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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"Summers Blood." All through season 5, it was repeatedly stated that Dawn was the Key and that there was something that she could do that no one and nothing else could. Then, at the last moment, it turns out that Buffy could take Dawn's place and die instead of her. Granted, it happens to set up a Heroic Sacrifice (and possibly a Crowning Moment Of Awesome) for Buffy. But Buffy should have had to sacrifice Dawn or watch her sacrifice herself. It would have been more poignant. made more sense.
That particular wall banger was lampshaded by Anya later when she admitted that she never got how the whole "Summers blood" thing was supposed to work; the scene moved on before anyone could try to explain it. Unfortunately, as much as Joss Whedon loves lampshading and winking at the fans, pointing out the plot hole doesn't make it less of a plot hole.
The entirety of season 6 and 7 are so riddled with them to the point that some fans don't acknowledge their existence.
Tara's death has several:.
She was standing in the middle of the room on the second floor. Warren is firing from ground level, out in the back yard. Drawing a straight line from where Warren is standing to the entry point of the bullet (the bedroom window) leaves you with a trajectory that hits nothing except the bedroom ceiling. So either a sniper is framing Warren, or the bullet came through the wall (and down low on the wall, as in, somewhere barely above the floor) and not the window, or else we're dealing with a magical bullet that can make right-angle turns in mid-air. But we saw the killing from the bullet's POV in a flashback later on and the original scene explicitly shows a bullet hole in the window, and so we know none of these possibilities happened. Tara's death is literally impossible by the laws of physics, and there's no wizard that did it shown in-scene to excuse a violation of physics.
And still worse than that! In addition to the complete violation of Newtonian physics it would take just to get the scene this far, the bullet would then have had to make a second mid-air turn to explain why Willow isn't dead too — she was standing immediately in front of Tara, and we know the bullet exited the front of Tara's chest because only an exit wound could produce the blood spatter all over Willow's shirt.
The response — "OMG XANDER IS EEEEVIIIILLLL" — is no better. If you had just gotten mindraped, watched yourself become your worst nightmare, and finally murdered your lover, then you too might want to wait a while before marrying her.
I understood the thought process behind it, in that he didn't want to turn into his father (a raging, abusive alcoholic), but what bothered me is that Xander never even said anything remotely like that to Anya herself, letting her think for the rest of her life that it was her fault when they could have talked it out.
Hey, Buffy just came back from the dead! She's back from endless torment in hell (or so we think)! Do we run to her and hug her like we would have in previous seasons, like when Willow was thought to be dead and turned out not to be in "Dopplegangland"? No! We stand there at a safe distance and talk about her like she's not there.
The entire series before and after this point insisted that death is magic-proof, and any attempt to bring a dead person back is doomed to failure or much worse. Buffy is the only exception. The "supernatural death" justification felt tacked on and hollow.
"From beneath you, it devours." No, it doesn't. It mostly annoys or Breaking Speeches you.
Or as Andrew puts it, "It eats you starting with your bottom."
Giles suddenly leaves for England, comes back, leaves again, and then comes back... never mind that his reasons for abandoning Buffy are so out of character that Tony Head himself had issues with it.
Dawn continues to regress to an annoying child, making everything she says a Wall Banger. How does the entire cast of characters put up with it?
To drive the point home, by season 7, Dawn's main source of angst was that she wasn't special like Buffy. Special! She had her chance at that!
Evidently the multiverse almost ending because of her isn't enough for her.
Maybe as time went on it got worse, but in Season 5 at least it made sense. Her mom goes through a major health scare, and then she finds out her entire existence was manufactured by monks who were trying to protect her from an evil hell-god who wanted her to create a portal that would incidentally destroy the world, and then her mom dies after making what they thought was a full recovery! That's not Wangst, that's genuine emotion.
Willow hops into bed with the first annoying skank who shows interest in her despite being the character who'd be the least likely to do that and then subjects us to their annoying "relationship" for the rest of the season.
Willow's Anvilicious "magic addiction". This plot line could have been interesting ("power is addictive" + "power corrupts") and did start that way. Then came "Tabula Rasa." After that, it was played for full after-school-special camp, reducing Willow to a painful cliche.
The particularly mind-boggling thing about the Buffy and Spike relationship of Season 6 is that "Seeing Red," in which Spike is given a Rape the Slayer moment, was contrived by the writers because they thought the fans were starting to like Spike too much. They had given him a number of redemption moments in the previous two seasons, and so this was entirely their fault. Then they rolled a 1 on their Author's Saving Throw. Bang, bang, bang.
Buffy falling for Spike at all. First, Spike starts treating his love for Buffy as a real and pure crush and thinks that running Riley off is a good thing a year after being a persistent pain in Buffy's side. Then there are Spike's attempts to kill her, both before he realizes he has a crush on her and (worse) after he knows — he brings a shotgun to shoot her once but instead just sits beside her. By the end of Season 5, Spike has earned her respect; but she doesn't show any signs that she likes him, let alone loves him. This all immediately changes in Season 6, when they have a mutual Abuse Is Love relationship, which then evolves in Season 7 to where Buffy admits that she's developed feelings for him somewhere in between being punched, punching him, and having sex. But this was to show Buffy as physically and mentally weak in Season 6, which didn't help; and its being a positive relationship or negative relationship depending on the writer... yikes.
During Spike's "pep talk" to Buffy (about Buffy being right in her deplorable past behavior toward everyone), Spike offers to kill Faith for Buffy's sake. What!? A few episodes ago, Spike was crying over all the people he had killed now that he has a soul. Now he's casually offering to kill a good guy for the sake of his "romance" with Buffy! Spike's Badass Decay was bad enough — at least keep his characterization straight!
Buffy and Spike's chaste cuddling after that scene. Blech.
Several times prior to S6, such as in "Something Blue" and "Intervention", the concept of a Buffy/Spike relationship was Played for Laughs.
The premise of this show is that vampires are bad. The protagonist of the show exists to kill vampires. It's in the title. Every vamp introduced on this show is dusted, no bargaining, no negotiation, no chance for redemption, no second chance; the idea that vampires might not be bad or might be able to improve or might redeem themselves is never mentioned. It is never ever suggested that you should have moral pause before staking a vampire. But the two biggest love interests in the show for our protagonist are both vampires! So, in the Whedonverse, every single vampire is totally and irredeemably evil... except the two that Buffy slept with? If we are allowed to sympathize with Spike and Angel, then Buffy might possibly be doing wrong dusting all the vampires that aren't in the main cast.
Almost justified with Angel: Buffy didn't find out he was a vampire until after she saw first-hand that he was on her side, and he had already shown qualities like remorse or concern for others. Oh, and she was already crushing on him. None of that applies to Spike. He had repeatedly tried to kill her; then he suddenly showed up wanting to kill her but being unable to due to external forces, and showing no remorse at all. He wasn't helping the Scoobies because he was trying to atone for his past sins — he wanted to kill things, and only demons were available. Somehow, he spent two entire years undusted before Buffy developed even the twisted semblance of feelings for him.
What's more, the reason Angel shows morality and compassion and such is that he's under a spell that returns his soul to him. When the spell is removed, even briefly, he becomes a ravening monster again. He's an exception to the rule regarding vampiric monsterhood for a specific reason. Spike just... was a popular character.
Giles and his "act like a general" speeches from the last season. When Buffy makes the hard and unpopular decisions regarding Spike, Giles gets on her case for not making the decision that he wanted. But he was the one urging her to take command. If he was serious about it, then he needed to accept her decisions when she took command.
But that was somewhat justified - based on the past, Giles assumed she would make reasonable decisions to keep everyone safe. Instead, she let her screwed-up feelings for her murderer and attempted rapist ex-boyfriend cloud her judgment and put everyone in danger for her stupidity. Giles was right.
After two seasons about how Buffy is so Cursed with Awesome that she'd rather be dead than have to shoulder it, we're supposed to inspired and moved by her cursing thousands and thousands of other girls with her awesome.
Even "Once More With Feeling" has one: Xander summoned Sweet? It totally screws five seasons worth of Character Development for a quick joke? Especially since Xander already had one magic spell go terribly wrong on him ("Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"), and seemed to have learned his lesson then. And even more especially because he told none of his friends what he did when the singing and dancing first started, when he must have known he was responsible for it.
A far more logical culprit was the nerd trio which had just been introduced a few episodes before. The three of them had been established as able to summon demons, knew spells to warp reality, had a history of esoteric villainous plans, and had a motive for continually screwing with or distracting Buffy and the Scoobies. Having them be responsible would not only have made sense, but also have fit into the continuity of that season. Yet they're nowhere to be seen.
The most likely culprit was Dawn accidentally summoning Sweet when she stole the necklace. Xander was likely offering himself up in her place rather than let his fifteen year old friend spend an eternity being raped by a tap-dancing demon.
"Get It Done". Buffy-Stalin calls a young girl who was scared out of her mind and who committed suicide a "weak idiot". We also learn that the Slayer's origins lie in rape. How charmingly sickening.
Buffy getting kicked out of her own house and having her dearest friends abandon her. Way to destroy True Companions, Joss!
Worse, it was Dawn who actually kicked her out, "because they needed to be united". The others were allowing her to stay, but telling her that her idea was bad.
Let's restate that for emphasis: The person Buffy died for kicks her out of her house, for having a difference of opinion.
Plus all the Scoobies wanted was proof that Buffy was right that there was something at the vineyard. Had she gone to investigate it, she could have come back with proof and launched the attack the next day with their full support.
If you stop and think about it too much, the idea Buffy was actually in heaven becomes a major Wall Banger, and that just makes her angst at the beginning of Season 6 into a Wall Banger taken Up to Eleven.
She says she knew her friends were alright, even though they would have been killed that night if they hadn't brought her back.
If she went to heaven and it is so much better than life, then that would mean that all the times she saved people's lives, they were worse off for it.
Willow would be right at the end of the season that it would be better for everyone to die when she ended the world.
Don't think about this one too much. There are so manyUnfortunate Implications (Dying [or even suicide] is A-OK! If you give up on life, you spend eternity in paradise!) that it would ruin the rest of the show. If you don't think it was ruined anyways.
Before all of that was Season 4's "Wild at Heart", which seems to give out the unfortunate message that men are animals and have no control over their sexuality. And should be held responsible for their sexual actions anyway.
Any episode written by Tracey Forbes. Apparently, she has a fascination with rewriting every character to be as shallow and two-dimensional as possible (the aforementioned episodes express the beliefs that every man wants sex, college students are walking hedonistic superiority complexes, and discarding grammar equates to "Buffy Speak"). In addition, they have heavy-handed moral proselytizing and a general vomit-inducing nigh-unwatchableness.
Riley and the Scoobies go out on patrol; he ends up ditching them because they hinder him. Granted, the Scoobies don't have his military training; but you'd think that spending years fighting beside Buffy would teach them such fine arts as not talking and yelling out loud while hunting.
On the other hand, he might have been wrong ditching them. They had much more experience hunting vampires than he did, and their continued survival meant their techniques worked for them. Vampires have abilities far beyond non-Slayer humans; perhaps the most useful way for such a human to help a Slayer is to seem like harmless bait.
Willow comforting Spike when he is unable to kill her in the episode "The Initiative". Due to the blatant sexual subtext the scene also had a heavy Black Comedy Rape element.
Season Three: Dead Man's Party. "Yes Buffy, we are all very aware that you are just sixteen years old and had to kill your lover - the man you lost your virginity to - in order to save the world, but running away was a stupid and selfish thing for you to do, even though it was your mother who told you not to come back in the first place and we haven't even attempted to talk to you about what happened or relate to you on any level." With friends like these...
Not to mention the argument never actually gets resolved. They yell at her, she yells at them, monsters arrive and are defeated, everyone hugs, everything's all better. Um, WHAT?
While the above most definitely holds a very valid point, these reactions to a runaway coming back home are more often than not Truth in Television, however sad. Their family will find it harder to trust them again. They may very well feel betrayed or abandoned, or think irrationally about the situation, or even demonize the runaway to ease the guilt they feel. It's not logical, or empathetic, but it is human, and extremely common in these kind of situations. What I liked about this episode is that both sides had a point. Joyce had a right to vent her feelings to Buffy, who, for all she knew for months, could have been dead. It's quite understandable for her to react that way. Buffy, on the other hand, had a right to stand up for herself and state why she felt she needed to leave, and that no one did try and help her. The real wallbanger of this episode was Xander being a complete and utter asshat, as per usual..
Tara knew Buffy wasn't Buffy instantly back in "Who Are You", despite never having met her before, because 'her aura was wrong'. She knew that April was a robot, instantly, despite never having seen one before, in "I Was Made To Love You" - which makes sense, because robots presumably wouldn't have auras at all. And yet she can't spot the Buffybot in "Intervention"? It should have been obvious.
Tara only saw the Buffybot once in the episode it showed up for the first time, for not even a minute and after just being woken up. It still doesn't make that much sense after the aura thing, but that might be the excuse for why she missed it.
It's not just Tara. It was funny and refreshing when, after seeing April in action, everyone immediately agreed that she was a robot — you could appreciate that the episode wasn't going to make us wait twenty minutes while they figured that out. And a few episodes after that, the show decides it is okay to pretend these same characters wouldn't know a human from a machine that's not that great at passing for one, even though it's now trying to pass for their own best friend.
Faith was perhaps the most interesting character in the show, before she becomes a psychotic male raping Blood Knight who enjoys hurting people. Every Freudian Excuse and Hidden Depths in the book doesn't make her actions any more justified or any less Squick.
Though a lot of tropers decided it was worth the character derailment to watch her atonement in Angel, which provided some of the best episodes and most amazing moments.
Which leads right into another Wall Banger; notably, what they did to Faith's characterization after she left Angel and returned to S7 Buffy. Going straight from the Salvage/Release/Orpheus arc on AtS to what the Buffy show gave her to do (not much, and very little of it good, and what of it was good was still also being majorly second banana to Buffy instead of co-starring with Angel) was one hell of a whiplash.
You know, it would have been nice to establish that Olaf's hammer was a divine weapon before they needed it to be a divine weapon.
'Some Assembly Required'. Even for Buffy, that one pushed it. There's no way two teens could do what trained doctors can't... ok, they can transplant hands and they're working on feet. But anyone knows that the head transplant would result in paralysis. Plus, there's no way all those cheerleaders were the same blood type and had compatible tissue, and even if they were, the boys can't exactly get antirejection drugs. It'd have been better if they'd used a spell along with all the science.
I always waved it away with the Hellmouth allowing stuff like that to happen - like allowing a student to create a Jekyll & Hyde formula, a swim coach to create better swimmers using fish DNA and the other numerous things that happened without being overtly magical/demonic in Sunnydale. For comparison look at Angel where the kind of dabbling in science you describe rarely occurs; even dabblers in petty magic are small compared to Sunnydale where they make a magic shop highly profitable.
Joss Whedon actually admitted that realised that Angel's curse makes no sense and used Jenny Calendar's uncle to try an Author's Saving Throw. Angel is cursed by having his soul restored, thereby having his conscience catch up with him for every evil thing he's ever done. OK, with you so far. But then one moment of true happiness undoes the curse and he's back to killing with impunity? It's lampshaded again by Holtz in Angel: "Gypsies have a knack for creative vengeance, but where they fail is in the execution of justice".
Season 1- "The Pack" Already a rather unenjoyable episode for the fact it has Xander being supernaturally turned into a sexist rapist and a messed up demonization of some faux-african religion. But... they picked HYENAS! Hyena spirits infect some boys and turn them into uber macho sociopaths. They could have picked ANY other animal and it would have made more sense!
For anyone who doesn't get it- hyenas are VERY matriarchal and have opposite sexual dimorphism and gender roles to humans, except even more exaggerated. Females literally have bigger penises. (Well, pseudopenises attatched to the vagina... they give birth through them. *shudder*) The only more unfitting thing they could have picked would be anglerfish! (Women are ten times the size of men and absorb multiple "husbands" into their own flesh like some sort of horror flick)
Also the hyena prop looks like a big black kitty sockpuppet. They didn't even try!
Whoever wrote Season 2's (which was a pretty damn awesome season in spite of this ) "Go fish" needs to be banned from writing. The strong implication that Buffy was going to be raped by the swim team, as well as her almost comedic response of "This'll do wonders for my reputation; doing it with the entire swim team!" was unfathomable and desgusting. Were we supposed to laugh? I saw nothing funny about that. At all. It's made all the worse by the ending, which just screams Black Comedy Rape, as well as the Unfortunate Implications that this was the swim team's just deserts for his actions. There is no doubt that he was a asshole, but to say he deserved to be raped is actually quite vile. And even if the guy needed to be locked in prison for a long ass time, Buffy just leaving him there and watching him with a faint look of dry amusement...
"Wow. I guess they really love their coach."*GAGS*
Xander treats all four of his respective love interests like shit 90% of the time. In fact, his verbal and emotional abuse of Cordelia and Anya in particular are Played for Laughs, even though Xander is a textbook example of an abusive partner. The way he treated Cordelia was disgusting.
Specifically after she caught him cheating with Willow. He tries to apologize to her at the hospital, but then by the very next day he's all "Oh God, why won't she get over it!" and starts mocking her like he used to do in season 1, except even more vicious. He acts as if he's justified to fight back because she was being rude to him after he cheated on her and she had every reason to be mad! While it's entirely believable for a seventeen-year-old boy to act like a moronic dudebro, and while Xander's actions do have consequences (in that every relationship he's ever been in has crashed and burned), its still no fun to watch.
Buffy's "Cookie Dough" speech in the season 7 finale. For the series finale of a show whose basic theme was 'adolescents facing adulthood', and the season finale of a season whose theme in particular was 'the younger generation rises up to take the swords', to have the heroine's triumphant denouement speech be about the deliberate avoiding of adult choices and the decision to remain in effective adolescence longer is not only jarring, but just plain stupid. She might as well have triumphantly announced that she's going to spend the rest of her life living in Giles' basement. To quote from a fan review posted on the Bloody Awful Poet Society mailing list back during original broadcast...
LAWard: Buffy... okay she smiles. Who wouldn't? She's being told she no longer has any burdens or responsibilities and she's just been given the world by someone who loved her more than she's capable of ever loving in return. You've got to love a growing up story where you grow up to have LESS responsibility than you ever did before. Why couldn't *I* grow up like that? (Or maybe Joss was really serious when he said that Buffy's actions became some metaphor for stardom. That may explain the rationale for ever diminishing culpability and responsibility). Have fun in Disneyland, Buffy. I won't be missing you.
The part where the "Cookie Dough" speech also meant that the creator was solving the ongoing Ship-to-Ship Combat, which the show had gleefully exploited whenever possible for increased heat and ratings for the past seven seasons, with a Ken Akamatsu-style "No decision! No resolution!" in the final episode also left a lot of people feeling really frustrated. Regardless of individual opinions on who Buffy should have ended up with, even if your choice actually was "None of the above", I think we can all agree that a deliberate massive build-up to a total anticlimax is dramatically unsound.
The plan to expose Faith in Season 3's "Enemies" apparently involved punching out Xander and leaving him unconscious in the street at night. It's amazing the next episode didn't involve Buffy staking a turned Xander.