In the BUFFY Season 1 finale (“Prophecy Girl”), Giles, a watcher, translates an ancient prophecy stating the slayer (Buffy) will DIE. Although she does briefly die in the episode, she ends up LIVING.
In the ANGEL Season 1 finale (“To Shanshu In L.A.”), Wesley, a former watcher, translates an ancient prophecy stating a vampire with a soul (assumed to be Angel) will one day DIE. He later realizes the translation actually says a vampire with a soul will LIVE (become human).
Never noticed that connection before now. In both instances, the prophecies end up being more complicated than they first appear.
I actually did notice this on my last rewatch. This is what got me to realize that Joss has three kinds of season finales.
The first is the “season 1” finale. Season 1 of his shows tend to be almost entirely episodic (with varying degrees of arc-ness). Usually, the second-to-last episode of the season is just an episode, but introduces a minor element that becomes central to the finale. In any case, the finale is pretty much a stand-alone. This is Prophecy Girl (Angel gets the prophecy in Out of Mind, Out of Sight), To Shanshu in L.A. (Angel also finds the prophecy in Blind Date), Omega (Alpha first shows up in Briar Rose), and Objects in Space. And yeah, I know Omega is technically the second to last episode, but bear with me a second. Dollhouse is pretty much the sort-of exception to all of these because the finales kind of combine most of them.
Epitaph One, the actual Dollhouse season 1 finale, is an example of the second kind: the “coda”. This happens after a season-long arc. The main conflict is over, the Big Bad has been defeated or whatever, but this episodes somehow wraps up the themes of the show. This is the rarest kind. Pretty much the only other examples are Epitaph Two, Restless, and Home.
The third kind is, of course, the end of an arc. This is pretty much every other finale I haven’t mentioned. Though, of course, the Dollhouse finales both sort of qualify for this category, too, because Dollhouse is crazy like that. And the ones that come before codas, like Primeval and Peace Out, are of course debatable.
This has been a needlessly precise categorization of the Whedonverse finales.