If there’s anything more likely to stir debate amongst fans, it’s which Whedon characters would deserve a place in a top 5 list. Blame it on the master, who populates his Whedonverse with just too damn many lovable, and loathsome, and all-around fascinating people. Hate to love ’em? Love to hate ’em? The line blurs on a regular basis in any Joss show.
Proceed with caution. Your opinion may vary…but there’s nary a dullard in the bunch.
5. River Tam (Summer Glau) from Firefly: The damaged ones are always the show stoppers, aren’t they? And in this case? Volatile. Twitchy. Likes weapons. Unlike Glau’s Terminator character, there’s no construct like a chip or a program to keep her in check. In other words: Cameron off her meds. Yet beneath it all trickled an underlying current of a sad, sweet girl who was damaged through not fault of her own. Not having had the opportunity to watch this character blossom (or deconstruct) further, we as a Whedon audience are much poorer because of it
4. Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. A baddie so guileless and wholehearted, you just want to pinch his cheeks. And chuck some loose change into the tip jar perched atop his piano.
3. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof) from Angel: Wesley holds a special place in the hearts of Angel fans – and for good reason. Like the #1 choice on this list, he too evolves far beyond being the wise-cracking nerd sidekick. On his path to glory, sure, he got sidetracked a few times, but with all those false prophecies and loose, evil women like Lilah lying about, who wouldn’t? At his arc’s conclusion, he ultimately stood as a triumphant, tortured, valiant, fallible hero.
2. Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) from Firefly: Maybe it’s just the Han Solo fangirl in me who responds so strongly to Mal, when the whole show was brimming over with so many fantastic characters. It’s just that Mal was a hero in spite of himself – few guys can call a woman “whore” and still come across as highly likable. And ultimately, it would have been all “ragtag,” no “crew” had Mal not been the (crazy)glue that held them all together. May the Serenity’s Captain long fly high in our hearts.
1. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Yes, it may seem like sacrilege to rank Willow in lieu of the show’s namesake, but had Buffy never been bestowed with her awesome Slayerness, she still had a pretty decent fallback position in being the thin blond cheerleader type. Whereas Willow proved that the label that gets slapped on you in high school ain’t no big thang, and in doing so, she embodies the ultimate revenge of the nerds fantasy. She’s what (or who) Whedon does best – a nerd who ultimately transcends her parameters, who busts out of the confines of the sidekick slot, guns a’blazin’, and blossoms into a force to be reckoned with. And how.