Revenge Showrunner to Leave as Result of 'Difficult Mutual Decision' With ABC

Mike Kelley Leaving RevengeRevenge is losing one of its ringleaders.

Creator Mike Kelley is stepping down as the ABC drama’s showrunner, our sister site Deadline reports.

RELATED | Season Finale Scoopapalooza: More Than 100 Spoilers on Your Fave Series’ Endgames, Including Revenge, HIMYM, The Good Wife, New Girl and More!

As part of what he describes as “a difficult mutual decision between myself and ABC studios,” Kelley will hand over the reins next season — likely to current executive producer Sunil Nayar — while possibly staying on as a consultant.

UPDATE: Per our sister site Deadline, Kelley from Day 1 and ever since has lobbied ABC for shorter, 13-episode seasons. The network’s reluctance to adopt that cable-style model led to tensions that reportedly ultimately fueled this parting of ways.

“Helming this series has been the ride of a lifetime,” Kelley tells the site, “and my producing partner, Melissa Loy, and I will look back on our Revenge time with deep gratitude and respect for Emily [VanCamp] and Madeleine [Stowe] and the rest of the incredible cast, our heroic crew, the dedicated and imaginative producing and writing team, and the tireless post-production department.”

He went on to thank “[ABC President] Paul Lee, his marketing team, and the creative executives at ABC and ABC studios for their profound support throughout this journey.”

In the meantime, Kelly is “excited about finishing post-production on the Season 2 finale, which I hope will stand among the best episodes of the series thus far.”

While Revenge has yet to be renewed for Season 3, it is “a sure thing” on TVLine’s Renewal Scorecard.

Revenge fans, are you shocked by the news of Kelly’s exit?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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99 Comments
  1. Leigh says:

    Wonder what the real story is…

    • iMember says:

      Yeah, I wonder what the mutual disagreement was about…

    • iMember says:

      Ah, it seems Mike Kelley has been requesting that ABC allow for him to make the seasons shorter but ABC doesn’t want that. Ugh, ABC. Do what’s best for the show not what’s best for your pocket.

      • Patrick says:

        Absolutely wrong. ABC paid for the show. ABC owns the show. Sure, letting it run for 13 eps per over 6 years is really easy for the writers, but it doesn’t make money for the net. They need 100 eps, pdq for the real money.

        If the show runner can hack it, then he should get out or get better at his job.

        • Chance says:

          You know nothing about writing do you? The reason to have a shorter season to tell a better story. With the shorter season he doesn’t have to fill 20+ episodes which can lead to a myriad storytelling problems. The second season has been so-so, at times great and at times not. Some of the episodes have felt unnecessary and full of stuff that doesn’t serve the overall arc. There’s a reason why creatively Cable shows are generally better and it’s because they have shorter seasons and aren’t forced to add filler to meet the 20+ episode quota.

      • George says:

        Hey ABC Scandal season 2is good example of how to use a 22 episode structure. You have to be more urgent with character development and storytelling. So you can better avoid becoming convoluted.

        • I think Arrow did an exceptional job this year too in using a full season to tremendous level. They’ve got one continuous story in the flashbacks which provides a great throughline, character development has been great (especially for Moira, Felicity, Diggle and Tommy) and they’ve worked out the structure so as to mix in episodic content and arc content.

          I think this is what Revenge needs, it’s started to run like Heroes, buckling under the weight of its own storylines. They need more structure, maybe even building a few mini-arcs into each season. The best ‘big bad’ antagonists are the ones which pop up sporadically and then rear their heads full-force for the finalé, not ones who feature in every episode, about whom every single conversation is about, about whom every character is singly focussed.

  2. Elly says:

    This could really go either way. Last season was great, this season has become convoluted with the initiative bs…maybe the network is ticked with who he killed off in the season finale?

    • Sarah says:

      If the network really didn’t want him to kill off a character, they wouldn’t let him. That’s how network TV works. Show runners rarely ever get the final word in any matter. That’s why a lot of show runners would rather work in cable. I do agree it could go either way. I’ve seen shows do fine after a change at the helm. But I’ve also seen shows suffer greatly when the creator leaves and the show starts doing really stupid things.

    • dude says:

      This season WAS convoluted. It’s been getting so good recently.

  3. Hanna says:

    I sense issues between them

  4. Elly says:

    Does Ausiello know the real story and maybe can’t share ? :(

  5. iMember says:

    Omg, noooooooooo! It won’t be the same without Mike Kelley. This show was like his vision. He will be dearly missed. I’m at least glad he was honest to point out why he’s leaving though. I hate when Networks can’t just let the showrunners and creators do what they want to do. Like, it’s their show. Respect that.

    In no way am I dropping the show though. I just hope Season 3 will be a fantastic season to come. I’m sure the Season 2 finale will be amazing.

    • iMember says:

      By the way, does this basically assure ABC has pretty much decided to renew Revenge given they’re looking to replace him? Not that I didn’t doubt it would be renewed of course, but ABC is just taking so slow to announce some early renewals.

      • Esaul says:

        I wouldn’t expect ABC renewals until the upfront at this rate. Of course, I could be mistaken. Even if Mike Kelley didn’t depart, I’m sure the show would’ve still be renewed. Ratings aren’t as strong as they were in season one, but I think it can still do well. I feel moving Revenge from Wednesday was the mistake.Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Revenge/Scandal on the same night, but since Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy are done by Shonda Rhimes, I see the reason for it to be on Thursday night there.

        • Pat Hatt says:

          Yes it is the creators show, but who puts up the money? Sure as hell isn’t the creators. I wish they’d let them do it their way, for the good ones, too. But it isn’t going to happen and in reality it shoudn’t, since it is a business and the studios are making the investment.

          • Drew says:

            The problem arises when the people putting up the money don’t know what is best for the story and the final product suffers because of their overstepping.

            Writing is something that everyone thinks they can do, but ultimately it takes skill and talent. Business people making demands of the story is a mistake. They think they know what their audience wants, but what the audience wants and what the audience thinks they want are two different things. Writers know this.

  6. LW says:

    The just Community-d Revenge :(

  7. Esaul says:

    I can see the argument for shorter seasons. There are plenty of shows that do well with this on cable. Plus, they’re able to focus more on the story and less on the “filler” episodes. It’s a smart idea and it will also be cheaper in the long run. If it had sixteen episodes it’d save money on six episodes. Now given the fact I don’t know the costs behind it, I can pull another example like SVU that pays Mariska $300,000+ per episode. Not to sound stingy, but it’d be saving money on having to pay cast along with visual effects, writers, production, directors, and whatever else needs to get paid. First season was great, second felt rushed and semi-lazy.

  8. iMember says:

    ABC, Emily Thorne is coming after you and she’s got her red sharpie out and ready.

  9. Mike says:

    If he is responsible for some of the questionable story lines that have plagued the second season, maybe this is a good thing.

    • MaryAnn says:

      Those extra story lines likely resulted from his trying to fill up 22 episodes. If he had been allowed to do just 13 episodes a season, as he wanted, then the extra story lines would have died a natural death.

  10. Fabe says:

    Hmm. Well hopefully Revenge can be better because of this. Season 2 has felt very “meh”. Maybe this will be a good thing?

  11. Nerdbot says:

    What I thought when I first saw the headline was: “Nooooooooo! The show won’t be the same without him. He created it, so he knows exactly how it’s going to end” and stuff. But, then, I realised that as he’s been behind the show since the beginning, he’s partly responsible of all that mess that the first part of this season was. Anyway, I do hope he keeps on working as a consultant for the show. I mean, it really was his idea and it should end the way he planned.

    Now, speaking about his deal with shorter seasons and how stressing it could be for him to develop 22 episodes, I think that it’d be better if Revenge’s seasons were divided into two parts, a la Pretty Little Liars or Switched at Birth. The breaks between episodes don’t help to keep the ratings high and a serialized show needs to be on air every week to retain the audience interest.

    • Torontogirl98 says:

      I totally agree, I would much rather have 2 shorter self contained arcs over this horrible on 2 weeks off 3. It ruins the show for me, why are networks so stupid not to have done this already?!

      • the girl says:

        I think ALL the networks should adopt 2 seasons of 12 episodes each, Sept – Nov, then Feb – May. NBC did it with Revolution and everyone complained that viewers would forget about the show after such a long break, but as a viewer, this is MUCH better than two weeks on, three weeks off. Having all those mini-breaks is crazy frustrating.

  12. Ever says:

    This season has sucked so hard. No one I know is watching the show anymore. Perhaps it will go in a better direction next season because as it stands it’s pretty painful to watch,

    • Ro says:

      Agreed. I have a 17 yr old granddaughter living with me and watching tv with her is a window into the world advertisers are after, and she can’t be bothered with it. Is dismissive of it. After being a big fan last season. So many ideas for shows nowadays are best served via a mini series or short run. There was never a long-term viable lifespan for this show because of its original premise, imho.

      Unless Emily and Nolan took their revenge-ery skills and bankrolls out into the world at large, seeking justice and/or revenge for similarly afflicted people.

  13. ggny says:

    see ya. season 2 is terrible it time to bring in new blood

  14. dee123 says:

    Jumped? Pushed? Obviously he wanted to take season 3 in one direction ABC wanted another.

  15. Sara says:

    Oh for frak’s sake.

  16. Drew Herring says:

    Wow.. I am truly shocked at this. On one hand, I can understand if it’s true that Mike Kelley wanted to shorten the episode order. But if it’s not the full reason, I’m sure the “Suits” at ABC are tired of hearing criticism about this new season. Mike was a great leader in the first season, but he had sooooo many ideas about conspiracies and what not, that I’m sure lead to his ‘disagreement’. ABC saw a weak point and cut him off. Hopefully this doesn’t ruin the show!

  17. A says:

    Ok definitely nervous about this right now. Look what happened with Smash. They brought in a new showrunner and now its been pushed to Saturdays and will likely be cancelled (unless some miracle happens). Alan Ball stepped down from True Blood and who knows what’s gonna happen this season (its already got a reduced order of 10 episodes and a bunch of new casting which is just annoying and a rumor that Eric might be killed off). I hope Revenge remains on track next season without Mike Kelley (hopefully he stays on as a consultant) and hopefully it returns to its first season awesomeness.

  18. Suz says:

    I’d like to think the decline in S2 was due to the full season order vs the shorter ones Kelley wanted. I stand by Kelley to leave if he knows that it will not match the standard that he expected. S2 drags on and on and I never watch ‘live’ and part of that is never knowing when it’s a new episode and waiting to get stories wrapped up (ie: is Padma really dead and did she/her dad have role in Initiative?)

  19. This is a sad and worrying news. I love this show so, so, much! Mike created all those amazing characters. And he chose the actors to play them. I could never thank him enough for this. Sure thing the show will change somehow, without Mike. Let’s hope not too much. And above all I hope, no, actually I want, this show to have season 3 and 4 and 5 and all the seasons this incredible story needs to be told.

  20. Fernanda says:

    When Darren Stars left Melrose Place at the end of season 3 (the best melrose season EVER) the show became annoying and not funny, the result, many original actors said goodbye.

    When Marc Cherry left Desperate Housewives at the end of season 7, the show was bored and dark. The final episode was wonderful because Cherry returned to write the episode.

    When Kevin Williamson left Dawson’s Creek, the main character wasn’t the same as the previous seasons. Dawson became boring, some bitter and for god sake, painting houses in summertime? Kevin’s Dawson could do more stuffs like short horror films and not taking care of an old man.

    I love the original premise of CW’s 90210, and I learn to love the work of Rebecca Sinclair but when the Life Unexpected producers became show runners the plots were awful and the characters unrecognizable.

    For me the same thing would happen with True Blood and Revenge. We don’t have Alan Ball in the writing table and many situations will change without Revenge’s showrunner.

    • Joe says:

      Desperate housewives was pretty bad after season 5 and true blood sucked for the past 2 years ( billith anyone ? )

  21. If he wanted a 13 episode season then it makes little sense to have pitched it to a Broadcast Network ,
    It should have been taken to Cable if he wanted 13 episodes per season to help tighten the story lines.
    ++
    I though like the idea of 13 episode seasons for those shows that have linear story lines.

  22. Kelley is right. The 22 – 24 episode model is slowly dying out because it results in too many shows resorting to “filler” episodes. The 13 episode season is the way to go.

    • johnhelvete says:

      The Following is doing 15 episodes a season. Fox has a new show for next year, Rake, which is doing 17 episodes a season. I think a show like Revenge should have done 17 episodes a season. !7 episodes at 5 seasons gives the show 85 episodes for syndication, three short of the magic number of 88. Than the network should try to run in for two cycles, in the fall and in the spring, without interruptions.

  23. john says:

    I hope it’s not Joshua Safran who takes it, he KILLED Smash this season…

    Marc Cherry or Jon Harmon Feldman could make wonders with Revenge!

  24. David4 says:

    ABC is coming late to the party. Last Resort and whatever took it’s timeslot would be awesome for 13 episode miniseries. Fox is doing it with The Following, and has new miniseries coming to bat. NBC has the Pirate show with Hugh Luarie. It;s the wave of the future.

  25. mia says:

    This show would be better suited to a 13-episode season run. Tighter, better stories.

  26. Nero theTVFiddler says:

    This is the beginning of the end for Revenge. Sometimes shows just shine very brightly for a short period of time, and fall very quickly. The show will probably be renewed for fall, but this show probably won’t have a long life. It’s okay – better to shine bright for a short time, than linger too long.
    .
    Emily VanCamp has a very bright future ahead, and Madeliene and the rest of the cast are talented – they’ll bounce back. But this series may not go beyond three seasons. Perhaps more importantly, if ABC has doubts about this show, we’ll know at the Upfronts. The Thursday night dream is over – ABC won’t place this series there now – I was wrong, it won’t be strong enough now going through a major change at the top to gamble placing it on Thursday nights. Grey’s will win out, although it may still flip spots w/Scandal.
    .
    Where ABC places Revenge for fall will say quite a bit about its future. They can’t, and won’t, leave it at 9pm Sunday – ABC has many options in this slot, including the OUAT spin-off and/or SHIELD. Send it back to Wednesday at 10pm? I don’t think so – those types of slot (on a strong night for ABC) are better served for new series. All that is left? Tuesday at 10pm, or Sunday at 10pm. If they place it at Tuesday at 10pm, I think that’s the best option, but it will take away a slot for a new series. Sunday at 10pm is ABC’s way of throwing up their hands and giving up on the show – if they place it at 10pm Sunday, it’s over next May 2014. And then, what becomes of Nashville?
    .
    ABC has a very tough decision to make at the Upfronts – suddenly, I’m not certain any longer if *both* Revenge and Nashville can be renewed. I never would have guessed this possible outcome, but I think we need to prepare ourselves.

    • the girl says:

      Earlier this TV season I NEVER would have said this, but if it comes down to Revenge OR Nashville, I’ll take Nashville.

      The OUAT spin-off isn’t meant to be a full-fledged show, but a short miniseries, to run from Dec – Feb so that OUAT can run half of its episodes in the fall and the other half in the spring. So that removes one of the proposed alternative options.

      You might be right about the Sunday at 10 placement, and I suspect Grey’s will maintain its spot at 9 pm, primarily because Scandal’s story benefits from the later hour, which makes me wonder what Revenge could do with the story having the advantage of a late hour – like it did in the first season.

    • David4 says:

      Nashville was never in the running to be renewed.

  27. cj says:

    Mike was right. This is a good show but it doesn’t have enough to go long term. Shorter episodes seasons would give it more focus and less feeling of spinning its wheels like we’ve been getting in season 2 as ABC tries to drag it on. ABC will run this show into the ground.

  28. Chicago Dan says:

    Kelly should be fired because S2 was a huge mess. I watched until they killed FauxManda, yet kept awful characters – we all know who they are – and the stupid Initiative. Shonda wanted to do short Scandal seasons, but ABC overruled her. Guess what? They were right and I’m sure Shonda looks back and is glad they did. Scandal would’ve never gained this much momentum. If a show is solid, it will work on a 22 to 24 episode season. How you run out of ideas in S2 or deviate so much from the premise of the original concept, IDK. Clearly, ABC views Revenge as salvageable.

    • the girl says:

      Scandal worked because Shonda did the story the way she wanted to. Rather than having one season-long arc, she ended the Defiance story when it was over and moved on to something else. I wish more showrunners would work like that, rather than thinking the story has to fit into the frame of one season. If the story only takes 15 episodes to tell the right way, then episodes 16 – 22 should be about another story. Don’t give us 7 filler episodes or make up ridiculous twists to stretch something that should have ended already. It’s annoying and we (the viewers) are not stupid.

      • darcywils says:

        Right! If Shonda has shown that if you want to tell 13 episode stories, just tell them as you want and bring in what your next storyline was! The fact Mike couldn’t do this, and gave us the mess of the first half of this season of Revenge makes me think this maybe wasn’t the worst decision…

    • David4 says:

      Actually ABC was way wrong.

      Scandal has already peaked, it was a huge rating hit because the president was shot, that was awesome. After that story ended (Because it was planned as a 13 episode season when it was picked up in May of 2012) it has been fun, but not nearly as much fun as as the tight, fast pass first 13 episodes.

    • Erin says:

      I quit after Amanda was killed off as well. I didn’t plan to, but when I went to watch the following week’s episode I realized I had no desire whatsoever to keep watching.

  29. D says:

    I feel for Mike. It was obviously hard for he and his team to fulfill a 22 ep order, not surprising given the plot. Which is why we had the initiative, that awful Emily’s mother arc, etc. This season was full of filler and little takedowns. The 13 episode ep format would have worked so much better. Wrong network though. Can’t imagine the next showrunner not having the same difficulties. Next season may be worse. The multiple breaks certainly haven’t helped ratings. I wonder do the changes stop there. Keep the theme of revenge but have new cast, new story? I hope not. For the most part I like the original cast, save a few. If renewed I have no doubt S3 will be the last.

  30. Jon says:

    Revenge went from Must Watch TV to Off my DVR schedule. The introduction of the Initiative totally threw everything off kilter. The Initiative bored me to no end. Should’ve concentrated on core characters, not some off-screen entity.

  31. Et. Al says:

    What a pathetic move on ABC’s part to kill the show with their insane scheduling decisions and then blame the show runner.

  32. deme says:

    The initial premise of this show was suitable for a miniseries at best or 1 full season at worst (honestly 2nd half of last season is a complete blur to me).

    I’m guess EVC might be able to milk a film career for her time. Madeline will probably go back into seclusion. During her last visit to the view she allude to such. Although she’s slated to direct a movie next year w/Hugh Jackman. The rest of the cast will probably fall back into obscurity.

  33. Tony says:

    I agree that broadcast networks need to look at the shorter season model. If that means finding more quality shows to fill in the season with, so be it. I much rather have variety of content than have a show’s 20+ episodes made up of filler

    • cjeffery7 says:

      agreed. 22 episodes of mediocre or decreasing value? blegh. id much rather take shorts bursts of interesting and diverse over getting bored of a show i’ve been watching for 6 months already.

  34. Carlarosa Blasco says:

    When JJ Abrams left Alias to focus on Lost, it hurt the show….I think the Aiden character is a bust and killing fauxAmanda was pointless. They ahould have killed Declan instead.

    • deme says:

      Got to agree on the pointless killing of fauxAmanda. She should have been around for the reveal to Jack. Without her around I’m not anticipating it as much.

    • Mikael says:

      Someone who agrees with me about Alias! You can almost pinpoint the moment JJ left the show. The first 2 seasons were some of the best tv ever, and then it went downhill. Still good, but not what it once was. They threw too much into this season of Revenge. Emily’s mom went nowhere, her foster brother was annoying, the whole “buy the Stowaway” plot was useless. They need to get back to Emily taking down everyone who had a hand in framing her father. And just kill Declan.

  35. Aimee says:

    Uh oh…Not good.

  36. aciel says:

    maybe mike kelley departing will be a good thing for the show because second season has been a disaster he wouldnt layoff of the all of the convulted storylines he ignored the ratings decline, fan complaints he kept making promises all this season that the show would get better but it never maybe somebody else could fix this show and make it even a better show then it was this season.

    • darcywilson says:

      Right! It sounds like ABC is looking to hire the new showrunner from within the show so this might not be so bad! Shows usually fail after showrunner changes when the new one comes from outside the shows staff. Not always, but most the time, and it seems ABC doesn’t want this to happen.

  37. Cecelia says:

    Oh,oh. Another victim of the Initiative.

  38. Jay says:

    Something tells me the quality of season 2 is somewhat to blame. NBC should have done the same to Tim Kring on Heroes all those years back.

  39. rty123 says:

    Wonderful. He was the one that saw Emily and Nolan as friends. Put them together, kill the entire Porter family and we have a whole new show I’m eager to watch.

    • deme says:

      I was with you until the 2nd statement.lol! But hey chemistry is subjective and I would be willing to live with Emily/Nolan if they kill the Porters or just have someone buy them another boat and have them all sail off to wherever. Because nobody w/2 decent brain cells can believe Emily&Jack are a viable couple after all that has transpired. I say play the beat of Jack of finding out and let them both move on in opposite directions.

  40. simy says:

    so sad about this new :( Revenge won’t be the same without Mike Kelley

  41. Peter W says:

    THANK GOD so happy right now revenge was one of my fave shows last year but season 2 is just crap at times i think a change might fix the show and get back to what it did so well in season 1 :)

  42. Boiler says:

    The dramas really need continuity which to me means they need to be on nearly every week. ABC seems to be the worst at messing up scheduling but perhapos it is just the types of shows they have. The crime dramas may not need the continuity as much. I would like to see two distinct seasons whch could accomplish for Mr Kelley’s goals and yet allow others to maintain a full schedule. It may be no coincidence that Body of Proof has performed well for ABC because it has been on with new episodes every week.

  43. sd says:

    I don’t understand why the need for 13 vs 22 episodes is a big problem. If the show runner wanted 13 episode season break the 22 season in half have a mid season “finale”. You don’t need filler for fillers sake. You can keep the arc you want they are just going to show over a full “academic year” as opposed to having large breaks between seasons like cable. If you can’t run a show without the large breaks than you shouldn’t be on broadcast television in the first place

  44. Joe says:

    Between the amount of time between new episodes ( I don’t even remember what happen on the last new one) and the confusing season 2 storytelling , maybe mike Kelly leaving is a good thing , it might get back on track because for me it’s gone from gotta watch it live to ill get to it sometime in the next few days

  45. asta says:

    He is so right. Seasons should be shorter because its obvious so many episodes are fillers. LOVED Season 1, but Season 2 sucked. I stopped watching it mid-way through and read recaps. Just not riveting anymore and too many characters.

  46. cjeffery7 says:

    i have become a proponent of shorter seasons as well. especially for these kinds of serial dramas that can suffer from meandering plot lines and inconsistent character arcs as a result of having too much space to fill. of course at the end of the day it’s all about money for the networks and production companies. wah wah.

  47. Tee says:

    Before the show aired, I couldn’t imagine how this would work as a series. Season 1 brought me around. Then season 2 happened, which is pretty much: oh this is what I thought serializing this would be like. Train wreck! Storyline stretched out, a bunch of junk thrown in to drag everything out longer.

    So I wonder what it would have been like with a more compact season.

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