Eliza Dushku and Joss Whedon came up with the premise of the show, while having lunch and talking about her career options.
DOLLHOUSE is part of a FOX campaign called "Remote-Free-TV", which also includes fellow-FOX-show FRINGE. Both shows are expected to have dramatically reduced commercial breaks and therefore more actual screen time.
All of the names of the Actives used in the Dollhouse are taken from the NATO phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Echo, Sierra, November, Victor, and Whiskey).
The premise of this show is strikingly similar to the 1977 novel "All My Sins Remembered" by Joe Haldeman.
The company behind the doll houses in the show is Rossum. This is almost certainly a nod to Karel Capek's play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). The play deals with artificial people, programmed to do work who eventually turn on their masters. This play also introduced the word Robot into the English language.
The character of Dr. Saunders was originally written to be much older, but Joss Whedon rewrote the character so he could cast Amy Acker.
Joss Whedon had a five year plan for the series and had already worked out how the characters will evolve over time but the show only ran for two seasons.
As of 2009, this is the lowest rated television drama to get a renewal from a major American television network for a new season in the last 20 years.
Season One is 13 episodes long, but only 12 were actually aired. The reason for this is that the original pilot was scrapped (the other episodes being altered accordingly), leaving 12 to air on TV. However, the series had already been sold to foreign markets as a full 13 episodes. To accommodate this, an extra episode was produced at half-budget: "Epitaph One" takes place in an After The End scenario, stars Felicia Day of "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" (2008) and "The Guild" (2007) fame. Epitaph One, as well as the original unaired pilot "Echo", have both been included on the Season One DVD.
The tattooed fighter seen sparring in the ring with Agent Ballard is Tanoai Reed.
The name of the character played by Matt Keesler is "Richard Connell." The actual Richard Connell is the author of the famous 1924 short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," in which a shipwreck survivor is forced to run for his life from a murderous game hunter who has become bored with mere animal prey - the plot of this episode.
CAMEO(Jewel Staite): Watch the crowd before the second failed assassination of Rayna. You'll notice a cameo of Jewel (Kaylee from Joss Whedon's Firefly) as a member of the crowd.
The stalker smuggles a rifle into the concert hidden in a crutch. This is the same manner as titular character in The Day of the Jackal.
The storekeeper tells Langton, "I didn't see who wrote the note - it could have been any one of them. There was a bit of a mishegoss going on up at the front of the store at the time." "Mishegoss" is a Yiddish word meaning "craziness."
Dr. Claire Saunders, looking through the video archive for instances of Victor getting an erection in the shower, says, "If it'd been a snake... Please pretend I didn't say that." The complete adage says, "If it had been a snake, it would have bitten me" (or various words to that effect), meaning that the speaker was surprised by something that should be immediately obvious. This saying occurs often (with varied wordings) in science fiction and fantasy, as when Paradox says it in Ben 10: Alien Force and when Buckaroo says it in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
In "Man on the Street" we see that it cost one of their clients $439,000,000 to engage Echo.
Echo's real name is revealed to be Caroline Farrell when a college professor recognizes her.
According to Eliza Dushku, on the day she wore her dominatrix outfit she hired a coffee truck for the cast and crew and told them they could choose between free coffee or her whip. Whilst they appreciated the free coffee it didn't stop them gawping and drooling over her. Eliza as the dominatrix received huge publicity and the clip was used extensively in advertisements for the show. This scene alone is often credited with earning the Dollhouse its second season.
Victor's persona for the "Miss Lonely Hearts" engagement is "Roger." As a verb, "to roger" is British slang roughly equivalent to the American "to hump", in a sexual sense (e.g. a dog may roger one's leg). Given that Victor's actual client is "very British", the persona's name may be an in-joke.
Mellie/November's real name is revealed to be Polly Keller when Ballard and Loomis run her fingerprints. We later learn, however, that this information is false, likely corrupted by the Dollhouse to protect themselves from investigators.
The estate belonging to the dead woman Echo imprints is the same set (or possibly real building) that was used during the production of Gilmore Girls, in which it was used as Rory's private school Chilton. Incidentally, Gregg Henry who plays the dead woman's brother used to play Mitchum Huntzberger on Gilmore Girls, the father of Rory's boyfriend Logan.
Early in the episode, Topher uses the term "frakked." This is a made-up curse word, used frequently in Battlestar Galactica. Co-star Tahmoh Penikett played "Captain Karl 'Helo' Agathon" in 64 episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Writer Jane Espenson also wrote for Battlestar Galatica.
Alpha's original name is revealed to be Carl William Craft, who was serving time in prison.