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Creator / Joss Whedon

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

Joseph Hill "Joss" Whedon (born June 23, 1964) is a scriptwriter, script doctor, 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 first two Avengers movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 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.

To this day, he is also the first director / writer to have had a hand in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Extended Universe and X-Men Film Series, if only by reshaping Justice League (2017) with reshoots, new scenes and repurposing of Zack Snyder's scenes for the DCEU, and script doctoring for Fox's X-Men. Due to the fact that the Fox-produced X-Men movies were discontinued, he may be the only creator to bear such a distinction.


While Joss enjoyed cult popularity in the 1990s and 2000s and his greatest amount of commercial success in the 2010s, things changed for him in the 2020s. At that time, Joss Whedon faced multiple accusations of professional misconduct and workplace abuse by people involved with Justice League, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel who had chosen to remain silent until others spoke up. While he claimed to have stepped down from his latest series — The Nevers, which was in post-production — of his own free will, it is believed that HBO made a move to sever ties with him following an investigation with the cast and crew of the Justice League reshoots.

    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.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Quicksilver.
    • When AoS star Brett Dalton was asked to meet with the writers regarding Ward's Face–Heel 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:
    • Likes characters with English accents, as he attended school in Britain (The Watchers, Spike, Adelle, Badger, Simmons).
    • People with mental illness show up in a lot of his shows.
    • Women walking around barefoot.
    • Elvis Costello references.
    • Tends to turn his female characters into lesbians, if they weren't already.
    • Likes to name his characters after objects (Willow, River, Spike, Faith, Book, Skye).
    • Mysterious organizations who recruit people with special talent (The Watchers Council, Blue Suns, The Academy, Wolfram & Hart, SHIELD and SWORD, The Evil League of Evil).
    • Snarkiness.
    • Petite women.
  • Bad News in a Good Way: He enjoys excitedly announcing to his actors that he's killed them.
  • Bathos: He often follows up a tragic or serious scene with a joke for comic effect. He even provides the page quote!
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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).
    • Having Pepper barefoot in The Avengers (2012) serves a practical purpose: Gwyneth Paltrow is a little taller than Robert Downey jr. If she's not wearing shoes and he is, the difference is less obvious.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Considered making Xander gay, but Xander was his self-insert, so instead he made Willow gay and made her far more sexual.
    • Inara picked up a female client. Everyone commented on it. "I'll be in my bunk."
  • 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.
  • I Call It "Vera": Wrote the script for the Trope Namer. Also had a typewriter in school named "Mutant Enemy".
  • 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. I’m not that young. But then, I hadn’t 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.
  • Person as Verb: As the trope namer for Jossed.
  • 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...
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Twice in the run of Buffy.
    • After a reporter told him one of his favorite parts of Buffy was the dialogue, he decided to test himself and wrote the fourth season episode "Hush," which was almost completely dialogue free.
    • Similarly, he was told that his episodes relied too heavily on composer Christophe Beck's musical score to produce the emotions he wanted in his audience, he wrote "The Body", a fifth season episode with nothing but diegetic sound.
  • 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. Or all three.
  • 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
  • True Art Is Angsty: People who love and loathe his work can both agree that Joss has a peculiar love for this, almost to the point of overkill. Which is probably why the funny moments are much more powerful.
    Whedon: "Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke."
  • 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.
  • 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.


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