Creator / Joss Whedon
"Always be yourself... unless you suck."

"This is my entire career in one scene: Look, sheís helpless! No, sheís kicking their asses!"
Joss Whedon

Joseph Hill Whedon (born June 23, 1964) is a scriptwriter, director, cameo actor, television producer through his famed Mutant Enemy production company, Comic Book author, and — as of his appearance on This American Life — a singer. He is best known for his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, the famously-cancelled cult hit Firefly, its motion picture Serenity, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and The Avengers. Coming from a family of talented writers, Joss is also notable for often being called one of the first third-generation television writers.

Most of his works include badass female characters, as well as numerous characters with dry, caustic wit. And angst. Lots and lots of angst. Even in the middle of comic storylines or situations.

In fact, Whedon delights in defying audience expectations, to the point that "Jossed" became synonymous with fan theories being disproven. For instance, rather than killing a major character, he'll kill off a minor but much more endearing character. Whedon explained in the DVD commentary for Serenity that he likes doing such things because people expect the hero to die or be horribly injured at some point — but they don't expect the minor characters to die, so the impact is much greater! Unfortunately, he's done this so often that nobody familiar with Whedon expects characters they like to live anymore.

Not to be confused with Joss Stone.

    List of Works 
Television Work:

Films written:

Films directed:

Films Produced:

Comics written:

Web Original projects:

Trope Namer for:

This creator and his works contain examples of:

  • Abusive Parents / Parental Abandonment: A staple of the Jossverse, sometimes lampooned. For the Freudians out there, Joss' parents split before he turned 10. Though he does speak well of both his father and stepfather, saying both helped shape his feminist views.
    • Amusingly, by season 3 of Angel this reached the point where the fact that Fred's parents were perfectly nice people came off as a shocking twist.
  • Action Girl: 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 characters. Instead of viewing a character as a woman who does "action-y" things, view it as a character who does "action-y" things who happens to be a woman.
  • Anyone Can Die: Villains, heroes, children, the main character, anyone can die in a Joss Whedon production.
    • Buffy / Angel: Jesse, Jenny Calendar, Doyle, Tara, Anya, Joyce, Lilah (sorta), Jonathan, Cordelia, Fred, Wesley, Lindsey, Spike, Angel, and Buffy herself, twice. Giles as well as of the Season 8 comics. Giles was resurrected atthe end of Season 9 however, and Fred in Season 10
    • Firefly / Serenity: Shepherd Book, Wash.
    • Dollhouse: Topher Brink, Boyd Langton, Paul Ballard, Mellie!November, Bennett Halverson, and possibly the majority of the cast considering the Distant Finales, particularly Mr. Dominic and Ivy.
    • Dr. Horrible: Penny.
    • Titan A.E.: Korso, Preed, and Cale's father.
    • The Avengers: Agent Coulson. Except not really. This was actually a mandate from the studio, but Whedon immediately knew that all the fans would assume it was his idea due to his history with this, and he would have a very hard time convincing them otherwise.
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Agent Triplett.
      • When AoS star Brett Dalton was asked to meet with the writers regarding Ward's FaceĖHeel Turn, he thought they were going to tell him his character was about to die. This is a bit Hilarious in Hindsight as when the show did kill Ward off a couple years later, it was done in a way that allowed Dalton to stay on the show with the Inhuman Hive possessing his body.
    • Astonishing X-Men: Kitty Pryde.
    • The Cabin in the Woods: Every last member of the cast and then the entire planet.
  • Author Appeal:
  • Bad News in a Good Way: He enjoys excitedly announcing to his actors that he's killed them.
  • 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: Joss actually likes having same-sex couples who are in happy, stable relationships. But since he also thinks True Love Is Boring, this eventually leads to him killing one or both members of the couple for the sake of drama. Note that he does this to heterosexual couples too.
  • Cast the Expert: The casting of ballet dancer Summer Glau in an episode of Angel and hiring Tony Award-winning Hinton Battle as a choreographer and as the dancing demon Sweet in Buffy's "Once More With Feeling."
  • Chiaroscuro: The man adores negative space.
  • The Cameo:
    • Guest starred as a sports agent in Jane Espenson's web series Husbands.
    • Appeared in an episode of Geek & Sundry's Written By A Kid.
    • Douglas the car rental office boss in the Veronica Mars episode "Rat Saw God".
  • Creator Breakdown: Of a sort. Closed his Twitter account three days after the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. After it was speculated that his departure resulted from criticisms regarding the film, particularly the controversial Banner/Natasha subplot, Whedon denied that he left because of the backlash, but because he wanted to go to a "quiet place":
    Whedon: I just thought, Wait a minute, if Iím going to start writing again, I have to go to the quiet place. And [Twitter] is the least quiet place Iíve ever been in my life.
  • Creator Cameo: He has self-inserted himself into a number of his own works, including:
  • Cute Bruiser: A number of his Action Girls also have Super Strength, including Buffy, Cordelia and Fred.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has a very dry wit.
    • Take his political "endorsement" in the 2012 Presidential Election, for example.
    • He would often take false rumors with gigantic heaps of sarcasm in stride.
  • Deus Angst Machina/Diabolus ex Machina: Usually combined with Too Happy to Live below.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: While not as egregious as Quentin Tarantino in that regard, Whedon often shows female protagonists barefoot, from River to Pepper. Occasionally justified by having said characters using martial arts or other acrobatic maneuvers. He's even stated that River's feet are the eleventh character of the show (the ship Serenity being the tenth).
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Though he's always had a reputation for using Anyone Can Die, he's been accused of relying on it a bit too much, killing characters off just for cheap shock value long after we've learned to suspect it's coming.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: Once jokingly asked Americans to vote for Mitt Romney in order to bring about an awesome Zombie Apocalypse.
  • 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.
    • And now, Pepper.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: A staple of his productions. Examples include Spike dropping British cuss words on Buffy, the Serenity crew swearing in Mandarin, and Loki calling Black Widow a "mewling quim" in The Avengers.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: If Buffy and Firefly are anything to go by.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Malcolm Reynolds is deeply bitter against God/Christianity after losing a war. Nathan Fillion himself stated that Mal is actually a Naytheist who's pissed off after the Serenity Valley.
    • Whedon himself is an interesting case. He says he can't bring himself to believe in a god, but he's actually very bothered by that.
  • I Call It "Vera": "Mutant Enemy" was originally the name of his typewriter in school.
  • Irony: He really doesn't like guns, but is frequently waist-high in them due to the kinds of shows and movies he does.
  • Kill 'em All: Discussed in one of his interviews on what he would do if he were to direct a third Avengers movie.
    Whedon: The idea of doing [The Avengers] three times just staggers the imagination. Iím not that young. But then, I hadnít really intended to do a second one. In the third one, I really am going to kill everyone.
  • Kill the Cutie: Many from his works:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Examples include Jenny Calendar, Tara, Amanda, and Jonathan.
    • Cordelia Chase and Winifred Burkle in Angel
    • If there's one blessing in the short lifespan of Firefly, it's that Whedon didn't get a chance to do this to us. Though he made up for it by killing Book and Wash in The Movie.
    • He also poked fun at his penchant for this in the pilot of Firefly, with Kaylee's "death" (it all turns out to be a psychotic joke by Mal). The only reason that the joke was as effective as it was is because of Joss's track record.
    • Dollhouse:
      • Bennett Halverson in "Getting Closer" (2x11).
      • In "The Hollow Men" (2x12) Mellie kills herself to protect Ballard.
      • In 2x13, Topher performs a heroic sacrifice and gets blown up.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: On his commentary for The Avengers, he laments that both feature films he's directed suffer from this problem, meaning a few will inevitably not get the focus they deserve.
  • Mood Whiplash: Many heartwarming scenes and jokes in Whedon works are followed by a character being unexpectedly and often brutally murdered seconds late and many a very dramatic scene will be punctuated with a joke.
  • Old Shame:
    • The unaired Buffy pilot. It's on Youtube if anyone's interested. Also, the film.
      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.
    • Alien: Resurrection, which was supposedly written as a parody. Needless the say, the irony blew up in his face — and not for the last time, either. "The same thing that happens to everything else", indeed.
    • Joss doesn't have fond memories of Roseanne. The eponymous star was apparently on her worst behavior, and the whole crew bore the brunt of it.
    • He's hinted that he's done a bit more uncredited script edits than anyone is aware of, which turned out so badly that it's going to stay that way.
  • Production Posse: Some actors achieved a "hat trick" of appearing as different characters in three of his series. The most notable of these actors is Jonathan M Woodward. Not only did Woodward appear in three of Whedon's shows (Holden Webster in Buffy; Knox in Angel and Tracy in Firefly), his character died in each instance.
    • For a longer list, see Mutant Enemy.
    • 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. The former would later be cast in The Cabin in the Woods, Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • Felicia Day was in Buffy, Dr. Horrible and Dollhouse.
    • 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 the recurring villain Caleb in Buffy's last season.
      • Additionally, if one wanted to play Six Degrees of Adam Baldwin, he also appeared on Tim Minear's short-lived thriller The Inside.
    • Alexis Denisof is a frequent collaborator. In addition to playing Wesley on Buffy and Angel and Senator Daniel Perrin in Dollhouse, he had a surprise voiceover in The Avengers as The Other, and is Benedick in Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing.
    • Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in The Avengers, played a baddie on Angel way back in 2000.
    • Gnarl, one of 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.
    • Enver Gjokaj - Victor in Dollhouse - had a cameo in The Avengers as a police officer.
    • Drew Goddard, director and co-writer of The Cabin in the Woods. He previously worked as a writer for Buffy and Angel and had a cameo in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog as a member of The Evil League of Evil. Like Whedon, he now has his own TV and cinematic pockets of the Marvel Universe to play in.
    • Tim Minear, who worked on series such as Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse as well as being the creator of Drive which starred Nathan Fillion.
    • Jane Espenson, who wrote for Buffy (including the comics), Angel, and Firefly. Joss made a cameo in her series Husbands.
    • Nathan Fillion, Mal in Firefly, Caleb in Season 7 of Buffy, Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible and Dogberry in his 2012 adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing".
    • Tom Lenk, who played Andrew Wells in "Buffy" and "Angel" and also Verges in "Much Ado About Nothing".
  • 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: To many the Trope Codifier, after how Fox under-supported and then cancelled Firefly.
    • His earlier scuffles with the WB, too.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: After a reporter told him one of his favorite parts of Buffy was the dialogue, he decided to test himself and wrote "Hush," an episode that was almost completely dialogue free.
  • Shiny New Australia: Aside from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog being the Trope Namer, in the documentary Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, he comments:
    Whedon: When people say the geeks have inherited the Earth, I say (...) "How much of the Earth do I get? Can I have Australia?"
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: If a relationship in one of Whedon's shows isn't unrequited or otherwise troubled, chances are it's doomed to end badly. Joss Whedon hates happy relationships.
  • Straw Misogynist/Politically Incorrect Villain: Includes at least one in each of his television shows. They all suffer violent deaths at the hands of women.
  • Stuffed In The Fridge: Any time he kills a character, their loved one will inevitably walk in on the corpse soon after to amp up the angst.
  • Too Happy to Live: Whedon regularly kills happy characters, or destroys their lives, or ruins their relationships.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: He wrote Alien Resurrection as a satirical parody, in an attempt to get fired from the job. The studio executives instead thought the script would make a perfect action / horror film. invoked
  • Trolling Creator: Regularly kills or emotionally tortures sweet lovable characters in his works. Also regularly lampshaded for laughs.
    Neil Patrick Harris: You do kill a lot of women.
    Joss Whedon: Hey, my personal life is not on trial here.
    • He gloriously trolls the Avengers fanbase with the final scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron. As Captain America welcomes the Avengers' newest recruits, he triumphantly says "Avengers, a-" right before getting cut off by the end credits. What makes it even more hilarious is that prior to the film's release, Joss had confirmed that the movie was "one minute shorter" than the first installment.
  • True Companions: While Joss might not be a fan of a lasting stable romantic couple (see below), he has displayed in many of his shows, the "found family". Many of his shows display an ensemble who, under whatever circumstances, join together and form strong meaningful friendships.
  • True Love Is Boring: Every time Joss writes a happy, stable couple, he proceeds to kill one or both of them to make things more interesting.
  • Waif-Fu: He's very fond of tiny Action Girls kicking the asses of big, burly men, as seen with Buffy, River and to a lesser extent Black Widow.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • A particularly potent one, for comic books fans and companies alike: before he was attached to The Avengers, Whedon was writing a Wonder Woman movie for DC Comics. DC passed on it, he got the Avengers job from Kevin Feige, and the rest is history. Imagine how much DC must be kicking themselves. Whedon ultimately cast his Wonder Woman as SHIELD agent Maria Hill, and she did get to play the character, eventually.
    • He had an idea for a crossover between Captain America and Jenny Sparks, but was never able to make it happen.
  • World of Snark: Due to all his characters being exceptionally Genre Savvy, they tend to all be Deadpan Snarkers too.
    Joss Whedon: Everyone has such a dry wit in this movie. It's like a desert of wit.

Grr. Argh.