Follow TV Tropes


Series / The Haunting of Bly Manor

Go To
We lay my love and I beneath the weeping willow. / But now alone I lie and weep beside the tree. / Singing 'O willow waly' by the tree that weeps with me. / Singing 'O willow waly' till my lover return to me...

"Alright, then. A ghost story. Again, this story isn't mine, but it is full of ghosts of all sorts. And if a child gives the effect, another turn of the screw...what do you say to two?"
The Storyteller begins her tale

The Haunting of Bly Manor is the second season of the Thematic Series The Haunting, following The Haunting of Hill House. This time, its time-spanning ghost story adapts the works of Henry James, specifically The Turn of the Screw and The Romance of Certain Old Clothes. It is again created and directed by Mike Flanagan, and features the return of several actors from Hill House: Victoria Pedretti (as Dani Clayton), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (as Peter Quint), Henry Thomas (as Henry Wingrave), Carla Gugino (as the Storyteller), and Kate Siegel (as Viola Lloyd).

In the 1980s, Dani Clayton (Pedretti) leaves America for England, and begins to work as an au pair for orphans Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) and Flora (Amelie Smith). As Dani slowly gets to know the children and their trauma, she also begins to unravel the dark history of Bly Manor and its inhabitants.


The full series began streaming on Netflix in October 2020.

The Tropes of Bly Manor:

  • The '80s: The bulk of the series takes place in 1987, which is clearly displayed in the clothing, technology, and soundtrack.
  • Aborted Arc: It seems like Charlotte and Dominic's accident is going to be a big part of the story from the eerie references to it, but it never becomes a big part of the story and it's never answered.
  • Achievement In Ignorance: According to Peter, Hannah's ghost acts so differently by just ignoring she is dead.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: The series adapts several of James's stories, specifically The Turn of the Screw, The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, Owen Wingrave, The Jolly Corner, and The Beast in the Jungle.
  • Adaptation Title Change: The Haunting of Bly Manor is a loose adaptation of The Turn of The Screw; the name change is partly to tie it to The Haunting of Hill House, of which it is part of the same anthology series. It also serves as an adaptation of another Henry James story, The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, which is reworked here to fit into the Bly Manor narrative.
  • Advertisement:
  • Adaptational Heroism: For whatever reason, Viola and Perdita from The Romance of Certain Old Clothes effectively swap names in the adaptation. As a result, Viola, while still no angel, is now a mostly tragic figure with a strong Freudian Excuse, where her literary counterpart was consumed with jealousy and received a Karmic Death.
  • Adaptational Villainy: As a result of the name-swap between Perdita and Viola, Perdita becomes the one who is hinted to be seducing her sister's husband, and the one who urges him to break his promise to the dying Viola. Additionally, Perdita outright murders her sister here, something neither she nor Viola came close to doing in the original short story (there, Perdita simply dies due to complications from childbirth).
  • A Day in the Limelight: Every episode except the first and last contains flashbacks focusing on a specific character or set of characters.
    • Episode 2, "The Pupil," focuses on Miles and his time at boarding school.
    • Episode 3, "The Two Faces, Part One," focuses on Rebecca Jessel's arrival at Bly Manor and her burgeoning romance with Peter Quint.
    • Episode 4, "The Way it Came," explores Dani's Dark and Troubled Past.
    • Episode 5, "The Altar of the Dead," is told entirely in Anachronic Order through the eyes of Hannah Grose.
    • Episode 6, "The Jolly Corner," is shared between Henry and Flora. Which is very much intentional, as it reveals they're actually father and daughter.
    • Episode 7, "The Two Faces, Part Two," gives a greater look into Peter Quint's background and his life after death.
    • Episode 8, "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes," is a full-length flashback detailing the origin of Viola Willoughby, the Lady in the Lake.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Episode 5, "The Altar of the Dead," focuses exclusively on Hannah as she dream hops through her memories, and at the end of the episode it's revealed that she's dead.
  • A Family Affair: Henry fell in love and had an affair with Charlotte, his brother Dominic's wife, who did love both of them but ultimately chose Dominic before her death.
  • The Alcoholic: Henry is constantly drinking alcohol; one of the first things we see him do add booze to his tea. He does it in a poor attempt to cope with his grief over his brother and sister-in-law's deaths, and his guilt for having an affair with Charlotte.
  • An Aesop: To truly know the joy of loving someone in life, is worth the heartbreak of losing them to death.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Dead doesn't mean gone."
    • "It's you. It's me. It's us."
    • "Perfectly splendid."
    • "She woke. She walked. She slept."
    • Any mentions of "gravity wells."
  • Artistic Licence – Law: A possible borderline example. Dani and Jamie get a civil union in Vermont at the end of their story, which wasn't legalised until 2000, thirteen years after the main story takes place. While it's stated that they've been together for at least nine years at that point, thirteen seems to be pushing it slightly considering the rate of Dani's deterioration; though it's still possibly correct, especially since Jamie's retelling deliberately doesn't age up the characters in real-time.
  • Bad to the Last Drop: Dani ruins tea whenever she tries to make it. According to Jamie her coffee isn't any better.
  • Biblical Motifs: Miles' Religious Education lesson at boarding school focuses on Jesus' exorcism of Legion. In particular, the discussion of Legion requiring permission from Jesus to enter the pigs has recurring relevance for Peter Quint's plan and Viola's fate.
  • Big Bad: The Lady in the Lake, Viola, the main ghost who has haunted Bly Manor for centuries, with her rage and sorrow trapping all the other ghost in the Manor.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Miles performs some horrible, downright horrifying actions, to get himself expelled from boarding school, after receiving Flora's note about her missing him.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: A metaphysical one. Dani is not bisexual - she's a closeted lesbian - but she is still holding onto her ex-fiance and childhood best friend, Eddie's, ghost because she blames herself for his death moments after she broke up with him due to realizing her sexuality. As she falls in love with Jamie at Bly, she has to learn to let go of Eddie and her grief and guilt over his death for her future happiness.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Rebecca, working together with Flora, enacts a plan to stop Peter from possessing Miles. Dani saves Flora by accepting Viola’s spirit into her body, freeing all of the ghosts from Bly Manor, including Hannah, Rebecca, and Peter. Owen finally goes to Paris and opens up a restaurant in Hannah’s memory. Dani and Jamie move to America together and even exchange wedding rings, but when Viola’s vengeful spirit arises to strangle Jamie in her sleep, Dani makes the painful decision of drowning herself and becoming the new Lady in the Lake, sealing Viola’s curse. Henry steps up as guardian of the children, but as evidenced when it’s revealed that the Storyteller was an older Jamie, mourning the loss of her true love, neither Flora or Miles—now adults—ever recalled their memories of Dani, Hannah, Rebecca, or any of what happened at Bly Manor that particular summer.
  • The Blank: Older ghosts at Bly Manor don't have faces, which is the main sign of their fading with time.
  • Book-Ends: The series opens with Jamie awakening in a hotel room with the door open, and gazing into her filled sink and bathtub. The explanation for this is not given until the finale, when it is revealed that it's her daily routine in hopes that Dani will return. The series ends with her falling asleep in the same chair.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: If Peter and Rebecca had succeeded in possessing Miles and Flora's bodies permanently. Peter explicitly says he wants to "touch" and "taste" Rebecca again.
  • The Cameo:
  • Campfire Character Exploration: In the fourth episode, the manor staff gather around a bonfire to toast to those they've lost and talk after Owen's mother's funeral.
  • Central Theme: The difference between love and possession. This is primarily explored through contrasting the relationships between Rebecca and Peter and Dani and Jamie, but it crops up everywhere.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: A tragic example with Dani and Edmund. They were best friends since they were young children and Dani was treated like part of his family. As young adults, Edmund proposed to Dani, but he died before they got married. It gets even sadder when it's revealed that Edmund was actually an Unlucky Childhood Friend. Dani did love Edmund but she wasn't in love with him, because she's a lesbian; she initially couldn't bring herself to tell him because she didn't want to hurt him.
  • Cool Big Sis: Whereas Hannah and Owen function more as the nurturing and loving Team Mom and Team Dad to the young orphans, Jamie is much more playful with them, light heartedly teasing them as her form of affection for Miles and Flora.
  • Creepy Child: While Miles and Flora are both really sweet and lovely children, Dani begins to find there is something rather off about them. Subverted in that the children are charming and lovely, even going so far as to attempt to protect Dani, but the spirits possessing them...
  • Creepy Doll:
    • Flora has multiple creepy handmade dolls on her dollhouse, including one for every person in the house as well as other unknown dolls. She refers to them as "talismans". One of them seems to have a screaming mouth and is kept separate from the others. We're shown that her mother taught Flora how to make them, and they seem to move and change locations on their own around the dollhouse, helping the kids figure out where everyone (including the ghosts) are, and they're pivotal to keep them and the adults safe from Viola's ghost.
    • When Dani goes to the basement to recover one of the aforementioned dolls after Miles throws it down the chute, she finds a pile of creepy broken toys and dolls. One of them sits up once she leaves. Furthermore we're shown later that this "doll ghost" is the ghost of a boy who was given a broken doll's face to wear as a mask by Flora from the pile of broken toys.
  • Creepy Dollhouse: Flora has a dollhouse that's a near-exact replica of Bly Manor, and shows the locations of everyone who lives there (even the ghosts) seemingly in real-time because the Doll-Face Child moves them.
  • Dance of Romance: Perdita and Arthur dancing together showed signs of their growing closeness while Viola had been bedridden for a long time, something that ultimately led to them getting married after Viola's death.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Dani is haunted by a menacing figure appearing in reflections with glowing eyes. Eventually, we learn that he is her Childhood Friend and former fiancé, Edmund, who died seconds after she broke his heart by calling off their wedding.
  • Dead All Along:
    • We learn Peter didn't go missing like the staff at Bly Manor first believed, but that he was killed by Viola and his ghost has been haunting Rebecca, which she learns when he attempts to hold her hand... and it passes right through.
    • Likewise, Hannah had been killed moments before she met Dani, when a Peter-possessed Miles pushed her down the well.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Mrs. Grose is Dead All Along here, something that's not even hinted at in the original novella.
    • Downplayed with Dani. While she dies where her book counterpart does not, she's hinted to still be "alive" in some capacity.
  • Decomposite Character: Dani and Henry. One interpretation of "Owen Wingrave" is that Owen (who is renamed Henry here) is heavily implied to be haunted by the soldier's ghost in his family's manor as representation of his own repressed sexuality, which leads to him breaking up with his female fiancee. While the family are given the name Wingrave and Henry is still haunted by a ghost on a nightly basis, all the subtext is transferred to Dani, who was in love with Henry's character in the short story but here is a closeted lesbian who is haunted by her male fiancé's ghost due to her sexuality.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • The storyteller notes how the sisters Viola and Perdita are left financially helpless when their father dies due to the sexist laws on inheritance and property in their age.
    • Dani and Jamie can't get married in the 1980s and have to wait for over a decade to even get a civil union.
  • Determinator: The Lady in the Lake. Her refusal to accept death and see her daughter once again was enough to not only bring herself back as a ghost, but to create a gravity well trapping all the other deads in Bly. It's also noticeable in how it acts: while all the other ghosts are stuck wandering with no clear purpose, risking to be caught in a cycle of memories and needing time and practice to even manifest, she follows her own, very precise routine, and is immediately able to not only manifest, but even kill.
  • Dirty Kid: Miles makes several sexually-charged comments, and spies on Dani undressing when she first arrives in the manor. This is because he's possessed by the adult Peter Quint.
  • Distant Finale: The framing narrative takes place in 2007, twenty years after the main story, and is eventually revealed to feature the surviving characters. Even with the various Time Skips in the final episode, the wedding likely takes place around seven years after Dani's death, which comes at the end of the main narrative.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Owen's mother's dementia is contrasted at various times with the condition of the ghostly and/or ghost-possessed people at Bly Manor. Owen's speech about the unreliability of her memories towards the end is frequently juxtaposed with Hannah and Flora's experiences of time loss and confusion in particular.
    • Dani being cursed by Viola/The Lady in the Lake and her and Jamie's relationship despite that mirrors that of being with someone who has a fatal illness.
    • Peter's attempts as a ghost to possess young Miles read a lot like sexual abuse. He's a trusted authority figure who is lying to Miles about what he's really doing by framing it as wanting to play a game with him, a game that Miles finds upsetting and uncomfortable, and which drives him to behave in troubling, unchildlike ways (including unusually sexual behaviour for a young boy). This is made even worse by the hints that Peter himself was sexually abused by his own father.
  • Domestic Abuse: Peter Quint was shown to be verbally and emotionally abusive towards Rebecca Jessel and still is in death; he was controlling and manipulative, got angry and withheld affection if she didn't do whatever he wanted, made her feel like only he understood her, and made wild accusations that she was flirting with Owen when they were just being friendly. It's eventually revealed that he tricked her into drowning herself so they could always be together.
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone around them can tell that there's something between Hannah and Owen, but the two of them are studiously oblivious.
  • Face Your Fears: At the end of the fourth episode, Dani finally confronts the specter of her dead fiancé head-on, and is able to move past her guilt and later start a relationship with Jamie.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Dani's. Like Viola, she will forever haunt Bly Manor, her beauty decaying, her mind fading, and her soul hollowing out, as the new Lady in the Lake to suppress Viola's curse. Unlike Viola, she will never take a life, or entrap another ghost, meaning she will be alone from now to the end of eternity.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Owen's mention of Flora's boyfriend in the final episode foreshadows the fact that the real Flora is the bride at the wedding in the framing narrative, something that's revealed within a few minutes.
  • Flower Motifs: Jamie shows Dani some moonflowers and explains how they take a lot of effort to cultivate and then only bloom for two months of the year, with each individual flower only blooming once before dying. She uses this as a metaphor for how getting close to people takes a lot of exhaustive effort, but sometimes you find someone who's worth it. This becomes the defining theme of Dani and Jamie's romance: finding the right person, and then consciously and consistently putting in the effort to make things work, one day at a time.
  • Flowers of Romance:
    • Peter gives Rebecca (indirectly through Flora) some flowers early on in their acquaintance to indicate his romantic interest in her.
    • Jamie gives Dani a moonflower—calling back to when they got together, see Flower Motifs above—when she tells her she loves her for the first time.
  • Foil: Jamie and Peter. Both come from lower-class backgrounds with abusive and/or neglectful parents, and fall in love with the Wingrave children's au pair. However, where Peter acts jealous and controlling toward Rebecca, and ultimately ends up killing her so that he won't end up alone, Jamie doesn't push Dani and gives her the space she needs to sort her feelings out, and ultimately commits to spending what time she can with her even knowing that she'll lose her sooner or later. They also have opposing personalities, with Jamie being prickly on the outside but kind and caring underneath, while Peter is cruel and vindictive beneath a charming exterior. Appropriately enough, they can't stand each other.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Hannah repeatedly excuses herself from meals for various reasons, some flimsier than others. Because ghosts can't eat.
    • Hannah asks Jamie to repair a crack in the kitchen's ceiling, only for Jamie to later find that there is no crack there. The crack follows Hannah around in the unlikeliest of places. It's revealed to be from a crack in the well that Hannah fell and died in.
    • Flora makes grave rubbings and asks Dani to do one with her inside the church. Flora leaves with Hannah before she can finish it and Dani picks it up after her, revealing the name underneath the paper to be of one Viola Lloyd, otherwise known as the Lady in the Lake.
    • Flora's remark about how horrible it would be to be dead and not know it is reminiscent of Hannah's situation.
  • Friend to All Children: Dani was a school teacher before she became the Wingraves' governess. When asked by Henry why she would want to be the au pair to his niece and nephew, she answers that she wanted a chance to make a real difference in a child's life, more than she could as just a teacher.
  • Freudian Excuse: Peter Quint has one: his father is hinted to have been a serial child molester, with his mother being complicit and an emotional abuser to boot.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Both Dani and Jamie have gender neutral names (albeit Dani is short for Danielle). The fact that Jamie is a woman could even be regarded as a minor reveal, since the character is mentioned a few times without pronouns before her first on-screen appearance. Could be regarded as a bit of foreshadowing that the two will end up in a relationship, as Jamie is introduced with every trope setting her up as the main character's love interest, even though Dani's sexuality won't be made clear for another two or three episodes.
  • The Ghost: Aside from the literal ghosts in the series, there's Owen's mother, who despite being mentioned frequently and providing a few plot points never actually appears. It becomes particularly noticeable in the finale, when there's no photograph of her where you might expect one to appear in Owen's restaurant alongside Hannah's, presumably because no-one was ever cast in the role.
  • Grand Theft Me: It's revealed that Peter and Rebecca's goal is to possess Miles and Flora, respectively, so they won't forget themselves like the other ghosts haunting Bly. In order to make it permanent, though, they have to be willingly invited in by the hosts, which they've been manipulating Miles and Flora into believing will be a good thing for everyone.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Perdita towards Viola. So much so that the once loving relationship the sisters had begins to sour as Perdita begins to feel neglected in comparison to her beautiful, strong-willed older sister admired by everyone, coupled with Viola's own bitterness and avarice at being sick leading to her to emotionally abuse Perdita, that Perdita smothers Viola to death.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: The feminine, gentle, initially weak and haunted Dani is blonde; her more masculine, tough, and fierce partner, later wife, Jamie has dark curly hair.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: All over the place:
    • Owen never gets over Hannah's death enough to love anyone else, but is still shown to be very professionally successful and have strong platonic relationships with the other surviving characters later in life.
    • Jamie after Dani's death. She is clearly still very much in love with and misses Dani, but is shown to be a well-adjusted and contented person otherwise. She even gives Flora some advice on how to find peace after the death of a spouse without forgetting them.
    • Henry seemingly never fully moves on from Charlotte's death (or that of his brother, for that matter), but is shown to have beaten his addictions and become a good father-figure to Miles and Flora.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • When the Lady in the Lake has Dani and is dragging her through the house, Flora gets on the bed at the endpoint of the Lady's walk, knowing that Viola will mistake her for her daughter like she did the Doll-Face Child, and lets herself be carried back toward the lake. She ultimately survives due to Dani's reciprocal Heroic Sacrifice, though.
    • Dani gives herself to Viola/The Lady in the Lake to save Flora. In turn, it releases all the ghosts caught in her gravity. Almost a decade later, however, the curse begins to overtake her, going so far as to give her nightmares of drowning Jamie. Rather than succumb to it, she makes the decision to go back to Bly Manor and drown herself in the lake to keep Viola's curse at bay and ensure that no one else will ever be taken by it.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Peter goes berserk at Rebecca so much as talking to another man. He, meanwhile, has no problem with spying on Dani while she undresses.
    • Peter gets angry and accuses Dani of taking advantage of the kids' good intentions by convincing them to free her after he gets pulled into memories in the attic, while he's in the middle of taking advantage of them to a much greater degree, even possessing Miles without consent or warning just a moment prior.
  • I Kiss Your Hand:
    • Miles kisses the back of Dani's hand in a gentlemanly way when they first meet.
    • After offering to keep Dani company while she lives with Viola's spirit inside her, Jamie links pinkies with Dani and then kisses her knuckles.
  • Ill-Fated Flowerbed: In the second episode, Miles while possessed by Peter cuts a bouquet of flowers from Jamie's garden for Dani, and destroys a section of the garden in the process, leading to one of the few times we see Jamie get genuinely angry. It's implied that this is something Peter has done before, like when he gave Rebecca (indirectly through Flora) a very similar bouquet in a flashback.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Dani and her fiancé Edmund. While she did love him, she began to realize that it was platonically and not romantically, as her sexuality as a lesbian began to awaken.
  • It's Not You, It's Me: How Dani broke up with Edmund. It was probably true, since Edmund was her best friend since childhood, but she is a lesbian. She even said that she loved him in every way except a sexual or romantic way.
  • Jump Scare: The most frequent offender is Dani's personal ghost, who frequently appears in mirrors and eventually just in thin air behind her.
  • Karmic Death: Perdita is Viola's first victim, as she strangles her to death in retaliation for killing her.
  • Kissing Cousins: Viola and Arthur, and later Arthur and Perdita, as was standard of the 17th century, to keep nobility bloodlines pure, and also to ensure Bly Manor stays in the family.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Owen is especially fond of attracting these, much to the rest of the household's grief.
    • He playfully tells Flora while making lunch that she can't put in too much salt or the food police will take her away "for as-salt and buttery."
    • When Jamie escorts him away after a night of drinking, he slurs "Al-co-hol you (I'll call you) later," which receives much eye-rolling from those present.
    • Owen's restaurant is called "A Batter Place," purely so he can make people groan by telling them they're in, well...
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: According to Owen, Flora and Miles have no memory of the supernatural events that happened at Bly Manor and have only a vague memory of Hannah. This is confirmed when the bride is revealed to be an older Flora who doesn't seem to recognize the story being told.
  • Lighter and Softer: Arguably compared to The Haunting of Hill House. The characters are all generally better adjusted than the Crain family, there is certainly much less bickering and death, the overall tone is less frightening, and the source of the Manor's haunting is much less malevolent, more an unwitting force of nature. And while it cannot be fully defeated, it is at least stopped for long enough to release all of the souls bound by it before coming back for a total of two souls bound, compared to Hill House where everyone who died remains forever bound within the house.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Dani, who is into other women, but also keeps her femininity at the surface.
  • Living on Borrowed Time: After Dani saves everyone by taking Viola's ghost into herself, she can tell that Viola won't be dormant forever and someday she'll resurface, so she and Jamie decide to take things one day at a time, not knowing how long they'll have before that happens. They end up getting around thirteen years.
  • Longing Look: An early hint at Dani and Jamie's feelings for each other is how often the camera focuses on one of them looking at the other, sometimes turning into a Held Gaze.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Jamie and Dani.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • It's never fully confirmed if the story is true or imaginary. Though the Storyteller/Jamie tells the eager listeners it's the latter, some hints throughout the ending throw her claim into questionable territory.
    • Even in the story, while most of the weirdness is confirmed to be real, it's never definitively said if Dani's visions of Edmund and Henry's doppelganger were real or just trauma-induced hallucinations. A case can be made for the second since both disappeared as soon as Dani and Henry face their respective demons, something that can't be said for any of the other ghosts.
  • Meaningful Echo: During the first episode, Owen says that Bly is like a gravity well, all those who are born there seem to end up dying there as well. Near the end of the story, the Lady of Bly Manor, Viola, is referred to as a gravity well herself, as her force of will causes the souls of anyone who dies within the premises of Bly Manor to remain there for all eternity, trapped with her.
  • Metaphorical Marriage: After she and Jamie have lived together for some time, Dani gives her a ring and says that, although they can't formally get married (as same-sex marriage isn't yet legal), she still wants to spend the rest of her life with her. They later enter into a civil union, and Jamie still wears the ring years after Dani's death.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: While Arthur and Perdita do marry after Viola's death, they did not have an affair while Viola was still alive. Viola assumes that they are, or that Perdita is making moves on her husband, and she abuses Perdita over it. Her ongoing abuse of Perdita eventually leads to her sister killing her.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Dani hears crickets during the first night of her job; an astonishing feat, since the field cricket is nearly extinct in England.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The surname of the manor's family, which is not given in the original story, is said here to be Wingrave. This name is taken from the noble family featured in the 1885 revision of Henry James' The Romance of Certain Old Clothes. When the show eventually adapts that story, the family there is given their original surname of Willoughby. James also used that surname in his short story Owen Wingrave, which is how the cook here gets his first name.
    • Many readers of The Turn of the Screw have interpreted Peter's corrupting influence over Miles to have been partly sexual in nature. The Haunting of Bly Manor flips this on its head by having a wholesome same-sex romance between Dani and Jamie be one of the good influences that helps overcome the evil in the house.
    • The reveal that Peter was sexually abused by his father as a child might be seen as a nod to this interpretation of the source material.
    • Peter and Rebecca tell Flora and Miles to think of their "Forever House." This was the same term meaningfully used by Olivia Crain in the previous series.
    • Hannah passes a message to Owen through Henry’s spirit as he hovers between life and death. She ends with “the rest is all...” and is cut off by Henry’s revival before she can say the last word, confetti.
  • Narrator All Along: An older Jamie is revealed to have been the Storyteller at the wedding.
  • Near-Death Experience: Henry almost becomes a ghost of Bly Manor, after he is killed by The Lady in the Lake when trying to rescue Flora. Thankfully Owen is able to revive him before he passes over with the others after Dani breaks the curse, though he is able to carry a message from Hannah to Owen.
  • Nephewism:
    • At the end of the series Lord Henry finally start to get a grip of himself and tries to figure out how to raise his niece and nephew. Him being their father in all the way that matter is revealed in the Wedding Epilogue where he shares the father-daughter dance with Flora. There is no indication that he ever revealed that he was her biological father.
    • On some level, Perdita, who, due to Viola being too ill to do so herself, assisted Arthur in raising their daughter Isobel.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Dominic and Charlotte Wingrave treated the staff at Bly Manor more like family than employees. Hannah in particular had a close friendship with Charlotte.
  • Noodle Incident: Dominic and Charlotte's accident in India is never explained. Henry's darker alter ego suggests there is a scandal in how they specifically died, but it is never revealed.
  • Oblivious to Love: According to Jamie, all the ladies in Bly have a thing for Owen, yet he barely even acknowledges them.
  • Obvious Villain, Secret Villain: Peter Quint has been advertised as being bad news from the first minute, as he is already missing from the grounds, having stolen money from Henry, and already a malevolent presence. Unbeknownst to any of the characters, though, they were also menaced by the Lady in the Lake that nobody knew was Viola Willoughby because even she had forgotten her name or purpose.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: About half of the cast are North Americans (Henry Thomas for one) playing Brits, and their own accents creep in a lot of the time. In particular is the Storyteller later revealed to be an older Jamie, whose cod-northern accent is not only shaky, but is also prevalent throughout the penultimate episode, which is jarring for native speakers.
  • Papa Wolf: Henry rushes to Flora's rescue after hearing her screams for help, and is effortlessly killed by the Lady in the Lake in the process.
  • Pet the Dog: When Flora talks about the faceless child she saw, Henry gives her some very insightful and constructive advice on overcoming fear and using her imagination, showing that he does have it in him to be a good parental figure.
  • Plague Doctor: One haunts Bly Manor, mostly seen in the background of scenes. It's revealed he was a victim of the Lady in the Lake.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Arthur blaming Perdita's death on the chest is described by the Storyteller as irrational and superstitious — but he's exactly right.
    • Dani is treated by Jamie as if she's being paranoid when she sees the Lady in the Lake and realizes she's taking over her body. She is completely right and it's heavily implied that Jamie knows that, but is just in denial because it means Dani's death.
  • Pungeon Master: Owen is constantly making bad puns. In the ending, he even gives his restaurant a Punny Name: A Batter Place.
  • Queer Flowers: Lesbian couple Dani and Jamie have "moonflowers". Moons are also associated with femininity, which is a further indication of their womanhood.
  • Raised Catholic: Hannah is often found praying in the Manor's chapel, and lighting candles in remembrance of the dead. She also clutches her crucifix necklace whenever she's stressed, such as when she fears that Peter is back.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: In The Turn of the Screw, siblings Flora and Miles are under the guardianship of their uncle after their parents died. In this adaptation it's revealed that Flora is in fact her 'uncle's' biological daughter, as he had an affair with his sister-in-law. He never tells her this out guilt and respect for his brother, who figured out the truth but still regarded Flora as his daughter.
  • The Resenter:
    • Perdita to Viola, who after her growing jealousy towards her sister, she smothers her to death...and in the process, sets in motion Bly Manor's dark and violent history.
    • Also Peter Quint, who wants to ascend in the world but feels he isn't getting the respect he deserves from anyone, especially Henry.
  • Rich Language, Poor Language: The British characters fall into this across the board. The Wingraves, who are among the peerage, all speak with very posh accents. Meanwhile, among the manor's staff, Rebecca, a well-educated prospective lawyer, has a higher-class accent than Hannah and Owen, respectively a housekeeper and a cook, while Jamie, a groundskeeper and the daughter of a coal miner, has a strong Northern accent.
  • Romantic Fake–Real Turn: Viola married Arthur just to ensure the Manor stayed in her possession, she had no idea or intention that they would fall genuinely in love with each other, to Perdita's thinly veiled detestation.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Dani gets literally trapped in a closet which causes her to have a panic attack.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: The most distinguishing feature of Dani's mirror ghost. They're reflecting the headlights of the truck that ran him over.
  • Setting Update: The Turn of the Screw is set in the 19th century, while this series moves the setting of the main story to the 1980's; the Storyteller is telling the story in 2007.
  • Shadow Archetype: Of the Foil variety. Jamie and Peter are reflections of each other. Jamie is also stated to have grown up in a violent, abusive household, which she came to Bly to escape. They both fall madly in love with the governess (Dani and Rebecca). However, Jamie and Dani have a long, happy relationship, and while both relationships end in the deaths of Dani and Rebecca, and Peter's own death, Jamie only wants the best and is able to move on, while grief-stricken, years later.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Peter is immaculate in his personal grooming and dress, ensuring his physical presentation is no less than perfect.
  • Sibling Triangle:
    • Perdita met Arthur first, and the two were charmed by each other, but once Viola entered the picture, Perdita's chances with Arthur severely diminished. Arthur almost immediately fell in love with Viola and married her, but his feelings for Perdita seemed to never go away, and thus after Viola's death, or in reality murder, he married Perdita. However their marriage was never quite as happy or loving as Arthur's to Viola.
    • Henry/Charlotte/Dominic. She married Dominic, but had an affair with Henry, who was in love with her. Although he fathered Flora, she was committed to her marriage and both died as a result.
  • Something Completely Different: Episode 8, "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes," puts the rising action on pause right before the finale to detail the history of Bly Manor and the Lady and the Lake in full Monochrome Past mode.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Miles survives in this adaptation instead of mysteriously dying and goes on to live a long, happy life.
  • Starcrossed Lovers: Take your pick.
    • First and foremost there is Peter and Rebecca. After stealing a hefty amount of money from the manor, Peter flees, leaving Rebecca alone with her sorrow and pushing her to drown herself in the lake. Only it isn't as cut and dry as we are first led to believe.
    • Then there is Henry and Charlotte. He loved her deeply, but she was committed to her husband and children. Then when both she and Dominic went on a trip to India to rekindle their marriage, the accident happened.
    • Hannah and Owen. Their blossoming romance is cut short when it's revealed in Episode Five that Hannah has been dead all along.
    • Dani and Jamie. As shown in Episode Nine, the two do fall deeply in love and have many long years together. However, after Dani starts having nightmares of strangling Jamie in her sleep, she leaves in the middle of the night and drowns herself in the lake on Bly Manor's estate, becoming the new Lady in the Lake in order to protect the world from Viola's curse.
  • Story Within a Story: The series itself is a ghost story being told at a rehearsal dinner the night before a young couple weds in a supposedly haunted manor.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: The Lady in the Lake, a ghostly woman who roams the grounds, wearing a white dress and with long, stringy black hair. She's revealed to be Viola, the former lady of the manor.
  • Stronger with Age: The Lady in the Lake is by far the physically strongest ghost, capable of snapping necks with one hand, and easily dragging and lifting fully grown adults. By contrast new ghosts struggle to be corporate enough to pick up items. Possibly downplayed, since her very first manifestation is her snapping a person's neck, and it's more likely connected to her own willpower and obsession, which is what causes the whole curse in the first place.
  • There Are No Therapists: Initially played straight with regard to the Wingrave kids and their obvious grief and trauma, but eventually Jamie (who had to go to mandatory therapy while in prison) does suggest to Dani that she take Flora to a psychologist instead of a medical doctor when her sleepwalking and troubling behaviour gets particularly bad.
  • Three Faces of Eve: Hannah is the wife, who is extremely kind, stable, and keeps Bly running. The brash, loud Jamie is a different version of the seductress; although she's not traditionally feminine, her more Butch Lesbian appearance is actually much more suited the role of the seductress because she isn't try to hide her sexual identity (unlike the love of her life, Dani). Dani is the child, as the newcomer to Bly and close friend to the children. However, Dani and Hannah switch roles throughout the story with the revelation that Miles killed Hannah, who is not aware of it.
  • Tragic Dream: Everyone.
    • Peter has the dream of advancement and going to America with Rebecca. Which never happened because the Lady of the Lake killed him. Also, YMMV whether he ever deserved it and it wouldn't have been a happy life for her with his vicious jealousy and abusiveness.
    • Rebecca has her dream of becoming a solicitor. Which never happens because Peter kills her so they can be Together in Death. Also, that one never happens because Peter actually intends to dominate her.
    • Owen and Hannah both have their united dream of moving to Paris so Owen can start his restaurant and they can be together. Which never happens because Miles killed her. Although Owen does get his restaurant in Paris.
    • Jamie and Dani have their dream of having a relationship. Which eventually happens, but it's tragically cut short by Dani's possession by the Lady of the Lake.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Dani has a pair of glasses with a broken lens, which belonged to her former fiancé and were given to her by his mother after he died. She ultimately ends up throwing them in the bonfire so that she can move on, because they served mainly as a reminder of the guilt she feels about the events leading up to his death.
  • Tragic Villain:
    • Viola/The Lady in the Lake, the former Lady of the Manor, who, after being murdered by her jealous sister, has been haunting the house for so long that her soul is just a husk of its former self, simply doomed to mindlessly repeat the cycle of wandering the halls of the Manor, killing all those unfortunate enough to cross her path.
    • Though YMMV over whether his sympathetic traits are enough to truly downplay his negative ones, Peter Quint has had a rough life. As a child, he was sexually abused by his father while his mother tried to convince him that it was perfectly normal. He managed to to get his way into a position working for a well respected law firm as a valet, but he is fully aware that his low class origins means he will never rise any higher in position with Henry, and then to top it off, his mother worms her way back into his life just to blackmail him into stealing from his boss's family for her and his father while showing zero remorse for what they had done to him. And he seems to genuinely love Rebecca, though he can't help but be selfish when push comes to shove (he's extremely jealous of her tasting the batter that Owen was working on, despite the fact that he had just gotten everyone else in the room to try it first, and when he commits suicide in Rebecca's body after realizing their plan had failed, he abandons her body just in time for Rebecca to be the one to actually experience the pain of drowning).
  • Transparent Closet: The second Dani and Jamie see each other for the first time, the camera starts working overtime trying to focus on each of them gazing lovingly at the other.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • Miles and Flora have endured the death of their parents, abandonment by their uncle (their only living relative left to them), and the suicide of their au pair. And that doesn’t even cover being plagued by ghosts.
    • Perdita endures the death of her father and the frightening reality of her and her sister left destitute if they lose control of the manor. She then steps aside for Viola to marry Arthur even though it’s clear she has feelings for him. Then Viola falls ill and Perdita becomes her main caregiver for the six years she lingers on, becoming a bitter, abusive shell of herself. When she finally reached her limit and smothers her sister she thinks she is performing a mercy, but admits to herself after that it was for selfish reasons. And then her newly found happiness married to Arthur crumbles as money troubles drive them apart and Isobel rejects her as a mother and she never produces a child of her own. When she breaks and opens the trunk intending to save their home with the money, she has a brief moment of wistful happiness of how happy and comfortable she and her sister once were as she goes through the silks. Then Viola’s vengeful spirit chokes the life out of her and traps her to suffer forever.
    • Dani spent a large part of her life repressing her sexuality and trying to feel the way she thought she was supposed to about her childhood best friend, even agreeing to marry him, but always knowing that it wasn't right for her. Then, when she finally told him that she couldn't marry him, he got angry at her and then immediately got hit by a truck and died, leaving her wracked with guilt and grief, to the point of running away to England to escape and manifesting a specter of him that haunts her. At Bly Manor, she is finally able to make a connection with a woman she actually has feelings for, but is held back by the specter's haunting, and once she finally is able to banish it and gets together with Jamie, they only get one day of being happy together before Dani first is knocked out and tied up in the attic by Peter and Rebecca and then sacrifices her future by inviting Viola's ghost into herself to save Flora. She does get thirteen years together with Jamie after that, but Viola starts haunting her increasingly after only about five, and after Viola inside her nearly chokes Jamie in her sleep she finally returns to Bly Manor and drowns herself in the lake to become the new Lady in the Lake and prevent Viola from harming anyone else.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Both Miles and Flora engage in this, but especially Miles, who among other things is caught smoking, drinking, swearing, and leering at the female house staff. This is one of the earliest signs that he's possessed by professional Jerkass Peter Quint.
  • Unnervingly Heartwarming: The scene in which Miles apologises to Dani for his earlier misbehaviour by giving her a bouquet of flowers might have been cute and heartwarming... except for the fact that Miles appears to be flirting with Dani, even stroking her hair. Quite apart from the off-putting nature of a ten-year-old flirting with his adult au pair, Dani is clearly alarmed by the hair-stroking and not at all comfortable with anything in this scene. For good measure, it's revealed that Miles is frequently possessed by the ghost of Peter Quint, meaning that an adult is essentially using the body of a child to make sexual advances on a grown woman.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In her story to the guests, Jamie recounts information that she couldn't possibly have, such as the content of Peter, Rebecca, and Hannah's dreams and Viola's backstory. She also gets elements incorrect, like the belief that Dani's spirit is stuck at Bly Manor. The latter is disproven when Dani's hand is visible on her shoulder in the final shot, which softens the tragedy slightly.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Perdita is indirectly responsible for the entire plot; her murder of her sister and attempt to steal her niece's inheritance led to Viola becoming a vengeful ghost, whose curse has trapped many people at Bly over the centuries.
  • Wham Episode: While every episode has one or more major reveal, "The Altar of the Dead" is particularly notable. Within one episode, several things are revealed that make a lot of earlier things start to make more sense, namely that the Lady in the Lake is not Rebecca and is a serious threat, that Peter is dead and it's his ghost that Dani has been seeing, that Peter has been possessing Miles and that's why he keeps acting weird, and, finally, that Hannah herself has unknowingly been a ghost the whole time and died just moments before she first appeared in the story, and the crack that she keeps seeing on walls is from the well that she fell down.
  • Willing Channeler: A living individual must give consent for a Bly ghost to permanently possess them. All shown invitations involve saying "It's you, it's me, it's us" to the ghost. Their body then gains a brown left eye, and the Bly ghost can leave the manor in their new body.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Peter tricks Miles into letting him take over his body, so his soul can escape from Bly. He does show regret later, giving Miles a tearful apology before passing over with Rebecca.
    • Viola carries a small child to their death in the lake, believing them to be her daughter Isabel. Later she attempts the same with Flora.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: Rebecca. Her love for Flora makes it so that she cannot bring herself to take possession of the girl's body, even if she herself will wither and decay into a former shell of herself like the rest of the ghosts at Bly Manor. In order to trick Peter, she has Flora pretend that she has been successfully possessed, then begs Dani to take Flora away from the Manor and its curse when Miles/Peter is distracted. Later when Flora is abducted by the Lady in the Lake, since Rebecca cannot intervene, due to her being a ghost, she instead promises Flora she will go through her death for her, so the little girl will not feel the horror and pain of drowning to death.

"I liked your story, but I think you set it up wrong in the beginning. You said it was a ghost story. It isn't. It's a love story."
The Bride reacts to the Storyteller's tale

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: