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February 14 2009

Joss Whedon's 16 Most Painful Character Deaths. This is a fantastic list of some of Joss's greatest work... even if sometimes just thinking about it makes us want to cry. Spoilers, though I think most of us here are pretty familiar with these deaths (they haunt my dreams).

I have only seen Book, Wash and Miss Penny
but if all those Buffy deaths were as heartfelt
its a wonder we are still standing
Fantastic article. I linked to it in the facebook group "Part of me is worried that someday Joss Whedon will kill everyone I love."

Rivergirl, the Buffy/Angel deaths were at least as heartfelt.
The deaths of Angel, Buffy, Joyce and Fred still make me cry! Hardly any director/writer in TV or film has the ability to make me cry like Joss does. I both love and hate him for it!
Awww shucks!!!
I really felt Tara's death. I watched season 7 with a very, very heavy heart. Then Anya died, too. I'll do my best not to like anyone so much in Dollhouse.
It's always going to be Wash for me. Absolutely shocking. But seeing Buffy hurl herself off that walkway to save the world makes me cry everytime.
Fred and Wesley were the ones that made me cry for three episodes. Darla was probably the one that got closest, otherwise.

And there was a little thing that happened in AtF #15 that pretty much gave me a heart attack. I was catatonic over that one--right before Christmas, too. Thank God for #16.

Jenny was the death that changed Joss' writing of brutal character deaths forever. It was the first real and irretrievable loss. Passion is the episode that makes Angelus the ultimate villain of the entire franchise. Giles' scene is the most horrible thing he ever did.

Technically, Angel's hell-sending isn't a death, but it's always included. Very possibly THE most epic and emotional scene of all Joss' work. "Close your eyes" is still one of the most memorable lines in all of the Jossverse--both the Darla and Buffy versions. Kudos to Christophe Beck as well.

And I'm glad they mentioned what happened to Glenn Quinn. The real life variable makes Hero even tougher to watch.

rivergirl - HOP TO IT! You don't know what you're missing.
The two deaths on that list that made me cry were Buffy's in The Gift and Fred's in A Hole in the World. Lindsey's death was the one that devestated me the most.

I think Jenny Calender and Lilah Morgan were the deaths that were the most shocking (for me). I didn't see those coming.
I was spoiled about Wash and I still howled "no"! As for the Buffyverse, I think Fred was the most brutal, because she didn't just die: she was in agony for a day! Poor Fred *sniff*
The order for that is horrible. All backwards, if you ask me. Unless that was chronological (which I think it probably was)... still the worst for me was Wes (though Fred was brutal to obviously, but Wes combined the two of there), and I knew he was going to die thanks to a websites poor hiding of spoilers.
Yeah, Lilah and Lindsey's deaths deserved to be listed there, too. More than Angel's non-death and even Buffy and Spike's short-term deaths.
SteppeMerc, they're in chronological order for each series I believe.

I love the semi-snark in the article about Joss being a sadistic little one. Yes he does love to do this to us, doesn't he?
My top 5:

Honourable mention (ha) Wesley: The sheer horrible beauty of it.
#5 Angel: Oh no, Willow, you didn't...
#4 Joyce: Every audience emotion magnified tenfold by SMG.
#3 Tara: Completely undramatic, but the point at which this came in the series for her and Willow made it unbearable.
#2 Buffy (Season 5): The realisation, the music, the slow-mo...
#1 Fred: I cannot rewatch that episode.
SteppeMerc, they're in chronological order for each series I believe.

No, Buffy is completely out of order. Also, we knew Buffy was coming back fairly soon after season 5 ended; we didn't spend the whole summer wondering.

Buffy and Joyce were so painful. I think they're the only TV deaths I've cried at. Anya and Spike, not so much - I liked the characters, but you pretty much could guess they would be the ones to die in the end. Jenny's death was completely spoiled by the previews but it was still heartbreaking. Fred was very hard too, and Doyle was such a shock. I was with all my friends when Wash died, and we were all just numb.
"You’re Welcome" is my favorite episode of Angel. It was nice having Cordy come back to say goodbye. When she watches the video of Doyle and when she tells Angel, "I'll be seeing you," still get me every time I watch it.
I knew about pretty much all the deaths before they happened (serves me right for being late to the party, and for being a wikipedia junkie), but I still reacted pretty extremely in some cases.

The deaths of Tara and Wash both left me feeling kind of a shocked numbness in the immediate little while that followed. Same can be said for Penny's.

Doyle's hit a lot harder than I thought it would. A lot harder. So much so that when he was impersonated or shown in "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "You're Welcome" I probably reacted just as violently as the characters on screen did.

Fred and Wesley's were really painful to watch as well. Tears were shed.

But Anya's was the one that got me the most. I had to rewatch "Chosen" right away after because I pretty much missed everything that happened after it because of a haze of tissues. I adored that character and it was a shock to see her go out (even if I kind of knew it was coming).
Wesley, how I mourned thee
Buffy's Season 5 death did little for me because I knew she was coming back in Season 6, seeing as I had a boxed set with 7 seasons. :)

Joyce's was huge and sudden and a whack over the back of the head with a two by four. By far the biggest in Buffyverse for me.

But by and large, the ones in Angel surprised and affected me the most.

Wesley was my #1. He was hands down my favorite character arc in all of Angel and Buffy. I don't think many characters in ANY show go from where this guy came from to where he ended up, with all the changes on the way.

Cordy was my #2. She was my second favorite character arc, and in many ways, I think she was the heart and soul of the show Angel. When her character was taken for those turns being evil and then just being off camera in a coma....the show really lost something for me. It was nice that they gave her such good closure as she deserved it, but I do think the heart and soul of the show Angel died with Cordy.

Doyle might have been #3 for me. He wasnt in the show much, but it was a shocker having one of your three lead characters die a few episodes in...and we were just getting some good character development on him. I realize real life issues likely drove this, but still, it was a surprise, but a VERY well done episode. Pretty amazing to have such a moving death on a character you only knew for 9 episodes.

Best surprise death? Lindsey being shot by Lorne. That was just simply awesome. The way it was written, directed, and executed by the actors. Fantastic.
Joyce's death, in fact the whole episode The Body was so incredible and painful and brilliant. Everyone was at the top of their acting game. Anya's "Why?" speech still brings me to tears every time.

Jenny's death shocked me because I was sure that she was going to get away right up till Angel grabbed her. And then when Giles came home to find her, I horrified at the extent of Angelus' cruelty, and my heart just broke for Giles.

Tara'a death devaststed me because of how senseless it was and what it did to my favorite character, Willow, sending her spiralling into an abyss of self-hatred and destruction.

Anya's death didn't really shock me, because you just had to know that Joss was going to kill at least one major character in the final episode, but it couldn't be one of the Core Four.

Doyle's death made me cry because I just adored that sometimes spiky-faced leprechaun.

You're Welcome was sad, but I was happy that they brought some closure to the character of Cordelia and 'redeemed' her after her 'evil time.'

Fred's 'death' was painful to watch, but Wesley's had me reaching for the Kleenex. When he agreed to let Illyria lie to him, the tears started and didn't stop till well after the episode was over.

Haven't seen Serenity yet (don't stone me; I've been going through some seriously rough financial times and haven't been able to afford to buy it and even had to cancel my Netflix subscription) so can't comment on any of those deaths. YET. I will get it someday. Soon, I hope.

Penny's death was sad, but I kinda expected it. After all, Joss does sometimes seem to have a homicidal streak going.

Wonder who will be the first to go on Dollhouse?
Seemed more to me A List Of Every Joss Whedon Death Arranged By Series In Cronological Order. That being said, my top 5 list would be:
1 - Fred
2 - Wash
3 - Tara
4 - Doyle
5 - Anya
recoil, you've said everything I wanted to say about Cordelia. She was the heart of the show, and you could tell(watching s5), that the heart wasn't there, anymore. It was hard to watch s5 without her, at least for me. My top 3 deaths I always cry on:

1. Cordelia (You're Welcome): This episode gets me everytime. Charisma and David truly nailed the emotion. You can tell it was hard for them to say goodbye after working together for so long. It was good having the heart back for one episode and putting her guy back on track. It also gave closure for Cordy and for me, Cordy/Angel. I admit I was still bitter after losing her.

2. Buffy (The Gift): I'm fine throughout the ep, but once Christophe Beck's music begins in the background and I see Buffy looking out into the sky, I'm crying like a baby lol

3. Doyle (Hero): I felt Doyle was gone too soon, but it definitely made his death that much more emotional. He died saving the world.
Passion, Becoming, and The Body, are the episodes of anything Joss did that stick with me the most in terms of grief.

Giles' scene is the most horrible thing he ever did.

That, and Angelus watching through the window to see Buffy and Willow's reaction to the awful phone call. Which, of course, was the height of cruelty.
Why are these the 16 "most painful" deaths? These are pretty much all of them, except for the antagonists and single-episode folks. Seriously--who's missing?

(Oh, and Darla died twice, too)

ETA: Oh, and the KIA potentials in S7, too.

[ edited by jclemens on 2009-02-14 21:28 ]
There's Cassie, for one. The girl who foretold her own death in later seasons Buffy. I'm sure there's more I can't think of right now.
Pretty sure I was actually blubbering when Fred died, and then the same if not more so when Wesley died. Those two were the big ones for me, though all of them on the list are painful to watch.

I think Fred's death was especially hard to deal with (like someone else mentioned) because she was in pain and it was a long, drawn out process. And the montage of her family home and stuff at the end just made me sob for like 3 days.
Boy have any of you just stopped and looked at the numbers for a second regarding Angel? One would think having a guy like him on your side would be pretty awesome, right? Big bad-ass, eternal life, champion, etc. But things sure didn't play out that way for his friends. Here is a list of all the people who were close to him or in his "inner circle"....with an asterisk next to those who were DEAD within 5 years (by the end of "Not Fade Away"):

Doyle*
Cordelia*
Wesley*
Gunn
Fred*
Lorne

That's a 67% mortality ratio ladies and gentlemen. I haven't read Angel "After the Fall" yet (I will) so I don't know if any more of them die in that big fight or during AtF "Season 6".

If you see Angel walking your way...best turn around and just walk in the other direction.
Thanks for posting this here! I am so flattered by the response it's getting =)

It is in chronological order by series, except for Buffy Summers which is only halfway in order (S1, not S5).

I consider Angel to have died, because neither we nor the characters had any idea he would come back. And Buffy (S5), we knew she would have to come back in some form, but didn't know how. Also, some of the deaths mentioned here, like Lindsey and Lilah, were shocking but not exactly painful in the same way as those I included (either for the characters or for us). That's totally subjective, of course, but I had to have some criteria.

@non sequitur: I actually used that group to make sure I wasn't forgetting anyone too vital! I love it! =)

@timeerkat: Characters I considered or could have included but didn't: Jesse, Flutie, Snyder, Lindsey, Lilah, Holland Manners, Larry, Jonathan, the Master, the Mayor, Maggie Walsh, Forrest, Glory/Ben (especially Ben), Kendra, Katrina, Halfrek/Cecily, Cassie, Connor, Jasmine, Knox, Marcus, Mr. Universe, Nandi, The Operative, & Tracey. So you see, it's not really a complete list of deaths. =)
I prefer countdowns to rankings.

Seriously, this just reminds me why I can enjoy Joss's work but will never be a real fan again.

But Spike doesn't really belong on thsi list; everyone knew it was temporary so how much could it have meant? Admittedly, I didn't see the episode and might have felt differently then.

As for Cordelia, well, as I've said, everyone else is as gullible as Angel, heh-heh-heh.

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2009-02-14 22:42 ]
Giles'chainsawchick: I can mail you my extra copy of Serenity if you are interested. Email me at zdwarman@yahoo.com.
Recoil, I reckon you should add Buffy to the list. Ok, so she wan't in the AI team, but she was his one true love. And yeah, there are some gut-wrenching moments in After the Fall - I could pretty much hear parts of Robert Kral's score as I was reading, and I ended up in tears!

I know it's suicide but I don't think I could turn away from Angel, I'd die for that man!
I still haven't gotten over Miss Calendar's death and I cannot watch the episode where Fred dies either.
I always thought Ben's death was pretty tragic as well.
But Spike doesn't really belong on thsi list; everyone knew it was temporary



There were some fans who didn't know he was going onto Angel. Some Buffy fans had no interest in the followings of that show.
None stung me as deeply as Fred and Wesley. Man... such powerful moments/performances!
Great list. Very cry worthy.

Was Buffy season 8 left out on purpose? Cause I can think of one death there that really got to me. I won't say more because I am not sure if it's considered spoiler.

As for Astonishing X-Men, I thought Wing could have been included. Though he was a minor character his death was very substantial to the story line. Also I think it was Joss's only character to commit suicide (and not doing so to save others). Also he is basically the only victim of the mutant cure of the first arc – without him loosing his powers and will to live it wouldn't have felt like the cure was something bad.
I still can't watch "Hole In the World" or "Not Fade Away" without getting drunk first. :( (oh my Wesley)
"Giles' scene is the most horrible thing he ever did."

It's been awhile, which scene are you referring to?

And without a doubt, Joyce's death was the most heartfelt for me. It was shocking, final, and so utterly mundane. The Body is my favorite bit of Whedon writing ever, and the performance by Emma Caulfield during the "Why" speech still makes me all weepy even after several dozen viewings....

I would add one to the list though. While it wasn't the death of a major character, I thought Tracy's death from the Firefly episode "The Message" was moving because of the utter senselessness of it, combined with Mal's foreshadowing of the event when he talked about how "there's someone out there has a bullet with your name on it, and it's your job to find them first..."
Passion is, I think, the greatest episode of television anyone has ever written. Jenny's death, Giles' apartment, the phone call informing Buffy and Willow, Buffy punching Giles in the alley and then hugging him... everything about it is perfect.

Plus: "Watcher's pet."
For me Jenny's death was the most shocking but the one that gets me crying every time is Wes's ... when Illyria asks him if he wants her to lie to him now and he says yes - and then 'there you are' with that little smile - I just fall apart..... And Doyle's touched me as well. 'the good fight - yeh' ... sigh.
Should there perhaps be a spoiler tag here?

I have yet to get a hold of the Astonishing X-Men annual and didn't know about Kitty...

Then again, it has been out for quite a while now hasn't it? That's what I get for being behind on my comics!
Why are these the 16 "most painful" deaths? These are pretty much all of them...

I can think of a few besides the ones mentioned by other people (Principal Flutie, Locksley's dad, Mr. Universe). And I think you are also missing the tens of thousands dead in Serenity Valley.

Fred's death gets me, because of how Amy projected the bravery and the terror. (Those last words get me.) It kind of echos Buffy's reaction in "Prophecy Girl", when she melts down in the library. A very human reaction. That was the moment that Buffy moved from "interesting" to "must watch". (That, and the Xander getting turned down scene.)
"Giles' scene is the most horrible thing he ever did."

It's been awhile, which scene are you referring to?


They're referring to Jenny meeting Giles at his apartment. Earlier in the day they had made up after all the strife between them and agreed to meet at his place in the evening. Giles comes home and finds inside a champagne bucket with a bottle chilling, two roses, and a note that says "upstairs". Puccini's La Boheme is playing. The perfect romantic setting for them to rekindle their romance. Roses are strewn on the stairs as he makes his way to the bedroom, the music swells. He goes through the doorway and finds Jenny laying on the bed. It takes a moment but he realizes she's dead. It guts him like a fish, and us as well.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2009-02-15 02:14 ]
What daddy cat said. The worst part about this list is the point that death is so common in the Jossverse it is not worth spending time investing in characters. I won't, ever again. Let's see how long it is before we get the first on Dollhouse. Well, we already did, but beyond the guest stars.
I kind of like the deaths because I was invested. It hurt. It had an effect on me. Which, in my mind, art should.
My top three:

1. Buffy (S5) - From the moment that score kicks in and Buffy turns to look into the sunrise after realising her fate, I am sobbing. At the time I had no idea she was coming back as I was a relatively new fan and wasn't involved in internet fandom at all (though became rabidly so over that summer!)
2. Joyce - So realistic it probably deserves top spot but its almost too painful for that*. The experience of The Body is something I'm sure a lot of us have been through and hits every emotion dead on. The impact of the death being felt through the rest of the series is amazing as well. At the end of S5 when Buffy says 'I just really wish my mum was here' I start crying all over again (yes The Gift is a weepy episode for me!).
3. Cordelia - I concur with those who have said that she was the heart of Angel and the lack of her in S5 is probably what makes that one of my least favourite seasons. You're Welcome is a good, if brief, tribute to my favourite Angel character full of lovely moments with Angel and my heart is always broken by Angel's 'Thank you'.

I also always cry at the end of Becoming but that is more about feeling bad for Buffy than for Angel (I guess that should still count so that is no.4)


*If that makes sense, Buffy's death is an entertaining painful - cathartic painful. Joyce's death is just too real.
Nothing comes close to shattering me like Wesley's death. Just thinking about it can sometimes make me cry.
I wasn't spoiled for Spike's resurrection the first time I watched Chosen, so my heart broke into itty bitty pieces. It's the "No you don't, but thanks for saying it" that makes it art. :) And I found Joyce's, Buffy's, Wesley's and Lindsey's deaths even more gutwrenching. (Not a huge fan of Fred's death, as I think the writing in A Hole in the World gets over-the-top and cheesy in places, but what really hurts about that death is the possibility that Fred's soul was actually destroyed. I know that would jibe with Joss's absurdism/existentialism/atheism, but I have as much trouble processing that concept of nothingness in fiction as I do in real life.)

[ edited by Enisy on 2009-02-15 02:36 ]
I get how some people need to do things in chronological order, but I'm sort of wondering if the person who made that list saw most of the scenes listed. Had it been a true "fan" list, Joyce and Fred's deaths would have been a lot further up, at least in my opinion.
Top 5 most gutwrenching:

1. Wash- This death literally affected me physically. When that harpoon skewered him, I felt like I was punched in the face. He was my favorite Firefly character and the one I was certain was safe (cause how could they possibly continue without a pilot?).
I saw Serenity in the theater with friends who weren't nearly as big of fans as I, so it was a little strange because I had to mask to some extent how much it affected me. I really couldn't pay attention to what was going on after that moment and the only thing that snapped me back into it was laughing at Kaylee's line about 10 minutes later, "Hell with this, I'm gonna live!" But yeah, I was seriously shaken by that one.

2. Wesley- My favorite character of the Jossverse and possibly my favorite fictional character ever. This one was tough to watch even though I had it spoiled for me and knew it was coming. In fact, what I remember most about the first time watching it was this sick feeling in my gut as I was anticipating it and this desperate urge to just turn off the DVD player to keep it from happening. I love his death scene. How in his last moments Mr. badass, shotgun-weilding, rogue demon Hunting, "I won't accept a lie" Watcher Man is unraveled into this poor sweet creature so stupidly happy to see his true love. That weak, slurred "Hello there.." gets me every time.

3. Fred- This one is high on the list because it was so drawn out and painful. Wes standing there completely helpless as her insides are slowly burning away is too freaking devastating. This set the depression that would linger over the entire last half of the season and beyond for me. And my god, has anything sadder than those last words ever been written? "Why can't I stay?"

4. Joyce- Possibly the answer to that last question is: "Mom? What are ya doin?" Yeah, this deserves its spot because it was the most real. I've been fortunate enough in my life to never really lose somebody close to me yet, but somehow, watching this, it seems all too true to the experience. I watched this episode once on FX, and every member of my family who was casually passing through the living room (none of whom even understood what I could like about Buffy) stopped, sat down and watched the rest of the episode in complete somber silence. It's just that heavy.

5. Doyle- This was another one I knew was coming, but when I saw it I was left feeling completely devastated. I had just started watching Angel on DVD and I had somehow managed to get my little brother into it with me. He was really diggin it and we both agreed that Doyle was the coolest character. Then "Hero" and Doyle was no more. I watched the following episode and it gave it all a little more purpose but I was irritated to see they were already replacing my beloved Doyle with that lame prissy English dude from Buffy. I felt like there had to be more to the character of Doyle and it sucked that we were missing out on him. So in that mindset I went to check on imdb if he was going to make any kind of appearance in later episodes. Thats when I discovered that Glenn Quinn had actually died a year ago. It just made the whole thing tragic in a real life sense that no other TV death had ever done for me. After that, my little bro didn't want to watch Angel anymore and I took the rest of the journey alone.

Joss really does a number on us, thats for sure, but I wouldn't have it any other way, I guess.
I wouldn't either. I think if someone wants to involve themselves in a safe fictional world and no chance of pain, there's always teletubbies or DVDs of Sesame Street.
Mr. Hooper died on Sesame Street. Muppets do not offer safety.
Looks up at the wee little puppet man still boxed on top of my bookcase ... grudgingly concedes that Sunfire might be correct.
@sarahi: I assure you, I have seen all of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly multiple times (with and without commentary). I could not have ordered this list with any kind of ranking, personally. I can't even begin to think whose death I would say was the worst, because they all affected me greatly. I'm actually kind of surprised at how much flak I'm getting for the order, as I would have expected that more had I actually ordered them myself.
I'm going to compile a list of the 7725 most interesting WHEDONesque posters.
Since you recently referred to one of my thoughts as interesting, b!X, I'm going to assume I will be heading up that list.

I'm also a vegetarian, atheist, home-schooled ENTJ, of which I'm sure there are not a plethora.
I forgot how many great characters joss has killed. He is truly the master of killing off characters.
I think if someone wants to involve themselves in a safe fictional world and no chance of pain, there's always teletubbies or DVDs of Sesame Street.

Tonya J | February 15, 06:33 CET


Loved that. :) I've never understood the perception that Joss kills off characters for any reason other than story development. It would be so unrealistic if, in the incredibly dangerous worlds of the Jossverse, only minor characters got killed off.

I'd rate the deaths with a bit of a different perspective. And so my much longer winded defense of Joss's killing off of major characters:

Jenny's death in Passion was pure art, in it's darkest form, and the perfect 'nail in the coffin' for anyone who believed that Angel was still lurking just under the surface of Angelus.

Buffy's death in The Gift was just as artistic, but with such a different feel. So much emotion leading up to it, and such a gorgeous visual, it was the ultimate "into the light" moment, to the point that I wasn't even slightly shocked by the revelation that she was never in a hell dimension. (Side note: That takes nothing away from the actual reveal, Buffy's gorgeous, poetic telling of the truth to Spike in After Life, in the inspired words of Jane E.).

Joyce's death was just too wrenching to be anything but numbing. And again, death handled in a totally different way, from the perspective of the survivors. The Body is one of a very few BtS eps that I never re-watch.

By the time I was watching BtS (late comer, didn't catch it until re-runs) I knew that Spike would be back on AtS. Which is a good thing, because it allowed me to appreciate the artistry and emotion of the Chosen moment, without having a heart attack. ;)

Tara's death was a numbing shocker, devastatingly sad and again, so incredibly well done in context of the execution of the episode. I was so riveted by the subsequent events and where it took Willow (which was the whole point, story-arc wise) that it didn't have as intense an emotional effect on me as did the events that followed, i.e. the rest of Willow's journey.

Fred's death in AHITW is the most emotional for me, the one that still makes me cry. Wesley's death in NFA was, in comparison, almost anti-climatic, because it was so obvious that no one without supernatural powers was going to survive.

By about half way through season 4 of AtS, I was so sick of Cordelia (always one of my least favorite characters, on AtS), I was just relieved to be rid of her.

Book was inevitable, it would have been really sloppy, cop-out story telling, to allow him to live.
Wash, I believe was an illustration of how random and cold the reality can be. And besides, it gave us the gorgeous "funeral" scene at the end of Serenity. :)

My very wordy point being that I don't believe Joss does character deaths gratuitously, considering the extreme nature of the settings and situations in which his characters exist.
Very well-said, Shey.
Joss has nothing on the character killer that was Shakespeare. I've stopped investing in Shakespeare because of all of the deaths. I'll tolerate the plays from time to time, sure, but I'm pretty much only into the Comedies now. Look at all the Tragedies. So many deaths of so many major characters. I'll never call myself a Shakespeare fan again! Ever! It's Teletubbies for me all the way!

Sorry, couldn't resist the snark. I also couldn't agree less with the assessment that Joss shouldn't kill off so many major characters, and that by doing so, he's unearned his fans.
Come to think of it, his careful planning and his uncanny ability to find the most excruciating way to torment his “audience” is reminiscent of Joss himself.

Word. I wasn't all that affected by Buffy's deaths because I knew she would come back. But they were still very well executed plotwise, so I agree they should be at #1. I would switch #2 and #5. And I would put Cordy higher on the list.
the list is in chronological order filmtx (with the two Buffy's deaths grouped together)
That's an interesting perspective on Wesley's death, Shey - it wasn't obvious to me that the non-supernaturals were going to bite it, so that death came as a pretty complete surprise to me. It actually felt sadder than Fred's, though possibly because the poetic symmetry Illyria's deception provides augmented the inherent sadness of the event.
Of all the deaths on Joss's shows Jennys' was the most painful to the point of tears flooding and l was upset when he character got killed off but l got over it. However Cordelia, Fred and Wesley wasn't that easy 2 get over
Jeez, just reading the list made me tear up! Buffy, Fred and Wes hurt the most for me personally, but Joyce's is the one I can't watch again (in a decade of fandom I've watched it twice), it's too...real.
No, Buffy is completely out of order.

Not if you're listing it as Buffy's 1st death. Once you do that, then yes they are in order.
It surprises me to realize I've never tried thinking about the deaths on Joss's show this way -- putting them in some kind of order, I mean, even if it's only chronological. They all resonate in different ways, but I think the most emotionally wrenching was Wes's, because next to Angel he's always been my favorite character, and he died unmagically so I knew it would be final. And just when he was really emerging as a human with occult powers (i.e. able to defend himself in a way that Angel's other human cohorts couldn't), the fact that a blade took him out in his confrontation with Vail was cruel irony. Then, Illyria acting as Fred just capped the whole thing off with a bittersweet dollop of unmitigated anguish.

Fred's was the most difficult to watch, because she endured such physical pain while all her friends suffered horrible guilt and grief while fruitlessly trying to save her. AA's portrayal was fiercely honest and unselfconscious; I'd never seen a pretty girl dying on TV look so authentically unkempt and unglamourous. And Wes's helplessness, and tenderness, in the face of that loss crushed my heart.

The most realistic and shocking, in every way, was Joyce. If you've ever had someone you love die, you understand what I mean. That scene where Buffy throws up and then stands at the window listening to the sound of the windchimes and, farther off in the distance, children laughing (or screaming?), is so true in tenor to the experience of terrible loss -- and to the sense of being in the world and yet not of it -- that when I saw it for the first time, that's the moment where I totally lost it. I've only been able to watch it twice, and am readying myself for the third time soon as I rewatch S5 with a first-timer. It's still the most moving episode of TV I've ever seen.

When I watch Joss's shows, I know he's going to make me hurt, but that's because he makes me love first.
I only mentioned it in passing last night, but it's kind of funny that Sesame Street was mentioned as an example of safe deathless tv, because really no tv show has ever done death as well as they did in the early 80s.

The actor who played Mr. Hooper died unexpectedly and the writers had to figure out how to deal with the sudden absence of a central character. Keep in mind that their audience is really little kids, average age 4. They considered magicking him away in retirement or something in the storyline, but they decided instead to write an episode to gently but directly explain his death and reassure their audience that life would go on and that everyone would miss and remember Mr. Hooper. Big Bird is as usual the stand in for the little kid audience, and Caroll Spinney (the Big Bird puppeteer) and the other adult actors did this most famous scene in one take. When asked if they wanted to do another, they said they couldn't.

Right after that clip the episode aired this one.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-02-16 04:04 ]
As a big Joss fan but far from seeing every episode nor even every season of Buffy nor Angel, I kind of regret reading some of the deaths on the list. The death of Wash was such a shock, due to the speed and finality of it, I literally had popcorn falling out of my mouth. It seemed an eternity when I finally blinked. Book was also tragic but at least I was able to see it coming for at least a little bit of time.

However, when I saw Joyce's vacant eyes, I immediately cried. One reason was how my own Mom has been close to death from a horrible case of diabetes and the amount of times I've had to call ambulances over the years.

The second reason was how Joss filmed that episode. I was just stunned. Now I don't really cry from episodic TV shows too often but this was a body/mind blow that was incredible. As soon as I received the Chosen Collection from Amazon around November of 08 if I remember right, I went right to "OMWF" and "The Body." Joss makes me laugh and cry so easily somehow that he simply amazes me.

I look forward to watching all of the Buffy episodes in order starting soon as I haven't been able to get at that as of yet but there's one thing that I will have at hand each and every time.

A sizable box of Kleenex for the sad times and some sort of ICY HOT or something similar for the sidesplitting laughs. :)

Angel will probably be included at some point during Buffy watching but I don't have that yet. I do watch the show on TBS or TNT, I can't recall which, in the mornings as much as possible.

As far as Penny's demise in Dr. Horrible, well let's just say that it's hard to rewatch Act III even now.

As a bit of a respite, I thought Dollhouse would make things somewhat easier but I think I was wrong in that particular pre-assesment.
Celeste said: Characters I considered or could have included but didn't: Jesse, Flutie, Snyder, Lindsey, Lilah, Holland Manners, Larry, Jonathan, the Master, the Mayor, Maggie Walsh, Forrest, Glory/Ben (especially Ben), Kendra, Katrina, Halfrek/Cecily, Cassie, Connor, Jasmine, Knox, Marcus, Mr. Universe, Nandi, The Operative, & Tracey. So you see, it's not really a complete list of deaths. =)

Umm... maybe it's just me, but I don't remember the Operative dying. Anyone else?
I thought about that myself for a bit and think that what was meant was that his reason for living or will or faith in the system was devastated so it was a death of sorts. As the Operative said himself, "there is nothing left to see."

Just my humble interpretation.
That's an interesting perspective on Wesley's death, Shey ...
Mercenary | February 15, 19:48 CET


I didn't mean to imply that Wesley's death wasn't sad and moving for me, I just saw it coming. He was one of my very favorite characters and his journey was IMO the most classic tragedy in the entire Jossverse.

(Thanks, menomegirl) :)
Thanks for the clarification nyrk. I see so many "top whatever" lists, I just assumed this was one, too.
phlebotinin; I know you were teasing but really I'm so not trying to judge what Joss has or hasn't "earned." even if I could do that it wouldn't be my place. Just saying what's true for me. And since I *am* still enjoying the absic stories I think I have a point in being here.

I'm tempted to go into the reasons for my disaffection but been there done that will do it again when I feel it's more relevant but not tonight.

I will say that I agree most of these had solid plot reasons. The only one that could have been solved just as easily in the narrative mechanics of it (and in my opinion also more logically in terms of over-all story) by the character just walking away was Cordelia's . And I ahev afeelign Joss might eventually tell us that *was* what happened; I'm sure it's at least crossed his mind. If *I* could come up with that idea so easily, he certainly could even more easily.

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