Ranking All the “Bridgerton” Characters Based on Their Red Flags

All the “Bridgerton” Characters, RankedLiam Daniel/Netflix

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Whether it’s 1813 or 2024, you have to be on the lookout for red flags on the dating—or marriage—market. This is part of what makes Bridgerton such a mind-bogglingly addictive watch: What better way to kill a few hours on a Sunday night than psychoanalyzing the Regency era’s upper crust?

At face value, the Bridgerton family is full of exactly the kind of wealthy, well-bred gentlemen and ladies that make them the most sought after members of the ton. But, they’re also kind of assholes. Daphne’s charming demeanor is immediately put off by her astounding overstep of boundaries in bed. Colin’s insecure middle child complex makes him act in ways that hurt those closest to him. And Anthony in particular needs to just, like, get a grip.

Revolving around the Bridgertons is an orbit of other players laden with their own emotional baggage, from the feisty Kate Sharma to self-proclaimed wallflower Penelope Featherington. And, lest we forget, the Bridgerton cinematic universe also includes the origin story for Queen Charlotte and King George. Even for royals, romance doesn’t come so easily.

With the first installment of season three freshly gracing our Netflix queues, it was only a matter of time before I found a way to rank all the Bridgerton characters. My qualifications? One, I spend far, far too much time thinking about fictional characters than a person in their late 20s should; and two, I went to therapy (Simon, Duke of Hastings, should take note!).

Without further ado, I present to you my official Bridgerton rankings based off of a thorough audit of each character’s most glaringly red—and, sometimes, even green—flags.

12. Daphne

bridgerton phoebe dyvenor as daphne basset in episode 203 of bridgerton cr liam danielnetflix2022

Daphne has this thing about boundaries, in that she doesn’t respect them. Let’s put aside for a second that Daphne betrays Simon’s trust by rifling through his belongings to unearth a traumatic story about his father that he was not yet ready to talk about. That trust was severed permanently when she sexually assaulted Simon by forcing him to ejaculate inside her—even as he profusely objected to her advances. The Daphne apologists will cry “This is a historical romance” or “Daphne just discovered what sex was five seconds ago.” But, do those excuses really change the optics? It’s true that this is a historical romance, yes, but 18th-century England did not have glitter, waist-choking corsets, or a diverse royal court, either. If the Shondaland-helmed series can take creative liberties with those anachronisms, then why not apply that same standard when it comes to modern-day conceptions of consent? And, besides, was there really no other way for Daphne to figure out what Simon actually meant when he said he “can’t” have children? Perhaps by, I don’t know, simply talking?

11. Anthony

bridgerton jonathan bailey as anthony bridgerton in episode 201 of bridgerton cr liam danielnetflix2022
Liam Daniel/Netflix - Netflix

Season two was my favorite season of Bridgerton, so it pains me to place Anthony second to last on this list. But, the facts stand. Anthony spent most of his screen time being an aggravating, arrogant, and tyrannical misogynist. In season one, his inability to consider the opinions and desires of his mother and Daphne lead to near social ruin for his entire family. He also callously discarded Siena, only to come crawling back as soon as he saw her with another man willing to actually fulfill her desires. The season-two version of Anthony doesn’t get much better. The viscount’s hunt for a wife lays bare his primitive perception of women, as he views most of the debutantes as one dumb monolith whose sole duty is to rear his future children. At the same time, he demands perfection in them, despite being so absurdly imperfect himself.

10. Colin

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Any man who keeps the company of other men who revel in toxic masculinity is no real man to me. You might be inclined to say that Colin isn’t responsible for the things his friends say or do, but it’s clear to me that their antics have seeped into his subconscious, fomenting insecurities and cruelty in the same way misogynists are bred on Reddit or QAnon forums. It’s more than the way he just mean-spiritedly dismissed Penelope as a potential bride for a couple of laughs in season two. As seen in teasers for the latter half of season three, Colin also now has trouble conceptualizing his place in the life of a woman who does not need a man to take care of her. “What good am I to you?” he shouts at Penelope, with the tone of a bereft man crying emasculation. Your middle child complex is showing, Colin, and I don’t like it!

9. Eloise

bridgerton claudia jessie as eloise bridgerton in episode 102 of bridgerton cr liam danielnetflix 2020

Eloise, we get it. You’re not like other girls. For all of her soapboxing over feminism and gender equality, the second-born Bridgerton daughter is not a girls’ girl. Perched on her high horse, her fellow debutantes’ worst sin is earnestly looking for a husband in a society where women simply don’t have a means to live without marriage. The horror! The spite she leverages against these women might be more usefully aimed at the system that chains them all together, or maybe at literally any other male character in the ton. Might I recommend Audre Lorde, an actual feminist, for some required reading? Nevermind the timeline, someone needs to show Eloise this quote right now: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

8. Simon

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Liam Daniel/Netflix - Netflix

Daddy issues aren’t so much of a red flag as they are a sign that warrants pity. Throughout season one, the Duke of Hastings clearly has unresolved childhood trauma that gets in the way of him forming healthy, lasting relationships. And while I can’t fault Simon for his feelings of inadequacy as a product of his father’s cruelty, I can point to his failure to adequately address those issues. At nine and 20 years, Simon needs to learn how to put his big boy pants on and stop sabotaging his future as a means of running away from his past.

7. King George

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It’s hard loving a mama’s boy! Besides the king’s brief cameos in seasons one and two of Bridgerton, our first fleshed-out introduction to George occurs in Queen Charlotte, where poor farmer George can’t seem to catch a break. Personally, I am immediately put off by any man who quickly cowers to the expectations and commands of his overbearing mother, as George so often does in the series’s first few episodes. I also found myself resenting his tendency to retreat to self-inflicted solitude in moments of distress. The king doesn’t know how to trust that Charlotte will not abandon him when faced with his crises, inadvertently infantilizing her by making the decision to live separate lives before she can truly decide for herself. Of course, living with undiagnosed manic episodes—as modern-day psychiatrists seem to suspect George had—in a time period that yet had no language for mental illness must have been devastatingly lonely. For these coping mechanisms, I cannot fully hold against him.

Bonus Green Flag: When at last George accepts that he is worthy of the unconditional love that Charlotte offers him, he makes headway in asserting his rightful place in her life. In doing so, he is willing to flout tradition and protocol (as king, mind you) in order to support Charlotte when she needs him most (i.e. being in the delivery room as she gives birth to their first son).

6. Benedict

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As the second eldest Bridgerton son, Benedict doesn’t quite know his way in the world yet. And while no one should be chided for still figuring out who they are, his way of soul-searching is just kind of messy. From engaging in affairs with various respectable women in the ton to dropping out of art school five seconds after being admitted, Benedict traipses through life without intention or motive. These are benign qualities to have on their own, but a nightmare to deal with in a relationship. I guess it’s a good thing we haven’t embarked on Benedict’s season just yet.

Bonus Green Flag: Benedict is tolerant and accepting towards everyone around him, regardless of who they are or what they do. He affords artist Henry Granville the discretion to live his life as a gay man, and he is perhaps one of the only man in his family to take women seriously. In hindsight, maybe this trait is less of a green flag than it is just the bare minimum.

5. Francesca

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If your house was burning and she had to choose between saving you or her piano, she would probably choose her piano. Just kidding (kind of). Poor Francesca, being an introvert in a household prone to chaos. She strikes me as the kind of person who would get easily overstimulated and abandon you at social functions at the drop of a hat.

4. John Stirling

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The Earl of Kilmartin is a man of few words… perhaps too few words? While Francesca is clearly smitten with his predisposition to respond with as little syllables as possible, this tendency may be slightly off-putting to others.

Bonus Green Flag: On the other hand, we love a man who doesn’t talk!

3. Queen Charlotte

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There’s no question that Queen Charlotte can be… a lot. When we first meet her in season one, Charlotte is drunk on her own authority—and, to put it generously, a little self-obsessed. Her infatuation in her own sense of ever righteousness becomes more understandable in the prequel series, Queen Charlotte, where we meet her as a young and skeptical bride leaving her home country of Germany to become the future queen of England. How else could she overcome that kind of pressure than by full-on embracing bravado?

Bonus Green Flag: She will stand with you between the heavens and the earth! A true ride or die, Charlotte is loyal to a fault, and it’s that exact devotion, paired with unshakeable self confidence, that makes her a stalwart partner of the monarch. The queen is the queen for a reason.

2. Kate Sharma

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Kate has the worst case of eldest daughter syndrome that Netflix has probably ever seen (and I get to say that as an eldest daughter myself, so don’t come for me). Daughters of this rank often don’t know how to concede when they’re in the wrong. This is how we got to the point where Edwina nearly married a man who was visibly and desperately in love with the sister who wasn’t walking down the aisle. Also, eldest daughters love to get a little snappy and condescending when verbally sparring against someone who harbors an opposing opinion. Is Kate right most of the time? Well, yes. But, Kate, girlie, we still gotta learn how to communicate respectfully.

Bonus Green Flag: Like Queen Charlotte, Kate is severely loyal to those she loves. Whatever self-imposed burdens she places upon herself as a sacrificial oldest daughter, she also carries some stereotypically good traits, like being dependable, trustworthy, and protective.

1. Penelope Featherington

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Pray you don’t ever do something embarrassing in front of Penelope Featherington, because she will tell the entire group chat about your fuck up (but she probably won’t tell it to your face). We all have our secrets, but it seems a little unfair that she gets to keep hers close to her chest while broadcasting everyone else’s. Have you ever heard of a diary before, Pen? Hm?

Bonus Green Flag: Nevertheless, I’m of the mindset that a little gossip never hurt anyone. Besides having a scathing pen, the youngest Featherington daughter is for the most part quite kind and warm. Living most of her adult life invisible and stuck to the wall, as she bemoans herself in the first episode of season three, has instilled in her a kind of empathy and graciousness that the rest of the ton could learn from. Also, she’s obviously a go-getter. In a world designed to make the survival of women depend on the men around her, Penelope decides to be the master of her own destiny. This is what real self-made success looks like.

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