Deaths of the Whedonverse: From Least to Most Devastating.

JossWhedon

This has been the most difficult article I’ve ever written, for multiple reasons: worrying about what my fellow Whedonites would think, the potential backlash from those who are in total disagreement, shorting out my computer with tears. (Seriously, I’m crying right now, and probably still will be by the time you read this.) Also, I realized that my feelings about these deaths change every time I think about them. Each of these will seem like the most heartbreaking while you’re watching them happen, but then you move onto the next one. (In case you’re wondering, at perhaps slight cost to the quality of this list, to preserve my own tear ducts and emotional stability, I opted not to watch clips of each death one after the other.)

Also, know now that I’m not including characters who come back from the dead in any way, only those who went down and stayed down for good (so far). Note: this post containers as massive amount of spoilers, so if you're watching any of Joss Whendon's shows for the first time, bookmark this post, continue binge-watching, and return back later. You were warned.

Paul Ballard (Dollhouse)

dollhouse paul ballard

For my part, Paul’s death didn’t hit me that hard. I don’t know if it’s because his mind wasn’t 100% his (having had to be partially restored after Alpha erased it), or because I had always been kind of lukewarm on him, but his was one of the few Whedon deaths that didn’t move me to tears. Sorry, bro.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 4:08pm

I stand by the belief that the death of Buffy's mom is the most beautifully told story in the Whedonverse. The episode is perfection.

Also, you nailed this list (without any real Cabin in the Woods spoilers). Bravo!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 7:28pm

Thanks Rachel! The whole plotline of Joyce's sickness and death was definitely one of Whedon's best — I love that they brought in an additional threat that seems so mundane next to the supernatural stuff they face every day but is really just as dangerous.

Schaf
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 12:30pm

I like the list, or dislike, in this case. My top-sob will always be the death of Wash.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 12:38pm

Ugh, poor Tara, and yes, Joyce's death was the absolute worst.

You forgot one, though - BUFFY!! (Death #2) I know she came back, but to a confused high-schooler who didn't know about the whole UPN thing, it was devastating. I still remember just sitting there, whimpering. Dawn was so not worth it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 12:55pm

You're totally right — I definitely took that death harder than Joyce's (and yeah, Dawn kind of sucked), but if I included it I would've had to include the other 30 or so fake-out deaths Whedon wrote, haha...

Greg
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 1:47pm

I'll save my gripes about order because those aren't really productive. Fred [sobs], that one absolutely floored me. I should've known better. WHEDONNNNNNN

Ok fine, really? Jonathan that high? I mean at least Darla tugged at the heart strings a little bit, but then you get Connor and Connor/Cordy and...ugh.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 2:03pm

I just always had a soft spot for Jonathan, haha...

Greg
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 2:24pm

He was perfectly nice when he wasn't being creepy

theartistvocation
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 3:10pm

Wonderful list, but I'm kind of surprised that Cordelia isn't anywhere on the list at all! I thought her death was the most tragic of all of them. I mean, I won't insist on ranking her first, but I at least thought it'd rank higher than... Jonathan. Or Doyle. Or someone like that.

Mary Terrell
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 3:18pm

Cordelia. Spent the whole episode of You're Welcome thinking that she was okay, until the phone rang at the end and I realized that no she wasn't.

Kayama
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 3:21pm

Wesley should have been up there as well as Cordelia. Wesley even up in the top five imho.

Wes

Greg
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 3:54pm

Wesley, like Fred, killed me. Those two would've made a great couple

KD
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 1:39am

I really think Wesley is my #1. It tears me to shreds when she offers to "lie", and he says something like, "Yes, please."

That may be because it was one I most recently re-watched, but I agree, at least top 5.

Kayama
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 3:29pm

You missed Wesley and Cordelia. Especially Wesley's was very devastating.

Wes

Mel Thomas
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 3:37pm

I don't agree with a lot of the rating but the one thing that stuck out was where's Wes? His death was heartbreaking with Illyria turning into Fred for him and then her final words. "Wesley's dead. I'm feeling grief for him. I can't seem to control it. I wish to do more violence."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 3:37pm

Hey y'all, I decided to keep the list to just people who died and didn't come back at all (mostly because this list would've been like 100-deep otherwise). I was super broken up about Wesley — especially when Illyria took on Fred's form to comfort him — but he popped up incorporeally in the comics (as did Cordelia) :)

Napoleon 27
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 4:41pm

Ballard came back like 10 minutes later in Echo's head. Darla came back as a ghost/vision (or version of the First depending on who you ask) after she died. Fred comes back in the comics briefly after Illyria's powers get all jacked up. Even Joyce makes an appearance as a ghost after she's gone. Cordelia's reappearance after her death is just a brief as any of the others I just listed, and Wesley is only a ghost for the first arc of the comics. Once angel sets the clock back in After the Fall, we lose Wesley all over again, which makes his death even sadder... My point is, Cordy and Wesley should both be on this list.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 4:59pm

Which Joyce appearance are you talking about? I know we see her when Buffy goes catatonic, and again when Buffy's tricked into thinking she's in a mental institution, but I think every time after that it's the First Evil pretending to be her. With Fred, I might be wrong, but I think it was determined that it wasn't really Fred but Illyria's manifestation of her. I'll admit with Paul I was kind of unsure whether to include him because his final appearance was as an imprint — one of the reasons the list was so hard to write is that the lines of the Whedonverse are so blurred — on top of all the crying :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 5:02pm

I was always torn whether Dawn actually saw Joyce or whether that was the first playing mindgames.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 5:09pm

It's definitely the most popular theory, though some people argue that the First couldn't be in two places at once (i.e. at the Summers house and with Willow pretending to be Cassie). It just seemed really weird to me that Joyce would ever tell Dawn Buffy wouldn't be there for her.

Anonymous
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 9:53pm

Cop out answer...you just don't like the angel show

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 10:02pm

I won't lie — I do like Buffy better, but I still like Angel.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 4:02pm

I know he did his fare share of evil things, but Ben's death in S5 was pretty heartbreaking for me, especially since he never had a chance for redemption. If Xander could save willow with a yellow crayon, there had to be something so save Glory's human half. I will also always love/miss Kendra the Vampire Slayer.

Anonymous
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 4:49pm

How is Wesley not even on this list. His death destroyed me. Just. What.

Jet
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 8:28pm

I like the list. I agree with the order and reasoning except Anya. Her death was brutal and harsh and she did deserve better. But, kinda of like with Joyce and Tara, sometimes that is just how the cookie crumbles.

Manny
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 3:48am

Buffy Anne Summers
Beloved Sister
Devoted Friend
She saved the World a lot

The epitaph scene (the final zoom shot of season 5) can't be topped, except perhaps by Fox's murder of Firefly. Dammit.

Valdez
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 8:22am

I think Jenny's death changed the show and the characters more than anything. It made us hate Angel. It got Willow started on witchcraft, which brought Tara into the Scoobies, and made Buffy's resurrection possible. It caused Buffy to start keeping secrets from the others after Angel returned.

Valdez
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 8:22am

I think Jenny's death changed the show and the characters more than anything. It made us hate Angel. It got Willow started on witchcraft, which brought Tara into the Scoobies, and made Buffy's resurrection possible. It caused Buffy to start keeping secrets from the others after Angel returned.

Valdez
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 8:22am

I think Jenny's death changed the show and the characters more than anything. It made us hate Angel. It got Willow started on witchcraft, which brought Tara into the Scoobies, and made Buffy's resurrection possible. It caused Buffy to start keeping secrets from the others after Angel returned.

Valdez
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 8:22am

I think Jenny's death changed the show and the characters more than anything. It made us hate Angel. It got Willow started on witchcraft, which brought Tara into the Scoobies, and made Buffy's resurrection possible. It caused Buffy to start keeping secrets from the others after Angel returned.

Valdez
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 8:22am

I think Jenny's death changed the show and the characters more than anything. It made us hate Angel. It got Willow started on witchcraft, which brought Tara into the Scoobies, and made Buffy's resurrection possible. It caused Buffy to start keeping secrets from the others after Angel returned.

Thisthe
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 11:06am

Anya was my favorite character from BtVS.. I thought her death was perfect. Quick and to the point, just like she was. It matched her personality. I loved that this time she stayed to fight knowing she could have died, she mentioned the bunnies to show she wasn't scared. This girl conquered her fears.. what sucked was Xander's reaction to the news of her death.

Anonymous
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 11:23am

"everyone kept running around and singing — it kind of took away from the weight of it all."

Umm I think you missed the point with Dr. Horrible and OMWF.

Audrey
Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 4:06pm

I cannot believe that you did not add Wesley.

SSHHHUUUUNNNNNNNNNN!!!!

John
Sunday, April 27, 2014 - 3:26pm

No Cordelia? Is that a fucking joke?

John
Sunday, April 27, 2014 - 3:26pm

No Cordelia? Is that a fucking joke?

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