Early in the second season of Veronica Mars, the show’s teen detective, played by Kristen Bell, gets her chops busted by biker gang leader Weevil for hanging out with the down-and-outs and gritty fringe folk of her Southern California high school. Veronica had once been one of elites, you see, but she lost her standing thanks to a reversal of fortune. She came to align with the underclass, but at the outset of season 2, Weevil (Eli Navarro) isn’t completely buying it. “Shouldn’t you be running for homecoming queen or something?”
Veronica never did do something like that — but she almost did. Creator Rob Thomas recalls that he once considered an episode in which Veronica would have been elected homecoming queen of Neptune High during her senior year (aka, the show’s sophomore season), “not as a reward for for being beloved by the entire school,” he says, “but rather because the underclass of the high school, the people she had helped along the way, would’ve all voted for her. I wanted her to win it as a sort of F.U. to all of the people who had expelled her from their world.”
Thomas, who originally conceived Veronica Mars as a YA book series (with a boy protagonist named Keith, set in Austin, Texas), recalled this abandoned plot point after EW asked him if he still had the proposal he wrote for the novel. (He thought it was lost, but he found it in a catch-all folder labeled “Development.”) Reading the document for the first time in 20 years, he was struck by the strong interest in class (which made its ways into Veronica Mars) and the surprisingly dark bent; the proposal imagines Keith Mars using his detective skills for advantages that would allow him to regain his social standing. (You can read that proposal right here.)
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“He was going to use fear and intimidation, the power of information, to climb back up the social ladder at his high school,” says Thomas. “[Detective work] was going to be used as a bit of a dark art. There was a bit of that on Veronica Mars, and there might’ve been quite a bit more of it had it sold as a cable show, but as a broadcast show, it was probably more imperative to retain a bit more likability.“
Thomas ultimately chose against the Veronica-as-homecoming-queen idea in season 2 because it didn’t make sense for the person she’d become and the experiences she had. “We might’ve been able to pull it off at the end of the first season when that class resentment fire burned brighter for Veronica, but true power over your rivals is not needing that kind of overt vindication. If Veronica had wanted or needed that vindication, it would’ve made her seem weaker, I think,” says Thomas. “The closest we ever came to playing something like that was Veronica getting a loud ovation when she was called across the stage at her high school graduation. She pauses, and she is surprised to hear her classmates show her some love. I wanted to show that by the time she left Neptune High, she had won the admiration of a large cross-section of her classmates.”
Besides, a sash and crown really ain’t Veronica’s style, anyway.
Rob Thomas is currently exec producer of The CW’s iZombie, which he developed with former Veronica Mars scribe Diane Ruggiero-Wright. The new season begins April 4.