Warning: spoilers of “How I Met Your Mother” and “Breaking Bad” shows ahead!
Many TV shows have ended in one of two ways: a “happily ever after” or, sadly, with the main protagonist’s demise. ABC’s “Revenge” is now on its fourth season, and with things having wrapped up—such as Conrad’s death, David’s exoneration, and Emily’s reunion with her father—creator Mike Kelly says Emily’s death may end the series. According to a survey done on Entertainment Weekly, 77 percent of viewers agree.
Let’s look back at some popular TV shows that chose to end with the death of a main character.
“Breaking Bad” ended with Walter’s cancer coming back, and his immediate death after one final slaying of the gang of cousins who killed Hank. “Breaking Bad” still remained a popular show and received many awards and the final episode “Felina,” was nominated for an Emmy in 2014. But, that was for a man who had changed his character and gotten greedy and hurt all of his friends and family in the process. He was either going to die of cancer or live with the man he had become.
Emily, on the other hand, does not have cancer. Emily has sacrificed everything to remain Emily Thorne and avenge her father. If she died at the end, nothing would have been worth it. The goal from the beginning was for her to punish her father’s enemies for wrongfully accusing him of taking down an airplane and then to live the rest of her life. She would never get her happy ending, her getaway to a private island to escape all the Hamptons drama she had inserted herself into for the sake of the plan.
CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother” ended their series by killing off the title character and had Ted reunite with Robin at the end (a relationship that Ted had been trying to rid himself of for the entire series). By killing the mother off, the viewers who waited so anxiously to see Ted get his happy ending, only got it for about a minute of airtime. The entire point of the show was to see Ted with the mother, not Robin. Yet, that was what it came down to in the end, and I and many others were not satisfied.
By having Ted end up with Robin, it completely negated all nine seasons of dedicated TV-watching and made almost every episode unnecessary. Going from “How I Met Your Mother” to “How I Fell In Love With Your Aunt.”
By killing off Emily, ABC is doing a similar thing. Emily did not go on a revenge quest only to have it be the thing that kills her or to die trying to finish it. That’s not revenge. Killing Emily Thorne is taking the easy way out to rid Emily of all the problems that surround her (David, Victoria, Malcolm Black, etc.) instead of cleverly writing a way for those problems to subside. Could the hinting at Emily’s death be a sign that the writers are running out of clever plot ideas? A quick way to end the show without jumping the shark? Who knows? Does this possibly show the writers’ faith in their abilities?
Having Emily live on in the end would reward her the happy ending Emily deserves and also present the opportunity for the show to finally get the award nominations it truly deserves. In the past, “Revenge” has taken the backburner in terms of nominations and viewership popularity, but its plot and genre are similar to shows that are popular and winners today, like “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder.”
If “Revenge” can successfully pull off letting the show go on the appropriate length to give Emily her happy ending in a way that is clever and remains entertaining for fans, the show could finally get its happy ending and receive the credit it deserves for staying on the air this long.
Emily has sacrificed true love, having children, being with her childhood crush Jack and watched him fall in love with another woman pretending to be her. By killing Emily, it’s not a necessary ending to a great TV show, rather just a shortcut to put the series to an end. It would not be an ending that makes sense or flows with the plot. Emily deserves her day to stand in the sun. Otherwise, what was the rest of the show even for?