Mary, Queen of Scots, and the people around her went through a lot over the course of Reign. But while some characters grew, others stagnated.
The CW’s historical drama, Reign, finished its four-season run in 2017, leaving fans devastated at the abrupt conclusion. The show stays true to the general history of Queen Mary’s life, though it fictionalizes and dramatizes most of the story. Mary begins the series as a young woman, still a child, and ends the series as Queen of Scotland.
By this point, Mary has grown in years beyond her lifespan. She has loved and lost Francis, married a useless husband, given birth to a son, and been imprisoned for decades. Mary isn’t the only character who grows a lot; her ladies become responsible for their own lives, and she befriends people who she’d never imagined liking before, like Catherine. On the other hand, characters like Henry and Darnley seem to remain perpetually selfish, and immature.
GREW A LOT: Lola
Lola is one of Mary’s ladies and best friends. She’s loyal but sometimes makes mistakes that she fears will upset Mary. One of these is sleeping with Francis.
When she gives birth to their son, Lola learns to take more responsibility for herself and her choices. She tries to be a good mother to her son while learning to navigate the world more independently. She falls in love with Narcisse, learning more about herself in the process, and befriends Elizabeth. This puts her in a tough spot, and she ultimately pays with her life.
DIDN’T GROW: Nostradamus
Nostradamus is something of a psychic and serves an important role in the earlier seasons. He predicts Francis’s untimely death, and then feels the guilt of this prediction and the weight of his gift for the remainder of his time on Reign.
Nostradamus remains pretty much the same throughout the series. He continues seeing things he doesn’t want to see, and he often feels at a loss as to what he should do with his knowledge.
GREW A LOT: Francis
Like Mary, Francis begins the series as little more than a child. He’s largely wrapped up in his own personal issues, not yet too concerned with the responsibility of ruling a country.
He’s fickle, not yet mature, and somewhat aloof. However, he quickly finds himself drawn to Mary and begins to shoulder some responsibility. Over the course of his short life, he becomes less self-absorbed and tries to serve both Mary and their countries. He becomes a selfless, courageous, kind-hearted man who can be relied upon and is easy to love.
DIDN’T GROW: Leith
Leith may go through a lot of change in terms of his lifestyle, his wealth, and his social status, but at his core, he remains largely the same. He’s a kind soul, though he sometimes doesn’t think prudently.
Leith’s character arc is largely defined by the women he’s in love with. First, it’s Greer, a painfully drawn-out heartbreak that leads him to form an interesting relationship with Claude.
GREW A LOT: Elizabeth
When viewers first meet Elizabeth, they’re inclined to dislike her since she poses a threat to Mary. However, as she’s explored in more detail, she becomes increasingly easier to identify with and feel for. She even grows to take a removed sort of liking and respect for Mary.
When Elizabeth is first introduced, she is concerned with her love affair with Lord Dudley while feeling frustrated at the lack of respect men have for her. She fears Mary’s power but wants to be her ally if possible. By the end of the series, Elizabeth is revealed to be kind, loving, and friendly, which is why she regrets what she must do to Mary.
DIDN’T GROW: Louis
Louis Condé has a fleeting role in the series, but an important one. He becomes Mary’s lover, throwing a rock into her relationship with Francis. He ultimately puts her in danger because he always puts himself first.
His selfishness doesn’t change throughout the series, nor does his sense of self-importance. He throws everything into chaos wherever he goes, and his departure from the show is welcome.
GREW A LOT: Catherine
Catherine is Francis’s severe, haughty, witty mother and the Queen of France – until Henry dies. She can’t handle this loss of power, but she certainly doesn’t lose her authority. She remains formidable, but she softens considerably throughout the series.
Catherine loathes Mary for a number of reasons, but over time, she begins to see the young Queen’s virtues. She comforts her in her lowest moments and becomes a friend to her when she goes away to Scotland. They bond through their grief and begin to see the similar qualities they share.
DIDN’T GROW: Darnley
Lord Darnley is Mary’s irresponsible, immature husband who is also the father of Mary’s child. He’s not in the series for long, but he leaves a lasting impression – an unpleasant one.
Even at the end of the series, he shows no remorse for any of his actions. He never grows to regret the way he treated Mary, never makes an effort to be a good man or responsible father and husband, much less a good leader of the country.
GREW A LOT: Mary
Naturally, since the series is about her, Mary grows the most throughout the show. Mary is only just learning how to be a young woman when suddenly, she’s thrust right into the heart of royal court life in France. She must learn to grow up quickly and consider the needs of two nations as well as the people close to her.
She quickly proves herself to be a natural, passionate leader, though she struggles to earn everyone’s respect. Mary faces many struggles, both succeeding and failing, and loses the love of her life. She also relocates from her home of France to her birth country of Scotland, where she seems to truly grow into her womanhood and her role as Queen.
DIDN’T GROW: Henry
Henry’s character arc seems like a protracted downward spiral, during which his personality doesn’t change in the slightest. He is power-hungry, violent, and incomparably selfish.
He is inconsiderate with the people around him, including his family, and he dies thinking of nothing but himself. Henry remains in the show after his death, if only to haunt Catherine, but he doesn’t grow at all while he’s alive.