Leonato, the governor of Messina, is visited by his friend Don Pedro who is returning from a victorious campaign against his brother Don John. Accompanying Don Pedro are two of his officers: Benedick and Claudio. While in Messina, Claudio falls for Leonato's daughter Hero, while Benedick verbally spars with Beatrice, the governor's niece. The budding love between Claudio and Hero prompts Don Pedro to arrange with Leonato for a marriage.
In the days leading up to the ceremony, Don Pedro attempts to sport with Benedick and Beatrice in an effort to trick the two into falling in love. Meanwhile, the villainous Don John plots against the happy couple, using his own form of trickery to try to destroy the marriage before it begins.