|Buffy the Vampire Slayer|
|Created by||Joss Whedon|
|Starring||Sarah Michelle Gellar
Anthony Stewart Head
|Theme music composer||Nerf Herder|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||144 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Joss Whedon
|Running time||43 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Mutant Enemy Productions
20th Century Fox Television
|Original channel||The WB (1997–2001)
|Picture format||NTSC 480i 4:3
PAL 576i 16:9 (Seasons 4–7)
|Original run||March 10, 1997– May 20, 2003|
|Preceded by||Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992 film)|
|Followed by||Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight (comic book)|
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series which aired from March 10, 1997 until May 20, 2003. The series was created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production tag, Mutant Enemy Productions with later co-executive producers being Jane Espenson, David Fury, David Greenwalt, Doug Petrie, Marti Noxon, and David Solomon. The series narrative follows Buffy Summers (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar), the latest in a line of young women known as "Vampire Slayers" or simply "Slayers." In the story, Slayers are "called" (chosen by fate) to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. Like previous Slayers, Buffy is aided by a Watcher, who guides, teaches, and trains her. Unlike her predecessors, Buffy surrounds herself with a circle of loyal friends who become known as the "Scooby Gang."
The series received critical and popular acclaim and usually reached between four and six million viewers on original airings. Although such ratings are lower than successful shows on the "big four" networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox), they were a success for the relatively new and smaller WB Television Network. Reviews for the show were positive; it has been included in many "best of" lists, including being ranked 41st on TV Guide's list of 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, second on Empire's "50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time", voted third in 2004 and 2007 on TV Guide's "Top Cult Shows Ever" and listed in Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-Time". In 2013 TV Guide also included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time. Buffy was also named the third Best School Show of All Time by AOL TV. It was nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe awards, winning a total of three Emmys. However, snubs in lead Emmy categories resulted in outrage among TV critics and the decision by the academy to hold a tribute event in honor of the series after it had gone off the air in 2003.
Buffy's success has led to hundreds of tie-in products, including novels, comics, and video games. The series has received attention in fandom (including fan films), parody, and academia, and has influenced the direction of other television series.
Writer Joss Whedon says that "Rhonda the Immortal Waitress" was really the first incarnation of the Buffy concept, "just the idea of some woman who seems to be completely insignificant who turns out to be extraordinary." This early, unproduced idea evolved into Buffy, which Whedon developed to invert the Hollywood formula of "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie." Whedon wanted "to subvert that idea and create someone who was a hero." He explained, "The very first mission statement of the show was the joy of female power: having it, using it, sharing it."
The idea was first visited through Whedon's script for the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which featured Kristy Swanson in the title role. The director, Fran Rubel Kuzui, saw it as a "pop culture comedy about what people think about vampires." Whedon disagreed: "I had written this scary film about an empowered woman, and they turned it into a broad comedy. It was crushing." The script was praised within the industry, but the movie was not.
Several years later, Gail Berman (later a Fox executive, but at that time President and CEO of the production company Sandollar Television, who owned the TV rights to the movie) approached Whedon to develop his Buffy concept into a television series. Whedon explained that "They said, 'Do you want to do a show?' And I thought, 'High school as a horror movie.' And so the metaphor became the central concept behind Buffy, and that's how I sold it." The supernatural elements in the series stood as metaphors for personal anxieties associated with adolescence and young adulthood. Early in its development, the series was going to be simply titled Slayer. Whedon went on to write and partly fund a 25-minute non-broadcast pilot that was shown to networks and eventually sold to the WB Network. The latter promoted the premiere with a series of History of the Slayer clips, and the first episode aired on March 10, 1997.
Joss Whedon was credited as executive producer throughout the run of the series, and for the first five seasons (1997–2001) he was also the showrunner, supervising the writing and all aspects of production. Marti Noxon took on the role for seasons six and seven (2001–2003), but Whedon continued to be involved with writing and directing Buffy alongside projects such as Angel, Fray, and Firefly. Fran Rubel Kuzui and her husband, Kaz Kuzui, were credited as executive producers but were not involved in the show. Their credit, rights, and royalties over the franchise relate to their funding, producing, and directing of the original movie version of Buffy.
Script-writing was done by Mutant Enemy, a production company created by Whedon in 1997. The writers with the most writing credits are Joss Whedon, Steven S. DeKnight, Jane Espenson, David Fury, Drew Goddard, Drew Greenberg, David Greenwalt, Rebecca Rand Kirshner, Marti Noxon and Doug Petrie. Other authors with writing credits include Dean Batali, Carl Ellsworth, Tracey Forbes, Ashley Gable, Howard Gordon, Diego Gutierrez, Elin Hampton, Rob Des Hotel, Matt Kiene, Ty King, Thomas A. Swyden, Joe Reinkemeyer, Dana Reston and Dan Vebber.
Jane Espenson has explained how scripts came together. First, the writers talked about the emotional issues facing Buffy Summers and how she would confront them through her battle against evil supernatural forces. Then the episode's story was "broken" into acts and scenes. Act breaks were designed as key moments to intrigue viewers so that they would stay with the episode following the commercial break. The writers collectively filled in scenes surrounding these act breaks for a more fleshed-out story. A whiteboard marked their progress by mapping brief descriptions of each scene. Once "breaking" was done, the credited author wrote an outline for the episode, which was checked by Whedon or Noxon. The writer then wrote a full script, which went through a series of drafts, and finally a quick rewrite from the show runner. The final article was used as the shooting script.
Actresses who auditioned for Buffy Summers and got other roles include Julie Benz (Darla), Elizabeth Anne Allen (Amy Madison), Julia Lee (Chanterelle/Lily Houston/Anne Steele), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase), and Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall). Bianca Lawson, who played vampire slayer Kendra Young in season 2 of the show, originally auditioned for the role of Cordelia Chase before Charisma Carpenter was cast in the role.
The title role went to Sarah Michelle Gellar, who had appeared as Sydney Rutledge on Swans Crossing and Kendall Hart on All My Children. At age 18 in 1995, Gellar had already won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Leading Actress in a Drama Series. In 1996, she was initially cast as Cordelia Chase during a week of auditioning. She decided to keep trying for the role of Buffy, and after several more auditions, she landed the lead.
Anthony Stewart Head had already led a prolific acting and singing career, but remained best known in the United States for a series of twelve coffee commercials with Sharon Maughan for Nescafé. He accepted the role of Rupert Giles. Unlike other Buffy regulars, Nicholas Brendon had little acting experience, instead working various jobs-including production assistant, plumber's assistant, veterinary janitor, food delivery, script delivery, day care counselor, and waiter-before breaking into acting and overcoming his stutter. He landed his Xander Harris role following only four days of auditioning. Ryan Reynolds and Danny Strong also auditioned for the part. Strong later played the role of Jonathan Levinson, a recurring character for much of the series run.
Alyson Hannigan was the last of the original six to be cast. Following her role in My Stepmother Is an Alien, she appeared in commercials and supporting roles on television shows throughout the early 1990s. In 1996, the role of Willow Rosenberg was initially played by Riff Regan for the unaired Buffy pilot, but Hannigan auditioned when the role was being recast for the series proper. Hannigan described her approach to the character through Willow's reaction to a particular moment: Willow sadly tells Buffy that her Barbie doll was taken from her as a child. Buffy asks her if she ever got it back. Willow's line was to reply "most of it." Hannigan decided on an upbeat and happy delivery of the line "most of it," as opposed to a sad, depressed delivery. Hannigan figured Willow would be happy and proud that she got "most of it" back. That indicated how she was going to play the rest of the scene, and the role, for that matter, and defined the character. Her approach subsequently got her the role.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer first aired on March 10, 1997, (as a mid season replacement for the show Savannah) on the WB network, and played a key role in the growth of the Warner Bros. television network in its early years. After five seasons, it transferred to the United Paramount Network (UPN) for its final two seasons. In 2001, the show went into syndication in the United States on local stations and on cable channel FX; the local airings ended in 2005, and the FX airings lasted until 2008. Beginning in January 2010, it began to air in syndication in the United States on Logo. Reruns also briefly aired on MTV. In March 2010, it began to air in Canada on MuchMusic and MuchMore. On November 7, 2010, it began airing on Chiller with a 24-hour marathon; the series airs weekdays. Chiller has also aired a 14-hour Thanksgiving Day marathon on November 25, 2010. In 2011, it began airing on Oxygen and TeenNick.
While the seventh season was still being broadcast, Sarah Michelle Gellar told Entertainment Weekly she was not going to sign on for an eighth year; "When we started to have such a strong year this year, I thought: 'This is how I want to go out, on top, at our best.'" Whedon and UPN gave some considerations to production of a spin-off series that would not require Gellar, including a rumored Faith series, but nothing came of those plans. The Buffy canon is continuing outside the television medium in the Dark Horse Comics series, Buffy Season Eight. This has been produced since March 2007 by Whedon, who also wrote the first story arc, "The Long Way Home."
In the United Kingdom, the entire series aired on Sky1 and BBC Two. After protests from fans about early episodes being edited for their pre-watershed time-slot, from the second run (mid-second season onwards), the BBC gave the show two time slots: the early-evening slot (typically Thursday at 6:45 pm) for a family-friendly version with violence, objectionable language and other stronger material cut out, and a late-night uncut version (initially late-night Sundays, but for most of the run, late-night Fridays; exact times varied). Sky1 aired the show typically at 8:00 pm on Thursdays. From the fourth season onwards, the BBC aired the show in anamorphic 16:9 widescreen format. Whedon later said that Buffy was never intended to be viewed this way. Despite his claims, Sky1 and Syfy now air repeat showings in the widescreen format.
The Buffy opening sequence provides credits early in each show. The music was performed by the rock band Nerf Herder. The melody is similar to that of an Austrian pop song from the 1980s called "Codo" by DÖF, but Nerf Herder have said that they had "never heard of DÖF" and the similarity was coincidental. In the DVD commentary for the first Buffy episode, Whedon said his decision to go with Nerf Herder's theme was influenced by cast member Alyson Hannigan, who had made him listen to the band's music. Janet Halfyard, in her essay "Music, Gender, and Identity in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel," describes the opening:
Firstly ... we have the sound of an organ, accompanied by a wolf’s howl, with a visual image of a flickering night sky overlaid with unintelligible archaic script: the associations with both the silent era and films such as Nosferatu and with the conventions of the Hammer House of Horror and horror in general are unmistakable.
But the theme quickly changes: "It removes itself from the sphere of 1960s and 70s horror by replaying the same motif, the organ now supplanted by an aggressively strummed electric guitar, relocating itself in modern youth culture ...." This music is heard over images of a young cast involved in the action and turbulence of adolescence. The sequence provides a post-modern twist on the horror genre.
The brief clips of characters and events which compose the opening sequence are updated from season to season. The only shots that persist across all seven seasons are those of a book titled Vampyr and of the cross given to Buffy by Angel in the first episode. Each sequence ends with a lingering shot of Buffy, which changes between seasons. In seasons six and seven, the final shots of Gellar are respectively as Buffybot in "The Gift" (season five finale) and the First Evil posing as Buffy in "Lessons" (season seven premiere). The only exception was in the season four episode "Superstar," which featured a long shot of Jonathan Levinson.
Four episodes feature an opening sequence that is unique to that specific episode. The fourth season episode "Superstar" is the same as the season four credits except numerous clips of Jonathan are added in, replacing some heroic action clips of Buffy. This is a humorous reference to the episode, where Jonathan has bewitched the people of Sunnydale into perceiving him as a heroic worldwide idol for them all, which they forget about after the spell is broken at the end of the episode. The fifth season premiere "Buffy vs. Dracula" has the regular season five credits with the omission of the Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn) scenes from the title sequence. She is instead credited as a guest star. The season six episode "Once More, with Feeling" has a different opening theme song and credits. The season six episode "Seeing Red" added Amber Benson (Tara) into the regular season six opening credits for her final episode.
Buffy features a mix of original, indie, rock and pop music. The composers spent around seven days scoring between fourteen to thirty minutes of music for each episode. Christophe Beck revealed that the Buffy composers used computers and synthesizers and were limited to recording one or two "real" samples. Despite this, their goal was to produce "dramatic" orchestration that would stand up to film scores.
Alongside the score, most episodes featured indie rock music, usually at the characters' venue of choice, The Bronze. Buffy music supervisor John King explained that "we like to use unsigned bands" that "you would believe would play in this place." For example, the fictional group Dingoes Ate My Baby were portrayed on screen by front group Four Star Mary. Pop songs by famous artists were rarely featured prominently, but several episodes spotlighted the sounds of more famous artists such as Sarah McLachlan, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Blink-182, Third Eye Blind, Aimee Mann (who also had a line of dialogue), The Dandy Warhols, Cibo Matto, Coldplay, Lisa Loeb, K's Choice and Michelle Branch. The popularity of music used in Buffy has led to the release of four soundtrack albums: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Album, Radio Sunnydale, the "Once More, with Feeling" Soundtrack, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Score.
Most of Buffy was shot on location in Los Angeles, California. The main exterior set of the town of Sunnydale, including the infamous "sun sign," was located in Santa Monica, California in a lot on Olympic Boulevard. The show is set in the fictional California town of Sunnydale, whose suburban Sunnydale High School sits on top of a "Hellmouth," a gateway to demon realms. The Hellmouth, located beneath the school library, is a source of mystical energies as well as a nexus for a wide variety of evil creatures and supernatural phenomena. In addition to being an open-ended plot device, Joss Whedon has cited the Hellmouth and "High school as Hell" as one of the primary metaphors in creating the series.
The high school used in the first three seasons is actually Torrance High School, in Torrance, California. This school was used until the residents of Torrance complained about loud sounds at night. The school exterior has been used in other television shows and movies, most notably Beverly Hills, 90210, Bring It On, She's All That and the spoof Not Another Teen Movie. In addition to the high school and its library, scenes take place in the town's cemeteries, a local nightclub (The Bronze), and Buffy's home (located in Torrance), where many of the characters live at various points in the series.
Buffy is told in a serialized format, with each episode involving a self-contained story while contributing to a larger storyline, which is broken down into season-long narratives marked by the rise and defeat of a powerful antagonist, commonly referred to as the "Big Bad." While the show is mainly a drama with frequent comic relief, most episodes blend different genres, including horror, martial arts, romance, melodrama, farce, science fiction, comedy, and even, in one episode, musical comedy.
The series' narrative revolves around Buffy and her friends, collectively dubbed the "Scooby Gang," who struggle to balance the fight against supernatural evils with their complex social lives. The show mixes complex, season-long storylines with a villain-of-the-week format; a typical episode contains one or more villains, or supernatural phenomena, that are thwarted or defeated by the end of the episode. Though elements and relationships are explored and ongoing subplots are included, the show focuses primarily on Buffy and her role as an archetypal heroine.
In the first few seasons, the most prominent monsters in the Buffy bestiary are vampires, which are based on traditional myths, lore, and literary conventions. As the series continues, Buffy and her companions fight an increasing variety of demons, as well as ghosts, werewolves, zombies, and unscrupulous humans. They frequently save the world from annihilation by a combination of physical combat, magic, and detective-style investigation, and are guided by an extensive collection of ancient and mystical reference books. Hand-to-hand combat is chiefly undertaken by Buffy and Angel, later by Spike, and to a far lesser degree by Giles and Xander. Willow eventually becomes an adept witch, while Giles contributes his extensive knowledge of demonology and supernatural lore.
During the first year of the series, Whedon described the show as "My So-Called Life meets The X-Files." My So-Called Life gave a sympathetic portrayal of teen anxieties; in contrast, The X-Files delivered a supernatural "monster of the week" storyline. Alongside these series, Whedon has cited cult film Night of the Comet as a "big influence," and credited the X-Men character Kitty Pryde as a significant influence on the character of Buffy. The authors of the unofficial guidebook Dusted point out that the series was often a pastiche, borrowing elements from previous horror novels, movies, and short stories and from such common literary stock as folklore and mythology. Nevitt and Smith describe Buffy's use of pastiche as "post modern Gothic." For example, the Adam character parallels the Frankenstein monster, the episode "Bad Eggs" parallels Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and so on.
Buffy episodes often include a deeper meaning or metaphor as well. Whedon explained, "We think very carefully about what we're trying to say emotionally, politically, and even philosophically while we're writing it... it really is, apart from being a pop-culture phenomenon, something that is deeply layered textually episode by episode." Academics Wilcox and Lavery provide examples of how a few episodes deal with real life issues turned into supernatural metaphors:
In the world of Buffy the problems that teenagers face become literal monsters. A mother can take over her daughter's life ("Witch"); a strict stepfather-to-be really is a heartless machine ("Ted"); a young lesbian fears that her nature is demonic ("Goodbye Iowa" and "Family"); a girl who has sex with even the nicest-seeming guy may discover that he afterwards becomes a monster ("Innocence").
The love affair between the vampire Angel and Buffy was fraught with metaphors. For example, their night of passion cost the vampire his soul. Sarah Michelle Gellar said: "That's the ultimate metaphor. You sleep with a guy and he turns bad on you."
Buffy struggles throughout the series with her calling as Slayer and the loss of freedom this entails, frequently sacrificing teenage experiences for her Slayer duties. Her difficulties and eventual empowering realizations are reflections of several dichotomies faced by modern women and echo feminist issues within society.
In the episode "Becoming (Part 2)," when Joyce learns that Buffy is the Slayer, her reaction has strong echoes of a parent discovering their child is gay, including denial, suggesting that she try "not being a Slayer," and ultimately kicking Buffy out of the house.
Season one exemplifies the "high school as hell" concept. Buffy Summers has just moved to Sunnydale after burning down her old school's gym and hopes to escape her Slayer duties. Her plans are complicated by Rupert Giles, her new Watcher, who reminds her of the inescapable presence of evil. Sunnydale High is built atop a Hellmouth, a portal to demon dimensions that attracts supernatural phenomena to the area. Buffy meets two schoolmates, Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg, who help her fight evil through the series, but they must first prevent The Master, an ancient and especially threatening vampire, from opening the Hellmouth and taking over Sunnydale.
The emotional stakes are raised in season two. Vampires Spike and Drusilla (weakened from a mob in Prague, which presumably caused her debilitating injury), come to town along with the new slayer, Kendra Young, who was activated as a result of Buffy's brief death in the season one finale. Xander becomes involved with Cordelia, while Willow becomes involved with witchcraft and Daniel "Oz" Osbourne, who is bitten by his young werewolf cousin Jordy and becomes one himself. Buffy and the vampire Angel develop a relationship over the course of the season, but after they sleep together, Angel's soul, given to him by a Gypsy curse in the past, is lost and he once more becomes Angelus, a sadistic killer. Kendra is killed by a restored Drusilla. Angelus torments much of the "Scooby Gang" throughout the rest of the season and murders multiple innocents and Giles's new girlfriend Jenny Calendar, a gypsy who had been sent to maintain Angel's curse. To avert an apocalypse, Buffy is forced to banish Angelus to a demon dimension-right after Willow restores his soul-and leaves Sunnydale, emotionally shattered.
After attempting to start a new life in Los Angeles, Buffy returns to town in season three. Angel is mysteriously released from the demon dimension, but he and Buffy realize that a relationship between them can never happen; he eventually leaves Sunnydale at the end of the season. A new watcher named Wesley is put in Giles's place when he is fired from the Watcher's Council because he had developed a "father's love" for Buffy, and towards the end of the season Buffy announces that she will also no longer be working for the council. Early in the season she is confronted with an unstable Slayer, Faith, who was called up after Kendra's death, as well as affable Sunnydale Mayor Richard Wilkins, who has plans to "ascend" (become a giant snake demon) on Sunnydale High's Graduation Day. Although she works with Buffy at first, after accidentally killing a human, Faith becomes irrational and sides with Mayor Wilkins, eventually landing in a coma after a fight with Buffy. At the end of the season, Buffy and the entire graduation class defeat Mayor Wilkins by blowing up Sunnydale High, killing him in the process.
Season four sees Buffy and Willow enroll at UC Sunnydale while Xander joins the workforce and begins dating Anya, a former vengeance demon. Spike returns as a series regular and is abducted by The Initiative, a top-secret military installation based beneath the UC Sunnydale campus. They implant a microchip in his head which prevents him from harming humans. He reluctantly helps the Scooby Gang throughout the season and eventually begins to fight on their side after learning that he can still harm other demons. Oz leaves town after realizing that he is too dangerous as a werewolf, and Willow falls in love with Tara Maclay, another witch. Buffy begins dating Riley Finn, a grad student whom she later realizes is a member of The Initiative. Although appearing to be a well-meaning anti-demon operation, The Initiative's sinister plans are revealed when Adam, a demon/human/computer hybrid secret project, escapes and begins to wreak havoc on the town.
During season five, a younger sister to Buffy, Dawn, suddenly appears in Buffy's life, and although she is new to the series, to the characters it is as if she has always been there. Buffy is confronted with Glory, an exiled Hell God that is searching for a "Key" that will allow her to return to her Hell dimension and in the process would blur the lines between dimensions and unleash Hell on Earth. It is later discovered that the Key's protectors had turned the Key into human form as Buffy's sister Dawn, concurrently implanting everybody with lifelong memories of her. The Watcher's Council aids in Buffy's research of Glory, and she and Giles are both reinstated. Riley leaves early in the season after realizing that Buffy does not love him and joins a military demon-hunting operation, while Spike, still implanted with the Initiative chip, realizes he is in love with Buffy and continually helps the Scoobies in their fight. Buffy's mother Joyce dies of a brain aneurysm, while at the end of the season, Xander proposes to Anya. Glory later discovers that Dawn is the key and kidnaps her. Buffy sacrifices her own life to save Dawn's and prevent the portal to the Hell dimensions from opening.
At the beginning of season six, Buffy's friends resurrect her through a powerful spell, believing that they have rescued her from Hell. Buffy later reveals she was in Heaven during her death and she falls into a deep depression for most of the season. Giles returns to England after deciding that Buffy has become too reliant on him, while Buffy takes up a fast-food job for money and develops a secret, mutually abusive relationship with Spike. Dawn suffers from kleptomania and feelings of alienation, Xander leaves Anya at the altar, after which Anya once again becomes a vengeance demon, and Willow becomes addicted to magic, causing Tara to temporarily leave her. They also begin to deal with The Trio, a group of nerds led by Warren Mears who use their technological proficiency to attempt to kill Buffy and take over Sunnydale. Warren is shown to be the only competent villain of the group and, after Buffy thwarts his plans multiple times and the Trio breaks apart, he comes unhinged and attacks Buffy with a gun, killing Tara in the process. This causes Willow to descend into darkness and unleash all of her dark magical powers, killing Warren and attempting to kill the others. Giles returns to face her in battle and infuses her with light magic, tapping into her remaining humanity. This overwhelms Willow with guilt and pain, whereupon she attempts to destroy the world to end everyone's suffering, although it eventually allows Xander to reach through her pain and end her rampage. Late in of the season, after losing control and attacking Buffy, Spike leaves Sunnydale and travels to see a demon and asks him to "return him to what he used to be" so that he can "give Buffy what she deserves." After Spike passes a series of brutal tests, the demon restores his soul.
During season seven, it is revealed that Buffy's second resurrection caused an instability which allows the First Evil to begin tipping the balance between good and evil. It begins hunting down and killing the inactive Potential Slayers, and raises an army of ancient, powerful Turok-Han vampires. After the Watchers' Council is destroyed, a number of the Potential Slayers (some brought by Giles) take refuge in Buffy's house. Faith returns to help fight the First Evil, and the new Sunnydale High School's principal, Robin Wood, also joins the cause. The Turok-Han vampires and a sinister preacher known as Caleb begin causing havoc for the Scoobies. As the Hellmouth becomes more active, nearly all humans and demons flee Sunnydale. In the series finale, the Scoobies descend into the Hellmouth while Willow casts a spell that activates all of the Potential Slayers, granting them Slayer powers. Angel comes to Sunnydale with an amulet, which Buffy gives to Spike. Anya, now human again, dies in the fight, as do some of the new Slayers. Spike's amulet channels the power of the sun and kills all of the vampires in the Hellmouth, incinerating Spike in the process. This causes the Hellmouth to collapse, and the entirety of Sunnydale collapses into the resulting crater, while the survivors of the battle escape in a school bus.
Buffy Summers (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) is "the Slayer," one in a long line of young women chosen by fate to battle evil forces. This mystic calling endows her with dramatically increased physical strength, as well as endurance, agility, accelerated healing, intuition, and a limited degree of clairvoyance, usually in the form of prophetic dreams.
Buffy receives guidance from her Watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head). Giles, rarely referred to by his first name, is a member of the Watchers' Council, whose job is to train and assist the Slayers. Giles researches the supernatural creatures that Buffy must face, offering insights into their origins and advice on how to kill them.
Buffy is also helped by friends she meets at Sunnydale High: Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon). Willow is originally a bookish wallflower; she provides a contrast to Buffy's outgoing personality, but shares the social isolation Buffy suffers after becoming a Slayer. As the series progresses, Willow becomes a more assertive character, a powerful witch, and comes out as a lesbian. In contrast, Xander, with no supernatural skills, provides comic relief and a grounded perspective. It is Xander who often provides the heart to the series, and in season six, becomes the hero in place of Buffy who defeats the "Big Bad." Buffy and Willow are the only characters who appear in all 144 episodes; Xander is missing in only one.
The cast of characters grew over the course of the series. Buffy first arrives in Sunnydale with her mother, Joyce Summers (portrayed by Kristine Sutherland), who functions as an anchor of normality in the Summers' lives even after she learns of Buffy's role in the supernatural world ("Becoming, Part Two"). Buffy's younger sister Dawn Summers (Michelle Trachtenberg) is introduced in season five.
A vampire with a soul, Angel (portrayed by David Boreanaz), is Buffy's love interest throughout the first three seasons. He leaves Buffy to make amends for his sins and search for redemption in his own spin-off, Angel. He makes several guest appearances in the remaining seasons, including in the last episode.
At Sunnydale High, Buffy meets several other students willing to join her fight for good (alongside her friends Willow and Xander), an informal group eventually tagged the "Scooby Gang" or "Scoobies." Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), the archetypal shallow cheerleader, reluctantly becomes involved, and Daniel "Oz" Osbourne (Seth Green), a fellow student, rock guitarist and werewolf, joins the group through his relationship with Willow. Anya (Emma Caulfield), a former vengeance demon (Anyanka) who specialized in avenging scorned women, becomes Xander's lover after losing her powers and joins the group in season four.
In Buffy's senior year at high school, she meets Faith (Eliza Dushku), the second current-Slayer who was brought forth when Slayer Kendra Young (Bianca Lawson) was killed by vampire Drusilla (Juliet Landau), in season two. Although she initially fights on the side of good with Buffy and the rest of the group, she comes to stand against them and sides with Mayor Richard Wilkins (Harry Groener) after accidentally killing a human in season three. She reappears briefly in the fourth season, looking for vengeance, and moves to Angel where she voluntarily goes to jail for her murders. Faith reappears in season seven of Buffy, having helped Angel and crew, and fights with Buffy against The First Evil.
Buffy gathers other allies: Spike (James Marsters), a vampire, is an old companion of Angelus and one of Buffy's major enemies in early seasons, although they later become allies and lovers. At the end of season six, Spike regains his soul. Spike is known for his Billy Idol-style peroxide blond hair and his black leather coat, stolen from a previous Slayer, Nikki Wood; her son, Robin Wood (D. B. Woodside), joined the group in the final season. Tara Maclay (Amber Benson) is a fellow member of Willow's Wicca group during season four, and their friendship eventually turns into a romantic relationship. Buffy became involved personally and professionally with Riley Finn (Marc Blucas), a military operative in "the Initiative," which hunts demons using science and technology. The final season sees geeky wannabe-villain Andrew Wells (Tom Lenk) come to side with the Scoobies, who regard him more as a nuisance than an ally.
Buffy featured dozens of recurring characters, both major and minor. For example the "Big Bad" (villain) characters were featured for at least one season (e.g., Glorificus was a character who appeared in 13 episodes, spanning much of season five). Similarly, characters who allied themselves to the group and characters which attended the same institutions were sometimes featured in multiple episodes.
Buffy has inspired a range of official and unofficial works, including television shows, books, comics and games. This expansion of the series encouraged use of the term "Buffyverse" to describe the fictional universe in which Buffy and related stories take place.
The franchise has inspired Buffy action figures and merchandise such as official Buffy/Angel magazines and Buffy companion books. Eden Studios has published a Buffy role-playing game, while Score Entertainment has released a Buffy Collectible Card Game.
The storyline is currently being continued in a comic book series produced by Joss Whedon and published by Dark Horse Comics. The series, which began in 2007 with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight," serves as a canonical continuation of the television series.
Joss Whedon was interested in a film continuation in 1998, but such a film has yet to materialize.
The spin-off Angel was introduced in October 1999, at the start of Buffy season four. The series was created by Buffy's creator Joss Whedon in collaboration with David Greenwalt. Like Buffy, it was produced by the production company Mutant Enemy. At times, it performed better in the Nielsen ratings than its parent series did.
The series was given a darker tone focusing on the ongoing trials of Angel in Los Angeles. His character is tormented by guilt following the return of his soul, punishment for more than a century of murder and torture. During the first four seasons of the show, he works as a private detective in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles, California, where he and his associates work to "help the helpless" and to restore the faith and "save the souls" of those who have lost their way. Typically, this mission involves doing battle with evil demons or demonically allied humans (primarily the law firm Wolfram & Hart), while Angel must also contend with his own violent nature. In season five, the Senior Partners of Wolfram and Hart take a bold gamble in their campaign to corrupt Angel, giving him control of their Los Angeles office. Angel accepts the deal as an opportunity to fight evil from the inside.
In addition to Boreanaz, Angel inherited Buffy regular Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase). When Glenn Quinn (Doyle) left the series during its first season, Alexis Denisof (Wesley Wyndam-Pryce), who had been a recurring character in the last nine episodes of season three of Buffy, took his place. Carpenter and Denisof were followed later by Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall) and James Marsters (Spike). Several actors and actresses who played Buffy characters made guest appearances on Angel, including Seth Green (Daniel "Oz" Osbourne), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Eliza Dushku (Faith), Tom Lenk (Andrew Wells), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Julie Benz (Darla), Mark Metcalf (The Master), and Juliet Landau (Drusilla). Angel also continued to appear occasionally on Buffy.
Outside of the TV series, the Buffyverse has been officially expanded and elaborated on by authors and artists in the so-called "Buffyverse Expanded Universe." The creators of these works may or may not keep to established continuity. Similarly, writers for the TV series were under no obligation to use information which had been established by the Expanded Universe, and sometimes contradicted such continuity.
Dark Horse has published the Buffy comics since 1998. In 2003, Whedon wrote an eight-issue miniseries for Dark Horse Comics titled Fray, about a Slayer in the future. Following the publication of Tales of the Vampires in 2004, Dark Horse Comics halted publication on Buffyverse-related comics and graphic novels. The company produced Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight with forty issues from March 2007 to January 2011, picking up where the television show left off-taking the place of an eighth canonical season. The first story arc is also written by Whedon, and is called "The Long Way Home" which has been widely well-received, with circulation rivalling industry leaders DC and Marvel's top-selling titles. Also after "The Long Way Home" came other story arcs like Faith's return in "No Future for You" and a Fray cross-over in "Time of Your Life." Dark Horse began producing Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine in August 2011 and is planned to run for 25 issues.
Pocket Books hold the license to produce Buffy novels, of which they have published more than sixty since 1998. These sometimes flesh out background information on characters; for example, Go Ask Malice details the events that lead up to Faith arriving in Sunnydale. The most recent novels include Carnival of Souls, Blackout, Portal Through Time, Bad Bargain, and The Deathless.
Five official Buffy video games have been released on portable and home consoles. Most notably, Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Xbox in 2002 and Chaos Bleeds for GameCube, Xbox and PlayStation 2 in 2003.
The popularity of Buffy and Angel has led to attempts to develop more on-screen ventures in the fictional 'Buffyverse'. These projects remain undeveloped and may never be greenlit. In 2002, two potential spinoffs were in discussion: Buffy the Animated Series and Ripper. Buffy the Animated Series was a proposed animated TV show based on Buffy; Whedon and Jeph Loeb were to be executive producers for the show, and most of the cast from Buffy were to return to voice their characters. 20th Century Fox showed an interest in developing and selling the show to another network. A three-minute pilot was completed in 2004, but was never picked up. Whedon revealed to The Hollywood Reporter: "We just could not find a home for it. We had six or seven hilarious scripts from our own staff – and nobody wanted it." Neither the pilot nor the scripts have been seen outside of the entertainment industry, though writer Jane Espenson has teasingly revealed small extracts from some of her scripts for the show.
Ripper was originally a proposed television show based upon the character of Rupert Giles portrayed by Anthony Stewart Head. More recent information has suggested that if Ripper were ever made, it would be a TV movie or a DVD movie. There was little heard about the series until 2007 when Joss Whedon confirmed that talks were almost completed for a 90 minute Ripper special on the BBC with both Head and the BBC completely on board.
In 2003, a year after the first public discussions on Buffy the Animated Series and Ripper, Buffy was nearing its end. Espenson has said that during this time spinoffs were discussed, "I think Marti talked with Joss about Slayer School and Tim Minear talked with him about Faith on a motorcycle. I assume there was some back-and-forth pitching." Espenson has revealed that Slayer School might have used new slayers and potentially included Willow Rosenberg, but Whedon did not think that such a spinoff felt right.
Dushku declined the pitch for a Buffyverse TV series based on Faith and instead agreed to a deal to produce Tru Calling. Dushku explained to IGN: "It would have been a really hard thing to do, and not that I would not have been up for a challenge, but with it coming on immediately following Buffy, I think that those would have been really big boots to fill." Tim Minear explained some of the ideas behind the aborted series: "The show was basically going to be Faith meets Kung Fu. It would have been Faith, probably on a motorcycle, crossing the earth, trying to find her place in the world."
Finally, during the summer of 2004 after the end of Angel, a movie about Spike was proposed. The movie would have been directed by Tim Minear and starred Marsters and Amy Acker and featured Alyson Hannigan. Outside the 2006 Saturn Awards, Whedon announced that he had pitched the concept to various bodies but had yet to receive any feedback.
In September 2008, Sci-Fi Wire ran an interview with Sarah Michelle Gellar in which she said she would not rule out returning to her most iconic role: "Never say never," she said. "One of the reasons the original Buffy movie did not really work on the big screen–and people blamed Kristy, but that's not what it was–the story was better told over a long arc," Gellar said. "And I worry about Buffy as a 'beginning, middle and end' so quickly. ... You show me a script; you show me that it works, and you show me that [the] audience can accept that, [and] I'd probably be there. Those are what my hesitations are."
Buffy has had a cultural impact on a number of media. It has impacted television studies and inspired fan-made films, it has been parodied and referenced, and has influenced other television series.
Buffy is notable for attracting the interest of scholars of popular culture as a subset of popular culture studies. Some academic settings include the show as a topic of literary study and analysis. National Public Radio describes Buffy as having a "special following among academics, some of whom have staked a claim in what they call 'Buffy Studies.'" Though not widely recognized as a distinct discipline, the term "Buffy studies" is commonly used amongst the peer-reviewed academic Buffy-related writings. The response to this attention has had its critics. For example, Jes Battis, who authored Blood Relations in Buffy and Angel, admits that study of the Buffyverse "invokes an uneasy combination of enthusiasm and ire" and meets "a certain amount of disdain from within the halls of the academy." Nonetheless Buffy eventually led to the publication of around twenty books and hundreds of articles examining the themes of the show from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives including sociology, Speech Communication, psychology, philosophy, and women's studies. The Whedon Studies Association produces the online academic journal Slayage and sponsors a biennial academic conference on the works of Joss Whedon. In a 2012 study by Slate, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was named the most studied pop culture work by academics, with more than 200 papers, essays, and books devoted to the series.
The series, which employed pop culture references as a frequent humorous device, has itself become a frequent pop culture reference in video games, comics and television shows and has been frequently parodied and spoofed. Sarah Michelle Gellar has participated in several parody sketches, including a Saturday Night Live sketch in which the Slayer is relocated to the Seinfeld universe, and adding her voice to an episode of Robot Chicken that parodied a would-be eighth season of Buffy.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||U.S. ratings||Network||Rank||Network rank|
|1||1997||Monday 9:00 pm||3.7 million||The WB||#144||#6|
|2||1997–1998||Monday 9:00 pm (September 15, 1997 – January 19, 1998)
Tuesday 8:00 pm (January 20 – May 19, 1998)
|3||1998–1999||Tuesday 8:00 pm||5.3 million||#133||#2 (tied)|
|4||1999–2000||4.7 million||#122||#2 (tied)|
Buffy helped put The WB on the ratings map, but by the time the series landed on UPN in 2001, viewing figures had fallen, The series had a series high during the third season with 5.3 million viewers, this probably due to the fact that both Gellar and Hannigan had hit movies out during the season (Cruel Intentions and American Pie respectively) and a series low with 3.8 million during the seventh season. The show's series finale "Chosen" pulled in a season high of 4.9 million viewers on the UPN network.
Buffy did not compete with shows on the main four networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox), but The WB was impressed with the young audience that the show was bringing in. Because of this, The WB ordered a full season of 22 episodes for the series' second season. Beginning with the episode "Innocence," which was watched by 8.2 million people, Buffy was moved from Monday at 9:00 pm to launch The WB's new night of programming on Tuesday. Due to its large success in that time slot, it remained on Tuesdays at 8:00 pm for the remainder of its original run. With its new timeslot on The WB, the show quickly climbed to the top of The WB ratings and became one of their highest-rated shows for the remainder of its time on the network. The show always placed in the top 3, usually only coming in behind 7th Heaven. Between seasons three and five, Buffy flip-flopped with Dawson's Creek and Charmed as the network's second highest-rated show.
In the 2001–2002 season, the show had moved to UPN after a negotiation dispute with The WB. While it was still one of their highest rated shows on their network, The WB felt that the show had already peaked and was not worth giving a salary increase to the cast and crew. UPN on the other hand, had strong faith in the series and picked up it for a two-season renewal. UPN dedicated a two-hour premiere to the series to help re-launch it. The relaunching had effect, as the season premiere attracted the second highest rating of the series, with 7.7 million viewers.
Commentators of the entertainment industry including Allmovie, The Hollywood Reporter and The Washington Post have cited Buffy as "influential." Autumn 2003 saw several new shows going into production in the U.S. that featured strong females who are forced to come to terms with supernatural power or destiny while trying to maintain a normal life. These post-Buffy shows include Dead Like Me, Joan of Arcadia and Teen Wolf. Bryan Fuller, the creator of Dead Like Me, said that "Buffy showed that young women could be in situations that were both fantastic and relatable, and instead of shunting women off to the side, it puts them at the center." In the United Kingdom, the lessons learned from the impact of Buffy influenced the revived Doctor Who series (2005–present), and executive producer Russell T Davies has said:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed the whole world, and an entire sprawling industry, that writing monsters and demons and end-of-the world is not hack-work, it can challenge the best. Joss Whedon raised the bar for every writer-not just genre/niche writers, but every single one of us.
As well as influencing Doctor Who, Buffy influenced its spinoff series Torchwood.
Several Buffy alumni have gone on to write for or create other shows. Such endeavors include Tru Calling (Douglas Petrie, Jane Espenson and lead actress Eliza Dushku), Wonderfalls (Tim Minear), Point Pleasant (Marti Noxon), Jake 2.0 (David Greenwalt), The Inside (Tim Minear), Smallville (Steven S. DeKnight), Once Upon a Time (Jane Espenson), and Lost (Drew Goddard and David Fury).
Meanwhile, the Parents Television Council complained of efforts to "deluge their young viewing audiences with adult themes." The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), however, rejected the Council's indecency complaint concerning the violent sex scene between Buffy and Spike in "Smashed." The BBC, however, chose to censor some of the more controversial sexual content when it was shown on the pre-watershed 6:45 pm slot.
The first season was introduced as a mid-season replacement for the short-lived night-time soap opera Savannah, and therefore was made up of only 12 episodes. Each subsequent season was built up of 22 episodes. Discounting the unaired Buffy pilot, the seven seasons make up a total of 144 Buffy episodes aired between 1997 and 2003.
Buffy has gathered a number of awards and nominations which include an Emmy Award nomination for the 1999 episode "Hush", which featured an extended sequence with no character dialogue. The 2001 episode "The Body" revolved around the death of Buffy's mother. It was filmed with no musical score, only diegetic music; it was nominated for a Nebula Award in 2002. The fall 2001 musical episode "Once More, with Feeling" received plaudits, but was omitted from Emmy nomination ballots by "accident." It has since been featured on Channel 4's "100 Greatest Musicals." In 2001, Sarah Michelle Gellar received a Golden Globe-nomination for Best Actress in a TV Series-Drama., The series was both nominated and won in the Drama Category for Television's Most Memorable Moment at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards for "The Gift" beating The X-Files, Grey's Anatomy, Brian's Song and Dallas, although the sequence for this award was not aired.
|United States/Canada||United Kingdom||Australia|
|The Complete First Season||January 15, 2002||November 27, 2000||November 20, 2000|
|The Complete Second Season||June 11, 2002||May 21, 2001||June 15, 2001|
|The Complete Third Season||January 7, 2003||October 29, 2001||November 22, 2001|
|The Complete Fourth Season||June 10, 2003||May 13, 2002||May 20, 2002|
|The Complete Fifth Season||December 9, 2003||October 28, 2002||November 29, 2002|
|The Complete Sixth Season||May 25, 2004||May 12, 2003||April 20, 2003|
|The Complete Seventh Season||November 16, 2004||April 5, 2004||May 15, 2004|
|The Chosen Collection (Seasons 1–7)||November 15, 2005||–||-|
|The Complete DVD Collection (Seasons 1–7)||–||October 30, 2005||November 23, 2005|
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