Netflix has gone all in on Bridgerton, greenlighting the Shondaland series through Season 4 and adding a Queen Charlotte prequel spinoff. But the assumption that the show will continue to follow the books is less certain than it was at the time of the series’ launch. That’s because Season 2 changed a lot from page to screen, which could have significant consequences for Bridgerton Season 3. Naturally, fans are running wild with Bridgerton Season 3 theories.
Warning: Spoilers for Bridgerton Season 2 follow. Season 1 of Bridgerton made some significant changes to author Julia Quinn’s regency universe, but the central romance of Daphne and Simon stayed faithful to what was on the page. Season 2 initially seemed to be following the same path, with Anthony’s love story centered as it is in Quinn’s second Bridgerton book, The Viscount Who Loved Me, but the show radically altered the actual love story between Anthony and Kate. Currently, it seems likely Bridgerton Season 3 and 4 will continue to follow the books in first centering Benedict’s novel, An Offer From a Gentleman, followed by Colin’s, Romancing Mister Bridgerton. But Netflix hasn’t confirmed this, and considering Books 5 and 6 take place concurrently with Book 4, the coming seasons could be utterly upended.
With so many changes to The Viscount Who Loved Me in Bridgerton Season 2, fans are theorizing bigger things are coming in Season 3 that no one expects. Let’s run down some of the guesses.
1. Sophie’s Story Will Be Majorly Altered
Quinn’s An Offer From a Gentleman is, for all intents and purposes, “Bridgerton Does Cinderella.” Sophie Beckett is the daughter of the Earl of Penwood, born out of wedlock to one of his mistresses and left on the Earl’s doorstep. She’s his treasured daughter... until he marries the new Countess, Araminta, who hates Sophie on sight and moves her daughters, Posy and Rosamund, into her rooms. Then Sophie’s father passes away, which makes a bad situation worse. Luckily, the earl was smart enough to know his wife is a horror and structured his will to force her not to throw Sophie out into the street. But while the countess keeps Sophie under her roof, she does so as a servant.
Part 1 of the novel features Sophie stealing away to a ball, meeting Benedict, and running out at midnight. Part 2 happens three years later when he meets her as a servant. Not knowing she’s the mystery girl of his dreams from the ball and believing her to be of lower stature, he proposes she become his mistress.
But the master-servant dynamic in the novel is... problematic, to say the least. Benedict doesn’t see Sophie as his equal until her status as a duke’s daughter is revealed. For the series adaptation it’s possible that, instead of a servant, Sophie could simply be a commoner in disguise. Maybe she’s given a background like Kate Sharma’s, with a birth status that’s simply ill-defined. Or she could be someone born not in London — think Jamaica or South Africa of one of the other British colonies — that changes up her background.
2. Benedict’s Attitude Toward Sophie’s Status Will Be Different
Benedict does not come off well in the master-servant trope in Quinn’s book. He’s oblivious, overbearing, and supercilious; he treats Sophie-the-servant like a disposable place to park while he searches for, unbeknownst to him, the very same Sophie-the-masked-mystery-woman.
The show has already done a lot of work to make Benedict likable. Seasons 1 and 2 added plotlines making him Eloise’s closest sibling and giving him an art career, a taste of the Bohemian lifestyle, and resentment toward Anthony. It’s also given him a couple of ex-girlfriends. Also, Anthony just married someone whose parentage isn’t aristocratic. That could make the entire family’s accepting attitude toward Sophie’s background more in character with what has come before, and lead Benedict to treat her as an equal.
3. Benedict’s Story Will Start With A Time Jump
Benedict and Sophie’s story spans a three-year time jump in the books. The two initially meet in Part 1, set in 1815, one year after Anthony’s love story, and they seem to be on the same course as the other two books. But then Sophie runs off, and Benedict doesn’t see her for three years until they accidentally meet again in Part 2, in 1818, and then he doesn’t recognize her.
Bridgerton seasons are only eight episodes long, so the show will probably need to get creative with its pacing. Rather than split the story directly in half, Part 1 of the book could span a single episode, followed by the rest of Part 2’s story. Or, perhaps Bridgerton will show the first part’s events in flashbacks all throughout the episode.
4. Bridgerton Will Switch Colin And Benedict’s Story Order
There is an emerging theory that the show could switch everything up altogether. The final episode of Bridgerton Season 2 comes down hard on the Colin and Penelope misunderstanding that convinces her he has zero interest in ever being more than friends, followed by the Peneloise breakup. Although these two moments could be more about giving them a lead-up to their romances in the more distant future, some fans suspect it’s proof the show will either skip over Benedict’s story or move his main character arc to Season 4 in order to focus on Colin, Pen, and Eloise.
If the show were to do that, it would upend everything. Colin, Eloise, and Francesca’s romances all happen simultaneously in the social season of 1825, 10 years from where the show is now. To move to Colin (but not the other two) would be a radical decision; switching him and Benedict would alter a lot. To move all three would be even bigger and could make Seasons 3 and 4 a two-season story about all three, skipping over Benedict altogether.
5. Penelope Will Be The Featheringtons’ Financial Hero
In the books, Penelope is independently wealthy and living apart from her terrible family when she and Colin finally fall in love. With Lady Featherington having removed the Jack issue from the family in Season 2, the Featheringtons are set for a while. But should another hardship come along, Penelope’s growing wealth will probably have to bail out her family. That would also allow Lady Featherington to discover who her daughter really is and hopefully come to respect her in ways she’s never been able to.
6. The Rollicking Ensemble Will Remain
One of the best things Bridgerton does is take the one-on-one romances from the books and turn them into giant ensemble pieces in which every sibling has an ongoing story (or at least, nearly every sibling). Fans expect Colin to find yet another doomed love affair, and perhaps a bad investment or two, before going on extended travels to set up his romantic return. Eloise will probably have to deal with the fallout that will leave her a spinster for her own story. And with the possible time jump ahead, Francesca, Hyacinth, and Gregory will probably start getting more to do to set up their future marriages.
Moreover, Bridgerton producers may have learned a lesson when it let Regé-Jean Page exit the series. Although Simone Ashley (Kate) and Charithra Chandran (Edwina) have said they don’t know if they’ll return for Season 3 (or beyond), it’s far more likely the show will keep at least Kate around, if not both women. After all, the queen offered to set Edwina up with Prince Friedrich at the end of Season 2.
Seasons 1 and 2 of Bridgerton are streaming on Netflix. Season 3 is expected in 2023.