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August 31 2009

TV Squad's top ten Whedonverse big bads. Who features on your own list?

Unlike Dollhouse, most of Whedon's earlier shows featured a "big bad," a major villain who caused trouble throughout an entire season, or series, for the heroes and their friends.


What about Alpha?
Yep, i'd say Alpha qualifies quite nicely as a big bad.

I liked the character of Jasmine even though Angel S4 isn't my favourite by quite a way. She was an interesting baddie because, if you squint a little, she kind of had a point IMO, she really put Angel's philosophy to the test and ultimately, you could make a case that he really doesn't answer her challenge all that well (although the show itself presents it as slightly more straight-forward good vs evil).

And the Mayor and Angelus, natch.
Jasmine is higher on my list than the Trio, who might edge out Glory for "best big bad comic relief" (Spike doesn't count, as not being a big bad at that point)
The Mayor, Angelus, and the Gentlemen (these last making the also-rans in the list, but are among my faves).

[ edited by palehorse on 2009-08-31 18:43 ]
I'm gonna go with a full list here, cause I heart Whedonverse's big bads ;-)

1- Spike&Dru
2- Alpha
3- Angelus

4- Lindsey McDonald
5- Mayor Wilkins
6- Dark Willow
7- Wolfram & Hart
8- the Trio
9- the Gentlemen
10- the First
Here's my top 10 favorite 'big bads':
10. Glory
9. The Master
8. Spike and Dru
7. Warren Meers
6. Adam
5. The First Evil
4. Dark Willow
3. The Mayor
2. Angelus
1. Wolfram and Hart

BTW, the people who wrote that article don't seem to have realized that the 'big bad' concept only truly applies to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, since Firefly and Dollhouse are theme-driven series, and ANGEL really only had ONE 'big bad', that being Wolfram and Hart.

Edited to add something:
Characters like The Gentlemen aren't 'big bads'; neither are characters like Holtz or Jasmine (see above point about W&H being ANGEL's only 'big bad').

[ edited by DigificWriter on 2009-08-31 18:57 ]
angelus will always be the top of my list. angel was and is my favorite character in the buffyverse, and whedon really really warped him brilliantly. it helped that david boreanaz clearly relished the role and took him to true supervillain status.

alpha would be 2nd on my list. that said, angelus got half a season of buffy and a third of a season of angel to really develop his evil. i want to see where whedon takes alpha. at the moment, he's much like jubal early: clinically, maniacally evil, but yet undeveloped.
Characters like The Gentlemen aren't 'big bads'; neither are characters like Holtz or Jasmine (see above point about W&H being ANGEL's only 'big bad').

I agree about The Gentlemen, they were only in one episode so they're "just" a great villain rather than a big bad. Apart from you claiming it though DigificWriter, in what way is Jasmine (or even Holtz) not a big bad as per the article's definition ? Jasmine may only have been born towards the end of the season but her impending arrival was a major part of the season arc and it certainly caused Angel trouble.
If it weren't for the fact he was only in one episode, Jubal Early would be about third on this list for me.

That said, I don't know quite how Lindsey ranks several slots about Wolfram and Hart?
My list would just consist of The Mayor. He was amazing.
Saje: The people who wrote that article have misinterpreted the concept of a 'big bad'. As I pointed out, Wolfram and Hart is the only TRUE Big Bad from ANGEL; characters like Holtz and Jasmine, while they fulfill the functions of a 'big bad' as per the parameters established by BtVS, would be more accurately referred to as 'little bads' under the parameters established by ANGEL, although a case could be made that S4 is the only season of ANGEL that did not feature W&H as the 'big bad', and that Jasmine replaced them in that role.

[ edited by DigificWriter on 2009-08-31 19:34 ]
Because Lindsey both works FOR W&H and then on his own :D
Master was weak. Ditto Adam. Glory is overrated, I feel, but superior to the three of her four predecessors. The Mayor of course, was perfect. I also liked Glory and the First, particularly Buffy squaring up physically against Caleb.

While Angel's Big Bads aren't quite to the same rhythm seasonality of Buffy's, and our intitial "Big Bads" have occasionally transpired to be Little Bads (Holtz, the Beast), I've rather liked the more noir and less clear-cut approach they have taken with most of their antagonists. Holtz and Jasmine being prime examples. Marcus and Wolfram & Hart, like Caleb & the First, deserve honourable mentions for making a clear good/evil divide the viewers can rally behind in the final season.

I liked Alpha, but I don't feel his characterisation in the two episodes we see him is so strong as to be compelling beyond the characters we know. Which is why not killing him off is fantastic, because it means we'll see the character grow to one day make his way into my favourites list.
Um, Donny Maclay anyone?

And it's funny that poor Ethan Rayne never gets his due. He tried so hard to be the big bad...with the right situation, I have no doubt that he would be welcomed into the Evil League of Evil with a unanimous vote (including the all important hoof of approval).
For me:

1. Jubal Early
2. Spike
3. Illyria
4. The Operative
5. Caleb

Not really sure about the order these five are in, or even if they all really qualify as a "Big Bad", but they were the first to spring to mind. I found these guys (and girl/woman/demon-goddess-thing) genuinely frightening. Especially the first three. They had this quality I favor - this unpredictability - that made them excellent baddies.
No Blue Sun? Sure, we didn't get to see much of them, but we have to suspect that in later seasons of Firefly (say, a hypothetical season 4 or 5) Blue Sun was going to be the new Wolfram and Hart.
My list:

10. Glory
9. The Mayor
8. Maggie Walsh
7. Warren Mears
6. Wolfram & Hart
5. The Powers That Be
4. Caleb
3. Evil Willow
2. The First
1. Angelus

Yeah, I said it. I consider the PTB big bads in their own right. Also, while Adam was pretty marginally evil, Maggie Walsh showed shades of Dr. Mengale I personally found terrifying.
Big bads, by my thinking, drive the entire season's actions. Alpha fails to meet this thinking, as would Jubal Early, Caleb or Illyria.

The Master actually does meet this, as does the Mayor, Glory, W&H, Trio of Stupid Doom, Angelus, etc. Firefly has no big bad. Serenity could with the Operative.
Angelus, Alpha, and the Operative are, in that order, my undisputed favorites as villains.
No love for Niska in this bunch, I see.
"Depression" was kind of a cop out.

I'll include the comics on mine, just to be fun.

10. The First Evil
9. Glory
8. Twilight (so far, might move up)
7. Darla
6. Alpha
5. Wolfram & Hart
4. Holtz
3. The Mayor
2. Gunn (After the Fall)
1. Angelus

I don't consider Spike and Dru big bads, just recurring villains. Dittor for the Trio.
I think that Lindsey and Lilah were the best 'foil' big bads, if that makes any sense. Something for the hero to clash against more than just physically.

But I wouldn't say they are the best. I don't know who I would, actually.
Villain is not the same as "big bad."
Big bads, by my thinking, drive the entire season's actions. Alpha fails to meet this thinking, as would Jubal Early, Caleb or Illyria.

While I agree on the others, I don't see why Alpha drives the season less than say... Angelus. Sure, there are episodes where he does not play a role at all, but that's true for Buffy S2 too, imo.

Come to think of it, Alpha was pretty much introduced like The First in S7: A mysterious cliffhanger in the opening episode, a looming presence in the background for a long time, and a season finale revolving entirely around fighting him.

And the best Big Bad Buffy ever had, was - of course - Life, in S6. :)
Yeah, "life" sums it up better than "depression" IMO though I get what they were aiming for.

The people who wrote that article have misinterpreted the concept of a 'big bad'. As I pointed out, Wolfram and Hart is the only TRUE Big Bad from ANGEL

You do indeed point that out DigiFicWriter, i'm just still waiting for you to explain it. Making a claim isn't the same as making a claim make sense and though WR&H make sense for big chunks of 'Angel' (particularly season 5) I don't think they fit for the entire series.
I like in the comments how somebody broke down the big bads by season, and for Angel Season 5, it was The WB.
patxshand, while not a surprise to most people, those who haven't read the comics have no idea about your #2... i'd throw spoiler tags on it :)
Alpha made the list to distract everyone from himself(s). ;)
Saje: By the parameters established by BtVS, a 'big bad' is any creature or person whose actions define the story arc for the entire season. ANGEL evolves this concept and, instead of using individual villains (or combinations of individual villains) as 'big bads', creates an entity, Wolfram and Hart, to serve in that capacity instead. Of the five seasons of ANGEL, most, if not all, of the events that occur are driven by or in some way involve W&H.

However, that article has taken the term 'big bad' to mean any villain who played a significant, or semi-significant, role in the storyline of a given Whedon-verse series or storyline.
As much as I relish all my favourite individual Whedonverse villains and their lines (Spike, Dru, Angelus, The Mayor, The Trio, Evil Willow, Glory), nothing will ever seem as all emcompassing and undefeatable as Wolfram & Hart. That's my number one by a mile, and one of the most inventive Whedonverse creations ever. Genius
And just wondering, when did "dark Willow" become evil Willow? Saw that in the article and twice in the comments. Personally, when I think Evil Willow, I think of the S8 comic book future Willow version. The Aly Hannigan Willow is just to cute to be evil. She was totally bad ass but I just don't think "evil" is the correct word. At most she was "snarky Willow."
Big bads, by my thinking, drive the entire season's actions. Alpha fails to meet this thinking, as would Jubal Early, Caleb or Illyria.

The Master actually does meet this, as does the Mayor, Glory, W&H, Trio of Stupid Doom, Angelus, etc. Firefly has no big bad. Serenity could with the Operative.


Bah. Semantics. To my thinking, a "Big Bad" is a villain that could destroy everything, and is damned hard to stop. Firefly was cut short, so who knows what Jubal Early could have become? Hell...with him around, there would've been no need for The Operative. He's a regular Boba Fett. And I'm sorry, but to say Illyria and Alpha didn't drive the seasons of their respective shows is blasphemy.
Angelus is definitely my number one big bad. Creepy, terrifying, heartbreaking for Buffy and he actually killed one of the Scoobies! After Angelus it would be the Mayor/Faith because the Mayor was an absolute hoot and Faith was wickedly sexy and dangerous. I loved the Buffy/Faith relationship and Faith/The Mayor relationship. After them it would be Wolfram and Hart because of their menace over every season of Angel. Then Spike/Dru because they were a lot of fun and I loved their interaction with Angelus as well.
Folks will always quibble, but that list got one thing right: depression/real life is the true big bad of Season Six. One could even say that Willow was just its tool... having wrestled with depression myself, I've gotta say that S6 nailed it perfectly. Almost too perfectly. When I feel myself slipping, I usually refer to it as "going Season Six."

As for the rest: the Mayor and Angelus. So fun to watch. I was utterly ecstatic when they brought Harry Groener back for S7.
...just taking the opportunity to register my annoyance at them saying that Angelus "took over Angel's body".

HE'S THE SAME PERSON! JUST SOULLESS! *fumes*
I'm sorry but what about the operative for big bad. Serously dude wiped out all of Serenity's safe places.

He would've became a big bad on the show if it had kept going.
If it had kept going, maybe. As it was he was pretty much de-fanged by the end of the film (and films don't seem to count to the article anyway).

By the parameters established by BtVS, a 'big bad' is any creature or person whose actions define the story arc for the entire season.

Well, the article explicitly says
...most of Whedon's earlier shows featured a "big bad," a major villain who caused trouble throughout an entire season, or series, for the heroes and their friends.

i.e. pretty much exactly your definition DigificWriter. It then goes on to list characters/entities that did exactly that and to explicitly rule out of the running those villains "... who [just] played a significant, or semi-significant, role in the storyline of a given Whedon-verse series or storyline.

I kind of get what you're saying about 'Angel' (the big bads on Buffy are certainly more overt) I just think having one big bad doesn't preclude having another. WR&H are the overarching big bad on Ats, doesn't mean you can't have other big bads which conform to your definition (and Jasmine for instance is surely one of them as is, arguably, Holtz). Still, we may just have to agree to disagree on this one.
The Mayor. The Biggest. Ever. (Because of Harry Groener's fantastic performance.)
And I missed Jubal Early from the top 10, he deserves a place there.
Always the Mayor for me, the acting was always perfect
Angelus is #1 for me. Actually he's my favourite villain of all time! I hate him, naturally, because he was an evil sadistic murdering bastard. But I love him because he was so good at being a deliciously evil sadistic murdering bastard. (plus leather pants + silk shirts = HOTTTT!!!) Then I hate him because I should want him to go but David is just delightful to watch when he's evil! But he also scares the shit out of me every time!

And he's hot!

2) Wolfram and Hart ( I can never look at lawyers in quite the same way again)
3) Drusilla
4) Alpha
5) Spike
6) Depression/the daily struggles of S6
7) The Mayor
8) Caleb
9) The First
10) Glory
Spike was never really a Big Bad. He was a Little Bad, as were the Trio. The Little Bads usually gave way to the Big Bad. Spike was the Little Bad to Angelus's Big Bad. The Trio/Warren was the Little Bad to Willow's Big Bad. Big Bads want to take over or destroy the world. Little Bads just want to rule their little piece of the world - or at least open the flood gates for the Bog Bad to enter.
Semantics are important. Without some agreement on what terms mean, these discussions become meaningless. The post was about big bads, not about "worst villains," and these are not the same thing. Niska was a "worst villain" but not a big bad. But who cares? It's not like this is an earthshakingly important thread here. Just another popularity contest where we get another chance to argue our faves again.
This is the only list where I can be happy with Angelus winning over Spike. Angel was so boring, but turn Angelus loose and the Big Bad was in the house. He was devastating to Buffy and the world in general and I was happiest when he was around. Yes HOT and SEXY is Angelus.
Saje: I wasn't really trying to disagree with you on the 'big bad' thing, although I don't personally consider either Jasmine or Holtz to be 'big bads'. My issues are with the TV Squad article, which seems to have ignored Joss' repeated statements about the Alliance and interpreted it as a 'big bad' when it's not, and taken Lindsey's actions during his tenure at W&H and turned them into 'big bad' material, along with the stuff he does in S5 (which isn't the case at all; he's more of an 'antihero' whose actions just so happen to be opposed to/in conflict with what our heroes are doing, and who is being viewed through 'rose-colored glasses' by one of said heroes).

Dana1450: The main problem here is that, because that article is flawed (as mentioned), it's led to flawed discussion, with people turning characters like Niska, Jubal Early, and the Gentlemen into 'big bads' when they're clearly not.

BTW, Joss DID set up some 'big bads' for Firefly: Badger (go read 'Those Left Behind' and you'll see why I say he's a 'big bad'), The Troubleshooters (AKA the 'Blue Hand Men'), and the Operative.
I don't think they're including the comics or films, seems just to be referring to Joss' TV Shows.

My issues are with the TV Squad article ...

Yeah, I get that DigificWriter, my issues are with your issues with the TV Squad article ;). For instance, you say to Dana5140 that the article has caused people to mention Jubal Early or The Gentlemen erroneously whereas the article itself actually explicitly says that they don't qualify precisely because they don't meet the criteria you yourself are adhering to:
Runners up: And here are the Whedon baddies who just missed the list, mostly because they only showed up for a few eps or didn't dominate a season: Evil Willow, The Gentlemen and Drusilla from Buffy; Lilah, Darla and Holtz from Angel; Badger, Jubal Early and Saffron from Firefly.

Just stating "They're wrong" or even "They're wrong because Joss said so" doesn't really work when they're either ambivalent themselves (about e.g. The Alliance) or have at least an arguable point (Lindsay was a season/series long thorn in Angel's side and though he was only working for WR&H - so you may say that they're the big bad not him - weren't WR&H ultimately working for the Senior Partners ? I.e. if you discount Lindsay because he was "just" an employee then why are WR&H a big bad, shouldn't it actually be the Senior Partners that are Ats' single big bad ?).

ETA: Though I guess you can see the Senior Partners as actually being in WR&H rather than "just" controlling them from their other dimension, which would render that point moot.[/ETA]

Which is a lot of text over not very much but (and I sincerely mean this with no ill-will whatsoever) when I see people stating their opinion as if it's an incontrovertible fact it seems worth pointing out that sayin' a thing (even more than once) don't make it so ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2009-09-01 16:11 ]
I know they weren't "The Big Bad" and we barely saw them, but the Reavers (or the idea of them) scared the hell out of me! And no-one else has mentioned them, so is it just me?
Reavers were pretty scary. I think the Alliance was the Big Bad of Firefly though. Which is not to say they weren't doing good as well as bad, or more complex than just the guys in the black hats. But in terms of Serenity's crew, they were driving all their problems. And as we later find out, that includes the Reavers.

ETA: I like that this list included depression as one of Buffy's Big Bads. Indeed.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2009-09-01 20:58 ]
There is only one true Big Bad, and his name is Gachnar!

And it's incontrovertible so you can't argue with me Saje. ;)
Damn youuuu ! *shakes fist in impotent rage*

;-)

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