Buffy Summers… Sarah Michelle Gellar
Rupert Giles… Anthony Stewart Head
Angel… David Boreanaz
Willow Rosenberg… Alyson Hannigan
Xander Harris… Nicholas Brendon
Daniel “Oz” Osbourne… Seth Green
Anya Jenkins… Emma Caulfield
Riley Finn… Marc Blucas
Dawn Summers… Michelle Trachtenberg
Tara Maclay… Amber Benson
Spike… James Marsters
Genre: Supernatural, Action, Fantasy, Horror, Comedy, Satire
XANDER: And speaking of love…
WILLOW: We were talking about the re-animation of dead tissue.
XANDER: Do I deconstruct your segues?
— “Some Assembly Required” (02.02)
Buffy Summers arrives in Sunnydale, California and discovers it’s situated above a – closed, mostly – portal to Hell. Drawn to this evil are legions of demons and the undead, which is a problem for Buffy as she is the Chosen One, the Slayer, and is under a heavy geas to protect the world from all such darkness. With the aid of her bookish mentor, her wise-cracking friends and assorted reformed monster-types, Buffy confronts a never-ending parade of things that go bump in the night and thwarts many an Apocalypse – mostly all just metaphors for real life horrors – while also romancing the hell out of more than one vampire (whether they be with or without souls). And she dies a lot.
Why It’s Must-See: It’s Buffy the-Freaking-Vampire Slayer!
UST Factor: Off the charts.
Cancellation: After a contentious switch to the now-defunct UPN network at the beginning of Season 6, the show’s ratings dropped, but not so significantly to have caused cancellation of this flagship show. No, Buffy ended after seven seasons at the behest of star Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was just kind of done by then.
And Then What? The adventures of Buffy and co. continue (canonically) in the Joss Whedon-penned and/or approved Dark Horse comic series Buffy, Seasons 8, 9, 10 and so on… And technically, Whedon’s 2001 limited issue comic Fray could be considered a continuation, as well, as it is set in a Slayer-fied future dystopia.
Fandom Hall of Fame: The fans of Buffy who turned the show into a legitimate academic pursuit must be lauded without end. For example, Portland State University’s “Exploring Buffy the Vampire Slayer” might sound like it comes from the course catalog at Greendale Community College, but it was a very real, and unsurprisingly popular, class.
Fan Collective Noun: Scoobies is most common, but Buffistas is also acceptable.
Notable Merchandise: The Buffy brand was a powerhouse in its day, seeing the show’s stars and logo printed on pretty much everything. Action figures of the gang abound, including a range of Funko! Pop Vinyls. There are thousands of trading cards, several Buffy games, and a chess set that amusingly features Xander and The Judge (you know, from that episode that one time?) as pawns. Plus, there are official Claddagh Rings. Suck it, Ireland.
On the Page: Oh, so very much! The Buffy library is enormous, featuring everything from script books to original novels to Buffy/Angel crossover novels to several lines of pre-Season 8 comics. There are also multiple episode guides, monster guides, demon guides and a nice line in academic publications, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. A monthly magazine ran from 1999 – 2007.
Did You Know? In order to write the acclaimed musical episode, “Once More, With Feeling” (S06E07), Whedon learned to play the guitar and spent more than six months working on the songs.