*Shi Dongqing - Father of Jianing, Jiamin, and TIngli . He abandoned Jianing, Jiamin, and their mother in order to expand his business empire, marrying a rich woman while tolerating the condescending and quasi-abusive behaviours of the woman. He and his wife went bankrupt after the dodgy financial dealings of their company were exposed, and were eventually killed by Jay Fang.
First Shi Family
*Shi Jianing - A fish stall operator at a bazaar, she is called "Grouper Maid" by her friends. Her father, in the pursuit of wealth, abandoned her when she was young, which generated much hate between the two persons.
*Shi Jiamin - The younger sister of Jianing. Due to the lack of supervision, she has turned bad, and was eventually murdered by Jay Fang.
Second Shi Family
*Ma Lilian - Mother of Tingli. She came from a rich family, and built the Ma Corporation from the ground up. She is a domineering figure, tolerating no dissent to her orders, and treats her husband, Shi Dongqing, quite badly. Her relations with Shi Dongqing's estranged family were bad, and her demeanors towards Shi Jianing eventually led Jianing to exact revenge, bankrupting Ma and her husband. Both were later killed by Jay Fang.
*Shi Tingli - A medical student at the university, her life is controlled by her domineering mother. She befriended Jianing, who, unbeknownst to her, is her elder sister. She was raped by Jay Fang, with whom she had a relationship before.
*Fang Huakang - An elderly businessman, who is the founder of Huakang Berhad . His ascent to wealth has been tainted by selling fake medicines and deaths of one of his relatives, who was Fang Yucheng's father.
*Fang Yucheng - An educated professional who is on good terms with Dongliang and Jianing. His father was
*Fang Zhiyang - The elder son of the Fang Family. His pursuit for wealth led him and his other brother, Fang Zhirong, to hatch a kidnapping plot on their father.
*Jay Fang Zhijie - Returned to Malaysia after recently graduating abroad. Unbeknownst to all, he is mentally ill, and exacts revenge on women through rape and murder. He murdered Shi Jiamin, but was not punished. He also raped Shi Tingli, and murdered her parents. He was eventually accidentally killed by Fang Yucheng.
*Tie Dongliang - A young man whose hot-headed demeanors earned him the title "Iron Head" . He, along with Jianing and Yucheng, are the central three characters in the entire series.
The story centers on the struggles of two of the three main characters of the series: Fang Yucheng and Shi Jianing. Shi Jianing was born in a moderately rich family, but her father, Shi Dongqing, abandoned the family to seek greater wealth by marrying a rich woman, even when his first wife was gravely ill. Jianing, faced with the loss of her mother, hated her father ever since, and vowed to exact revenge, especially after her father, upon orders from his domineering second wife, accidentally ran her over with a car, and later went to jail on assault . The death of her sister, Jiamin, also spurred her to exact revenge.
Jianing eventually succeeded in destroying her father's business empire after her discovery that her father's company, the Ma Corporation, succeeded in getting listed on the Stock Exchange after committing accounting fraud. Shi Dongqing's family went broke overnight, while his second wife suffered a stroke after went to Jianing's house to attack her. Successful as it was, Jianing's revenge came at a cost: her friend, Tie Dongliang's father, was accidentally murdered by an accountant of the now defunct Ma Corporation, who provided Jianing with the evidence of the fraud and was now ruined. This severely damaged her relations with Tie Dongliang, with whom she had a on-and-off love relationship. Jianing only let go of her anger for her father after he and his second wife were killed by Jay Fang.
The second arc focused on Fang Yucheng, who lost his father in an accident early in his life. He vowed to attain great wealth, going to no ends to achieve them, even working for the man who was responsible for his father's death: Fang Huakang.
In the end, the drive for revenge and wealth had ruined many person's lives, and all the characters realized that they can return to a happier time when they return back to where they started.
Differences between Rising Expectations and The Beginning
Although this drama was based on the 1997 Television Corporation of Singapore drama series , many plot differences exist between the two series.
*Jiahui's character in the original was much colder and uncompromising in her quest for revenge, compared to the remake.
*Shi Jianing's father in this remake was more sympathetic towards his daughter, although he is still as submissive to his wife.
*In this remake, Tie-Tou was a hothead as compared to the original .
*In the original, Shi Tou's character had his leg crippled by hitmen sent by Xiaofei, while in the remake, Yucheng and Tie-Tou fought Jay their common enemy. Jay was the one who injured Tie-Tou and he wasn't sent by Yucheng.
* In the original, Xiaofei was the illegimate son of the boss he works for, while in the remake, Yucheng was the son of his boss' older brother.
*Jay was the character in both versions who raped Tingli and caused misery among the four leads. However in the original, Jack isn't infatuated with Tingting .
*The settings of the original is at the Singapore river, while in the remake, the settings is now based on Malaysia.
*Shi Jianing's nickname was "Grouper Maid" in the remake, while the original had her nicknamed as "Fish Maid".
This drama series has recorded one of the lowest viewership ratings to date in Singapore, while recording the highest ratings in Malaysia.