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Joss Whedon Interview - Ending Buffy

Monday 21 April 2003, by Webmaster

Talking about the Buffy series finale

20th Century Fox held a huge party for the finale of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer in which almost everybody connected to the show came to celebrate, and talk about the end. I will be presenting a series of interviews from that party between now and the last episode of Buffy in May, and why not start with the man behind it all, Joss Whedon. Whedon has decided to end the show, and in the last episodes, Buffy and the gang will face not only The First Evil, but now a new evil henchman named Caleb.

Giles is back from England, arguing about Buffy’s plans to face the threat, and a gang of slayers in training are preparing for battle. I had some questions about how exactly this was more final than previous unstoppable evils Buffy had quelled, but there was one burning curiosity I had to address first.

I’ve always wanted to ask, when a vampire is slain, why do the clothes disappear? Convenience. We didn’t want to be picking up clothes all the time. We imagine that it creates a sort of temporal field that sort of turns everything to dust around it. We thought about it.

How do you make each unstoppable monster unique and threatening? We got into a problem with that. We kept saying, "This monster can’t be killed." It’s like, "Well, have you used violence?" It was never about the unstoppableness. It was never about the monster. It was about the emotion. The monster came from that. We didn’t always make them unique. We tried as much as possible, but what was important was how they related to the characters and that’s what made them unique.

So how does that apply to The First and Caleb? It’s been playing on everything they’ve ever gone through very specifically and that’s why it’s a good series ender of a monster. That’s what makes it interesting. What makes it unstoppable, I can’t really say.

How is this season lighter than last? Well, last season was very much about Buffy doubting herself and the concept of power, sort of hating herself and fantasizing about relinquishing power and getting into a really unhealthy relationship because of that. This season is about coming to terms with power and sharing it and enjoying it. So, in that respect it’s been lighter.

In the finale, will Giles have more to do than just argue? Yes, in the season finale, he will bicker.

Did the decision to end the show cause you to back off from any subplots you might have explored? It was my decision to end the show. We don’t resolve every single subplot completely because that’s not the way life works. You also want to leave doors open for other things one day. But basically, it wasn’t like somebody told me, "You’re going to stop." I knew I was going to stop. So, we knew this season finale was going to be the most final.

What should fans do now that they’ll have an extra hour free in their schedule? What should they do with that hour? Write fan fic.

Possible Buffy spin-offs and reflections

Now that Buffy’s over, will there be any spinoffs? There are, apart from Angel, no spinoffs in the works right now. I think it’s a very likely possibility but there isn’t anything happening right now. We all just kind of want to bask and relax.

If WB doesn’t pick up Angel, will you take it to UPN? I don’t know what would happen there. I’m pretty confident we will be picked up. Let me put it this way, Angel will be around.

What about the Watcher spin-off? You’re doing it as a standalone movie instead of a series? You know, I wanted to do something on the BBC. We talked about a two-hour pilot. We talked about some episodes. We talked about a two hour movie. It’s gone through a lot of things but the one conclusion I’ve come to is if I do something, I’ll do it not as a setup so much as a story about Giles. I realized that like Angel, you can use it as a premise perhaps to build something about ghost stories and that would be fine. What I’m interested in is the character that Tony plays. Not some mystery he might solve and that’s sort of a paradigm shift in what I might do. but I’m still very invested in the Ripper story.

What will you miss the most about Buffy? I’m going to miss the writers. Being in that room, just beating our heads against the wall trying to break a story, cracking each other up for hours at a stretch. I mean, I love filming but filming has so much going on. Being in the room with the writers is just us and the characters and writing those voices myself, being alone with them. Those are the things I’ll miss the most.

How have you found the fans responding to this closure? I think the fans response has been, "Yay, we’re sick of it." Or the other thing.

Do you have any regrets about the series? No. Some things worked better than other things. We were able to do the show the way we wanted to. We were never dictated to. I looked at some things and said, "Okay, that worked better than this. This episode didn’t give people the impression that I wanted to as much. This wasn’t as funny or tight as it could have been." You always have that. "I hated that collar." I mean, you obsess about every little thing. But we always did what we wanted to and what we were told to by the story. Essentially, if you’re making art, it starts telling you what to do and it really did. It wasn’t like I was like "Gee, what would be cool?" It was more like I would watch something and then realize I know what’s going to happen next because it’s happened.

Do you worry about the plot developments that have pissed some fans off? I never go out intending to piss people off because an artist is trying to communicate with people. You want to shock them every now and then to make sure they’re awake. Otherwise you’re making hack TV. But inevitably, if you do something that inflames passion, you’re going to piss people off. You don’t set out to do it, but if you never do it, then they’re not listening.

What was your favorite episode? It’s kind of a dead heat. "Innocence," where Angel went bad, was really the episode that showed us what we could do in a way that no episode ever had. When it’s your first like that, you never forget it. But I made a musical, bro. So, I have to say that is also.

Can you believe the impact Buffy has had on popular culture? I always intended it to have the kind of impact on popular culture that it did. I wanted Buffy to be a pop icon. I wanted her to be remembered. I wanted her to be in people’s interior lives. I wanted her to be a hero to kids and she was designed very specifically for that so it wasn’t a big surprise when it worked. It should have been. A lot of people told me it wasn’t going to happen. And we made a movie and it didn’t. Although there are some people who saw the movie and even got that feeling of what we were trying to do. But the series, yeah, I just went in believing.