Series: Les Revenants

You wish you could see your dead loved ones once again ? Think twice.

"You know, for people who speak of loved ones getting life after death all day long, I would have thought that you would AT LEAST plan SOMETHING in case it happened. Just saying."

Also known as "The Returned".

A 2012 mystery/esoteric french soap-opera french TV series created by Fabrice Gobert for Canal+. It is a loose adaptation of the 2004 film of the same name by Robin Campillo, though the series expands its original idea and plans to create a long-run mystery on its basic premise. It proved quite a success for audience and critics alike (in fact it was the most watched original fiction created by Canal+ of all time), winning an international Emmy, and declared best 2013 drama by the Guardian (beating out Breaking Bad, mind you). A second season has been commissioned for a 2014 broadcast. The show is available in the UK on Channel 4, and in the USA on Sundance Channel.

The series follows the lives of five people who come back to life for no apparent reason, years after their death. They have no memories of how they died but reappeared at the exact place where they passed away; all of them lost their lives in brutal circumstances in a banal yet unsettling provincial (and unnamed) mountain town. The TV series follows their strange new lives and as well as the reactions of their relatives, who react with more or less warmth to their unexpected return. What at first looks like a miracle slowly proves to be quite a hardship on both sides.

...Then things start getting weird. It looks like dead people coming back to life is not the only supernatural problem this town and its inhabitants will have to deal with.

The soundtrack is performed by the Scottish Post-Rock band Mogwai.

A&E is working on an remake of the show; Paul Abbott, the British creator of Shameless, was at one point working on the remake (which was originally meant for British TV) but the project has since moved to a different production company. Carlton Cuse, formerly of Lost, is now involved.

Season 2 of the series is rumoured to be filming in the spring of 2014 for airing around Christmas. The Sundance Channel has already confirmed it will air the second series in America when it arrives.

A TV series that debuted in March, 2014 on ABC, Resurrection, which is based off a recent novel with a very similar premise, is being compared in the media almost universally with this series.

Warning: We try our best to avoid spoilers, but due to the sheer volume of plot twists, it's very difficult. Beware.

This series features examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The 2004 movie had a lot more people resurrecting, this series focuses on five "Revenants" to get a better assessment of their predicament. The movie also didn't provide any explanation for these unexpected resurrections, which the series plan to do eventually.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Of the 2004 movie.
  • All Lesbians Want Kids: A variant occurs when Julie takes in Victor, which seems to perk her maternal instincts and awakens unreconciled feelings for her former partner, Laurie.
  • Americans Are Cowboys: The waiters at the American Diner are dressed as cowboys ; but it's kind of justified as it's supposed to represent a theme-restaurant version of America.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Léna is first. Then her twin comes back from the dead, which makes her even more angsty.
  • Arc Words:
    • "It's over."
    • "Do you trust me?"
  • Auto Cannibalism: Simon eats his own rotting flesh while jailed.
  • Back from the Dead: Camille, Simon, Victor, Serge, Madame Costa, and a butterfly. Apparently there are many more, probably people who died when the original dam broke and flooded the town. Lucy, their leader, could possibly qualify, though she never really died. She could just have regenerative powers. Julie wonders if she's one of them because she was clinically dead for two seconds after her aggression, though it's scientifically possible she got lucky on the operating table
  • British Brevity: Season one is only eight episodes long.
  • Coming and Going: Sex and death are inextricably linked, especially in Lucy's powers of clairvoyance, which magnifiy when she is stabbed and comes back as one of the Returned.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Pierre has developed an enormous homeless shelter, The Helping Hand, complete with large dorms, months of food supplies and ammo, lots and lots of ammo.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: EVERYONE.
  • Deconstruction: Of the traditional Zombie Apocalypse genre. The show tries to be as realistic as possible and focuses more on the psychological impact of seeing someone you lost magically coming back rather than the fantastic aspect. ...Or at least, before the final episode.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The school bus accident that begins the series is shot a very objective angle, very passively, with no dramatic tension. The passive angle we see it initially at is partly by design as in a later episode we see the crash from a more participatory point-of-view and we find the accident was caused by Victor standing out in the middle of the road and the driver trying to avoid him.
  • Doting Parent: Camille's mother is so totally overwhelmed by her return, she seems to ignore her personality shifts as she becomes re-involved in her Sibling Triangle. She also goes to great lengths to hide her return from the parents whose children did not come back.
  • First Episode Resurrection: A grand total of five ! it turns out that dozens resurrected in the same episode though they remained in hiding for the entirety of the first season. The five others didn't find the rest of the group in time
    • While a great many seemed to have returned at the same time, Victor has been back for significantly longer, since Victor possibly deliberately causes the bus accident that kills Camille, and it takes four years before she returns.
  • Genre-Busting: It's been described as the French Twin Peaks, but there's a lot of soap-opera and dramedy in it. The rhythm at which the weird supernatural mysteries are introduced is intentionally slow, in order for the show to focus on the immediate and practical problems a family would experience if one of their relatives came back from the dead. Later on it verges on the Zombie genre and a good deal of Apocalypse How
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Adele is wanted by the Returned as she is now pregnant with Simon's child.
  • Hates Being Alone: Victor may have killed Julie's gossipy neighbor who was asking questions about his relationship tio her and he may have deliberately caused the bus accident, maybe in the hopes that the kids would come back as Returned.
    • This could mean that Victor is a Patient Zero, the first to have come back.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Lucy becomes more uninhibited as the series progresses.
  • Meaningful Name: Could some of the male character names refer to The Bible?
    • Thomas, the doubter
    • Pierre (Peter), the rock
    • Simon, an apostle who is renamed Peter by Jesus
    • Another example (not related to the Bible) is Viviane, Mr Costa's returned wife. Her name means basically "living".
  • Myth Arc: The producers insist that there is one, though whether or not it will leave viewers satisfied and give them the answers they want is already a matter of great controversy.
  • New Child Left Behind: Adele and Simon's daughter, Chloe.
  • Noughties Drama Series: Considering the series major influences, this isn't surprising.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Of the Revenant Zombie variety. They look like normal people, don't usually want to eat your brain, can think normally and aren't rotting at first.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Many characters shift their ethics as their situations change, but the most standout example comes in the first season finale: Thomas is perfectly willing to separate Lena and Camille over her mother's hysterical pleas, if it means the Returned leave in peace, but when the Returned also intend to take Adele - his wife, now pregnant with Simon's child - he decides forgo peace and leads his police force into a (seemingly foolhardy) confrontation against them after all.
  • Red-Headed Hero: Camille and Lena. Lucy as well.
  • Revenant Zombie: In case the title wasn't obvious enough.
  • Rotating Protagonist: Each episode begins by focusing on one of the main characters, with the episode named after them. The one subversion of this trope creates a massive spoiler for the first season finale.
  • Serial Killer: Serge, who stabs Lucy and who had previously attacked Julie.
  • Sibling Triangle: Before the accident that kills Camile, both her and Lena were in love with the same boy. Unknown to Camile at the time, her sister was already seeing him. This has repercussions when Camile returns.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: The town has an incredibly extensive CCTV network for its size and population. However it doesn't occur to the police to put a camera or two in the underpass or follow people's movements back to the point before they appeared.
    • Thomas goes Dirty Cop and takes to covert home surveillance when Simon, a former fiance of his wife, reappears as one of the Returned. At the same time, he has a right to be concerned, as they begin to have an affair.
  • The Reveal: When the water level of the nearby reservoir inexplicably lowers, it reveals an old church that may have an connection to the Returned.
    • And in the last scenes of the first season finale, we find out where all the water has gone...
  • 30-Second Blackout: The power has frequent minor failures
    • Are the returned capable of cutting it?
    • Could this be related to the reservoir's level dropping?
    • This later becomes Big Blackout
  • Closed Circle: The town becomes this near the end of the first season, with the town's only exit road mysteriously leading back to the dam, trapping Laure, Julie and Victor when they try to leave by car.
  • Twin Telepathy:
    • Lena's wounds and sickness seem to be directly related to the Sibling Triangle between her, Camile, and Fredrick.
    • This is also explored during the flashback to Camille's death; while Lena and Frederick have sex back at the house, Camille becomes aware of it because she can also feel it. Her resulting Freak Out distracts the driver, contributing to the accident.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: This is how Thomas justifies himself after shooting Simon. And by the first season's finale, the revenants and the horde are definitely not treated like ordinary humans would in the same circumstance, especially by Thomas and the rest of the police.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Victor was killed along with his family during a burglary, in which Pierre was a participant.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Along with Lena, some of the Returned begin to exhibit scars and wounds as they get more emotionally involved (or disconnected) with their loved ones.
  • Yodel Land: Set in the French part of the Alps, so the scenery is reminiscent of this trope. But otherwise averted.