Bridgerton S3 Made One Source Arc So Much More Heartbreaking

Bridgerton S3 Made One Source Arc So Much More Heartbreaking
Image credit: Netflix

We're not ready for what's to come.


  • Shondaland writers are not afraid to add drama and heartbreak to the original Bridgerton stories.
  • This is especially evident in the Season 3 arc of Francesca Bridgerton.
  • Her book storyline was pretty heart-wrenching, but the show has made it even more devastating.

Bridgerton is first and foremost a romance, which usually means that no matter how many challenges the characters have to go through, they will find their happily ever after in the end. However, Shonda Rhimes and her team of creators at Shondaland have a famous penchant for drama, so their adaptation is much more heart-wrenching than the original Julia Quinn novel series.

This has become especially evident in Season 3. While the latest chapter focused on the arcs of its leads, Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton, and their journey from friends to happy family, there was the second main storyline that set up a lot of heartbreak for future seasons.

Francesca Bridgerton's story

Those who never read Julia Quinn's books may have been confused by the amount of screen time Colin's younger sister, Francesca, got in the new episodes. She made her debut, was named Diamond of the Season, had a brief courtship with a lord chosen for her by Queen Charlotte, met her perfect match, John Striling, got engaged behind the Queen's back, came clean, married John, and finally went off to his Scottish estate. Sounds like a season's worth of Bridgerton, right?

Well, Fran's story is far from over. In the source books, the part of her arc shown in Season 3 takes place almost entirely behind the scenes. Francesca and John's courtship and wedding are mentioned in passing. All because the focus is on Francesca's second love story.

Yes, the sixth Bridgerton gets two love stories and two marriages in the original books. John Stirling dies unexpectedly after two years of marriage, leaving Fran devastated. She mourns for another four years and then gradually falls in love again with John's cousin, Michael Stirling, who was gender-swapped in the Netflix show.

The Loss That Will Hit Hard

Even in the books, Francesca's grief over the loss of her husband is hard to witness. But the Shondaland show has made it so much worse. While in the novel, John remains mostly a memory, in the show, we got to know and adore him.

Bridgerton S3 Made One Source Arc So Much More Heartbreaking - image 1

Victor Alli's character is handsome, kind, humble (he's an Earl who never mentions it!), a bit socially awkward, and undeniably charming. For many viewers, Fran and John's love story felt even more real and relatable than Colin and Penelope's. Their quiet romance was touching. So when the Season 3 finale featured a long shot of John after the wedding minister said, 'Until your dying breath,' those familiar with Julia Quinn's series had their hearts sinking.

There's no doubt that when Fran's season arrives, John's death will be felt on a personal level by viewers. Frankly, we almost wish the Shondaland writers wouldn't create such a sympathetic and three-dimensional character just to kill him off in the future.

Would you prefer John Stirling to be a supporting character without much focus on him?