How Bridgerton season 3 sets up Francesca’s romance

The character is the focus of Julia Quinn's novel When He Was Wicked

Bridgerton. (L to R) Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton, Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton, Florence Hunt as Hyacinth Bridgerton in episode 304 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2023
Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton, who becomes a main character in season 3. (Netflix)

Francesca Bridgerton has become an unexpected focus for fans after the character stepped into the spotlight in season 3 of the Netflix period drama.

Played by Hannah Dodd, the sixth Bridgerton sibling has been largely on the sidelines for seasons 1 and 2 so to have her have her debut into society has allowed viewers to take more notice of her. What this has also meant is that the show has begun to explore her future romantic prospects, and as she starts courting suitors so has viewer's curiosity grown over what this could mean.

Read more: Why did Bridgerton recast Francesca in season 3?

The series does set up Francesca's future romance in a subtle way in season 3, and for those who are curios how and why they can read further. For those who wish not to spoil themselves, either for the events of season 3 part 1 or future seasons, be warned this article features some major spoilers.

Bridgerton (Netflix)
Bridgerton season 3 begins to set the stage for the adaptation of When He Was Wicked. (Netflix)

Francesca's story is told in Julia Quinn's novel When He Was Wicked, and the events of the book explore her romance with Michael Stirling — a reformed rake who fell in love with her years earlier but could not pursue her at the time.

Before we get into the specifics of the novel, let's look at how the show approaches Francesca's story. The season opens with Francesca's debut into society, and she draws the immediate attention of Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) who starts to suggest suitors for her like Lord Samadani (David Mumeni). The person who she finds a connection with is not the queen's choice but John Stirling (Victor Alli).

The pair are equally introverted, and their first meeting sees them stand in contended silence with each other after finding a party particularly overwhelming. Over the course of the first half of the season the two begin to meet more often, either to sit in silence or to discuss their passions — like Francesca's love of music.

Bridgerton (Netflix)
When Francesca makes her debut she draws the immediate attention of Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) who starts to suggest suitors for her like Lord Samadani (David Mumeni, centre). (Netflix)

One sweet moment sees John gifting Francesca a sheet of music after she commented on how a street musician's performance could have been improved if he'd tried a different tempo and style. The gift showed how much John pays attention to Francesca's interest, thus making it seem clear that the pair are made for each other.

This brings us to the question on every viewers' lips: Who does Francesca Bridgerton marry? Well, the answer is revealed in When He Was Wicked. In it, Michael Stirling meets and falls madly in love with Francesca whilst celebrating her engagement to his cousin, John.

Bridgerton (Netflix)
But in the show, Francesca becomes acquainted with John Stirling who she has an immediate connection with and who is important to the events of her novel When He Was Wicked. (Netflix)

So Quinn's novel does indeed see Francesca marry John, and it is only years later when Michael becomes an earl and she is widowed that their romance is explored. This means that over the next few seasons of the show it is possible that Francesca and John will marry, and their romance will be explored until his untimely death — at which point the show can adapt the events of When He Was Wicked.

When that will happen is unclear, but the fact is that the Netflix series has two other siblings that haven't yet had their romance told: Benedict (Luke Thompson) and Eloise (Claudia Jessie). So it seems likely that Francesca's story won't be told for a few more seasons.

Bridgerton season 3 part 1 is out now on Netflix, part 2 will be released on Thursday, 13 June.