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YMMV: Revenge
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: While many view Emily as a tragic and deeply flawed Anti-Hero, nobly seeking revenge by questionable means, the sheer amount of Disproportionate Retribution probably makes her more of an Anti-Villain than an Anti-Hero. If taken this way, she is clearly a Big Bad Villain Protagonist whisle Takeda is the Bigger Bad. This isn't to say that her enemies, the Graysons and the conspiracy that brought down her father are good, only that Emily is A Lighter Shade of Black. She even puts together a Five-Bad Band of sorts. Although several of its members aren't consciously aware of their complicity, they fit the archetypes pretty well in practice—
    • The Big Bad: Emily Thorne (real Amanda Clarke)
    • The Dragon: Nolan Ross serves in this role for the first season, but Aiden Mathis seems to usurp this role during the second season.
    • Evil Genius: Mason Treadwell seems to take this role later in the first season, although he isn't fully aware of his role in Emily's scheming. When he starts to become a Spanner in the Works during the second season, Nolan Ross seems to take over this position as Aiden becomes Emily's number 2.
    • The Brute: Jack Porter
    • Dark Chick: Amanda Clarke (real Emily Thorne)
    • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Ashley Davenport, although she also isn't fully aware of her role in Emily's scheming and is at least partially loyal to the Graysons.
  • Arc Fatigue: By season 3, fans were really starting to lose patience for Emily to stop wasting time on the small fry and just get her revenge on the Graysons already. By the end of the season, Conrad has been tricked into an Engineered Public Confession (and then killed) and Victoria has been trapped in a psychiatric institution.
    • In season 4, they severely overestimated how long the fans would put up with Victoria leading David around by the nose while he unhesitatingly lapped up every lie she fed him. For many, the tipping point was David destroying Nolan's reputation on live TV, leading them to bail on the show just one episode before he finally learned the truth.
  • Awesome Music: Seven Devils by Florence + the Machine used in the finale of the first season. During the events of that episode is nothing but this. If this show had a lyrical song theme, it'd be that song.
  • Bellisario's Maxim: Executive producer Mike Kelley has stated that they are aware of the problem with the dog's age but would prefer if the viewers simply ignored it.
    Kelley: We get a lot of flack for how old that dog is but, you know what, as far as I�m concerned, he can stick around for the whole run.
    • And then they killed him off anyway.
  • Better on DVD: Definitely worth a rewatch, they are more foreshadowing and themes then the first time around. May also develop your opinions of who's the real big bad of the series out of Conrad and his wife.
  • Creator's Pet: Victoria ascends to the position in Season 4, suddenly becoming an Invincible Villain who effortlessly demolishes every move Emily makes against her. Many fans accuse the writers of being overly enamored with Madeleine Stowe's performance, to the point that they refuse to let the character get any comeuppance and half the time it feels like we're supposed to be rooting for her.
  • Damsel Scrappy: Charlotte. People were not fond of her by the end of the first season, but she arguably got the most blow back from every revelation Emily reveals.
    • And it was quite epically subverted when she actually is kidnapped, which was actually staged by Emily to let her know exactly what her parents' misdeeds were, and bring down Conrad.
  • Die for Our Ship: Quite common in the Emily/Daniel fandom in regards to Jack (or on occasion Aiden).
    • Was frequently directed at Fauxmanda for interfering with the potential Emily/Jack pairing. Unfortunately for her the fans got their wish.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Daniel often has his greedy and amoral actions handwaved by fans in favor of relationship between him and Emily, who has a stark opposition to everything he stands for. The fact that he is played by Josh Bowman, who is dating Emily VanCamp in real life, doesn't help.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Nolan seems to be going this way.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Emily and Nolan.
  • Idiot Plot: Season 4 is centered around David Clarke being the biggest idiot imaginable who can't connect the simplest of dots, and none of the heroes being able to help him with that.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Emily. It's hard not to root for her after all the Graysons have done to her father, and her by extension. Their actions, however, have led to Emily becoming a Tragic Monster who's bent on making sure they suffer, and she cares very little for collateral damage. At first, anyway.
    • Tyler has a bit of this, when you remember that he's genuinely mentally ill (and when you find out that he only got violent because Emily was deliberately pushing him into a breakdown to get rid of him).
    • The other Emily/Amanda is also not hard to sympathize with; she has a tendency to cause problems for Emily, but most of her actions seem motivated by a desperate fear of losing Emily (and later Jack). Given that it's heavily implied, if not outright stated, in her second episode that the entire reason Emily became her friend in the first place was for a convenient lackey, she's not really wrong to be afraid.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: Aiden, whose propensity to do things without thinking means Emily's plans would probably got a lot smoother without him.
  • Les Yay: Amanda and the real Emily Thorne.
  • Ho Yay: Nolan with Jack. Their relationship started with Nolan essentially bribing Jack to be his friend for three months, but as it's progressed, Jack seems to have developed some genuine affection for Nolan. On Nolan's part, it wouldn't be a far-fetched interpretation to believe that he's head-over-heels in love with Jack; he is willing to go above and beyond to help and protect Jack in a way that far surpasses his interest in any other character, even Emily. In fact, Jack being put in danger is one of Nolan's few Berserk Buttons; while he will usually stick loyally by Emily no matter where her plan for revenge takes her, as soon as she puts Jack at risk, Nolan is no longer on board, and the few moments that he has actually gone head-to-head with her over her lack on conscience have been about Jack's safety. It probably has to do with the fact that Jack is one of the few people Nolan has ever met who doesn't have either a fortune or an agenda, and at this point, their relationship is the only one in the series free of schemes or duplicity.
    • Since the initial distrust and suspicion wore off, Nolan seems to be increasingly charmed by (and flirtatious with) Aiden.
      • Among the more obvious examples...
      Nolan: Hmm, so this is where Aiden-San waxes off.
      • ...and this slash fic premise waiting to happen.
      Nolan: You can be my bodyguard and I can be your Whitney.
      • In turn, Aiden has responded with good humor, even playing James Bond to Nolan's Q in one scene. By the end of season 2, he displays trust and genuine affection towards his "unexpected friend'."
  • Holy Shit Quotient: Constantly, and then some. The entire series is a non-stop succession of Wham Moments.
    • The producers and creators of this series have revealed they loved coming up with the most insane idea, picking it, and then making it "real".
    • The last 10 minutes of "Reckoning." The second "Seven Devils" kicked in, you knew shit was about to get insane. And it did.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: The season 3 opening tease showed Emily shot aboard a ship and falling overboard. Even when the episode where it happened ended on a cliffhanger of whether she'd survive, there was no real question � there's no show without her. The promos for the next episode didn't bother to pretend there was a chance that Emily would die from her wounds.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Emily Thorne, which comes naturally from being based on Edmond Dantes. For starters, she arranges an affair for the husband of Lydia, who gave testimony against her father, exposes Lydia's own affair with the husband of her main target, obtains photographic evidence to make sure Lydia gets nothing in the divorce she started after discovering her husband's adultery, has her publicly exiled from the Hamptons at the hands of a scorned Victoria and walks away with a perfectly established cover and full ownership of Lydia's former beach house. And that's the start of her plan.
    • Victoria ascends to the position in season two by framing Conrad for her own murder.
    • But Emily cements her position in the top spot come "Execution" by making Victoria look like she's crazy for claiming she's Amanda Clarke and getting her committed.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Nearly every character crosses this at one point or another
    • Both the Graysons, Amanda (the real one's) Uncle Bill and the Initative cross this by framing David Clark for funding terrorist activities.
    • Their son (Daniel) crosses this as well when he decides to keep the family secret after his father tells him everything.
      • And without any shadow of doubt when Daniel shoots Emily on their honeymoon cruise (thereby rendering her incapable of having children} and leaves her to drown in the ocean.
    • Charlotte comes dangerously close when she ruins a girl she THINKS her Ex is in a relationship with out of jealousy, then tries to commit suicide.
    • She pretty much does when she reacts to learning Emily used her by knocking her out, setting the place on fire and leaving her to die. And this is after Emily tries to apologize and patch things up, and that revenge aside, the people Emily took down pretty much deserved it. Here she comes across as less sympathetic than Emily, who would never kill a non-mortal threat, and even restrained from killing on at least two crucial occasions.
    • Tyler, David's roommate from Harvard, either when he goes off his meds and holds everyone at Daniel's birthday at gunpoint trying to force a confession out of Conrad then again when he tries to kill Daniel and frame (fake) Emily for the crime, Takeda however intervenes.
    • Safe to say that Victoria goes even further across it when she kills Aiden and transports the corpse to Emily's house.
  • Narm: You couldn't think of any possible way for Charlotte to realize Jack was one of her kidnappers other than his grabbing people's shoulders in a completely unmistakable and instantly recognizable way?
    • Pascal getting murdered by being shoved into helicopter blades felt pretty absurd.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Too soon to say for certain, but Declan's sensitive and mature efforts to help Charlotte deal with the revelation that she's David Clarke's daughter and his attempts to prevent Jack from being recognized as the guy on the beach suggest that the character may be salvageable.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Declan has become a lot more likeable and stronger as a character, while Charlotte has become a veritable Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. "Reckoning" hits us with a very bad Alas, Poor Scrappy for her, and then in the new season premiere, we find she lost the baby, too.
  • The Scrappy: Declan Porter in the first season, who was an angsty Emo Teen with Parental Issues (his father had a heart attack after hearing how Declan hates him and blames him for their financial troubles) who is also in love with a girl way above his social standing and as a result lashes out at anyone and everyone.
    • Special mention must go to the moment where, after it's revealed that the father's heart attack was fatal, Declan is utterly cold and uncaring, claiming that he still thinks his father is a pathetic loser. He nearly tops this in a later episode when he bitches out Emily for "leading Jack on"... while at a dinner party at the Grayson's with Daniel, Victoria, Conrad, Emily and Charlotte in attendance, making him look like a petty child (and ruining the dinner).
      • Thank god he got better as the show went on ...but then the writers killed him off.
    • David Clarke, largely because the writing staff seems to be in open war over whether he's just as cunning a manipulator as Emily, or dumb as a brick. The result is a thoroughly schizophrenic character who it's impossible to have any sympathy for despite being, well, himself. Then it gets worse when he shows no interest in undoing the damage he did to Nolan's reputation after learning he was wrong.
  • Seasonal Rot: Season two tasked the fans' patience with an ever more incomprehensible Kudzu Plot involving the Nebulous Evil Organization the Graysons are in bed with. This ultimately led to the show's creator Mike Kelley leaving the production, and season three pointedly does away with the whole thing in its opening minutes (complete with Emily suggesting that they never speak of the Initiative again) so we can get back to watching Emily plot against the Graysons.
    • Season four got there much faster, being just episode after episode of David Clark being a complete idiot who unconditionally believes everything Victoria tells him while ignoring the obvious evidence that she was an equal partner in framing him, until it's just no fun at all to watch.
  • Tear Jerker: Amanda's Died in Your Arms Tonight moment with Emily.
    • Declan's posthumous Final Words to Jack via smartphone.
  • The Woobie: Poor Daniel Grayson, who is genuinely trying to be a good person, but is being manipulated by his best friend and girlfriend, becomes a pawn in his parent's divorce, is framed for murder and has to choose whether to reveal the truth about David Clarke and thus destroy his family
    • At least at first.
      • Now he's somewhere between Prince Zuko and Darth Vader. Fully aware that his choice to work with his father was wrong, yet still not entirely turned to the side of darkness.
    • Nolan is pretty Woobie-ish himself, seeing as he has to pay people to be his friends. You can't help but cheer when Jack decides he actually wants to be his friend for real.
      • Nolan is arguably the series' biggest example. He's so devoted to Emily's cause out of gratitude to her father that he gives up his company for her plot, and then the incident which results in Padma's death and the Initiative taking control of an extremely dangerous program happens.
    • Charlotte: She may have gotten in her own way towards the end, but the majority of the collateral damage happens to her, and she lost her father before she knew them and suffers from being out of the loop most of the time.
      • And then she lost both Declan and her baby.
    • The real Emily Thorne. The most important relationship in her life with the real Amanda Clarke is built on Amanda being encouraged to use Emily by the warden. When she seeks Amanda Clarke out, Amanda just wants her to go away so she doesn't ruin the plan. Then she ends up marrying Jack and getting pregnant without being able to tell him the truth and Amanda coerces Emily into a dangerous situation confronting Victoria in her own home where she and her unborn child nearly die. Then just as Emily and Jack are turning things round and she has the baby she dies protecting her family and Amanda.
    • Jack. His business is failing, his father died, he was sent to prison and he was finally reunited with his childhood crush, only for it all to be a lie. Made worse by the fact that he's possibly the only fundamentally decent and good-hearted person on a series filled with liars, con artists and killers.
    • And of course Little Amanda herself.
    • David Clarke. The man's wife goes insane, tries to drown their daughter and is institutionalized, then he's framed for terrorism by his boss, betrayed by the woman he loves, permanently separated from his daughter, sent to prison for life, loathed and derided as a mass-murderer by the outside world- including his daughter- and finally, 10 years into his ordeal, shanked to death in a prison courtyard.
      • Except, of course, he's alive...

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