The Real King of the Nerds: Battle of the Beloved Character Killers


by Angela Dahl (@Angela_Dahling)

TBS’s recent effort to court the  nerds through a reality show features two teams of supernerds competing  to sit atop the Throne of Games and be crowned King of the Nerds. This  got me wondering about nerd icons of the present: if there was a battle  for the title of king of all nerds, who would play in this game of thrones?  Each week we’ll compare two rivals in a particular realm of nerdom.  TO THE DEATH!!


Joss Whedon is most known for writing/directing The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly (and its spin-off movie Serenity), and for killing off beloved  characters in all of the above franchises. With all of this bloodshed  in mind, it’s interesting that television writing is in his blood; his  father and grandfather were both television writers as well. His first  writing job was on Roseanne, followed by Parenthood. He also co-wrote Toy Story, which was nominated for the  Best Original Screenplay Academy Award in 1995. In 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted and ran for seven seasons. Angel premiered in 1999 and ran for  five seasons. Firefly, the cult-favorite space western,  premiered in 2002 and ran for… one season. Thanks to his devoted (to  say the least) fans, the movie Serenity was made to continue the story.  His latest in TV will be S.H.I.E.L.D., a show based on the secret  espionage agency in the Marvel universe that will have the voice of  Mulan, Ming-Na Wen, as one of the main characters. Nerd overload! He  is also writing and directing The Avengers 2, of which he has already been  quoted as saying to expect “Death, death, and more death.” While  his delivery of this quote could be taken as a joke, I’m still bringing  tissues with me come May 2015. Mama didn’t raise no fool.


Steven Moffat is most known for  writing and producing Doctor Who, but he has also dabbled in  sitcoms. Following the demise of his first marriage, Moffat wrote Joking Apart, a sitcom about a television  sitcom writer going through a divorce. On the heels of his second marriage  to television producer Sue Vertue, he created Coupling, a sexy sitcom about a group  of friends and their relationships based on Moffat and Vertue’s relationship  (the main character, Steve Taylor, is also a writer). Moffat also co-wrote The Adventures of Tintin, and along with Mark Gatiss,  co-created the hit detective drama Sherlock. Like Whedon, Moffat also has  an affinity for killing characters. He is responsible for the deaths  of four major characters on Doctor Who, including the Doctor himself,  two fan-favorite companions, and the Doctor’s wife, River Song. Doctor Who returns this month, where we  will see the Doctor chase his new companion, who has already died twice  in two different timelines, through time. It’s complicated. The latest  episode of Sherlock, which aired over a year ago,  featured the titular character’s “death,” and fans are eagerly waiting  to see how this will be resolved (clearly by the use of quotes, I refuse  to believe that he is actually dead. I’m still in the denial stage of  grief).

As far as being recognized for  their killings, Whedon has won two Hugo awards for Serenity and Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along  Blog, and won the Nebula award for  Best Script for Serenity. Moffat has won four Hugo Awards,  and his work on Sherlock was nominated for Primetime Emmy  Awards in 2011 and 2012. Common sense would tell you not to get attached  to anything these men do or say or write. I personally have mourned  all of the following characters:

Angel (to be brought back): Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Becoming: Part 2”

Joyce Summers: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “The Body”

Buffy Summers (to be brought  back): Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “The Gift”

Tara Maclay: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Seeing Red”

Anya Jenkins: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Chosen”

Spike (to be brought back): Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Chosen”

Hoban “Wash” Washburne &  Shepherd Derrial Book: Serenity

Penny: Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Agent Phil Coulson (to be brought  back!): The Avengers

Madame de Pompadour/Reinette: Doctor Who, “Girl in the Fireplace”

Billy Shipton: Doctor Who, “Blink”

River Song: Doctor Who, “Forest of the Dead”

The 11th Doctor (to  be brought back): Doctor Who, “The Impossible Astronaut”

Rory Williams: Doctor Who, “The Angels Take Manhattan”

Amy Pond: Doctor Who, “The Girl Who Waited” and  “The Angels Take Manhattan”

Sherlock Holmes (to be brought  back??): Sherlock “The Reichenbach Falls”

Which character killer do you  think would off the other in a head-to-head nerdoff?


  1. Tommy in IdahoMarch 5th, 2013 at 11:58 am

    However many beloved characters each have axed, Mr. Whedon’s CV is obviously one of more action and slaughter in the course of a typical episode or film than is Mr. Moffat’s. Advantage Whedon…

  2. SarahMarch 5th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Id go for Mr Moffat’s. Mr Whedon’s had indeed more action and slaughter but I cried during the angels take manhattan. So that’s why i pick him

  3. NerditaMarch 6th, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    What I think is more interesting than chosing one of these geeks to be King, is the fact that we place them against each other and high in the hiarchy of geekdom because of their willingness to off beloved characters in the service of the overall story. A storyteller who is willing to refuse fans what they want to give them what they need-a more whole picture of the world-that is something that all nerds value. So while we may say “Guns don’t kill people, Joss Whedon kills people,” or shake our fists at Moffat over christmas special after christmas special, we really admire them for making the choices that we hate- much in the same way that the people of nation will look to a real King. For some reason, this is crazy-amusing to me.

  4. Courtney MasseyMarch 14th, 2013 at 12:45 am

    They are both masters in my book! I’ve laughed, cried, slow clapped, cried, bravo’d, and cried some more during both of their works! I may give a VERY slim lead to Moffat, but this one is too tough for me! They both should win this round!

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