Joss Whedon

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This man will kill your nerd crushes. [1]

"Always be yourself... unless you suck."

Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon, you Bastard!

Joseph Hill Whedon (born 1964) is a scriptwriter, director, cameo actor, television producer through his famed Mutant Enemy production company, Comic Book author, and as of the live movie-theater broadcast of This American Life a singer. Joss comes from a family of talented writers, and is one of the first third-generation television writers.

Best-known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, the famously-canceled cult hit Firefly and its motion picture, Serenity, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Justice League.

Whedon's characters and scripts are famous among his fans for containing a dry, caustic wit. He can be counted on to do something completely unexpected in every new series. In Buffy, he listed a regular guest-star in the opening credits for the first time -- only to kill her off in that very episode. He also gets a lot of praise from feminists for his strong female characters.

Whedon delights in defying the audience's expectations. for example, rather than killing a major character, he'll kill off a lesser-known but much more endearing character. In the DVD commentary for Serenity, Whedon explains that he likes doing such things because people expect the hero to die or be horribly injured at some point during the production -- but they don't expect the minor characters to die, so the impact is much greater. Unfortunately, at this point he's done this so often that nobody expects the characters they like to live.

Since Justice League came out, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa called out his abusive behavior on set once Zack Snyder left. Buffy and Firefly cast members also called out Joss' behavior on the sets of his shows. For example, Whedon fired Charisma Carpenter while she was pregnant during the filming of Angel season 4 despite returning for the 100th episode.

Not to be confused with Joss Stone.

Joss Whedon is the Trope Namer for:
List of Works

Films written:

Films directed:

Films Produced:

Television Work:

As Creator/Executive Producer/Director

As Writer/Guest Writer:

As Director:

As Actor

  • Veronica Mars (Douglas the car rental office boss in "Rat Saw God")

Comics written:

Web Original projects:

One warning - when approaching his work, whatever the medium, expect angst. Lots and lots of angst. Even when it's a really, really bad idea. And even after, or in the midst of, a previously comic storyline or situation. And don't get attached to anyone, because they're going to die in the name of "dramatic value". But only if the network doesn't do it first.

Also, be prepared for more tropes than you can shake a stick at.

Joss Whedon provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Abusive Parents / Parental Abandonment: A staple of the Jossverse, sometimes lampooned. For the Freudians out there, Joss' parents split before he turned 10.
  • Action Girl: Very common. Though Whedon himself doesn't think this should even be a trope. He once recounted how interviewers always ask why he writes so many strong, competent female characters, saying he always wants to yell at them about why they aren't asking every other writer why they don't write these kinds of character.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • Buffy/Angel: Jesse, Jenny Calendar, Doyle, Tara, Anya, Lilah (sorta), Cordelia, Fred, Wesley, Lindsey. Not to mention Buffy herself. Twice. And Angel, come to think of it. And Spike.
      • Giles was recently killed in the Season 8 Buffy comics. When asked why, Whedon said, "I wanted to make all this matter and have something that would send emotional ripples through all the characters. Also, I’m a prick."
    • Firefly/Serenity: Shepherd Book, Wash.
    • Dollhouse: Topher Brink, Boyd Langton, Paul Ballard, Mellie!November, and Bennett Halverson. And considering the Epitaphs, quite possibly everyone you don't see, like Ivy. This trope is also subverted), in that Victor and Sierra actually live - most fans expected at least one to die.
    • Dr Horrible: Penny.
    • Titan A.E.: Inverted with Gune, played brutally straight with Korso and Preed, hinted at with Cale's father.
    • The Avengers: Agent Coulson.
    • Astonishing X-Men: Kitty Pryde
  • Author Appeal: Likes to give a few of his characters English accents (Joss attended school in Britain), like The Watchers, Spike, Adelle, and that Badger fellow.
  • Badass: Many kinds of badass.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: The source of much Whedon comedy.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: River, Drusilla, Alpha, Hawkeye.
  • Buffy-Speak: While he didn't invent it, Joss and his shows had a big hand in changing the way TV and movie characters talk, especially white teenagers. This isn't because he likes it so much as it's how he speaks.
  • Bury Your Gays
  • Chiaroscuro: The man adores negative space.
  • Creator Cameo: Numfar! Do the dance of joy! He's also made two self-inserts in the Buffy comics line.
  • Deus Angst Machina, Diabolus Ex Machina, usually combined with Too Happy to Live below.
  • Family Business: Members of the Whedon family have been writing for television practically since the medium's inception, and then, of course, there are his brothers.
  • Foot Focus: Before there was River, there was Dawn. ...And Fred. And Eve. And Lilah. (Wesley even serves as Author Avatar on that one.)
    • Notably, both Summer Glau and Michelle Trachtenberg have a background in ballet, which was incorporated into their roles. The former played a ghost ballerina on Angel, while the latter got a dance sequence all to herself in the Musical Episode.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Malcolm Reynolds is deeply bitter against God/Christianity after losing a war. Nathan Fillion himself stated that Mal is actually a Nay Theist who's pissed off after the Serenity Valley.
  • I Call It Vera: "Mutant Enemy" was originally the name of his typewriter in school.
  • Kill the Cutie: Joss Whedon is a sick, sick man.
  • Mood Whiplash: All. The. Time.
  • Old Shame: The unaired Buffy pilot. It's on Youtube if anyone's interested. Also, the film.
    • Whedon was asked by IGN Film Force in June 2003 about the unaired presentation:

IGNFF: Is the presentation ever going to make it to DVD?
Whedon: Not while there is strength in these bones.
IGNFF: Well, I mean, it's one of the most heavily bootlegged things on the Internet.
Whedon: Yeah. It sucks on ass.
IGNFF: Yeah, it does, but it's sort of that archival, historical perspective...
Whedon: Yeah, I've got your historical perspective.

  • Phrase Catcher: Joss Whedon, you Bastard!
  • Production Posse: Some actors achieved a "hat trick" of appearing as different characters in all three of his series. The most notable of these actors is Jonathan M. Woodward. Not only did Woodward appear in all three of Whedon's shows(Holden Webster in Buffy; Knox in Angel and Tracy in Firefly), his character died in each instance.
    • Carlos Jacott, best known for shooting Bill Henrickson in the finale of Big Love, played the smarmy villain Ken in the Buffy episode "Anne". He would later appear on Angel ("Bachelor Party") and Firefly ("Serenity").
    • Amy Acker (Angel) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) both resurfaced on Dollhouse after the demise of their respective shows. Acker would later be cast in The Cabin in the Woods.
    • Adam Baldwin and Gina Torres were salvaged from Firefly to play villains on Angel. Morena Baccarin was slated to appear (also as a baddie), but Fox execs nixed the idea. And, of course, Nathan Fillion was a recurring villain in Buffy's last season.
    • Alexis Denisof is a frequent collaborator. In addition to playing Wesley on Buffy and Angel, he had a surprise voiceover in The Avengers (as Thanos's right hand man The Other) and is Benedick in Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing.
    • Jeremy Renner, who plays Clint "Hawkeye" Barton in The Avengers, previously played a vampire on Angel way back in 2000.
    • Gnarl, the Gentleman, the Ubervamp, and the Prince of Lies were all the same guy: Camden Toy.
    • Andy Umberger was D'Hoffryn on Buffy, a crazy psychosurgeon on Angel, and an Alliance Captain in the Firefly pilot.
  • Put on a Bus: Numerous characters, but most notably Kitty Pryde during his run on Astonishing X-Men. Particularly shocking, considering how much he loved the character ( she's often cited as an inspiration for Buffy). Obviously, another writer undid it. But still...
  • Screwed by the Network: Arguably considered the Trope Codifier by many, the most notable of this being Firefly.
  • Straw Misogynist: At least one in each of his television shows. Even for the short-lived Firefly. And as to be expected, they all suffer violent deaths at the hands of women.
  • Stuffed in The Fridge: This guy has more people in his fridge than Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the biggest kill counts in TV history. When someone asked him why he killed off so many women, he replied "My personal life is not on trial here!"
  • Too Happy to Live: Everything Whedon writes. If fans see a happy character, they know bad things are coming. Funnily enough, this happened to an entire series (Firefly) for Whedon.
  • Trolling Creator: His constant killing and breaking all of his sweet lovable characters definitely makes him one.
  • Waif Fu: He's very fond of this.
  1. Well, first he'll make them, then he'll kill them.