Creator: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly
The niche communities of the Internet combined with the newly exploited potential of crowdfunding have led creators to rethink their relationship with fans. From the Veronica Mars Kickstarter to the stratification of FX, the relationship between the work and the community that supports it has become more important and more profitable than ever. Joss Whedon has understood the power of fandom for years, and this understanding has brought him great success. Working with a steady stable of actors, being both pop culture savvy and self-referential in his work, and creating additional fan materials has helped him cultivate a voracious base that has followed him through his career.
We all know that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a cult following, but the power of Whedon's fans is better understood through Firefly. While fans couldn't save the doomed show, they are largely responsible for getting Whedon's follow-up film Serenity produced. In the year's since Serenity, fan protests have become de riguer the moment cancellation rumors surface about a show. Whedon briefly cut out the middle men entirely when he produced Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog during the 2008 writer's strike. Whedon's project was one of the first high-profile web-based narrative projects, and illustrated that big TV names can work on the web without network support.
In 2013, the rest of the industry is just now beginning to populate a world that Whedon has lived in for almost a decade.