Joss Whedon had a devout following as a creator before finding mainstream success as the writer/director behind The Avengers. All of Whedon’s TV based work has been collectively dubbed The Whedonverse. Despite Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel, Dollhouse, and Firefly being set in different realities, they are united by their variety, their humor, and the thread of creative consciousness born of Whedon’s mind that ties them all together spiritually.
The curse of the creative mind, however, is that you once you’ve found your inspiration you will inevitably produce far more material than the public will ever see. Sometimes a scene has to be cut for reasons of time. Other times you’ll have to do battle with the censors at Standards and Practices who will endlessly fret about your work offending the tender sensibilities of the viewing public. Occasionally you’ll lose something due to the meddling of executives who just don’t get what you’re doing.
The bottom line is that you’ll wind up having material cut from the final product. Thankfully, Blu-Ray Collector’s Editions can save these scenes from being lost completely these days, but it doesn’t change the fact that some of that material was best left unedited.
With that in mind, here are 15 Whedonverse Deleted Scenes That Should Never Have Been Cut.
15. Buffy: Jenny’s Foreshadowed Secret in “Surprise”
Computer science teacher Jenny Calendar was a firm ally of the Scoobies in their formative years. She was also Giles’ girlfriend. What nobody knew was that Jenny was really Janna of Clan Kalderash, who cursed Angel in the 19th century by restoring his soul – an action meant to make the immortal vampire suffer as he realized the pain he had caused. Janna was the latest member of the clan assigned to watch Angel and make sure that the curse held.
One scene cut from the episode “Surprise” foreshadowed Jenny’s secret.
Knowing that a moment of happiness inspired by true love had the potential to break the curse, the scene shows Jenny pushing Giles to talk to Buffy about her romance with Angel. A clearly uncomfortable Giles refuses, saying that’s not his place as Buffy’s Watcher. Apart from foreshadowing Jenny’s secret, the scene revealed Giles’ growing paternal feelings for Buffy.
14. Firefly: Mal and Inara’s Talk in “Objects In Space”
“Objects In Space” opens with a scene shot from the perspective of the unbalanced psychic River as she wanders the ship and peeks in on the conversations and thoughts of the other crew. One of these conversations is between Captain Malcolm Reynolds and Companion Inara Serra, as the two discuss Inara’s impending departure from Serenity.
Strangely enough, the broadcast version of this scene is longer than what was originally intended. Thanks to executive meddling seeing Firefly‘s episodes aired out of order, Whedon had to rewrite the scene to cover information meant to be revealed in “The Message”, which was not ever broadcast.
13. Angel: The Cordy! Sitcom from “Birthday”
When Cordelia discovers that her psychic powers are killing her in the Angel episode “Birthday”, a friendly demon named Skip offers to rewrite time so that Cordelia never gained her powers. Instead, Skip reveals, Cordelia will live the life she should have had before meeting Angel – that of a famous, rich actress with her own television series.
Unfortunately, only the opening credit sequence of Cordy! made it into the final episode.
A seven-minute scene from Cordy! was filmed on the redressed set of Dharma and Greg, with Cordelia playing a fashion designer named Cordy seeking success and romance in the big city. Reportedly inspired by actress Charisma Carpenter’s resemblance to Mary Tyler Moore and the idea of seeing her in a sitcom setting, the scene was included on the Angel Season 3 DVD set as an extra.
12. Serenity: Mal and Inara’s Escape From The Operative
Quite a bit was cut from Serenity regarding Mal and Inara’s escape from The Operative’s trap at the Companion Training House where Inara was working as a teacher following her departure from Serenity. The movie only shows the two briefly traversing a mountain path before arriving at Mal’s shuttle.
The cut scene shows Mal and Inara using a secret passage inside the training house to evade pursuit before they make their way down the mountain side below. The two are also seen bluffing their way around the Alliance soldiers guarding Mal’s shuttle, with Mal using a fake grenade to send the soldiers running.
Finally, there is a bit more snarky dialogue between Inara and Mal as Inara complains about Mal redecorating “her” shuttle (her home during her time on Firefly) and Mal acquiring a bloody nose after failing to secure himself as Inara starts the ship’s flight.
11. Buffy: Tara and Buffy’s Talk in “Dead Things”
First introduced into the Scoobies after meeting fellow witch Willow at a meeting of Wiccans, Tara Maclay eventually became the group confidant. Her quiet personality coupled with a generous and giving nature made her the natural person for everyone in the team to turn to when they needed to vent.
It was Tara to whom Buffy first confessed her physical relationship with vampire Spike near the end of the episode “Dead Things”, after Tara informed Buffy that nothing was wrong with her following her resurrection. Buffy took the news badly, feeling that her newfound attraction to Spike had to mean something was wrong with her.
The scene originally had a line where Tara sympathized with Buffy’s feelings, comparing Buffy’s hiding her relationship with Spike to Tara’s need to hide her lesbian status from her family. It’s unknown if the line was cut for time reasons or because of the censors.
10. Dollhouse: Echo’s scenes with Hayden from the Pilot
Given Joss Whedon’s now legendary battles with network executives and censors over the tone and content of his series, it is ironic that Whedon was his own worst censor when it came to the series Dollhouse. Whedon worked diligently on trying to hit all the notes as to what he thought would sell the show to the executives when he wrote the original Dollhouse pilot “Echo.”
Unfortunately, despite eight total rewrites of the overall script and four days of reshoots after the initial week of shooting, the pilot was rejected by the network as being too confusing. Bits and pieces of “Echo” were worked into later episodes, but one bit that was lost entirely was a subplot in which Echo helps a waitress named Hayden to overcome her addiction and leave her dealer boyfriend.
9. Firefly: The Medic Ships’ Arrival in “Serenity”
“Serenity” was the original two hour pilot movie for Firefly. Strangely enough, despite being the first episode of the series, it was also the last one to be aired on Fox. The episode opens with a flashback to the Battle of Serenity, showing how Malcolm Reynolds became disillusioned with both God and military life in the wake of The Independents’ surrender.
This sequence was not, however, the episode’s original beginning and was ordered at the request of the Fox Network, who wanted a more action-packed opening.
A cut scene on the Firefly Blu-Ray reveals Whedon’s more thoughtful prelude.
Here we see Mal and Zoe overseeing a camp full of wounded soldiers. As medic ships finally begin to fly over the camp and Zoe thanks God, an embittered Mal scoffs and wonders whose side God was on during the war.
8. Angel: Wesley’s Ballet Fantasy from “Waiting In The Wings”
Written to capitalize on the fact that actress Amy Acker had fifteen years of ballet dancing experience, the Angel episode “Waiting In The Wings” saw the Angel Investigations team being treated to a night of ballet by their boss. Naturally the evening failed to go smoothly, as the team uncovered a jealous wizard who trapped the Prima Ballerina that spurned his advances in a temporal loop, so that she would have to dance for him forever.
Given the general tone of the story, a comedic scene building on the crush that Wesley Wyndam-Pryce developed on co-worker Winifred “Fred” Burkle was cut for not fitting the rest of the episode. The scene depicts a fantasy Wesley has during the performance, in which Fred danced the lead role from Giselle as an awkward Wesley tried (and failed) to dance with her.
7. Serenity: The Operative’s study of Serenity and its crew
The Operative in Serenity proves the perfect villain to set up as a nemesis for Malcolm Reynolds. Ignoring their ideological differences, the self-described monster who is trying to build a better world by serving The Alliance as an assassin is as considered and methodical in his approach to things as Mal is improvisational and indifferent to why the people fighting him do what they do.
We get a greater insight into both characters in a cut scene that shows The Operative reading over the The Alliance’s files on Malcolm Reynolds and his ship. Like a criminal profiler, we see The Operative attempt to place himself in the mind of his prey, intuitively guessing why Mal named his ship Serenity and deducing that former passenger Inara will be the perfect bait for a trap.
6. Buffy: Angel’s first appearance in the pilot
The character of Angel was always planned to have a major role in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, even before he went on to lead his own spin-off series. In fact, Angel was supposed to appear in Buffy’s unaired pilot episode, but David Boreanaz’s first performance as Angel was cut from it for no obvious reason other than time constraints.
Amusingly enough, the cut scene is almost identical to Angel’s first cannon appearance in “Welcome To The Hellmouth”, with Angel following Buffy, warning her that The Hellmouth is about to open and that “the Harvest” is coming.
Reportedly there were only a few minor changes in the dialogue, but Whedon has managed to keep the cut scene from being released, despite his failures in keeping the pilot episode off the bootleg market.
5. Firefly: The origins of Serenity’s name in “Serenity”
Nearly five minutes of footage was cut from the middle of the Firefly pilot “Serenity”.
The cut sequence focuses on Dr. Simon Tam.
He has a discussion with Shepherd Book on why he chose to book passage on Serenity as opposed to any other ship, followed by a talk with first mate Zoe Washburne on the realities of war. This is prompted by Zoe overhearing Simon’s listening to a digital encyclopedia entry on the Battle of Serenity while researching the historical relevance of the word Serenity.
Though the exposition of the scene is somewhat clumsy, it effectively conveys a great deal of information about the world of the Firefly universe in a short span of time. It also gives us a bit more insight into why Zoe is so loyal to Mal and just how bad things were at The Battle of Serenity.
4. Buffy: The original ending of “Smashed”
The sixth season Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode “Smashed” ends with a fight between Buffy and Spike, who has just learned that the microchip programmed to keep him from attacking humans doesn’t prevent him from attacking Buffy. The battle between the two in a dilapidated house ends with the conflict between them becoming something more, as the two begin violently making out and bringing the house down around them.
This scene was heavily edited due to just how intense it was.
While more overt about what is happening than the cut that made it on the air, this original cut of the scene makes it clear that Buffy is initiating the situation and taking control of what is happening.
3. Serenity: Mal and Inara’s quiet moment
Much of the dialogue between Inara and Mal when he visited her shuttle numbered among some of the funniest and most dramatic moments of the original Firefly series. Despite this, the fiery “will they/won’t they” interactions between the captain and the companion in the movie Serenity were surprisingly limited.
One such scene was filmed for Serenity, depicting Mal and Inara having a quiet moment to talk before they storm the Alliance barricade around Mister Universe’s home. The scene is a brief one, with the two indulging in some small talk about the fight to come before they both ask the big questions they should have asked before Inara left the ship.
2. Buffy: The Syndication Cut of “Once More, With Feeling”
“Once More, With Feeling” – the iconic Buffy The Vampire Slayer musical – is one of the show’s most popular episodes ever. Ahead of its time in presenting a musical special (a gimmick many dramas and comedies have repeated since), the episode is also notable for being the longest episode in Buffy‘s run at 50 minutes. The UPN network generously allowed Joss Whedon to let the episode run long, for the sake of the songs and the story.
Unfortunately, the executives in charge of the Buffy‘s syndication were not quite so generous. Eight minutes of footage had to be cut to get the episode down to the standard length for syndication. This resulted in the ending of the song I’ve Got A Theory being cut from the episode as well as parts of Buffy and Dawn’s conversation with the demon responsible for turning Sunnydale into a musical set.
1. Serenity: Mal’s original farewell to The Operative
In one of the final scenes of Serenity, the Operative warns Mal that the Alliance might seek revenge on the Serenity crew despite his recommendation that they leave them alone. The Operative further speculates that the Alliance may suspect his intentions to leave their employ.
An extended version of this scene reveals a bit more conversation, with the Operative – having lost all belief in the cause to which he devoted his life – musing once more on the name of Mal’s ship and asking Mal how he went on living after losing everything he had and was at the Battle of Serenity. An unsympathetic Mal plainly replies, “If you’re still standing there when that engine starts, you never will figure it out.”
Once the Operative has left pondering this wisdom, Mal ruins the drama of the moment in typical Whedonesque fashion by muttering, “What a whiner.”
Is there a deleted Whedonverse scene we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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