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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Thomas Culpepper is shown to attack a random villager's home, raping her and murdering her husband. While this scene certainly happened in real life, it is completely unrelated to the rest of the show, and is never referred to in any way again. It's particularly strange given that Culpepper and Katherine Howard are actually portrayed somewhat sympathetically, as two people who genuinely love each other but are too young and foolish to recognize how dangerous what they're doing is. Although it's implied that Culpepper started out just wanting to bed Catherine, and fell in love in spite of himself. Love changing someone for the better in the most inconvenient situation for it ever in the 1500s?
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Getting Cromwell sentenced to death on trumped up charges was fine, plus about what you'd expect for political enemies in the show, but it was probably not in very good taste to get his executioner drunk to the point where decapitating him took five hits of the axe and needed someone sober to finish the job.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome:
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Anne Boleyn and arguably Thomas Cromwell. Mary isn't quite at their level, but has plenty of fans too.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Following Catharine of Aragon's death, the last scene of 2.07 sees Anne wearing a beautiful yellow gown, ecstatic that she is once more pregnant. In the time period this show was set in, several historians have discovered that yellow was the color of mourning in Spain. Anne is basically mocking Katharine's death by choosing to wear that gown on the heels of her death.
    • Gets worse when you learn that in reality, both Henry and Anne wore yellow in public after Catharine's death, and are reported to have celebrated wildly upon receiving the news.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In 2017 Jonathan Rhys-Meyers' wife suffered a miscarriage of their second child, causing a relapse of his drug addiction.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Natalie Dormer's character, Anne Boleyn, has a gay brother and is falsely accused for adultery. Maergery Tyrell, which Dormer played later on, is an Expy of Anne Boleyn who also has a gay brother and is also charged with adultery, though the latter is only in the books.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Oh boy. It's pretty much become a Running Gag at this point.
    • While Henry VIII was described as a handsome Fiery Redhead in his youth, he weighed over 400 pounds by his fifties since he couldn't be as active as he used to be because of a jousting accident. Up until Season 4, he's played by a very slender and muscular brunette Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, also known as the face of Hugo Boss.
    • Katherine of Aragon was also quite attractive in her youth, but comtemporaries say that her good looks eventually faded away because of her many pregnancies and miscarriages, resulting in her auburn hair greying and her becoming overweight. Here, she's played by a brunette Maria Doyle Kennedy (despite her real hair color being the same as Katherine's), who is certainly not unattractive.
    • Whether Anne Boleyn was pretty or not is up to debate, though most will agree it was perhaps more a case of charisma over looks and that she wasn't attractive by Tudor England standards, since she had a darker complexion and hair contrarily to the pale skin and blonde hair that was preferred at the time. Here, she's played by Natalie Dormer, who may not be conventionally attractive, but try to find one person who won't agree to say she's gorgeous.
    • While Jane Seymour corresponded more to the beauty ideal of the time compared to Anne Boleyn, she was said to be quite plain and insignificant. She's played by Anita Briem in Season 2, and Annabelle Wallis in Seasons 3 and 4, and both of them are definitely not plain.
    • Anne of Cleves, who was said by Henry VIII to "look like a horse", is played by Joss Stone. Averted to an extent: see Hollywood Homely below.
    • Ironically enough, Catherine Parr, who was in her early thirties when she married Henry, is played by Joely Richardson, who was then in her late forties. Although it must be said that while contemporaries said Catherine was past her prime by the time she married Henry, Joely Richardson is definitely not bad-looking.
    • The real Charles Brandon looked like this. Here's, he's played by Henry Cavill.
    • Thomas Cromwell is played by James Frain, who is honestly pretty good-looking compared to the portraits we have of Cromwell.
  • Hollywood Homely: Anne of Cleves as played by Joss Stone. "Looks like a horse"? Okay-then.
    • Probably the point: Anne of Cleves was considered quite attractive by most people who weren't Henry, and if you look at the portraits by Hans Holbein the Younger, she even looks a bit like Joss Stone. Hence it being about how irrationally temperamental Henry was rather than about her actual attractiveness. In real life, it's quite likely that Henry was more interested by then in pursuing the 16 year old Catherine Howard, and so needed an out from the marriage. As well as a reaction to her lack of attraction to him - understandable given the state of Henry in real life by this point, but obviously a thing he would take umbrage with.
  • Ho Yay: The composer Thomas Tallis and William Compton.
    • Later, George Boleyn and Mark Smeaton. During the Season 2 finale, George Boleyn and Mark Smeaton are accused of treason/sleeping with Anne Boleyn and are executed.
  • Les Yay: Slightly hinted between Queen Katherine Howard and her old friend, Joan Bulmer.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Thomas Cromwell. Critics agree, James Frain is one of the best things on the show. He will be missed. Apparently Henry, doing his typical later reflection, would agree (about Cromwell that is. I don't think the real Henry knew Frain).
    • Cardinal Wolsey was no slouch when it came to some magnificent bastardy on his party playing the political games of court and European politics like a pro. His later downfall from Henry's favor is made more tragic because it was largely to outside circumstances than anything he did aside from taking the pension from the French that is.
    • Edward Seymour shows flashes of this. So does his wife: especially in the last few episodes. Which is appropriate; historically Edward and Anne Seymour were quite the power couple, but apparently there is no such thing as a functional marriage on this show, hence Anne having two on-screen affairs.
  • Moral Event Horizon: After seeing Thomas Culpepper rape a game keeper's wife and then kill her husband when the man tried to bring him to justice, with no remorse and instead a tad of annoyance what's coming to him can't come soon enough.
  • Narm:
    • The siege of Boulogne, due to a combination of dodgy CGI and even dodgier French accents.
    • Jonathan Rhys Meyers' attempt at acting like an old man in the last two episodes, which largely consists of a hoarse voice about on par with Christian Bale's Batman, and random pauses that come off more like he's having trouble remembering his lines.
    • When William Brereton is arrested, the King's men find him stark naked, kneeling before an altar and praying. The guardsmen take it completely in stride, which makes the scene funnier.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Will Sommers shows up in one episode (played by David Bradley) to cheer Henry up after Jane Seymour dies.
    • Also, Thomas Cranmer's wife in the dinner scene with Cranmer and Cromwell, telling off the top reformers in England for not moving fast enough, and adding a verbal slapdown to the jokes about her being illegal as well as outspoken, "two reasons to hide her." Her lecture finishes with "Now you can put me back in my box!" aka the box she was mailed to England in, that Cranmer still uses to hide her when traveling around the city.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Anne Boleyn. When she first appeared she was hated by most of the fans (for just being Anne Boleyn and a lot of biased history writers paint her out as the villain) but quickly grew into the perhaps most beloved character on the show (at least in its first two seasons). When she met her demise a lot of fans said they didn't want to watch anymore now that she was gone.
    • Mary Tudor also arrived with a lot of negative historical baggage but her portrayal as a seriously flawed yet very sympathetic character won viewers over. At the end of the show, many fans were expressing disappointment that they wouldn't get to see Sarah Bolger's take on Queen Mary.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • In one episode Henry passes a poor woodsman on the road and casually confiscates his wife for the night. The wife in question is Katie McGrath, who was working in the wardrobe department at the time, and played Morgana on Merlin and Lena Luthor on Supergirl.
    • Charles Brandon is now Superman in Man of Steel.
    • Henry's elder daughter Mary is Sleeping Beauty on Once Upon a Time. Philip of Bavaria, her suitor in the Season 3 finale, is Captain Hook.
    • Francis Bryan lost the eye patch and got promoted to the king of France.
      • Which makes it entirely possible that the actor's two characters met in Real Life, although his Reign character would have almost certainly been a child at the time.
    • Natalie Dormer (who played Anne Boleyn) is Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones. And now Cressida in the Hunger Games film adaptations.
      • Likewise guest starring in one episode was David Bradley (playing the kings fool Will Sommers) and Ian Beattie (The Sergeant-at-arms) both of whom would go on to play Walder Frey and Meryn Trant in Game of Thrones
  • Typecasting: After Casanova, this was the second of Natalie Dormer's many roles as a period drama temptress.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Remind us, Katherine Howard, Thomas Culpepper: why was the woman three queens back executed? That's right, for adultery. And what happened to the men who were accused of being her lovers? They were executed too, right again. So, explain to us... how is it a good idea to have mad passionate sex with your lord and master's new trophy wife, and vice versa with the staff?
    • It becomes even worse when you remember that Katherine Howard was Anne Boleyn's cousin.
    • Francis Dereham repeatedly and loudly brags about his previous relationship with Katherine Howard, heedless of his friend's warnings to keep his mouth shut or he'll be in big trouble. He also blackmails Katherine into giving him a high-ranking job, with neither of them realizing that if he did shoot his mouth off (something he was, for all intents and purposes, doing already), they'd both be screwed. Sure enough, when the truth reaches Henry's ears, Dereham is arrested, tortured, condemned, and subjected to an extremely Cruel and Unusual Death.
    • Also Katherine Parr, a bit. Appointing the guy who was just stripped of his bishop's role for suspected heresy as your chaplain is a bit of a risk, as her sister points out.
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency??: An initial reaction to hearing Joss Stone would be playing Anne of Cleves, casting a singer with no previous acting experience in a difficult part that also involves speaking with a foreign accent sounds like a recipe for disaster. As it turned out, she was very good. Although one still wonders why she was cast as the wife Henry deemed too ugly for him to be able to procreate with. She was initially supposed to play Jane Seymour but had to drop out due to scheduling conflict. (Although, courtiers writing after Henry's death apparently said that Anne of Cleves was the most beautiful of Henry's wives and some people think that Henry became impotent at this point due to weight gain and blamed Anne.)
  • The Woobie:
    • Katherine of Aragon. Her daughter too.
    • Anne of Cleves, until Henry divorced her. Then she became the happiest (as well as luckiest) of his wives.
    • Suffolk in Season 3 turns into an Anti-Villain after Henry and Cromwell's ruthlessness becomes too much for him. He's haunted by his actions against the northern rebels, his wife miscarries a child, and even him gaining some last minute happiness with a mistress doesn't alter his Woobie status.


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