It’s hard to imagine Ladybug and Cat Noir as anything but miraculous, but a two-parter special gives us their origin story.
Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir premieres with its titular characters already established as an iconic duo working in tandem to continuously save Paris from Akumatized victims. Having been thrown into the middle of the story, the audience is forced to play catch-up, figuring out the pieces of what makes Paris’s beloved superheroes, how their powers work and discovering the threat that is Hawk Moth.
However, just when fans think they have everything figured out, Season 1 nears its finale by taking us back to the beginning, exploring how Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste, two unassuming high school students, met and became the unstoppable force that is Ladybug and Cat Noir.
In Season 1, Episode 22 “Ladybug & Cat Noir (Origins – Part 1),” Marinette is running late on the first day of school when she assists Master Fu (who, unbeknownst to her, is the Guardian of the Miraculous) cross the street in the midst of oncoming traffic. In the process, she drops many of the macaroons she made for her class, but brushes it off, merely glad that Master Fu is unharmed. At school, Marinette is extremely shy and doubtful of herself, unable to talk back to Chloe. However, Alya Césaire stands up for Marinette and the two become quick friends.
Meanwhile, Adrien is on the run but gets stopped outside of school by Nathalie Sancoeur, his father’s assistant, and his own bodyguard. As it turns out, Adrien is desperate to break free from his overprotective father to attend school and gain the opportunity to make friends. While Adrien pleads for Nathalie to allow him this, his attention is diverted to Master Fu, who has fallen and can’t get up. After assisting him, Adrien is brought back home to be home-schooled.
Eventually, classmate Ivan Bruel is Akumatized into Stoneheart by the supervillain Hawk Moth and begins terrorizing the city. As Marinette and Adrien watch the chaos unfold on TV, they each find a Miraculous box in their rooms, courtesy of Master Fu, who deemed them worthy of such power for the selflessness and kindness they showed him earlier that day.
Marinette is confused and scared, hesitating to accept the kwami, Tikki’s, powers and struggling to pull off her signature transformation sequence fluidly. On the other hand, Adrien is ecstatic to meet his kwami, Plagg, and eagerly takes on this new role, even dragging out his signature transformation.
It is at this point that Ladybug and Cat Noir meet as they attempt to find their stride. While Cat Noir dives headfirst into battle, it takes Alya’s encouragement to propel Ladybug into action. It’s a process of trial and error as both learn the extent of their powers and how to coordinate as a team. Of course, Ladybug is the one to come up with a complex yet daring plan to win the fight, and it is her creativity and tenacity in the heat of battle that allows Cat Noir to become completely infatuated with her.
However, unaware that they must capture the Akuma, the magical butterfly escapes and multiples, turning many of Paris’ citizens into supervillains frozen in time. Focusing only on her shortcomings, Marinette loses courage and gives up the Ladybug Miraculous, while Adrien learns that he can’t nullify an Akuma without Ladybug.
Season 1, Episode 23 “Stoneheart (Origins – Part 2)” begins with our heroes in quite the conundrum. Marinette tries to give her Miraculous to someone else, whereas Adrien is stuck on what to do. Finally, Adrien is able to attend school and meets Marinette for the first time. However, in a shocking twist, Marinette misinterprets Chloe’s cruel joke as Adrien’s and ends up despising and actively avoiding him.
With the Akuma still running rampant, Ivan is inevitably Akumatized yet again, causing the situation to worsen as Ladybug grapples with her self-doubt. Luckily, she regains her courage in the nick of time to take up the mantle, rescuing Alya and re-joining Cat Noir in battle. Hawk Moth takes this opportunity to solidify himself as a true danger. In turn, Ladybug threatens that she will find and defeat him, while also making a promise to always protect the citizens of Paris no matter the cost.
While Stoneheart’s defeat introduces two new heroes, Marinette and Adrien are still not on the best of terms — at least, not until the episode’s end. Taking cover from a downpour after school, in a heartwarming scene, Adrien clarifies the earlier misunderstanding and opens up to her. Before leaving, he gives Marinette his umbrella as she falls head over heels in love. Thus begin the tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir.