Here's why Ruby Stokes left Bridgerton (exit explained)

Launch Party Of Skate At Somerset House
Launch Party Of Skate At Somerset House / Dave Benett/GettyImages

There haven't been many major cast exits in Bridgerton, but Regé-Jean Page's (Duke of Hastings) departure after the first season definitely hit the hardest. Then, a couple of months after the second season dropped, it was announced that Ruby Stokes, who played Francesca Bridgerton in the period drama, would be taking her exit. This made fans nervous at the time because they didn't know if they'd be hearing about more cast departures soon. Fortunately, they didn't have to worry much longer because there weren't any more cast exits after Stokes.

Ruby Stokes portrayed the role of Francesca, the sixth Bridgerton child, for seasons 1 and 2. However, she didn't have much screen time in either season. She appeared in only two episodes in the first season and three episodes in the second season. While it's unclear why she didn't appear as much in Bridgerton season 1, her other work commitments were revealed to be the reason why she had less screen time in season 2. That other work commitment being the short-lived Netflix supernatural horror series Lockwood & Co.

At the time of filming Bridgerton season 2, Stokes was in the process of shooting the first season of Lockwood & Co. Executive producer and showrunner Chris Van Dusen told TVLine in a March 2022 interview that the Francesca character was intended to have a more significant role in the plot of season 2, but Stokes left the series after shooting only three episodes because she had to film Lockwood & Co. He told TVLine, "After exhausting all other options, she unfortunately had to come out due to reasons beyond our control. Perhaps Season 3 will be the charm.”

Bridgerton. (L to R) Ruth Gemmell as Lady Violet Bridgerton, Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton, Florence Hunt as Hyacinth Bridgerton in episode 304 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2023 /

Sadly, the second season would be the last time we saw Ruby Stokes play the Francesca character because it was announced in May 2022 that she had been recast for the third season. It was announced that Anatomy of a Scandal actress Hannah Dodd would be taking over the role. Dodd is pictured above in character as Francesca Bridgerton in the upcoming third season.

So, why exactly did Stokes choose to leave such a popular Netflix show? Well, according to her, she just couldn't pass up on a leading role in Lockwood & Co. In January 2023, she was interviewed by What to Watch and said this about her reasoning for leaving Bridgerton.

"Leaving was always going to be a difficult choice, but something about Lucy spoke to me. It was a chance to explore a very different character and I’ve learned a great deal playing a young adult at the helm of a show. I just felt it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down!"

As we mentioned earlier, Francesca didn't play a big part in seasons 1 and 2 of Bridgerton, so it makes sense why Stokes took a chance on Lockwood & Co. where she'd be the lead. But unfortunately, the supernatural horror series didn't even get to show the world what it could really be because Netflix decided to axe it after only one season.

While it's currently unknown what Stokes will star in next, we recommend checking out her most recent project such as the Paramount+ series The Burning Girls.