Jane Espenson

American television writer and producer

Jane Espenson (born July 14, 1964) is a writer who has worked on several television series, comic books, and on a variety of other projects.

Any story worth telling relates to real life in some meaningful way.


  • I recently had to wait two and a half hours in a doctor's office, just waiting to be seen. I literally was genuinely thinking "Well, maybe this is a time loop", because nothing seemed to be happening, no progress of any kind seemed to be being made, so I think we've all fallen into those time loops.
  • I love the way Law and Order doesn’t always put their heroes on the side of good. And sometimes they win, sometimes they lose and sometimes for the wrong reasons. I also think it’s interesting that there is a series that has remained story-driven in its, what, sixtieth season, right ? If not for them, I would argue that all shows eventually become soap operas about the lives of the characters. Law And Order does what it does and does it well. It may simply be that you’re mistaking consistency for blandness, how ’bout that, fella?
    • Response to interviewer declaring Law and Order "bland" in Ain't It Cool News interview (17 July 2003)
  • Movies are always made by committees, and the writer is not at the head of the committee. Thus, mush.
    • Ain't It Cool News interview (17 July 2003)
  • I watch a lot of TV, but I find that recently it’s largely oddball stuff … Scripted stuff sometimes feels like homework, like I'm scoping out the competition or something.
    • Ain't It Cool News interview (17 July 2003)
  • I will not listen to childcare lectures from a man who put his daughter in a box and shipped her to Maine.
    • Lines written for Regina (the Evil Queen) to David Nolan (Prince Charming), in the "We Are Both" episode of Once Upon a Time (7 October 2012)

How to Succeed at Vampire Slaying and Keep Your Soul (2005)

"How to Succeed at Vampire Slaying and Keep Your Soul" The Los Angeles Times (20 March 2005)
  • I've been a television writer for a dozen years, and I've been fortunate to put words in the mouths of some great female characters. They've been working women, mostly, and I like to think they've become role models for a generation of girls trying to figure out their futures.
    But let's be honest: TV isn't going to change anyone's perceptions of working women in the real world just by promoting fictional females to ever-higher positions of authority. And I'm not doing my job if I put a woman's career before her character.
  • Children are the world's most ardent traditionalists. They like things stable and categorized. They want to know what girls can do and what girls can't do. Television, like it or not, teaches them a lot of these rules.
  • Today the percentage of female judges, college professors and detectives seen on television is a pretty good reflection of the actual world. (In the case of judges, I wouldn't be shocked to find out the number on television exceeds the number in real life — what is it about those black robes that makes us think ovaries?)
    But merely thrusting more women into more prestigious on-screen jobs doesn't necessarily make the working world a better place for women. If you were to show people images of two real-life professionals, one a man, one a woman, and ask them to rate their competence knowing nothing but job and gender — I bet people still give the guys the edge.
    It's not television's fault, exactly. But television can help fix the problem. Not by writing women into better professions, but by more accurately showing them as complex people contending with the sort of snide, generous, ambitious, incompetent, sad and hilarious co-workers who populate real workplaces.
  • I can't make real-life workplaces safer and more fair for women just by showing them with briefcases or crossbows. But I can try to grant my characters the quirky gift of humanity — whether they're adjudicating torts or dishing tortes or saving the world. And hope the little girls watching do the rest.
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