From the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1997, Joss Whedon began changing the landscape of television with his unique brand of dialogue, long-term storytelling, unexpected character deaths and insanely precise foreshadowing and callbacks to previous events.
Even though Buffy ran for seven seasons and Angel ran for five, this noticeable attention to detail in the shows that only got to run for one or two seasons, like Firefly and Dollhouse.
Even now that Joss Whedon’s popularity has begun to wane after his lackluster Avengers sequel and the eye-opening essay penned by his ex-wife Kai Cole, the shows have started to prove once and for all that they are going to outlast their creator.
These shows introduced major talent, both on the screen and behind the scenes. Nathan Fillion, Steven DeKnight, Drew Goddard and more all got their start in the Whedonverse.
For the purposes of this list, we’ll be looking at the things that have slipped by even some of the most eagle-eyed fans. Looking at Foreshadowing and Easter eggs, these are all the things in the Whedonverse you simply never noticed.
With that said, here are the 15 Things You Completely Missed In The Whedonverse.
15. Han Solo Appears in Multiple Firefly Episodes
Firefly draws immediate comparisons to Star Wars. That’s just sort of the nature of it and a large portion of that is intentional.
Despite the differences, like the lack of aliens and the heavy use of Western tropes and settings, Firefly is still about a band of rebels and outlaws being hunted by an all-powerful entity that largely controls the universe. Captain Malcolm Reynolds draws immediate comparisons to Han Solo.
Because of this, Han Solo himself makes an appearance, in carbonite, all over the set.
If fans have enough attention to detail, they’ll be able to spot a Solo toy in the background of several shots throughout almost every episode of Firefly. It became a game for Whedon and the crew to figure out where they could leave the figure so that people would notice without it drawing any attention to itself or distracting from the scene.
14. Wolfram & Hart Appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron
Joss Whedon’s two Avengers movies have little time to reference his other works, as they’re massive blockbusters with the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe at their disposal.
It only makes sense to focus on the Marvel side of things without too many callbacks to other projects. Except, of course, for a scene in Age of Ultron that sees Thor have a vision of Asgard’s doom in which a huge reference to Whedon’s evil law firm Wolfram & Hart can be seen.
Three figures in Wolf, Ram, and Hart masks, respectively, watch over the events in Thor’s vision. It could be a simple Easter egg, but both the MCU and the Buffyverse take place in a well established multiverse and Wolfram & Hart are established in Angel to have multiple offices across multiple universes.
13. The Firefly Pilot Predicted Major Events Throughout the Show
Given the fact that Firefly had such a short run time, it only makes sense to look back and see what Whedon included.
In fact, he began his insane foreshadowing of future events all the way back in the pilot.
Lines like Wash’s classic “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal” could easily predict heel turns like the one Jayne makes later on. Mal also mentions that they need to pick up a new compression coil, which becomes a running gag and is the part that later breaks in “Out of Gas”.
In the pilot, Mal openly asks Jayne what will happen when the Alliance offers enough money for the Tams, and those events later occur directly in the episode “Ariel”. Jayne also notes of a potential a torture session that he won’t be getting the ear he hoped for, possibly foreshadowing Mal losing his ear in “War Stories”.
12. Buffy Predicts Joyce’s Death With a Joke
There is a ton of foreshadowing in Buffy. Most of it was explicitly planned out by Whedon, to the point that there are things in certain episodes counting down to events that will occur several seasons later.
Many things were planned out and teased beforehand, but one of the most sudden, jarring deaths on the entire show was that of Buffy’s mother, who died not of supernatural means but a brain aneurysm.
However, this was twistedly predicted back in season four’s “The Freshman” in which Buffy says, “I can’t wait till mom gets the bill for these books. I hope it’s a funny aneurysm.”
This isn’t a coincidence. Whedon already knew how and when she was going to die. When Kristine Sutherland told him in season three that she wouldn’t be around much the next year, he told her that she’d need to be back for her death in season five.
13. A Reaver from Firefly Appears in Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods was Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s attempt to twist, combine, subvert, and ultimately mesh every possible horror trope they could think of.
Despite some interesting fan theories, that movie isn’t really at all connected to anything else Whedon or Goddard had worked on. However, by the end of the film, just about every monster one could possible imagine starts running rampant. There are demons, vampires, werewolves, Cenobites from Hellraiser, and even a unicorn.
In the middle of all that chaos, they even managed to throw in a Reaver.
The deranged cannibal hordes from Firefly probably can’t be connected to the continuity of Cabin in the Woods, so the presence of one in the movie probably means that it’s just something thrown in there to see if fans would even catch it.
10. Subtle Buffy/Angel Crossover Moments
When Angel first started, the Buffy crossover episodes were plentiful. Buffy herself appeared in multiple episodes of the first season, and Oz, Spike, and Faith made appearances as well.
When Buffy moved to a different network, crossovers got a little more tricky. They also became much subtler, which allowed for fun moments between the two shows. Willow gets called away to LA by Fred, who Andrew points out as sounding “Kind of effeminate,” not realizing that she’s a woman.
There’s a moment in season seven of Buffy and season four of Angel when Dawn receives a call and dramatically tells Buffy that Angel’s on the phone, only for there to be no one on the other end.
In Angel, this moment is revealed to be Angelus, hearing there’s a slayer in town, calling Buffy to determine which slayer it is by process of elimination. Once he hears Buffy’s still in Sunnydale, he hangs up.
9. Weyland/Yutani Logos Suggest Firefly May Take Place in the Alien Universe
Although Alien Resurrection is far from the most beloved entry in its franchise and one of the things Whedon is least proud of, there are several things in there that clearly serve as the genesis for what would become Firefly, particularly the ragtag crew of The Betty.
Whedon has never made it any kind of secret that he is a huge fan of the Alien franchise in general, and as such, it makes sense for him to have included the Weyland/Yutani logo in the show as a subtle Easter egg.
However, the logo appears multiple times and always in the flashbacks to the Unification War and the Battle of Serenity Valley in particular.
8. There’s a Map in Buffy Season Seven Showing All the Hellmouths on Earth
Buffy makes it clear pretty quickly that the Hellmouth is not the only one. Both season three episode “The Wish” and the series finale “Chosen” joke about the fact that there’s another one in Cleveland.
However, the one and only time fans are actually given a glimpse inside the Watcher’s Council headquarters, there’s a map in the background that singles out the location of every Hellmouth on the planet.
While there are certainly more than two, they’re spaced out enough to make sense. There’s enough demonic activity throughout the globe to make sense of all the demons that are seen and spoken of well beyond the Southern California climate of both Buffy and Angel.
7. An Imperial Shuttle from Star Wars Appears in the Firefly Pilot
While Firefly made enough references to Star Wars by always having a Han Solo toy on set, Whedon and Co. outdid themselves right from the very beginning by actually including a ship from the Star Wars universe all the way back in the show’s pilot episode.
It’s a subtle shot, but there’s a moment in which an Imperial Shuttle can be clearly seen in the background.
This became something of a running gag throughout Firefly. Other Star Wars ships including a Starlight Intruder, which originated in comics, not even in the movies, appear in the episode “Persephone”.
On a similar note, Serenity itself makes an appearance in the premiere of the 2004 revamped Battlestar Galactica, during one of the larger space battles. The inclusion of these different ships show a respect between separate sci-fi franchises, which is always nice to see.
6. Anya’s Demon Friend Halfrek is Also Spike’s Old Crush Cecily
The season five Buffy episode “Fool for Love” gives viewers their first glimpse of Spike’s backstory as a pathetic failed poet in Victorian London with a crush on a noblewoman named Cecily.
He becomes a vampire that night and she’s presumably never seen again. When Anya’s old demon buddy Halfrek makes an appearance in season six, she’s played by the same actress. Whedon does love to reuse actors, but not typically on the same show. So fans were led to wonder if there was any connection.
The answer came in the season six episode “Older and Faraway”, in which Halfrek actually sees and recognizes Spike, calling him by his human name, William. It was all the confirmation many fans needed that the two characters were in fact one and the same, and there was even a comic linking Cecily and Halfrek together called Spike: Old Times.
5. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Contains Multiple Dollhouse References
Much of the first season of the show is spent teasing how and when Agent Phil Coulson returned from the dead, if he ever even really died at all.
When fans are finally given the Tahiti flashbacks, they appear to be very familiar to fans of Whedon’s previous shows.
Coulson wakes up on an operating table, almost dreamily, is asked “Did you fall asleep?” He calmly responds, “For a little while.” This is the exact exchange when every doll is awakened on Dollhouse.
Names like Victor and Sierra are also referenced on S.H.I.E.L.D. as they were key Dollhouse characters. The reason for this is that showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen were writers on Dollhouse and penned almost all of the show’s most well-received episodes.
4. There’s a Clock in Buffy Season Four Counting Down to Her Death
Buffy always featured insane amounts of foreshadowing but easily the most insane was a dream in the third season finale in which Faith tells Buffy that she’s waiting for something and says “Little Miss Muffet counting down from 7-3-0.”
From that episode’s intended air date, it would be exactly 730 days until Buffy’s death in “The Gift”. The first half of that phrase, “Little Miss Muffet” was also one of the first references to the eventual arrival of Buffy’s sister, Dawn.
In the dream-centric season four finale “Restless”, Buffy’s alarm clock reads 7:30 as an obvious callback. However, it’s quickly pointed out to her that “that clock’s all wrong,” which only makes sense because at this point, Buffy is now actually one year closer to death, so the number is no longer accurate.
3. Mal’s Scars in Serenity Are Wounds He Obtained in Firefly
Because the movie was a huge theatrical studio production and the show’s viewership had been small, steps were carefully taken to ensure that the average audience member would not be too alienated by Serenity.
The characters are still exactly who they were, they evolve organically, and it’s clearly set after the show, but specific events are never really referenced.
Because of this, Whedon got to be a little more inventive with how to address continuity.
For example, there are Mal’s scars. He had obviously been in battles long before the events of the series, but the ones specifically shown in Serenity are all wounds he obtained at various points throughout Firefly’s brief 14-episode run.
2. There’s a World Without Shrimp (And It Gets Referenced A Lot)
Different dimensions have been around since the very beginning of Buffy, but the notion of other universes and parallel realities was never truly explored until Anya was introduced in the season three episode “The Wish”.
She later attempts to explain the notion of infinite universes and infinite possibilities by pointing out that there could be a world without shrimp, or a world of nothing but shrimp. In season five, Anya once again attempts to explain the multiverse with shrimp, which excites Tara, as she points out that she’s allergic.
In season five of Angel, Illyria makes reference to the world of nothing but shrimp, explaining that she had seen and conquered many worlds in her time, including a world full of shrimp, which she says she tired of quite quickly.
1. All of the Foreshadowing to Dawn
The hints to Dawn were so subtle that most people didn’t even recognize them because Dawn still turned out to be a huge shock when it was suddenly announced that Buffy had a sister.
The show pretended that Dawn had always been a part of things for several episodes before eventually revealing her mystical origin. Going back, the clues are subtle and well placed.
Buffy’s dreams in the season three “Graduation Day” are the first overt references to Dawn, well over a year before she would make her debut. In “This Year’s Girl”, Faith even directly says that Buffy needs to get ready “With little sis coming” in the dream.
Season four’s “Restless” is also full of clues, with Tara telling Buffy as she’s leaving to “Be back before Dawn.”
Those words hang over the end of the episode and Dawn makes her debut in the very next episode, the season five premiere.
Can you think of any other things that most fans completely missed in the Whedonverse? Sound off in the comment section!
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