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Top 10 Underused Joss Whedon Characters

Joss Whedon , currently gaining even more kudos for his version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing , has produced some of the most addictively original television around. There are countless accounts of who his best, most-developed characters are. But what about those in the background who are – like a potential slayer – waiting to be called? Called into a long-running plotline, that is.

We take a look at some of the more underrated and underused characters in his shows.

Words: Sarah Brown

10 Clem

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From: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Who: Demon

History: Affable Clem is introduced as Spike’s kitten poker friend in season six. He becomes a Scooby gang ally, often on Dawn babysitting duty. We last see him at the end of season seven, driving out of town to escape the coming war with The First.

Why he needs more screen time: Kind, neighbourhood-friendly Clem is trying to get by as a valuable society member – if we bypass his love of eating kittens, that is. He is endearing though; his world-weary appearances imparting a sweep of welcome comic relief. But how does he integrate with the everyday world with such a “skin condition”? We’d love a “day-in-the-life of Clem” similar to Harmony’s “Harm’s Way” in Angel . There’s definitely more to this demon than meets the eye; literally, considering his ability to project snakes from his head!

9 Nina Ash

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From: Angel

Who: Werewolf

History: Angel saved newly-bitten werewolf Nina from ending up the main course at a meal for connoisseurs who like to feast on rare and unusual meat. He then allows her to use Wolfram & Hart’s facilities as a place to transform safely every month before Wesley convinces him that he should ask her out.

Why she needs more screen time: She seemed to be introduced as a new flame for Angel in the show’s final season, but most of their relationship happened off screen. And for a third of it that happened on -screen, Angel was a puppet. She appeared in just three episodes, but had a healthy life beyond the series in the Angel spin-off comics, “After The Fall”. It’s just a shame we never got to see more of her in the flesh. Because werewolves called Nina are always a good thing.

8 Quentin Travers

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From: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Who: Leader of the Watchers Council in England.

History: We first see Travers in season three when he arrives in Sunnydale to test Buffy on her 18th birthday. He returns in season five with other council members to bargain information about Glory with Buffy , and in season seven we see him in England just moments before the council is blown up.

Why he needs more screen time: Quentin’s strict, unemotional attitude marked him out as a profound character, with the emotional strength of Giles and the strict academics of a season three Wesley – we want to see what he gets up to behind the scenes at the Council. These activities would be a sharp premise for a spin-off show. Let’s just hope he escaped that explosion…

7 Jenny Calendar

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From: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Who: Gypsy descendant also known as Janna Kalderash and computer science teacher at Sunnydale High School.

History: Jenny is a recurring character in season one where she begins a relationship with Giles, but it is only in season two that we discover her identity as a member of the gypsy tribe who cursed Angel with a soul. She discovers the spell to restore Angel’s soul, which Willow eventually uses in the season finale. Angelus murders Jenny and creates a cruel trap to present her dead body to Giles in “Passion”.

Why she needs more screen time: We loved watching forthright Jenny’s and awkward Giles’s “dates”. We sadly never see Giles in another serious relationship after she dies. There’s a lot Jenny had to offer to the show with her dark past, her magical abilities (maybe she could’ve trained Willow?) and her romance with Giles. Unfortunately she seems forgotten in later seasons. Couldn’t we at least have seen The First take on her form in the show’s final season?

6 Ivy

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From: Dollhouse

Who: Topher’s assistant.

History: She helps Topher with wiping and imprinting the dolls, although mostly she just brings him snacks. Topher tells her to leave during the beginning of the technological apocalypse and we don’t see her again.

Why she needs more screen time: Ivy remains underestimated throughout Dollhouse as her character is mostly used for comic exchanges with Topher. When she is framed as a mole in “Spy In The House Of Love" we notice her progression potential but unfortunately this is not actualised. Claiming she can do almost everything Topher can, we’re eager to investigate her story and her true thoughts about the Dollhouse. Did she agree with what they were doing? Would she have betrayed the LA Dollhouse for a better position? Could she have ever become romantically involved with Topher? And where did she disappear to?!

5 Gwen Raiden

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From: Angel

Who: A thief with electrical funnelling abilities.

History: Introduced in season four, Gwen, we learn, was born with electrical abilities which she is unable to control. As an adult, she uses her powers for her career as a professional thief. She meets Angel and fights him for an artefact she is stealing, afterwards allowing him to keep it. She also helps him in fighting the manoeuvrings of The Beast.

Why she needs more screen time: If recruited, Gwen would have been an invaluable asset to the Angel Investigations team with her “shocking” abilities (excuse the pun) and tough girl-power attitude, something the show had been scarce of since Cordelia’s departure. There’s an aptitude for a captivating background, too – how does she control her powers, and just who exactly has been affected by them? Are there others like her (X-Men style)? And is anyone else wondering where the brief Gwen/Gunn romance could have led?

4. Saffron

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From: Firefly

Who: aka Bridget /Yolanda. A con artist known to marry her marks

History: Saffron appears one morning claiming to have married Mal. She later overthrows Serenity’s crew and tries to send the ship off to be scrapped, but the team escapes. She returns a while later and convinces them to help her steal an antique, attempting to trick them again, but is outsmarted.

Why she needs more screen time: Christina Hendricks, before Mad Men , shines as seductive temptress Saffron whose wily charms allow her devious schemes to succeed. These plans were eventually bettered by Mal and Inara but surely there must be other cons she’s manipulated? And is she capable of reforming, perhaps someday even joining the Serenity crew? Although we don’t think Inara would like that!

3. Bennett Halverson

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From: Dollhouse

Who: Scientist at Rossum Corporation

History: As Caroline’s roommate, Bennett supports her in trying to bring down Rossum. They attempt to blow up the corporation together but Bennett gets caught in the explosion. Caroline struggles to help but has to leave her, and Bennett can’t forgive her for this. She is kidnapped by the LA Dollhouse and is later killed by Dr Saunders/Whiskey, a sleeper doll.

Why she needs more screen time: Bennett has an oasis of unexplored avenues, from her behaviour following her accident, to her moral thoughts concerning working for Rossum, and most importantly, would a relationship with Topher have worked out? It certainly would’ve led to some epic inventions, and perhaps she could have helped to prevent the technological apocalypse we see in the “Epitaph” episodes.

2 Whistler

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From: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Who: Enigmatic demon

History: Sent by The Powers That Be to maintain the balance between good and evil, Whistler appears in a season two flashback showing new slayer Buffy to a destitute Angel, leading the ensouled vampire to change his life to help her. Whistler emerges again in the season finale, telling Buffy she must kill Angel to stop an awakened Acathla from destroying the world.

Why he needs more screen time: He’s a mysterious demon working for The Powers That Be – why wouldn’t we want to see more of him? Despite similarities with Angel ’s Doyle, their characters remain distinct so there is a capacity for some juicy history to be revealed. Did Whistler give Doyle his powers? Perhaps he bears some relation to season seven’s prophetic student Cassie Newton? Could he be the child of the Oracles from Angel ’s first season?

1. Cecily/Halfrek

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From: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Who: Upper-class woman in 1880 Victorian England, Cecily, who is also a vengeance demon known as Halfrek (Hallie).

History: William (Spike)’s love interest before he was sired as a vampire, Cecily was the object of his poem describing her “beauty, effulgent”. After rejecting him in the season five episode ‘Fool For Love’, we see no more of her until season six where she appears as Hallie, Anya’s vengeance demon friend.

Why she needs more screen time: The moment of recognition between Spike and Halfrek in the season six episode ‘Older And Far Away’ is utterly oozing with tension and untold stories. We want to know exactly what occurred between them after Cecily rejected William, particularly because Spike was sired soon after their encounter. Some revelations are divulged in comic Spike: Old Times but on-screen their relationship remains a mystery. Did Spike seek Cecily out after he was sired, for vengeance or romance? Did Drusilla know about her? Surely across the centuries their paths must have crossed…

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