The plot which concerns the relationship between Claudio and Hero, in contrast to the parallel plot of Beatrice and Benedick, has much in common with Shakespeare's later plays (often called romances or tragicomedies). The church scene, and the vilification of Hero can be seen as rather dark -- even disturbing. Claudio's professed love seems to be dangerously shallow: when he first professes his love for her, he is careful to ask if she stands to inherit her father's wealth (he asks Don Pedro "Hath Leonato any son, my lord?" to which Don Pedro replies "No child but Hero. She's his only heir." [1.1.242-243]).

The arch-villain of the play, Don John, seems to have little motivation for his desire for revenge, though Shakespeare does suggest that the battle that precedes the play was between Don Pedro and Don John (Conrad remarks to him, "you have of late stood against your brother" [1.3.16-17]). Perhaps he just likes being "a plain-dealing villain" (1.3.25).