Why was Francesca Bridgerton Recast? Why did Ruby Stokes Leave Bridgerton?

Each new season of ‘Bridgerton‘ brings something unprecedented for the fans, revealing new nooks and crannies of the Bridgerton household and the possibilities of new romances for the Bridgeton siblings. While two of them are happily married, there are still six of them left. With so many characters to always be in the focus, it is a humungous task that the Netflix series undertakes with commendable deftness.

The third season brings a lot of changes for several characters, one of whom is Francesca. If Eloise and Penelope were wallflowers, then Francesca has confined her to being the scent of those flowers, seemingly always around but never in sight. However, as the new season of the show puts more focus on her, an unexpected cast change also defines her fate, hinting at the direction that the show is going to take with her. What does the casting change mean for all of that? SPOILERS AHEAD

Francesca’s Recasting Decision Changes Her Arc in Season 3

As the sixth Bridgerton sibling, Francesca has always been in the background, even farther than her younger siblings, Gregory and Hyacinth, who had a much more pronounced presence in Season 2. Francesca spent most of the first season away from the drama unfolding at her home by spending most of the season at her aunt’s place. She had comparatively more screen time in the second season and should have been around more, but actress Ruby Stokes had to cut short her time due to scheduling conflicts.

Around that time, Stokes was cast in Netflix’s supernatural teen drama, ‘Lockwood and Co.’ to play one of the leads, Lucy Carlyle. The show premiered in January 2023 but was unfortunately canceled by Netflix after Season 1. At the time, Francesca was still a recurring character, and Stokes was a guest star on the show. Her departure from ‘Bridgeton,’ considering everything, makes sense, but it also opened the door for something new to try for the show.

Ruby Stokes was barely 20 when she was cast in the role of Francesca, and considering that the character is sixth in line, it made sense to cast a young actor whose aging worked in favor of the show because, by the time her character’s turn comes, she would be old enough to be of marriageable age in the show. Stokes, 23 now, would not have been suitable for the arc that the writers have chosen for Francesca in Season 3.

Stokes is replaced by Hannah Dodd, 28 at the time of the show’s release. Were Francesca’s character to remain on the sidelines even in the third season, the scheduling conflicts with Stokes wouldn’t have mattered as much. She could very well have remained in the guest role and waited her turn. However, the writers had something else in mind, and the third season has Francesca as one of the series’ regular characters. Not only this, but this season actually takes her story forward by leaps and bounds, leading to a significant change in her story by the end of the season.

Considering the arc that her character takes, it would have made sense to go forward with a bit older actress. With the way things are meant to unfold for Francesca, the third season is the right point to start with her arc. So even if the next two seasons aren’t entirely focused on her, a very important part of her story would already be told, and the time gap would enhance the themes that her story is meant to highlight.

Even though it would have been wonderful to see Stokes grow into the character of Francesca (something that we will hopefully see with Hyacinth and Gregory), the requirements of the story confirm that the casting change is actually a much better decision for the character going forward, especially with the tragic things that Francesca must go through before finally having her chance at the spotlight and her romance becoming the central plot of one of the following seasons.

Read More: How Many Kids Did Lady Danbury Have? What Happened to Them in Bridgerton?