On September 21st, 2011, Revenge premiered on ABC. The show focused on protagonist Emily Thorne's (Emily VanCamp) quest for revenge against those who framed her father for terrorism. It lasted four successful and thrilling seasons.
It's been ten years since we first saw Emily hold that red sharpie, and while August 8th is considered Revenge Day by some, we couldn't let this ten-year anniversary pass without paying tribute to this iconic show.
TV Fanatic Staff Writers Leora Waltuch, Laura Nowack, and Paul Daily got together to discuss what they loved, what they hated, and whether or not we want a reboot.
Laura: It's hard to believe it's been ten years.
Leora: Think back to that day ten years ago. What was your initial impression of the show?
Laura: I liked the mystery aspect, which stayed for three seasons and then left on Revenge Season 4.
Leora: Revenge Season 4 was definitely the weakest season.
That said, I was happy that Jemily was endgame and pleasantly surprised by Daniel's redemption arc. I didn't think he could be redeemed on Revenge Season 3, but they pulled it off. The season had some positive aspects.
I do think it was a mistake for them to bring back David.
Laura: I do too. More than that, I'm still mad that they killed Aiden.
Paul: I feel like I've forgotten so much about it. Everything you're saying about Aiden dying, etc. it feels like so long ago that I watched it for the first time.
Laura: I will never forget Aiden. Aiden and Emily were my 'ship!
Leora: I shipped Jemily, but if she hadn't ended up with Jack, I would have wanted Emily to end up with Aiden. I liked Aiden as a character, and I liked him and Emily as a couple. Jemily just owned my heart; from the beginning, I was gone for them.
Laura: I had a soft spot for Emily and Jack. I'm not mad that they ended up together. However, Emily and Aiden are one of my One True Pairings, and I'm still angry he died.
Leora: He didn't deserve to die. Plus, in some ways, it was almost disrespectful to her relationship with Jack. One could easily claim that the only reason they ended up together was that literally, all her other boyfriends were dead.
It would have felt more gratifying if she had chosen him as opposed to Aiden, Daniel, and even Ben all being dead.
On a related note, poor Ben. I felt bad for Ben. He was not a bad person. He did not deserve what happened to him.
Paul: Was Ben the Revenge Season 4 boyfriend? The cop?
Laura: Yes. He was very forgettable, in my opinion.
Leora: He was clearly a rebound guy to her, but he was still a nice guy. It was pretty clear from the beginning that the writers were planning a Jemily endgame. They needed an obstacle now that Aiden was dead, she and Jack were on good terms, he knew her secret, etc.
However, if she had gone straight from Aiden to Jack, Jack would have been her rebound, which I feel would have been disrespectful to her relationship with Aiden and her relationship with Jack.
There needed to, sort of, be someone in between of the rebound variety to clear the pipes for her. She loved Aiden. His death was incredibly traumatizing for her.
Finding him in her childhood home clearly affected her. The Beach House was a place of safety and good memories.
Despite the one bad memory of her father being carted off, she felt comfortable enough there that that was where she wanted to move back to in the Hamptons. Yet, after Aiden dies, she moves into Grayson Manor and avoids The Beach House for a time.
Paul: I did like Jack and Emily, but I also liked Daniel and Emily. Daniel kind of went off the deep end quite a lot. I was surprised that they were able to redeem him, as you were saying.
Revenge Season 3 made me hate Daniel. He was so horrible. I wanted him to die, and they seemed to keep that up at the beginning of Revenge Season 4.
It was poetic. It fit. It was the perfect redemption to take two bullets for the woman he once put two shots in.
Laura: Pretty much. I started to like him at the very end. I felt terrible that he died, mainly because it traumatized poor Emily again.
Leora: She'd been through so much. You need a good actress for this role because so much of what she's doing is wrong, and it would be so easy to look at her and see a villain.
However, we weren't supposed to see a villain. We were supposed to see this person who had been through so much pain and hurt, And who was doing something that even if you disagreed with it, you understood it.
Emily Vancamp played that really well. She is one of my top five favorite actresses, and Revenge is the reason why. She portrayed the girl-next-door Emily, Emily the machine, and the vulnerable and hurt Amanda deep down.
Laura: I agree. She's an antihero.
Leora: Good word.
Do you feel differently about the show now than you think you did when it first premiered?
Paul: I don't feel like I feel differently about the show. There's never been a show that would top it.
If they were making it now, it might do better with streaming because there would be fewer episodes. It would be much easier to binge-watch it. They could cut out some of the storylines.
Aside from that, I wouldn't say I feel differently about it.
Leora: Do you think it should have been like a mini-series instead of four full seasons?
Paul: In some aspects, yeah. I feel like 22 episodes a season was too much for it. Obviously, I feel like they handled it very well on Revenge Season 1.
However, Revenge Season 2 had The Initiative storylines that seemed like they weren't going anywhere.
Laura: I think they could have cut a few episodes. Some were filler.
I still don't know what I think of Revenge Season 4. It was so different from Seasons 1-3.
Leora: In regards to Revenge Season 4, there were good things. Jemily, for starters.
I liked Louise; Louise was a great character.
As much as Victoria was a villain, and I hated her, a part of me liked the idea that she and David loved each other.
It seems inevitable that at some point, he would have to choose between his daughter and his lover. In the end, he would choose his daughter over Victoria.
It kind of made sense to the series, but it also felt kind of unnecessary to destroy Victoria and David's relationship and their history.
She also sort of plays into the evil stepmother trope, even though she was never actually a stepmother.
I had a different idea for how the show might end at the time. When Margaux was pregnant after Daniel died, I thought they would sort of set it up for Margaux's child to continue the cycle of revenge.
Margaux could move to France to get away from everything. The child would grow up knowing that her father died shamed for having attacked his ex-wife. She would believe in his innocence and would come after Emily, maybe use Carl how Emily had used Daniel.
What goes around comes around. Not that what they did wasn't interesting, but it was a lot more conclusive. The wrapped up loose ends gave bittersweet happy endings, etc.
Laura: On that note, what did you guys think of them bringing David back to life?
Paul: I thought it was inevitable, but I didn't like it. I would have much preferred that they kept him dead and maybe someone was posing as him.
With these soaps, you know that the characters are going to come back. I think that was part of the reason why the final season failed in many aspects for me.
Leora: Is it a soap?
Paul: Yes. I would call it a primetime soap. What about you two?
Leora: I always got offended when people would call it a soap opera because I feel like there's this stigma with soap operas that are very offensive.
Laura: I think Revenge is somewhat a nighttime soap. I do watch soaps. It has soap opera aspects.
Leora: I was not expecting David to come back. I didn't think it was inevitable. The whole story centers around her getting revenge for the dead father, which becomes kind of moot if the father isn't dead.
I thought that they handled it better than they could have when they brought him back. However, overall, it probably would have been better just not to bring him back.
It never really made a lot of sense. The whole Malcolm Black plotline was really confusing.
Paul: Bringing him back was one of the most significant flaws on Revenge Season 4. That was the point where the show was showing that it was running out of storylines.
They probably brought him back just to bring more drama to the show. I think it would have been much better to have that final season without him to see how the show would have gone.
Leora: I would have liked that. The end of Revenge Season 3, in a lot of ways, could have been a series finale.
Conrad's in jail (at least until the David reveal). Victoria is in the asylum. David's name is cleared. Victoria knows the truth about Emily. Aiden is dead, so the path is clear for Jack.
They probably could have done a shortened final season just to wrap up the loose threads, i.e., Emily and Jack, Charlotte, and that would have been that.
I have mixed feelings about how they handled Charlotte on Revenge Season 4. I loved Charlotte so much! I really did. A part of me was really sad that she was leaving the show, but the other part of me felt like her life was going to be so much better now that she left the show.
If there's one death that I never really got over and that I would overturn if I could, it would be Declan. I was not okay with them killing Declan at all! I wanted Charlotte and Declan to live happily ever after.
I also wanted Charlotte and Emily to find a way to be sisters. If nothing else, Charlotte just deserves so much better than everything she went through. I wanted her to be able to find a way to be happy.
I do wish we'd gotten more closure on her relationship with Emily.
Paul: How many episodes was she in on Revenge Season 4? It seemed like she was barely there.
Leora: She was in seven. The last episode that we see her in before the finale would be the one where she tells Daniel the truth about Emily, and he confronts her on the next episode, which is Revenge Season 4 Episode 7. Then we see her again on Revenge Season 4 Episode 23.
I don't think the actress has done much since.
There was that Indie movie, The Girl with the Book (although that might have come out while she was still doing Revenge).
Laura: He was also on Chicago PD for a bit.
Leora: Personally speaking, I don't want to see him as anyone other than Jack. I feel like that would just break my heart because I love Jack so much.
Also, I remember hearing in an interview something about how Jack was the first good guy he ever played. Up until that, he always played bad guys.
I couldn't comprehend that because Jack is the goodest of the good guys. I didn't want to see him as a bad guy.
I also remember the actor saying in interviews that he felt like Emily and Jack shouldn't end up together. He didn't think she should get her happy ending because the whole point of the tale should be that quote about revenge and two graves.
I appreciated what he was saying, but I wanted her to get a happy ending. She deserved a happy ending after everything she went through.
The guy who played Conrad was on Supergirl; he was Winn's father, AKA The Toyman.
Laura: Right! He was very evil. I know most of the stuff. I've followed most of these actors. I'm a huge fan of The Resident! I'd follow Emily Vancamp almost anywhere.
Leora: Yes. Same. She's amazing. She's a large part of the reason why I watch The Resident. She's got so much range to play different roles. Although I still think Emily Thorne was the best role she probably ever had or ever will have.
Laura: It is. I agree, but I still enjoy her wherever I can watch her.
Leora: Agreed. Nic Nevin is a great character. I no not everybody likes her because they love Conrad to bits, and they don't like how she treated him on The Resident Season 2. I love Conrad, but I love Nic more.
Laura: I love both.
Leora: I love both, but if I had to make a choice...
Laura: I am an Emily Vancamp fan, so I'll follow her anywhere.
Leora: Although I wasn't able to follow her to Brothers & Sisters. After I got into Revenge, I started looking at her earlier stuff. I couldn't get through Brothers & Sisters. I never got to the point where her character was introduced because I think that comes later.
Laura: Later on, Brothers & Sisters Season 1. That's why I watched Revenge because I liked her so much on Brothers & Sisters.
Leora: She was great on Everwood. She was great on Revenge, obviously. She is great on The Resident. In all the roles I've seen her in, she's been great.
Laura: I liked her in Civil War.
Leora: I haven't seen Falcon and The Winter Soldier yet.
Laura: Neither have I. I don't have Disney+.
Leora: I kind of want to see it, but I kind of don't. I'm kind of fed up with the Marvel Universe. I don't have the patience for it. The only reason I even saw Civil War was because I knew she was in it.
I've heard she has more of a role on Falcon and the Winter Soldier from what I've heard. I've also heard the character is a little more Emily Thorne and a little less innocent government person.
She's done some interviews about it, and since it came out this year, on the 10th anniversary, they've also asked her where she thought her character from Revenge would be now.
She responded that she hoped Emily was happy. She hopes she's still living happily ever after with Jack.
Laura: Do you think they would ever do a revival of that since they do a reboot or revival on every single thing now?
Leora: When it first ended, some people thought maybe they would do a Nolan Ross spin-off. I had mixed feelings about that because I love Nolan, but I hate the idea of Nolan without Emily.
Leora: A year or two ago, there was talk about them doing a reboot sort of thing. However, it didn't get picked up, which I think was due to the pandemic. It might have gotten picked up if the pandemic didn't happen.
I don't know if that's something that will be revisited.
Laura: I feel like most of the Revenge cast is so busy now.
Leora: Yeah, no, they are. Well, not all of them.
Also, it wouldn't necessarily have to be the same cast. The most logical thing would be to follow up with the Nolan Ross situation where he's helping other people get their revenge.
So they mostly just need to get him, and then occasionally, they could get a cameo from one of the other characters, which would be fun to check in on.
We wouldn't want to see too much of the other characters. We love them, but if we're seeing them regularly on a show, it means their lives aren't good anymore.
Laura: The's True.
Leora: That's how TV works, and they all deserve better.
There was a deleted scene from Revenge Season 4 Episode 23, where Charlotte was saying she was going to go to law school. If memory serves, she wanted to join the three strikes project.
Jack and Emily were married. They had a new puppy.
Do we believe that she really can't have more kids? Or do we believe that Victoria lied to her about that?
Paul: I feel like anything's possible with Victoria. It could have been the case that maybe you would find out that she could have kids. That's Victoria.
Leora: I feel like Victoria would have done it. However, at the same time, I feel like Emily is smart enough that she would have verified it herself as opposed to taking Victoria's word for it.
Of course, she was very vulnerable and not at the best place emotionally when Victoria told her about it. Still, I feel like she would have checked up on it eventually.
For those who read Revenge fanfiction, whether the fic has Emily end up with Aiden, Jack, or Daniel, it's usually revealed at some point that Victoria lied, and now Emily's pregnant.
Canonically, she ends up with Jack, who has Carl, so Emily can be a mother that way, and adopted families are just as legitimate as biological.
Laura: Absolutely. And she's pretty much raised Carl since the beginning.
Leora: Carl is basically her son. I feel like it will be very confusing when they have to explain to him who his birth mother is.
Laura: Oh yes, because the real Amanda died.
Leora: Well, Fauxmanda died. Emily is the real Amanda. His birth mother was the real Emily. Hence confusion.
Laura: I don't know if I'd even try. He's still little.
Leora: Right, but at some point, they are going to have to explain it to him, and it would be a very interesting conversation.
Laura; They really liked killing off people. I count so many deaths on so many ABC shows, even just on Revenge.
Leora: They killed Fauxmanda. They killed Declan. They killed Aiden. They killed Pascal. They killed Frank. They killed Kate. We didn't shed any tears when they killed Conrad and eventually Victoria.
Laura: They killed David at the end.
Leora: They killed David twice. They killed Tyler, who we also didn't shed tears over. They killed Takeda. How did you guys feel about them changing the actor for Takeda?
I remember that being a big deal at the time because the second actor was more of a stereotypical sensei.
Laura: Right. I do remember that.
Leora: Do you think the show would be different if it came out now instead of ten years ago?
Paul: I would like to think they wouldn't. I feel like there hasn't been a show since Revenge that's like that. It was more or less perfect the way it was, except for the filler episodes. It's hard to say, honestly.
What about you, Laura?
Laura: I'm not sure. Revenge used a kind of storytelling where it started in the middle and went back. There are a lot more shows that use that kind of storytelling now. It was more unique back then.
Leora: I actually like filler episodes. I know a lot of people don't, but I do.
Eventually, you get to a point in the show where you get nostalgic for the earlier seasons. I liked it when this was the dynamic, or this was the circumstance. If the plot is moving along, the dynamic and circumstances change.
Sometimes it's nice to sit in the status quo for a minute. You can enjoy the period when these people were just friends, or the period when this couple was happy, or the period when this person was dealing with the beginning of this thing.
I also feel like those filler episodes can be really good character episodes. You really get to know the characters, even if there's not so much happening with the plot. That is the significance of some filler episodes. That is what they brought to the table.
Laura: I really liked the flashback episodes that Revenge did. There aren't so many of those on TV now.
Leora: I love flashbacks. That is definitely one of the things that appealed to me about the show. It was a little confusing at first. I wondered why the little girl in the flashbacks had a different name than Emily. Eventually, they catch you up, though.
Laura: I liked the ones where they had the same actors playing Amanda, Nolan, and Jack, but it was supposed to be ten or twelve years earlier. It looked really funky.
Leora: Other shows have done that. It's weird to see them playing younger versions of themselves, but at the same time, it would be weird to see another actor in the role. It's a choice they have to make.
If you grew up with TV at that time, you're kind of used to 20-somethings playing teenagers. I think it's a good thing because being a child actor can really mess a kid up.
Laura: I loved the little girl who played young Amanda/Emily.
Leora: She was adorable. Now she's all grown up and starring on the new Gossip Girl, which mystifies me. I can't believe she's grown up so much.
Laura: She's one of the main reasons I decided to watch the new Gossip Girl because I'm like, "Oh, my God, I can't believe that that was her playing young Amanda, and now she's one of the lead teens. Okay. This is reason enough to check this out."
Paul: I think she's one of the best parts of Gossip Girl as well.
Paul: She's really good. Yeah.
Leora: So I should watch it?
Paul: I don't think it's the greatest reboot, but her character gets some of the best storylines, in my opinion.
Laura: I'd agree to that. It's growing on me, Paul.
Paul: At first I didn't like it, but gradually it's getting better.
Laura: We seem to agree on this. It's growing on us.
Leora: I just feel like it would be weird to see her as not a little girl. I know at the end of the show, they stopped using her. They used her little sister because she was too old for the role.
I remember noticing that on Revenge Season 4 Episode 23. Alyvia Alyn Lind had previously played five-year-old Amanda, while Emily Alyn Lind played ten-year-old Amanda, but on Revenge Season 4 Episode 23, they did a flashback to ten-year-old Amanda, and they used Alyvia.
Laura: I did not know that.
Leora: It's pretty obvious when you see her that it's not the same little girl. It's the youngest Alyn Lind sister.
Laura: I know there are many of them.
Leora: I think there are three. There's Natalie Alyn Lind, who was on The Gifted. There's Emily Alyn Lind, obviously. Finally, there's the littlest one, Alyvia, who was in that movie Blended.
Paul: She was on that Zombie Netflix show that got canceled after a year, Daybreak. She is also in Chucky, the TV series with the mom Barbara Allen Wood.
Leora: I don't do horror.
Laura: I'd like to discuss our favorite characters.
Leora: There's so many. I couldn't pick just one. Emily was such a nuanced character, and I love the actress. Nolan was the best friend you could possibly have, and he's incredibly loyal. He was more loyal than a dog.
Jack was perfect. Charlotte was awesome. I love Declan. Fauxmanda was pretty cool. I really liked her.
I think part of it is that they're all caught up in relationships with each other. You love them through how they relate to each other. You can't really like one without liking the other. I can do top five. I can't do one.
Laura: I could probably do top three or top five too. Amanda is the best. She's the bad-ass fierce character that the show is built around, and you can't love revenge without loving her.
I can't love Revenge without loving Nolan. Their friendship is in my top three friendships of all time. They're just that fierce duo.
Aiden because I still think he was one of the ones that truly understood all of her.
I can't love Jack because he knew her as a kid. I loved his relationships with both Declan and Nolan. Those would be my top ones.
Paul: So I agree with Laura about Emily. You can't love Revenge without Emily. She was the heart of the show. You saw everything from her perspective. I'd agree with that.
I also really liked Victoria. I know we weren't supposed to like her, but I felt like she was such a developed character as well. So much of what she did was what she thought was right. She was also wicked as well.
One of my favorite scenes was the one with the present for the wedding. After Victoria takes that back and says, "Oh, that was empty because I knew this wedding was not going to happen."
I like Louise, I know she was late to the game, but she was so fun.
Leora: I loved Louise; Louise was awesome.
Paul: I also like Ashley. I know she left quite early on, but she started the plot so well. I feel like whenever the show got a bit boring, she did something to cause some drama.
And then obviously Nolan and Jack. That would be my five.
Leora: I always wished Ashley had gotten more development. In the beginning, she and Emily were friends. I think it was a legitimate friendship or as legitimate a friendship as Emily could have, considering her life was a lie.
Then they sort of went in a different direction.
I wanted to know more about how Ashley ended up where she was. There was a point where she was sort of allied with Jack. I felt like it was unnecessary for her to be written out.
Victoria was definitely very nuanced. There's a lot there. I love to hate her. Sometimes I did sympathize with her.
It's very easy to look at her and Emily and wonder if they're really all that different? I think they really are, but sometimes it is hard to see that difference.
It sounds like we're all still kind of into the show and might even consider rewatching it. We're agreed that it's weird to think of how far the actors have come.
We'd all be open to watching a reboot and, at the same time, nervous about it. We'd definitely change things if we could, but overall we have fond memories of the show.
What are some of your thoughts on Revenge ten years later? How are you celebrating the anniversary? Let us know in the comments.
Leora W is a staff writer for TV Fanatic..