Jane Espenson
MCM Once Upon A Time Panel DSC 3132 (8980685674).jpg
Born (1964-07-14) July 14, 1964 (age 58)
OccupationTelevision producer, television writer
Years active1994–present

Jane Espenson (born July 14, 1964) is an American television writer and producer.

Espenson has worked on both situation comedies and serial dramas. She had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and shared a Hugo Award with Drew Goddard for her writing on the episode "Conversations with Dead People".

After her work on Buffy, she wrote and produced episodes of The O.C. and Gilmore Girls among other series. From 2006 to 2010, Espenson worked on Battlestar Galactica and many of its supplementary works. Between 2009 and 2010, she served on Caprica, as co-executive and executive producer and co-showrunner. In 2010, she wrote an episode of HBO's Game of Thrones, eventually earning a Writers' Guild Award for her involvement with the show. In 2011 she joined the writing staff for the fourth season of the British television program Torchwood, which aired on BBC One in the United Kingdom and Starz in the United States during mid-2011.

From 2011 to 2018, Espenson worked as a consulting producer and co-executive producer on ABC's series Once Upon a Time, and also wrote and directed some of the show's supplementary DVD content and helped develop the show's spin-off series. She co-wrote and produced Husbands, an independent original web series, with co-creator Brad Bell. She and Bell were nominated for a Writers' Guild Award for their work on the series. Espenson also contributed writing to seasons 1 and 3 of the Marvel series Jessica Jones.

She is an executive producer of the HBO series The Nevers along with creator Joss Whedon and fellow Buffy alum Doug Petrie.

She has written numerous comic books, edited multiple volumes of essays, and published several short stories.

Early life

Espenson grew up in Ames, Iowa, and graduated from Ames High School.[2] As a teenager, Espenson found out that M*A*S*H accepted spec scripts without requiring the writer to have industry representation. Though she was not an established writer, she attempted to write a script. She recalls, "It was a disaster. I never sent it. I didn't know the correct format. I didn't know the address of where to send it, and then I thought, they can't really hire me until I finish junior high anyway."[1]

Linguistics studies

Espenson studied linguistics as an undergraduate and graduate at University of California, Berkeley.[2] She worked as a cognitive linguistics research assistant for George Lakoff,[3] who acknowledged her work on the metaphorical understanding of event structure in English and credited her with recognizing the existence of the phenomenon of location-object duality in metaphors pairs.[4] Lakoff also mentioned her year-long work on the "metaphorical structure of causation" in the acknowledgments section of Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought (1999, ISBN 0-465-05674-1).

While in graduate school, she submitted several spec scripts for Star Trek: The Next Generation as part of a script submission program open to amateur writers; Espenson has referred to the program as the "last open door of show business".[2]


In 1992 Espenson won a spot in the Disney Writing Fellowship,[1] which led to work on a number of sitcoms, including ABC's comedy Dinosaurs and Touchstone Television's short-lived Monty. This was followed by work on the short-lived sitcoms Me and the Boys, and Something So Right. In 1997 she joined the writing staff of Ellen Degeneres's sitcom Ellen.[1]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

After years in sitcoms, Espenson decided to switch from comedic to dramatic writing and submitted her sample scripts to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.[5]

In 1998, Espenson joined Mutant Enemy Productions as executive story editor for the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Over the rest of the run of the series, Espenson wrote or co-wrote twenty-three episodes, starting with "Band Candy" and ending with Buffy's penultimate episode, "End of Days". After her role as an executive story editor, she was promoted to co-producer in season four. In the fifth season she was promoted again to producer. She took up the role of supervising producer in the sixth season and was promoted once more to co-executive producer in the final season.

She wrote episodes both humorous (e.g. "Triangle" and "Intervention") and serious (such as "After Life"). Espenson and Drew Goddard co-wrote the seventh-season episode "Conversations with Dead People," for which they won the Hugo Award for Best Short Dramatic Presentation in 2003.[6]

Espenson is credited as the writer or co-writer of the following Buffy episodes:

Episode number Title Credit Original air date
3.06 "Band Candy" Writer November 10, 1998
3.11 "Gingerbread" Teleplay (story by Espenson & Thania St. John) January 12, 1999
3.18 "Earshot" Writer September 21, 1999
4.03 "The Harsh Light of Day" Writer October 19, 1999
4.08 "Pangs" Writer November 23, 1999
4.11 "Doomed" Writer (with David Fury & Marti Noxon) January 18, 2000
4.12 "A New Man" Writer January 25, 2000
4.17 "Superstar" Writer April 4, 2000
5.03 "The Replacement" Writer October 10, 2000
5.11 "Triangle" Writer January 9, 2001
5.12 "Checkpoint" Writer (with Douglas Petrie) January 23, 2001
5.15 "I Was Made to Love You" Writer February 20, 2001
5.18 "Intervention" Writer April 24, 2001
6.03 "After Life" Writer October 9, 2001
6.04 "Flooded" Writer (with Douglas Petrie) October 16, 2001
6.05 "Life Serial" Writer (with David Fury) October 23, 2001
6.12 "Doublemeat Palace" Writer January 29, 2002
7.03 "Same Time, Same Place" Writer October 8, 2002
7.07 "Conversations with Dead People" Writer (with Drew Goddard) November 12, 2002
7.08 "Sleeper" Writer (with David Fury) November 19, 2002
7.14 "First Date" Writer February 11, 2003
7.16 "Storyteller" Writer February 25, 2003
7.21 "End of Days" Writer (with Douglas Petrie) May 13, 2003

She also co-/wrote several comic book stories for Tales of the Slayers, Tales of the Vampires and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, the one-shots Jonathan and Reunion and the limited series Haunted.

Battlestar Galactica and Caprica

Espenson joined the crew of Sci Fi's Battlestar Galactica (BSG) just after Battlestar Galactica: Razor, BSG's first television movie, was conceived.[7] As one of BSG's co-executive producers, she worked on every fourth-season episode starting with "He That Believeth in Me"; she was also the writer of "Escape Velocity" and "The Hub" and co-wrote The Face of the Enemy webisodes. Prior to joining the show's staff she wrote one third-season episode and co-wrote another. In August 2008, the Los Angeles Times broke the news that Espenson was the writer behind BSG's second television movie, The Plan,[8] news confirmed in her writer's blog.[9] In January 2009 it was announced that she had joined the spin-off series Caprica as co-executive producer and would take on showrunner duties midway through the first season.[10] Espenson later gave up showrunning duties to focus more on writing.[11]


In August 2010 it was announced that Torchwood creator, lead writer and executive producer Russell T. Davies had hired Espenson to write for the show's fourth series, Torchwood: Miracle Day to be broadcast in 2011.[12] She later confirmed that she would be writing episodes 3, 5, 7 and co-writing episode 8 (with Ryan Scott)[13] and episode 10 (with Davies).[14] Prior to her involvement with Torchwood, Espenson had said she was a fan of the show, particularly the third series, "Children of Earth."[15] To tie in with the launch of Torchwood: Miracle Day, Espenson and Scott collaborated on the Starz-produced 2011 Torchwood webseries entitled Torchwood: Web of Lies, which stars American actress Eliza Dushku.[16] Following the broadcast of each episode of "Miracle Day" on Starz, Espenson wrote a blog on AfterElton mixing her reaction to the episode with behind the scenes information on the devising process.[17]


In 2011 Espenson also co-wrote and produced her first independent web series with partner Brad Bell. Entitled Husbands, it revolved around the life of two newly married gay men. Espenson self-funded the first season. A Kickstarter campaign and the involvement of CW Seed allowed subsequent production. The show eventually comprised four "seasons" and concluded in 2014.[18] The series premiered Tuesday September 13, 2011. The series also generated Husbands, a hardback comic-book collection of stories rendered in a variety of different drawing styles, from Dark Horse Comics. ISBN 9781616551308.

Once Upon a Time

In May 2011, Espenson was brought on to the ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time, as a writer and consulting producer.[19] She stayed with the show for its entire seven-year run, and became a co-executive producer on the project. She was also involved in creation and writing of the spin-off series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.[20]

Game of Thrones

In 2011, working as a freelancer, Espenson wrote episode 6 of season 1 of Game of Thrones, titled "A Golden Crown". It is notable as one of only four Game of Thrones episodes written by women.[21]

Jessica Jones

In 2015, during the hiatus between seasons of Once Upon a Time, Espenson consulted on the series Jessica Jones, earning a "thanks to" in the credits. In 2019, she returned for a larger role on the staff, and wrote the eleventh episode of the third season "A.K.A. Hellcat".

The Nevers

In 2018, Espenson joined the HBO series The Nevers, as a writer and executive producer.[22] The series premiered on April 11, 2021.[23]


Espenson has written episodes for several other television shows, including episode 4.17 ("Accession") of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and one episode ("Shindig") of Firefly. She has worked on Angel, Tru Calling, The Inside, The Batman, Andy Barker, P.I., Jake in Progress and Dollhouse, and was the co-creator of Warehouse 13.[24]

Espenson is the editor of the book Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly (BenBella Books, 2005, ISBN 1-933771-21-6), a collection of non-fiction essays on the short-lived television show Firefly. She edited the follow-up collection Serenity Found: More Unauthorized Essays on Joss Whedon's Firefly Universe (BenBella Books, 2007, ISBN 9781933771212) She is the editor of Inside Joss' Dollhouse: From Alpha to Rossum (BenBella Books, 2010, ISBN 9781935251989), a similar collection of essays about Dollhouse.

Espenson wrote the short story "What Holds Us Down", which appears in Still Flying from Titan Press, ISBN 1848565062. Her short story "Int. Wolf-Night" appears in Empower: Fight Like a Girl ISBN 9780692210116 She also has short stories which appear in the Tales of the Slayers book series. Her short story, "Nobel Prize Speech Draft of Paul Winterhoeven, With Personal Notes", was published in the September 2021 issue of Future Science Fiction Digest.[25]

In 2016, Espenson served on the MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle) committee to select inductees into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.[26] She is featured as a video/voice commentator in the museum itself.

Espenson has written for three of the 101 Best Television Series as determined by the Writers Guild of America: Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.[27]

Appearances in media

Espenson has appeared as an "expert witness" on the Judge John Hodgman podcast episode "Science Friction".[28] In 2012, Espenson was a guest on the interview series Cocktails with Stan, with hosts Stan Lee and Jenna Busch. She has also been a guest on The Sound of Young America, with Jesse Thorn.[29] She has guested on the Gilmore Guys podcast and on the Slayerfest podcast, about Gilmore Girls and Buffy respectively.

She appears in the documentary interview series James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction and Showrunners.

Production credits

Year Title Credited as Notes
Screenwriter Producer
1994 Monty Yes Episode written: "The Principal's Interest"
Dinosaurs Yes Episodes written:
"Driving Miss Ethyl"
"Variations on a Theme Park"
1995 Me and the Boys Yes Episode written: "The Age of Reason"
1996 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Yes Episode written: "Accession"
Nowhere Man Yes Episode written: "Zero Minus Ten"
1996–1997 Something So Right Yes Episodes written:
"Something About Jack's Ex"
"Something About Thanksgiving"
"Something About a Silver Anniversary"
"Something About Secrets & Rules"
1997–1998 Ellen Yes Episodes written:
"Like a Virgin"
"Womyn Fest"
1998–2003 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Yes Yes 23 episodes written, 88 episodes produced
1999–2000 Angel Yes Episodes written:
"Rm w/a Vu"
"Guise Will Be Guise"
2002 Firefly Yes Episode written: "Shindig"
2003 The O.C. Yes Episode written: "The Gamble"
2003–2004 Gilmore Girls Yes Yes Episodes written:
"Chicken or Beef?"
"The Reigning Lorelai"
22 episodes as co-executive producer
2005 Tru Calling Yes Yes Episode written: "In the Dark"
6 episodes as co-executive producer
The Inside Yes Yes Episodes written:
"Skin and Bone"
"Everything Nice"
13 episodes as co-executive producer
2005–2006 Jake in Progress Yes Yes Episode written: "The Two Jakes"
20 episodes as co-executive producer
2006–2009 Battlestar Galactica Yes Yes Episodes written:
"The Passage"
"Dirty Hands"
"Escape Velocity"
"The Hub"
20 episodes as co-executive producer
2007 Andy Barker, P.I. Yes Yes Episode written:
"Fairway, My Lovely"
3 episodes as consulting producer
The Batman Yes Episodes written:
"The Joining: Part 1"
"The Joining: Part 2"
Eureka Yes Episode written: "Family Reunion"
Battlestar Galactica: Razor Flashbacks Yes 7 episodes as co-executive producer
Battlestar Galactica: Razor Yes TV movie
2008-2009 Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy Yes Yes 10 episodes as writer and executive producer
2009 Dollhouse Yes Yes Episodes written:
"Briar Rose"
8 episodes as consulting producer
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan Yes Yes TV movie
Warehouse 13 Yes Creator
Episode written: "Pilot"
2010 Caprica Yes Yes Episodes written:
17 episodes produced
2011 Game of Thrones Yes Episode written: "A Golden Crown"
Torchwood: Miracle Day Yes Yes Episodes written:
"Dead of Night"
"The Categories of Life"
"Immortal Sins"
"End of the Road"
"The Blood Line"
10 episodes as co-executive producer
2011–2018 Once Upon a Time Yes Yes 31 episodes written
68 episodes as consulting producer
2013 Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Yes Yes Episodes written:
"Down the Rabbit Hole"
"Bad Blood"
2019 Jessica Jones Yes Yes Episode written: "A.K.A Hellcat"
2021 The Nevers Yes Yes Episodes written:
6 episodes as executive producer
Fantasy Island Yes Episodes written:
"His and Hers" / "The Heartbreak Hotel"
1 episode as teleplay writer
Online media
Year Title Credited as Notes
Screenwriter Producer
2009 Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy Yes Webisodes
2011 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight Yes Motion comic
Torchwood: Web of Lies Yes Episode written: "Missing Day: Part 1"
2011–2014 Husbands Yes Yes Co-creator, 20 episodes as writer and executive producer


List of awards and award nominations
Year Award Award category Title of work Result
2003 Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form "Conversations with Dead People"
(Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode)
2009 Streamy Awards Best Writing for a Dramatic Web Series Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy Won
Emmy Award Short-format Live-action Entertainment Program (shared with Ronald D. Moore, David Eick, and Harvey Frand) Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy Nominated
2012 Writers Guild of America Award Drama Series (shared with D. B. Weiss, George R. R. Martin, David Benioff and Bryan Cogman) Game of Thrones Nominated
New Series (shared with D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, David Benioff and George R. R. Martin) Nominated
Indie Soap Awards Best Writing (Comedy) (shared with Brad Bell) Husbands Nominated
Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (shared with David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, George R. R. Martin, Tim Van Patten, Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan and Alan Taylor) Game of Thrones, Season One Won
2013 International Academy of Web Television[30] Best Writing (Comedy) (shared with Brad Bell) Husbands Nominated
Indie Soap Awards[31] Won
2014 Writers Guild of America Awards[32] Short Form New Media – Original (shared with Brad Bell) Husbands episodes "I Do Over Part 1–2" Nominated
International Academy of Web Television[33] Best Writing (Comedy) (shared with Brad Bell) Husbands Won
Indie Series Awards[34] Nominated
Streamy Awards[35] Writing (shared with Brad Bell) Nominated
Inkpot Award[36] Won
2015 Etheria Film Night[37] Inspiration Award Won


  1. ^ a b c d Kelly, Suzanne. "Jane Espenson: Writer, sci-fi thriller, one nerdy lady". CNN. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Biography of Espenson from her website
  3. ^ Master Metaphor List, compiled 1989-1991 by Lakoff, Espenson, and others, from a University of Illinois at Chicago website
  4. ^ The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor, published in Metaphor and Thought (1993, ISBN 0-521-40547-5)
  5. ^ Jane Espenson, an April 2007 episode (in MP3 format) of the USC School of Cinematic Arts podcast series
  6. ^ The Hugo Awards By Year Archived 2011-01-23 at the Wayback Machine from the Worldcon website
  7. ^ 05/29/2008: Link Letters, an entry from Esperson's writer's blog
  8. ^ Edward James Olmos will direct Cylon-centric special feature from the Show Tracker blog of the Los Angeles Times
  9. ^ 08/22/2008: Intestinal Fortitude, an entry from Esperson's writer's blog
  10. ^ Maureen Ryan (2009-01-23). "'Battlestar Galactica' veterans move on to 'Caprica'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  11. ^ Conversations with Ross: Featuring Jane Espenson http://www.rosscarey.com/2012/04/24/episode-63-featuring-jane-espenson/
  12. ^ Zaino, Nick (2010-08-06). "'Buffy', 'Breaking Bad' Writers Join 'Torchwood'". TV Squad. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  13. ^ Espenson, Jane [@JaneEspenson] (20 January 2011). "I'm writing 3 5 7 and splitting the writing on 8" (Tweet). Retrieved 17 June 2020 – via Twitter.
  14. ^ "Jane Espenson on Twitter". April 19, 2011.
  15. ^ Jensen, Michael (20 January 2011). "'Caprica's' Jane Espenson: 'It's Time for Sexuality to Be Incidental'". AfterElton. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  16. ^ Jefferey, Morgan (3 June 2011). "Eliza Dushku confirmed for 'Torchwood' spinoff". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  17. ^ Espenson, Jane (2011-07-11). "Exclusive! 'Jane's Take' Episode One 'Torchwood: Miracle Day'". After Elton. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2011-07-11.
  18. ^ "BIOS—Husbands". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  19. ^ "Jane Espenson, Liz Tigelaar Join ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'". Accessed 16 February 2012.
  20. ^ "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland". Accessed 9 October 2013.
  21. ^ "Turns Out, Only Four Episodes of Game of Thrones Have Been Written by Women". Accessed 3 August 2017.
  22. ^ "Joss Whedon's HBO Sci-Fi Drama Series Adds 6 to Cast". Accessed 15 April 2019.
  23. ^ Hibberd, James (February 10, 2021). "HBO boss breaks silence on Game of Thrones plans, Joss Whedon controversy, more". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  24. ^ 'Battlestar Galactica' countdown: Jane Espenson and the 'Buffy' connection Los Angeles Times, Jan 6 2009
  25. ^ "Issue 12, Sep 2021". Future Science Fiction Digest. No. 12. September 2021. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  26. ^ https://www.comicsblend.com/20th-anniversary-science-fiction-fantasy-hall-of-fame-inductees-are/[bare URL]
  27. ^ "101 Best Written TV Series".
  28. ^ Julia Smith (19 February 2014). "Judge John Hodgman Episode 148: Science Friction". Maximum Fun. Retrieved 2014-05-14.
  29. ^ https://maximumfun.org/episodes/bullseye-with-jesse-thorn/jane-espenson-caprica-executive-producer-interview-sound-young-america/ The Sound of Young America: Jane Espenson
  30. ^ "International Academy of Web Television Announces Nominees for the 2nd Annual IAWTV Awards". IAWTVAwards.org. Archived from the original on February 7, 2013. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  31. ^ "WINNERS: 4th Annual Indie Soap Awards". We Love Soaps. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  32. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (December 5, 2013). "Writers Guild Awards: 'Breaking Bad,' 'Orange is the New Black' Among TV Nominations". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  33. ^ "IAWTV ANNOUNCES 2014 AWARDS NOMINATIONS". iawtv.org. December 13, 2013. Archived from the original on December 14, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  34. ^ "5th Annual Indie Series Awards Nominees". indieseriesawards.com. Archived from the original on August 11, 2015. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  35. ^ "4th Annual Streamy Awards Nominees". streamys.org. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  36. ^ Inkpot Award
  37. ^ "Jane Espenson to Receive the 2015 Etheria Film Night Inspiration Award". dreadcentral.org. Retrieved November 13, 2012.