Buffy Anne Summers was one of the last Slayers of the linear succession. She was portrayed in the film by Kristy Swanson, later in the television program by Sarah Michelle Gellar and in the video games and unproduced animated series by Giselle Loren.
Buffy is a Slayer and as such has all of the powers and abilities thereof. These include superhuman strength, speed, agility, reflexes and accelerated healing. Buffy also possesses a type of precognition that warns her of impending danger through her dreams.
Buffy's primary romantic interests in the series are Angel and Spike. The two characters have both their parallels and rivalries. When Angel and Spike search for Buffy, Andrew Wells tells the two vampires that Buffy loves them both, but she has to live her life. In the season eight comics, Buffy is shown dreaming a scenario where both lovers are naked and holding her. The three of them are wrapped in chains and surrounded by cupids or putti, and Buffy wears a nurse outfit. In the Buffy series finale, "Chosen", Buffy both indicates to Angel and to Spike that she loves them, although they react with varying degrees of belief.
Other love interests in the series have been relatively more short-lived, including Pike from the movie and "The Origin" adaptation as well as Riley Finn, an antithesis to Angel and Spike who was her third longest running relationship.
- Billy "Ford" Fordham ("Lie to Me") — Buffy developed a crush on Ford in the fifth grade, but he was a "manly sixth-grader" who had no time for younger girls. The previously popular student came to Sunnydale and lied to Buffy, saying his father had been transferred and that he would be attending the local high school. In fact, Ford had months to live and was there only to find a vampire leader to arrange a deal: the blood of Buffy and his followers in exchange for eternal life. Buffy is devastated by Ford's betrayal, though moved by his cancer. When he rises as a vampire, she stakes him without reaction; the Ford she knew and loved had already died.
- Tyler ("Becoming, Part One") — In a flashback to Buffy's pre-Slayer days, Buffy briefly mentioned the presumably popular student at Hemery High just before she was called. "...Tyler would have to crawl on his hands and knees to get me to go to the dance with him. Which, actually, he's supposed to do after practice, so I'm gonna wait."
- Jeffrey Kramer — Buffy's vain and popular freshman boyfriend at Hemery High. Buffy and Jeffrey begin to grow distant as she takes on the responsibility as the Slayer and he breaks up with her by leaving a message on her answering machine. He goes to the dance with Buffy's vapid friend, Jennifer.
- Oliver Pike — A sarcastic slacker and Buffy's main romantic interest pre-Sunnydale. Although they initially hated each other as Buffy's superficial valley girl perspective was at odds with Pike's ethics, the two grew closer when they lost friends to Lothos' minions. Pike helped Buffy in killing the vampire king and burning down the school gym full of his minions. The two presumably broke up when Buffy moved to Sunnydale; however, he is never mentioned in the series. Pike was mentioned and appeared in The Origin, a story detailing Buffy's old High School pre-Sunnydale, filling the same role as the movie.
- Angel — Angel initially loves Buffy from afar, watching her as she is called to her destiny as the Slayer; this experience inspires him to move to Sunnydale and become a useful ally in the fight against evil. Buffy loses her virginity to Angel (in the episode "Surprise"), an experience which triggers the loss of his soul. As Angelus, he attempts to destroy her life, as well as the world, until his re-ensoulment; because of his actions, Buffy is forced to send him to a hell dimension to save the world. When Angel returns, Buffy takes care of him and they try to be friends, but they continue to be drawn to each other. Angel eventually moves to Los Angeles to give Buffy a chance at a more normal life, although they keep in contact. Sparks again fly when Angel comes into contact with demon blood that makes him human again; however, Angel decides that he cannot abandon his fight against evil and prevails upon the Powers That Be to rewind time, leaving Buffy with no memory of their recent happiness together and restoring him to his vampire form. In the Buffy series finale, Buffy admits to Angel that she does still look into the future and leaves him with hope that they can be together at some point in that future. However, Buffy apparently loses trust in Angel after he takes control of Wolfram & Hart. Angel and Spike seek her out in Italy, but never catch up to her.
- Owen Thurman ("Never Kill a Boy on the First Date") — A sensitive and shy Sunnydale High student, whose date with Buffy became a vampire-hunting adventure that made him feel alive. Fearing that such an attitude would get him killed, Buffy broke up with Owen, unable to tell him the real reason why; nor to say that she still cares for him just as much.
- Xander Harris — Although Buffy does not return Xander's romantic feelings for her, she flirts and dances seductively with him in the episode "When She Was Bad". Later, under a love spell, Buffy attempts to seduce Xander in the school library. When the love spell is broken, she is grateful that Xander did not take advantage of the situation. While just close friends for the majority of the series' run, in Season Eight, there are comments made in a dream of Buffy's referring to a sexual relationship between them, with Buffy going as far as to proposition and kiss him before the dream wackiness escalates.
- Tom Warner ("Reptile Boy") — A rich member of Delta Zeta Kappa fraternity, a cult that sacrifices beautiful young high school girls to their demon lord Machida in exchange for worldly success. Tom lures Buffy to a party, pretending to be nicer and less materialistic than his vain fraternity brothers. The leader of the cult, Tom attempts to offer Buffy and Cordelia as sacrifices. Though the only good thing Tom does is prevent Buffy from being date raped by frat brother Richard Anderson after she falls unconscious after being drugged.
- Cameron Walker ("Go Fish") — A self-absorbed and arrogant swimming athlete at Sunnydale High. Initially, Buffy is interested in the good-looking Cameron, who waxes poetic about the ocean. However, by the end of their first date, he won't take no for an answer and Buffy breaks his nose and gets blamed for leading him on.
- Scott Hope — A fellow Sunnydale High student who had a crush on Buffy. Scott asks Buffy out several times during Season 3. Although Buffy is interested in Scott, she is still overwhelmed by her heartbreak over Angel and repeatedly turns him down. Eventually, Buffy decides to date Scott ("Faith, Hope & Trick"), but Angel's return from Hell distracts her. Buffy and Scott are only together a few weeks; Scott breaks up with her because he is tired with dealing with her ongoing preoccupations. Years later, Buffy learns that Scott had told classmates that they had broken up because she was a lesbian, and has ironically come out as gay himself in college.
- Parker Abrams — An attractive, older student whom Buffy met in college. Parker was the second person Buffy had sex with. However, he was only interested in having "a good time" and, not wanting a romantic commitment, ignored Buffy after they slept together ("The Harsh Light of Day"). Buffy is devastated by his behavior, and maintains a brief hope that they can reconcile. While under the influence of enchanted beer, Buffy saves Parker's life when he is trapped in a burning building. In the aftermath of the rescue, Parker apologizes to Buffy for his actions, and she responds by bashing him on the head with a wooden club.
- Riley Finn — Buffy met Riley when she started at college in the episode "The Freshman". They begin a serious relationship after discovering each others' demon-fighting secret identities. Riley sacrifices his career and friends to be with Buffy, but is continually disappointed by her unwillingness to be truly open and vulnerable with him. Also Riley felt that he wasn't strong or aggressive enough to satisfy Buffy the way that dangerous vampires did. He begins drifting away, and Buffy is repulsed to discover that he has been visiting vampire prostitutes and allowing them to drink his blood to get a rush from the intoxication of the blood loss. Although Buffy ultimately tries to stop him, Riley rejoins the military, where he is able to continue demon slaying, and leaves the country, returning to Sunnydale only briefly to track down a dangerous demon, with his new wife.
- Ben — Buffy met Ben in Season Five when her mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour. They flirted but never dated, because Buffy didn't want to define herself by her lack of a relationship.
- Spike — Originally enemies, Spike and Buffy become reluctant allies. Spike falls in love with Buffy in Season Five; she does not return his feelings, and is unsettled to discover his growing obsession. Buffy is moved when Spike withstands significant torture to protect her and her sister, and they reconcile and fight side-by-side until her death. After her resurrection in Season Six, Buffy begins a violent sexual relationship with Spike. She breaks things off, admitting that she is only using Spike and the relationship is "killing her". Spike later attempts to rape an injured and weakened Buffy (she fights him off), and then leaves town in search of his soul. Spike's loyalty to Buffy continues after his ensoulment, and she eventually tells Spike she loves him (in the episode "Chosen]]") as he is about to sacrifice himself to save the world (to which Spike replies: "No, you don't. But thanks for saying it."). Spike chooses not to contact Buffy after he is resurrected in L.A., wanting her to remember him as a self-sacrificing hero.
- RJ Brooks — Buffy, under the influence of a love spell (in the episode "Him") develops a brief, powerful obsession with this high school quarterback, along with Dawn, Willow, and Anya. She betrays her sister's trust by seducing RJ in an empty classroom, and almost kills Principal Wood to prove her love to him. The spell is broken when Spike and Xander destroy the enchanted letterman's jacket.
- Principal Robin Wood — Buffy and Wood went on one date, but their relationship never went beyond friendship after he revealed that he was the son of an earlier Slayer.
- Joss Whedon has since revealed that the character of Buffy Summers is a combination of several X-Men characters. For example, her surname is taken from the character Scott Summers (Cyclops), and her personality is largely taken from Kitty Pryde.
- In addition to Swanson and Gellar, five other actresses have portrayed Buffy. In flashbacks, a younger Buffy has been played by Mimi Paley, Alexandra Lee and Candice Nicole. In season four, Buffy was victim of body switching and was portrayed by Eliza Dushku ("This Year's Girl" and "Who Are You"). Giselle Loren has portrayed Buffy Summers in the videogames based on the series.
- Charisma Carpenter auditioned before Gellar for the part of Buffy for the TV show. She was later cast as Buffy's rival Cordelia, the part Sarah Michelle Gellar originally auditioned for.
- Buffy Summers was ranked 13th of Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters of all time.
- Apparently Katie Holmes was the original choice as Buffy but she was unable to due to be under the age of 18 (meaning she couldn't perform scenes after dark)