Of all the Big Bad’s to have threatened Buffy’s Scooby Gang in the seven seasons of the show, none seemed to have developed more organically than The Trio.
Formed of three Sunnydale High alumni who’d featured minorly in previous seasons, they team up in season 6 as ‘The Trio‘. Warren Mears, Andrew Levinson and Jonathan Wells were high school nerds who, now in the real world, decide they’re destined to be super villains. Specializing in robotics, demon summoning and sorcery respectively they combine their talents to steal anything they feel they’re entitled to. Warren is the clear leader, pushing the group to crimes of greater severity that cause more serious harm to people. This culminates in Warren murdering his girlfriend in their lair after he kidnaps her.
Listening to the ever-excellent Arkham Sessions podcast this week, I realized that The Trio are a (quite possibly intentional) variation of a group of lesser known Batman villains, The Terrible Trio. As Brian Ward explains in the episode, The Terrible Trio (first appearing in 1958) were three inventors, each specializing in technology of the air, the land and the sea. Using their tech to commit crimes, they were led by Warren Lawford and (in the Animated Series version of the characters) were bored, privileged socialites who committed crimes for the thrill.
Their crimes become ever more serious, with Warren pushing the others on until, when his girlfriend discovers them in their lair and uncovers their crimes, they attempt to kill her. Dr. Andrea Letamendi determined that an inflated sense of entitlement led Warren (and, with lesser severity, the others) to commit the crimes and feel they were above everyone else and beyond reproach for their crimes.
I hadn’t seen this episode of Batman: The Animated Series before and wasn’t familiar with The Terrible Trio, but couldn’t help notice the similarity with their Whedonverse counterparts, particularly in their leaders, Warren. I don’t know if the Buffy Trio were an intentional homage to Batman’s Terrible Trio, but it does make me wonder what other Easter eggs are hidden in Joss Whedon’s back catalog that have yet to be discovered.