The Mind-Transplant Script Whedon Wrote Before Dollhouse

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Long before Dollhouse, even before Buffy graced our television sets, Joss Whedon wrote Afterlife, an action-packed screenplay about memory transfers, human slavery in the name of scientific research, and the problem of two personalities battling over a single body.

Afterlife centers on Daniel Hoffstetter, a workaholic government scientist who neglects his wife in favor of his DNA research, a choice that's all the more tragic when he collapses and dies in the first eight pages of the script. Naturally, since the entire screenplay is about Daniel, he doesn't stay dead very long, and soon wakes up to find himself in a younger, fresher body. His boss, the ethically-challenged Leonard, explains that Daniel's mind has been imprinted on a mind-wiped body. But Daniel's new longevity comes at a price: he is now an employee for the Tank, an ultra-secret branch of the government.

Like the Dollhouse, the Tank is an underground facility where the "employees" are kept isolated from the rest of the world. But instead of mindless, beautiful zombies, the employees are scientists who have been resurrected by the Tank to continue their work. Daniel is not allowed to leave the Tank, or even contact his wife. Eventually, the frustrated Daniel is able to escape, only to discover an added layer of security in the Tank's plans: the body he's been given is that of a notorious executed serial killer, making him unable to blend in with normal society.


Daniel enjoys a happy reunion with his wife, but is soon finds himself pursued on all sides — by the Tank, by the detective who captured the serial killer, and by the serial killer himself, whose personality is beginning to reemerge inside Daniel's mind. Whedon wrote Afterlife 1994 as a spec script and sold it; at some point Andy Tennant was onboard to rewrite and direct it, but it's never been made. Still, it's interesting to see how far back some of Whedon's ideas for Dollhouse go.

Afterlife Script
Afterlife Review [Scriptshadow]