web
counter

the walking dead / snl / mindhole blowers / netflix / celebrity facts / marvel / liveblogging the 90s


Joss the Beloved Character Slayer: Deconstructing One of the Director's Most Common Tropes (**UPDATED**)

By Rob Payne | Think Pieces | October 2, 2012 | Comments ()


pajibajosstheslayer.jpg

Joss Whedon, the creative force behind many of our favorite things from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to "Firefly" to The Avengers, has long held the label of the deadliest man in show business. The bloody reputation is one that Whedon himself bristles against, noting how many writers and filmmakers have killed off their and their fans' favorite characters for hundreds, even thousands of years. Shakespeare, he points out, often killed off large chunks of his casts, and that guy seemed to produce some pretty keen works. Of course, that forgets or conveniently ignores that Shakespeare also often had history dictating who lived and who died, and that quite frequently his fictionalized deaths brought a certain amount of comeuppance to those who, perhaps, morally deserved it. (I'm looking at you, Macbeths.) It would be much harder to argue, as I hope to prove below, that when a major character dies in the Whedonverse it is not likely "deserved" in the same way that audiences expect or necessarily want. Whatever he thinks about his material, Whedon's reputation of the beloved character slayer is rightfully earned.

So, in honor and celebration of The Avengers hitting DVD/Blu-ray this week -- a movie where, whether it was initially his idea or not, continues this killer trend -- I've attempted to break down the different ways major characters have perished in the TV shows and films of Joss Whedon. "Major characters" ought to be read as those whose presence in the show or movie were consistently present and had an impact on the overall narratives more times and with greater resonance than a monster-of-the-week; also, unless otherwise noted, villains do not count, though reformed ones can. What follows is an examination of who died and how, and what meanings those deaths may or may not have had in the stories or to viewers, and attempts to broach the whys and wherefores when possible. Naturally, and this really ought to go without saying, ***SPOILERS*** are in abundance.

(I also recommend checking your emotional attachment to these characters at the digital door, because things are about to get heavy up in here.)


Killed in Action

pajibajosstheslayerwash.jpg

Considering the nature of Whedon projects, it isn't too surprising that a decent chunk of the characters that have perished under his authorship were slain while in the midst of performing their duties. Slaying vampires and hunting demons, running from the space-military and space-terrorists, trying to be a super villain, surviving the apocalypse, and fighting off an alien invasion are pursuits that, for realism's sake, anyway, ought to leave a trail of dead in their wake. As heartbreaking as it might be to see Anya get sliced in half, to see Wesley's dying goodbye to the woman he loved, to see Wash impaled after saving the day, to see Paul Ballard take an errant bullet in the middle of a war zone, or, finally, to see Agent Phil Coulson fail to take on a literal god by himself - and every single one of them were oh, so heartbreaking - at least they all died with a sense of purpose and for a reason. Like every soldier on the battlefield who loses his or her life because an enemy soldier, who is simply trying to survive themselves, each and every one of these characters are heroes in the context of their fictional worlds. With the exception of one, each of the KIAs mentioned here also served a narrative purpose; usually to spur on the surviving characters to keep fighting or to steel their resolve in the rectitude of their respective missions. Even Kendra*, the slayer called after Buffy's first temporary demise, is given a meaningful death at the hands of Drusilla because it's an act that forces Buffy into taking the action necessary to defeat the big bads.

pajibajosstheslayerwesley.jpg

The only character that doesn't fall under that second rubric of narrative impact, and perhaps this is the reason her death still lingers after all these years as the most senseless and painful, is Anya. (Anya Christina Emanuella Jenkins, if you're nasty). The ex-man-flaying-demon had survived several apocalypses and one defunct relationship before the series finale of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and then, at very nearly the last possible second, she is cut literally in twain by unseen vampire warrior. Only the reformed wannabe-villain Andrew witnesses her death, after cowering from the final fight, so only he can relate her heroics to the rest of the Scoobs; particularly Anya's lost love, Xander. While it could be argued that Anya's death saved Andrew - indeed, he certainly argues that - since it comes at the very end of the series - and, like Star Wars, we aren't counting the expanded universe of the comics - there's really no narrative thrust necessary for it. The characters aren't motivated by it, at least not in the ultimate scene after the Hellmouth has swallowed up all of Sunnydale, because there's nothing left to do but fade to black and let the credits roll.

pajibajosstheslayeranya.jpg

It is certainly reasonable that, in order to give the series finale the weight it truly deserved, some of the good guys (our guys, by this point) had to die. Neither we nor Whedon want a series comprised entirely of Mary Sues and Marty Stus, after all. But plenty of recently slayers and potentials already fell in the battle, and the unlikeliest of heroes would already save the day by sacrificing himself, so why did Anya need to die? Why not Andrew, who had no business being in a fight to the death with an army of super vampires to begin with? Why not Xander, a series regular from the beginning, whose loss truly would have been felt by every surviving character and would have surprised audiences even more? Why not lots of things? Why did the one narratively needless major character death in the entirety of the Buffy series have to be Anya? The most obvious answer is that if without her, there would have been no major female characters in the entire Whedon catalog, and not just "Buffy," who were killed in the service of the greater good rather than victims of random acts of violence. But that isn't very satisfying. The only logically acceptable answer is that she had already gotten to live, or exist, for a millennia and her time on Earth should have ended long ago; and so any other character dying in the finale would be inherently unfair. But that answer is hardly acceptable at all.


Heroic Sacrifice

pajibajosstheslayerbuffy.jpg

The heroic sacrifice is probably best described by Leonard Nimoy as Spock in Wrath of Khan: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. In terms of major characters stepping up and biting the bullet to protect others in spite of themselves, Whedon certainly knows how to strike the right chords to evoke an resonant, emotional response. Spike sacrifices himself to save Buffy, and by extension the rest of the world, in the same series finale that unceremoniously killed off Anya. Half-demon Doyle sacrificed himself early on in "Angel" to save a bunch of other demons he didn't even know, and Angel's vampire paramour Darla, in the ultimate act of motherly love, stakes herself in order to save their unborn child. It could be argued that Shepherd Book's death in Serenity really belongs under the Killed in Action header, but the staging of his body at the AA gun makes it clear he was trying to give someone, anyone, else a chance to survive -- plus, it's sort of in his job description to sacrifice of himself. Despite having gone mad by the time "Epitaph Two" starts in "Dollhouse," Topher, knows exactly what he's doing when he sacrifices himself so that the world can be cured of the identity theft technology he helped to create. And then there's Agent Coulson from The Avengers, who, like Shepherd Book, is killed in action but he knew full-well, also like the preacher man, that he was probably going on a suicide mission by taking on an actual Norse god all by his lonesome. Even Buffy Summers**, the star of her own series, leapt headlong to her death (once literally so) in the hopes that doing so would keep the world spinning and mostly free of monsters.

pajibajosstheslayercoulson.jpg

Each of those moments elicited lumpy throats and red, watery eyes; even from viewers with the coldest of hearts. Similar to those killed in action, those sacrificed keep these fantastical tales grounded in a heightened reality, as well as raising the stakes and propelling the narrative for the characters and the audience. These deaths are often cited far less by Joss Whedon's fans as the writer/director callously manipulating their emotions, which is ironic because that's exactly what is happening and often in the most generic ways possible. All are well-crafted and affecting, but with the exception of Darla staking herself, none of these deaths are terribly surprising. Actually, they're often telegraphed, especially in regards to Buffy. For her part, the vampire slayer does get discounted some here, if only because there wasn't much suspense in her season one death -- Whedon had only just started messing with conventions -- and if season five had been the last, her death would have simply been a natural ending.

pajibajosstheslayerdarla.jpg

It is worth noting that Darla, like Anya, is the only female character (who isn't the star of her own show, where being heroic is required) who gets any sort of noble or meaningful death. Normally, I would exclude a character like Darla because of her natural state as a series villain, but by the time she was pregnant with Angel's son, the character had gone through enough changes, like Spike, to get credit where credit is due. She existed and, by her own doing, stopped existing, leaving an innocent child in her place. Hopefully Connor does something to honor Darla every Mother's Day. Then again, her sacrifice is also the only one that brings to mind somewhat troubling issues. After all, the scene could be used by the same people who rhetorically ask, What if Jesus had been aborted?, as a demonstration why all abortions should be illegal, even if the mother's health is at stake. No pun intended.*


Murdered

pajibajosstheslayerjenny.jpg

The second most common way that a character meets their end in the Whedonverse is through good, old fashioned Bible-sanctioned murder. This is markedly different than being killed in action or making a heroic sacrifice, most obviously in the sense that none of these people had a choice in the matter. Those in battle always chose to fought and those who gave their lives always did so accepting their fate. It may or may not hold up in court, but if you can't choose and accept your violent death, then you've been murdered. It began with Whedon's first major character death, when the de-ensouled Angelus broke Jenny Calendar's neck and didn't even bother to drink her and continued in "Buffy" when Tara was shot by the douchiest (most douchey?) of the Trio, Warren. "Angel" only saw one real major character murder, the supposedly sadistic lawyer, Lilah, dispatched by a god-possessed Cordelia. Nobody in the "Firefly" 'verse was murdered, but Dr. Horrible was basically all about how one character's desire to hurt others winds up hurting himself the most, no offense to Penny, who was also clearly effected by those events. In "Dollhouse," Bennett Halverson is mercilessly shot in the head by Whiskey, under orders from Agent Boyd, immediately following her first kiss with Topher. Boyd himself is blown up not long after, and it's an even more warped scene because he's been mentally wiped at the moment, but he was also revealed as the series' biggest bad and villains don't really get counted here because that's pretty much exclusively how Whedon deals with ending their stories.

pajibajosstheslayertara.jpg

Fairly or not, these murders are definitely the major character deaths that Whedonites rue the most. Ms. Calendar and Lilah get a pass, the former for being a legitimately game changing moment for "Buffy" and all of Whedon's work and the latter, like Boyd or Darla, met her genre's necessary end. However, in the context of when it takes place in the series, Tara getting shot feels exceptionally cruel to loyal viewers (more on that in a bit), though it does serve a narrative purpose for season six's final three episodes. But doesn't that make it sound even crueler? Similarly, by the time Penny dies, also accidentally, loyal fans had already seen twelve other well-liked or much-adored characters snuffed out. It was at this point, really, that people began to realize just how committed Joss Whedon is to killing characters off, and for whatever purposes he deems necessary at the time. Sometimes for shock value, sometimes for poignancy, and sometimes for storytelling expediency. That's why most deaths in "Dollhouse" were met with responses akin to, "About time" or "I knew it!", with only suddenness and the fact that Summer Glau still had shades of River Tam -- and Whedon would never kill off River Tam -- that made Bennett's death so shocking in the moment. Still, the murders stick out as bruises that have never quite heeled.

pajibajosstheslayerpenny.jpg

Those bruises might linger because when it all boils down, every murder has a victim and being a victim of unexpected violence is one of the scariest threats we can comprehend. In that sense, Whedon is doing his job as an effective storyteller, which was never in question. None of us wants to be victimized, so seeing our favorite characters, usually played by our favorite actors, isn't quickly forgotten. There's no meaning to them. Of course, that's the point. We all crave meaning. But it is curious that practically every murdered major character was a woman, especially when one remembers that most of the non-victimized violent deaths were men; and the women who did get meaningful deaths were exceptions to the rules. Presumably this goes back to narrative expediency, with Whedon copping to psychological studies that show both men and women have more visceral reactions to witnessing female characters dying or in danger than we do for their male counterparts. So, it makes sense that making women victims gets to the heart of the matter more quickly. Yet the casts of these shows and movies are split pretty evenly down the middle of the sex line, which raises the question of why there aren't any non-villain male murder victims in the whole bunch.


Other

pajibajosstheslayerjoyce.jpg

It must now be pointed out that not every character whom Whedon deems kill-offable dies at the willing hands of someone else, or even in the fields of pitched battle. Some characters die due to various medical or mystical, or medical-caused-by-mystical, problems. The most obvious circumstance here involves Buffy's mom, Joyce Summers, in one of the series' (indeed, one of the TV medium's) finest episodes, "The Body." Her official cause of death is a brain tumor, but the cause of the affliction is indelibly linked to the magical creation of Dawn, the literal Key to stopping or starting one of many end of world scenarios -- contextually via her sudden appearance in the show, and narratively due to Summers family DNA needed for said Key magic. Similarly, Cordelia's mostly off-screen passing in "Angel" is a consequence of her godly possession in the fourth season, first leaving her in a comatose state and then, finally, killing her. Following that pattern almost perfectly, Fred -- wonderful, delightful, adorable Fred -- ceases to exist entirely when her body is also possessed by a demon god from another dimension. The only major character death that isn't related to magic, and doesn't fall under the other three scenarios above, is November/Mellie's suicide in "Dollhouse." That said, however, her mind has been taken over by forces more powerful than she can handle on her own, making the Rossum Corporation's meddling the science fiction version of all that mysticism in Whedon's other projects.

pajibajosstheslayerfred.jpg

Regardless that these deaths don't align 1:1 to like those in the earlier sections, they're all connected thematically to loss of personal control and an unwillingness (or inability) to accept their altered situations. Even though November's self-inflicted gunshot wound is the only death here that could be considered classically violent, all of them are forms of murder-by-rape. That isn't meant to be glib. The violence in these deaths is abundantly precent, it just happens to be metaphorical. Not only did Joyce have no choice in the matter of Dawn's creation, the male monk's who created her "daughter" never asked and wouldn't have taken NO for answer, anyway. While she certainly loved Dawn like she was real, it's debateable that she would have gone along with the Key magic had she been briefed beforehand. Likewise, when Doyle passed his powers onto Cordelia, powers that ultimately lead to her demise, he didn't ask for permission and he sacrificed himself before she even knew what happened. Fred is the same, only much worse. Not only was the death inflicted without her knowledge or acceptance, the act was so violent that it wiped her soul -- her entire essence -- from the face of existence and left in place a harder and less loving being in its wake. Because no matter that Ilyria, Fred's possessor, is still played by Amy Acker, or how much it grows on the characters and the audience by series end, it is not Fred. If that isn't an apt comparison to how some victims of actual rape react to what happens to them, I don't know what else it could be,

pajibajosstheslayerballard.jpg

Again, only November's suicide alters the pattern, ever so slightly. She does get to choose how she dies and, in order to save the man she loves, maybe even accepts the inevitability of her fate. But I hesitate to place her under the heroic sacrifice banner, simply because the actions leading up that moment in the penultimate episode of "Dollhouse" is riddled with manipulation and loss of control. She took the only option she felt was available to her, but she doesn't meet her end like a stalwart soldier, because she's a pawn not a knight. Like Joyce, Cordelia, and Fred -- as well as Penny, Tara, Ms. Calendar, and Bennett -- November is a victim of circumstances far beyond her control. Once more, obseve that despite two characters having traditionally masculine names, all the actual victims are female; again, per the rules of the genre, villains do not count. For whatever reason, none of the major male characters are victimized to the point of being killed in the process throughout Whedon's work. In fact, everyone's favorite would-be rapey vampire, Spike, is victimized over and over through "Buffy" and "Angel" but he always survives to wreak vengence upon his abusers, and he only seems to perish when he gets the chance to save the day.

pajibajosstheslayerspike.jpg

When I wrote about The Nolan Brunette this summer, I only wanted to point out the patterns in the director's work, and the same is true here. Below you'll find my very unscientific cataloging of everything I've touched upon here, and I've noted how all of these major character deaths break down by gender because a) it's fascinating on its own and b) it's even more fascinating considering that Joss Whedon is rightly hailed as a pioneer in his depiction of gender roles in his fiction, especially his treatment of women. Maybe this isn't an avenue worth pursuing, because it's highly unlikely any creator puts this much thought into observing their own tropes and so shouldn't be responsible for everything his or her characters do or do not do. But that elides the basic truth that all creative endeavors involve choices, conscious or not, and the only real person making those decisions is the author. After enough years and enough produced material, patterns will always emerge, and only then can we begin to ask what all of it adds up to, or whether there is has any meaning at all.

The pattern here seems pretty clear: Many characters get to be heroes in the worlds of Joss Whedon, and many die heroically, but only the non-male characters get to be victims when they die. So, how does one reconcile Whedon's deserved kudos for his treatment of women in genre fiction with the fact only the women, even (especially?) the empowered ones, wind up as victims when it's their turn to greet death? Does it make a difference that most of the women are victimized by the men in the various series and films? Is that the whole point?

Why did it have to be bunnies?

Joss Whedon Major Character Deaths, By the Numbers

Total Deaths = 21** (23-2)
Total Main Characters in all Projects: 65 (give or take; approximately 10 per)
Women = 12 (13-1)
Men = 9** (10 - 1)
Negated = 2 (1 man, 1 woman; villainy, lack of screen time)
KIA (killed in action) = 4.5 (2-1 women, 3.5 men, Coulson splits, non-victims)
Sacrificed (death accepted) = 6.5 (6; 2 women, 4.5 men, Coulson splits, non-victims)
Murdered (killed, not in action) = 6** (7 -1; 2 men, 5 women, victims)
Other (usually non-violent but for the metaphor, save for 1 suicide) = 4 (all women, victims)
Victims (murdered, other) = 11** (10 women, 1 man)
Non-Victims (KIA or sacrifice) = 10 (3 women, 7 men)

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
Ms. Calendar - Season 2, murdered
Kendra - Season 2, killed in action (negated due to lack of screen time in series)
Joyce - Season 5, complications due to brain tumor, Key magic
Buffy - Season 5, heroic sacrifice (not negated due to dying and resurrecting twice)
Tara - Season 6, murdered
Anya - Season 7, killed in action
Jonathan** - Season 6, murdered
Spike - Season 7, heroic sacrifice

"Angel"
Doyle - Season 1, heroic sacrifice
Darla - Season 3, heroic sacrifice
Lilah - Season 4, murdered
Cordelia - Season 5, complications due to coma
Fred - Season 5, complications due to godhood
Wesley - Season 5, killed in action

"Firefly"/Serenity
Shepherd Book - Serenity, heroic sacrifice
Wash - Serenity, killed in action

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Penny - Act 3, murdered

"Dollhouse"
November - Season 2, pre-Epitaph Two, suicide
Bennett Halverson - Season 2, pre-Epitaph Two, murdered
Boyd - Season 2, pre-Epitaph Two, murdered (negated due to villain revelation)
Ballard - Season 2, Epitaph Two, killed in action
Topher - Season 2, Epitaph Two, heroic sacrifice

The Avengers
Agent Coulson - The Avengers, killed in action and heroic sacrifice

* Seriously.

** UPDATE: Thanks to readers pointing it out, it's clear that I missed a rather important character death in the form of Jonathan. I don't know how I could forget him, as he's in several of my favorite "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episodes, but I did and I deeply regret that. He absolutely is a major, and a beloved, character who was murdered and was a victim throughout. As such, he helps to balance the gender scales a bit, but the number of women who died as victims still outweighs the men. For those who mentioned Holland Manners or Lindsey in "Angel," I stand by my Villains Don't Count Rule. In my reading of the series, Lilah had done enough over time to a) be considered a main character and b) a more equitable good-bad guy, like Darla or Spike. Thanks for reading and all the discussion!

Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here He could really use a drink.







Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Maeby

    "Nobody in the “Firefly” ‘verse was murdered..."

    Mr. Universe was, and although he wasn't a major character, I really enjoyed him.

  • Man, this list reminds me of just how much I hate Joss Whedon sometimes (Which leads to my soul being in perpetual torment as my utter hatred for him is in perpetual conflict with my intense man-love for him which makes me want to constantly rewatch Buffy, Angel, and Firefly). It's still painful seeing so many of those names on that list. In particular for me it's Joyce, Tara, Darla, Doyle, Cordelia, Fred, Wesley, Book, Wash, Penny, and Agent Coulson. PARTICULARLY Fred and Wesley (Probably because I've been rewatching a lot of Angel on Netflix lately). What a colossal bitch slap to the fans THAT was. And wow, I miss Doyle. What could Angel have been like if Doyle had stayed on the show? Poor Glenn Quinn. :(

    Anya was also painful, but in that particular case I'm willing to cut Whedon some slack. I know that Emma Caulfield specifically asked to be killed off, so that's why Anya met the fate she did. It sucked, and I adored Anya, but if the actress says "Kill me off. I don't ever intend to come back for a sequel or anything" then what can you do?

    Incidentally, Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) was in an episode of Angel during season 1. Fun coincidence, although Whedon neither wrote nor directed the episode.

  • Kibbeth

    OK, so maybe not a major character, but actually the Whedon death that got me the most was Miss Kitty Fantastico, and I think she's worth mentioning in any conversation about Whedon deaths, even if it doesn't fit into the theory behind this article. The casual way news of her off-screen death was just slipped in there, the nature of it and the total lack of repercussion always shocked me. It's the only truly pointless, senseless death that I can think of the the Whedonverse and I've always wondered why he did it.

  • Deb

    If you truly trace the cause of Cordelia's death back, it was due to heroic sacrifice. She gave up part of her humanity to become demonized so that she could retain the visions and help Angel. That was the start of Jasmine's plan to invade her body unbeknownst to Cordelia, and thus, the reason for her ultimate death. But even if you don't suscribe to that belief, to say she died from complications due to coma is a major simplification and injustice to what her character suffered. At the very least, she was killed by a former PTB while sacrificing herself for the good of humanity (rising onto the higher plane after being lied to by Skip) which was also a heroic death.

  • chasrmartin

    Then again, her sacrifice is also the only one that brings to mind somewhat troubling issues. After all, the scene could be used by the same people who rhetorically ask, What if Jesus had been aborted?, as a demonstration why all abortions should be illegal, even if the mother’s health is at stake.

    Yeah. God forbid a scene in someone else's story be potential material for a political position you don't like.

  • tamatha_uhmelmahaye

    Just for the record, since I don't recall actually seeing him die-just very badly wounded--I refuse to accept that Agent Phil Coulson died. He's in the ship's hospital bay recovering as far as I'm concerned. And Nick Fury just said he died to rouse the Avengers. And I don't want to hear anything to the contrary. I AM ENTITLED TO MY DELUSIONS.

  • ERM

    I HATED how all but one (Lyla) of the main female characters in Angel was killed by a kind of mystical pregnancy. Darla killed herself to let her magic baby-of-a-vampire live, Cordelia was killed "giving birth" to a God, and Fred was basically killed giving birth to a god too. HATED.

  • twig

    "Fred was basically killed giving birth to a god too."

    I agree with your other two but I think this one is stretching it.

  • ERM

    The Ilyria story-line was meant to happen to Cordelia. But she left the show after actually getting pregnant in real life. So they transferred it to Fred, and obviously had to change the way the God came into being, so they switched it up a bit. But it is the exact same story-line. Both died to make way for a God, who had to use their body to come into being. That doesn't sound like a stretch to me.

  • twig

    Except, for what I know, had the universe progressed a lot of Illyria's storyline would be about her sharing Fred's memories, and about the line of what was Illyria and what was Fred, so it wasn't just Fred being used as fodder for some new character - her identity was an important part of that particular plotline.

  • ERM

    That makes me feel slightly better. It still bothers me that they killed off every single female main character though (unless you count Harmony, which is debatable. She was a re-occurring character, but not really a main character).

    I think "Angel" was the opposite of "Buffy" with regards to the women = victims trope. Whedon stated that the idea of "Buffy" came from taking the trope of the helpless blond woman being in danger in a dark alley in need of a hero and subverting it so that the tiny blond woman is the hero. The premise of "Angel" seemed to be Angel saving helpless women in scary dark alleys. Then all the main female characters got killed.

    My point is, my "Angel" DVDs will stay dusty in my closet. My "Buffy" DVDs will remain on my shelf.

  • Whitney Pohl

    I'd argue that Jonathan's death would fall under Murder. He had no idea what Andrew was planning at the Hellmouth and Jonathan was a fairly regularly-appearing character (I think season 1 is the only season he doesn't appear in, but he was in the unaired pilot!), and I never really thought of him as a villain. Even in the sixth season, there was nothing "evil" about his actions. Immature, yes. Desperate to be liked and validated, yeah. But he also had a lot of respect for Buffy, and I've always seen his motivation in that season as wanting to prove that he is equal - possibly better than - Buffy.

  • Pentadactyl

    Mr Universe is a guy that got murdered.

  • Aimee

    I'm pretty sure Joyce's death has absolutely nothing to do with Key magic. That's why it was so shocking: it was so normal and unexpected and didn't seem right. I also wouldn't count Tara as murdered because, even though she wasn't given a choice, Warren wasn't aiming for her. That doesn't mean I hate Warren any less, he's still my least favorite character ever, but I'd personally classify her death under "other".
    And you said that there was no meaning to Anya's death, and that it didn't have to happen, but I disagree. Maybe there wasn't really any meaning, but I think that was the point. It was a battle, and people die in battle. It's inevitable. So I think that was Joss' reasoning behind it. You can't control who dies in battle, it's just something that happens.
    I also think it would be worth mentioning that one potential slayer who hanged herself. I don't remember her name, but I thought that was pretty significant, because she was basically talked into it by the First and caused a lot of drama in that episode.

  • It was more horrific because there was no magical explanation, just that sudden death happens, and there's nothing anyone can do about it...GoldenChance.notlong.com

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I don't know about the whole article. I think my ability to care about those characters is linked to the overall quality of the product. The only Whedon deaths I reacted to emotionally were Penny and Wash. With Coulson I got spoiled beforehand, so that's an outlier. The rest I couldn't care less about. I never even finished Angel and Dollhouse.

  • Colleeeeeeeen

    I like to think that his point in victimizing the women in their death makes the heroics of the women on the show that more meaningful.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Those bruises might linger because when it all boils down, every murder
    has a victim and being a victim of unexpected violence is one of the
    scariest threats we can comprehend.

    That piece seems a bit reach-y at the end, like force-fitting the material where it doesn't quite go in aid of a gender studies course. Sometimes a murder is meaningful enough as just a murder, whether it's the vengeful spirit of Groucho Marx, or that of Sigmund Freud doing the killing.

    I wonder if you didn't answer your own semi-question(*) in the line quoted above. The world is a dangerous place, bigger than any of us. Put female characters at the center of stories, and some of them will get killed, not because they are women, but because they're characters at the center of stories, standing in for all of use. The story isn't about *her* getting killed but about *someone* getting killed. If they were "everyman" plays centered on people with outies, they would be the ones killed off.

    Making the world safer or more comprehensible *because* the story is full of female characters would be pandering, or worse.

    Joss talks sometimes about an incomprehensible world, usually when he's talking about being an atheist (and mangling the true faiths he rejects, but the guy can't educate himself about every damn thing.) All the thrilling heroics live in that matrix - the world is unknowable, has no externally imposed meaning, and is way, way bigger than we little grubs. Now what? The real problem is how to live with that. Victims of murder make a really good metaphor in the story for the impersonal, meaningless, huge, overwhelming, random, accidentally-malicious world. Knowing that, now what? Every heroic choice made by some Whedon-hero is made in *that* world, where people get murdered for no reason, and you can't fix it.

    It's the women in Joss material who best answer how to live in a world like that - making their own meaning, and doing what they can even when that's not everything. Whedon's female characters are quiet about it. They've worked it out, and are doing the hardest thing in this world ... living in it. "When nothing we do matters, all that matters is what we do." It's the women who know this.

    Here's one example that gets no attention - at then end off Angel, Gun goes to his old friend at the shelter. The guy who's been making questionable compromises to gain power asks this *woman* what to do if you know the world is going to end. She says just what she is doing. She's *already* taken that trip through both making her own meaning, and being ultimately unable to fix the whole world. Gunn and Angel, Spike, Wesley & most of the male characters struggle far more with the simple, existential problem. Mal from Firefly is an exception - he, too has come to terms with the size of the world. I like to think Mal engaged in the war from the same POV. You win if you can, but the point is the trying, and the side you choose.

    (*) The next step goes: The "Feminist icon Joss Whedon kills off women *all the time* in his fiction and mostly as *victims*. Booooo. Booooo. Obviously a man, no matter how self-consciously, stridently "feminist" can't do it right, being permanently high on testosterone. Have you seen the balding?

    I exaggerate, of course, but sadly not by much.

  • Sarah

    What about Angel's death at the end of Season 2? (Originally meant to be permanent, but they brought him back so he could have a spinoff.)

    It's extremely complicated, because it gets into the thorny question of where the divide is between Angel and Angelus, but he did have a soul when he died, and all the actions leading up to his death were outside the soul's control. Also, Lindsey was murdered in Angel season 5. Yes, he was a villain, but he was fighting on the side of the heroes when he was killed. (Ironically, he has a girl's name.)

  • PerpetualIntern

    Did someone in the comment SERIOUSLY just spoil the ending of Cabin in the Woods? I tried to look away, but that movie is NEW, dude. And some of us haven't had a chance to see it yet. And we're supposed to go into it knowing nothing. Pajiba has been great about not saying anything. Not cool.

  • gp

    i told you this article was a bad idea.

  • That sucks, indeed. I've flagged it.

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    Anya's death will never fail to tear away at my tear ducts. It's funny how two seconds of screen time can make me go from completely fine, to hysterical mess.

  • AngelenoEwok

    Ugh, now I'm depressed forever. Jesus.

  • BuffyFan

    There's a glaring Buffy omission in here. Where is Jonathan? He was a beloved character who was murdered, plain and simple. He may have been one of The Three, but he wasn't really a villain, just a rejected guy looking for acceptance and finding it from the wrong people.

  • Three_nineteen

    And now a couple of points about Angel:

    1) Wesley only died because the show was canceled. Joss gave Alexis Denisof the choice of Wesley living or dying in the last episode, and Alexis chose to have Wesley die. (I wonder if he would have made the same choice if he knew there would be comics?)
    2) You forgot to include Lindsey McDonald as a major character death. He was definitely a victim. In fact, I would probably include Holland Manners also, because of his character's presence and the importance he had to Angel's character arc. Screentime is not the only way to judge who is a major character. (BtVS aside: I agree with SpruceMoose that Jesse is also a major character death).
    3) Joss has said that if AtS had gotten a sixth season, we would have discovered that Fred is actually still inside her body along with Illyria, and she would have started to fight Illyria for control. So the intent was not to kill off Fred. (Joss also said he planned for Oz to be in Season 6, for those who didn't know and can now be even more disappointed).
    4) As I said in response to someone else's comment, Doyle did not intend for his visions to pass to Cordelia. Skip specifically tells Cordy that The Powers That Be didn't know it would happen, when Doyle kissed her, so how could he know? Doyle was a little in love with Cordy and wanted to kiss her before he died.
    5) If Darla hadn't killed herself, Connor would have died. If Connor had died, there would have been no Jasmine. So in a way Darla was still serving evil when she staked herself (even though she didn't know it) and indirectly caused Cordy's death.

  • As much as I agree that Lindsey and Holland, and many others, are complicated and sympathetic, they were still villains and died as such. It's not black or white in terms of our human reaction, but for the purposes of this things had to be.

    Behind-the-scenes reasons don't matter here, either. If we're to consider that, we'd have to consider Fray, and then there's no end.

  • Three_nineteen

    By the way, I really enjoyed your article. I'm not trying to start an argument or anything, I just don't ever get to discuss the Buffyverse. I have friends who watched Firefly and Dollhouse, but nobody I know has seen BtVS or AtS. Vampires were just a bridge too far, I guess.

  • Three_nineteen

    That's not really true. See Bayne's comment here about Lindsey. Lilah is killed by a Jasmine-y Cordelia, not because she was a villain. And Angel would have tried to save Holland et al from Darla and Dru if he hadn't been in his dark period. Gavin is killed by The Beast. None of them are killed in the traditional "they are trying to destroy the world and must be stopped" manner.

    The villians in BtVS are treated differently because none of them are human, and therefore don't have souls to worry about. Buffy has no qualms about killing The Master, Angelus, The Mayor (he had already sold his soul and she had to wait until he turned into a demon-god anyway), or Glory (until she found out about Ben). Buffy doesn't kill the Trio or Willow or Faith. So it would make a little more sense to exclude soulless demons rather than humans in your breakdown.

  • Bayne

    I would have to disagree that Lindsey died as a villain. The only reason he was there to be shot (murdered) was because he was helping them fight evil. Sure, he was in it for the mayhem, and so not exactly a hero, but I get the feeling if Spike had died during seasons 4, 5 or 6, you wouldn't be saying that he 'was still a villain and died as such'. There are more possible categories in the buffyverse than just a simple 'hero or villain', and it seems abundantly clear to me that Lindsey had left his purely villainous days behind him when he came out of the W&H holding dimension.

    Really, the only thing still keeping him a pure villain before that was his obsession with outdoing Angel, but the failure of his grand plan at the hands of Cordelia seemed to have cured him of that pretty well.

  • Mis

    I saw this on twitter a while back: #geekpickuplines "I love you so much, if Joss Whedon were writing our romance, one of us would be dead by now!". LOL, kinda sums up everything :)

  • BendinIntheWind

    Sorry if this is a double-post, I think Disqus ate my first one...

    Not sure if I agree about your assessment of Anya:

    Living as a powerless human after her years (centuries) as a vengeance demon lead to a developing empathy toward humans, who she'd previously largely disregarded as stupid and mortal. She goes through a few metamorphoses throughout the series, returning to her vengeance demon-ing after Xander spurns her, then back again to powerless human when she realizes she now regrets the pain she's caused. But the point is that, at her character's end, she identifies as a human. Her death isn't the same directly world-saving sacrifice as Buffy's, but she does end up dying while fighting for the same cause: to save a world full of stupid worthless humans.

    I don't disagree with your suggestion of subbing in Xander to die instead (I do think one of them needed to go to provide sort of a closure to their relationship), but if he had died, I think the more likely response would have been Anya realizing her true love is gone, freaking the fuck out, and getting her powers back to lay waste to everyone she meets in battle (ostensibly, more vampires). Which is kickass and all, and more dead vampires is great, but her story would end as a demon, wiping the slate clean of her development so far.

    In the Whedon-verse, the needs of the story outweigh the needs of the fans.

  • BierceAmbrose

    In the Whedon-verse, the needs of the story outweigh the needs of the fans.

    Nice.

    In an old fan-con panel w/ Fillion and "Kate the Cop", Nicholas Brendon says the originally thought of killing off Zander at the end, but concluded it would be too much. Came up when someone asked about the character losing an eye.

  • Guest

    Not sure if I agree about your assessment of Anya:

    Living as a powerless human after her years (centuries) as a vengeance demon lead to a developing empathy toward humans, who she'd previously largely disregarded as stupid and mortal. She goes through a few metamorphoses throughout the series, returning to her vengeance demon-ing after Xander spurns her, then back again to powerless human when she realizes she now regrets the pain she's caused. But the point is that, at her character's end, she identifies as a human. Her death isn't the same directly world-saving sacrifice as Buffy's, but she does end up dying while fighting for the same cause: to save a world full of stupid worthless humans.

    I don't disagree with your suggestion of subbing in Xander to die instead (I do think one of them needed to go to provide sort of a closure to their relationship), but if he had died, I think the more likely response would have been Anya realizing her true love is gone, freaking the fuck out, and getting her powers back to lay waste to everyone she meets in battle (ostensibly, more vampires). Which is kickass and all, and more dead vampires is great, but her story would end as a demon, wiping the slate clean of her development so far.

    In the Whedon-verse, the needs of the story outweigh the needs of the fans.

  • I don't disagree. Isolated, every case has a clear and rational reason for happening. But I'm like a moth to a flame when I see patterns emerging. It's the suddenness of her death that sticks out so well. I went with the picture where she's clearly dead, because in my mind she's still wielding an axe and ready to strike.

  • John W

    Jeez Pajiba if you want me to cry just kick me in the balls next time...

  • SpruceMoose

    You forgot Jesse.

  • HA!

    I didn't, but I didn't think anyone would bring him up. I'll never underestimate you guys again.

  • Nathan Alderman

    What about Jonathan in Buffy's Season 7 "Conversations With Dead People," murdered by Andrew at Ghost Warren/The First Evil's urging? He's not a bad guy at that point; he regrets his former actions, and he's trying to redeem himself. But he's not killed in the process of doing anything particularly heroic, nor is he a noble sacrifice. He's a victim, literally stabbed in the back by his best and only remaining friend.

  • Slash

    Ditto. I had forgotten about that. There are actually lots of victims in the "Buffyverse." And they don't all have vaginas.

  • Three_nineteen

    I definitely agree. Jonathan is in every season but Season 1 (I think), and should be included.

  • Whitney Pohl

    I think he's in at least one episode of season 1, but that was before they actually gave Danny Strong's character a name.
    **Sorry, looks like his first appearance was Inca Mummy Girl. But he was in the original pilot episode!

  • Three_nineteen

    I have sooooo many responses to this post. Here's the main one:
    Instead of looking at this through the lens of gender, try talking about the romantic relationships of the main characters.

    Buffy: Angel - Buffy kills him (but he comes back), Riley - leaves (thank goodness), Spike - sacrifices himself
    Giles: Jenny Calendar - murdered
    Willow: Tara - murdered, Kennedy - too annoying to die
    Xander: Cordelia - leaves, Anya - dies

    So at least in BtVS, it looks like it's the romantic interest that has the best chance of dying. Since Willow is gay, there are more female romantic partners than male. Joss is on record stating that if Oz had still been Willow's boyfriend in Season 6, he would have been murdered. That flips a gender from female to male in the victim category, which would make one each - Jenny Calendar and Oz. Also, if Oz had not left, most likely Xander would have been gay instead of Willow (Joss has said it was a tossup between the two). Then the male equivalent of Anya would have had the senseless KIA death. And if all this had been the case, I don't think there would have been the sense that Joss wants all his victims to be female.

    This analysis supports my opinion that the "Joss only fridges women" meme is all Seth Green's fault.

  • Now THAT is an interesting take on the matter, and probably hits closer to the real authorial intent. I definitely went more academical than logical, but I honestly didn't set out to write a gender studies article. It was just that after I made the list at the end (which I did first) and started writing, it all just sort of dawned on me that the data had an obvious pattern. Pun intended.

  • brian

    interesting fact
    x-men 3 was partly based on Joss's run of astonishing x-men
    and the deaths neatly fall into one of the three categories
    cyclops- murdered
    professor X- died in action
    jean grey-heroic sacrifice

  • Bayne

    Xmen 3 was based on the mutant cure concept introduced in Astonishing. None of those deaths had anything to do with Whedon's run. Jean Grey wasn't even in Astonishing X-men to begin with.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Except that Professor X probably isn't dead. Not that that series should be continued, mind you.

  • DillWonald

    "Likewise, when Doyle passed his powers onto Cordelia, powers that
    ultimately lead to her demise, he didn’t ask for permission and he
    sacrificed himself before she even knew what happened."

    While this may have absolutely been true at the time, Cordelia on multiple occasions actively chose to maintain her visions, most notably on Pylea and in 'Birthday'. Thus in the contexts of the visions themselves she is by the time of her death not a victim of things beyond her control, but of things she knew the risk for.

    Ironically, I DO feel that the main cause of Cordlia's demise, the Jasmine possession, clearly fits into the murder-by-rape metaphor better than any of the others save Fred. There she was victimized and manipulated by forces beyond her control, and it surprises me that your analysis skims over what I'd argue is the most problematic death on this list.

    Overall though, an interesting analysis. Well done

  • Three_nineteen

    Not to mention the fact that Doyle didn't know he was passing his powers to Cordelia. He just wanted to kiss her. The vision-passing was an accident.

  • Basement Boy

    I think of "murder" as being pre-meditated and/or intentionally-done; Penny's death was really more of an accident...

  • ERM

    Dr. Horrible would be guilty of felony murder in most states (someone was killed during the course of him committing a felony), so I think it counts.

  • Do we really need to split hairs here between murder and manslaughter? It's not a court of law, and Dr. Horrible did intend to kill somebody that day. It was just the wrong person.

  • Three_nineteen

    Dr. Horrible didn't pull the trigger. It was Captain Hammer.

  • Jezzer

    Now we're splitting the split hairs into tinier splits. Dr. Horrible attempted to murder Captain Hammer and failed. Then Captain Hammer returned the favor, also failed, and Penny died as a result. Either way, Penny would have lived if Dr. Horrible hadn't attempted to murder Captain Hammer.

    Dr. Horrible set out to commit pre-meditated murder. That isn't mitigated just because he's kind of a woobie and his intended victim is a douchebag.

  • BierceAmbrose

    So, felony defacing of currency?

  • appwitch

    So how does the fact that Spike came back on the last season of Angel fit into this analysis?

  • Slash

    And hearing about "Dollhouse" kinda makes me wanna see it again.

    Whatever, I liked it.

    I'm also kinda wondering why you haven't mentioned "Cabin in the Woods." It's very relevant to this discussion, esp. the ending.

  • Slash

    And also, women in real life seem to be victims far more often than they get to be "heroes." Under our commonly accepted meaning of the terms.

  • Basement Boy

    But, but, but... what about "Cabin In The Woods"????

    **SPOILERS**
    Everybody (as in "Everybody On The Whole Planet") dies!

  • gp

    HEY, ASSHOLE

    **SPOILERS**
    Everybody (as in "Everybody On The Whole Planet") NOW HATES YOU.

  • Jezzer

    Hey, fuckstain. Seeing as how CitW only recently came out on video, perhaps you shouldn't bring up the ending, even with a feeble spoiler tag. I know that resisting the impulse would have left us bereft of your oh-so-valuable input, but sometimes you have to sacrifice for the greater good.

  • Slash

    Um, the answer is, of course, that there is no answer. There's no reason. People die for no goddam reason or stupid reasons all the time. Some guy here (Dallas) stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death a couple days ago and set the house on fire (killing their 1-year-old child) because he didn't want to pay child support. Now he's probably going to death row (unless he pleads out to serve life).

    Whedon is telling us life isn't fair and often isn't just and decent, innocent people die unjustly all the time.
    The fact that Whedon's characters are often likable just reflects that people are often likable.

  • twig

    "just reflects that people are often likable"

    I was with you up until...

  • Phaedre

    This is an excellent post. I love this about Pajiba.

  • Sardonical

    Where has it ever been said that Joyce's death was in any way connected with the monks, Dawn, or Glory? The show flat out says that it is an aneurysm due to complications following her brain surgery for a tumor. It's one of the only non-mystical/hellmouthy deaths on the show, which in my opinion makes it even more tragic, because there is nothing Buffy could have ever done to prevent it. Also, if you are going to include people like Lilah, Kendra, and Bennett (who were not "main" characters - maybe Lilah, but that's debatable) to pad the numbers on female deaths, then I think you're missing a few key male deaths as well. Jonathan would qualify as a "victim" of murder, and was fairly pivotal to the Buffyverse in a "mostly" non-villain capacity. Also, if Buffy makes the list, despite coming back to life, then I think Angel probably also makes the cut when Buffy sends him to hell in the Season 2 finale. And while I recognize that you aren't counting his Buffy Season 8 comics, Giles certainly goes out pretty brutally as well.

  • Lettice Peyton

    No matter how often Buffy claimed it was true, Angel wasn't dead. He was transported into a hell dimension. He doesn't count at all.

  • I did stop short of saying Joyce died due to mystical reasons, but there's a connection between the tumor and the key, even if it's just story proximity and narrative symmetry. I agree that her death carries the most weight because it's not fantastical in nature, but isn't a brain disease symbolically the same as possession?

    You are absolutely right about Jonathan, he was definitely a victim. I knew I was forgetting somebody, and that it was a dude, so thank you for reminding me. I'll make an amendment or two when I have more time. That said, one more example doesn't exactly balance out the scales.

  • Lettice Peyton

    So everything that happened in season 5 could be construed as being linked to Joyce's death? I think that's a weak argument.

  • lonolove

    W-w-what? I don't really plan on reading the comics but I MUST know more of this Giles malarkey! TELL ME EVERYTHING!!!

  • SpruceMoose

    This was my first thought too. It was never even hinted at that Joyce's illness was a consequence of the monks/The Key. It was more horrific because there was no magical explanation, just that sudden death happens, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

  • Cree83

    I was just about to post about Joyce's tumor! I thought I remembered an episode where Buffy was concerned that her mom's illness was caused by magic, but that ended up being a huge misdirect. She ended up discovering that it was ultimately just "normal" illness. All the more scary because it's something non-supernatural that Buffy can't fight.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Supporting this. In one of the commentaries around BtVS The Master himself is tagged about the killing people thing, especially Mom, and why didn't they try to bring her back.

    Paraphrasing his reply: "We had a rule about death. Mystical or magical death can be reversed, but non-magical death can't. Otherwise you don't have any drama because there's no real peril."

    They can bring Buffy back because she was jumping dimensions. They can't bring Joyce back because it was "just death." Which was kind of the point in that episode.

    I am such a nerd.

  • Me

    That was made explicit a few episodes later when Dawn tried to bring Joyce back and everyone explained it to her.

  • Me

    That was made explicit a few episodes later when Dawn tried to bring Joyce back and everyone explained it to her.

  • I've heard that before and it makes perfect sense to me that realistic deaths couldn't be changed, but Whedon is full of shit about
    all mystical deaths being reversible. They made it quite clear in
    "Angel" that Fred would never, could never, be brought back because the
    sheer power of Ilyria scorched her soul from existence. I'm sure he has an argument for that, but he can change the rules whenever he wants, that's why it all goes back to who makes the choices.

  • BierceAmbrose

    You are correct, of course. I was "inartful" (That's what we call it these days, right?)

    It's like booze. It may be *legal* for someone to by a six pack in general, but this particular six pack may not be for sale.

    So, in Buffy-world, mystical or magical deaths *may* be reversed, as in they are permitted by the teachings of the Master. It may not be *possible* in fact to reverse any particular mystical death, even though doing so would be lawful.

    Sloppy language from me. I got tripped up in the general / specific distinction, which is hard to talk about in English anyway, and a source of endless shenanigans.

  • Lettice Peyton

    Fred wasn't just killed, though. She was completely consumed, soul and all. There was nothing left *to* bring back.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Totally agree. The whole point of Joyce's suffering was to illustrate the fact that, even though the Buffyverse is full of hell demons and unimaginable terrors, there are still dangers lurking in everyday life. For several seasons, regular real-world danger had been mostly swept under the rug (with maybe the exception of Cordelia's falling through the plain-old rotting staircase), so to bring it back in such a dramatic sense really drove the point home.

    In fact, the only thing that's ever stuck out to me about "The Body" was the vampire attacking Dawn in the morgue; I guess they felt obligated to remind us of the fantastic dangers, but I do wish they'd have left this episode completely devoid of any beasties or magic.

  • Three_nineteen

    Actually, Joss explains in his commentary for that episode that he wanted to show that life goes on, even if those left behind don't want it to. Buffy's life is slaying vampires, so even though she is trying to cope with her mother's death, her real life of vampire-slaying intrudes on her grief and she has to deal with it.
    And yes, Joyce's brain tumor has nothing to do with Dawn. Joyce just got sick and died.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Ah, didn't know about that bit.

    I understand his motivations behind it ("Buffy never gets a day off"), but I just thought it was such a powerful depiction of something from all our lives that I sort of want it to stand on its own: we don't necessarily need to be reminded that our characters are in constant danger of the monsters, but sometimes we do need to be reminded that they're human beings who have to cope with death like the rest of us.

  • Blake

    J.J Abrams also borrows heavily from the Whedon playbook... See: LOST.

  • celery

    He does it well. An excellent measure of someone's taste in nerdery is to ask them how many times Joss Whedon made them cry.

  • In my case, it was less cry and more, "fuck you, Whedon!", out of respect for his ability to make me care.

  • Phaedre

    Yes. Some episodes have managed to reduce my most cynical of friends to whimpering messes. Makes the friendships that more beautiful, what with the shared heartbreak...

  • Me

    I would say that not killing off characters who are in perilous situations where they are likely to die week after week is a common trope among lesser writers.

  • There's no disagreement with that.

  • Tom

    I think with Joss, it's almost like the rule where if you see a gun in the 1st act you know it will go off later. If you see a character you like, Joss will eventually kill that character in a devastating manner.

  • KatSings

    So instead of Chekhov's gun, we get Whedon's Likeable Character?

  • Tom

    haha sort of. Joss' deaths might not happen for years though

  • Samantha Klein

    WAAAAAASH.

    So, I don't know that this is any kind of official theory, although I have seen it espoused elsewhere (I came up with it by myself) but I think that the "reason" for Anya's death (and Spike's, for that matter) is that with the Hellmouth being good and truly closed/destroyed, there couldn't be any more demons, etc. whether or not they were good/bad/indifferent. A total house-cleaning, if you will.

    It made me feel better, anyway. *shrug*

  • TheOriginalMRod

    I would bet money that Agent Coulson will make a miraculous return in one of the upcoming films. There was just something about the blood soaked Captain America trading cards that smacked of, "let's guilt these superhero mofos into getting their shit together." Maybe it is the Catholic guilt I inherited from my mother or maybe it is just wishful thinking. But the Avengers without Agent Coulson... well they would just be incomplete.

  • Oh, Coulson will be back. No way that guy's gone. Hell I wouldn't be surprised if he had orchestrated the whole damn thing. That boy's got moves.

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    I don't really think Agent Coulson had a big enough part in the Avengers to be included in this list. I haven't read the comics or anything so I don't know if he's a bigger player than he seemed, but when he died I remember my friend turning to me and saying 'Hmmm, I think we were suppose to really care then. Did you? Because I didn't.'

  • Lettice Peyton

    Coulson was the glue that tied the entire Marvel movie universe together,

  • TheOriginalMRod

    He doesn't actually exist in the comic book versions (as far as I know). So yeah... They will totally bring him back, or they should... Are you listening Joss?!?

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Coulson played small but important parts in the rest of the Avengers movies, except for The Incredible Hulk, and also got his own series of shorts on the web.

  • BendinIntheWind

    I was SO READY in the last helicarrier scene (where SLJ and Cobie Smulders are talking in the control room) for Coulson to roll up in a wheelchair and reveal that the whole thing was a ploy to bring them together.

blog comments powered by Disqus