Which 'Bridgerton' character will be the star of Season 4? Here's what fans predict.

With another Bridgerton love story officially in the books, speculation over the potential lead for Season 4 is already heating up — and creating a stir among fans.

The final four episodes of the Regency drama’s third season were released June 13 on Netflix, tying up the central romance between childhood friends turned lovers Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton). Since Bridgerton is adapted from author Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels, each revolving around a different sibling of the Bridgerton family, that meant a new character would come into focus in the upcoming season.

Potential clues have been sprinkled throughout Season 3 about who could be stepping into the romantic spotlight, following in the footsteps of Daphne and Simon in Season 1, Anthony and Kate in Season 2 and most recently, Penelope and Colin. Based on how their stories leave off, the likeliest possibilities are Benedict (Luke Thompson), Francesca (Hannah Dodd) and Eloise (Claudia Jessie) — a fact confirmed by showrunner Jess Brownell — or a combination of them.

While the show's writers are currently working on Season 4, Bridgerton fans won’t have to wait long to find out if their theories are correct.

"We will be making an announcement about the next season sooner rather than later," Brownell told Reuters, teasing it will be “extremely juicy.”

Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton. (Liam Daniel /©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection)
Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton. (Liam Daniel /©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection) (©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Could Season 4 be Benedict’s year? After being skipped over in favor of Penelope and Colin’s romance in Season 3, all signs are pointing to the second-eldest Bridgerton son finally coming to the forefront. Benedict’s story is the main focus of An Offer From a Gentleman, the third novel in Quinn’s Bridgerton series that introduces his main love interest, Sophie Beckett, a character who has yet to be introduced in the series.

If Benedict ends up being the new Bridgerton lead, there’s no shortage of storylines to explore. He’s had his share of opportunities to find love but never seriously considered his options — until this past season, when he spends much of it galavanting with the widowed Lady Tilley Arnold (Hannah New), and experiences his first kiss with a man, Tilley’s friend Paul Suarez (Lucas Aurelio). Despite Tilley’s expressed desires to enter into a monogamous relationship with Benedict, he ends up turning her down by season’s end, implying he hasn’t met “the one” yet.

The final episode of the season teases his mother’s upcoming masquerade ball, which is the setting where Sophie first meets Benedict in the book. In another scene, Benedict has a heart-to-heart with Eloise on the swings, where he cryptically says that “the next thing I might learn may change me entirely,” a subtle nod to a similar observation Sophie makes in the novel.

It’s these Easter eggs and more that have fans convinced Benedict will be the main focus in Season 4, with some taking their declarations and theories to social media.

Luke Thompson, who plays Benedict, remained mum when indirectly asked if his character was the new lead.

“They’ve changed the books before,” he told Vanity Fair.

Victor Alli as John Stirling and Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton. (Liam Daniel /©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection)
Victor Alli as John Stirling and Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton. (Liam Daniel /©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection) (©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Relegated to the background the first two seasons, Francesca came in to prominence in Season 3 after actress Hannah Dodd replaced original cast member Ruby Stokes due to a scheduling conflict.

Despite Francesca’s novel, When He Was Wicked, being sixth in line, Bridgerton planted early seeds for her story with the introduction of John Stirling (Victor Alli), whom she marries in the latter half of Part 2. (He is her first husband in the novels, though a much more minor character.) Some took that to be a sign that Francesca’s season could be coming sooner rather than later.

While basking in the glow as newlyweds and preparing to leave for Scotland, Francesca is introduced to John’s cousin, Michaela Stirling (Masali Baduza), a gender-swapped version of the book character, in the season's final episode. (In When He Was Wicked, John’s cousin is actually Michael, who factors into Francesca’s love story very prominently after tragedy strikes.) Francesca is clearly charmed by Michaela during their first meeting, which confuses her, leaving a lot of unanswered questions for fans — and readers of the books — regarding the series’ biggest Season 3 twist.

That didn’t stop some fans from believing the character’s exploration into her queerness would be the focus in Season 4.

“Francesca’s story, for those who are familiar with her book, spans a longer period of time — and so that one, we absolutely needed to get going on,” Bronwell told Variety. As far as gender-flipping Michaela, I have a lot I want to say about it, but I’m cautious about talking about it in detail now, because I want people to see how it’s going to play out. … I’m just trying to be protective of what story we want to tell for Season 4 and beyond.”

Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton. (Liam Daniel /©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection)
Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton. (Liam Daniel /©Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection) (©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Following a season spent largely estranged in the aftermath of the Lady Whistledown betrayal, Eloise finally reunited with Penelope, reconciled with Colin and cut ties with her fair-weathered friend Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen). Eloise doesn’t become the main character of her own story until book five, To Sir Phillip, With Love, but her decision at the end of Season 3 to accompany Francesca and John to Scotland appears to be setting her up for the near future.

Though Eloise leaves the safety of the Bridgerton home to expand her worldview, she hints at returning in time for the masquerade ball — a big clue that when she is back, Eloise may be a different person.

One Bridgerton fan also singled out the swing scenes between Eloise and Benedict that have bridged each season of the show so far.

Out of the three Season 4 options, Eloise may be the hardest sell as the next lead — and Brownell intimated that the middle Bridgerton sibling has a lot to experience before she’s ready to think about marriage and settling down.

“I don’t think that Eloise is that interested in romance at this stage in her life,” she told Variety. “I’m hesitant to send her into the romance zone without really making sense of why she gets there. So we’ll take some time to tell that story in the proper way.”

All episodes of Bridgerton Season 3 are streaming on Netflix.