Harriet Finch helps Finn find Emma's address and he meets her in secret. She is thrilled to see him and is eager to get to know her other sons but this proves complicated, given their history. While at a bar, Ross is injured in a fight. Emma comes to help and is shocked to recognize her sons. Finn invites Emma to the village and Ross tells her that James and Moira Dingle slept together before she left. James is defensive and accidentally reveals that Adam Barton is his son. Emma blames James for losing her family but he reminds her that the reason she left was because she tried to kill Ross when he was very young. Emma asks James if he has told their sons the truth and he says that he has not. Emma leaves and Pete later tells James that she returned once before, but he sent her away. Emma visits again and Ross and Finn try to persuade her to stay. She tries to talk to Pete but he makes it clear that he knows what she did and will not forgive her. When Finn babysits Debbie Dingle's son, Jack, Emma visits and Finn leaves her alone for a few minutes. When Pete finds out, he runs into the house and tells Emma to leave.
Emma befriends James's partner, Chas Dingle, but is hostile to Moira. During an argument with James, Emma lashes out, causing a pallet to crash down and pin him under the load. Emma checks to see if James is breathing and hesitates before calling an ambulance. Emma is defensive when Pete questions her about the accident but, thinking Emma saved James's life, Pete tells Emma that he will keep her secret. Relieved, she moves in with her sons after Ross "burgles" her house and then ruins James's and Chas's relationship by making people think that they are having an affair. When Chas finds out, she throws James out and he stays with Emma temporarily but this becomes permanent when she convinces him to give their marriage another chance.
2016-2017: Causing the Hotten Bypass crash, killing James, Divine Revelation & MurderEdit
Emma found out about James and Moira's one night stand and retaliated by mentally torturing James before finally confronts him over his kiss with Moira. After a brief argument, James knocks Emma out and escapes but she regains conscious and catches him on a motorway; their confrontation ends with Emma pushing James into Ashley Thomas's car, critically injuring him and causing Ashley to crash. She flees from the scene and confronts James in hospital where she blames him for ruining their marriage and comes close to ending his life but forgives James; begging him to survive so that their relationship can be given another chance. In that moment, however, James succumbs to his deteriorated condition and dies; devastating Emma and her sons. Following James's death, Emma tried to retain what little unity remained in her family and even resolved her long-running feud with Moira, burying the hatchet with her. She began to push Finn towards Kasim Sabet, whom he rescued during the Hotten Bypass crash, and became involved in Pete's relationship with Leyla Harding. Struggling to cope with what she had done, Emma began to fall apart but found solace in attending church, and soon began to discover her affinity with the Christian faith.
Finn and Kasim have a nasty breakup and Finn starts stalking Kasim, ending with Emma torching one of the boys' taxis and pinning it on Kasim so Finn would stop following him. The truth was eventually revealed, and Emma's sons were disgusted. Finn decided to travel around Australia for a while. Emma tried to stop him by hiding his passport, but used to his mother's tricks, Finn asked for it back.
Emma is appalled when Faith Dingle, claiming to be psychic, hosts a mock-up psychic night to raise money for Sarah Sugden's cancer treatment. Faith claims to be able to contact James in the spirit world, and as what Faith is doing completely conflicts with her Christian beliefs, Emma does everything she can to stop the night, with her attempts reaching their zenith as she tries to rend a microphone from Faith's hands. It's soon revealed that Faith's knowledge of village events came from Edna Birch's diary. Stressed to breaking point, Emma confesses to murdering James in the eyes of God. Later that evening, Emma spots Faith in the street, so, as revenge for attempting to mock-up James' history, she grabs a brick and runs towards her, only to be hit by Harriet Finch in her van. Emma is convinced that God saved her from death, and her faith is firmly planted within her as a result.
In October 2017, a fire started in Moira's barn when in a fight, the pair knocked out a light. Emma had revealed to Moira that she killed James. Moira then discovered she was pregnant and went into labour, but an explosion send crates onto Moira. Emma then saves her by driving a car through the barn, and manages to get her out before the barn is obliterated by another explosion. Emma helps Moira give birth to a son, but Moira falls unconscious. When Moira's son Adam arrives, Emma panics and flees, resulting in Adam going after her with a gun. Adam caught up with her and she manages to take the gun by shoving Adam onto the ground and runs off. Emma soon walks backwards into a tree and accidentally pulls the trigger, unknowingly shooting her son, Finn. Finn suffered a cardiac arrest and died in hospital, which Emma learns of on the radio. Emma then went to the Hotten Viaduct with the intention of jumping off but was unsure if she should continue. Emma is next seen falling from the viaduct and dies on the ground, surrounded by the ghosts of James and Finn.
During an autopsy, the pathologists discover bruises and marks that suggest Emma didn't commit suicide - she was murdered. A murder investigation was launched and Finn's funeral was interrupted by police, who needed to carry out a search of their property. On the day of her funeral, it was revealed during the episode's last flashback moment that Emma was literally pushed off the cliff by Moira Barton after concluding her as to blame for Holly's death and how - in Emma's words - it figuratively led to the deaths of James and Finn.
In December 2017, Emma's funeral takes place. A series of flashbacks reveals what happened that day. Pete had found Emma in Dale View. She tells Pete that Isaac is in the church and begs him not to leave her, which he does anyway. The next flashback shows Ross confronting Emma, then forcing her into his car and driving to the Hotten Viaduct. He confronts her further and Emma tells him that she will forgive him for pushing her off the viaduct. However, Ross tells Emma that she will jump when he drives off. Moira drives past the viaduct and sees Emma standing at the edge. She climbs up the hill where she tries to convince Emma to come with her. An argument ensues and Emma spitefully tells her that Holly's death was her fault, resulting in a slap from Moira. Emma continues to tear into Moira, telling her if she cared more, Holly would still be alive. Moira sees red and shoves Emma, who falls from the viaduct and onto the ground below. Ross changes his mind and turns around the car, but arrives at the viaduct to find Emma's lifeless body.
- James Barton, 20th October 2016 - (in the heat of the moment) Pushed off the Hotten Bypass, resulting in a multi-car pile-up.
- Finn Barton, 3rd October 2017 - (accidental) Shot.
- Ross Barton, October 1992-June 1993 - Tries to smother Ross with a pillow when he was 2 years old. Emma was suffering from post-natal depression.
- Faith Dingle, 23rd March 2017 - Tried to beat Faith with a brick but was hit by a bus driven by Harriet Finch.
"You gave me a right scare, creeping up on me like that. I'll get it." (First line, to Finn Barton)
"Amen!" (Last line)
"Imagine if you paid attention and actually noticed that there was something wrong with Holly on the day that she died. If you'd just put that cup of tea down and cared enough to pull back the covers, she'd still be alive now. Wouldn't she? You could've saved her, Moira, but you walked out and left her to die. All on her own with nobody there. And you knew that when you found her. Didn't you? Lying there... cold... You knew. You... You killed her. You... you might as well injected the heroin yourself." (to Moira Dingle, before Moira kills her)