50 Greatest Whedon Moments

Galaga – Avengers Assemble (2012)

It's a teeny, tiny moment in an absolutely massive movie, but Whedon knows details are paramount (he plans all of his shows years in advance).

That's why this cheeky little moment really pops, as a S.H.I.E.L.D. employee takes a look around to check nobody's watching, then goes back to playing Galaga.

It's like Total Film and cat videos.

The Gift – Buffy The Vampire Slayer (2001)

Ah, it's finale time. At the end of one of Buffy's strongest seasons (its fifth), all bets are off as Buffy and her gang go up against nutso goddess Glory (Clare Kramer).

Contains that immortal line: “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”

Pass the tissues.

“Forget not that I am an ass” - Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

Nathan Fillion is just effortlessly charming, isn't he?

He's on particularly fine form here as bumbling detective Dogberry, who can't help reminding everybody that he's “an ass”. What was that? “I am an ass.” There we go.

This happens repeatedly. Often entirely out of the context of the scene. We love it.

Objects In Space – Firefly (2002)

Season finales are Joss' thing, ya dig?

Where most shows like to go out with a bang (both Buffy and Angel did this in their time), Joss opts for ponderous, creeping enigma in the last ever episode of Firefly.

Adding to the cool, it was inspired by one character: Boba Fett. In an effort to create a similarly-cool bounty hunter, Whedon wrote "preternaturally cool, nearly psychotic bounty hunter" Jubal Early. It's a tragedy that we never got to see more of Jubal, who we last glimpse tumbling through space.

Whedon's so fond of this episode that he cites it as the best representation of what he does.

Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)

There's a writing strike on? Phooey!

During the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Whedon resisted the opportunity to take a break and instead decided to film this musical mini-series about aspiring supervillain Dr Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris).

The result is undeniably Whedon. Broken into three acts, it also features Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day, as well as a host of foot-tappingly catchy musical numbers.

A sequel's on hold until Whedon finishes Avengers 2.

A Hole In The World – Angel (2004)

A hole in the world? More like a hole in our hearts. [SMH at this cheesy ass line]

One of Whedon's 'trademarks' according to the IMDb is: “[He] kills off characters who are among his most popular, to keep his audiences surprised.”

That's certainly true in this fifth season episode of Angel, in which poor old Fred (Amy Acker) gets infected with a strange demon dust that is going to kill her – in the arms of unrequited love Wesley (Alexis Denisof). Whedon just loves his doomed romance.

He also co-wrote Angel series finale Not Fade Away, and couldn't resist digging the blade in deeper with the "would you like me to lie to you now?" line, in which demon Illyria transforms herself into Fred for a dying Wesley. SOB.

Hush – Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1999)

Quite frankly, a storytelling tour-de-force.

The tenth episode of Buffy's fourth season had the audacity to strip every character of his or her voice, meaning that 28 whole minutes of the episode are completely dialogue-free.

As if that wasn't enough, Hush also features some of the creepiest villains the show ever came up with in the grinning Gentleman. They like plucking out hearts.

Rightly so, Whedon was nominated for an Emmy Award (his first) for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series. It's a travesty that he didn't take it home on the night.

Numfar – Angel (2001)

Did you know that Joss Whedon actually appears in an episode of Angel? The instalment in question is penultimate season two episode Through The Looking Glass.

Whedon gets made up to resemble green-skinned Pylean Lorne (Andy Hallett) and lingers in the background as Lorne meets his (rather hairy) mother.

Whedon's shining moment comes when Lorne's mother commands 'Numfar' (aka Whedon) to “do the dance of joy”.

Let's Get Physical – Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

In a staggering one-two punch of LOL-stuffed physical comedy, Whedon first has Benedick (Alexis Denisof) making a fool of himself while eavesdropping outside of a window.

Cue Denisof – who did his fair share of physical comedy stunts in Angel – twisting himself into a pretzel and then unwinding calamitously, all to massive guffaws.

It doesn't stop there, though. In the scene immediately following, Beatrice (Amy Acker) does some eavesdropping of her own in the kitchen. Naturally, that involves her sideways leaping out of the way to escape discovery – and includes a hilarious tumble down the stairs.

In the world of Whedon, it's not just the guys who get to do goofy slapstick, the girls get to do it, too. And in the case of Acker, arguably even better. Hurrah!

The Body – Buffy The Vampire Slayer (2001)

Think Buffy was just a silly show for tweens? Watch this episode and then we'll talk.

Shot very nearly in real-time, it tracks the fall-out of Buffy finding her mother - who's suffered an aneurysm - dead on the couch.

Again playing with the TV format, Whedon strips out the musical score for a disarmingly quiet episode that refuses to mollycoddle its audience. Most upsetting is the episode's shocking, unbroken three minute opening scene, which is as raw as this show ever got.

Whedon also stuck to his guns when it came to the first on-screen kiss between Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson). The network wanted it chopped out of the episode (particularly confusing when Kerr Smith was systematically snogging every guy in Dawson's Creek on the very same network). Whedon refused. It stayed.

Rest at the source

Want to praise Whedon's holy light? Bitch about how overrated he is? Complain about the list leaving out your favourite moments? Now is the time.