An orphan from Phoenix, Emily was left in Alan and Monica Quartermaine's care after her mother died of cancer. Eventually the Quartermaines adopted Emily. Upon moving to Port Charles, Emily befriended Lucky Spencer, but she remained troubled. Eventually, Emily turned to drugs and alcohol to have some fun. She became friends with a boy named Matt who became her drugs supplier. After he overdosed, Emily realized that she needed to get clean. She spent a few months in Italy to recover from her devastation. When she returned, she became closer to Brenda Barrett and started modeling. She was blackmailed by an unknown person and joined forces with Nikolas, Lucky and Elizabeth to catch him. When he was caught, it was revealed that the man had brutally raped Emily's best friend, Elizabeth, in the park on the night of the school's Valentine dance.
When Emily met Juan, the son of Lily Rivera Corinthos and Miguel Morez, the two were instantly captivated by one another and waged a war against the Quartermaines and Juan's adoptive father to stay together. They won their war and Juan's father agreed to let him remain in Port Charles with Lieutenant Taggert as his guardian. After a while, Emily discovered that Juan had an amazing voice and urged him to pursue a singing career at her cousin, Ned's, record company, L&B Records. Juan was reluctant at first, but he began to warm up to the idea and even sang a number with Emily and Elizabeth Webber at the 2000 Nurses Ball.
After the Nurses Ball, Allison Barrington, granddaughter of the wealthy, well-to-do Amanda Barrington, began to develop eyes for Juan. She invited him to a rave that was being held in an old, abandoned house. Even though she didn't want to, Emily went with Juan to the rave. During the rave, Emily and Juan got into a big fight. After Emily caught sight of Allison and Juan kissing, Emily accepted a beer from a stranger. Emily had no idea that the beer had been drugged. When a friendly guy named Ted suggested that they leave, Emily agreed. The next morning, Emily woke up naked in a motel room with a drug needle in her hand. Ted was next to her, but he was dead.
Emily's friends came to her rescue. Lucky and Nikolas dropped Emily off at Elizabeth's and then took Ted's body to Wyndemere. The brothers hid Ted's body in a freezer in the basement. Soon afterwards, Emily began receiving mysterious phone calls from an unknown girl saying that she knew what Emily had done. The girl blackmailed Emily into giving her a large sum of money. Nikolas supplied the cash and he and Lucky put it in the drop off spot and then hid to see who the blackmailer was. It turned out to be Gia Campbell, the younger sister of Lieutenant Taggert. Lucky and Nikolas turned the tables on Gia. Gia agreed to stop blackmailing Emily and ended up helping the teens search for Ted's killer. Their investigation was complicated by the discovery that Ted had been an undercover police officer who had tried to help Emily after she'd been slipped a date rape drug.
In time, they traced the drugging to a smile time hood named Zander Smith. Eventually it was revealed that Zander's boss, Joseph Sorel had been responsible for Ted's murder. The teens decided to plant Ted's body in the trunk of Zander's car at the next rave and then call the police. Everything had gone as planned until Zander panicked when he saw the police. Zander took Emily hostage, threw her into a car, and then fled the scene. While on the run from the police, Sorel's men, and Jason, Emily saw a different side of Zander. When Jason and her friends caught up with her, Emily pleaded with them to let Zander go. Shortly after Emily returned home, Zander showed up at her bedroom window. She convinced Zander to go to the PCPD and turn himself in. He hadn't killed anyone, so she thought his charges wouldn't be too tough. But that idea was ruined when Nikolas and Lucky saw them talking in the park one day. They attacked Zander and then called the police Emily's anger. Zander was taken to jail at the PCPD, but Emily visited him everyday. During all of this, Juan began to get jealous. Juan wanted her back and had apologized profusely for his mistakes and told her that he loved her. Emily decided that she would rather be with Zander after she caught Juan with Alison's friend, Sherry.
Emily arranged for Alexis Davis to be Zander's lawyer, and in exchange for his testimony against Sorel, Sonny Corinthos would give him protection in the event that Sorel tried to kill him. Sonny also agreed to post Zander's bail of $2 million. On the night that Zander was released, Emily, Zander, Alexis, and Sonny were walking down the steps of the PCPD, when two gunmen dresses as police officers opened fire on them. Zander jumped on top of Emily to protect her and he was hit in the arm. Emily's family began to fear for her life and when she wouldn't agree to stop seeing Zander, they sent her to boarding school in California. Zander jumped bail and went to California to go get Emily. Although they were presented with the opportunity to run away to Mexico, they decided to go back to Port Charles, so that Zander could turn himself in and testify against Sorel. Unfortunately, Zander made the mistake of going back to the Quartermaine mansion with Emily, and Emily's grandfather, Edward Quartermaine, called the police and had him arrested. Sonny posted bail for Zander again since he was vital to the case against Sorel. Furious with her family, Emily moved out of the house and into a room at Kelly's. One special night, Emily lost her virginity to Zander. They decided to leave town and boarded a train. When the train crashed, Emily was paralyzed from the waist down. Soon after she left for the rehab facility, Zander broke up with her because he wanted her to focus on recovery instead of him.
Two years later, Emily returned. She was battling an aggressive form of breast cancer and trying an experimental procedure. For that reason, Emily opted not to tell anyone about her life-threatening illness. Eventually she confided to Monica and Alan. She also decided to tell Nikolas because she wanted him to pretend to be in a relationship with her, so that Zander wouldn't want to reconcile. Emily wanted to spare Zander the heartbreak if she died. Nikolas agreed to the charade. After hearing Emily day after day saying she couldn't fight the cancer, Nikolas made Emily attend a breast cancer survivor meeting. He wanted her to realize she could fight this disease and be a survivor. After the meeting, Emily thanked Nikolas because it had renewed her desire to fight the cancer. They embraced and shared a passionate kiss. Emily pulled away and fled, afraid of her feelings for Nikolas. Nikolas refused to lose Emily; he offered her an engagement, but Emily insisted that they stop lying to everyone. She decided to tell Zander the truth and thanked Nikolas for being such a wonderful friend. Nikolas was devastated. Further complicating the relationship was the arrival of a distant Cassadine cousin whom Nikolas had been betrothed to at infancy.
When Emily told Zander about her breast cancer, he promised to stand by her side. She loved Zander but she couldn't get Nikolas out of her head. One day at Kelly's, Emily overheard Nikolas tell Lydia that Emily would always have his heart. When Nikolas realized Emily had heard him he followed her. In her bedroom, Nikolas and Emily decided to be honest with each other. However, they both soon realized that they could never be together because of Zander and Lydia. Emily knew that Nikolas was only marrying Lydia to restore the Cassadine family fortune. On the day of his marriage, Emily went to see Nikolas to tell him goodbye and that he needed to marry someone whom he loved. Nikolas said he would cancel his wedding if he could have a future with Emily. When Emily revealed that she intended to stay with Zander because she had hurt him too much already, Nikolas married Lydia.
One night as Zander and Emily were preparing to go out on a date, Monica approached them with the heartbreaking prognosis that the aggressive chemo treatments that Emily was undergoing were breaking down her immune system and that she had to stop the treatments immediately. Emily was devastated and told Zander she had to leave. Emily took off to be alone but ended up calling Nikolas. They met at the docks where she gave him the awful news. Nikolas asked her to just keep fighting day by day, if not for herself then for him. She told Nikolas that she would, while Zander overheard them. It was then that Zander realized Emily needed Nikolas. In the hospital, Emily's immune system began shutting down and she contracted meningitis. Believing she was going to die, Emily decided that she wanted to do something special for Zander, so she married him. As Emily lay dying, she dreamed she had married Nikolas. As she and Nikolas kissed, Emily awoke and immediately began improving.
Despite her feelings for Nikolas, Emily remained determined to make her marriage to Zander work. After she fully recovered, she and Zander moved into a cottage. One night while at the cottage, Emily called Nikolas to help with the fuse box. While they waited out the storm, Emily admitted that her dream of kissing him had had brought her back from the brink of death. Nikolas confessed that he'd had the same dream. Nikolas started to make love, but the lights came back on and they realized that it would have been wrong. Unbeknownst to them, someone had taken pictures of them together. The pictures fell into Zander's hands, which later led him to attack Nikolas at the hospital. Emily couldn't get Nikolas out of her mind and on the night of a Halloween ball, she confessed her love to Nikolas. The two kissed, but Emily ran away. Nikolas followed her home and within minutes the two were kissing. When Zander entered, he confronted Nikolas and Emily. Emily told Zander their marriage was over and she wanted to be with Nikolas. After Zander stormed out, Nikolas and Emily made love.
Zander was heartbroken and angry over losing Emily. He spiraled out of control and tried to destroy Emily and Nikolas' relationship, but all attempts had failed. Things reached a crisis point when Nikolas was believed to have perished in a hotel fire. Emily refused to give up hope. She knew Nikolas was alive and that he would find his way back to her. A few days after the fire as Emily remembered the good times with Nikolas, a hurt and battered Nikolas walked back into Wyndemere. Emily told Nikolas that Zander had been killed in the fire. Nikolas blamed himself since he and Zander had a fight in the basement. Nikolas had knocked Zander out and locked him inside before alerting the police. Later, Ric arrested Nikolas for Zander's murder when it was discovered that the body found in the basement died as a result of a blow to the head and not the fire. It was later revealed that Zander had killed a man named Wally and set fire to the boiler room to cover up the murder. It was his body everyone had assumed was Zander's.
While Nikolas safely boarded his plane to Greece, Emily decided to go the cottage where she and Zander used to live to say her final good-byes to him, still believing he was dead. Just as she turned to go, Zander appeared. Happy to see that he's alive, Emily rushed to hug him. Emily soon sensed that something was very wrong with him. Zander begged Emily to leave town with him. When she refused, Zander claimed that he was holding Nikolas hostage. Zander then demanded that she make love to him if she wanted to see Nikolas again. Zander realized what he was doing to Emily and pulled back. A short time later, the police had surrounded the cottage. Elizabeth who had spotted Emily and Zander together had tipped them off. Zander pretended that he would surrender to the police; however, once Emily was out of harm's way, Zander pretended to reach for a gun. The police opened fire, and killed Zander. Meanwhile, Nikolas was driving in his car. When he heard of the hostage situation, Nikolas swerved and drove off the road.
Later that night Emily learned that Nikolas' car had been found, but he had not been near it. They search for days to no avail. Finally the police called off the search and Nikolas was presumed dead, again. Emily was devastated - she had lost her one true love. In reality, Nikolas had suffered amnesia and was living in the woods with a grieving widow who convinced Nikolas that he was her husband, Connor Bishop. Unbeknownst to everyone Nikolas was very much alive and at Mary Bishop's nearby cottage suffering from amnesia. The truth came out when a chance meeting in Mexico brought Emily face-to-face with Nikolas. When Nikolas didn't recognize Emily, she vowed to find a way to help Nikolas recover his memories of their love. Back in Port Charles, Emily made a point to run into Nikolas whenever she could. One day Emily took Nikolas to Wyndemere hoping it would spark a memory. Having been drawn to Emily since meeting her, Nikolas and Emily made love. Nikolas believed that he had betrayed his wife, Mary. His guilt was compounded when Nikolas learned that Mary had tried to kill herself. Before Emily could tell Nikolas that Mary had lied about his identity, Nikolas left. Emily realized that Mary's suicide had been a desperate attempt to hold onto Nikolas. A few weeks later, believing that Emily had finally followed through on the promise to tell Nikolas the truth, Mary apologized to Nikolas. Moments later, Mary collapsed from a non-lethal overdose of pills. Nikolas then discovered that several people had known the truth for quite some time. Feeling betrayed he turns his back on them. Emily tries to explain that they kept the truth from him for fear he would have a similar reaction to Jason's when he had emerged from his coma with no memory of who he was. Nikolas was furious and told Emily to leave him alone. Emily continued to try to reach out to Nikolas to no avail.
During this time Lucky and Emily grew closer and Lucky admitted to Emily that he loved her and wanted to start a life with her. Emily was touched, but told him that she would always love Nikolas. Nikolas was drunk and saw Lucky and Emily together, so he started a fight with Lucky. Lucky had Nikolas thrown in jail for one night hoping he would realize what he was doing to himself. While in jail, Nikolas continued to reject Lucky and Emily until Helena arrived to bail him out accompanied by two attendants in blue jackets. Realizing Helena was attempting to have him committed, Nikolas began to fight off the attendants. Lucky appeared to help them subdue Nikolas, but in reality he was providing Nikolas with an opportunity to escape. Later Emily and Lucky found Nikolas at the Quartermaine estate. Emily told Nikolas that Helena intended to brainwash Nikolas. They hid out in the boathouse and the next morning, as Emily searched for a doctor to help Nikolas, he remembered his last night with Emily before the car accident. Unfortunately before he can tell Emily, Helena, tipped off by Mary, arrived with her two goons and promptly carted him off to Shadybrook.
Emily had herself committed to help a very drugged Nikolas. Helena got wind of the rescue attempt and had Emily drugged. As Nikolas went to save Emily, it triggered his memory of his past. Everything came flooding back. He quickly rescued Emily and together they fled Shadybrook. Emily had Nikolas back, but their troubles were far from over. Mary had turned homicidal and attacked Emily. Emily survived Mary's killing spree, but Sage and Trent did not. Shortly after Mary was apprehended, someone murdered Mary. For a short time, Emily had been one of the suspects. The killer would later be revealed to be Lorenzo Alcazar, whose niece had been one of Mary's victims.
Determined to destroy Emily once and for all, Helena enlisted Tracy's help to curse Emily. At first everyone laughed it off until Emily's health began declining. Nikolas desperately searched for a cure for Emily. Eventually his search led Emily and Nikolas to the Garden of Aphrodite, located on a Greek island. They were stunned when they found the garden destroyed; however, Nikolas refused to give up home. In the garden, the lovers kissed on the moonless night (which was required to break the curse) and as they shared a tender moment, flowers began to bloom around them. As the flowers grew, so did Emily's strength. With the renewed confidence, Emily and Nikolas return to Port Charles, where they are greeted with a new threat - Connor Bishop.
Looking just like Nikolas, except for a scar on his left cheek, Connor wanted to avenge his murdered wife. He caused problems, but ultimately left town to start over. After Nikolas was arrested for Helena's murder, Emily and Nikolas decided to marry. Mac arranged for Nikolas to be released for their wedding. However, after their honeymoon night together, Nikolas was returned to jail. To free her husband from jail, Emily hatched a plan. She knew that Helena was alive, so Emily decided to lure Helena out of hiding by having Connor Bishop pose as Nikolas. Emily tracked down Connor and convinced him to help her. Part of the plan involved Emily teaching Connor the finer points of being a prince. It was during this time that Connor became infatuated with Emily. That infatuation ultimately led Connor to rape Emily one night in a cabin the woods where they were poised to corner Helena. After the violent rape, a traumatized Emily found a weapon to defend herself with. Then Connor grabbed Emily. During the struggle Emily killed Connor. At the same time, Helena finally surfaced. Emily was cornered and facing the barrel of Helena's gun when Lucky managed to jump in the path of the bullet.
While Lucky lingered in a coma, Emily struggled to deal with her rape. She pulled away from Nikolas and found understanding from an unlikely source: Sonny Corinthos. Nikolas turned to his new friend, Courtney Matthews to talk about his crumbling marriage. Things heated up between Courtney and Nikolas; when Emily found out, she ended her marriage to Nikolas. Sonny offered Emily a place stay so that she could come to terms with her rape. As time passed, Sonny and Emily fell in love. Unfortunately her happiness with Sonny was marred by Sonny's increasing irrational behavior. He would go from enthusiastically happy to deeply depressed and violent. Jason was forced to take a stand when Sonny became a danger to himself and those around him. Eventually Sonny was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Sonny decided it would be best to end his relationship with Emily, to spare her a life with someone struggling with his condition. It would take time for Sonny to trust his medication and therapy.
Emily threw herself into her studies. Within time, Emily and Nikolas found their way back to each other. Nikolas had been newly united with his son, whom Jax had claimed as his own following Courtney's death to the viral epidemic that swept Port Charles. When Helena kidnapped little Spencer, Emily teamed up with Nikolas and helped him rescue his son. Nikolas and Emily fell in love and settled into their lives
Emily's happiness was marred by the violent death of her father, Alan Quartermaine during the Metro-Court hostage crisis. Emily, Nikolas, the Quartermaines and others were gathered at the Metro-Court for a fundraiser when armed gunmen seized the lobby and took those present as hostages. Emily and Nikolas were among them. Emily was forced to choose between her best friend, Elizabeth, who was suffering from premature contractions and her father who had suffered a massive heart attack. She struggled with the decision but with Elizabeth's insistence, Alan was released.
It would be too late for Alan. Shortly after the hostage crisis came to an explosive end, Alan passed away with Monica at his side. Emily helped her family cope with the loss while Nikolas gave Emily strength. Shortly after Alan was buried, Mr. Craig resurfaced. Mr. Craig, the leader of the hostage takers, injected Nikolas with a poison that required an antidote every 24 hours. He demanded that Nikolas help him establish a new identity and life. Nikolas reluctantly agreed while Robin, Patrick and Emily raced to figure out a cure for the poison Nikolas was being tortured with. Mr. Craig would often wait until Nikolas suffered violent seizures and chest pains before giving Nikolas the life saving serum.
Robin and Patrick did find what they believed could be an antidote after they managed to get a small sample of the serum. They gave it to Nikolas as a last ditch effort to save his life when time ran out and Jerry wasn't around to give Nikolas his dose. The antidote worked and Nikolas made a full recovery. At least it seemed so. Months later, Nikolas began developing periods of rage when he would get upset. He would not remember anything he did during these infrequent episodes so it was awhile before Emily began to realize that Nikolas was in trouble. Determined not to let anything mar their happiness, Nikolas agreed to have tests but decided to give Emily a special night. After Emily talked about how special she always found the Bacchanalia Balls, Nikolas suggested they throw their own gala. The Black and White Ball was the event of the season and was in part to honor and make a grand donation to General Hospital in Alan Quartermaine's name.
Emily had reservations about the ball as Nikolas' bouts of rages increased in frequency and intensity but Nikolas insisted on moving ahead with the plans. The gala was set for Halloween Night, October 31. Before they joined their guests, Nikolas asked Emily to marry him. She gladly accepted and they went downstairs to make their happy announcement. The evening would soon turn into a nightmare. Anthony Zacchara, a rival mob boss who was completely insane, went to Spoon Island on the night of the Black and White Ball in the hopes of finding Lulu Spencer and killing her. Before long, the elegant ball was a nightmare. A raging storm moved in cutting the guests off from the mainland. Stuck on Spoon Island in a blackout, the guests were forced to hide in fear for their lives as one by one the guests were murdered including Emily. After one of Nikolas' rages, Jason was forced to tie him to a chair in the ballroom and take Emily to safety. Emily refused to be separated from Nikolas and returned to the ballroom the first opportunity she found. It would be a fatal decision. Nikolas had been untied earlier and was desperately looking for Emily. When they reunited in the ballroom, Nikolas was quite agitated. Nikolas ended up unconscious and when he came-to, he found Emily's body with a thick rope still wrapped around her throat.
Emily was the victim of the Text Message Killer, who was later revealed to be Diego Alcazar. He confessed that he had murdered Emily because she was Jason Morgan's sister and he had wanted to cause pain to Jason and Sonny to avenge his father's death.
Emily's ghost appeared in April of 2013 and paid a visit to her mother Monica and her aunt Tracy. Emily's ghost arrived as Tracy and Monica bickered and her ghost was joined was joined by the ghosts of her father Alan and Monica's former lover Rick Webber. The spirits emphasized the importance of family and encouraged Tracy and Monica to set aside their differences. The ghosts disappeared when Monica and Tracy took the message to heart and temporarily called a truce.