Joss Whedon Didn’t Want to be a Third Generation TV Writer, but Turned to 1 Classic Sitcom to ‘Make Some Money’

TV writer Joss Whedon worked on a popular sitcom before making his mark with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The hit series became his ticket to fame, eventually helping him land the gig of writer-director for The Avengers, which forever changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe, propelling it to new heights. 

Though he didn’t plan to become a writer for TV, Whedon did know a lot about the business. Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, with money as his motivator, Whedon took a writing job which led to his eventual success.

Joss Whedon got his start on the sitcom ‘Roseanne’

Joss Whedon, TV writer for the sitcom 'Roseanne,' staring ahead
Joss Whedon | Brian Ach/Getty Images for MTV

In 1989, Whedon became a staff writer for Roseannea show ahead of its time, starring comedian Roseanne Barr. Whedon was brought on for the second season after Barr fired most production staff and writers for creative differences. He reportedly kept his head down and wrote as many assignments as he could get his hands on.

The award-winning filmmaker wrote the Roseanne episode “The Little Sister.” In Joss Whedon: The Biography, author Amy Pascale wrote the episode featured “a small foreshadowing of all Joss’s wit-infused fight sequences to come” in Buffy and the MCU. However, Whedon soon left the series. 

Whedon is a third-generation TV writer

Whedon comes from a long line of television writers. His father, Tom Whedon, was a successful comedy writer for over 30 years. He worked on iconic hits such as The Golden Girls, Alice, and Benson. He also played a significant role in early childhood programming, writing for Captain Kangaroo and The Electric Company.

John Whedon, his grandfather, was equally successful in the entertainment industry. He was a staff writer for legendary television series such as The Donna Reed Show and The Andy Griffith Show.

In an interview with IGN, Whedon confessed that he did not want to write for TV. He said, “I literally had left college going, ‘I’m not going to be a television writer.’ And my friend would go, ‘Three-G TV!'” meaning third-generation TV writer. Whedon added, “He’d taunt me all the time.”

Eventually, The Nevers creator gave in and started writing TV scripts. After moving to Los Angeles, Whedon reunited with his father and became inspired, realizing “I could make some money if I wrote a TV script.” And he didn’t regret it. “I discovered first of all that I love writing more than anything on this earth, and that you could write exactly as well as you want to,” he explained. 

Allegations of Whedon’s abusive behavior

After Roseanne, Whedon created the critically acclaimed series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show ran for seven seasons from 1997 to 2003 and starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, Charisma Carpenter, and Michelle Trachtenberg, among others.

Last year, Carpenter accused Whedon of being “casually cruel” when he learned of her real-life pregnancy, later firing her from the Buffy spinoff Angel. She made her statement after Ray Fisher accused Whedon of creating a toxic environment on the Justice League set. DCEU stars Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot quickly confirmed the allegations, and Carpenter’s co-stars also offered support.

Countless actors have rallied around the alleged victims of abuse. Even Whedon’s ex-wife, Kai Cole, spoke out against him, calling him a “hypocrite preaching feminist ideals,” in a 2017 expose for The Wrap. Whedon later parted ways with HBO and The Nevers amid the controversy. 

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