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Series / Emmerdale

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Emmerdale Credits Title Card 2011 - Present

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 Farmnote , as 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 Midlands country folk, the series received a dramatic Retool 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 much controversy but also 18 million viewers.

The plane crash storyline proved so popular that Emmerdale in subsequent 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:

  • Abusive Offspring: One storyline dealt with Ashley taking his anger out on his elderly father Sandy, bullying him and raging at him on a near-constant basis, and hitting him on at least one occasion.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Belle Dingle was born and Vic Windsor died on Christmas Day 1998. The scenes of Zak finding out he had a new daughter (with no-one having known Lisa was pregnant, including Lisa herself) were juxtaposed with Vic's wife and daughters finding out he was dead.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Emma wore her original wedding dress during the "No Return" storyline, which became splattered with blood after she murdered a chicken for dinner.
  • Book Ends:
    • 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.
    • Robert gives us another example - when he returns as Ryan Hawley in 2014, he avoids jail time for the death of Katie by selfishly covering up his part in her death and while he later does get arrested for her death, he wriggles out of the charge by saying his brother was only accusing him of Katie's death due to homophobia after finding out Robert had been having an affair with Aaron. At Robert's exit in 2019, he chooses to go to prison instead of going on the run with Aaron because he didn't want to ruin Aaron's life and ensure he'd never see his family again.
  • 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.
  • 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 breakdown, 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.
  • Cassandra Truth: Countless times.
    • Katie Sugden is convinced Robert is cheating on Chrissie, but no-one believes her until Aaron personally confirms it months after her death.
    • Liv Flaherty remembers Lachlan White being there before she and Robert Sugden awoke from gas leak poisoning in their house. No-one believes her when she insists Lachlan had something to do with it, though Robert at least hears her out.
    • Some weeks later, Priya Kotecha gets a bad feeling about Lachlan, especially when she finds the place where Rebecca White was kept captive and scratched "Lachlan is a ki[ller]" in the wall, but no-one is interested in her suspicions.
  • 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 frame 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.
  • Disaster Dominoes: A highly compressed version when Emma pushes James from an overpass during an argument; he lands on Ashley's windshield, causing him to swerve and flip his car, then manages to make it out relatively unscathed, but dazed. Between drivers swerving to avoid Ashley and drivers further ahead being distracted by the crash behind them and crashing themselves (plus heavy fog), within a minute there's a 20+ car pile-up in the middle of the motorway, and another car (which ran off the road trying to avoid the crash) starting to sink to the bottom of a nearby lake.
  • Domestic Abuse: Andy and Jo Sugden.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Alice Dingle committed suicide by medication overdose with the assistance of her husband Sam, due to suffering from cancer.
    • 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.
    • Andy Sugden prepared to commit suicide at the quarry following the death of his wife Katie, only to be talked down by his brother Robert and Aaron.
    • Belle Dingle attempted to commit suicide following Katie’s death, struggling with her schizophrenia and believing she was to blame for what happened to Katie. She was stopped by her brother Cain Dingle.
    • Gordon Livesy killed himself the first night of his jail sentence to take the coward's way out of his sentence.
  • 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
  • Flash Forward: During the "No Return" storyline in October 2016, each episode of the week opens with shots of a funeral (without showing the faces of the attendees) and a brief shot of one of the characters in peril that shifts into 'real life' (i.e. a shot of Aaron screaming underwater changes to Aaron opening his eyes in a bath). The week ends with all of the flash-fowards playing out in full, and the funeral being shown in full.
  • 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 that replicated much of the layout of Esholt was built on the grounds of a stately home close to Leeds.
  • Gold Digger: Charity Tate, Kim Tate and Sadie King in Emmerdale all marry millionaires for their money. The characters Kelly Windsor and Chloe Aitkinson date rich men for their money.
    • Robert Sugden returned to the village in October 2014 engaged to the rich and beautiful Chrissie White. He repeated quite often that he loved her, but that wasn't the only reason he married her.
  • 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 Dingle's wallet, which Liv had stolen.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partner: Paddy and Marlon, whose friendship of almost 30 years has survived Marlon’s girlfriend Rhona dumping him because she had feelings for Paddy, continuing to date Paddy while pregnant with Marlon’s child, and ultimately marrying both of them at different points. It’s remarked on more than once that, with both having disastrous romantic records (having accumulated nine marriages between them), Paddy’s and Marlon’s friendship is by far and away the most successful relationship either of them have ever had.
  • 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.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Jimmy lies to Nicola in one episode that he has been dealing with suppliers, and when asked for names, he notices some children's paintings that are mostly made up of splodges, and names one of them as "Mr. Splodge".
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Katie Sugden thought her ex-fiance-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.
    • Hunky mechanic Ross Barton has had numerous shirtless scenes. The subplot of one episode even revolved around the fact that Ross doesn't wear anything underneath his overalls.
  • 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.
  • No Bisexuals: Zig-zagged; Robert describes himself as bisexual but most other characters still refer to him as gay, despite the majority of his relationships being with women.
    • Played weirdly straight in a scene where Charity, herself a bisexual woman, insists that Vanessa must be gay because she slept with her.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Robert to Paddy (implicitly) when Paddy won't give Robert his blessing to propose to Aaron. Paddy says it's because Robert will just break Aaron's heart (given his serial cheating on previous partners); Robert points out that Paddy was basically absent when Aaron was dealing with Gordon's trial because he was busy having an affair with Tess and breaking Rhona's heart.
  • Odd Friendship: Edna Birch - a 60-something Christian, initially portrayed as homophobic (and generally somewhat bigoted), somehow bonds with 20-something promiscuous gay party boy Jason Kirk. Her initial attitude to homosexuality becomes clearer years later, when she confesses to Aaron Dingle that her late husband cheated on her with a man.
    • Kim Tate and her housekeeper Lydia Dingle bond and become one another’s confidantes, despite Kim being a super-rich, ruthless villainess who has killed more than once, while Lydia, who lives in virtual poverty, is possibly the kindest, most genuine person in the village.
  • 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.
  • Parting-Words Regret: Jai Sharma has a massive falling out with Rishi after finding out he was his adoptive father on the day of Jai and Laurel Thomas' wedding. The day after the wedding, Rishi was found dead by Jai at the bottom of the stairs at his home and he now begins the last words he had spoken to him when they were falling out.
  • 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.
  • Preserve Your Gays: Subverted. After driving off of a cliff and crashing into a lake, Aaron and Robert escape but Aaron is brought into hospital. After accepting a marriage proposal from Robert he passes out and drops his oxygen mask as his heart monitor begins to flatline. Robert is then shown at a funeral staring into space in shock, implying Aaron's death. However the scene soon cuts to Aaron taking his hand, showing he is still alive.
  • 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.
  • Remember the New Guy??: Edna Birch and Gloria Weaver, who both first appeared in 2000 as parishioners of the village church, were instantly established as long-term residents of the village known by everyone, with Edna in particular being written as having lived there for decades.
  • 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.
  • Retool: From 1993 onwards.
  • Serial Killer: Cameron Murray killed three villagers during his time on the show: Carl by hitting him with a brick, Gennie by suffocation and Alex's murder was unseen. He also admitted to murdering another man in Jersey.
  • Settled for Gay: Despite her first husband and subsequent fiancé both cheating on her with men, Bernice Blackstock still married Laurence White in the full knowledge that he’d had gay experiences and wasn’t interested in sex with her. (His enormous bank balance may have helped.)
  • 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 and Jackson, to a lesser extent, former characters Jason and Joe.
  • Smug Snake: Nathan Wylde's entire character was built around this.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Finn says this to Liv when he thinks she's trying to flirt with him. Subverted, as she wasn't.
  • Synchronous Episodes: The "No Return" week features (from Monday to Thursday) the same day playing out from the perspective of four sets of characters (Aaron/Robert; Pierce/Rhona/Paddy/Marlon; Emma/James; and Laurel/Ashley), with the second Thursday episode picking up as the storylines converge and the Friday episode showing the aftermath.
  • 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 was involved with Chrissie. Chrissie used to be married to Robert, who is Andy's brother. Robert is engaged to Aaron (who he cheated on Chrissie with); Aaron 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.
  • Thicker Than Water: Most of the families in this show, but especially the Dingles.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: "No Return" focused around the fact that in the future, a funeral would take place, but the viewers weren't told who it would be until the end of the week.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Dan when he tries to sneak up on Cameron with a chair in the Woolpack hostage crisis. Unfortunately Debbie alerts him to it.
    • Not long after, Marlon truly takes a level in badass in the final confrontation with Cameron.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • Eric Pollard, portrayed as an out-and-out villain for many years, became more of a comedy villain after becoming involved with the Dingles and, later, after his marriage to Val Lambert. The introduction of a family for Eric (his long-lost son David and later a foster daughter, Amy) from 2006 onwards saw Eric become a much more sympathetic character.
    • Edna Birch was initially portrayed as a judgemental, unsympathetic and rather bitter woman, often behaving quite maliciously. Over time, while still portrayed as very upright and traditionally moral, she was also shown to be a caring person who had repressed her emotions somewhat over the years.
  • Twisted Christmas:
    • New Year's Eve 1993: A plane crashes, half the cast dies, and the village is showered with hundreds of dead bodies. Even cheerier than usual! Special points for being inspired by the real-world Lockerbie terrorist attack, which really did happen just before Christmas.
    • 2003: A storm hits Emmerdale village, Tricia is crushed when The Woolpack is struck by lighting and partially collapses, Ashley and Louise crash off a bridge to avoid a fallen tree. Tricia later died.
    • 2006: Tom King is murdered on his wedding day.
    • 2010: Chastity Dingle has a wedding on Christmas Day at which she jilts and humiliates fiancee Carl due to knowing about his affair with Eve. She also lies about being pregnant.
  • The Unintelligible: Moira Barton's accent.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Emmerdale Farm