Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Best and the Worst of the Whedonverse Deaths

Before I get started, I just want you to know that this post will be riddled with spoilers from Firefly, Buffy (show and season 8 comic), Angel, Cabin in the Woods, Dollhouse, and Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. So Katy, stop reading. 

I read this article the other day and I decided I wanted to fix it. Cause, let's face it, the woman who wrote this article was generally wrong. Not just in the order of many of the characters, but she completely left out some major characters and put in some non-major characters. Some people... 

For better or worse, Joss Whedon is known for killing off characters. Joss has been very open about how much he hates this reputation. I'm sure he gets tired of hearing questions like, "who are you going to kill off this time?" but I for one would love to see more characters die off in general. In my mind, writers like Joss and George R.R. Martin are defined by so many more things, but they are also willing to kill off characters. Martin more than Whedon by a long shot. Whedon has never killed off "essential" characters without bringing them back to life. With Martin, no one is essential. Except Arya, Jon, Tyrion, and Danerys. I might stop reading if one of those four dies. 

This raises the stakes because you know (almost) no one is safe and I'm a big fan of that kind of anxiety in my fantasy/sci fi material. Except when it's Supernatural and it kills off every single person. Then it just gets predictable and boring. I don't watch that show anymore, but I'm sure they'll ax Felicia Day sometime soon. She's been in what, 5 episodes maybe? It's about that time... Wow. I haven't watched that show in over a season and apparently I'm still not over how bad it got. 

Anyway, here's my list of least to most devastating Whedonverse deaths. I have one rule for including characters: they have to be main characters. This means I won't be including Bennett from Dollhouse, Jonathan or Warren from Buffy (as fantastic as Warren's death was), Darla from Angel and Buffy (although I really would have only counted her death in Angel since she was only in a handful of episodes in Buffy and we never saw her out of vampire face), or The World in Cabin in the Woods (even though that was pretty fantastic as well). 

I also need to make the caveat that being sent to a hell dimension doesn't count as dying. I'm also including season 8 of Buffy but only season 8 because I haven't started season 9 yet even though I have the first three issues waiting for me on my bookshelf. I'm not including After the Fall or Angel and Faith because I haven't read those yet. 

16. Paul Ballard

I was not sad when Paul died because I was not happy while he was there. The show is a good one, but Paul Ballard was not a part of that. I still can't decide if it was the actor or the character, but I just wasn't a fan. I can't even remember how he dies. 

15. Giles

Giles' death felt very forced and not at all moving. Forced because I still have no idea what the hell was going on with Angel. He was possessed by Twilight or The Twilight, but there was a lot surrounding those events that just didn't make sense to me. There's a lot of that in the comic series, actually. But I'll keep reading as long as Buffy is on the cover. It wasn't moving because I wasn't attached to Giles anymore. I've heard it said that Giles' character didn't work in the comic format, and that's probably true. I'll go back and read them again someday, but Giles kind of became not so essential before the TV series ended. Which makes me sad, but it left something wanting from his death that was supposed to leave you feeling shocked. 

14. Buffy

Don't get me wrong, Buffy's death was touching. I love her final speech and she gives her life not for the world, but for her sister. It's cute. But it's not that sad. It's sad because the Scoobies are sad (Spike's reaction is the saddest), but you know Buffy's coming back so it's not that big of a deal. Although for a minute there in season 6 I really did think the rest of the series was going to be with the Buffybot.  

13. Anya

This is one of the places where I agree with the author. Anya deserved more than the death she got. She's one of my all time favorite characters in anything let alone Buffy, and she should have had a better death than getting cut in half by a random lackey ubervamp. 

12. Sheppard Book

Book's death was sad more because of the lost potential. Like Firefly. But not sad because 1. he wasn't in Serenity enough and 2. come on, who didn't see that coming? 

11. Penny

I probably wouldn't care so much about Penny's death if it wasn't Felicia Day, but I've had a crush on her since she was Vi in Buffy so it stung. 

10. Cordelia

This one wasn't as bad as it could be because the show prepares you for it. First her body is taken over by a higher being (although you don't know that yet) and does all sorts of terrible, icky things and then she's in a coma for about a season and comes back for one episode. By the time she died, you were already used to her not being there. 

9. Spike

I know Spike comes back, but unless you watched Angel you don't know that so I'm still including him. What I love (and hate) about Spike's death is his last exchange with Buffy. "I love you." "Know you don't. But thanks for saying it." For years watching this it made me sad, but it doesn't much anymore. She totally loved him. Ask Joss. Spike just said that because he knew he couldn't be around for her to love him so it was something to make him feel better in his last moments. Or something. Either way, it's sad. 

8. Jenny

So, I wasn't so sad because Jenny died. I wasn't even sad because Angelus killed her. By the way, Angelus is an extraordinarily better character than Angel. Anyway, I was sad because of what it did to the Scoobies. And how it happened. That was a pretty brutal scene for Giles to walk in on.  

7. Wash

"I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I-"

6. Doyle

I've heard that Joss had Doyle die because he always wanted to kill someone who showed up in the opening credits. He hadn't done that with Buffy except in the series finale so it makes sense. Doesn't make it any harder to handle. Doyle was such a fantastic character. 

5. Topher

We're getting into the "I cry every time, doesn't matter how many times I've seen it" territory. Topher's death is heartbreaking for two reasons. First, he is hands down the best character in Dollhouse by a ridiculously long shot. Second, what he becomes in Epitaph II is heartbreaking in and of itself. He goes from being a carefree, hilarious genius to being a broken, tortured genius. He created the tech that brought down society not knowing how powerful it was and he gave his life to fix it. It was a great death though. 

4. Wesley

This one sucks. So much. I wonder if Joss would have killed off just about every character if Angel hadn't ended where it did. Wesley is lying there dying, looking at the demon living in the body of the woman he's loved unrequited for years minus maybe three episodes ago when they finally got together. 

"Would you like me to lie to you now?" "Yes. Thank you, yes." 

He's with Fred when she dies, Fred is with him when he dies. That's the only good thing about it. That and Illyria punching the magician demon guy through the head. 

3. Joyce

As far as characters go, Joyce was expendable. But The Body is one of TV's finest pieces of work. It's the only non-mystical death in the Buffyverse and it's gut wrenching. I didn't know it could be any harder to watch, but turns out your mom getting cancer makes a lot of things (movies about cancer patients or moms dying in TV shows) 100% worse to get through. I've never had anyone that close to me die, but I imagine it's a lot like this episode. Minus the vampire at the end.

2. Tara

Oh, Tara. Probably my favorite under-utilized character. Pretty much every member of the Scoobies had something going on in their own right, but Tara's stories always revolved around Willow. Except for that one episode with Amy Adams. Tara really annoyed me the first couple times I watched Buffy, but she's grown on me more than any other character. I love watching her slowly come out of her shell and her relationship with Willow is one of my favorites in the Whedonverse. Except when Willow started playing with her memories. That sucked. Her death sucked too. And actually, her death wasn't mystical either. Stupid guy with a stupid gun. But her death did cause Willow to go into some super interesting places. Although I hate Kennedy. If Tara hadn't died, Willow wouldn't have started dating Kennedy. I would have been more than okay with that. 

1. Fred

Sigh... This is the only death that still makes me not only sad, but mad. There was a purpose to most other deaths to move the story along. They were sad, but they worked. Not so with Fred. The only reason they killed off Fred was to showcase Amy Acker's acting abilities. And don't get me wrong, she does a phenomenal job as Illyria and Illyria would have been one of the most interesting characters if the series had continued (I really hope they do good things with her in the comics I will eventually read). But I miss Fred. There's nothing about Illyria I don't love, but I love Fred more. Plus, they had to go and make it even worse by having Illyria basically eat Fred's soul. She's just not dead, she's gone forever. For someone raised in a very religious household, that's rough. 

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