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Series: Revenge
"This is not a story about forgiveness."

Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp) is new to the Hamptons. She's met some of her wealthy neighbors, has made a few new friends and seemingly blends into the town. But something is a little odd about a young girl living in a wealthy town all on her own, and the truth is that Emily isn't exactly new to the neighborhood. In fact, this was once her old neighborhood, until something bad happened that ruined her family and their reputation. Now Emily is back, and she's returned to right some of those wrongs in the best way she knows how — with a vengeance.

A modern retelling of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo.

The Character Sheet could use some love.

The series has been remade in Turkish.

This series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: Because season one's "Legacy" - except for the final scene - takes place before and on New Year's Eve 2002 with added flashbacks, Connor Paolo, Christa B. Allen and Ashley Madekwe are all MIA (Paolo's character Declan does appear, but as a prepubescent in one scene).
    • In season two both Connor Paolo and Christa B. Allen are absent from "Penance," and the latter also does not appear in "Lineage."
  • Action Girl: Emily is very proficient at beating people up with her bare hands. She's also very comfortable with guns.
  • A Friend in Need: Nolan is the only friend of Amanda's father who does not abandon him. When Amanda turns 18 he comes to her and tells her of her father's innocence and gives her her father's 49% worth of shares of Nolan's company (worth billions of dollars) since her father was Nolan's first investor and Nolan believes he would not have succeeded without him.
    • He also is determined to help Emily in her quest for vengeance, even when she doesn't want him to.
  • Alpha Bitch: Victoria rules the Hamptons with an iron fist.
  • Amoral Attorney: Ryan Huntley, Victoria's lawyer, who's willing to fake documents in order to help Victoria nullify her prenup and extort more out of Conrad in their divorce.
    • As it turns out, he's actually been working for Emily. Take that as you will.
    • Also Senator Tom Kingsley, who was bribed to lead the prosecution against David Clarke in the trial which started it all. Emily decimates his career as payback.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Declan Porter, probably just as much for the viewers as for his brother Jack.
    • Averted with Charlotte, who gets along great with Daniel and even has Big Brother Worship.
    • Charlotte is also now becoming really close and caring to Faux!Amanda.
  • Anti-Hero: Emily's a Type IV; she goes after Asshole Victims but isn't exactly concerned about the innocent people who get hurt along the way, like the employees of an investment firm that she bankrupts.
  • Anyone Can Die: In a series called Revenge, a few deaths are to be expected, but Amanda's death is still surprising.
    • With the Season 2 Finale, this has been thoroughly cemented with Declan's death.
  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: While we're never given a definitive number on the size of Nolan's fortune, we are told that the combined wealth of the Hampton's elite is worth approximately the same as a week's worth of interest on his money. It's big enough that he can buy Emily's house out from under Victoria, and then give it away. Since Emily owns the other 49% of Nolan's company it seems safe to say that she has this as well.
  • Arch-Enemy: Victoria Grayson is Emily's, although the former doesn't know about it yet.
  • Asshole Victim: The Graysons. They really do deserve what they get.
  • Ax-Crazy: Tyler becomes even more unhinged when he stops taking his medication. He stabs Nolan and threatens the people at Daniel's party with a gun.
    • The real Emily Thorne.
    • Kara Clarke, who tried to drown her daughter and was institutionalized for nearly 20 years.
  • The Atoner:
    • Daniel, at least initially he wants to do what's right.
    • Mason Treadwell, towards the end.
    • Victoria, of all people, starts coming off as this in the last few episodes of the 1st season, as she dedicates herself to taking down Conrad for what happened to David Clarke, no matter the cost. Though there is at least some question as to whether this is because of a genuine desire to atone or because the whole affair is a convenient weapon to use against Conrad (Victoria was careful to secure immunity for herself and separate her assets from his before she said anything.)
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Victoria and Conrad have their moments. In a spiteful and mutually-destructive way.
  • Baby Trap: Apparently Victoria got Conrad to marry her by faking a pregnancy. After the wedding she had a fake Convenient Miscarriage
    • And in Season 3, Emily fakes a pregnancy to reel in Daniel, who is wavering and looking to get back with his ex-girlfriend.
  • Batman Gambit: Emily has studied her targets and knows which character flaws of theirs to exploit to bring them down
    • The crooked hedge fund manager is a gambler and built his fortune on insider trading so Emily presents him with an irresistible chance to gamble on a 'surefire' stock tip.
  • The Beard: Ashley seems to be this for Tyler.
  • Best Served Cold: Emily cites this in her closing narration of the pilot episode.
  • Beta Couple: Declan and Charlotte, Tyler and Ashley.
  • Betty and Veronica: Jack and Daniel.
  • Big Bad: Conrad and Victoria hold this position for most of season 1 by default of being at the center of the conspiracy to frame David Clarke. However, by the end of the season, the Americon Initiative are established as the Eviler than Thou Bigger Bad, and seem to be pushing the Graysons out of the position in season 2.
    • Actually, by this point it seems to be more of a Big Bad Ensemble, with the Graysons and the Initiative plotting against each other.
    • And Conrad is fully back in place as Big Bad by the end of season two, knocking Victoria out of the spot.
  • Big Brother Worship: Charlotte seems to adore Daniel, turning to him rather than her parents when she gets in trouble.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Graysons, although not a big family, otherwise fit the definition pretty well.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Emily can seem really nice to people she wants to win over, but her real persona is very different. Also Tyler, who takes great pains to appear wholesome and impress the Graysons.
    • As the series goes along, the previously comparatively sweet-tempered Ashley is revealed to be something of a naked opportunist who views with contempt the rich people she works for/befriends
  • Bi the Way: Nolan claims to be about a 3 on the Kinsey scale, right after he reveals that Tyler spent last summer living with another man.
    • Fake Amanda/Real Emily makes out with a girl at the Stowaway.
    • Later on Nolan gets a girlfriend.
    • Victoria's long lost son Patrick is Nolan's new boyfriend as of Season 3.
  • Black Best Friend: Eli James was this to Amanda when she was in foster care, to the point that neither of them wanted to be adopted without the other. This is deconstructed when it's revealed that Eli was the one who set the fire that got Amanda sent to juvie - to try and keep them together.
  • Blackmail: Happens all the time.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Between Victoria and Frank, the Graysons' chief of security.
  • Book Ends: The explosion of an airplane in season 1.
  • Break the Cutie: Done to little Amanda in the extreme. She's drowned by her mentally ill mother, told that her mother has died, her father is framed for terrorism, she's institutionalized, sent to an abusive foster home, framed for burning said home down, sent to juvie, her father is killed in prison and upon her release learns of her father's innocence through witnessing his best friend's murder. It's enough to transform her from a playful young girl into the steely and vindictive Emily she is today.
    • Also done to Jack, who loses his father, dog, wife and brother within the space of a year and goes from friendly sailor to attempted governor-assassin.
    • Charlotte may well qualify by Season 3's premiere, where on top of discovering she's David Clarke's daughter, losing her sister, and her boyfriend and now she lost the baby.
  • Breather Episode: "Legacy" in the first series, though exciting and dramatic, as ever, is one of the more relaxed and calm episodes of the series, leading into the finale.
  • But Not Too Black: Ashley
  • Buy Them Off: The Graysons started the Victims United charity for the purposes of easing Victoria's guilty conscience about the victims of the plane crash.
    • On a smaller scale, Conrad tries to gain Victoria's forgiveness for his affair with Lydia by buying her a sports car. Victoria, in turn, gives the car to Charlotte in hopes of buying Charlotte's forgiveness.
  • Byronic Hero: Emily.
  • Character Death: Frank.
    • Tyler.
    • Lydia dies in the plane explosion in the season 1 finale.
      • Or so we thought until the end of season 3...
    • Season 2 kills off Nate Ryan and Amanda in an explosion aboard the Amanda.
    • Two episodes before the Season 2 Finale has Aiden kill Takeda. The Season 2 Finale kills off Declan.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Since the show is a mystery/thriller, this trope is used a lot.
    • There is a literal case in the third episode when Daniel spots Emily's gun at her house, the same gun used in the pilot's teaser that will allegedly murder him.
  • The Chessmaster: Emily is certainly this, given the way she played Lydia and Bill like fiddles to ruin them. Only time will tell, but she is working her way towards being a full on Magnificent Bastard.
    • She seems to have learned everything she knows from the warden of the juvenile hall she was incarcerated.
  • Childhood Friends: Emily/Amanda and Jack were this. We're not given details, but they were close enough that he later names his boat after her and now takes care of her former dog Sammy.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Jack has fallen for Emily without even realizing that she and Amanda are one and the same. She seems to return the feelings but refuses to act on them due to her revenge plot and relationship with Daniel.
    • To make things more complicated, he and the real Emily (who is impersonating Amanda for Amanda) seem to have a thing for each other.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Seemingly everyone, though Ashley stands out as one who legitimately switches sides on multiple occasions. Aiden appears to be this, but is closer to Double Reverse Quadruple Agent.
  • Classical Mythology: Sammy - and his odd longevity - may be a reference to Odysseus's dog Argos, who recognized his master after 20 years of separation.
  • Cliffhanger: The season finales are good at this.
    • The first season ends with Emily calling off her engagement to Daniel only to find her chances with Jack ruined by Amanda revealing she's pregnant, the plane carrying Victoria (and all the evidence that could exonerate David Clarke) exploding, Charlotte overdosing, and Emily learning that her mother is still alive.
    • The second season ends with Declan dying, Nolan in jail for his involvement in the creation of the Carrion program, Victoria's long lost son Patrick showing up on her doorstep, the implication that Daniel shot and killed Aiden, and lastly, Emily finally telling Jack who she really is.
    • The third season mid-season finale ends with Emily faking pregnancy to reel Daniel into marrying her, Daniel's ex-girlfriend Sara attempting suicide after losing Daniel for good, Patrick coming back and discovering one of Nolan's hidden compartments, Lydia returning from the dead and revealing a photograph to Victoria to expose Emily, and all of this leading up to Daniel shooting Emily in the stomach twice, knocking her off the Graysons' yacht, and disposing of the weapon as well.
  • Cool Boat: Jack's (now Nolan's) boat is this, a hand restored sail boat that looks nothing short of fantastic.
    • Then it explodes.
    • The Grayson luxury yacht which Emily is shot on.
  • Con Man: Tyler. Unfortunately for him, Nolan is better.
    Nolan: You can't con a con.
  • Convenient Coma: Lydia
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Victoria had a fake one after she married Conrad. She was never pregnant and used a Baby Trap to get him to marry her.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Conrad Grayson.
    • The Americon Initiative is composed entirely of these — the terrorist bit is just a cover for them manipulating the stock market via disasters.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Nolan to Emily.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Hamptons might seem like a sunny world of parties and pretty, rich people but underneath it is built on lies and betrayal.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Mason Treadwell. He comes off, at first, as a smug dandy, who enjoys the fruits of his betrayal to Emily and David. After Emily burns down his house, however, we see him destroy Victoria's chance at defending Daniel and said he would take her down. When threatened with his corruption being exposed, he merely stated that it would be a small price to pay for restoring his soul.
    • His reappearance in Forgiveness shows him being able to match wits with nearly every character he has screen time with, including Victoria.
  • Daddy's Girl: Amanda was definitely this, before he was arrested for treason. After discovering his innocence, she's now this again.
    • Charlotte Grayson is considerably closer to her father than her mother.
      • Until it's revealed that she's actually David Clarke's daughter, and their relationship falls apart.
      • Of course, as of the season three premiere, it seems they are back to being as close as ever.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Victoria. At the end of the first episode, she's already checking into Emily Thorne's past.
  • The Danza: Three - Emily VanCamp as Emily, Emily Alyn Lind as Emily in flashbacks, and Ashley Madekwe as Ashley.
  • Dark Secret: Framing David Clarke is the Graysons', and they will protect it at any cost.
  • Dawson Casting: 21-year-old Connor Paolo as Declan, who is 17 (at most).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nolan also Conrad as of late.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Many of the people who helped convict David Clarke did so because the Graysons bribed them.
    • Conrad Grayson framed David Clarke in order to cover up the deal he made with a terrorist group.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: When Amanda first met the real Emily in juvie, they got into a brief but brutal fight; now, they seem rather close, enough for Emily being willing to switch identities.
  • Department of Child Disservices: The child psychologist in charge of Amanda's case tried to break her spirit and brainwash her into thinking her father was a despicable human being. She is the reason why Amanda spent most of her childhood in a juvenile detention facility. Victoria bribed her to do so
    • As it happens, the owner of the foster care home Amanda stayed it was absolutely no better.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Tyler and, depending on your point of view, Nolan
  • The Dog Bites Back: Mason's second appearance has shades of this — Victoria recruits his help in proving Daniel's innocence, but when he's led to believe that she's been deceiving him, he goes in the exact opposite direction, more or less destroying the defense's case.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Declan towards Charlotte.
  • Dope Slap: Everybody to everybody else.
  • Doomed by Canon: This looks to be where Daniel is headed given the How We Got Here set up in the beginning of the pilot. Subverted: Daniel's death was a Red Herring — it was Tyler who was shot, not him.
  • Downer Ending: the Season one finale.
    • Season two certainly did not favor any better.
    • Neither did season three.
  • The Dragon:
    • Nolan is more or less this to Emily. Whether she likes it or not.
    • Frank, to the Graysons — though not anymore...
  • Dramatic Drop: Ashley shatters a wine glass when she walks in on Tyler kissing Nolan.
  • Dramatic Irony: "Her past will forever define her future" the therapist in the first season.
  • Driven to Suicide: Charlotte, although she is not successful.
    • Daniel's ex-girlfriend Sara, after he got married to Emily. Again, not successful, given her roommate's keyword "tried."
  • Easy Amnesia: Due to her injuries Lydia cannot remember what happened shortly before her accident and thus cannot tell the police that Frank pushed her
    • In the season 4 promo, we see Emily with a case of this after Daniel shot her.
  • Emotionless Girl: Emily tries to be this saying her feelings are irrelevant, but when it comes to Jack getting beat up...
    • Aiden manages to break down her walls after much prodding in season two.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The one redeeming quality both Conrad and Victoria have is that they genuinely love their children — well, at least Daniel.
    • Conrad also seems to genuinely love Lydia and is visibly upset when he realizes she's turned on him.
    • The White Haired Man/Gordon Murphy also seemed to actually love Kara.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Graysons are Rich Bitch Corrupt Corporate Executives, but they're still horrified and sickened by the Initiative's terrorist actions.
    • Until it turns out that Conrad has been with the initiative all along, ever since Flight 197. Though admittedly, Victoria is still even more appalled at this revelation.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Sammy does not like real-Emily. At first, anyway; he seems to warm up to her quickly.
  • Evil Genius: As of Illumination, The Falcon is this for the Graysons - a master hacker who has their finances guarded enough to protect it from Carrion (which prevents Emily and Nolan from completely bankrupting them in one fell swoop), and also played a role in the framing of David Clarke.
  • Evil Matriarch: "Queen" Victoria Grayson.
    • And her attitude was heavily influenced by her own mother.
  • Failure Knight: Aiden Mathis. Lampshaded by Nolan, that for someone so dedicated to taking down the Initiative, he really sucks at it.
  • Fake American: Emily Van Camp (Emily Thorne) and Henry Czerny (Conrad Grayson) are actually Canadian. In addition Josh Bowman (Daniel Grayson) is actually British
  • Family Business: The bar Jack works at: owned by his Dad, run by the two of them plus his brother.
    • Grayson Global was founded by Conrad's father and he is still chairman of the board while Conrad's the CEO. Daniel is being groomed to be the CEO when Conrad retires.
  • Foreign Remake: Disney has produced İntikam, a Turkish-language remake of the show for Kanal D.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Surender", Victoria says that "With [Daniel's] heart pining for another woman, he'll end Emily himself." The next episode, after Daniel and Emily's wedding, Daniel shoots Emily.
  • Gambit Pileup: Most of Emily's plans involve manipulating people into manipulating each other.
  • Gender Flip: Edmond is now Emily.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Victoria is the poster girl for this trope.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: Emily & co, the Graysons, and the Americon Initiative, respectfully.
  • Gray and Black Morality: Emily versus her victims.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Frank, of all people, falls for this. Considering he used to be the one to silence inconvenient witnesses, he should have been more Genre Savvy.
  • Hoist By Her Own Petard: Victoria tries to buy Declan off to get him to break up with Charlotte. He responds by faking breaking up with her in order to get the money, then putting that money towards getting his own place where he and Charlotte can go. And then the two of them have sex. Great parenting there, Victoria.
  • Honey Trap: Emily is actively working on seducing Daniel Grayson (and judging by the opening flashforward, she'll succeed), although her exact plans are unknown.
    • It's implied that Emily also set one for Mike Davis by introducing him to the woman who later became his mistress.
  • How We Got Here: The pilot opens five months after Emily moves in to provide a tease of how far Emily will go to get her revenge, before we go back to her moving in and wait to get back there.
    • Later season premieres have opened the same way, with teasers for Season 3 suggesting that Emily would get shot in the first five minutes. As of episode 3-6, it now appears that Emily plans to fake her death and frame Victoria for her murder.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the episodes have one word titles.
  • Ironic Echo: Emily's takedowns frequently fit this trope.
    • Lydia entered the Hamptons upper-crust thanks to her betraying David Clarke - and Emily's revenge gets her kicked out.
    • Dr. Banks made sure Amanda was locked in a small, dark room without any hope of escape - and Emily locked her in a box of her own.
    • Bill got involved in the conspiracy because of his gambling debts and insider trading - and loses everything when Emily tricks him into betting big on an insider tip.
    • Tom Kingsley launched his political career by participating in the frame-up - and lost it when Emily framed him.
    • Mason Treadwell took away the only opportunity David Clarke had to get his story out there - and Emily burned the only copy of his new book as well as his collection of rare first edition books. Also, after reading his first book's lies as a child, Emily burned a treasured photo of her dad.
  • Ivy League For Everyone: Daniel and Tyler were Harvard roommates. Justified since they're legacies.
  • Jerk Ass: Tyler. His motives for trying to break Daniel and Emily up and appear like he's protecting Daniel to his family aren't clear, but his methods certainly are asshole-ish.
    • Apparently he was merely doing it for the evulz... until his psychotic break, that is.
  • Kill It with Fire: How Emily dealt with the corrupt biographer.
    • Specifically, the biographer's house, which contained his research and manuscript.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When old age finally catches up to Sammy, Jack says he was beginning to think he'd live forever. (Sammy, at this point, is in his late teens, which is really, really old for a dog.)
  • Like Brother and Sister: According to the actors, Emily and Nolan are supposed to be like this.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Nolan is this, a problem he attempts to solve by bribing Jack into hanging out with him.
    • On the other hand, he apparently has enough company at the mansion to have a collection of "house bikinis" onhand.
      • Except they didn't get much use, as "Amanda" discovered during her first visit to Casa Nolan. They still had the tags on.
  • Love Dodecahedron: It started out as a nice, simple Love Triangle: Daniel and Jack are both in love with Emily, who has romantic feelings for Jack but has to stay with Daniel (for whom she may or may not also have feelings) because it's part of her plan. Then things got complicated: First, there's Tyler, who's in love with (or at least obsessed with) Daniel, but is dating Ashley while having an affair with Nolan. Then, there is "Amanda" who is dating Jack while pretending to be his childhood friend and you've got a web that should keep everyone tangled up for several seasons. And that isn't even getting into the older generation...
    • Season 2 makes this slightly more elaborate, adding a little more to the current generation as well as throwing more notches into the older one. Jack and "Amanda" are married with a son partway through the season, effectively keeping Jack from getting involved with Emily out of his love for "Amanda" until her death. Jack's place in the triangle is taken up by Emily's New Old Flame Aiden. Daniel becomes involved with Ashley after Emily calls off their initial engagement. Ashley does the impossible by linking the dodecahedron to the older generation by mixing it up with Conrad. Victoria uses this information to blackmail Ashley into prostitution which then causes Daniel to break up with her when he finds out. Daniel then returns to Emily, who breaks up with Aiden for the sake of infiltrating the Grayson family yet again, though Emily is still involved with Aiden behind-the-scenes, because unlike Jack or Daniel, Aiden is fully aware of Emily's plans and thus will readjust images and affections for the sake of whatever Emily's planning. After half a season of being a jerk to Emily for Amanda's death, Jack returns to Emily when he finds out that Emily called off the first engagement for him. So by the end of the season, three men are vying for Emily's attention. We had to ask!
  • Love Makes You Evil: Lydia.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Lydia's near death; it didn't go the way Frank planned, but he was probably making it look like suicide even if she hadn't fallen off her balcony.
    • Which he clearly did a great job of given that he physically confronted her before throwing her off the roof...aren't signs of struggle the first indicator of non-suicide?
  • Mama Bear: Victoria Grayson is an interesting example, given that she has no problem manipulating either of her children in schemes against Conrad. But if an outside force threatens Daniel or Charlotte, she will destroy them with extreme, ruthless prejudice. Helen Crawley found this out after threatening Daniel. When Victoria held her at gun-point, Helen calmly pointed out that Victoria spent twenty years regretting what she'd done to David Clarke, and that she couldn't possibly be capable of cold-blooded murder. Victoria responded by smiling politely, and shooting Helen without another word.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Takeda is more or less this to Emily, as he taught her everything she knows about the art of revenge, and moves in and out of the story whenever it's necessary for him to aid her, even when she doesn't want it, including killing Tyler and framing Daniel for it in order to keep her scheme on track. And it turns out he was just using her to carry out his own revenge scheme on the Initiative.
    • The Americon Initiative, represented by the White Haired Man, is this to Conrad and the Graysons.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Tyler so very much.
  • Meaningful Name: Emily Thorne, which is lampshaded by Nolan.
    • Also Emily is the feminine form of 'Emil' or 'Aemillius' which comes from the latin word 'aemulus' meaning rival and Amanda is latin for 'lovable' or 'worthy of love'.
      • Both names fit perfectly. Amanda who was loved by her father and the name she adopts Emily, as she takes on those who destroyed her family.
      • Word of God has confirmed both these names and meanings were intentional.
    • The Porters, who are the poorest characters on the show.
    • The Graysons.
      • "Grayson" may also qualify as an Ironic Name, given that the original meaning of the name was "son of a servant."
  • Magical Asian: Satoshi Takeda is Emily's mysterious Japanese mentor.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: Emily was a Little Miss Bad Ass in juvie, but now using her brains to get revenge in the Hamptons.
    • And she's trained in the Japanese martial arts.
  • Morality Pet: Unexpectedly, Nolan for Emily. Jack, to a lesser extent.
    • Charlotte serves this function for Conrad.
  • Mouth of Sauron: Gordon Murphy, Helen Crowley (after his death), and Mr. Trask (after her death) serve as the Americon Initiative's representatives.
  • Ms Fan Service: Original Emily/Fake Amanda. Her first appearance is as a stripper, and it pretty much goes downhill (or uphill, depending on your perspective) from there.
  • My Beloved Smother: Victoria to Daniel.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Nolan has this reaction after watching the video of Frank attack Lydia, an event that he inadvertently helped set in motion.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Emily ultimately decides not to kill the White Haired Man (the man who killed her father), because she knows her father wouldn't want her to be a killer — but since he's still alive, he's able to blow up the plane carrying Victoria and all the evidence that could incriminate Conrad and clear David's name.
  • No Party Given: In the later half of the second season, Conrad runs for office, but it's never elaborated what party he belongs to.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: A writer keeps all copies of the manuscript for his new book and all his research material in his home. Emily sets fire to the house
    • Inverted in the case of the psychologist who was not supposed to record her sessions and keep copies of the recordings.
  • Now Let Me Carry You: Nolan is always there for Emily. From giving her half his fortune and getting her out of juvie, to being there whenever she needs him pretty much from day one of her revengenda, whenever Emily needs someone, Nolan is her backup. But we see a nice reversal of this when Nolan's girlfriend dies. Emily's reaction is to wrap him in a big hug (very uncharacteristic of her, Emily usually doesn't hug anyone), calmly accept the (mostly true) accusation that she is partially to blame, and to tell him that she is not leaving him. Most of the time Emily is too focused on the machinations of her revenge plan to worry about feelings, but in that moment she's willing to drop everything to be there for Nolan.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: The episode "Doubt" is about 90% this. The rest is What the Hell, Hero?, with a dash of My God, What Have I Done?.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Used in Masquerade, when Victoria makes eye contact with the boy she gave up, all grown up.
  • Once an Episode: Emily destroys the life of someone related to her father's conviction. Hinted at during a news report she was watching in the second episode that described the person testifying as "one of many" former friends now testifying. Looks like she has her work cut out for her. This gets dropped after a few episodes, though.
    • Emily's opening and closing narrations, on the other hand, are still used.
  • Only Sane Man: Nolan, occasionally. Although he's usually on board with Emily's complicated schemes, every now and then he takes a step back and comments on the ridiculousness of what everyone else is up to. For instance, during Daniel's trial for murder, Victoria decides to try getting an acquittal by sending a thug to threaten the young son of one of the jurors; while she is busy trying to get away with her crimes, and Emily is feverishly attempting to prove that the Graysons are jury-tampering, Nolan is the only person to express sadness and concern for the four-year-old whose life is being threatened here.
  • Pac Man Fever: Nolan says in 1988 he got the world high score on Street Fighter. He may have meant the first one, but when he fights The Falcon they the second.
  • Parental Abandonment: Jack and Declan Porter's mother abandoned her family when the boys were very young and they were raised by their father.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: The password to Emily's laptop is "infinity", a word with extreme significance to her due to her father's use of it (he said that the amount he loved her was infinity times infinity). It takes Amanda (and later, Jack) about three seconds to deduce this while looking at the symbol.
  • Pet the Dog: White Haired Man/Gordon's interactions with Kara in her flashbacks.
  • Poisonous Friend: Nolan is an inversion of this: while he is fanatically loyal to Emily/Amanda and assists her in her revenge scheme, he also frequently points out that she would probably be happier if she just dropped the whole thing and went off somewhere to enjoy her wealth.
    • Tyler to Daniel.
  • Promotion to Parent: When their father dies from a heart attack, the adult Jack becomes Declan's guardian.
  • Put on a Bus: Tyler.
  • Rage Breaking Point: At one point, Emily is considering taking a break from her quest for vengeance due to fallout from her latest power play to destroy the Grayson's divorce proceedings, and even considers leaving Daniel. Then, she learns instead of admitting that she had affair, Victoria claims that Emily's father raped her, she smiles, and instantly recommits to annihilating Victoria, all thoughts of collateral damage and remorse forgotten. The last shot of the episode is of her staring at Victoria in the distance with cold, chilling rage.
  • Reality Has no Subtitles: There are episodes in Season 1 where Emily speaks languages including French and Spanish without translation (though these aren't relevant besides telling us she's multilingual) and in one episode, where she repeatedly converses with another character in fluent Japanese, she then lies about what was said, and there is no captioning.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Emily gave Tyler a major one in episode 11 also count as Kick the Son of a Bitch for framing him for Frank's murder which he didn't commit, but he deserved it though.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Nolan a few times over Padma.
  • The Reveal: Several episodes have flashbacks revealing how Emily managed to ruin her target's life.
  • Revenge: What were you expecting, a story about forgiveness?
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor:
    • Charlotte, Victoria's daughter, has both - Declan Porter as the poor, and her ex-boyfriend Adam as the rich.
    • Emily herself has Jack and Daniel.
  • Sadistic Choice: Emily knows that Daniel is innocent of murdering Tyler...but she also knows Jack was the other guy on the beach. Any steps she takes to protect Jack will hurt Daniel and vice versa. She manages to Take a Third Option by having Lee Moran, a Grayson thug framed.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The hacker responsible for forging the evidence against David Clarke, the Fa1c0n, is a girl who wiped her identity from the grid years ago.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Emily: "Because that's exactly what I wanted. My most embarrassing confessions about [Daniel] broadcast for all the world to see."
  • Scary Black Man: Nolan's bodyguard, Big Ed.
  • Secret Keeper: Nolan for Emily.
  • Secret Test of Character: Emily is in the habit of arranging these for her targets. It's left unclear whether she'd actually let someone off the hook if they passed one, but it's a moot point since they invariably fail.
  • See You in Hell: The last exchange between Conrad and Victoria in the season finale:
    Conrad: If you get on that plane, it's the last thing you'll ever do.
    Victoria: Then I guess I'll see you in Hell!
  • Setting Update
  • Shipper on Deck: Nolan seems to be shipping Jack/Emily, although his motives remain unclear. It's possible he just wants to anchor her to her happy past and not lose herself in the revenge. The two are also the closest things he has to actual friends/relationships.
    • And Sammy, the suspiciously long living Labrador.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One neighborhood fixture is the South Fork Inn, quite appropriate for a soapy revenge tale.
    • Emily's therapist has a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo on her bookshelf.
    • Nolan refers to Emily as his "girl with the infinity tatoo," recognizing her similarity with Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tatoo.
    • In "Power," Conrad Grayson greets an acquaintance as "Fazzio," as in story editor (and writer of that particular episode) Joe Fazzio.
    • In "Reckoning," Emily addresses the white-haired man with "You and I have unfinished business," which another woman out for revenge used to call out her targets.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Emily definitely views Daniel as fair game in her revenge schemes, despite the fact that he would have been in elementary school at the time her father was betrayed. Though she has stated that while Daniel is part of the plan, he is not a target.
    • She was reconsidering this — until Daniel learned the truth and chose to follow the Grayson party line.
  • Smug Snake: Tyler and Lydia.
  • Spanner in the Works: Lydia tries to be one, and is thrown off a roof for her trouble.
    • "Amanda" (the real Emily) is threatening to become one as well.
    • Tyler's been steadily increasing as one since he first showed up. And it gets him killed.
    • Mason is one now that he knows that "Amanda" is a fake.
    • Jack told Emily to leave otherwise he'll tell her secret.
    • Sarah becomes this unintentionally when she causes Daniel to second-guess his wedding. And then intentionally when she [[spoilers: becomes Daniel's mistress in bid to antagonize Emily.]]
  • Spoiled Sweet: Both of Victoria's kids seem to be this, Daniel is a nice guy who has simply made some mistakes, and Charlotte tries to treat everyone equally regardless of social status. Emily was this as a child, and her public persona has everyone believing that she is one as well, but she isn't this at all.
    • Nolan. Despite being a Deadpan Snarker, and the richest character in the series, he is incredibly empathetic, often looking in the best interest of Jack, Declan, and Emily.
  • Start of Darkness: The flashback episode "Legacy" is this for Emily.
  • Stepford Smiler: Victoria Grayson rarely stops smiling, even as it becomes clear that she loathes many of the other characters (her husband, Emily, Lydia...). Invoked by Victoria during a particularly vicious spiel to Lydia:
    "Understand something, Lydia: every time I smile at you across a room, or we run into each other at a luncheon, or I welcome you into my home, let that smile be a reminder of just how much I despise you."
    • Emily herself is something of a heroic version of this, as she appears sunny and nice but is in actuality motivated by making those who hurt her father suffer.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Victoria, although she is not the one who killed her mother's lover, is forced to shoot him post-mortem and take the blame for his death.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: It's hard not to feel a little sympathy for the corrupt biographer whose house Emily burns to the ground, especially if you're a writer yourself (he only had one copy of his manuscript - and she used it as kindling). His complete BSOD - falling to the ground sobbing is what makes it work.
    • His subsequent actions somewhat redeem him too.
    • Victoria and Conrad often have scenes where it is hard to not feel sympathy for them. Many of the horrible things they do are meant to protect their children.
  • Take a Third Option: Due to Takeda's manipulations, Emily is stuck with choosing either Daniel or Jack to be framed for Tyler's murder. Instead, she frames one of Victoria's goons, thus protecting both boys.
  • Taking You with Me: Victoria seems determined to do this to the Initiative in season 2, rather than simply let them use her and Conrad and then dispose of them.
    "You and I are already doomed. Let them think we're laying down and when the time comes, I say we drag them to Hell with us."
    • After Nate is shot, he blows up the Amanda, killing himself and Amanda in the process.
    • Not to mention Mason Treadwell's price he's willing to pay for regaining his soul back in season 1. (By telling all the secrets of the Graysons through media opportunity's they gave him)
  • That Man Is Dead: Emily declares Amanda to be no more in the pilot.
    • Which isn't entirely accurate — she swapped identities with the real Emily Thorne (her cellmate), so Amanda Clarke still "exists", it's just someone else's identity now.
    • Emily has given Amanda (the fake one) a new identity now, although she doesn't seem to want to take it.
  • Title Drop: Emily's narration at the beginning of each episode always includes the episode title.
  • The Unfavorite: Charlotte for Victoria.
  • This Means War!: Though Emily never said this out loud, her appearances and reappearance in the Hamptons are essentially her non-verbal ways of stating this.
    • Season 2 has Jack joining in on the revenge train, with the deaths of Amanda and Declan being the final breaking points for him.
    • "Allegiance" has Nolan explicitly saying this to Daniel and Charlotte.
  • Token Minority: Ashley.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Tyler purposely is this to Daniel.
  • Tranquil Fury: Emily often displays this. Of course, this typically is lost on everyone but Nolan.
  • Trash the Set: In the season 2 finale, Grayson Global is blown to Kingdom Come by the Initiative... and Conrad was in on it.
  • True Companions: Despite Amanda's manipulations, and her constantly keeping Emily in the dark and getting her in a lot of dangerous situations, it's clear that she really does love her like a sister, and will follow her to Hell itself.
  • True Love's Kiss: In "Homecoming," Jack kissing Emily on the forehead is what snaps her out of her amnesia.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Justified, considering the setting.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Just about everyone is this to Emily, except for her mentors, Aidan, and Nolan (who's more of a witting pawn than anything else)
  • Villainous Breakdown: Between running out of his medication and losing all his blackmail material, Tyler has a rather impressive one.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: So far, all of Emily's victims.
    • Actually, there's a bit of logic behind this; if their life has been ruined already, there's no need for her to do so.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: In "Doubt" Emily beats the crap out of the guy Victoria hired to steal the tapes from Jack and who also arranged for Daniel to be beaten severely in prison so that he could be transferred to house arrest. "This is for Jack." "That was for Daniel!"
  • Wham Episode: "Chaos". The person killed in the series-opening flashforward was Tyler, not Daniel, who appears to be the one who killed him.
    • The first season finale, "Reckoning". See Cliffhanger.
    • Season 2 has "Sacrifice". By the end, Jack's been shot, the Amanda's been blown up, and Amanda is dead.
    • Also from Season 2, "Engagement". Aiden kills Takeda when his mentor confronts him about interfering with Emily's mission, Charlotte reveals to Daniel that she's pregnant, and at the end, the entire city's power is cut, presumably by Carrion.
    • And Season 2's Grand Finale, "Truth" delivers in spades. To recap: Takeda's fiancée is revealed to have been on Flight 197, Grayson Global is blown up by the Initiative, who Conrad has been working with for the entire season (and Conrad attempts to capitalise on the explosion by having Jack killed in it, but fails), Declan dies, Aiden and then Nolan are arrested for the attack, Conrad wins the election, Aiden and Daniel fight over Emily, and it's implied that Daniel may have shot Aiden, Jack goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge of his own and attempts to assassinate Conrad, Victoria's long-lost son Patrick arrives on her doorstop, and to cap it all off? The final line of the season? Emily reveals her true identity to Jack. And they had the sheer audacity to leave all this on a cliffhanger.
  • Wham Line: "When you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." The opening text of the pilot episode.
    • "Six months after the trial, Victoria gave birth to a baby girl. Ask her who the father is."
    • "So what is she (Victoria) saying, they killed my mother too?" "No... She's saying your mother's alive."
    • "I'm Amanda Clarke." The very last line of dialogue in Season Two.
    • "Jack,I'm your mother.'' - Stevie Grayson.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Subverted. While Nolan does point out to Emily that her revenge is hurting innocent people, he himself doesn't seem too concerned about it. In fact, he almost seems impressed by her conviction. Until recently, anyway.
    • On the other hand, he does call her out when he finds out that the real Emily killed Frank, but it's somewhat unclear if he's upset about Frank's murder or just the fact that Emily got him involved.
    • He really lets her have it after her actions lead to Jack getting beat by one of Victoria's goons, and he hasn't stop calling her out on it since.
    • Even Aiden has begun to be disgusted by Emily's actions, though this is mainly due to the fact that as long as Emily puts up the front as Daniel's loving girlfriend/fiancee, she can't openly be with Aiden.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Towards the end of the season 1, Emily has a couple of break downs of this sort.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Legacy" takes us back to late 2002 and the infamous Grayson New Year's Eve party of 2003.
    • Season 2's "Lineage" flashes back to Thanksgiving of 2006 when Emily first met Aiden.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Jack and the real Amanda.
  • Woman Scorned: When Victoria finds out about Lydia and Conrad's affair, she crushes Lydia, and effectively exiles her from the Hamptons.
    • Of course, then it's Lydia's turn to be scorned, and she threatens to expose the truth about David Clarke if Victoria doesn't take her back — Frank actually refers to her as this at one point (though he was referring to Emily's actions, which she had been framed for and which she was innocent of).
  • Yandere: The fake Amanda has shades of this in regards to the real one.
  • Your Cheating Heart: If a villain on the show is married or in a relationship, he/she will be cheating:
    • Both Graysons have or still are cheating on each other.
    • Both Lydia Davis and her husband.
    • Charlotte's rich prick boyfriend.
    • The senator who was the DA who convicted Amanda's father had a mistress who got pregnant.
    • Tyler is cheating on Ashley with Nolan. Tyler says he's just doing it to (unsuccessfully, unbeknownst to him) manipulate Nolan, but how true that is remains to be seen.
    • As of the eighth episode of season 3 Daniel and Sara

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