriage: Pretty much the only kind around. Lola and Colin try to break free of this trope, but fail.
  • Artistic License – History: While Henry had two acknowledged bastards, and one vaguely acknowledged one, none of them was by Diane and none of them were named Sebastian. However, it was rumoured that his bastard daughter, Diane de France, by Filippa Duci, was in fact the daughter of Diane de Poitiers.
    • By the 16th century paganism was a long spent force in Europe. Not so here where they have apparently replaced the Huguenots as the main group of heretics in France (though paganism does not actually qualify as "heresy"). And in no way would a woman like Diane de Poitier be connected with them.
    • The writers evidently got their ideas about Bohemia from Shakespeare. It never had a seacoast, much less merchant vessels and at the time was not even an independent nation, but merely one part of the vast Holy Roman Empire-which was an old enemy of France. Why they didn't just use them is a mystery.
    • Francis and Mary were both firmly anti-Protestant, which the show alters to Francis being blackmailed into his edicts against the religion as the only way to keep them sympathetic in this day and age.
    • Monarchs could only be officially crowned at a coronation once in their life. Mary was crowned as an infant in Scotland and thus when she became Queen of France, could not be officially crowned with Francis. Furthermore, Kings of France were crowned in Reims, not in their throne rooms.
    • Antoine couldn't make Kenna a queen by marrying her unless he actually took the right to the throne away from his son, the future Henri IV of France, since Antoine is King by marriage to Jeanne III of Navarre. With her death, he would lose his right to the throne, even if he could be regent. However, kings of Navarre by marriage in the past did indeed take the title from their children.
  • As You Know: Mary's mother reminds her there is a Protestant threat to Scotland and she is a Catholic monarch.
  • Attempted Rape: Mary, by Colin. Foiled by the fact that Clarissa warned her not to drink the drugged wine.
    • And then again by Count Vincent of Italy, who wanted his revenge for having lost his son to dysentery in a French prison.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Henry and Catherine, of all people.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Francis and Mary are officially crowned as king and queen of France in 2.03.
  • Back for the Dead: Diane's reappearance in season 2 ends with Catherine strangling her at the end of the episode.
    • The Duke of Guise returns in The End of Mourning only to end up assassinated by the end of the episode.
  • Badass: Francis, Bash, and Tomas are all skilled with the sword and/or bow.
  • Bastard Bastard: Tomas.
  • Beta Couple: Greer and Leith.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Bash towards Francis and Francis towards his younger brothers.
    • Also Bash toward his young cousin Isabelle. Unfortunately Catherine tries to use this connection against them.
    • Clarissa toward the young princes until she decides to kill them in revenge against Catherine.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Tomas of Portugal.
  • Blackmail: Queen Catherine to Aylee. See Sticky Fingers below.
  • Cartwright Curse: Lord Narcisse's wives keep dying. In contrast to the rumors that he's a Blue Beard, that's not the case. And he does seem to genuinely miss them.
  • Character Death:
    • Tomas is killed by Francis in the fourth episode.
    • Poor Aylee, poisoned to death by Clarissa.
    • Clarissa in episode 13, at Mary's hand.
      • Except not really...
    • King Henry dies from a jousting injury. Not a spoiler, since this actually happened in history. The twist is that his son Francis in disguise dealt the fatal blow.
    • Diane gets strangled to death by Catherine when Catherine deduces that she killed her twin daughters.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The forks in "Left Behind".
    • Diane gets strangled with the huge necklace she spent that episode wearing.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Mary's dog Sterling appears in the pilot but is never seen or spoken of afterwards.
  • Coitus Ensues: Francis and Lola have sex in episode 12, though they did have some interaction just before.
  • Costume Porn: Everyone to varying extents, Mary and her ladies in particular.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mary, Bash, Catherine, and Francis most notably. Everyone at some point
  • Death by Childbirth: Bash's cousin Isabelle hemorrhages to death the morning after delivering her daughter.
  • Death Faked for You: Nostradamus helps Catherine fake her death so she could escape her prison.
  • Defiled Forever: If the rape attempt on Mary had succeeded, she would have become unfit to marry the French prince— and possibly any prince.
    • Olivia, Francis's first girlfriend.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: While sexism certainly exists in modern culture, most modern Westerners wouldn't consider a rape victim unmarriageable, treat it as normal for a married, middle-aged man to hook up with his future daughter-in-law's teenage friend, or accept that love has nothing to do with marriage.
    • Also the whole thing with the teenage friend, part of the hooking up has to do with him catching her masturbating, which back then was a serious sin in Catholic nations. Today, it's at least tolerated even among more conservative Catholic nations.
  • Dirty Old Man: Henry. In addition to treating his mistress better than his queen, he finds one of his daughter-in-law's teenaged ladies-in-waiting pleasuring herself in a supposedly-private stairwell... and takes the opportunity to hit on her.
  • Domestic Abuse: It's implied Tomas would treat Mary like this. After their engagement is finalized, Tomas suddenly becomes cruel and domineering toward Mary.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Aylee was blackmailed into being a spy for Queen Catherine except this was a plot by Mary to give the Queen false information
  • Double Standard: Queen Catherine notes that if a queen is unfaithful, her children will face challenges to their place in the succession. By contrast, the royal men sleep around with merry abandon — especially Catherine's lecherous husband.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Nostradamus does this.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Lord Narcisse is a huge Jerkass, but a good part of it is because Mary had his son killed.
  • Evil Matriarch: Catherine tries to have Mary drugged and raped, rendering her unfit for marriage, because of a prophecy that Mary will cause Francis's death. She goes to even more desperate lengths as the season continues.
  • Eye Scream: Henry dies from a jousting mishap when a broken lance splinter stabs through his eye socket into his brain. One of the rare instances of Truth in Television on this show, as the real King Henry II actually died that way.
  • Fake Pregnancy: Penelope attempts this so she wouldn't fall out of favour with King Henry, but Queen Catherine quickly gets rid of her.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Smart, sensible Lola and her gambling addict brother.
  • Foreshadowing: Mary wonders if she can rely on anyone except her dog, Sterling. In real life, Mary later used her full skirts to smuggle her little dog with her to her execution.
    • Tomas's reason for proposing to Mary - so the Pope will speed up his legitimization and allow him to become the heir to his native throne - later becomes Bash's reason for doing the same.
    • When Francis warns Mary that claiming the English throne could cost her head-as it did in Real Life.
  • Four Girl Ensemble: The ladies in waiting are four friends. Lola is the strongest one, not afraid of death or speaking out, even to a queen. Greer is ambitious for her family's sake even though she does believe in the power of love. Kenna is a real firecracker which makes her unpredictable and totally captivating. Aylee is the most reserved, acting as the voice of caution out of concern for her friends.
  • Gambit Pile Up: It takes some time, but the plot thickens considerably due to politics.
  • Genre Shift: After Left Behind, the love story, which still strong, takes a backseat to politics.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Lola goes off to have one, but is stopped by Mary at the last minute before the operation.
  • Gorn: While not to the extent of fellow CW show Supernatural, there are some moments like this, such as episode 7 where Count Vincent's death consists of being stabbed in the neck by Mary and then his dagger-armed hand being cut off by Francis. Or when Henry shockingly beheaded one of Catherine's witnesses, spattering the room with blood.
  • Graying Morality: Oh yes. Mary, Francis, Bash and several other characters start doing some downright horrible things the longer the series goes on, but often with the best intentions.
  • Hates Being Touched: Mary develops a fear of being touched by men after her rape. Her holding Conde's hand as his mark is being burned off is a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • Heroic Bastard: Bash.
  • Hidden Depths: Queen Catherine
  • Historical-Domain Character: Too many to list (or explain), but Mary, Henry, Catherine, Francis, Nostradamus, and Diane were definitely real.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Many critics have complained that the show does this with Mary, but, because Reality Is Unrealistic, she actually averts this trope. The historical Mary was known for her beauty. However, she was also tall and auburn-haired, unlike Adelaide Kane, the medium-height brunette who plays her on the show. The show probably does indulge in this trope with regard to Francis, though.
    • Lampshaded in episode 4, where Francis complains that a bad portrait of him as a child made him look like a dwarf and that half of Europe thinks he's sickly because of it.
    • Mary also gets a turn in season 2, when Princess Claude says of their childhood "You seemed so tall in those days."
    • Many characters get a dose of this, including Catherine de' Medici, who nobody called beautiful despite the praise lavished on royalty at the time, and Princess Claude, who had a club foot.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: In the show Mary advocates toleration of Protestants, and is upset by persecution. The real Mary encouraged rounding them up to be tortured and burned as heretics.
    • Largely under the advice of her Guise relations. However, it is actually mostly Truth in Television, as Mary was tolerant to Protestants in her own country when she returned as an adult.
  • Hollywood Costuming: The show doesn't even attempt to have accurate costuming, which sometimes helps sell the anachronistic tone the show is going for. However, some of the costumes-the dresses of Mary and the Ladies in particular-often look more like the result of a prom dress clearance sale than actual Tudor fashions. There are notable exceptions to this though, such as Mary's red dress in 'Kissed' or her dress in the picture above. Sometimes mixed with Gorgeous Period Dress.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Averted, Francis's judgement of Tomas isn't just jealousy. Tomas really is an asshole.
  • Human Sacrifice: The pagans in the woods struck a bargain with some beast that demands human blood.
  • I Have No Daughter: Catherine rejects Clarissa's attempt to save her and screams at her to go away.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Mary does this twice in A Chill in the Air. First, after discovering Kenna's affair with the king, and again after her argument with Francis.
    Mary: I could use some of that [wine]. *holds out hand*
    Bash: Everything alright?
    Mary: No, it isn't.
  • Jerk Ass: King Henry seems determined to teach his son that to be an effective king you need to be one constantly.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Claude forgot murdering her two little sisters, but its explained by the fact that she was five and Catherine twisted the story enough times that Claude eventually believed that they had died of an illness.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Francis and Mary try for a baby multiple times with no luck. Olivia desperately tried to conceive with Francis in the hopes of him marrying her or keeping her around as his mistress. Lola and Francis have sex once and end up pregnant with a baby neither wants.
    • Catherine tried desperately for years to have a baby with Henry, up to using several crazy medicinal treatments. They ended up having several children, but at the cost of their once loving marriage. Meanwhile, Catherine has an affair and ends up pregnant with the other man's child (long before she has one of Henry's) and has to secretly give the baby up.
  • Lonely at the Top: Mary realizes she is this when a lady-in-waiting tells her, "You're not our friend. You're our queen." The other ladies don't disagree.
    • Bash doesn't even want to be heir to the throne, but does so to save Francis' life, at the cost of Francis' friendship and his own personal freedom.
  • Longing Look: Bash has looked several times at Mary this way. With both longing, and something else, undefined.
  • Love Triangle: Mary with Francis and Sebastian. Although Mary has technically been engaged to Francis since the age of 6, it doesn't stop her feelings for Sebastian (Bash). She later falls for Francis also. Given that Francis and Mary did get married in real life history, you'd expect it to be endgame, but that's not so certain given the show's historical fantasy elements.
    • Francis briefly hooks up with Olivia and later Lola when on the outs with Mary.
    • King Henry has one between his two mistresses, Diane and Kenna, despite the fact that he is married to Catherine.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Clarissa, lurking in the secret passageways.
  • Magic Realism: Nostradamus' visions as well as the Darkness and the hints at Pagan magic.
    • Season 2 goes further into it with the inclusion of ghosts.
  • Mama Bear: Catherine, and also Diane.
  • Master Poisoner: Catherine.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Whatever's going on in the woods. Someone or something seems to be very interested in human blood. As it turns out it's a bit of both. The "Beast" turns out to be a man but one who has visions like Nostradamus
    • Played with in the matter of ghosts. Henry's visions of his brother seem to be a combination of guilt and encroaching madness, brought on by poisoning. The "possession" of a servant woman by Henry turns out to be a scam. Whether or not the ghosts of Henry and Catherine's twin daughters are real or poison induced insanity is yet to be seen. Could be a bit of both in each case, that the poison opened their minds to seeing spirits.
  • Mercy Kill: Catherine tries to poison Claude to spare her from being horribly killed by her vengeful ghost sisters.
  • The Mistress: Diane de Poitiers to Henry. He later replaces her with Kenna. Olivia makes a similar offer to Francis.
  • The Mole: Subverted. The queen tries to blackmail Aylee into spying on Mary for her, but it turns out to have been a plot by Mary to feed the queen false information.
    • Conde was sent to spy on the French court, but fell in love with Mary.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kenna, what with her naughty anachronistic nightie and having the most bed scenes.
  • Mum Looks Like A Sister: Anna Walton, who portrays Diane de Poitiers, is less than three years older than Torrance Coombs, who plays her son Sebastian, and it shows.
  • Mysterious Protector: Clarissa.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Many of the Scottish characters are played by English actors who don't even attempt the accent. In Mary and her ladies' case is may be justified as they spent most of their lives in France, presumably speaking French most times.
  • No Woman's Land: Exploring the woods? Looking too long at a handsome guy? You may never be forgiven.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: When you try to have your son's fiancée drugged and raped, you've probably gone a little past this trope's limits. Catherine's animosity toward Mary has a historical basis: after Francis died (although whether and how the show will depict this remains unknown), she forced her to return the crown jewels and leave France immediately.
  • Oh Crap!: When Nostradamus tells Catherine of Clarissa, who is later revealed to be her daughter.
  • One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Mary drinks wine in the early stages of her pregnancy and ends up suffering a miscarriage. It's not said explicitly that her drinking caused the miscarriage, but the scene of her and Lola sharing wine the evening before may have been put there to give a modern viewer the idea that this was what caused it..
  • One Steve Limit:
    • While Mary had four ladies-in-waiting in real life, they were actually known as "the four Marys," since they all shared her name. The show has renamed them Greer, Lola, Kenna, and Aylee.
    • Played straight with Dauphin Francis and the historical Francis, Duke of Guise, who was renamed Christian.
    • Averted with Mary Stuart and Mary Tudor, although the latter is always referred to by her full name.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: As of season two, the castle is haunted by ghosts of those who died in the plague..
  • Perfect Poison: One kills Mary's poison taster, quickly and with a lot of blood.
  • Pet the Dog: An almost-literal case, when Bash returns Mary's lost dog to her.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Not as ubiquitous as in some works set during this time period, but Kenna definitely favors them.
  • Plucky Girl: Mary.
  • The Queen's Latin: The characters are basically all either French or Scottish. So naturally, they all speak English with English accents (you know, to sound foreign).
    • Played with with Olivia. She is the only French character with even a trace of French accent (due to her actress having been born in France), which just makes her stand out.
    • Averted with the Scottish noblemen whom Mary invites to court. They all speak in Scottish accents.
  • Questionable Consent: While Kenna doesn't obviously object to Henry's advances, it seems unlikely that his future daughter-in-law's teenage lady-in-waiting would feel comfortable refusing him, particularly given her queen's shaky status in the court and the fact that he had caught Kenna in an already-compromising position (since authorities of the day considered masturbation a terrible sin).
    • We later find out that she did refuse him, stopping the encounter before it went beyond kissing. The two don't actually have sex until he has officially made her his mistress.
  • Rape as Backstory: Catherine, who was gang-raped at the age of eight when her family was on the losing side of Florence's politics.
  • Rape as Drama: Mary is raped by one of the Protestants coming to assassinate Francis in Acts of War.
  • Really Gets Around: King Henry. Francis.
  • Religion of Evil: The pagans, although according to Diane it wasn't always like this.
  • The Renaissance: The period the show takes place in.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After Mary's rape both she and Francis indulge in this. Francis uses draconian methods of imprisonment and interrogation. Mary is, with Louis, Prince of Conde's help, more successful tracking down her actual rapists and killing them.
  • Rule of Symbolism: In universe - there's a harvest tradition of releasing a boat with a list of regrets tied to the end. Mary and Francis's boats drift very far from each other, at a time when both discover the other has been unfaithful.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Aylee.
  • Seers: Nostradamus. It turns out that The Darkness, while quite human, is also one of these and that his atrocities, or at least some of them, were committed in the name of avoiding disasters he'd foreseen.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The main plot began because Nostradamus told Catherine that "Mary would cost [Catherine her] firstborn". Mary later hears of the prophecy and goes out of her way to avoid marrying Francis, even going as far as to petition Bash's legitimization so Henry will break her engagement and let her marry him (Bash) instead. That way, Francis will be safe and Mary can wed the next king of France. Then its revealed that Clarissa, not Francis, is Catherine's firstborn and Mary is forced to kill her to save Catherine's youngest sons. As a result, it's deemed safe for Mary and Francis to marry...only for Nostradamus to have another vision which reveals Francis will die regardless. Clarissa is also still alive.
  • Ship Tease: Bash and Lola indulge in some.
    • As do Lola and Francis, including the two sleeping together in 1x12.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Colin tries this (at Catherine's behest) on Mary in the pilot. Luckily, Mary's Mysterious Benefactor had warned her not to drink the wine.
  • Sticky Fingers: Aylee is a kleptomaniac. Queen Catherine uses this as leverage to get her to spy on Mary. Except this is actually a ploy by Mary to feed Catherine false information.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Surprisingly, this applies. Francis and Bash both have light eyes and are passable as half-siblings. Especially given that Francis has the same blond curls as Queen Catherine, and Bash and Diane both share dark straight hair.
  • Take The Third Option: Said almost word for word in episode 10 when Mary, faced with the choice of marrying Francis and letting him die or letting Henry execute Bash for costing him the English throne, asks Henry to legitimatize Bash, make him the next king of France, and let her marry him.
  • Undying Loyalty: Nostradamus toward Catherine.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Darkness begs to be able to make a successor, as his sacrifices to the gods have been keeping a terrible plague away. Bash is sure it's just a cheap excuse and kills him, but soon afterward a plague does indeed appear.
  • Wham Line: From episode 1.11.
    One of Queen Catherine's former servants: "I saw how scared Catherine was, because it was the lover's child, you see, not Henry's."
    • Worse, in the following scene, the same woman describes the child and its history, and the story matches what Nostradamus told Catherine of the infant Clarissa.
    • Henry's rant at the end of "Long Live the King" ends with this: " I must kill my son and wed his wife."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tomas tries to kill his servant because he knows about Tomas's plan to frame England for ambush of French soldiers.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Henry and Francis both have lovers despite being married and engaged, respectively. Also Catherine in her backstory.
    • Francis catching Mary making out with Bash after he and she have an argument.
    • Mary falls in love with Louis, Prince of Conde, and begins an affair with him, albeit with Francis' reluctant permission.