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Princess Agents (特工皇妃楚乔传, Tè Gōng Huáng Fēi Chǔ Qiáo Zhuàn, meaning roughly "The Legend of Princess and Secret Agent Chu Qiao"; also shortened to 楚乔传, Chǔ Qiáo Zhuàn, or "The Legend of Chu Qiao") is a 2017 Chinese historical series starring Zhao Li Ying, Lin Geng Xin, Shawn Dou, and Li Qin. It's based on the novel 11 Chu Te Gong Huang Fei by Xiao Xiang Dong Er.

Chu Qiao, a slave girl, is rescued by Yan Xun, Prince of Northern Yan, and becomes a servant of Yan Xun's friend Yuwen Yue. The emperor of Wei arranges for Yan Xun's family to be branded traitors and massacred. Yan Xun tries to use Chu Qiao in his revenge plan. She becomes increasingly distrustful of him and eventually decides to work against him.

Two versions of the series exist: the TV version with sixty-seven episodes, and the DVD version with fifty-eight episodes. The TV version is available on YouTube and the DVD version is on Viki, both with English subtitles.

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Contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Almost every named female character either is one or becomes one. Chu Qiao's flashbacks show she was one even as a child. She becomes even more of one after training to be a spy.
  • Adult Fear: Yuwen Huai kidnaps Lan Shu Yi's young son, locks him in a box, and leaves him there to suffocate.
  • All Love Is Unrequited / Love Dodecahedron: Yuwen Yue and Chu Qiao love each other. Yan Xun and Xiao Ce love Chu Qiao. Yuan Chun loves Yan Xun, who agrees to marry her then leaves her before the ceremony. And Wei Shu Ye loves Yuan Chun.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Chu Qiao loses her memories after almost drowning.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Yuan Song's arm is cut off after he tries to assassinate Yan Xun.
  • And This Is for...: As she beats him to death Chu Qiao tells Yuwen Xi her punches are for Zhi Xiang, Lin Xi, and all the girls he's murdered.
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  • Animal Assassin: Yuwen Huai sends poisonous snakes into Yuwen Yue's room. The assassination attempt fails because Chu Qiao arrives in time to stop them biting Yuwen Yue.
  • Anti-Villain: Yan Xun becomes one after his family's murder.
  • Arrows on Fire: Chu Qiao and her soldiers fire burning arrows at the attacking army.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Yuwen Xi is a serial rapist and murderer, so no one is sorry when Chu Qiao kills him.
    • Zhao Xi Feng murders Yan Xun's pregnant sister, forces Yan Xun to cut off his own finger, and is generally a monster. He richly deserves his painful death at the hands of Yan Xun and Chu Qiao.
  • As You Know: In their first appearance Yan Xun's friends discuss Yan Xun's latest disagreement with Yuan Chun and the kingdom's political situation — things they, as royals and aristocrats, should already know all about.
  • Axe-Crazy: Yuwen Huai and Zhao Xi Feng. Yuwen Huai's idea of entertainment is to kidnap dozens of unarmed, defenceless girls for his friends to hunt down and kill. Zhao Xi Feng is delighted by this idea. Later Xi Feng gleefully murders a pregnant woman as she tries desperately to escape.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block:
    • Chu Qiao blocks Yuwen Hao's blade — which is sharp enough to slice through rock — with her bare hands.
    • Yan Xun grabs the blades of two spears at once, snaps them off, and uses them against the soldiers.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Most of the time Yan Xun is a good-natured guy who's rarely seen without a smile. But if you hurt someone he cares about — or even worse, murder his family — then heaven help you.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The YouTube subs lag behind the dialogue, sometimes appearing only after a character has finished saying the line they're translating. Worse, the subtitles often fall victim to misspellings, grammar errors, and just plain inexplicable translations. By far the most amusing mistake is misspelling "Duke" as "Duck".
  • Blood from the Mouth: As in all Chinese dramas, this shows up whenever someone's injured.
  • Break the Cutie: Yan Xun and Yuan Chun. Yan Xun loses his entire family; Yuan Chun knows about the plot against them beforehand, but is caught and locked in the palace before she can warn him. Both of them end up well and truly broken after that. And even worse is in store for poor Yuan Chun.
  • The Caligula: The emperor of Wei isn't as obviously deranged as some examples, but he's crazy and paranoid enough to have an entire family murdered because he's convinced some of them are traitors.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Yuwen Yue does this indirectly when he reminds his grandfather of all his father's shortcomings.
  • Combat Haircomb: Chu Qiao uses a sharp hairpin as a dagger.
  • Combat Hand Fan: The assassin who attacks Chu Qiao twice wields a fan made of metal blades.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Jin Zhu makes the incredibly stupid choice to pick a fight with Chu Qiao. Minutes later she's tied up and hanging from a pole.
  • Curtain Clothing: The assassin uses one of Yuwen Yue's curtains as a makeshift dress.
  • Dangerously Close Shave: Yuwen Yue tells Chu Qiao to shave him. She cuts his throat with the razor instead. Luckily for him, it was a very shallow cut.
  • Death Faked for You: Yuwen Yue pretends to kill Chu Qiao and gets a doctor to confirm her "death". It's actually a ploy to get her away from Yuwen Huai. Unfortunately the people not in on the plan think Chu Qiao is really dead and take her body to be cremated.
  • Death of a Child: Yuwen Huai locks Hao Er, Lan Shu Yi's toddler, in a box and leaves him to suffocate.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The decapitated heads of Yan Xun's family are put on display. Yuwen Huai torments Yan Xun even more by holding up his father's head and mocking him.
  • Determinator: Nothing will stop Yan Xun reaching his family's bodies. Not a small army of heavily-armed soldiers, not a rain of arrows, nothing.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Curly dies in Chu Qiao's arms.
  • Dirty Old Man: Yuwen Huai's grandfather regularly rapes then murders young women.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Yuan Che tells off Chu Qiao for beating Xiao Ce. Then he adds that if she has to beat him, she should make sure no one's around first.
  • The Dragon: Zhu Shun, for Yuwen Huai.
  • Dramatic Irony: When they're captured Yan Xun tries to assure Chu Qiao his father will come to their rescue. Unknown to him, his father and the rest of his family have already been murdered.
  • Dress Hits Floor: A rare male version; the assassin trying to seduce Yuwen Yue slides off his outer robe, and the camera cuts to the robe landing on the floor.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Bai Sheng commits suicide after her family are murdered.
    • Consort Wei drinks the poison meant for Yuan Chun.
  • Empathic Environment: The weather is calm before Bai Sheng's suicide. Afterwards, on the other hand, cue the thunder, lightning, and rain.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Yan Xun and his friends gallop recklessly through the streets, nearly damaging the shops' merchandise. A man's cart overturns when he can't get out of the way in time. Yan Xun is the only one who stops to let the man pick up the cart, while the others gallop past without looking back.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Yan Xun starts wearing black clothes and dark eyeshadow after his Face–Heel Turn.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Chu Qiao overhears Yuwen Zhuo and Yue Qi discussing how Yuwen Yue's training her to use against the enemy, and she'll probably be killed.
  • Faking the Dead: Yuwen Zhuo survives the assassination attempt. He and Yuwen Yue decide to pretend he died. Yuwen Yue holds a fake funeral for him while Yuwen Zhuo recovers in peace.
  • Face–Heel Turn / Fallen Hero: Yan Xun becomes increasingly villainous in his quest for revenge.
  • Fingore: Yan Xun cuts off his own finger to save Chu Qiao.
  • The Gadfly: Yan Xun starts out as one. He constantly teases Chu Qiao and Yuwen Yue, even after they've both made it clear they're fed up with him, and he switches the guards' swords and steals food from a passing servant for his own amusement. In spite of his antics he isn't malicious; just careless and inconsiderate of others.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: All over the place, on both men and women.
  • Happily Adopted:
    • Chu Qiao was adopted by the Jing family and renamed Jing Xiao Liu to protect her. She was happy with them, but unfortunately by the start of the series she has amnesia and can't remember them.
    • Yuwen Yue was the grandson of Yuwen Zhuo's second brother. Yuwen Yue's mother went insane, so Yuwen Zhuo adopted him and raised him as his own grandson.
  • Honey Trap: A variant, since the woman plans to kill the man rather than get information. Yuwen Yue finds a naked woman waiting for him in his room. She tries to seduce him, pushes him down on the bed, then tries to kill him. She fails because Yuwen Yue already knew she was an assassin and expected the attack.
  • Human Pincushion: Yan Xun is shot repeatedly in episode twenty-four. He snaps the arrows' shafts so they don't get in the way and continues trying to reach the box holding his father's head.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Yuwen Huai kidnaps girls, including Chu Qiao, then hunts them for sport.
  • I Have Many Names: At different points during the series our protagonist is known as Chu Qiao, Jing Xiao Liu, and Xing Er.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Curly dies this way after Yuwen Huai shoots her.
    • Yan Hong Xiao dies the same way as Curly, thanks to Zhao Xi Feng.
    • Zhao Xi Feng gets impaled twice. First by Chu Qiao's arrow, then by Yan Xun's sword.
    • Yue Qi gets impaled by General Cheng's Blade on a Stick. He doesn't die immediately, so General Cheng then stabs him with a knife. A few minutes later Cheng himself gets impaled by Chu Qiao's sword.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Taken to horrific extremes when Yan Hong Xiao is murdered during her pregnancy.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Yuan Song resorts to drinking after a day of enduring Xiao Ce and his demands.
  • Jerkass:
    • Yuwen Yue starts out as one, with his callous disregard for servants' lives, refusal to investigate whether Lin Xi was actually guilty, and not even caring that he cuts Chu Qiao's arm when he kills a spider. Luckily he gets better later.
    • Madam Song beats up the servants for any small — or imagined — mistake.
    • Zhu Shun helps Yuwen Huai carry out his plans, which is bad enough, and sexually harasses the female servants, which is even worse.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Madam Song corners Chu Qiao and her sisters on a bridge and tries to drag them away against their will. Then she trips, falls off the bridge, and drowns.
    • Jin Zhu escapes prison with Chu Qiao's help. Instead of being grateful she blames Chu Qiao for putting her in prison in the first place — even though it was her own actions that brought her there — and goes to betray Chu Qiao to Yuwen Huai. Minutes later Yuwen Huai unceremoniously kills her.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Played with. Yan Xun outright says he thinks of Yuan Chun as a younger sister, but she's in love with him.
  • Made a Slave: Chu Qiao and many other innocent people are kidnapped and forced into slavery.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Xiao Ba suffers a — very shallow — cut on her face. She promptly freaks out about the possibility of getting a scar, screaming that her future is ruined and trying to get Chu Qiao to call off the escape attempt so she can get ointment.
  • Modesty Bedsheet / Shoulders-Up Nudity: Yuwen Yue walks into his room to find a naked woman in his bed. She holds the sheet around her chest at first. When she drops it the camera only shows her from the shoulders up (or from behind).
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Curly abruptly stops as she and Chu Qiao try to escape the hunt. Chu Qiao looks back to see what's wrong. The camera pans down to show an arrow sticking out of Curly's chest.
  • Multishot: Yan Xun kills two wolves by firing two arrows at once.
  • No Ending: The series infamously ends on a cliff-hanger, and as of 2021 there's been no word of a sequel.
  • Nephewism: Wei Shu Ye was adopted as a child by his uncle Wei Guang.
  • Not What It Looks Like:
    • Jin Zhu walks in on Yuwen Yue holding Chu Qiao, both of them wearing only their night-clothes. It's actually because they had a fight after (platonically) sharing a bed. Jin Zhu jumps to the more obvious conclusion.
    • Yuwen Yue's guards hear crashes coming from his bedroom. It's actually Yuwen Yue and Chu Qiao fighting. The guards assume something completely different is happening.
  • Offing the Offspring: Wei Guang kills his son Wei Shu You.
  • Oh, Crap!: Played for laughs when Yuan Chun starts making plans for Yan Xun's birthday. Yan Xun, who's already asked Yuwen Yue to arrange it, continues to force a smile while looking increasingly alarmed.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Lan Shu Yi outlives her son, who's murdered by Yuwen Huai.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Yuwen Yue has no time to tell Chu Qiao about his plan to fake her death. She thinks he really did try to kill her, so when Zhong Yu saves her she doesn't tell Yuwen Yue she's safe. Yuwen Yue thinks she was accidentally cremated and blames himself for her "death". Meanwhile Chu Qiao is working for Yan Xun and is convinced Yuwen Yue is her enemy.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Played with. Yuwen Zhuo is actually Yuwen Yue's great-uncle, but he adopted Yuwen Yue and raised him as his grandson.
  • Rape as Drama: Poor, poor Yuan Chun.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Yan Xun goes absolutely berserk after learning his family have been murdered and seeing Yuwen Huai hold up his father's head.
  • Royal Brat: Xiao Ce has a reputation for being exceedingly weird at best and an arrogant, entitled brat at worst. His eccentricities include refusing to eat food that's been grown or prepared by men — everything he eats is grown in a separate garden tended by women; making ridiculously elaborate preparations for short trips then travelling very slowly; and being a nuisance to his hosts.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Among other royals we have Yan Xun, who plans revenge against his family's murderers; Xiao Yu, the best spy in Liang; and the Emperor of Western Wei, who sets part of the plot in motion by killing Yan Xun's family.
  • The Scapegoat: One of Yuwen Huai's servants gives Lin Xi a box and tells him to bring it to Yuwen Zhuo. Unknown to Lin Xi, the box contains poison. Yuwen Yue kills Lin Xi because he thinks he deliberately tried to assassinate his grandfather.
  • Sadistic Choice: Xi Feng forces Yan Xun to choose between cutting off his own finger, or watching as Xi Feng crushes Chu Qiao's fingers. Yan Xun chooses to cut off his own finger.
  • Secret Room: Yuwen Yue's house has an astonishing number of very large secret rooms and extensive secret passages.
  • Secret Test of Character: Yuwen Yue gives Chu Qiao a razor and tells her to shave him. It's actually a test to see if she'll take the opportunity to kill him for killing her brother. She considers it, but doesn't go through with it.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The Tower of the Eyes of God has one. Yuwen Huai activates it while arguing with Yuwen Yue, and promptly has to run for his life when the building goes up in flames.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The emperor thinks the Yan family are plotting against him. So he has them all killed... except for Yan Xun, who plots against the emperor to get revenge.
  • Skyward Scream: Yan Xun screams "Mother!" at the sky after Bai Sheng's suicide.
  • Spotting the Thread: Yuwen Yue claims his grandfather is dead. Yan Xun is the only person who notices Yuwen Yue isn't nearly grief-stricken enough for someone whose grandfather was murdered.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Chu Qiao stands over an ill and unarmed Yuwen Yue, sword in hand, remembering how he killed Lin Xi. She raises the sword... and uses it to shove away the snake about to bite Yuwen Yue.
  • The Stoic: Yuwen Yue. He barely ever smiles, and not even assassination attempts can disturb his calm. Only one person can mildly fluster him: Chu Qiao.
  • Strolling Through the Chaos: Yuwen Yue walks through a fight without getting so much as a scratch.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: When the emperor tells Yuwen Yue he suspects Yan Xun's family of treason he speaks calmly at first. When Yuwen Yue disagrees the emperor continues to speak calmly... for a few seconds. Then he yells at Yuwen Yue for daring to contradict him.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Chu Qiao briefly disguises herself as a man in episode forty-three. It's one of the least convincing disguises imaginable, complete with a blatantly fake moustache and beard.
  • Taking the Bullet: A soldier tries to kill Yuan Chun. Cai Wei jumps between them and gets stabbed instead.
  • Token Good Teammate: Wei Shu Ye is the only one of Yan Xun's so-called friends who truly is his friend, and who tries to save him when he learns he's in danger.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • In the space of mere days Yan Xun is arrested, thrown in prison, accused of treason, learns his family have been murdered, is confronted with their decapitated heads, witnesses his mother's suicide, thrown back in prison, forced to cut off his own finger, and learns Yuwen Yue — someone he considered his best friend — knew about the plot against him and didn't warn him. Any one of those events would be deeply traumatic. All of them, one after another... No wonder Yan Xun snaps.
    • Yuan Chun learns her fiancé is rebelling right before the wedding. She begs Yan Xun to stop it, but he coldly tells her he never loved her and rides away. Shortly afterwards her brother tries to kill Yan Xun. In retaliation Yan Xun's men beat him up and rape Yuan Chun. Like Yan Xun, it's no wonder she snaps.
  • Uncertain Doom: The series ends with Chu Qiao and Yuwen Yue falling through the ice and sinking in a frozen lake. Yuwen Yue pushes Chu Qiao away and sinks deeper while Chu Qiao floats closer to the surface. It's possible both of them survive, but there's no official confirmation either way.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Chu Qiao gives Jin Zhu a chance to escape prison, a change of clothes, and lets her leave unharmed. Jin Zhu repays her by blaming all her misfortune on Chu Qiao instead of her own actions.
    • Yuan Chun blames Chu Qiao for everything that happened to her and Yuan Song. Even though Chu Qiao knew nothing about it beforehand, rescued them as soon as she found out, and goes out of her way to protect and help them. Somewhat justified Yuan Chun is traumatised and heart-broken, but she still pins the blame on the one person who isn't responsible in any way.
  • Wedding Smashers: A rare self-inflicted version; Yan Xun rebels just before his wedding to Yuan Chun.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Yuwen Yue calls Yan Xun out for planning to flood Chang'an, knowing it would kill thousands of civilians, to avenge his family and escape the city.
    • Chu Qiao calls Yan Xun out for how he's become cruel, paranoid, and suspicious of everyone, including his closest friends.
  • Winter Warfare: The climactic battle takes place on a frozen lake.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Yan Xun. All of his villainous actions are to get revenge for his murdered family.
    • Yuan Chun. All of her villainous actions are to get revenge for what she and her brother suffered.

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