Follow TV Tropes


Series / Still Star-Crossed

Go To

Still Star-Crossed is an ABC series that is based upon Romeo and Juliet and adapted from Melinda Taub's book of the same name. It is produced by Shonda Rhimes's company Shonda Land with ABC.

The series tells the story of what happened after the famous play's ending. Rosaline (Lashana Lynch), the woman who rejected Romeo before he met her cousin Juliet and Benvolio (Wade Briggs) are forcibly betrothed by Prince Escalus (Sterling Sulieman) in an effort to put an end to the rivalry between the Montagues and the Capulets. The two both set out to find a way to end the violence without having to go through with their undesired union.


Not to be confused with the CW's Short-Runner Star-Crossed.

Still Star-Crossed provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Lady Capulet raised her two nieces, Rosaline and Livia, but treated them more like servants than family. Rosaline believes this is because Lady Capulet is jealous of their late mother.
    • Lord Montague emotionally abuses Benvolio, constantly degrades him, uses him for target practice when he's bored and it turns out murdered his father in the first place. Benvolio even asks why his uncle has always hated him.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Benvolio and Rosaline compared to the book.
    • Book!Benvolio, while he loses Romeo and Mercutio, still has a loving mother and uncle and is generally well-regarded by Verona. In the show, he's orphaned, bullied by Lord Montague who also killed his father, viewed as an irresponsible drunkard and has his heart broken by Canon Foreigner Stella.
    • Advertisement:
    • Book!Rosaline still loses her parents and fortune, but she and Livia are treated as respectable noblewomen and able to live independently. In the show, they're forced to become servants for their wealthier relatives and are abused by Lady Capulet.
  • Adaptation Expansion: In this version of the story, Lord Montague secretly encouraged Romeo and Juliet's relationship and asked Friar Laurence to perform the wedding. He had hoped this would give the Montagues the upper hand, uniting both houses under his name, but that plan went up in smoke when they died. He improvises, however, hoping to unite both houses using his nephew Benvolio and Rosaline.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Benvolio in the play and book is level-headed, mature and viewed as The Reliable One amidst Romeo and Mercutio's antics. In the show, he's an irresponsible drunkard who spends much of his time at the brothel, although he does reveal Hidden Depths and evolves to be in-line with book character as the show continues.
  • Advertisement:
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Isabella in the book is happily married to Don Pedro (yes that Don Pedro.) In the show, she's a lesbian per Word of God and has a close relationship with Helena.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Lord Montague in the book has his faults but is a kind guardian to Benvolio and genuinely trying to heal the family feud. Here he's an abusive Evil Uncle, continues to antagonize Lord Capulet and murdered his own brother.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Subverted and then inverted with the Love Triangle of Escalus, Rosaline and Benvolio. At first Benvolio fits the "bad boy" label what with his irresponsible drinking and brawling — and Rosaline holds him in contempt, much preferring the straight-laced Escalus. But as the episodes proceed, it becomes clear that Benvolio has integrity and compassion, while Escalus is a much more morally ambiguous character than first appears — and Rosaline's feelings toward the two men change accordingly.
  • Arranged Marriage: Benvolio and Rosaline, by decree of Prince Escalus, in order to try to quell the rioting that threatens to turn into civil war.
  • Ascended Extra: Rosaline is the main character of the show which is quite a step up from being The Ghost. Benvolio is the main male character, while in the play he was Romeo and Mercutio's Sidekick.
  • Balance of Power: The old Prince's main concern was making sure neither Capulets nor Mantagues gained the upper hand in their feud, because if either one of them did, their next target would be the throne.
  • Ballroom Blitz: A fight erupts during Romeo and Juliet's funeral after the statue of Juliet, a gift from Lord Montague, is revealed to be defaced with the word "Harlot". This devolves into a full blown riot that engulfs the entire city.
  • Batman Gambit: Benvolio pays a little girl to steal tools from Capulet's architect so he can get them back and earn that architect's trust. From their conversation Benvolio deduces that the Capulets are broke.
  • Big Sister Instinct:
    • Rosaline is shown to be very protective towards her younger sister Livia. She wants to arrange a good marriage for her sister, to a man who loves and can take care of her. When the riot breaks out at Romeo and Juliet's funerals, Rosaline gets separated from Livia and risks her life to get her to safety.
    • Benvolio also had this relationship with his younger cousin Romeo.
  • Blue Blood: The Capulets are one of the most ancient noble families in the region, and the importance of this is brought up constantly.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Thanks to the cancellation, the series ends on a massive cliffhanger, with things looking bad for our heroes, and with no resolution to speak of.
  • Canon Foreigner: Rosaline's sister Livia and Princess Isabella have no counterparts in the play.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Prince Escalus feels these keenly. He's a young ruler who has to keep the peace in Verona between two warring families, protect his kingdom from more powerful city-states, and is constantly struggling between his duties to the city and his love for Rosaline.
  • The Chessmaster: Lord Montague managed to play every character from the play like a fiddle, including his own son. If it wasn't for Tybalt acting as a Spanner in the Works it's likely he would've gotten away with it.
  • Cliffhanger: Thanks to the show's cancellation, the entire series ends on one. Rosaline and Benvolio finally acknowledge their love, Benvolio is narrowly saved from execution, Escalus gets shot, and Paris stages his coup... roll credits! Cue screams of frustration from the entire fandom.
  • Colorblind Casting: The series has many actors of varying ethnicities playing the Italian characters of the play, most notably with black actors playing members of both the Capulets and the Montagues.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Benvolio/Rosaline compared to Romeo/Juliet in the original play. Romeo and Juliet are romantic idealists and the beloved heirs of their families who get swept away by Love at First Sight, while Benvolio and Rosaline are cynical, overlooked by their relatives and - despite initially disliking each other - develop a longer-lasting relationship.
  • Decomposite Character: In the play, Escalus is the Prince of Verona throughout the events of the story. For the show this role has been split between Escalus' father Prince Cossimo (who decrees any further breach of the peace punishable by death) and Escalus himself, who only becomes Prince the same night Romeo and Juliet get married.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Rosaline.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Escalus organizes the Arranged Marriage between Rosaline and Benvolio to enforce peace between Houses Montague and Capulet despite being in love with Rosaline himself — and then has to watch as they slowly start developing genuine feelings for one another. By the final episode, circumstances have created a situation in which he can legally Murder the Hypotenuse and create peace between the warring houses with Benvolio's death, only for the girl he loves to come begging for his rival's life. Rosaline even points out to him that a Capulet defending a Montague was exactly what he wanted when he arranged the betrothal in the first place.
  • Due to the Dead: Averted. Someone desecrates Romeo's corpse and writes "Death to All Montagues" on the wall nearby.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Though "evil" is too strong a word to describe Escalus, the trope comes into play when he orders Benvolio to tell him why Rosaline trusts him so much, assuming he tricked her somehow. Rather incredulously, Benvolio points out that he simply didn't lie or try to manipulate her at any point, something Escalus has been doing since the day he returned to Verona.
  • Evil Uncle: Lord Montague abuses his nephew, hating him for reasons Benvolio can't understand or fix, which turn out to be Lord Montague actually killed his own brother and loathes Benvolio as a constant reminder.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Rosaline and Benvolio bond over their experiences tracking down Verona's mystery killer and going on the run together.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Prince Escalus and Princess Isabella have this dynamic when dealing with the feud, with Isabella advocating harsh implementation of the law and Escalus favoring compromise and negotiation.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the final episode Benvolio accepts his unjust death sentence in the hope that it will finally bring peace to Verona and Rosaline can be happy. Thankfully he gets a Last-Minute Reprieve.
  • Hidden Villain: An unknown party is deliberately sabotaging all efforts to put an end to the Capulet-Montague Feud.
  • King on His Deathbed: Prince Escalus and Princess Isabella's father dies in his bed at beginning of the pilot.
  • Love Triangle: Rosaline is betrothed to Benvolio, but was previously in a secret relationship with Escalus.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Capulets are an old, established family with a well-respected name but they're deeply in debt.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Benvolio tells Rosaline to let him die so she can be with Escalus and live the life she's always wanted. Rosaline isn't having any of it.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Rosaline and Benvolio (especially considering the traditional setting) as Rosaline is the more aggressive and outspoken of the pair, while Benvolio is charming and artistic.
  • Mirror Character: Despite being on opposite sides of the Montague/Capulet feud and loathing each other to start with, Benvolio and Rosaline prove to be much more similar than they appear. Both have been orphaned and suffer under abusive guardians (Lord Montague and Lady Capulet), have protective Big Brother Instinct dynamics with younger family members (Romeo and Livia/Juliet), are far more sensible than their love-struck cousins and two of the few genuinely moral people in Verona.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Lord and Lady Capulet are given the personal names Silvestro and Giuliana.
  • Nephewism: Rosaline, Livia, and Benvolio are all orphans who were raised by their aunts and uncles, but none of the relationships are exactly loving. Lady Capulet forces her nieces to work as servants while Lord Montague bullies and manipulates his nephew.
  • Nouveau Riche: A century ago the Montagues were nothing but lowly peasants, but have risen to be the richest family in the city.
  • Old Money: The Capulets have been rich and noble for centuries, and they view the Montagues as upstarts.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Both Benvolio and Rosaline (and by extension Livia). Benvolio's parents died when he was a child and he's been raised by his uncle, while Rosaline and Livia were orphaned a few years before the show began when Montagues killed their father and their mother subsequently passed away from grief and sickness.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: The Capulets and Montagues are shown grieving Romeo and Juliet after their suicides.
  • Pair the Spares: The whole premise of the show is Escalus pairing the eligible Capulet and Montagues survivors to end the feud.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Ironically Rosaline and Benvolio. Although they start out hating each other, by the end of the show they've developed genuine feelings and prove to be well-matched. Of course that's just as their betrothal plans fall apart.
  • Period Piece: Set in 16th Century Verona, just like the original play, rather than a Setting Update.
  • Posthumous Character: Romeo and Juliet of course, but also Tybalt and Mercutio, all of whom die in the first episode, but continue to drive the plot afterwards.
  • Power of Trust: Benvolio and Rosaline's relationship is built on this trope, with the two of them realizing early on that although they don't like each other, they can trust each other — first to do anything they can to get out of their Arranged Marriage, and then to watch each other's backs when they go hunting for the masked terrorist causing chaos in the streets of Verona. Later Escalus demands that Benvolio explain why Rosaline trusts him so much, and when Benvolio is facing execution for a crime he didn't commit, Rosaline's Anguished Declaration of Love comes as her telling him: "I trust you."
  • Race Lift: While they are still Italian citizens, a significant portion of the characters' actors are of non-Italian and non-European ethnic backgrounds:
    • Rosaline is black.
    • Prince Escalus is black.
    • Lady Capulet is Burmese, Indian, Malay, English, Scottish, and Iranian.
    • Romeo was black.
    • Mercutio was part Armenian.
    • Tybalt was part Pakistani.
  • Riches to Rags:
    • After the death of their parents, Rosaline and Livia were taken in by their uncle and aunt, the Lord and Lady Capulet, and made to work as servants (though this happens out of Lady Capulet's personal jealousy towards their mother, and Lord Capulet is unhappy about the situation).
    • Averted for Rosaline, who regains her nobility after she becomes the heir to the Capulet name. Livia is not so lucky.
  • Sanity Slippage: Lord Capulet believes himself haunted by Juliet's ghost, although his guilt over his murder of his cathedral's architect may be to blame.
  • Second Love: Benvolio and Rosaline to each other, after their First Loves Stella and Escalus betray them.
  • Secret-Keeper: Rosaline and Benvolio were these to Juliet and Romeo respectively, being the sole witnesses to their weddings. Later on, Livia discovers that Lady Capulet has been hiding an injured Prince Paris in the family estate.
  • Secret Relationship: Rosaline and Escalus are in love, but can't be public about their feelings for each other. Benvolio discovers this after witnessing them share a Big Damn Kiss.
  • Self-Made Man: The Montagues' forefathers started off as nothing more than shepherds who managed to make themselves into one of the two richest, most powerful families in Verona.
  • Sequel Escalation: The scale of the feud is ramped up a whole order of magnitude for the show. In the play, it was just the Montagues and Capulets and their respective servants that participated in the feud. But in the series it is revealed that pretty much the entire population of Verona is involved, as the two families employ or offer patronage, directly or indirectly, to everyone in town.
  • Sequel Series: It is intended to serve as this to the play.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Prince Escalus and Princess Isabella.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Livia's dream in life is to marry someone she loves, and who loves her in return. It should be noted that she doesn't mind if he's also rich enough to care for her and her sister.
  • Shout-Out: To another of Shakespeare's well known works when Lord Montague is criticizing Benvolio for breaking his engagement to "Minola's daughter". Then there's Truccio, which could easily be a shortened form of Petruchio. Not to mention Tessa Montague's "time in Scotland" and all that business. One of the Doge's serving girls is named Helena and even something as simple as Princess Isabella telling the Doge the story of Coriolanus is a reference. Also just take a look at the episode titles. They're rife with shout-outs.
  • Shown Their Work: The Capulet cathedral has been under construction for over two generations, appropriately reflecting the sheer length of times such projects took in the real world.
  • Slut-Shaming: Done reluctantly and painfully by Escalus towards Rosaline, after he discovers Romeo's desecrated corpse and realizes he can't go through with his plan to call off Rosaline's wedding and marry her himself. He threatens to tell everyone in the city that she slept in his room (which she did, but nothing happened), noting that the scandal will have worse consequences for her and her younger sister.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Rosaline and Benvolio.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Count Paris survives his duel with Romeo on Juliet’s tomb.
  • Spare to the Throne: Benvolio is the back-up heir to House Montague, though his uncle certainly isn't happy about it.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Juliet's statue is defaced with the word "Harlot" and an unnamed Montague says it's nothing but the truth.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Romeo and Juliet obviously, but also Rosaline and Prince Escalus, who love each other but cannot be together due to extenuating circumstances (i.e, Rosaline losing her nobility by being made a servant, and Escalus' father forbidding the romance since it would upset the Balance of Power between the Capulets and Montagues).
    • By the end of the series, Benvolio and Rosaline. Just as they're realising their feelings for each other he's sentenced to death and Escalus decides to start pursuing her again.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Escalus' greatest concern is that if the internal divisions arising from the Capulet/Montague feud don't end, the city will be easy prey for either Venice, Florence or the Papal States.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Rosaline and Isabella were friends as children but have since become estranged.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Livia calls out Rosaline for not telling her that Romeo and Juliet got married.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Lady Capulet in spades, especially towards Rosaline.
  • You Killed My Father: Rosaline has a personal stake in the feud as her father was one of the casualties, killed by the Montagues.