The Tudors

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Showtime's Emmy-nominated retelling of the life of King Henry VIII, which devotes most of its time to the dissolution of his marriage to the older Catherine of Aragon and his deepening relationship with the saucy Anne Boleyn, who was to become his second wife. Gone from this series is the traditional vision of Henry as the bearded, bloated, jewel-encrusted, aging monarch who gleefully sent his wives to the chopping block. Instead, Jonathan Rhys Meyers' portrayal is that of a young, dynamic king determined to use his position to squeeze as much pleasure as he can out of life whilst balancing atop the ruthless world of Renaissance politics.

(He does get a beard as of the second season however.)

In the third season the story continues with Henry's third and fourth wife, and introduces the fifth. Season four covers wives five and six.

Despite this series' claim to tell the real story, this production is mostly a cut down version of history, playing fast and loose with the facts to tell a dramatic tale of intrigue, sex, disease, sex, tragedy, sex, death and sex. Despite the constant sex, the show is very good at showing a lot of the intrigue and events that went on between Henry and his aides, and the reformation is handled reasonably accurately, with a great emphasis on the rebellions and difficulties it made.

The series formally debuted on Showtime on April 1, 2007, and the fourth and final season ended June 20, 2010.

A Spiritual Successor to The Tudors called The Borgias based on the life of Rodrigo Borgia (aka Pope Alexander the Sixth) and his family began airing April 2011.

Tropes used in The Tudors include:
  • Aborted Arc: The departure of Henry Czerny, who played the Duke of Norfolk, has caused endless problems for the show given how very important the real Norfolk was to the story. So far a few of his actions have been reassigned to Suffolk and Edward Seymour (in reality Norfolk was the one who orchestrated the affair between Catherine Howard and Henry).
    • For Season 4, they've made Norfolk's son, the Earl of Surrey, Katherine Howard's uncle. Historically, Norfolk was her uncle and Surrey was a man in his twenties or thirties at this point. Since Katherine was seventeen, that would have worked, but they made Surrey at least in his forties if not older.
    • One also has to mention Thomas Cranmer. He contributed massively to the downfall of Queen Katherine Howard by sending Henry a letter containing all her misdeeds and unfaithful conduct. I would have especially loved to see the Prebendarie's plot integrated into the series. He was almost the only one to not only survive a dangerous plot instigated against him by cunning conservatives like Stephen Gardiner, but even achieving triumphant victory against his enemies and after getting them humiliated, FORGIVING them. Instead of having them butchered by his king, he chose to use them for his service and own means. That would have taken him into a level of BADASS!
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Henry was apparently attractive in his younger years but still a red-head and was gaining weight by the time he met Anne Boleyn. In this series he is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
    • Of course, a fat person could still be considered quite attractive then, (It showed you were wealthy, and Henry was always athletic, even when heavy,) so maybe it's a sort of visual Translation Convention?
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Sir Francis Bryan.
    • Later Thomas Seymour with Catherine Parr.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: While the series has a deserved reputation for playing fast and loose with history, some of the more outrageous events depicted are historically accurate. An example would be the Field of Cloth of Gold summit in the 2nd episode, where Francis really did beat Henry in an impromptu wrestling match, spoiling the English king's mood for the rest of the conference.
  • Arranged Marriage: Tons of them. Hardly any actually work out. If it does work out, it doesn't last long.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The Spanish lines spoken by Maria Doyle Kennedy and other actors are correct, but delivered in such an awful accent that a native speaker finds them nearly unintelligible.
    • The Portuguese lines delivered in the scene with Margaret's husband are spoken fairly accurately, in the proper European Portuguese accent. They fail to take into account the archaic Portuguese of the time (which sounds more like Brazilian Portuguese), but then again the English spoken is hardly "period". The entire scene, incidentally, depicts events that never actually happened; Margaret was married off to the King of Scotland, while Henry's other sister - Mary, the one who actually married the Duke of Suffolk - was married off to an elderly French king, father-in-law of Francis I.
  • Ass in Ambassador: Henry wants to meet a couple of French ladies so he can inspect them before he decides to marry them. The French ambassador then jokes to Henry that he tries them all out before making a choice. Clearly he was unaware about what kind of man Henry was because hilarity does not ensue.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Averted, most of the people don't want to have Anne Boleyn as queen. Few come to cheer and one even tries to shoot her.
  • The Beard/No Bisexuals: both members of the series' resident gay couple were married to women-- naturally, this was before the days when gay couples could be open about their real attractions.
  • Beta Couple: Charles and Catherine Brandon.
    • Not as of Season 4...seems they are, in effect, separated.
  • Betty and Veronica: Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour fit this down to the color-coding.
  • Bilingual Bonus: All of the prayers and religious ceremonies are conducted in historically-accurate Latin.
    • Although with such horrible pronounciation that it's barely understandable.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: In episode two, while Buckingham is sentenced and executed, Lady Blount gives birth and Henry finds to his joy she has given him a son.
  • Blame Game
  • Brainless Beauty: Katherine Howard is a giggly teenage airhead totally out of her depth in court.
    • Mary Boleyn also fits this category.
  • Bring It: "And what if he does not?"
  • British Series: At least partly. Wikipedia has a full list of companies involved with it.
  • Brother Chuck: The duke of Norfolk, Anthony Knivert and Thomas Tallis after season 1, though Norfolk is mentioned once in season 2.
    • Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury is similarly given a single mention in season 3, although as noted above, historically he should have played a huge role in season 4.
    • Pope Paul III actually outlived Henry, but he is not seen after season 2, since Peter O'Toole did not return to the cast.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Sorta kinda technically maybe perhaps.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Anne and George Boleyn.
  • California Doubling: Ireland for England.
  • Casanova: Charles Brandon in the first season.
  • Chewing the Scenery: The Pope excommunicating Henry. And oh boy did they give him a LOT of scenery to munch on!
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: the favorite way of extracting a confession in the Renaissance era. Many real life torture methods of the era are shown rather graphically on screen
  • Compliment Backfire: Henry thinks he's paying Anne Boleyn a great compliment by offering her to become his one and only mistress. She does not.
  • Composite Character: Henry VIII actually had two sisters, Mary and Margaret. The character portrayed in the show is given the biography of Mary, but the name of Margaret, because they feared that the audience could have her mistaken with the daughter of Henry and Catherine.
    • It gets worse. In Season 3, he refers to the King of Scotland as his nephew, even though as far as anyone knows, he did not have another sister to be the Scots King's mother.
      • Margaret Tudor, Henry's sister, married James the IV of Scotland and was mother to James the V of the Scotland. But if the viewer doesn't know that, the show doesn't make sense.
    • However, the issue of name confusion was apparently more about potential problems on set, or so Michael Hurst said.
    • Not sure if this is exactly a composite, but Anne Stanhope's character storyline, especially in season 4, sounds like a rewrite of what happened with Edward Seymour's first wife, only with his second wife's name attached.
  • The Conscience: Catherine Brandon to her husband.
    • When Jane lies dying, Henry begs God not to take her, and calls her his "light in this dark world".
  • Costume Porn
  • Corrupt Church: Sort of subverted with Cardinal Wolsey. While he openly has a wife while a Cardinal of the Catholic Church and is said to have used his position to enrich himself, he is also a very capable administrator as Henry's Chancellor whose Machiavellian schemes all are towards the ultimate goal of lasting peace between the kingdoms of Europe.
    • Joan Larke might be considered his wife in all but name, but Wolsey never (to anyone's knowledge) married her and neither ever (again, to anyone's knowledge) referred to the other as their spouse.
  • Culture Clash: Cleves and England.
  • Dances and Balls: A lot of them.
  • Death by Adaptation: The real Henry FitzRoy died when he was seventeen, not when he was a small child.
  • Death by Childbirth: Jane Seymour passed away from Childbed Fever shortly after the birth of Prince Edward. A tragic case of Truth in Television.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Charles Brandon with Thomas Darcy in Pontefract Castle. Also Henry with Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour in the last episode.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Thomas Moore. Katherine of Aragon. The peasant revolutionaries, just to name a few based on their portrayals in the show.
  • Double Standard: It's okay for Henry to stray, but that one of his wives might be doing the same does not please him. As he is king he tends to have this reaction about a lot of things, such that behavior that would in others be unacceptable is fine for him.
  • Driven to Suicide: Wolsey and Elizabeth, the lady in waiting of Katherine d'Aragon.
  • Dumb Blonde: So far Katherine Howard is portrayed as such.
  • Extreme Doormat: Anne of Cleves, which allowed her to get out of the marriage while at the first opportunity, and in appreciation, King Henry gave her everything she wanted. Which allows Anne to end the series with her own manor, retinue, freedom, and not to mention life, unlike the other five.
    • Four. Cate Parr did live another year after Henry.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Francis Bryan, whose many talents include assassination, politics, seduction and poetry.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Anne Boleyn, Thomas More and Bishop Fisher. And Katherine Howard, who actually asks that the executioner's block be brought to her so that she may practice laying her head upon it.
    • Kitty's request is Truth in Television, which makes it deeply unsettling. Although you do have to wonder if she really decided to try it out while totally naked...
    • Subverted with Thomas Cromwell - not only is he reduced to a sobbing wreck, faced with a jeering crowd, but it takes five shots to actually kill him.
      • In Cromwell's case, two of the conspirators against him (Sir Francis Bryan and Thomas Seymour) got the headsman drunk so Cromwell's execution would be as painful as possible. It's only made worse by the fact Cromwell sees the headsman staggering, so he knows what's coming. By the third stroke - which lands in his shoulder blades, even Sir Francis is disgusted. As is fellow conspirator and cold fish Edward Seymour, who wasn't involved in getting the headsman drunk. Thomas Seymour, on the other hand, seems unfazed.
  • Fake Brit: Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Princess/Lady Mary (Sarah Bolger), Thomas Boleyn (Nick Dunning), George Boleyn (Pádraic Delaney) and Bishop Fisher (Bosco Hogan) are all played by Irish actors. The Duke of Norfolk (Henry Czerny) and William Compton (Kristen Holden-Ried) are played by Canadians. Emma Hamilton (Anne Stanhope) is Australian. Wolsey is played by the New Zealander Sam Neill.
  • Fake Guest Star: There were only three actors that featured in all four seasons: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill and Anthony Brophy. Anthony who? Yes, even though ambassador Chapuys continued to play a big part in the story, he was never even in the title song. This in contrast to Lothaire Bluteau, who had only a few minutes here and there in the last season as the French ambassador, but was a regular during that time.
  • Fake Nationality: Katherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and Pope Paul III (Peter O'Toole) are - guess what - played by Irish actors. Joss Stone is British and plays a German.
  • Fan Service: The show is built on it. It goes out of its way to show the sex lives of secondary and tertiary characters in great detail, and everyone is quite beautiful.
  • Five-Man Band: Henry's wives.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Obviously this is the case with a historical drama, although enhanced by the facts that a lot of it has to do with the deaths of various characters.
  • Foreshadowing/Call Forward: Often very heavy-handed. Characters frequently say things alluding to infamous events that occur during the series and after. For example, Lady Mary saying she would burn Thomas Cromwell if she had the power. Guess what earns her the name "Bloody Mary" during her reign?
    • Oh, and what about the dream sequence in 2x07 when Mary burns Anne alive?
    • Henry to Anne Boleyn: "Your neck... I love your neck." Three guesses what happens to her neck in season two!
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Henry's wives could all fit the bill.
  • Gambit Pileup: The royal court in action.
  • Genre Savvy: Katherine Parr is understandably horrified when Henry starts to send gifts to her, since every woman at court knows what happens to his wives.
    • Princess Elizabeth sees her father's treatment of his wives and swears that she will never marry.
    • Christina of Milan is also not very keen on marrying Henry, as she points out frankly. Perhaps Henry should have thought twice before courting any relatives of Katherine of Aragon.
    • Anne of Cleves can count as this - everyone also knows what happened to Henry's unwanted wives when they did not cooperate. She cooperated and made out quite well.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Averted. Mary and Anne Boleyn get along well until Mary's secret marriage, even though Anne is after Mary's former lover.
    • Averted also with Mary and Elizabeth. Mary takes care of her and even helps her get back into the king's family circle. Of course the series is set well before Mary became queen.
    • Catherine and Anne Parr are also very close, partly because of their shared religious sympathies.
    • Edward and Thomas Seymour, despite being male, follow the personality types well. Edward is the serious one and Thomas the popular, unintellectual one. Even though this rivalry would turn deadly in Edward VI's reign, it is only shown in the series when Thomas sleeps with his wife and states how much he hates him.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Everyone, all the time, but especially Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour.
  • Guilt Trip: Charles Brandon.
    • Thomas Cromwell, after taking down the Boleyns.
  • Hair of Gold: Jane Seymour.
  • The Heretic: Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn and quite a few others, not helped by the fact that the definition of heresy changes at least once per season.
    • By season 4 there are loads of them. Henry's last queen, many of her ladies, the Seymours and Anne Askew all had reason to fear being branded as such. Not to mention, Edward and Elizabeth are being raised as heretics, or so Mary complains.
  • Heir Club for Men: The whole reason why Henry had six wives. Extremely ironic when you know that both his daughters not only got to be queens regnant but also were both competent rulers and are remembered to this day.
  • Heroic BSOD: Henry, when his wife Jane Seymour dies of childbed fever after giving birth to Prince Edward.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Paul Raines used to work for Henry VIII.
  • Historical Beauty Update: A parade of pouty-lipped sexpots of both genders in Gorgeous Period Dress? The Tudors is god of this trope. After all, we can't have all that hot and sexy sex being had by ugly actors, can we?
    • Not to mention that the women are all very thin. When someone comments on Katherine Howard's round bum, well... it isn't.
      • The men are lucky that way, too. While Henry is given a historically-appropriate disgusting ulcer by the time of his fourth marriage, he remains trim and muscley. The real Henry VIII weighed 300 pounds by that point.
        • A Justified Trope in this case. As a young man, Henry was considered world-beatingly handsome, which made the casting ideal for the first few seasons. Putting Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in a fat suit later on would have focused the audience's attention on the fat suit/makeup instead of the performance. The best solution was what they settled on: use minimal aging makeup, and have the actor suggest Henry's increasing ungainliness and ill health through body language.
          • Although Keith Michell's portrayal of Henry was compelling and effective even when he was wrapped up in a fat suit and dozens of pounds of makeup. But then again, the adaptation of the story that he starred in wasn't as focused on sex and titillation as this one was.
    • Noted in this Kate Beaton comic. "The Sexy Tudors" has become a Fan Nickname for the show in some quarters.
  • Historical Domain Character: Just about anyone in the cast of note.
  • Hollywood Costuming
  • Hollywood History
  • Honor Before Reason: The Earl of Surrey.
  • Honorary Uncle: Ambassador Chapuys to the Lady Mary.
  • Hot Mom: Henry's wives obviously.
  • Hotter and Sexier
  • Ignored Expert: In the fourth season episode "As It Should Be", Henry refuses to believe his doctor when said doctor tells him that "the bloody flux" is sweeping through the camp, devastating their army. Henry orders him to get the "cowards" out of their sickbeds to fight, with predictable results. Incredibly, despite this, Henry's troops eventually succeed in taking Boulogne.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Henry's sister. Also, several people came down with the "Slight Dizziness of Death" when the Sweating Sickness rolled into town...
    • Historically, the sweating sickness did actually kill a lot of people at the time and then vanished with nary a trace. To this day people aren't quite sure what it was, although the prime suspect is some variety of hantavirus. At the time, pretty much any cough - especially coughing blood, a symptom of tuberculosis - was a potential Incurable Cough of Death.
  • In the Back: If Henry reassures you of your importance to him while your position is already unstable, you should really beware.
    • Thomas Cromwell and the Boleyns.
      • Don't forget Wolsey & Thomas More.
  • Idiot Ball: Katherine Howard and Thomas Culpeper practically had Idiot Balls superglued to their hands. Joan Bulmer, Francis Dereham and Lady Rochford each had their moments carrying one too.
  • Irony: Strictly fictional but: Henry refused to have Jane crowned until she gave birth to a son. She died after giving birth to a son but before being crowned. As a result, some people are questioning Edward's place in the succession. In Real Life, Jane wasn't crowned because there was an outbreak of plague in the planned spot for the coronation and, obviously, she as the king's wife wasn't going to go anywhere near there until the threat was over. Also, Edward's place was never threatened by her not being crowned. Coronation or not, with Catherine and Anne dead, Jane was religiously and legally Henry's wife, and therefore, he was the legitimate male heir of a king. Still, that's a pretty sweet bit of irony the show's throwing at Henry.
  • Ill Girl: Jane Seymour.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Six wives altogether, and which two are the ones that get the most nude and sex scenes? The two that eventually get their heads cut off. Coincidence?
  • Jerkass: Henry VIII, a man of fiery passions, quick to anger and swift to act like a complete ass at all times and condemn at the drop of a hat, albeit likely to show some regret afterward (after the executions are done that is) once he's calmed down.
    • Specifically, Henry laments killing off Thomas More to Brandon (and, rather inexplicably since they were never shown talking about it, blames Anne for urging him to do so) in the second season. In the first episode of season 4, he makes a reference to Cromwell, and in the second episode flat-out says he grieves for him, calling him "the most faithful servant I ever had". Brandon and the Seymours squirm.
    • Thomas Boleyn. He cares only about his children as political pawns and is ready and willing to denounce them and send them to the executioner in order to save his own life.
  • Jerkass Womanizer: Henry could be the poster boy for this trope, considering all the extramarital affairs he had.
  • The Jester: The only one who dares to tell Henry off.
  • Karma Houdini: Thomas Boleyn is an absolutely infuriating example. He escapes the executioner's axe only because he wholeheartedly denounces his son and daughter to the King's investigators, and while they are put to death he only cares about whether he keeps his title and estate as Earl of Wiltshire or not. What a dick.
    • It's better if you know your history, as he would die just two years later, having lost everything he and his daughters worked for.
    • IMHO, Sir Richard Rich and Thomas Wriothesley definitely count, too. What about two of the most self-serving and treacherous bastards in this show, persecuting their former fellow Protestants and torturing Anne Askew, in a most vile and inhumane manner? The punishment for both of them is...let's see...Uh, right, getting promoted to even higher ranks. (According to Henry's testament, Wriothesley will be, next to Cranmer, the highest minister under the Procterate of Somerset. That he will be Seymour's underdog and under his constant watch helps a bit, at least. Well, and Rich will also not only keep his head, but prosper, making it even into the reign of Queen Elizabeth, being considered to be a respectable and trustworthy person by all.)
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Quite a bunch of people did this to Thomas Cromwell.
  • Large Ham: Peter O'Toole as The Pope!
  • Licensed Game: For the PC.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: Henry goes very far to be able to marry Anne Boleyn.
  • Marital Rape License: George Boleyn uses this in his arranged marriage to Jane Rochford.
  • May-December Romance: Katherine Howard is only 17 and a little younger than Henry's daughter Mary. This is Truth in Television for the Tudor age.
  • Meaningful Echo: In a manner of speaking. Henry pressures More to write a pamphlet attacking Martin Luther and praising the Pope as the true ruler of Christendom (and then publishes it in Henry's name). When Henry splits from the church, More throws the words of the pamphlet back at him. The pamphlet comes back again when the Archbishop accuses More of pressuring Henry to write it.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Jane Seymour's
  • Mentor Archetype: Thomas More
  • The Mistress: Charles Brandon has an official one!
  • Mythology Gag: A Real Life example - in a scene in series one, Henry is seen composing 'Greensleeves' for Anne Boleyn, though it is now believed that the tune was composed in the Elizabethan era.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: Averted. Even though Mary Boleyn has been Henry's mistress, she cheers Anne on as she marries him and becomes his queen, since it means greater power and prestige for her family.
    • Played straight with Charles Brandon and Princess Margaret.
  • Nice Hat: Anne of Cleves. Henry has his moments too. As does Katherine of Aragon.
    • And Mary Tudor in the season 4 trailer.
  • Off with His Head: Lots of people.
  • Oh Crap: Surrey, when he is told the king refuses him an audience. Before that he still has the confidence he can set matters right by talking to him
    • Similarly, the Bishop.
  • One-Liner: Christina of Milan.
  • One Steve Limit: The popularity of the name Mary at the time caused some issues, including the writers compositing Henry's sisters Mary and Margaret into one character called Margaret to reduce the number of Marys to keep track of.
    • Averted with other common names of the period, with two Annes, two Janes, four Catherines/Katherines, and by every other male character being named Thomas. Thankfully the latter are usually referred to by last name and/or title.
      • There are ten Thomases all told.
  • One-Woman Wail: Especially heard upon the execution of Anne Boleyn.
  • Oop North: The Pilgrimage of Grace.
  • The Other Darrin: Anita Briem played Jane Seymour in season two; she was replaced in the role by Annabelle Wallis in season three.
  • Parental Favoritism: Mary might think it okay that their father is more fond of Edward, but Elizabeth does not.
  • Pet the Dog: In spite of the fact that Henry could be a real asshole of a ruler, he did have his moments with Jane Seymour in that he truly did love her. Towards the end of his life, he also had this with Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, and to a lesser extent Catherine Parr.
    • George Boleyn presents a cruel twist on this. He is an arrogant prick who rapes his own wife on their wedding night, but his one sympathetic quality is that he seems to genuinely care about his sister Anne's well-being, as opposed to their father who very clearly sees her as nothing more than a political pawn. Yet his one sympathetic quality results directly in his downfall and death, when his close relationship with his sister is twisted into an accusation of incest for which he is tried and executed.
  • Pimped-Out Dress
  • Pretty in Mink: Although fake fur is used, either for budget or to avoid offending viewers.
  • Rags to Royalty: Cinderella style, but subverted. Anne Boleyn gets there mostly by pretending to be pure-hearted.
  • Really Gets Around: Other characters, but Henry had many extramarital affairs. To date, he has 32 living descendants that we know of.
    • That's not that many when we take into account how descendants multiply down through the generations. Apparently 4 million Asian men share Genghis Khan's DNA. But even in comparison with English royalty, Henry's three illegitimate children pale in comparison with John's twelve or Charles's II fifteen.
  • Refusal of the Call: Robert Aske
  • Requisite Royal Regalia
  • The Renaissance
  • Revenge by Proxy: Since Reginald Pole is out of Henry's reach in continental Europe, Henry has both his mother and brother killed.
    • And his nephew, who's probably about ten.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Henry produces a fine example when he designs Nonsuch Palace in solitude after Jane Seymour's death.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Henry was a patron of the arts and humanism, composed music and led troops into battle.
    • Katherine of Aragon led troops into battle during her time as regent (sadly this is not shown because they began the story just before her fall from grace) and was a patron of learning.
    • Anne Boleyn worked hard to promote her religious ideals.
    • Catherine Parr published two books (including the first to be published by an English queen under her own name) and served as regent.
    • Averted with Catherine Howard, who is portrayed as being solely interested in having fun, presents and men.
      • The show cuts out that Lady Salisbury (the old woman arrested in season 3) was not killed until Catherine was Queen, and she, upon hearing of the old woman's suffering in a cold cell, used her own money to buy her warm clothes and begged Henry not to execute her.
    • Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward were all intellectual prodigies who studied a vast array of subjects and were renowned for their learning. The King's daughters were both accomplished musicians, and all three of them spoke a variety of languages.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Where the adult actors show the passing years via changing hairstyles, the youngest characters (Elizabeth, Mary and Edward especially) frequently get new actors several years older than the previous ones.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Anne of Cleves, now that she's no longer queen and doesn't have to worry about being executed for failing to give Henry a son, has cheered up considerably. Ironically, this new side of her might have made Henry start to wish he'd consummated their marriage after all.
    • In season four, Henry finally does sleep with her. Yes, he's married again by that time.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Macbeth: Brandon seeing Lord Darcy's ghost during a feast at Pontefract Castle.
    • American Beauty: Catherine Howard's fondness for rose petals.
  • Smug Snake: Thomas Cromwell.
  • Standard Royal Court
    • In season 2 this has definitely turned into Deadly Decadent Court.
    • As in real life, the Queen sets the tone for the court. The decadence is emphasized under Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard; Jane Seymour's efforts at reining things in are less obvious.
  • Stealth Insult: Edward Seymour to Henry VIII when talking about Catherine Parr's regency: She has great clarity of mind, and a woman's touch which soothes and cures where a man would usually rush into anger and complaint.
    • Ambassador Chapuys delivers one to Henry himself in Season 2. "I want my reign to be remembered eternally." "I have no doubt that your Majesty's reign will always be remembered."
  • Strange Bedfellows: Every season Charles Brandon teams up with people he will try to bring down in the next season. Edward Seymour will be his enemy in the next season?
    • Edward Seymour and Francis Bryan, while Edward knows Francis sleeps with his wife.
      • Historically, Anne Stanhope was his second wife - the first slept with his father. Perhaps Bryan is an improvement? Although in season 4, Anne sleeps with his brother, and perhaps even has a son by him--she insists on naming him after the brother, anyway--so maybe not so much.
    • Wolsey and Catherine of Aragon.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Brandon's latest squeeze.
  • Tear Jerker: Thomas More's execution and how he announces that Henry will always be his greatest friend and he is his most loyal servant, despite the fact that he's about to die. Henry's reaction too.
    • Wolsey's speech at the end of season one.
    • Anne's first miscarriage, with her father cruelly demanding what she did to kill the baby. And her second one, with her screaming in horror and trying to stop the blood with her hands. And then what Henry says to her afterwards...
    • The scene from the season two finale with Cromwell in the church. Superb acting by James Frain.
    • The scene in season three where Jane Seymour passed away from childbed fever after the birth of their son was surprisingly moving, since he did seem to genuinely care for her. Counts as a Pet The Dog moment for Henry, too.
    • At first, it seems that Henry calling Brandon to court while he is dying of a fever is kind of a dick move, but when you consider that the king heard his oldest friend was dying, and that kings of England in those days did not attend funerals so that men would not envision the king dead (which was treason), it was him meeting and speaking to his friend one last time--and, if you will pardon the pun, the old "laying on hands", though both knew it wouldn't work, could be seen as a Hail Mary, last desperate attempt to save him.)
  • Those Two Guys: Richard and Harry in the season four battle in France scenes.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Katherine Howard and Thomas Culpepper. Francis Dereham and Lady Rochford also deserve honorable mentions. Despite being equally stupid, Joan Bulmer somehow manages to emerge unscathed.
    • Francis Dereham seems to be the worst, actually. While all the others at least try to conceal what they are doing, Dereham goes out of his way to spread it far and wide.
    • Also, the Duke of Buckingham, who told way too many unreliable people he's planning treason and also can't control his temper in front of the king.
  • Unfinished Business: In the last episode Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour all come back to give Henry a piece of their mind.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Anne of Cleves
  • Unwitting Pawn: Sir Thomas More. The man is an effective administrator, intelligent, virtuous, and a close friend of the King's, but this doesn't stop him from being taken apart by the Boleyns.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Thomas Cromwell got his former friends beheaded and ordered the hanging of hundreds of those who wanted to stick to the old religion. He will have his reformation for the good of the realm.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story
    • The worst example is probably the treatment Marguerite de Navarre received. In reality, she was a very intellectual and brave woman, who was a gifted writer and also traveled tirelessly to get her brother Francis freed when he had been taken captive at Pavia. Anne Boleyn was greatly influenced by her, and would as queen write that seeing her again was her greatest wish next to having a son. In the series, Marguerite is portrayed as The Ditz, who sleeps with Henry right after meeting him.
  • Villain Protagonist: Henry VIII
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Thomas More on the Catholic side of the religous dispute, Thomas Cromwell and Archbishop Cranmer on the Protestant side.
  • When She Smiles: Anne of Cleves.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Henry is very scared of getting sick.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Anne Boleyn would have liked to see Mary killed. Averted with Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves, who are both very nice to her.
    • Katherine Howard doesn't get along with Mary either. In all fairness, she did try, but Mary rebuffed her, and she responded by getting nasty, so this could be more of a subverted example.
    • Again, to be fair, Mary didn't like Anne of Cleves much at the start either, even going so far as to hope her ship would sink while she was coming to England. She grows to like her enough that she disapproves of her father's second divorce, which can only add to her hatred of Katherine Howard.
    • Inverted with Katherine Parr. She is very kind to her, but Mary has turned into a wicked stepdaughter. She does have a good relationship with her two other stepchildren, though.
      • Historically, Katherine Parr and Mary were near in age and good friends, only falling out when Katherine married Thomas Seymour while she was officially still supposed to be in mourning for Henry VIII. They did reconcile after Katherine found out she was pregnant, and her daughter, Lady Mary Seymour, was named after Mary Tudor.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Or rather 'Did they or didn't they?' Henry ends up in Anne of Cleves' bed after he's divorced her, both of them in their nightgowns and snuggling, and she seems to enjoy it. Was there sex, or was it just for comfort and security?
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Elizabeth.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Subverted in that she was not supreme ruler. Otherwise fitting with Catherine Parr, who was married to a king who thought nothing of sending her sister and ladies to the Tower. While also agreeing to a warrant for her arrest. She still managed to greet her most bitter enemies with a smile and then get the king on her side in the end.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Henry, Brandon, Katherine Howard, and Anne Stanhope all cheat on their spouses, with varying results. George Boleyn was cheating on his wife with Mark Smeaton, as was William Compton with Thomas Tallis. Technically, Ursula Misseldon is cheating on her fiance (though it's unclear if she's ever even met him) when she has affairs with Bryan and Henry. Also inverted - Anne Boleyn was executed for adultery and was innocent.