TV URBAN LEGEND: The plan was always to kill off Doyle in Season 1 of Angel.
When Angel was given a sort of backdoor pilot at the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3, Angel was given advice from a mysterious demon named Whistler, played by Max Perlich...
However, Perlich was replaced on the actual series by a new demon character named Doyle, played by Glenn Quinn...
So the original cast on Angel was David Boreanaz, Glenn Quinn and Charisma Carpenter...
However, just 9 episodes into the series, Doyle was killed off.
Glenn Quinn was tragically dealing with a number of substance abuse issues during the filming of Season 1 and eventually sadly died of an accidental overdose just two years after he left the series. So this has led to a whole number of questions of whether Doyle was always meant to be written off of the show early in Season 1 or if that was something that changed after the fact.
Do note that when Buffy the Vampire Slayer started, there were THREE close friends that became friends with Buffy at the start. Besides Xander and WIllow, there was also Jesse, played by Eric Balfour...
Jesse was captured by vampires in the first episode of the series and was then revealed to have been turned into a vampire (and then later killed off for good) in the second episode. Joss Whedon wanted to have Eric Balfour be part of the opening credits of the series to trick fans into thinking he was going to be a regular cast member, only to kill him off in the second episode.
Therefore, Whedon clearly DID have thoughts about surprising the viewers with deaths of major characters. However, let's take a look at his actual statements about the planned nature of Doyle's death.
That was always a plan, and clearly that character didn't mesh. He was a very popular character, but the mesh was very difficult in ways that made it hard to write. Glenn had a kind of intensity that was kind of like David [Boreanaz's], and David already has that. It could have gone a different way, but that was the plan we had and we decided to execute it. Glenn Quinn knew that it was an issue and he learned pretty early on. I said this is what we're going to do...' and I promised him a hero's exit.
Even as he explains that it was always the plan, he contradicts himself, no? The "mesh was difficult"? How would that matter if you were always killing the guy off?
This seems to be borne out in an interview in 2000 when Whedon continued to argue that he was always going to kill Doyle off. He said, "There were different scenarios that could have taken place."
Then, of course, there was Angel writer, David Fury, who later explained:
"Joss has bandied about, 'I love the idea of putting a character in the main credits as one of the stars of the show and then kill him right off the bat.' But in the case of Doyle, he didn't want to kill off Doyle. It just became a situation. The work situation became difficult.... It's hard enough to make a television show without the headaches."
In other words, what sure seems to be the case is that Joss Whedon had the idea that he says he did in that 2000 interview, "We had always wanted to shake things up by getting rid of Angel's mentors by setting up somebody that we had assumed was going to be there the whole time and then killing them really surprisingly." That idea was probably always there. The issue is just whether it was simply an idea that Whedon had or a definitive plan. I am sure that it is something that Whedon did, in fact, think about doing and that is why he has been so adamant that it was always the plan, to the point where he has stressed in interviews that he is not lying about that.
And I think that he probably is not lying about that being an idea that he had. However, what Fury suggests is that while the idea was always around, it was not really something as concrete as "Okay, Doyle is dead" right from the start and even Whedon seems to concede that with his comments about there being different scenarios that could have taken place.
So I'm going with the legend as...
STATUS: False Enough for a False, but probably just a question of semantics, really. Whedon probably can honestly say that he wasn't lying about the situation.
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