Top 10 Joss Whedon Characters

Script written by Nick Spake When Whedon's involved, you can always expect an amazing ensemble piece. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Joss Whedon Characters. For this list, we're taking a look at characters that Joss Whedon played a hand in creating and forming, so fully established characters like the Avengers don't count. Special thanks to our users Nicholas Meyer, Alana Ellmes and Layp Iss Shet for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Joss Whedon Characters


When Whedon's involved, you can always expect an amazing ensemble piece. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Joss Whedon Characters.

For this list, we’re taking a look at characters that Joss Whedon played a hand in creating and forming, so fully established characters like the Avengers don't count. But both big screen and small screen characters will be considered.

#10: Cordelia Chase
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003), “Angel” (1999-2004)

In the beginning, Cordelia is depicted as a typical spoiled rich girl who is generally annoyed by Buffy’s Scooby gang. Like the best Whedon characters, though, there turns out to be more to this valley girl than meets the eye. As much as we love bratty Cordelia, we’re even bigger fans of the strong human being she evolves into over time. She truly comes into her own upon joining Team Angel, acting as a wonderful comedic foil, dedicated emotional support, and an unlikely heroine willing to make great sacrifices.

#9: Willow Rosenberg
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

Yet another character that undergoes significant changes, Willow starts off as a shy, insecure nerd. Through Buffy’s friendship, though, Willow discovers that she’s smarter, braver, and more powerful than she ever imagined. In exchange, Willow acts as the nurturing mother figure of the Scooby gang who always has a plan. Willow also stands out as one of television’s first gay characters not to be defined by her sexuality, maintaining a healthy romantic relationship that’s universally relatable regardless of gender. Just don’t piss her off because she has an unforgiving dark side.

#8: Jayne Cobb
“Firefly” (2002-03), “Serenity” (2005)

At first glance, a lot of Whedon’s characters come off as one-note archetypes. In Jayne’s case, he seems like a gruff mercenary. Behind that tough guy appearance, however, Jayne is a loyal member of Serenity that’s genuinely sympathetic towards those he cares about. He demonstrates this through subtle actions, such as sporting a dorky cap that his mother made. While not always the easiest person to get along with, Jayne will gladly accompany his crewmates on a suicide mission and even crack a good joke in the process.

#7: Hoban ‘Wash’ Washburne
“Firefly” (2002-03), “Serenity” (2005)

Browncoats can’t help but break out into tears whenever somebody says, “I am a leaf on the wind.” Don’t ask why. Wash is a crucial member of his crew and not merely because he’s Serenity’s pilot. He’s not the most daring hero, as he’s often emasculated by his wife. But Wash is a devoted friend and husband nevertheless, willing to travel to the vastest reaches of the universe for them. His casual attitude also provides the ship with a refreshingly laidback, playful atmosphere. How many captains do you know that collect toy dinosaurs?

#6: Anya Jenkins
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

Among Buffy’s Scooby Gang, Anya evidently has the weakest social skills and sense of empathy. She’s never afraid to say exactly what’s on her mind no matter how insensitive. Of course what do you expect from somebody that used to be a vengeance demon? Her unfiltered mouth makes her a terrific source of comedic relief, but Anya also becomes progressively more thoughtful as she discovers what it means to be human. By the end, she’s willing to face any unspeakable evil to preserve the fate of mankind, expect maybe bunnies.

#5: Dr. Horrible
“Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” (2008)

Although TV owners had to endure months without original content during the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America Strike, Joss Whedon fortunately had them covered with “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” The title character of this inexpensive musical is the most awkward, insecure, and nonchalantly evil villain you’ll ever find online. Dr. Horrible juggles committing heinous deeds with battling his nemesis, Captain Hammer, working up the courage to talk to his crush, Penny, and maintaining a video blog. And, he does all of the above with wit, sympathy, and of course fabulous singing chops.

#4: Angel
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003), “Angel” (1999-2004)

Angel is one of the most courageous heroes and most ruthless villains ever to walk the earth. Formerly known as Angelus, this once merciless vampire suffers a severe identity crisis upon gaining a soul. Eventually, Angel dedicates his eternal life to fighting evil alongside Buffy, who brings out the best and worst in him. Angel’s charm, charisma, and sense of humor shine through his brooding exterior, making him everything Edward Cullen should have been. Speaking of which, kind of ironic he would later go by the alias of “Twilight.”

#3: Buffy Summers
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

Sure, she already existed in film before Joss re-imagined her for television, but the characters barely resemble each other aside from the opening premise. Some people may have a hard time taking a blonde teenager that slays vampires seriously. For years, however, Buffy Summers was the most empowering, multilayered, and entertaining heroine on television. Although Buffy possesses unbelievable powers, that’s not what makes her compelling. What distinguishes Buffy is her witty persona, commitment to her friends, and knack for leadership. Like any great leader, Buffy is only as great as her followers, who all help her to become a stronger slayer and human being. She’s truly a timeless character that’ll forever kick ass.

#2: Malcolm Reynolds
“Firefly” (2002-03), “Serenity” (2005)

Although “Firefly” only lasted a season, its characters made an instant connection with audiences as if we’d known them for years. Nowhere is this more evident than with Malcolm Reynolds. The captain of Serenity will take on just about any risky job if the price is right, but he still preserves a moral code to keep his band of misfits alive. Like Captain Kirk or Han Solo, Malcolm’s a commanding, yet lovable, presence that you want to follow into battle, even if the odds aren’t in his favor.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- River Tam
“Firefly” (2002-03), “Serenity” (2005)
- Marty Mikalski
“The Cabin in the Woods” (2012)
- Kaylee Frye
“Firefly” (2002-03), “Serenity” (2005)
- Xander Harris
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)
- Faith
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003) & “Angel” (1999-2004)

#1: Spike
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003) & “Angel” (1999-2004)

Spike is an unforgettable character on several levels. Upon arriving in Sunnydale, he’s a deliciously malevolent baddie ready to wreak havoc. After getting a microchip in his head, though, Spike goes from comedic foil, to reluctant ally, to love interest, to noble hero. His surprisingly depressing backstory only makes him more complex and identifiable. No matter what role Blondie Bear is playing, you can count on him to steal every scene he’s in. And to think, Spike was originally supposed to die after just a few episodes.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite Joss Whedon character? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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