30 Whedon-Verse WTF Moments
Jaynestown - Firefly
The WTF Moment: The crew of Serenity set down on an alien world where they discover that a town has a statue of Jayne (Adam Baldwin) - and he's revered as a hero after resolving trouble there years ago.
Why It Was Shocking: It's just the kind of weirdness that Firefly did so well, and the moment you see a statue that looks just like Jayne is definitely one that elicits a cry of "WTF?"
Plus, any episode that puts Jayne front and centre is grand with us. He's the unsung hero of Firefly .
Body-Swappage - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: After falling into a coma, Faith (Eliza Dushku) returns in season four ep This Year's Girl , swaps bodies with Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), and causes havoc in subsequent episode Who Are You .
The worst part? Faith (as Buffy) sleeps with Buffy's current squeeze Riley. Which is just all kinds of disturbing - and uber-awkward for everybody when Buffy discovers it later on.
Why It Was Shocking: When Faith enters the scene, you can always expect trouble. The trouble she causes in Buffy 's fourth season, though, is surprisingly well thought-out - and cleverly taps into the deeper issues at the heart of Faith's rage.
Of course then she heads to spin-off Angel where things get really shocking as Faith tortures Wesley (Alexis Denisof) in ways that the pre-watershed Buffy would never allow.
Xander Xander - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: In season five ep The Replacement , Xander (Nicholas Brendon) is hit by a demonic light and split in two.
Which, naturally, leads to all sorts of hilarity - including Xander (finally) doing the Snoopy dance to prove that he's the real Xander.
Why It Was Shocking: You can probably count the number of Xander-centric episodes of Buffy on three fingers, so to have this one is something of a welcome shocker.
We also love it because it casts Brendon's actual twin, Kelly Donovan, as his double.
Jenny - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: Angelus (David Boreanaz) makes it known that he means business when he corners teacher Jenny Calendar at Sunnydale High School and breaks her neck in season two ep Passion .
"Empty rooms, shuttered and dank... without passion, we'd be truly dead," he narrates coolly.
Why It Was Shocking: Jenny was cast out as a betrayer just a few episodes previously, having been revealed as a gypsy spy (we won't go into it).
In Passion , she's only just repairing her bond with Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), and it looks like a reunion is on the cards. Until she's killed and Angelus lays her out on Giles' bed. Horrific.
Pylea - Angel
The WTF Moment: Angel 's second season wraps with a bizarre three-parter (four-parter if you count Belonging , which sort of sets the whole thing up) in which the gang visit Pylea, the home dimension of Lorne (Andy Hallett, above).
It's basically as if medieval times went all cosplay with an excess of green make-up. Includes weirdness like Angel turning into a demon proper, Lorne's 'mum' being played by a guy, Lorne surviving being decapitated, and Joss Whedon cameo-ing as a dancing Pylean.
Why It Was Shocking: Considering how dark Angel 's second season turned out to be, this three-parter is tonally bonkers in comparison.
It's a weird way to end a season in which the show grew exponentially, though repeat viewings reveal it as the enjoyably nutso circus ride it really is.
Mr Universe - Serenity (2005)
The WTF Moment: The nerdy friend/ally of Mal (Nathan Fillion) and co, Mr Universe (David Krumholtz, yeah him off 10 Things I Hate About You ) is murdered by The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
Being a techy wunderkind, though, he manages to record a final farewell to Mal on his sexbot - a message Mal finds just in time.
Why It Was Shocking: Alright, it's not so much shocking as deeply disturbing and sad, and definitely had us going "what the-" in the cinemas.
It's also a continuation of Whedon's obsession with robots. Small wonder he's made Ultron the main villain of Avengers 2 …
Coulson - Avengers Assemble (2012)/Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D
The WTF Moment: Marvel movie regular Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is unexpectedly killed by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) when the demi-God breaks out of his cell aboard the hellicarrier in Avengers Assemble .
Which didn't stop Coulson reappearing to head up TV spin-off Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D . His resurrection remains the show's most intriguing/strangest mystery…
Why It Was Shocking: Firstly, killing Coulson was a shocking move. Though it had to happen (Loki needs to be feared), we sort of assumed Coulson would carry on appearing in Marvel movies for years to come.
To have him suddenly reappear post-death in S.H.I.E.L.D is just as shocking/weird/confusing. How ARE they going to explain his miraculous death-dodging?
Doyle - Angel
The WTF Moment: In episode nine of Angel 's first season ( Hero ), vision-receiving half-demon Doyle (Glenn Quinn) sacrifices himself in order to save his brethren - and passes his second sight on to Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter).
Why It Was Shocking: Doyle was introduced as a series regular and everybody expected him to stick around for the long run.
Said writer David Fury at the time: "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."
Given Quinn's much-publicised personal problems, it's not difficult to decipher Fury's comments.
Sword - Serenity (2005)
The WTF Moment: "Unfortunately I forgot to bring my sword," deadpans Dr Mathias (Michael Hitchcock) when he's confronted with smooth-talking bad guy The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
Luckily, The Operative has his own sword, which he uses to off Dr Mathias. "This is a good death," The Operative says softly as Mathias dies.
Why It Was Shocking: Whedon's space opera is all about the Western aesthetic, so we at least expect guns in this scene - definitely not swords, which add a weird savagery to the whole thing.
Plus The Operative's method for killing Mathias - he paralyses him and lets the doctor's own bodyweight impale him onto the upturned blade - is deliriously nasty.
Bitca - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: Buffy seems to have gone a bit cuckoo in When She Was Bad , the show's second season premiere.
Returning to Sunnydale after the summer break, she starts acting strangely - namely messing with Xander's head by rubbing herself up against him seductively while Cibo Matto perform haunting ditty 'Sugar Water' at the Bronze.
The episode's best exchange? "Why else would she be acting like such a b-i-t-c-h?" asks Willow (Alyson Hannigan). "A bitca?" replies a confused Xander…
Why It Was Shocking: Buffy's never been a bad girl. Despite her terrible school record, she's our trusty heroine. So to see her with, in Cordelia's words, a "Joan Collins 'tude" is something of a wake up call.
Epitaph One - Dollhouse
The WTF Moment: In Whedon's grand tradition of season finale uber-twists, the best episode of Dollhouse was season one's Epitaph One , which Whedon has a story credit on.
Giving star Eliza Dushku a break for the first 20 minutes of the episode, we instead find ourselves in the future with a shiny new set of characters (among them, one-time Potential Slayer Felicia Day) attempting to survive a bleak future world.
Why It Was Shocking: It tore apart the show's format for something genuinely exciting (how about that?) and finally proved the show could do some outside-the-box thinking.
Shame the entire show wasn't as thrilling as this one episode…
Forgiving - Angel
The WTF Moment: Wesley (Alexis Denisof) has had his throat cut, and in stand-out season three ep Forgiving , he's just been admitted to hospital.
Thing is, he lost Angel's son (there was a whole thing where Wesley discovered 'the father will kill the son'), and Angel's NOT HAPPY.
Why It Was Shocking: Wesley's laid up in bed. He's beaten, broken, cut open. When Angel enters, you know he's going to be angry, but you hope he understands. Somehow. After all, the episode's called Forgiving .
That he demonstrably DOESN'T forgive Wesley (instead attempting to smother him with a pillow) is a million times more realistic, bleak and horrifying. This would never happen in Buffy …
Slayers Everywhere - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: In series finale Chosen , Willow finally comes full circle as a powerful white witch.
She takes the Slayer scythe and uses it to 'awaken' all the Slayers in the world, transforming all 'Potentials' into full-blown Slayers. "Oh my Goddess" indeed.
Why It Was Shocking: For years we've been told "there can only be one". And then there were two (hi, Kendra), before season three introduced a third - Faith.
Then a whole army of 'Potential's started showing up in Buffy 's season seven. Though the awakening of all Potentials sort of ruins the show's premise, it beautifully expands its central message - girl power, y'all - and is the perfect farewell for the show.
Ted - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: There's a new villain in town, but is he really a villain, or just sort of massively annoying?
Meet Ted. Perfectly played by John Ritter, he's Buffy's mom's new squeeze - and he likes to do things right. Just don't mess with his rules…
Why It Was Shocking: We know that there are weird things in the Buffyverse - just take a flip through the official Monster Book for clues - but up to this point, the only robot we've seen is the weird monster amalgamation in I, Robot, You, Jane.
Introducing Ted set a new precedent for the show, namely: there are robots and they look just like people.
The show would go on to chuck even more robots into the fold in later seasons - including the hilariously-literal Buffybot (created by Spike as a stake-wielding sex toy. Ew.)
Darla Returns - Angel
The WTF Moment: At the close of To Shanshu In LA , the show's first season finale, we learn that evil law firm Wolfram & Hart have been planning something big.
Like, really big. As Lilah (Stephanie Romanov) peers into a box that's been the centrepiece of a spell, we discover that Darla (Julie Benz) has been returned from the dead.
Why It Was Shocking: Vampires aren't supposed to come back once they've been dusted - it's the fundamental principal that both Buffy and Angel stuck to. Until now.
It's also a tantalising way to close out the show's first season - by returning one of the only characters to ever really get under Angel's (well-moisturised) skin. Season two is gonna be good…
The First - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: Nefarious baddie The First makes its, uh, first appearance since season three in the season seven premiere of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
It's easily one of the show's coolest, most squee-inducing moments, mostly because the First can take the form of any dead person it likes - which means it morphs its way through Glory, Adam, Mayor Wilkins, Drusilla and the Master…
Why It Was Shocking: We've never seen a villain like this before - and it's a nice little nod-wink to long-time fans, hinting that this final season will considerably up the stakes.
Ripley 1-8 - Alien: Resurrection (1998)
The WTF Moment: Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has been brought back to life via some nifty future science, but she soon discovers there have been seven other failed attempts to resurrect her.
Stumbling across a room marked 1-7, she finds giant test tubes where those failed attempts - some of them looking like warped alien versions of herself - have been pickled and put on display.
Why It Was Shocking: It's the kind of grim body horror that's usually David Cronenberg's raison d'être.
Say what you will about this fourth Alien flick, but this scene is awesome.
Tara - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: Seeing Red is, of course, the perfect title for the season six episode which both kills off one of Buffy 's most beloved characters, and transforms Willow into an agent of vengeance.
The beauty and power of the scene in which Tara (Amber Benson) is killed is its simplicity. She's struck by a stray bullet fired by Warren (Adam Busch) and dies in Willow's arms.
Why It Was Shocking: Tara was easily one of the most loved characters on Buffy , and she was sorely missed in season six when she and Willow briefly broke up. That she's killed just when it seems the duo are about to patch up their relationship is typical Whedon.
Naturally, the uproar was, well, uproarious, as the LGBT community blamed homophobia for Tara's death (come on) and inundated the show's writers with hate mail. Seriously, WTF?
Illyria - Angel
The WTF Moment: Just three episodes after Cordelia snuffed it, Whedon butchers his only other long-standing female regular.
Fred (Amy Acker) is poisoned by a demon that has been trapped inside an old sarcophagus, and as the demon takes over her body, it slowly kills her until Fred is dead and Illyria rises…
Why It Was Shocking : Within the space of a month we lost two of Whedon's best female characters - of them all, Fred seemed the safest, being such an audience favourite.
Though Illyria turned out to be pretty cool (and gave Acker something different to play), Fred's death remains deeply, deeply traumatising.
Becoming - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: Never have the stakes been so high as in the two-part finale of Buffy 's second season.
With Angelus on the rampage, attempting to turn the world into a hell dimension via slumbering beast Acathla, Buffy realises she's going to have to do something drastic to stop him. Yep, it's time to say "bye-bye, Angel".
Why It Was Shocking: Though you know it's coming, you're holding out hope for the whole of the episode that Angel will be redeemed and everything will turn out alright in the end.
"Sorry," it seems Whedon's saying, "you're watching the wrong show." So we get Angel stabbed and sent to hell, and Buffy fleeing Sunnydale a depressed wreck…
Innocence - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment : After years of umm-ing and aah-ing over their sort-of relationship, Buffy and Angel finally bed down in this sublime second season two-parter.
Except, oh dear, Angel achieves a moment of 'perfect happiness' (nudge-wink) which causes him to transform into evil Angelus… Yep, this is the moment where Buffy officially grows up.
Why It Was Shocking: Thus far, Angel's been an anti-hero/tortured love interest for our spunky heroine. We know there's something about a gypsy curse, but we don't know exactly how it works.
That the curse is activated right after Angel has sex with Buffy is a moment of head-spinning brilliance - not only is it a fantastic subversion of the cliché that guys go evil after they've gotten laid, it's also really brutal to Buffy.
Hush - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: Season four hits a creative high as the Scooby gang (and, actually, the whole of Sunnydale) fall prey to the Gentlemen.
They're gliding nasties that need seven human hearts - and to accomplish their task, they steal the voices of everybody in Sunnydale to stop them from screaming.
Why It Was Shocking: Not only are the Gentlemen supremely creepy (their silent applause of one of their number who's succeeded in ripping out a heart is awesomely shiver-inducing), the idea itself is just brilliantly audacious.
Damn near 30 minutes of the 42 minute episode are dialogue-free. Fitting that there's a magical box at the centre of the plot - this is an episode that thinks resolutely outside of it.
Priestly - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment : Season seven, episode 18. Dirty Girls is an apt title, as that's exactly what a guest-starring Nathan Fillion thinks all lady-folk are.
Introduced in spectacular fashion, his Father Caleb picks up a scared Potential Slayer before stabbing her to death and hurling her from his moving car. Later in the very same episode, he sticks his thumb in Xander's eye…
Why It Was Shocking: Fillion was better known to Whedon fans as the wise-cracking Mal in Firefly (and later Serenity ), so to have him turn up as a villain is a stroke of genius.
And what a villain he is, doling out the kind of vicious violence that Buffy didn't do all that often. His maiming of Xander is particularly horrifying, not least because of Xander's blood-curdling scream.
Getting Jiggy - Angel
The WTF Moment: The end of the world is nigh in season four ep Apocalypse Nowish , which, uh, climaxes with Cordy and teenager Connor sexing it up as a brooding, angry Angel watches through the window.
No wonder it starts raining hellfire…
Why It Was Shocking: Just a few episodes previously (in season three, admittedly), Cordelia was cradling a baby-sized Connor and feeding him milk.
So what if a handy time-jump aged him dramatically? (Or that the writers later explained this wasn't actually Cordy but something evil that looks like her.) It's still wrong. Wrong wrong WRONG.
Restless - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: Season finales have always been Buffy 's thing. Season two ended with Buffy killing Angel. Season three gave us the Mayor transforming into a giant demon snake.
Season four, however, shakes things up considerably as we enter the tortured dreams of the Scooby gang. Yep - they spend the entire episode asleep on the couch…
Why It Was Shocking : If it ain't broke, don't fix it, goes the saying. With Restless , Whedon fixes it anyway, ensuring that the show doesn't get stale and predictable, and offering us often-hysterical insight into the minds of our regulars.
Plus there are some fun hints about what's to come in the show - namely Buffy's quest to find out more about her Slayer heritage, plus a clue that Dawn's about to enter the scene.
And that cheese guy…
Miranda - Serenity (2005)
The WTF Moment: "This whole world's dead for no reason," gripes a spooked Jayne (Adam Baldwin) when the crew of Serenity land on Miranda, a colonised planet.
Make that a dead planet - everybody on Miranda has inexplicably died, though there are few signs of struggle or disease. Everybody simply sat down and gave up the ghost…
Why It Was Shocking: It's a grisly find and Whedon plays up the creepy Western-ghost-town-meets- Night-Of-The-Living-Dea d vibe perfectly.
Even more shocking is the video recording the crew find of one of the last survivors on Miranda, whose death at the fangs of a Reaver is horrifically captured on film…
The Gift - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: In season five's sob-wracker of a finale, Buffy and co finally go up against evil god Glory (Clare Kramer).
In order to save sister Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg), Buffy sacrifices herself. "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it," she says, before launching into a hellish portal that only Summers blood can close…
Why It Was Shocking: Um, the title character's dead!
Even more shocking is the reaction of every other character in the show to seeing Buffy dead on the ground - particularly Spike (James Marsters), who breaks down into wracking sobs. We're right there with him.
Wash - Serenity (2005)
The WTF Moment: Wash (Alan Tudyk) has just managed to navigate the treacherous space above Mr Universe's planet, which is infested with Reavers.
Landing safely (mostly), it seems all is well and good. Until a Reaver loosens a spear into Serenity 's cockpit, killing Wash mid-one-liner…
Why It Was Shocking: Whedon's known for killing off fan favourites (and for not giving any couple a happy ending, obviously), but Wash's death is particularly shocking because we'd only lost series regular Shepherd (Ron Glass) five minutes beforehand as well.
How's that for a double whammy? Whedon, you're an evil genius.
Monsters Unleashed - Cabin In The Woods (2012)
The WTF Moment: Move over Braindead with your zombie baby and chainsaw slaying - this bloodbath of a scene is where horror really comes home to roost.
Escaping the 'horror movie wood setting', Dana (Kristen Connolly) and Marty (Fran Kranz) enter the facility that's been making their life hell and release an array of vicious monsters that have all been locked up in holding cells.
Why It Was Shocking: The all-out gore is pleasingly, er, gory, and the monsters are both hilarious and terrifying (a murderous unicorn!).
Not only that, this is the moment when all hell literally breaks loose for Cabin In The Woods . From here on in, things are going to get SERIOUSLY weird.
I Was Made To Love You - Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The WTF Moment: Unforgettably leading into stand-out episode The Body , the final scene in I Was Made To Love You (about, yup, another sexbot) sees Buffy returning home to find her dead mother on the couch.
Buffy's final line: "Mom? Mom? Mommy?" Slays us every time.
Why It Was Shocking: IWMTLY is mostly a comical episode, bringing the funny as the gang attempt to stop the rampaging sexbot.
That it ends on such a shockingly bleak note is like getting smacked in the face with a frying pan. And then came The Body …