Might Club (His Name Is Phillip Coulson)


Thanks to Joss Whedon, we can now utter Phil Coulson in the same breath as Tara and Wash. Whedon really knows how to go straight for the heart, which is funny consdering each of those characters were “the heart” of their show (maybe less so with Tara), they were ACTUALLY shot IN the heart (with a bullet, a giant pike and a magic spear) and their deaths hit us, the audience, right in the heart (specifically in the area governing the FEELS).

I know Coulson will make at least an appearance in the new S.H.I.E.L.D TV series, but I hope they find a way to bring him back as more than just the occasional flashback. I don’t, however, hope this means the whole series would be set in a world before The Avengers. I’d like to see a team of post-Avengers S.H.I.E.L.D agents making passing references to “the big green guy” and “the pompous ass in the robot suit. Maybe Coulson will be an A.I. construct the team consults with. Or perhaps one agent is studying Coulson’s video logs to learn more about his methods. Or maybe he’s the god damn Vision. Who knows. All things being equal, Joss is probably going to use Coulson as his personal Kenny, and find a different, more brutal way to kill him in every episode.


COMMENTERS: Are you glad that Coulson is returning (in some unspecified capacity)? How would you like to see his character used in the new S.H.I.E.L.D show? Why does Joss Whedon love to see us cry real human tears? Outside of the Whedonverse, which character deaths in TV, movies, comics, books or otherwise hit you the hardest? Please use the SPOILERS!!! tag if it’s a current series or a popular book series that people are still reading. 

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  1. No matter how many times I read the Harry Potter series, it never fails to crush me when Dobby…

    I'm sorry, I can't bring myself to type it. I don't want to have a minor breakdown at work.

  2. Joss needs us to cry, it's good for the soul, and it makes us more human… and by doing so, we unwittingly fall into his alien death trap where he can lock onto any heartbroken being in the world and steal their "Spirit-Essence" to fuel his armada of Flesh Golems and control the Earth once and for all.

    But hey, if it brings back Firefly, am I right?

    • I thought it was because, and I quote, "I din't like people." Or does he always give a deceptive, smartass answer to everything?

      • Technically his response, at least with Wash, Wesley, Fred, Angel, etc etc etc was that "Happy relationships make for boring television"

        • He's actually spoken to that in commentary of episodes of "Angel", where he wrote a specific way to show the heroes at their best, only to be able over the next several episodes be able to tear them down and make things incredibly miserable for them, to be able to tell a good, enterraining story.

  3. I think I was more affected by Tara's death than anyone else on Buffy (Anya came close though). And Fred's transformation on angel was heartbreaking. But Tara? She was the heart.

    • can't help but reminisce how shocked I was when Tara got shot. It broke my heart, even though I had little love for the character.

  4. Interestingly Joss was not the one to come up with Phil dying. It was a Marvel decision and Joss said "yeah, I see how it needs to be there, but it's on your head!" cause he KNEW everyone was going to blame Joss for yet another murdering of our favorite characters.

    As for him returning I'm glad, cause the character is awesome and so is the actor. i hope it's more than just flashbacks but at the same time I don't know if the Marvel Movie Verse is ready for the Marvel trademark "he got better" style resurrection. If Phil is just alive again without needing an entire movie (or TV season?) to get the big bad plot device that brings him back it's going to be a detriment to the movies. If we lose the stakes provided by his death it's difficult to care about the movies knowing that if Iron Man doesn't make it away from that Nuke he'll just get better for the next movie.

        • I did, also didnt mean to imply that you had anything to do with it so much as I was attempting to distance myself from whoever that is, cause I dont know them and they might be a crazy person.

    • I saw an interview where Whedon explained this. I believe his exact words were "Okay, but I am going to get so much crap for this."


    In Misfits people, especially probation workers die like it's their only purpose (often it is). However one of them lasted quite long, a deliciously twisted character who was quite funny too. Of course he was killed off in the end!

    I can't say that was Whedonesque heart-break, but still. The Superhoodie/his love interest thing was more of a traditional tear-jerker, but I felt they got a good story and a proper ending. Sad, but perfect.

  6. He's under contract for Avengers 2 also I've read, so I'm guessing that Fury exaggerated his mortality just as he ruined Phil's cards to manipulate the team.

    • Generally though, they'll sign the actors to contracts for multiple films in a franchise even before they start filming the first, so taking contract obligation as a sign can be risky.

    • They keep all the actors under contract regardless of their plans for the movies, though. Hugo Weaving i sunder contract for all future Captain America movies.

  7. ***Shield Spoiler!***

    Phil "Son of Coul" is the lead on SHIELD. (Dunno how) *squee* http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/10/13/nycc-agent

    Clark was surprise guest at NYCC. (Joss posted the following on fb)…This is what Clark said:
    "I just want to say because I won't have another chance to ask this — 'Have you heard of a Life Model Decoy?'" asked Gregg. "I don't know if you've read the theories from the people on Twitter, but there's this guy called the Vision. I don't know if you saw the UK version of the DVD, but the blade wasn't coming out of his chest. There's a tesseract!"


  8. I don't know how SPOILER-y this is, since it was last season and all…

    But older Amy Pond in The Girl Who Waited gets me every time.

    "Interface – show me Earth."

  9. I cried for Dobby (I can't get through those two chapters without weeping, actually) and I cried on and off throughout the Battle for Hogwarts because SO many of my favorite characters died.

    And Doctor Who has made me cry a lot over the last year, especially 10's episodes because it seemed like awesome new people ALWAYS died in his episodes. And this isn't technically a death, but … Donna. Donna makes me cry.

  10. *********start SPOILERS for FRAY*********

    For my money Joss's cruelest cut was Lou from Fray. I mean seriously Joss? A crippled little girl? That's who you decide to kill to galvanize your hero? Yup, big man crying that day.

    *********end SPOILERS for FRAY**********

    ****start SPOILERS for DARK TOWER****

    For me though the one that absolutely gutted me and left me a quivering-tear-soaked-wreck for a good part of an afternoon was Eddie Dean's death in The Dark Tower. I got to ride that same rollercoaster a few hundred pages later when Jake (a Gunslinger for true!) sacrificed himself and by the time that Oy got torn to shreds I was so emotionally deadened I didn't know if I would ever have the feels again.

    *****end SPOILERS for DARK TOWER*****

    At NYCC this year a met a girl cosplaying as Agent Coulson. She had designed, printed, and laminated a security badge and had found reproductions of the trading cards online, printed them on card stock, and whenever she met a well costumed Cap she had him autograph one. I found not only her devotion to the cosplay, but also the idea of Coulson actually getting his (her?) autographs surprisingly affecting.

  11. I think that Joss has realized that death makes an audience take you seriously. For example, when Wash died in Serenity, I suddenly switched from wondering how they were all going to make it out of this situation unscathed to wondering *if* they were going to make it out at all. His death raised the stakes tremendously and made me take the story more seriously. Joss knows he has a smart audience, the kind who know that on most shows they can ignore whatever threat is happening to the main character(s) because nothing truly bad ever happens to main characters on TV.

    Because of what I will call "the X-Men effect" (aka "the part 2 episodes of Batman syndrome"), I think that a lot of the geeky/smart TV/film audience tunes out emotionally to a certain degree while they wait for whatever clever plot device the author comes up with to make sure no harm comes to their characters. Now, I can't do that when I see Joss' name on a credit list and it gets me that much more involved and invested in the stories he tells.

    • If a character needs to die given the situation they wind up in I'm all for it, but I'm not a fan of death for the sake of showing everyone else is allowed to be killed. That takes a main character and demotes them to redshirt. Coulson was a fair "death" whatever form of permanency it ends up taking, he went up against a god knowing the odds, and even got the last word in. Wash wasn't fair, it was a random cheap shot after a moment of victory that in no way felt like a consequence of his action. That's not saying "they're in a dangerous situation," that's saying "people die when I want them to die."

      • To clarify if the actions had been flipped, if the spiking had occurred during the crash, and Wash's "leaf on the wind" was dying words, it would have been a fair death. Tie the death to the actions they took. Then the lesson is "main characters facing down death will not live just for being main characters" rather than "people can die at anytime".

      • I felt the same way for that and many other Whedon deaths, like the random, instantaneous killing of a major character in the final minutes of Dollhouse. Completely pointless. It wasn't dramatic, it just… happened.

        I have a hard time with those. It's like, imagine in the Batman movies, if Alfred suddenly died. Not by sacrificing himself for some noble cause, or for love, or anything else, not as the climax of a suspenseful buildup. He just has an aneurysm in one scene and drops. Maybe there's another line about him later. Not satisfying. It actually makes me a little resentful when he kills someone I care about like that.

        And yet I keep watching.

  12. Call me heartless, but I actually kind of appreciated Tara's death in Buffy.
    Because it was all "what supernatural creature will (not) rip our arms off tonight" – but they're all susceptible to guns. Just because demons don't use guns…
    But I also had a bit of a "Mystery Men" moment with it too. "Guns? Your powers are you use guns?!"

    • Damn Intense Debate bug! 🙂 I also wanted to write:

      Having said this… Coulson's death wasn't Joss's call, so I'd welcome his comeback, I wouldn't really care how "gimmicky" it could get! 🙂


  13. I figure Coulson made it to the Helicarrier's onboard trauma unit (you *know* there's a trauma unit in almost every SHIELD facility, there kind of has to be 🙂 ), and when he comes out of the medically-induced coma, he's going to be *pissed* at Fury for ruining his cards…

    – @JonS253

  14. As others have said, Dobby. Dumbledore, too.


    Ned Stark. Right up until he was actually killed, I was convinced that he was going to somehow get out of it. I was so stunned that I actually dropped the book.


    Duncan from Dragon Age really got to me too.

  15. This is of course, assuming that he is actually dead. The last we see him the paramedics are rushing him away. It is entirely possible Fury lied they same way he lied when he threw down the bloody cards.

  16. by getting killed by Loki's staff of whatever, he got reincarnated in asgard as an asgardian, and now he get's to come back as a demigod in a business suit

    bam, solved


    Five words that can give major FEELS to half the people I know: "I don't want to go!"



    It wasn't even a character I particularly liked, but when Bones killed one of its rotating intern characters it was incredibly moving. More than I would have expected. Such feels that day.


  18. I'm a consummate fiction weeper: I cry whenever I get emotionally involved in what I'm reading/watching. Which means almost anything, even stupid movies, can get me to tear up. Yes, I cried for Phil. But it all started with Glory–the Civil War epic about the first all-black regiment the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry–and all the emotional confrontations throughout the film, culminating in the final horrific battle. I may not feel like much of a girly-girl, but man, I can cry with the best of them. TOO MANY FEELS IN FICTION.


    GoT: The Red Wedding. I basically sobbed through the entire rest of the book, and had to take the rest of the day as a break before starting the next one (which is not like me AT ALL).

    HP: I'm with Dan. It all started with friggin' Cedric Diggory in book 4. Then Sirius, Dumbledore, Dobby, the battle for Hogwarts…I still get teary re-reading them.

    Up: Ellie. The first time I saw it, I wept like a lost child for Ellie, and then every time Carl was mean to Russell or Doug or Kevin or they are put in danger I just would break down all over again and say (out loud, in the theater–again not like me at all) "NO! Carl!"

    LOTR: Gandalf the Grey. Boromir. Theoden. The Grey Havens.

    Star Trek: "I have been, and always shall be, your friend." And Picard & the flute episode, and the end of Nemesis (DATA!!!), and several DS9 episodes (the dual O'Briens comes to mind, as does the finale).



      Same boat as you for the Red Wedding. I was reading it in bed and had to cry silently into my pillow for a solid 5 minutes. Ruined my night and next day when I woke up and had to think about it again. And same for the Grey Havens, at least in the movie. I bawl like a small child when I see little Hobbit tears and the boat sailing away across the Sea.

      And Dr Who. I sobbed during Doomsday, Angels Take Manhatten, Girl Who Waited, The End of Time…anywhere the feels are mentioned, talked about or played on. So many tears.


      I also get really worked up during 300 for some odd reason. There's something about Leonidis knowing he'll never see his wife again and accepting his death that gets my feels going.

  19. Look, this is a comic story. Goodies and baddies never die. He'll be back. When was the last time a goodie or baddie actually stayed dead?

  20. Can’t imagine anything from Farscape counts as spoilers anymore. John and Aeryn at the end of season 4 has me weeping every time. And at the end of season 3, and 2! Gosh, they really couldn’t get enough of killing those guys for the season finale, could they?

  21. I can't believe no-one has said Final Fantasy VII. If you've played the game you know who I mean. That is the only time a computer game has made me cry.

    • A whole generation of us nerdy boys are permanently scarred from losing our first crush that way.

      Luckily, in my own mind I just dropped a Phoenix Down on her and she was fine.

  22. Or maybe it's a comic book movie and he just comes back anyways.
    I mean (SPOILERS, I guess), how many times has Jean Grey come back to life?

  23. The Whedon death that hit me the hardest is the only ones I've seen, unfortunately. The first being Doyle on Angel… and then subsequently about half the Angel cast.

    Outside of the Whedon-verse… um… A few of the potter books deaths hit me kinda hard… um… there was something rather recently that made me cry but I really don't remember what it was.

    Oh, wait, yes I do. Old-er spoilers via Doctor Who

    Donna T_T Donna make me cry.

  24. Old book series, but *SPOILERS* anyways. The series Animorphs, when Rachel died in the last book, I was pretty damn shocked. It was an epic death though, she took a few of the bad guys with her, and accomplished her mission.

  25. Starbuck in BSG and Apollo's wife committing suicide. I can't even mention Kara Thrace vanishing at the end of BSG around my wife. She positively loses it. For me it's Vincent in the Dr. Who episode, once 'Chances' starts playing I come completely unglued. When the art historian played by Bill Nighy starts to describe Van Gogh's contribution to the world, no words, just thinking about it now is tearing me up. To me it is still the best episode of Doctor Who in the history of the show. If you ever had a friend who committed suicide the episode is a gut puncher. Moffet and Davies make about the only tv, where a sci-fi show has more pathos and mortality than say Rescue Me or Treme.

    And of course, Madame du Pompador, 11 resurrecting "But I don't want to go", and poor Idris in "The Doctor's Wife" — "I sent you to were you were needed".

    • I wish I could give you all the thumbs up. All those made me cry. And also Donna – because I would rather die than lose those memories.

  26. A throwback to the 80's.

    In Robotech when Roy Folker died. The first on TV/Cartoon death I experienced as a kid.

    I was 7 or 8 when I saw that. My parents had no idea why I was heartbroken for weeks,

  27. in the expanded Star Wars universe


    When Chewbacca died….I wept like a baby

    I skimmed the rest of the book expecting him to have been miraculously saved…

  28. Lt. Colonel Hughes from the original Full Metal Alchemist anime. Many feels were had that fateful night the episode aired.

  29. I've been pretty positive it's going to be a resurrection/healing type thing since the second time I watched the movie. He'd been dead seconds when the medics took him away. Fury said something like 'get to work' or 'do your thing' or similar. While that *could* mean get him to the morgue and on some ice til we can bury him, I would never assume that of Joss.

  30. Coulson isn't dead for soo many reasons. The main one is the only evidence in the film we have comes from someone who will do everything it takes to do the right thing even if that means lying to a squad of superheroes about the death of a regular guy. Yes we see Coulson get stabbed, yes we see him close his eyes but crucially the only indication of his death is from Agent Hill's perspective via a radio. Hill says she will send a medic team Fury responds saying they're here and they've already called it.
    Ok so he takes a big stabby thing to the rear of the thoracic cavity (oo er) but people do survive that kind of impalement in real life so in the movies it is barely a scratch.
    My bet goes like this, Avengers 2 is going to have some rather shady character in a full face mask who's purpose we will not be able to ascertain until some crucial plot intervention and then he will be revealed as Coulson who will then pretty much say everything I have above by way of exposition thus taking him beyond the loveable doofus he is in the earlier films into a much grittier roll a la Nick Fury get the job done what ever the cost type person.


  31. I know I'm immensely late (as usual) but no one's mentioned the first ones that sprang to my mind, which were Tosh and Owen in Torchwood. Owen's first death, not so much, but their final scene together… killed me. Absolutely killed me. Ianto was my favorite character, but for some reason his death didn't hit me as hard – maybe because I spent most of Children of Earth going "OMGWTFBBQ?!?!" and didn't have breathing space for such tragic feels.

    Also agree with the person who mentioned the intern on Bones, and the one who mentioned Hughes on Fullmetal Alchemist. And Dobby for sure, but also Hedwig. ;_;

  32. My wife (the world's foremost Whedon scholar) and I have a theory that Whedon just personally hates all of his own characters, and wants to wreak a terrible vengeance on them all.
    We also think that his own marriage is a nightmarish farce that plagues every waking moment of his life, and that's why no one on his shows is permitted to have a happy relationship.

    Also, the biggest plot twist for us in Avengers was when Whedon DIDN'T kill Iron Man. Hit us completely out of left field.

  33. I have to admit that reading the Walking Dead comic Lori's death shocked me the most, and I agree with the previous comments on the Red Wedding in GoT, but i will throw in a mention of the 'Golden Crown' that Viserys received from the Khal as a shocking moment. I had to put down the book for a few minutes and take a short walk after reading that part.

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