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Film / Secret Society of Second-Born Royals

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Born to defend. They just have to learn how.

Secret Society of Second-Born Royals is a science fiction action film starring Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Skylar Astin and Élodie Yung released in 2020 on Disney+.

The film follows Sam, a teenage royal rebel second in line to the throne of the kingdom of Illyria. After a mishap at a concert lands her in trouble she's sent to what she is told will be summer school - but is actually a training academy for other second born royals like herself, all of whom discover they have super-human abilities. Over the summer they will train to master their skills; if successful, they will be invited to join the Society (a worldwide organization of royal superhuman second-born operatives charged with keeping the world safe). If they wash out... the Society will have their memories of their training erased and their powers permanently removed.


As the kids stumble through their training and Sam tries to balance out everything in her life (the coronation of her sister Elanor and their sister issues, her training and her best friend, who thinks her royal duties are pulling them apart)... a major threat to the Society, Sam's family and the world appears - a threat out of Sam's past. It's up to the cadets to master their powers, their personal problems and learn how to work together as a team, in time to stop that threat from destroying everything they hold dear... including their own families.


Secret Society of Second Born Royals has examples of:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Sam's older sister, the first-born Princess Eleanor is this in Illyria.
  • Abdicate the Throne: Queen Catherine is resigning from the throne to allow her elder daughter Elanor to become Queen in her stead.
  • Actor Allusion: Peyton Elizabeth Lee plays the second born child of a monarch, that has superpowers and is ordered into a group to protect the world. Lee had priorly voiced Rani in The Lion Guard, where she was the love interest of Kion, who had the exact same character arc.
  • Accents Aren't Hereditary / The Kids Are American: Sam has an American accent, despite the fact that her mother and older sister - as well as the majority of her classmates - all speak with English accents.
    • Justified in that Sam would have phased out her original accent as yet another way to set herself apart from her royal family.
    • Roxana's accent is more Australian English in nature - but if her home is an island nation in Oceania, then the accent makes sense, especially in you consider that Roxana (who's a globe-jopping social media influencer as well as a princess) literally grew up before the cameras in a world of social media. She'd want to sound like other young people instead of her stuffy parents.
  • Achilles in His Tent: Sam's attitude towards being a princess.
  • Action Girl: Sam, the main protagonist, trains to be a fairly good fighter.
    • James notes in the kids' first test run that Roxana and January are also quite athletic.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: There's three "S"s in Secret Society of Second Born Royals.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Sam's father called her "Snowflake". This gets exploited by Edmond when he calls her this, knowing that Sam will come after him for answers.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Subverted. Catherine sees Sam's friendship with Mike as a bad influence on her, but he is actually shown to be a genuinely nice guy, who just happens to share her interests. Mike's father also believes that Sam is a bad fit for his son, telling him that royals aren't interested in ordinary people.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Though not in the way he intended, Edmond’s desire and plan to make it so that royals don’t have power or authority over common folk and thus, equalize everyone is followed through when Eleanor’s first act as Queen is to create a Parliament so the people will be given a choice instead.
  • Badass Bookworm: Being a Professor and being able to make an impressive standing in a fight with Edmond, this is James without a doubt
  • Beach Episode: Because of their horrible showing in their field test, James cancels class for a day to let the kids think over their mistakes. They unwind by going to a local beach.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Edmond and his benefactor January are in an apparently equal partnership, with mutually beneficial goals.
  • Broken Bird: Sam has clearly not gotten over her father's death, and it is implied that part of why she is so headstrong, and hesitant to be part of the Society initially, is because she is still grieving over her father's death. Learning the truth about he died only makes her worse for a while.
  • Cain and Abel: Kind of inevitable when one sibling has superpowers and the other is the heir to the throne. January wants to kill her brother (though indirectly) and Edmond succeeded in killing his.
  • Category Traitor: Sam and Edmond are both royals who want to get rid of monarchy. Sam usually does it by protesting. Edmond wants to do it by mass murder of any with royal blood.
  • Compelling Voice: Tuma's power, which allows him to compel anyone he wants to obey any order he gives. It's implied, however, that someone with sufficient willpower can resist it, which is why it didn't work on the much more experienced Edmond.
  • Cool Teacher: Let's go down the list with James. A handsome professor? Check. Has a Cool Pet? Check. Has super-powers? Check. Wants to be a host of a reality TV show? Check. Helps the kids but doesn't let them steamroll him in the process? Check. A bad-ass fighter who can hang in there in a 'one-on-one' fight against a rogue, Society-trained telekinetic? Check!
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: In the climax, Tuma tries to use his power on Edmond, despite being well aware that his power won't work on him. Edmond instinctively turns and looks at him, and this allows the invisible Roxana to kick him in the groin and steal the device.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is easily one of the darkest (if not THE darkest) of DCOM presentations ever made. They actually use the words 'murder' and 'killed'/'kill' when talking about both the death of Sam's dad, when Sam confronts Edmund at the cathedral - and both Edmund & January are blatantly open with their desires to kill her brother (and for Edmund, mass-murdering every person of royal blood on Earth).
    • If that's not enough, the fights between James/Edmund and Edmund/Sam are serious enough to be outright shocking for a kids' network production. Special notice goes to the fight/chase scene of Sam and Edmund, where he's going all-out with his TK powers as he attempts to kill Sam.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Society's facility - which seems to be so large that it can be reached from both the royal castle and from Strathmore High.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • January. A twisted, Unreliable Narrator of a villain, yes, but she imprisons her team so they won't fall victim to Edmund's device, and although she has no problem with Edmond dispatching her twin brother, she only wants it because (in her eyes) her brother's not cut out to be a leader that can actually help their subjects.
    • While Edmond killed his own brother for the throne and sought to wipe out all other royals too, including his own niece, he still loved him though while doing so reluctantly and his ideology about equalizing royals and commoners was still shared by his brother who rather wanted to do it the right way and given that Sam and Eleanor shared it too, it wasn’t a bad idea, it’s just that he attempted to execute it in completely the wrong way.
  • Evil Uncle: Averted. Edmond still loves Sam, and does genuinely lament the fact that Sam will only see him as a monster when she forces to confess the truth about what happened to her father.
  • Fictional Country: Illyria, which was an actual region in the Balkans, is presented as a Scandinavian island nation.
  • Five-Man Band
    • The Leader: Sam. Partly because she seems to gravitate to the role naturally, and partly because the others see her as this because of her mom.
    • The Lancer: January. She's almost an exact opposite of Sam in so many ways, including how they see their siblings as future leaders. There's also the fact that they were arguably the closest friends of the group, and that January is the most powerful/dangerous member of the team.
    • The Big Guy: Tuma. He has (arguably) the most interactive combat power of the team, and is the tallest member.
    • The Smart Guy: Matteo (almost by default). The implications from his comments about his school life indicate that he's studious as a way of adapting to his near-total social isolation. His insect-control powers also indicate that he's got some real intelligence in order to be able to use it effectively.
    • The Chick: Roxana. Her invisibility powers and personality lend themselves well to this - as does her blossoming possible relationship with Matteo.
  • Forgot About His Powers: This overlaps with Idiot Ball, as the Society has the technology to strip persons of their powers and modify their memories - but for some unfathomable reason, chose to do neither with Edmund and instead use a power dampener on him while keeping him in a special prison.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The portraits of past members of the Secret Society are of notable historical figures. If you watch close enough, you'll notice one of them is of Prince Harry.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A headline about the deaths of Sam's father and a Prince Edmond foreshadow the true identity of the Big Bad: Sam's uncle.
    • January states that she loves apples, which Edmond's benefactor used to break him out of prison, which is our first sign that she's evil.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Matteo's power to control insects becomes a crucial part of the team's plan to defeat Edmond. He controls a massive swarm of butterflies in order to catch Sam when she leaps from the top of the cathedral with Edmund's weapon, and lowers her safely to the ground.
  • The Hero: Sam, though it takes a while for her to grow into the role.
  • Heroic BSoD: How Sam reacts to her first meeting with Edmund after he refers to her as 'Snowflake'.
  • Hidden Depths: When James first introduces himself to the kids, he mentions that he has a boyfriend, an iguana, a gluten allergy and would love to be a host for a reality-TV series. Sam immediately dismisses him as trying to be 'the Cool Teacher'. Later, after being put in the hospital due to his fight with Edmund, Sam is the only one of the kids that visits James there... and brings him a gluten-free bagel.
    • Princess Eleanor chose to take on the veneer of a 'proper, elegant princess and heir' after seeing how hard Sam took the death of their father, the King. She did this specifically to allow Sam to grow up and find her own happiness.
    • Despite Sam and Roxana's earlier opinions of him, Tuma is actually a kind person who doesn't really enjoy what his powers do to others, once he understood the ramifications of such. We see this when he and Matteo talk after becoming roommates. He also feels actual remorse after his prank on Charlie the dog, encourages Matteo to go for a relationship with Roxana, and wants people to really like him for himself.
    • For a fashion queen who lives her life online and certainly dates constantly, Roxana certainly gravitated towards the quiet, withdrawn and cute Matteo quickly enough. The real surprise is that her interest in him is genuine.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Edmond planned to use a special nanotech system to eliminate all of the world's royals, yet he ends up being the only royal eliminated by the device.
  • Hypocrite: Edmond plans to eliminate monarchies all across the globe, and yet he managed to get January's cooperation by promising her to help her take her own country's throne. Could be argued though that he felt he needed to make the sacrifice for his own country.
  • Idiot Ball: The Society. If they were going to keep Edmund in life imprisonment for murdering his brother the King (and covering it all up by saying that they both died in a plane crash), then the choice to dampen his powers instead of stripping them away outright and modifying his memories makes you wonder why the Queen is in charge of things.
    • Sam grabs it pretty hard when she disobeys James to pursue Edmund - and the resulting fight puts James in the hospital.
  • Invisibility: Princess Roxana's power. This is ironic in that (at least at first) her personality is solidly in It's All About Me territory.
  • It's All About Me: Roxana in spades. James uses this against her in order to help her gain control of her invisibility powers.
  • Kinslaying Is a Special Kind of Evil: Upon learning how her father really died, Sam is heartbroken and sickened, seeing her uncle as nothing more than a monster. Edmond himself knows that Sam will never forgive him for this.
  • Man Bites Man: When Inmate 34 holds Sam as a hostage in the school, she bites him hard enough to draw blood to make him let her go.
  • Magic Genetics: Supposedly, there's a gene in most royal bloodlines, no matter where they are located in the world or when they rose to power, and it only manifests in the second-born child. Even if it's a pair of twins and it was a toss-up which one of them was born first, the power still only manifests in the second-born child. It's best not to think about it too much.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: January. She forces her teammates into a prison cell to save them from Edmond's device and only intends to capture Sam when she has the upper hand in the barn. She may want to see her brother dead, but January's heart doesn't really seem in it to kill her own team.
  • The Mentor: Professor James Morrow is this to the new society members and Queen Catherine to her daughter, Sam.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: It is made very clear by multiple characters that Sam's strong belief in democracy clearly came from her father, and that he was also interested in bringing equality between the commoners and the monarchy.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: Edmond lets himself be re-captured so that he and January can retrieve a specific weapon from the Society's main base.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Thanks to being sent to summer school as a cover to induce her into the Society, Sam and Mike's friendship gets severely strained. Sam wants to be honest, but is explicitly forbidden, and Mike even begins to wonder does see him as a friend. Revealing the truth to him in the climax and him becoming a Secret-Keeper helps repair it.
  • Politically-Active Princess: Sam, who hates being royalty due to her status as Spare to the Throne, leads flash mobs protests calling for democracy.
    • Although she seems to do it for publicity, Roxana also qualifies (as her point about bringing attention to causes by showing interest in them herself is almost the textbook definition of celebrity-driven advocacy).
  • Power Limiter: The Society has the technology that allows them to indefinitely dampen out a person's powers - or strip them away permanently.
  • Power Parasite: January's power — she can steal the power of the last person she touched for a period of time. Which is another bit of foreshadowing regarding her true nature.
  • Rebellious Princess: Sam initially doesn't like being royalty.
  • Pest Controller: Matteo.
  • Professor X Likes Watching Teenagers Sweat: James and the Society's training area. With the nanotech-enhanced capabilities of the area, it's a modern-day version of the infamous 'Danger Room'.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Edmond with his telekinesis - but only when he's calm or toying with you. If he's serious, he doesn't bother - as he's quite capable of using his TK powers to use ANYTHING in the immediate area as a weapon to get you by just waving his hands or arms - and there's an impressive scene when he tears pieces of the cathedral's walls and walkways out in order to create a path for himself off the cathedral's roof to chase after Sam... and he does all this while in a full sprint.
  • Royal School: Strathmore High School is this during school year, as apparently all students there are of royal blood. However, we won't see much of this, as the institution secretly overlap with Superhero School during summer classes. It influence the school appearance, that is very modern-looking.
  • Royalty Superpower: But of course. Unusually for the trope though, only the Spare to the Throne has powers, and they keep it completely hidden from their royal families.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: They have a club to fight crime.
  • Save the Princess: in the Opening Narration, James tells us upfront that SSOSSR is not that kind of a movie.
  • SelfDuplication: James' power. It appears that he can only create four duplicates at first, but he takes his power straight into MesACrowd territory when he takes on Edmund.
  • Secret Test of Character: Tuma's pairing with Charlie, the dog. Upon the kids' graduation into the Society, James tells Tuma that his power doesn't work on animals - but they paired him with Charlie to get him to think about someone more than himself.
  • Secret-Keeper: In the climax, Sam reveals the Society's existence to Mike, who keeps it secret out of respect, and allows the two to reconcile. Later on, Catherine reveals the Society's existence to Elanor, which allows the two siblings to finally be honest with each other.
  • Sequel Hook: The movie ends with the team off on a new mission to track down the renegade January.
    • When the kids receive their Society pins, we see that a pin was also placed upon the dais for January. This could be foreshadowing that in the sequel, January may have to return to work with her former teammates, perhaps become a good guy and taken into the Society herself.
  • Something Only They Would Say: When Inmate 34 calls Sam "snowflake", a name only her father called her, Sam is understandably in shock, believing that the inmate knew her father. Her decision to chase him to get answers almost gets her and James killed.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Tuma's first line of the film: "What's up, 'Breakfast Club'!"
    • Sam calls Tuma "fresh prince".
    • Upon entering the secret base beneath her family's palace, Sam calls it a "Bat-Cave". Later on, Mike calls it the same thing.
  • Ship Tease: Sam and Mike have a lot of this throughout the film, to the point that Mike becomes a Secret-Keeper.
    • Ditto for Matteo and Roxana, and it is implied at the end that they are dating.
  • Spare to the Throne: The trope that the Society (and the film itself) are based upon.
  • Straight Gay: James mentions when he first appears that he has a boyfriend but there’s no other indication he’s gay.
  • Super Senses: Sam. She demonstrates enhanced sight, hearing and smell in the film, but it's pretty likely that she also has enhanced taste and touch as well.
  • Teleportation: The Queen has the power to teleport herself or others with pinpoint accuracy, as we see when Sam gets teleported into a chair by the Queen as she walks into James' office.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Not acted upon outright in the film, but it's pretty apparent that Roxana and Matteo are developing feelings for one another.
  • Weak, but Skilled: None of the group's powers are offensive as Super Senses (Sam), Invisibility (Roxanna), controlling insects (Matteo), Compelling Voice (Tuma) and arguably power stealing (January)note  isn't something you normally see in combat. However, they hone their skills, combat and teamwork to defeat a highly powerful telekinetic by creative use of their powers and become the cream of the crop, something which James says in his end narration.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: January worked with Edmond because she saw her brother unfit for the throne and decided that for the sake of her country's prosperity, she was more fit to rule. Edmond offered to kill her brother so she could replace him as the heir. Considering, however, that we never actually meet January's brother, and the fact that January was willing to go along with Edmond's plan to capture every single Royal at Elinor's coronation (which would destabilize the world and cause complete anarchy), she can be considered an Unreliable Narrator at best in regards to her brother's suitability.
  • Wham Line: When Sam asks James who is in charge of the Society, the Queen says "I am," as she appears in the back of the room. This does not go over well with Sam.
  • Willfully Weak: It quickly becomes obvious, especially on rewatch, that the reason Inmate 34 does not kill James in the forest fight, or be more aggressive to Sam, is because he deliberately allowed himself to be recaptured.
  • You Killed My Father: Sam spends the vast majority of the film believing her father died in a plane accident, but upon learning that he was murdered by her uncle, who she genuinely loved, she drops all form of love for him and only sees him as a monster.