Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, which aired from 1997–2003. It featured the exploits of the Slayer Buffy Summers and her group of friends, the Scooby Gang, as they protected Sunnydale from vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is in serialized format, with each episode involving a self-contained story while contributing to a larger storyline, 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 are a blend of 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, the Scooby Gang, who struggle to balance the fight against supernatural evils with their complex social lives in the fictional city of Sunnydale. 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 of the Slayer.
As the title suggests, the most prominent monsters in the Buffy bestiary are vampires, which are based on traditional myths, lore, and literary conventions. Although, as the series continues, Buffy and her companions face an increasing variety of demons and supernatural creatures, as well as 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.
Writer Joss Whedon says that "Rhonda the Immortal Waitress" was really the first incarnation of the Buffy concept, "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. 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 20th Century 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, "Welcome to the Hellmouth", aired on March 10, 1997.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy (Seasons 1–7) 144 episodes.
- Nicholas Brendon as Xander (Seasons 1–7) 143 episodes.
- Alyson Hannigan as Willow (Seasons 1–7) 144 episodes.
- Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia (Seasons 1–3) 54 episodes.
- David Boreanaz as Angel (Seasons 2–3. Recurring seasons 1, 4, 5, and 7) 56 episodes.
- Seth Green as Oz (Seasons 3–4.06. Recurring season 2, 4.19 and 4.22) 39 episodes.
- Marc Blucas as Riley (Seasons 4.11–5.10. Recurring season 4.01–4.10 and 6.15) 31 episodes.
- Emma Caulfield as Anya (Seasons 5–7. Recurring seasons 3–4) 81 episodes.
- Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn (Seasons 5.02–7. Recurring season 5.01) 66 episodes.
- Amber Benson as Tara (Season 6.19 only. Recurring seasons 4.10–6.20) 47 episodes.
- James Marsters as Spike (Seasons 4.07–7.22 Recurring seasons 2, 3, 4.03 and 4.06) 96 episodes.
- Anthony Stewart Head as Giles (Seasons 1–5. Recurring seasons 6–7) 121 episodes
- Kristine Sutherland as Joyce (Seasons 1–7) 58 episodes.
- Mark Metcalf as Master (Seasons 1–3 and 7) 8 episodes.
- Julie Benz as Darla (Seasons 1–2 and 5) 5 episodes.
- Andrew J. Ferchland as Collin (Seasons 1–2) 6 episodes.
- Dean Butler as Hank (Seasons 1–2 and 5–6) 4 episodes.
- Mercedes McNab as Harmony (Seasons 1–5) 16 episodes.
- Elizabeth Anne Allen as Amy (Seasons 1–4 and 6–7) 8 episodes.
- Armin Shimerman as Snyder (Seasons 1–4) 19 episodes.
- Robia LaMorte as Jenny (Seasons 1–3) 14 episodes.
- Jason Hall as Devon (Seasons 2–4) 8 episodes.
- Julia Lee as Anne (Seasons 2–3) 2 episodes.
- Danny Strong as Jonathan (Seasons 2–4, 6, and 7) 28 episodes.
- Juliet Landau as Drusilla (Seasons 2, 5 and 7) 17 episodes.
- Eliza Dushku as Faith (Seasons 3–4 and 7) 20 episodes.
- Harry Groener as Wilkins (Seasons 3–4 and 7) 14 episodes.
- Alexis Denisof as Wesley (Season 3) 9 episodes.
- Lindsay Crouse as Walsh (Season 4) 9 episodes.
- Leonard Roberts as Forrest (Season 4) 12 episodes.
- Bailey Chase as Graham (Seasons 4–5) 13 episodes.
- George Hertzberg as Adam (Seasons 4 and 7) 9 episodes.
- Charlie Weber as Ben (Season 5) 14 episodes.
- Clare Kramer as Glory (Seasons 5 and 7) 13 episodes.
- Kali Rocha as Halfrek (Seasons 5–7) 7 episodes.
- Adam Busch as Warren (Seasons 5–7) 16 episodes.
- Tom Lenk as Andrew Seasons 6–7) 26 episodes.
- James Charles Leary as Clem (Seasons 6–7) 8 episodes.
- Iyari Limon as Kennedy (Season 7) 13 episodes.
- D. B. Woodside as Robin (Season 7) 14 episodes.
- Sarah Hagan as Amanda (Season 7) 10 episodes.
- Indigo as Rona (Season 7) 8 episodes.
- Nathan Fillion as Caleb (Season 7) 5 episodes.
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 the Vampire Slayer 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 Productions, 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, and act breaks 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.
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 but returned to the network in 2013. Beginning in January 2010, it began to air in syndication in the United States on Logo. Reruns also briefly aired on MTV. On November 7, 2010, it began airing on Chiller with a 24-hour marathon; the series airs weekdays. Chiller also aired a 14-hour Thanksgiving Day marathon on November 25, 2010. In 2011, it began airing on Oxygen and TeenNick. On June 22, 2015, it began airing on ABC Family.
In August 2014, Pivot announced that, for the first time, episodes of Buffy would be broadcast in high-definition and in a widescreen 16:9 format authorized by the studio, but not by any of the series' principals. The transfer was poorly received by some fans, owing to a number of technical and format changes that were viewed as detrimental to the show's presentation. Series creator Joss Whedon and other members of the original team also expressed their displeasure.
Each episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer features a title sequence, presenting each show's cast members, consisting of clips from the show itself. The "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme" was played by pop punk band Nerf Herder.
The series began on March 10, 1997 and ran for seven years until May 20, 2003. In that time, 144 episodes of the series aired.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured original score. The composers spent around seven days scoring between fourteen and 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 led to the release of two soundtrack albums, The Album and Radio Sunnydale, while the original score was released in The Score and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Soundtrack Collection. The musical episode had its own album, in CD and LP formats.
- Bulgarian: Бъфи — убийцата на вампири (Buffy — The Killer of Vampires)
- Chinese: 吸血鬼猎人巴菲 (Vampire Hunter Buffy)
- Croatian: Buffy — Ubojica Vampira (Buffy — Vampire Killer)
- Czech: Buffy, Přemožitelka Upírů (Buffy, Vampire Slayer)
- Danish: Buffy — Vampyrernes Skræk (Buffy — Vampire Scare)
- Estonian: Vampiiritapja Buffy (Vampirekiller Buffy)
- Finnish: Buffy, Vampyyrintappaja (Buffy, Vampirekiller)
- French: Buffy Contre les Vampires (Buffy Against the Vampires)
- German: Buffy — Im Bann der Dämonen (Buffy — Under the Demons' Spell)
- Greek: Μπάφι η βαμπιροφόνισσα (Buffy the Vampiremurderess)
- Hungarian: Buffy, a Vámpírok Réme (Buffy, the Vampire Slayer)
- Italian: Buffy l'Ammazzavampiri (Buffy the Killvampire)
- Japanese: バフィー 〜恋する十字架〜 (Buffy ~The Loving Cross~)
- Korean: 뱀파이어 해결사 (Vampire Solver)
- Lithuanian: Vampyru Zudike (Vampire Killer)
- Latvian: Baffija pret vampīriem (Buffy against the vampires)
- Norwegian: Buffy — Vampyrenes Skrekk (Buffy — Vampires' Horror)
- Polish: Buffy: Postrach Wampirów (Buffy: Terror of Vampires)
- Portuguese (Brazil): Buffy, a Caça-Vampiros (Buffy, the Hunt-Vampires)
- Portuguese (Portugal): Buffy — Caçadora de Vampiros (Buffy — Vampire Hunter)
- Russian: Баффи — истребительница вампиров (Buffy — Vampires Fighter)
- Serbian: Bafi, Ubica Vampira (Buffy, Vampire Killer)
- Slovenian: Buffy — Izganjalka Vampirjev (Buffy — Vampire Exorcist)
- Spanish (Latin America): Buffy, la Cazavampiros (Buffy, the Vampirehunter)
- Spanish (Spain): Buffy, Cazavampiros (Buffy, Vampirehunter)
- Swedish (cable TV): Buffy och Vampyrerna (Buffy and the Vampires)
- Swedish: Buffy Vampyrdödaren (Buffy Vampirekiller)
- Turkish: Vampir Avcisi Buffy (Vampire Hunter Buffy)
Based on the TV show, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series has expanded into licensed comics, novels, and video games. These stories either adapt aired episodes, fill spaces between stories, or offer a continuity to the series, often involving the original cast and crew.
Although the canonicity of these creations aren't always confirmed, notably the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight and its following seasons have been produced as the direct continuation of the series in comic form.
- "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Television with a Bite." A&E Network, via The Complete Sixth Season (2004).
- DVD commentaries: "Welcome to the Hellmouth". The Complete First Season (2002).
- Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder, The Watcher's Guide, Volume 1. Pocket Books (1998).
- "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
- "Interview with Joss Whedon by SF Said". Shebytches.com. Archived from the original on May 12, 2010.
- Lacey Rose and Marisa Guthrie, "The Art of Picking TV Titles: 9 Do's and Don'ts". The Hollywood Reporter, March 9, 2012.
- Jane Espenson, "The Writing Process". JaneEspenson.com. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- Josef Adalian and Michael Schneider, "WB revisits glory days". Variety, June 29, 2006. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009.
- Eric Diaz, "With BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Coming to HD, Can a Blu-ray Be Far Behind?". Nerdist, August 22, 2014. Archived from the original Jule 16, 2018.
- Arielle Duhaime-Ross, "Fox's sad attempt at revamping Buffy is ruining the slayer". The Verge, December 15, 2014.
- Sean O'Neal, "Fox is making Buffy widescreen and Joss Whedon isn't happy". The A.V. Club, December 15, 2014.
- "Buffy: Inside the Music". The Complete Fourth Season (2002).
- "Becoming, Part Two"
- "Something Blue"
- "Faith, Hope & Trick"
- "When She Was Bad"
- "Tabula Rasa"