happy endings

The Couples of Sanditon, Ranked by ‘Happily Ever After’

They did it! Swoon. Photo: Joss Barratt/ PBS/Red Planet (Sanditon 3) Ltd/Joss

To think it all started with an unfinished Jane Austen manuscript, and here we are, three seasons later, finally getting answers to how the story ends for Charlotte Heywood, Georgiana Lambe, and the rest of the Sanditon crew. And since Sanditon is a romance, the most important question to answer is who gets a “happily ever after.” (Hey, I didn’t write the rules, but I do strictly adhere to them.)

While a lot of our Sanditon couples get to wrap things up while basking in the glow of their eternal love — seriously, the series finale is basically a couples-palooza — there are other couples who experience endings with, let’s say, varying degrees of happiness. Some you might call tragic. Others, miserable. Since romance is all about the HEA and judging other couples is a beloved pastime that predates even the Regency era, it only feels right to rank all of the couples who have graced our screen since Charlotte first stepped foot in that drama-filled little seaside town and decide who got the happiest ending of all.


Charlotte Heywood and Sidney Parker

The Regency era’s hottest “will they or won’t they?” ends in a firm “they won’t.” Sidney dies! A tragic offscreen death in Antigua before you can even really be together (aside from some light cliffside kissing) because you have to marry your rich ex-fiancé to save your family automatically earns you the “least happy ending” award. It is sad! But is it that sad? Sidney was kind of terrible to Charlotte the entire time they knew each other. He went on and on about how she made him a better man, but what did he do for her, huh?


Georgiana Lambe and Charles Lockhart

Sorry to come out of the gate hot, but honestly, fuck this dude. Charles tricks Georgiana into falling for him until it’s revealed that he is her distant cousin and he’s been trying to claim ownership of the fortune Georgiana’s father left her. Obviously, she kicks him to the curb right before she’s set to run off to Europe and marry him, but that, unfortunately, is not the end of their story. No, instead, Charles pops back up like the cockroach he is — this time to take Georgiana to court. He intends to humiliate her and uses various racist tactics to try and steal her money, but Georgiana wins. We don’t learn where Charles slinks off to, but I sincerely hope he walks into the ocean. I guess technically this is a happy ending for Georgiana as an individual, but as far as coupledom goes? Very bleak!


Edward Denham and Clara Brereton

They fuck on top of a tiled snake on their aunt’s floor before burning her will so that they can inherit all of her money — in case you wanted to know their whole deal. They’re both terrible people and, therefore, a perfect match. In the end, Clara decides she doesn’t have to be a little psycho if she doesn’t want to be, and she outs Edward’s “put Esther in a mental institution” plan, then gives her and Edward’s baby to Esther before taking her aunt up on the offer to live out her days far away from Sanditon. Edward is “tortured” by his aunt (she mostly sprays him with a hose and makes him run errands) until he almost ruins Augusta Markham’s life, then is forced to become a clergyman. He’s still checking out hot ladies in the end, so it could’ve (should’ve!) been worse.


Edward Denham and Augusta Markham

How maddening it was to watch Sanditon attempt to give Edward Denham — the man who sexually manipulated his stepsister for decades, then poisoned her in an attempt to get her shipped off to a mental institution — a redemption arc at the expense of 19-year-old Augusta? When Augusta describes Edward as having “a poetic soul,” it made me want to punch a hole through a wall. They wind up running off to get married but are discovered by Alexander and Charlotte. Edward, at the very least, has the good sense not to completely ruin yet another woman’s life and drops the whole thing. Augusta stares into a creek with heartbreak for a little while, as one does, but is fine in the end.


Charlotte Heywood and Colonel Lennox

It doesn’t take long to realize that Colonel Lennox is the Wickham to Mr. Colbourne’s Darcy, and yet his brute force when he grabs Charlotte and kisses her is still shocking. This is his attempt to woo her? To show up Colbourne? To be an asshole? Mostly that last thing. He tries to blame Charlotte for playing games, but she is having none of it! It is a great storm-out — at least as far as polite society goes.


Alison Heywood and Captain Carter

Captain Carter is the dummy point of the triangle in this Cyrano de Bergerac story line, and this relationship ends with Alison almost drowning in the river when Captain Carter is too scared to jump in and save her following a misbegotten proposal. You figure it out!


Charlotte Heywood and Ralph Starling

The kindly whom farmer Charlotte resigns to marry after multiple heartbreaks is such a goddamned weenie that it physically pains me. He stood no chance of marrying our girl Char, and the best thing I can say about him and their relationship is that he figures this out before it’s too late.


Tom Parker and Mary Parker

I feel like I’m going to get grief for this one, but I’m sorry, this woman had to literally almost die from a fever for her husband to listen to her. Sure, Tom, a ridiculous person, pleads over an unconscious Mary, “Without you, I cannot exist,” and that is objectively swoony, but one must keep in mind that his bonehead “business” “decisions” have almost bankrupted his family more than once. Tom and Mary look very happy in the end, and he does implement her well thought-out plans for Sanditon’s Old Town instead of evicting all the lower-class people who keep the town running, but how long before Tom royally screws up again? I give him 18 months, and honestly, that’s being generous.


Georgiana Lambe and Lord Harry Montrose

This is a sham courtship, but it’s a mutually beneficial one: Georgiana wants to get the fortune-hunters off her back, and Harry is closeted gay man whose mother is forcing him to get married in order to save the bankrupt family from ruin. Thankfully, both parties are in total agreement and awareness as to why they are in this sham courtship. Nothing sneaky going on here! Most important, however, Georgiana and Harry build a friendship. This means that they end things amicably — both recognizing that the other deserves to be truly loved. A very happy, and very platonic, ending indeed!


Alison Heywood and Captain Fraser

These two get the shortest of all courtships, but this military guy actually pulls off the line “Honor me with the greatest rank of all — that of your dear and loving husband,” and that is a true feat. The lovebirds get hitched and head off to recite poetry and raise pigs together in Ireland. Sounds pretty idyllic to me!


Lady Denham and Rowleigh Pryce

To put it in Beyoncé terms, Lady D is both a “bad bitch” and a “money bitch,” in that she gets to stand up the guy who ghosted her at the altar decades ago, still get that guy to want to live out their days together unmarried, and keep her title, estate, and money. Lady D’s saying, I’m gonna make the happy ending that I want, babes.


Beatrice Hankins and Dr. Fuchs

No one in the history of the world has been rendered so horny by stethoscopes as Beatrice and Dr. Fuchs, and I am overwhelmed with joy that these two, who probably figured love wasn’t in the cards for them, wind up together. I hope they slowly whisper medical terminology in German to each other every night before bed.


Arthur Parker and Lord Harry Montrose

My sweet boys! Do Arthur and Harry deserve much more than having to use coded language like “I have a taste for grouse” and stolen weeks away in Wales? Of course. But considering that this is taking place in 1820 and Harry had, at one point, asked Arthur to be a secret live-in booty call (so he could carry on with his sham marriage to Georgiana in order to keep up appearances), the two men reconciling and reaffirming their feelings is quite the happy ending. They don’t get even one kiss, which sucks, but Arthur calls Harry “dear man,” which is sweet. Their inclusion in the happy-couple montage during Charlotte and Alexander’s wedding implies that these two grouses live happily ever after, and I’m running with that.


Lady Esther Denham Babington and Lord Babington

When Babington showed up in season one, I honestly thought he was going to be some sort of joke character, but this man winds up as perhaps the most romantic person in all of Sanditon! What a time. Babington doesn’t care what kind of psychosexual thriller was going on at the Denham residence. He loves Esther! He wants to spend his life making her happy! Esther tries to fight it, but even she knows this is very dreamy. They suffer some tragedy when Esther miscarries and can no longer have kids, but then they adopt Clara and Edward’s baby, completing their little family. The situation might be super-awkward when you really think about it, but happy is happy, I guess.


Samuel Colbourne and Lady Susan Worcester deCleremont

The truth is that I would watch an entire series about Sam and Susan building a life together in London. They’re both hot, had both sworn off love before finding it in each other’s friendship, are willing to meddle in people’s personal business for true love’s sake, love charcuterie boards, and even have a brief tragic period when one of them describes their relationship in such achingly romantic terms as “when time briefly stopped for us.” Oh, and let’s not forget that Susan dumps King George IV to be with Alexander’s rascally lawyer brother. Dumping a literal king? That’s true love right there. Could there be some severe consequences for both of them because of that? Yes, probably, but we don’t see them, so it doesn’t matter!


Georgiana Lambe and Otis Molyneux

Listen. Listen. I know that Otis basically got Georgiana kidnapped and almost forced into a marriage with a troll that one time, but technically that wasn’t his fault. Should he have been more up front about his gambling problems? Sure, but Otis is self-aware enough to admit that. Regardless, Otis is the type of guy who can say things like, “I never fell in love with your fortune. I fell in love with your soul,” and you believe it. Even when he thinks he has no shot at a second chance with Georgiana, he goes out and tracks down her long lost mother. No one sees her like Otis does, and Georgiana knows it. That’s why, finally, she stops listening to what others say she must do in order to protect her fortune and dashes off to London to marry her man! With her mother as their witness! That’s a well-deserved happy ending if there ever was one.


Charlotte Heywood and Alexander Colbourne

When Charlotte and Alexander first meet, they are two broken people — she is grieving, he is carrying an untenable amount of guilt — then, slowly but surely, they bring light back into each other’s lives. There is horse whispering and dances loaded with emotion and the sexiest hand grazing ever caught on film — but mostly, there are just two people who really get each other. It’s a roller coaster of a relationship right up to the very end, but once Charlotte ditches her farmer and follows her heart, and some communication snafus are cleared up on Alexander’s end, the two are free to be together. Alexander tells Charlotte his feelings for her “are fathomless,” and I had to lie down. They get married, he builds her a school where she can teach boys and girls, they pop out a kid, and they finally, joyously live happily ever after.

The Couples of Sanditon, Ranked by ‘Happily Ever After’