Series / Emmerdale

Emmerdale is a long-running British Soap Opera, set in the titular Yorkshire village.

From its creation in 1972 until 1989, it was known as Emmerdale Farm, the series was generally based around the farm and rural life in the village, often centring around the village pub, The Woolpack.

Notably, almost every person who moves to the village (even the illegitimate ones) either joins or is joined by their family, and so joins in the near-constant feuding among the families in the village.

Seen as something of a television version of The Archers, albeit set among bluff northern types rather than well-heeled country folk, the series received a dramatic Re Tool during the early 1990s. Starting with the name change, more and more classic "soap opera" elements were introduced, but the series was still in the shadow of its more illustrious rivals Coronation Street and EastEnders - until 1993, when writers had a plane crash onto the Woolpack, drawing in 18 million viewers.

The plane crash storyline proved so popular that Emmerdale in the last 15 years has become a rather dangerous place to live. In the 20 years before the crash, 21 characters had been killed off. Since the crash, the body count currently stands at 46 - seven of them in 2006 alone.

This series provides examples of:

  • Bookends: Jack Sugden returned to the village for his father's funeral in the first episode, which aired in 1972, taking a walk around the farm to see the farm. His biological son Robert returned for Jack's funeral in 2009, taking the same walk around the farm that Jack does and even gets interrupted by someone in the same manner that Jack was.
  • Break the Cutie: Carl King started off as the only member of the King family who had even a spark of good inside him. He has since killed a friend in an accident and killed his dad in a rage. Then the love of his life was then hit and killed by a lorry. Then he was shot by a solicitor he'd wronged. Then his elder brother Matthew tried to run him down but was killed himself. Then his wife lost their child. Then the next woman he was set to marry left him at the altar. By the time of his murder, Carl was almost unrecognisable from his early days.
  • British Accents: Though only a few still speak with a recognisable Yorkshire accent.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Almost played horribly true with unknowing half-siblings Ryan Lamb and Maisie Wylde, and even though the bullet was dodged on the incest the revelation they almost had sex led Maisie to have a break down and to the murder of their father at the hands of Maisie's mother.
  • Bumbling Dad: Dan Spencer started as quite a nasty character (to show where his son got his evil side from) but has been diluted to this when he became a full time cast member.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy:
    • Chris Tate who upon discovering his wife had been cheating on him with his enemy - and her cousin - Cain Dingle went after Cain with a gun then decided Charity was the one he truly hated so he committed suicide and framed her for murder (having recently discovered he had months to live).
    • Cain Dingle himself definitely fits this trope: after being rejected by Angie he stalked her and frightened off any man she got involved with until she was so desperate that she tried to framed him for a crime. He also attacks and/or threatens any man who shows interest in Charity.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Dan Spencer in Cameron's Woolpack hostage crisis. See Took a Level in Badass.
    • Quickly followed by Marlon Dingle.
  • Dating Do-Si-Do: See Tangled Family Tree; per standard soap tropes, most long-running characters are within 1-2 dating 'links' of each other.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Andy Sugden's children are named after Jack & Sarah Sugden, who took him in & raised him as their own.
  • Defiant to the End: Val, realising that she's going to die in the rubble after the helicopter crash, lights a final cigarette and gives a speech about how unstoppable she is and how much she's overcome to the massive shard of glass dangling over her, moments before it falls and kills her.
  • Demoted to Extra: Alan Turner, Pearl Ladderbanks, Betty Eagleton were once prominent characters, however due to their age and lighter workload, often go for weeks without making an appearance.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In the episode which aired November 13th, 2012, Charity comments that Debbie looks "like a zombie from a zombie film."
  • Dirty Cop: Arsonist Detective Sergeant Nick Henshall.
  • Domestic Abuse: Andy and Jo Sugden.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Jackson Walsh via assisted suicide.
    • Donna Windsor throws herself from the top of a multi-story car park after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
    • Aaron attempted suicide rather than be forced to come out during his trial for assaulting Jackson.
  • Dropped A Plane On Them: One of the most famous storylines.
  • Elder Abuse: The verbal, psychological, financial, and physical abuse of Sandy by his son, the local vicar, Ashley was a whole story arc.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: It's a soap opera. Someone is sleeping with someone new every week.
  • Fat and Skinny: Paddy and Marlon, to a certain extent.
  • Fan Disservice : Paddy the vet, whose current shaven head does him no favours at all.
  • Feuding Families: Dingles vs Tates, Dingles vs Kings, Dingles vs Sugdens, Sugdens vs Kings, Sugdens vs Sugdens
  • Geographic Flexibility: Applies a little bit to the village itself, but more pertinently to the nearby town of Hotton, which is as big or small and contains as many or as few bars/shops/attractions as are currently necessary for the plot.
    • Not quite, given that Hotton is a supposed copy of Haughton, South Yorkshire.
    • Location scenes based in Hotton are usually filmed in the town of Otley, close to the TV studios in Leeds where the show is filmed. Until the late 1990s, an actual village, Esholt, was used for exterior scenes of the village, until a purpose-built set was built on the grounds of a stately home close to Leeds.
  • Groin Attack: Cain Dingle is often the recipient of this from women he has wronged.
    • Liv Flaherty kicked Robert Sugden in the crotch after he tried to get back Aaron Livesy's wallet, which Liv had stolen.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Fairly frequently in hospital scenes, in fact the extras are considered more attractive than the main actors (well, at least in the medical situations) but then again, this soap does not have any regular medico characters, so to speak, not as far as we know. Digital Spy, the Internet soaps directory does not mention this.
  • Killed Off for Real: It's a realistic soap, so this is to be expected.
  • Kissing Cousins: played VERY, VERY straight with the Dingles, to the point that there's at least one definite (though slightly averted in that they were Second cousins) case of progeny, Debbie, who is surprisingly a lot more stable than either of her parents, except for her own propensity for incest for nearly 2 years. this has been lampshaded by other characters repeatedly. the main offenders being: Charity/Cain, Charity/Marlon, Eli/Debbie, Eli/Chas, a brief one-sided Eli/Gennie, the list goes on. There was even a marriage for Butch/Mandy, although, despite some one-sided feelings from Butch, it was solely because the family's home was being sold and Mandy's boyfriend's mother had offered her money to marry someone else.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The villagers have noted to themselves that the village isn't as peaceful as it should be.
  • Mama Bear: Chastity isn't exactly winning any Mother of the Year awards, but she's extremely protective of Aaron.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Katie Sugden thought her ex-husband-turned-brother-in-law Robert was cheating on his fiancee with Alicia Gallagher. He wasn't. He was, however, cheating with someone else.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Handsome newcomer Ryan Hawley has had his shirt off many times since joining.. A well placed mirror in one of his scenes also showed him clad in nothing but black briefs.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • A few times with Roxanne Pallett.
    • Maisie Wylde, no less.
    • Alicia Gallagher played by the beautiful Natalie Anderson.
  • My Local: The Woolpack.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Are you seriously going to threaten Cain Dingle? Yes, it's a recurring theme to use Biblical names in Emmerdale.
  • Oop North
  • Parrot Exposition: When Val is revealed to have cataracts, every character who witnesses this repeats the word "cataracts" over and over again. Harry Hill had a lot of fun with this scene.
  • Perma Stubble: Many of the younger male characters are either stubbly or have full beards to appeal to a younger audience.
    • Perma Shave: Sam Dingle, Paddy and Robert Sugden. Sam probably has this to contrast his dim-wittedness with the rest of the cast and Robert is probably clean-shaven to imply difference to the other locals or to appear mysterious.
  • Please Select New City Name: The village of Beckindale was renamed to Emmerdale in 1994: in story this was to honour the residents of Emmerdale Farm killed in the plane crash; in the real world it was to avoid viewer confusion as the focus had broadened from the farm to the village.
  • Plot-Sensitive Snooping Skills: Characters tend to be very dumb or very smart, as the plots call for.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Jack Sugden was hastily written out after actor Clive Hornby became ill, and the character was later killed off following Hornby's death.
    • If you're a streetlighting geek, like on this site, then look out for the various types of streetlight - it's a way to tell the current state of affairs for councils on location filming.
  • Retcon: The reveal in 2016 that Aaron was abused by his father as a child doesn't track especially well with what was shown on-screen at the time, but any inconsistencies have largely been handwaved away within the show.
  • Re Tool: From 1993 onwards.
  • Serial Killer: Cameron Murray has (as of August 2013) killed three villagers (Carl by hitting him with a brick, Gennie by suffocation and Alex's murder was unseen) and admitted murdering another man in Jersey.
  • Soapland Christmas: The murder of Tom King on his wedding day (on Christmas Day) in 2006 is probably the most famous one.
  • Stage Whisper: Used all the time as characters discuss secrets barely an arms reach away from the person who shouldn't hear them - and doesn't.
  • Straight Gay: Aaron, Jackson and Robert; to a lesser extent, former characters Jason and Joe.
  • Smug Snake: Nathan Wylde's entire character was built around this.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Oh boy. To take just one example: Bernice is married to Lawrence, who is Chrissie's father. Bernice's ex-boyfriend, and step-brother, is Andy, who is now involved with Chrissie. Chrissie is midway through divorcing Robert, who is Andy's brother. Robert is semi-involved with Aaron, who used to date Robert's sister Victoria. Andy has two children with Debbie, who is Aaron's cousin and Robert's ex-girlfriend. Victoria is married to Adam, who is Aaron's step-cousin through marriage - specifically his mother's marriage to Cain (Debbie's father). Debbie's mother, Charity, also has a child with Ross, Debbie's boyfriend and Adam's half-brother. And that's before you get into the actual incest of the Dingle family tree.
    • Emphasised in-universe when Chastity brings Victoria free birthday drinks:
    Chas: There you go, seeing as you're family.
    Victoria: I?
    Chas: Well yeah, your husband is my brother's stepson.
    [blank looks all around, including from said husband]
  • Temporarily a Villain: Andy Sugden during his domestic abuse storyline. He's back to normal now, after the writers explained it all as depression.
  • Tempting Fate: Carl King gives Cameron a smug speech about how many near-death experiences he's avoided, ending with "I'm untouchable". Cameron promptly caves his head in with a brick.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Dan when he tries to sneak up on Cameron with a chair in the Woolpack hostage crisis. Unfortanutely Debbie alerts him to it.
    • Not long after, Marlon truly takes a level in badass in the final confrontation with Cameron.
  • Unrelated Brothers: Andy and Robert Sugden. Robert's father Jack adopted Andy when they were both young.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Andy Sugden, Cain Dingle.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Inverted with the King family - After their 2004 introduction, they've gradually all been killed off with the exception of Jimmy, the eldest child. The only other members of the King bloodline still alive are Jimmy & Carl's children, and half-sister Scarlett.