Buffy and Mr. Robot: How Tragedy Changed Their Season Finales

Buffy EliotPeople are still stunned over the tragedy this past Wednesday when two Roanoke TV journalists, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, were shot and killed by a former employee during a live TV report.

It has affected many people, including hundreds of reporters nationwide. It also affected the summer hit TV show, Mr. Robot.

Fans were all set to watch the first season finale, and whether Eliot, the hacker, would really bring down Evil Corp on behalf of fsociety, his hacker group.

Then came the news that the episode would be delayed for a week because it contains a scene that is similar to what happened recently in Virginia. There’s no word on whether it will be re-edited, but at least one website said it was the right call.

What’s interesting is that USA Network decided to delay the episode by just one week. Compare that to how another tragedy affected a season finale 16 years ago.

In April 1999 two seniors at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killed 12 students and one teacher, and injured 21 others before killing themselves. That incident affected the final episodes of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“Earshot”, where Buffy acquired the ability to hear people’s thoughts,  was supposed to air a week after the shooting. It was yanked off the schedule in USA (was still aired in Canada) because it included a scene where Buffy thinks she heard someone planning to kill some of the students. She suspects it’s Johnathan, when she sees him with a rifle at the school tower. However, it’s actually someone working at the lunchroom. The episode wasn’t shown until September 21st, just before season four started.

The second half of the finale, “Graduation Day”, was supposed to air on May 25th, but the episode included students attacking the mayor after he turned into a snake, and the destruction of Sunnydale High. That, and lingering feelings about Columbine, convinced the WB to delay the episode until mid-July.

It’s interesting how the WB and USA Network handled the postponement of both season finales. It may be that the WB thought a longer delay  was needed because the Columbine tragedy affected teens and their parents, and set off a debate over school safety and gun control.

The decision by USA to delay the Mr. Robot episode by just a week might reflect how we react to tragedies compared to 1999. It’s still a wise call to avoid reminding people of the tragedy in Virginia too soon. It should be interesting to see if the episode will be changed at all.

When that scene that supposedly is similar to what happened in Roanoke is shown, there will still be people who will say “too soon.”

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Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008

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