Joss Whedon has an enduring legacy as a writer. Much of it is in due part to his contributions to the MCU, but long before any of that came to pass, he gathered a fan base after creating a series of much beloved shows. These shows — Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog –are all lumped together into what is universally referred to as the Whedonverse. Through these shows, Whedon was able to contribute a large chunk to pop culture and grew a multitude of fans.
The storylines he created for all of these shows gave birth to a plethora of fandoms. He would have given even more to the world had original plans not changed. In some cases, some ideas he had for shows never came to pass at all. Sometimes for the better, and in some cases, for the worse. Many of the ideas that Joss Whedon had which almost reached the screen are so shocking that readers probably would not believe us if we told anyone about any of them, but we are going to talk about them to our readers anyway. Here are 25 of Joss Whedon’s most shocking plans and ideas that we will never see happen on-screen.
25. BRITNEY SPEARS’S BUFFY CAMEO
The 15th episode of season five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, titled “I Was Made to Love You,” saw the debut of April, the robot girlfriend of future Big Bad Warren. The character was played by Shonda Farr, but the crew behind the episode were hoping for a much more sensational casting for April. And by sensational, we are talking about pop sensation Britney Spears.
Both Joss Whedon and co-writer David Fury confirmed that they had written the character with Britney Spears in mind because they believed Spears could give a “robotic” performance.
They even went as far as to approach Spears with an offer to appear on the show, but Spears had to politely decline because she wanted to play an ally to the Scooby Gang, not a “mindless slave robot.”
24. ANGEL’S CANCELLED “CORRUPT” EPISODE
When Joss Whedon first comprised Angel as a spinoff of Buffy, he hoped to make Angel a much grittier, mature, and darker alternative to what came before it. He tried to highlight that newfound grit through its second episode ever. Not its actual second episode, “Lonely Hearts,” but the unproduced script for “Corrupt.”
The episode would have been about Angel investigating a sea of prostitutes who have all gone missing in the LA area. To do so, Cordelia goes undercover as one of them. Speaking of undercover, Kate Lockley is conceived in this script originally as a drug addicted cop working undercover as a prostitute rather than a detective. The episode was considered far too adult in theme and was abandoned in favor of the lighter “Lonely Hearts.”
23. THAT ONE REALLY GRAPHIC FIREFLY EPISODE
A lot of the underdeveloped ideas and plans featured on this list that never came to fruition have us bummed out that these ideas never came to be. But, if there is one idea that we are glad never developed, it’s this ill-conceived Firefly episode. As we may remember from previous episodes, Inara carried around a mysterious syringe. We may also remember that Captain Mal also made a lot of slutshaming jokes at her expense.
Before Firefly was cancelled, there were plans for a future episode to reveal that Inara’s syringe was basically a precautionary measure.
If she was assaulted after taking the syringe, her assailant would almost immediately die of a horrible disease. That’s what happens to a gang of Reavers after they assault her later in the episode. After Mal learns what happened, he decides to start treating Inara with respect.
22. PLANS FOR ECHO IN SEASON THREE
After two seasons that pitifully tanked in the ratings, it came as no surprise to anyone to see Dollhouse get the axe from FOX in 2010. Unlike another show of Joss Whedon’s, this one actually got a proper finale in the form of “Epitaph Two.” A finale in the sense that this was the show’s end game and that nothing more was planned. Surprisingly, more was, in fact, planned.
Producer Tim Minear revealed in an interview that had the show returned for a third season, it would have likely embraced its mythology enough to turn into a full blown superhero show in the same vein as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Echo would have actively drawn upon abilities that she learned at high speed, such as negotiations and hand-to-hand combat.
21. SUNDAY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER TURNED VAMPIRE
Some readers out there may recall that in the fourth season premiere episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer titled “The Freshman,” the antagonist of the episode was Sunday, the former UC Sunnydale student turned vampire. Just your typical, basic vampire of the week right there. Except, prior to production officially going underway, there were plans to give Sunday a much more intriguing backstory.
Originally, Sunday was meant to be a former Slayer turned vampire.
This would explain why Sunday could so easily outmatch Buffy in hand-to-hand combat, unlike the average vamp. For whatever reason, the idea was scrapped before filming. Maybe the writers realized that this was too complicated of a backstory for a character that would just get dusted at the end of the episode.
20. FREDDIE PRINZE JR. AS DRACULA
For the fifth season opener of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy met her biggest challenge yet in the form of the most legendary vampire to ever walk the face of the earth: Count Dracula, played by Rudolf Martin. To make such a momentous occasion in the history of the show, Joss Whedon originally wanted a big actor to play Dracula. To fill such a big role, Whedon originally called on none other than Sarah Michelle Gellar’s real life husband, Freddie Prinze Jr.
For unknown reasons, those plans ended up falling by the wayside and as a replacement, they ended up getting Rudolf Martin who, ironically enough, previously played Gellar’s on-screen lover when they were both on the cast of another soap opera, All My Children.
19. GILES IN ANGEL’S FIFTH SEASON
We never saw another on-screen appearance of Rupert Giles after the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but there were originally plans to add him to the cast of Angel during the show’s fifth season. In the episode “A Hole in the World,” Angel and Spike would have sought Giles out to find a cure for Fred after she gets infected and possessed by Illyria.
Giles would be the one to begrudgingly tell the duo that there is no way to save Fred.
Whedon wanted someone who both the characters and the audience would believe about this news, but it proved too expensive to fly Anthony Stewart Head to LA from England. His role in the episode was replaced by Drogyn, a character who is mystically compelled to always tell the truth no matter what.
18. THE VERUCA/OZ/WILLOW STORYLINE
In season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz falls in love with a fellow werewolf named Veruca while dating Willow. The two have an affair, Willow finds out, her and Oz breakup, Veruca and Oz duke it out to the death (she dies), and Oz leaves Sunnydale to look for a werewolf cure. This all happens in a span of about four episodes. It all seems rather rushed, but that is only because the writing team had to accelerate their plans.
This entire love triangle was supposed to play out throughout most of season four, but Seth Green had abruptly decided to leave the show. Basically on short notice, Whedon and Co. had to condense their entire planned season long arc into a manner of episodes before Green’s last episode.
17. JAYNE GOES ROGUE
Jayne’s loyalty — or rather his disloyalty — to his crew was already put into question in the episode “Ariel” where he called the feds on his own crew. Had the show continued, it is very likely that Jayne’s loyalty as a character flaw would be further explored in future episodes.
In an interview, Adam Baldwin that he pitched an idea where Jayne would go rogue from the Serenity crew and instead helm a crew of his own.
He would get his own people and his own ship, but Jayne would quickly realize that being the captain of his own ship is no easy task. Eventually, everything would blow up in his face and he would go crawling back to Captain Mal with a much more humbled persona.
16. OZ RETURNS IN ANGEL SEASON SIX
After discovering that Willow moved on from him and onto Tara, Oz left Sunnydale for good and never returned on-screen to the Buffyverse again. Things would have been a much different story had the original plans for Oz to join Angel’s sixth season had actually come together.
Before Angel was cancelled, one of the plans for the sixth season would have saw Seth Green return to the fray as Oz, likely to help Nina — Angel’s girlfriend at the time — hone her own abilities as a werewolf. When thrown out there amongst the writing team, this idea had to still be in the earliest stage of development considering that Seth Green claims that he was never approached about reprising his role before the show was cancelled.
15. DAWN’S APPEARANCE IN ANGEL SEASON FIVE
When the season five episode of Angel called “The Girl in Question” saw Angel and Spike go to Italy to warn Buffy about dating their sworn enemy The Immortal, fans were disappointed that Sarah Michelle Gellar never actually appeared in the episode. Believe it or not, Buffy was never planned to make an on-screen appearance, but her sister was.
Spike and Angel were supposed to run into Dawn while in Italy and she would have a big role in the episode.
Since Michelle Trachtenberg was unavailable for filming, Andrew Wells was the character who got the guest spot instead. It’s also worth noting that in the comic book canon, Buffy was never dating The Immortal. When Angel and Spike think they see Buffy from afar, it was a party going impostor. Andrew just went along with it as a prank.
14. THREE ANGEL ACTORS TO FIREFLY
Joss Whedon loves using his old Buffyverse actors in other movies and shows that he does — hence why there are so many random Buffyverse actor cameos littered across the first two Avengers movies — and he had plans to do the same for Firefly had that show continued. In a 2013 interview, Whedon revealed that that he had planned for James Marsters, Alexis Denisof, and Amy Acker to show up in a future episode as a travelling Shakespeare troupe.
This may seem like an odd decision to put on a sci-fi western, but Whedon reminds us that this sort of thing was “a staple of the John Ford westerns, there’s always that over the top theater guy.” The premise would have seen the trio try to put on a play in the cargo bay.
13. FRED AND ILLYRIA SPLIT
For many fans, one of the most devastating moments in the entirety of the Buffyverse was when longtime Angel cast member Winifred “Fred” Burkle died, and moments later had her body taken over by the entity known as Illyria. The character of Illyria managed to grow on the fans eventually, but they wish it didn’t come at the cost of sacrificing their longtime favorite.
Had season sixsix come to pass, fans would have been able to have their cake and eat it too as both Illyria AND Fred would have been members of the cast.
Whedon planned for Fred to return and Amy Acker would have played both characters in tandem. While this never happened on-screen, this did come to fruition in the comic issue of Angel & Faith, “United: Part Four.”
12. TARA RETURNS
Prior to Buffy the Vampire Slayer wrapping up its seventh and final season, Joss Whedon had plans to bring Tara back from the dead. He had two ideas. The first would have saw the season’s Big Bad, The First, show up to Willow in the form of Tara in an attempt to guilt trip the wiccan into killing herself. In a much lighter idea of Whedon’s, he wanted to center an episode around the premise of Buffy having just one life altering wish of hers granted.
She would spend much of the episode considering a number of options — restoring Angel’s soul, a new pair of shoes, etc — but in the end, she’d decide to bring Tara back to life on the one year anniversary of Tara’s death. Amber Benson was never available for filming, so both ideas got scrapped.
11. SPIKE’S SPIN-OFF
In the wake of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s departure from television, there was a flurry of different ideas thrown out there for spin-offs, but perhaps none more than Spike getting his spin-off. While most of the proposed spin-offs were for possible television shows, Spike would have gotten his own movie. The proposed project had been thrown around as being worked on every couple years, but the project has since been considered dead after in 2012, James Marsters admitted that he was too old to play Spike anymore.
Although, he did clarify in 2016 that he would reprise the role if there was technology to make him younger, the Spike movie is as good as dead.
10. THE DYING PLANET EPISODE OF FIREFLY
Once in an interview, Nathan Fillion broke down a pitch he heard from Joss Whedon about an episode of Firefly that he had planned before the cancellation. The episode would find the crew land on a planet where it’s inhabitants would treat them very well before revealing that their planet is on the brink of literal destruction.
They want Mal and his crew to help them escape their planet, but Mal knows that the planet is so distant that they will all run out of air unless they run into another ship. Mal agrees, but when the crew is sleeping, he steers the ship and flees the planet. When they fail to run into another ship eons later, they realize they all would have died had they saved those people.
9. BAD HORSE JUMPS TO ANGEL
The never seen, but always heard – -heard because all of his dialogue comes in musical form — supervillain leader of the Evil League of Evil, Bad Horse, was often one of the more hilarious and globally acclaimed aspects of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
Although the original web series never hit the internet until 2008, the character of Bad Horse was originally pitched for Angel.
One of Joss Whedon’s writers, Ben Edlund, pitched it to him because to him, since horses on television are usually always nice, an evil horse villain would be really scary. Whedon thought the idea was too hokey and goofy for the show, but reused Bad Horse for Dr. Horrible since hokey and goofy is pretty much the tone of the web series.
8. DOYLE RETURNS
Despite being introduced as a vital member of the cast during Angel’s first season, Doyle died after just a handful of episodes. A few years later, Whedon wanted to bring the character back from the dead for season three or four, but this time as a Big Bad. Before Whedon could go further with his ideas or even ask the actor if he wanted to return to the show, Glenn Quinn passed away from a heroin overdose in 2002.
The closest we ever got to seeing “Doyle” return was when Lindsey went around pretending to be Doyle in season five. Lindsey’s actor, Christian Kane, and David Boreanaz himself were actually uncomfortable with that season five arc considering that both were good friends of Quinn before his passing.
7. BUFFY/XANDER WAS ALMOST A THING
Some audiences may remember that in season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander had a bit of a crush on Buffy. Eventually, that crush faded away and the two settled on being just friends. However, had Nicholas Brendon had it his way, Xander and Buffy would have hooked up. In fact, Sarah Michelle Gellar hoped for the same.
During the hiatus between seasons six and seven, Brendon and Gellar both pitched to Joss Whedon that Buffy should end up with Xander.
They both thought it would be a logical step for Buffy to go after Spike attempted to assault her, rather than go back to Spike. Whedon believed there was still potential in the Buffy/Spike romance due to the fan response to it. Plus, he always believed Xander and Buffy’s love should be unrequited.
6. SLAYER SCHOOL
Of all of the spin-offs proposed to reach the airwaves after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of the more curious ones had to be Slayer School. Not much is known about the idea beyond that it would piggyback on how repercussions of the final episode would ensure that every girl in the world who had the potential to be a slayer actually becomes a slayer.
It has been suggested that the show would have featured many of the seventh season’s Potentials joining the cast and perhaps Willow would have been onboard as well, maybe as a mentor to the young girls. Marti Noxon pitched the idea to Whedon, who after some back and forth, ultimately passed because he didn’t think such an idea felt right. It seems like the idea never went further than a pitch.
5. ANGEL AS AN ACTUAL ANGEL
When Joss Whedon and his writing team first conceived the character of Angel while writing the pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they had not initially decided that he would be a vampire with a soul. They just knew that Angel was a weirdo who randomly popped up to give Buffy advice. The writing team started brainstorming what Angel’s big identity reveal should be.
One idea was that Angel was an actual angel who needed to complete a certain number of good deeds before he was allowed access back into Heaven.
It makes us wonder how drastically different Buffy and Angel’s spin-off show (or if he would even get one) would be had that idea came to pass. It was not decided Angel would be a vampire until they started writing the episode where he reveals himself, “Angel.”
4. TUCKER WELLS AS SEASON SIX’S BIG BAD
Tucker Wells seems to have become something of a forgotten character in the history of the Buffyverse, but he played a big role in season three as the villain of the episode “The Prom” after unleashing a sea of hellhounds onto the Sunnydale High Prom because he couldn’t get a date for the dance. Joss Whedon had a originally planned for Tucker Wells to return in season six as the Big Bad of the season.
He would have been the one leading a Trio of misfits alongside Jonathan and Warren (who would have played a more impish, unwilling role in the chaos). Unfortunately, the actor was not available for filming, so Warren was bumped up as the ruthless leader and the character of Andrew Wells (Tucker’s brother) was created to fill the role of reluctant participant.
3. SPIKE CAMEO WOULD HAVE ADDED FIREFLY TO THE BUFFYVERSE
Firefly has always held a special place in Whedonverse canon, but Joss Whedon had even bigger plans to add Firefly to Buffyverse canon. Around the time Serenity hit theaters, Joss Whedon revealed that had the show lasted for multiple seasons, he wanted to bring in James Marsters for a cameo as Spike in season six.
His only scene would have saw him in a bar on one of the border planets and with a quick look at Mal, he exclaims “Nothing ever changes.”
Perhaps because he recognizes Mal’s face as matching Caleb’s from season seven. The mere idea and implications that the grandiose world of Firefly could have merged with and been added to the ever expanding universe of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is astronomical.
2. THE ANOINTED ONE AS SEASON TWO’S BIG BAD
One of the most memorable seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is considered to be season two thanks to David Boreanaz’s chilling performance as the Big Bad of the season, Angelus. He almost never got the opportunity to play Angelus, at least not on such a big mantle as Big Bad. That honor was planned to go to The Anointed One, the vampire child member of The Order of Aurelius, servant to The Master, and prophesied to lead Buffy into Hell.
However, the actor playing him had a huge growth spurt in-between seasons one and two that made him unbelievable as an ageless vampire. In turn, he was killed off and Angelus was the new Big Bad. Interestingly enough, Boreanaz’s portrayal of Angelus is what convinced Whedon that he should have a spin-off show. Imagine if that never happened.
1. BUFFY VS A DRAGON
One of the most notable moments from Angel’s final episode is the tease that Angel would fight a dragon. Joss Whedon actually had plans for one of his Buffyverse protagonists to face off with a dragon years earlier. Originally, in the season finale of season six, titled “Grave,” Whedon had planned for Buffy to battle a dragon that escaped from hell after the events of “The Gift.”
Due to the budget of the production, the monster was changed from one dragon to several generic earth monsters.
A couple years later, Angel professed his desire to slay the dragon in his show’s series finale, but in the comic book continuation, Angel: After the Fall, Angel actually befriended the dragon after learning that dragon innocent and tricked to fight on the wrong side.
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