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March 29 2010

Good character development includes the all-important "F*@% Yeah" moment. io9 takes an in-depth look at one of the key elements behind what inspires character investment in an audience. Multiple Firefly and other tangentially Whedon-related examples cited.

Fun article, but the author is clearly fluent in Tv Tropes language. Shouldn't he know that this is basically a Crowing Moment of Awesome?
Heh. It's true, though, that those moments are critical. Firefly, for instance, had multiple such moments in just the first few episodes. Mal has them most frequently. Kicking the guy into the engine, sure. But when he marches up into the ship and without thinking plugs the alliance mole in the head, I knew I'd love him and the show. Zoe also has amazing f-yeah moments, especially when Mal and Wash are being tortured. She has like six of them in a row. You can't get through that episode and not love her.

Buffy tends to have smaller moments, but my favorites are Giles'. When he saddles up after Jenny is killed. "I'd like to test that theory" (probably his best, shining moment). Funny how kick-ass lines tend to be six words.
This is a great article. I'm bookmarking it for if I ever feel my characters aren't awesome enough (or Airwolf enough).
I like that River's battle with the Reavers was mentioned. That was truly kick-ass.

I think there were a lot of "fuck yeah" moments in both Buffy & Angel, not just for the heros, but the villians as well. It's one of the things that made both series so interesting.
"Fuck yeah" moments are great but i'm a big fan of the smaller moments personally. And am I the only one that doesn't particularly think kicking the dude into the engine was a FY moment (in the sense I think of it anyway) ? I mean, the guy was tied up, where's the triumphal element that makes a FY moment a FY moment ? Hardass fo' sho', morally pragmatic and ruthless most definitely, fuck yeah not so much maybe. Shooting the Fed was though.

Agree that Crichton's "space walk" was a great FY moment because I loved the times when we were reminded that John Crichton was an astronaut and astrophysicist - he'd know it wouldn't kill him but he'd also know it'd be hella dangerous which is why it fit perfectly as a last ditch "balls to the wall" escape attempt. The best "fuck yeah"s (like the best action scenes) flow from the character.

Also, IMO Sulu's best FY moment is in "Undiscovered Country" as they're racing to Kitomer to assist the Enterprise and one of his crew says of the ship (something like) "But sir, she'll fly apart" and he responds without hesitation "Well fly her apart then !".

(and though BSG was full of them, the hot jump wasn't a fuck yeah moment for Adama IMO, that was all the Galactica herself. Tough "little" ship ;)

Some faves that spring to mind (TV and films):

- "Chuck" and "Guys ? I know Kung-fu".
- Xander's "I like the quiet" moment from "The Zeppo".
- Al Gough's last run (and more pertinently, jump) from "Flashforward" (don't agree with the article that it's had none though I do think some have been unearned). In your face pre-destination. Fuck yeah.
- as mentioned, River's "My turn" from 'Serenity'.
- Buffy stands in the face of evil and the tide turns from 'Chosen'.
- "Let's go to work" from 'Not Fade Away'.
- the entire rest of 'Not Fade Away' ;). Poetry slam (and particularly 'effulgent'), Gunn's ten minutes, Illyria's wish to do more violence. Perfect, near as.
- the end of the Batmobile vs Joker Lorry chase when the "Bat-bike" rolls up the wall, flips and comes back down in 'The Dark Knight'
- same film when Old Long Ears KNOWS for a cast-iron fact that "There aren't going to be any fireworks".
- "I'm The Doctor and you're in the biggest library in the universe. Look me up" from 'Forest of the Dead'.
- and every other time the end of all hope is suddenly punctuated by a slightly elderly, rhythmic wheezing sound. Another tough little ship (but only on the outside ;).

And no doubt loads of others that don't (spring to mind that is).
And am I the only one that doesn't particularly think kicking the dude into the engine was a FY moment (in the sense I think of it anyway)?

I agree.
It was a "fuck yeah" moment in the sense that Mal was standing up to a very nasty guy threatening to hunt him down and kill him. This is why I don't answer Firefly in any of those "which scifi universe would you like to live in?" polls. The Firefly world is pretty brutal and Mal's actually a big softie by its standards.
But do you get that sort of "Yesss !" feeling and urge to spontaneously make a fist (or clap or bounce around grinning like a big fool as, for instance, a certain person who is totally not me might have done at the 'Chuck' moment ;) when you watch it Sunfire ? That's what a fuck yeah moment is for me. Ballsy defiance is definitely often a part of it but there's also a triumphal edge I think, something slightly upbeat or at least positive (if not in the event itself then in what it means for the character). Whereas that was kind of business as usual for Mal I reckon, not a triumph or a disaster, just another day at the office.

Mileage etc. as always.

(and from this distance i'd live there, even if i'd probably regret it in reality. They have spaceships, I can put up with a lot of dystopia for spaceships ;)
"I'm Angel and I beat the bad guys" (from Your Welcome") is probably my favourite hell yeah moment.
In general I'm not a big fan of Anne but it does contain 1 of my favourite goosebump moments:
"I'm Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And you are?"
One reason I love the Whedonverse so much is because most every character has at least one big "fuck yeah" moment. Dollhouse hasn't been mentioned yet, but "The Attic" had so many great moments. Especially "My real name's Echo."

I'd even go so far as to say big comedy moments could be included in the category. For example, Harmony loading a body into a laundry bag and having it bank off the dumpster below. "Oh, crapola!"
Well, when you're talking FY moments, everything is subjective. One person doesn't like the Mal moment, I don't particularly care for the River moment. You know, that moment in which multiple enemies suddenly forgot that they had guns and decided to attack black ninja style? I liked the thought of the River moment and the emotion was definitely right, I just would have liked it better if it hadn't become some ridiculous to me that I was nearly laughing the first time I saw it.

Farscape was actually full of FY moments. I vividly remember Chrichton's speechifying while he's got a thermonuclear device hanging around his neck. There was actually the time he asked for a "hell yea" after kicking the Scorpius neural clone's arse. Still, interesting list. But as I said, subjective.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-03-30 16:09 ]
"I'm Angel and I beat the bad guys" (from Your Welcome") is probably my favourite hell yeah moment.

Oh my God, Simon, you're kidding?

I hate that line. It's one of the worst lines Angel ever uttered. (IMO, of course).

Mine is from "You're Welcome" too. Only mine is Lindsey throwing Angel across the room. :)

Edited to add: my favorite ever FY moment is from season 4 of Xena, when Gabrielle picks up a sword and uses it after Callisto strikes Xena down.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2010-03-30 16:29 ]
I love that line. We had Angel crapped on for most of season 5 and then he finally gets his mojo back. It's a great moment and the music complements it magnificently.
I adored season 5. I agree the music was good while it was said but that line was horrible.
I think almost everything Angel says to sound cool sound ridicolous. I think it's because it's Buffy kind of humour, and she does it better(not that her mock-the-enemy-before-slaying lines are cool, but they're less silly). I hated that they made him "whitty".

"Well, when you're talking FY moments, everything is subjective. One person doesn't like the Mal moment, I don't particularly care for the River moment. You know, that moment in which multiple enemies suddenly forgot that they had guns and decided to attack black ninja style? I liked the thought of the River moment and the emotion was definitely right, I just would have liked it better if it hadn't become some ridiculous to me that I was nearly laughing the first time I saw it."

You mean the reavers? Did they have guns? Even if they did, I doubt that's the way they prefered killing. Besides, it was one girl, I doubt they thought they needed guns.
You mean the reavers? Did they have guns? Even if they did, I doubt that's the way they prefered killing. Besides, it was one girl, I doubt they thought they needed guns.

Well, they'd already shot three people either with a ship cannon or darts by that point so I'm not we can make the claim they didn't know how to do it. And after reaver #10 bites it, I'm sorry but I just don't believe one of them doesn't pick up a gun and end it.

My problem with the Buffy-esque approach is that in Buffy we are presented with vampires and demons having some sort of moral qualms about killing her in such a simple way. Something that was actually brilliantly higlighted with Warren when he realizes out of desperation, "wait a minute, *I* can do this." The reavers seem to be opposite, they just want to kill and they don't seem to care what manner they choose. Wash would be the perfect example. They didn't need to fire into the cockpit, there was no reason. The ship had crashed. They may want to eat you alive, they don't have to.

So within that movie we had these two different ideas, "reavers will kill anyone at any time" and "reavers have to kill you in hand to hand or not at all" working within a roughly 30 minute window. I'm not saying it has to bug other people, it just drove me batty.
"Say, what does that make us, Zoe?"
"Big damn heroes, sir."
"Ain't we just."

"There's just one thing you forgot about. Sunrise. [...] It's in like nine hours, moron."

Cordelia's tearing apart Harmony at the end of "BBB."

"There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is green."

Besides "I'd like to test that theory," "Two to Go" also has the (to me anyway) delightful, though not awesome in the "good" (moral) sense: "Jonathan. Andrew. You boys like magic, don't you? Abracadabra."

"You're not in my gorram mind, you're on my gorram SHIP!"

"What can I say? I'm the best actor in the world." "Second best."

The rocket launcher.

Every Dominic/Adelle scene, really, but: "Bitch. I'd rather die." "I'd rather you didn't."

This is more a moment of awesome for the show than for the character, but I get chills every time I think of: "We're the only thing standing between you and real darkness!" "I know. You're all fired."

Wesley shooting his "father." My stomach clenched.

The "Checkpoint" speech to the council.

Dawn screaming at the "ghost" keeping her from her "mother" to die in CWDP.

"I walk. I talk. I shop, I sneeze. I'm gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. There's trees in the desert since you moved out, and I don't sleep on a bed of bones. So GIVE ME BACK MY FRIENDS."

"You're a dead man, Finn." "No sir, I'm an anarchist."

"You are NOT going to kill those people." "Why not?" "Because it's wrong."

Basically *all of* "Out of Gas" for Mal, but especially drawing a gun on the people invading his ship right after being shot, giving them instructions by name, giving himself an adrenhaline shot....

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2010-03-30 17:40 ]
They get instant respect from me for including the "I'M COMING FOR ALL OF YOU" line from BSG. I thought I was the only one who adored that line. :P
"There are five people in the world who can make that shot?..:grunt:: Guess I'm one of 'em." Casey, Chuck

"Shepherd Book once told me, 'If you can't do something smart, do something right'." Jayne, Serenity
Azzer I'm going to put this to rest for you.

Reavers absolutely had guns. They had regular guns (Jayne and Simon were shot with bullets), some kind of dart guns, and, of course, they had poop-balls, which were presumably fired from some kind of gun or device. However, it had been stated more than once in the movie that Reaver prefer the upclose kill. They like to get their hand and teeth into their prey. They are psychotic, cannabalistic monsters, not trained soldiers. Sure a few of them used guns against the crew when they were in good cover and shooting back, but most of the Reavers suicidally charged into the room. With River that close, their insticts would would have been stronger than whatever intelligence they had left that might have told them: "Hey there's an easier way to do this."

You are also underestimating the difficulty of using guns in an enclosed space. With River moving quickly, hacking and slashing, even if one thought, "Hey maybe I should just shoot her instead of suicidally charging her like the last ten guys," (which a Reaver would certainly never think in such a situation) by the time he actually brought his gun up, aimed and fired, the psychic killing machine, who started off four feet away, would have chopped his head off. And even if he got a shot off he would be more likely to hit his own guys rather than the single tiny ballerina tearing them to shreds.

You are also underestimating the effectiveness of using a close-quarters weapon in . . . well . . . close quarters. Especially in the dark.

And lastly you are underestimating the badassedness of River, who is a psychic assassin with a major grudge. "My turn" indeed.

In short, I find nothing unrealistic about that sequence (except the whole psychic assassin-trained teen-aged girl vs. an army of space zombies thing).

But this is my issue. We're playing the "they're tactical, no they're not" game. So they're perfectly capable of knowing not to simply run with swords into killing zones set up by our wacky crew, without ALSO firing guns at them. This is how Simon and Kaylee end up shot. We know that to be true.

Point 1: That scene alone tells you that, "yes, they are in fact capable of some tactical thought." Unless your case is they just fire randomly and got lucky twice and there were not tactics involved. We don't have to claim they are smart, or logical. We DO need to be consistent from one scene to the next though. The fact that they use cover tells you they may not all be smart, but they're not all stupid either.

Regarding close quarters. If her range is 4 feet, you stand back 5 feet. We've established they possess basic tactical thought even if it is more instinctual than intellectual. Hell, they are fighting ship to ship combat earlier. And I doubt they care about inadvertantly killing their friends either, they seem perfectly willing to die for killing something else.

Meanwhile the room did look like it was a choke point but looked much larger than 10x10 with an open doorway and cover in the room. They figured out the doorway previously, I can't agree with your supposition that now that she's in the room, the Reavers are no longer allowed to use cover. I love a good ninja brawl as much as the next person, I'm just realistic enough to know that they don't actually happen in real life when people aren't sparring. The reaver's aren't trying to score 10's with the judges, they're trying to kill a person.

Re: badassedness - Funny. If she were using her brain to kill them, or at some point she gave some explanation that she was using her brain to prevent them from thinking clearly I would have bought it. We weren't given these explanations. Justification then becomes a matter of fanwanking a theory to fit something so our end result makes sense. Yes, I can CREATE a theory to explain that scene, but I can't say that using basic logic and the facts we have seen up until that point can get me there.

And that's my problem. It irks me a little when TV shows vary their rules episode by episode, but not nearly as much as when a motion picture does it in the same motion picture. And that said, I'm only justifying *my* reaction. Your milage may vary.
I concur with Simon. "You're Welcome" is probably my favorite individual episode of Angel, with many great moments, and I, too, found "I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys," to be a "YEAH!" [my personal equivalent of "hell yeah", or "fuck yeah"] moment.
What icallitvera said. Plus, because it looked frickin' awesome.
I never meant to imply that River can control peoples minds. She reads them. This gives her a huge advantage. Like shooting people with her eyes closed. Besides, she doesn't need to confuse them. They are creatures of pure rage and out of control instinct. Also, Reavers never use cover in Serenity. They get bottlenecked in a doorway and while the ones in the back wait their turn to come to literal grips with the enemy they take a few potshots. The Reavers' preference for hand to hand combat is well established early in the film. They are animalistic killers. They are full of rage and either don't feel pain or enjoy it, given the amount of self-mutilation. This is all established in the film. Also, that room was tiny. Watch the shootout in that room again. That room can't be much bigger than 10x10. The only cover was positioned in front of the now closed doorway. I don't have to make things up. It's all there in the film. Unless for some reason you want there to be something wrong with the logic of that scene there's no reason to assume that there is. Sure Reavers will shoot people if they have to. But it's only when they have to. Their preference is to take people alive and then eat them. You can't really do that if you shoot them to death. And this is an individual preference. Reavers as individuals are driven by a need to eat people alive. It's not like it's some order from Reaver High Command. There is no such thing. They kill people with guns when they have no choice but they prefer the up-close kill. It's not a strategy, it's their nature. Reavers don't have strategies. Their tactics are dictated by their instincts.

And yes, mostly because "it looked frickin' awesome."
it's interesting that anders doesn't really discuss the fact that one person's 'fuck yeah' is another person's 'ho hum'.

my source of contention: his mention of the wolfman in such a way that assumes that everyone who reads his article will agree with him that it is a forgettable film. just because the film does not have what he needs that doesn't mean it doesn't have what some people need. and i think that it's safe to say the same about a lot of the works he does and does not mention.

the wolfman is one of the only films i've seen lately that i cannot wait to watch again. in fact, the only other (recent) film i even have the patience to sit through again is harry potter and the half blood prince, due to its several draco FY moments.
How can no one have mentioned Giles's dramatic return at the end of Buffy season 5? One of the greatest Fuck Yeah! moments ever.
Do you mean the end of season 6 ? Cos *cough* second comment in the thread *cough* ;).
Look at the phrase "only when they have to" and then listen to your description of an unstoppable killing machine. Why did they all of a sudden NOT have to take potshots? Were they being MORE successful all of a sudden? They had to when they were being gunned down and I'm pretty sure they would have preferred hand to hand then too.

Even if I let you have the 10 x 10 argument, which I honestly think was larger since I'm sitting in a 10x10 room at the moment and you couldn't fit that many people in a line across it without being shoulder to shoulder, that still doesn't explain why someone isn't firing a gun. Again, they were doing it before. Yes, they are getting into the room but they're not taking it. So what has changed?

And thanks for insinuating that my problem with film elements stems from my need to have a problem with the film rather than something I'm actually seeing. That's just swell. I do ever so enjoy armchair psychoanalysis of people making points about story construction. I find that very respectful. What's my response to that supposed to be?

Should we throw out anything else that could cause me to have problems with film construction like, "you hate Joss Whedon" or "a psychic female teenager must have killed your dog?"

Perhaps I should restate what I said.

And that said, I'm only justifying *my* reaction. Your milage may vary.

And stated very simply, I do not understand from the logic of the movie how the reavers go from "space-faring scourge capable of battling the Alliance" to "mindless cattle in an abattoir." Especially since when initially taking the room, they seemed capable of some degree of tactical thought.
One that I feel absolutely must be mentioned: Glory in S5 'The Gift' says to Tara "I know you, what are you doing here?"
Willow, "She's with me." I cheer every time.

Also Angel at the end of Season 2 "Now that's everything, huh? No weapons... No friends...No hope. Take all that away... and what's left?" Buffy, "Me."

And this is a more general FY moment for the entire Buffy series, but the First's montage at the end of S07E01. Dude. It's about power.

I'm getting all nostalgic from this post.
Azzer you accused me of fanwanking and basically making things up first. I was just pointing out that there is such a thing as the opposite of fanwanking: when someone, for whatever reason (maybe it was just some niggling undefinable concern in the back of their mind or maybe, yes a psychic female teenager killed their dog), decides they don't like a scene or something about it bothers them and so they go out of their way to undermine the logic of that scene.

Saying "why didn't the Reavers just not be stupid" is assuming that Reavers think like normal people. It's true that we don't know anything about Reaver society. Do they have some kind of hierarchy? Are some Reavers smarter than others? Certainly the Reavers that suicidally charging into Jayne's minigun's field of fire didn't seem smart enough to pilot a space ship.

But, the Reavers didn't launch an organized attack on the Alliance, they just, individually, chased Serenity into the middle of an Alliance fleet. Maybe when Reavers are only around other Reavers they sit around drinking chianti and discussing Sun Tzu. Or maybe not. We don't know. What we do know is that when Reavers are around normal people they tend to charge with no regard for their own lives and only use guns when they are physically incapable of reaching their prey with their own hands. It's the classic banzai charge. Horribly wasteful in terms of lives lost but capable of breaking the lines of even better armed and positioned enemies. Nowhere in the film does it say that Reavers are capable of sitting back and considering whether it would be best to use a gun or an axe in this particular situation. It really bugs me too when creators completely disregard their own mythology but as the mental acuity of Reavers has never been established most people will give the film the benefit of the doubt. My view has always been: why poke holes in something if you don't have to?

Also, no one said you had to keep debating this with me. Personally I was enjoying the back and forth, and did not mean to offend you on a personal level with anything I wrote.

The short version is this: at the beginning of the film it was entirely possible that you were right; that Reavers were in fact smart enough to know when to use a gun and when not to. It was also equally possible that I was right and that Reavers, when faced with prey in easy reach will charge regardless of the tactical situation. Since they did the latter my theory proved to be correct. And since their actions can be rationalized I don't see the harm in enjoying the scene for its own sake. Now maybe you wish Reavers were smart enough to know when to use guns (which I'll concede might have made them more interesting and scarier in the long run), but that's a whole other discussion and this post is already way too long.
Angel: "We're champions...we live as though the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be."

Buffy kicking Angelus in the balls at the end of Innocence.

Pretty much any time Wesley has a gun.

And the article is right, you don't always get a FY moment in real life...but then again, there's Joss himself:

"So, why do you write these strong female characters?"

"Because you're still asking me that question."

Fuck. Yeah.
Joss's intro to the Serenity pre-screenings was pretty FY worthy too.
Personally, even though it is probably morally wrong, I loved the moment when Angel walks away from all those evil lawyers.They earned what they got. Definitely a FY moment.
But do you get that sort of "Yesss !" feeling and urge to spontaneously make a fist (or clap or bounce around grinning like a big fool as, for instance, a certain person who is totally not me might have done at the 'Chuck' moment ;) when you watch it Sunfire ?

No, it's not really that strong of a moment for me, although I am really fond of it. I just see how it could be despite being dark and grisly.
Agreed. As long as we're all better people. I must admit, sometimes those threads take on a bit of a life of their own.
Other people have beaten me to them, but: "I walk. I talk. I sneeze. I shop..." and "Because you're still asking me that question."

I'd also like to add two personal favorites, one which may not even have a line attached: Spike standing up at the end of "I Only Have Eyes For You," for starters, and of course "I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm..."

And, lastly, "Are you ready to be strong?"
Anne has a lot of great moments. I love “Hi, I’m Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you are?” and when Buffy’s got the two weapons in her hands and is just *daring* any of those henchmen to take her on. To this day I wish they never took that shot off the end of the opening credits.

I also love;

-Buffy marching towards the school in Prophecy Girl with Angel and Xander following her and the BtVS theme playing in the background. Yeah it’s totally cheesy but I love it.

-Buffy kicking Angelus in the balls

- Buffy facing off with Spike in Schoolhard - "You shouldn't have come here"

-When Buffy gatecrashes the Acathala ceremony and greets Angelus with “Hello lover.” She’s so badass in that scene.

-Buffy and Faith sizing each other up before their big fight in Graduation Day - "You ready to cut loose?” “Try me”

-Buffy beating the crap outta Sunday and all of the Scoobies charging in to help her - “In the three seconds it takes for you to turn to dust, I think you’ll find the mistake was touching my stuff!”

-Buffy and Faith’s face off in This Year’s Girl - “To me, mostly, it means you still like to mouth off about things you don’t understand (hears sirens) Uh oh, looks like somebody knows you’re here!”

-Willow brain blasting Glory in The Gift - “She’s with me!”

-Buffy hitting Glory with the troll hammer - “Ah, Glory? (BAM!) You’re not the brightest god in the heavens are you?”

-Buffy killing Razor’s gang

-Buffy and Willow’s square off in Two to Go - “Six years as the sideman now I get to be the slayer”

-Giles’s return – “I’d like to test that theory”

-Faith attacking Caleb in Dirty Girls (Yeah I have no idea why because she gets her arse kicked, but I love her attitude here and when she gets one good lick in)

- When Buffy and Satsu come through the portal in The Long Way Home - "Sound off! Who’s hurt? Stay calm, dammit!" "No. Panic"

For Ats;

Angel dusting two vampires at the same time in City Off

Lilah chopping Linwoods head off at their board meeting in Deep Down

Gunn hurling the axe into the Senators head in NFA

Anytime Angel punches Lindsey in the face!

Illyria punching Vail’s face so hard that it explodes – “Take your best shot little girl”

Team Angel VS Holtz’s men in Lullaby

For Dollhouse;

Mellie attacking Hearn

Echo turning on Alpha in Omega

Adelle squaring off against Mr Ambrose and Boyd shooting them all dead. LOVE IT.

When Adelle tells Topher “she runs the house” and that she won’t let anyone challenge that and then Echo walks back in all slow-mo and badass

Echo VS Whiskey/Clyde – “I will scrub the floor with you”

Sorry long list! I think the shows have lots of great moments. Outside of the Jossverse I'd say BSG probably had the most 'Fuck Yeah!' moments for me.
Lilah chopping Linwoods head off at their board meeting in Deep Down.

I loved that moment too, vampmogs. I wasn't expecting it at all. I also liked another Lilah moment, when she shot the bad guy in the episode "Billy".

Lilah was pretty kick-ass, even if she was evil.
Yup! Lilah's totally awesome! :D

Someone should really write a Lilah VS Adelle fic.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2010-03-31 12:34 ]
I think nearly every character had a "Fuck yeah" moment. Even the Mayor did: eating Snyder.

Someone should make a list.
Spike's 'Guess what, bitch?' speech in Intervention to Glory had me going 'Fuck yeah!'. But I might be weird. :p

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