1. It was based on a failed movie.
The show was born from the ashes of the failed 1992 horror-comedy movie of the same name, which was written by Joss Whedon, and starred Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, and Luke Perry. The movie is tonally very different to the show, and hasn’t aged anywhere near as well.
2. The original pilot featured the different Willow
Alyson Hannigan’s career-making turn as Buffy’s best friend Willow Rosenberg almost never happened. In the original unaired pilot of the show, actress Riff Regan was initially cast in the role. However, the network felt she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast, and the role was recast, going to Hannigan.
3. Sarah Michelle Gellar initially auditioned for the role of Cordelia Chase
Oh what could have been! Originally Sarah Michelle Gellar (who played the titular Slayer) actually auditioned for the role of Ice Queen Cordelia Chase. Conversely, Cordelia actress Charisma Carpenter initially auditioned for the role of Buffy, with the two actresses eventually swapping roles.
4. Charisma Carpenter was 26 in Season 1
Amazingly, despite playing a sixteen-year-old high schooler in the first season of the show, Cordelia actress Carpenter was actually a decade older than her on-screen persona. With a history waiting tables, working as a cheerleader for San Diego Chargers, and appearing in an episode of Baywatch, Buffy was her breakout role.
5. Only Buffy and Willow appear in every episode
There are 144 episodes of the show across seven seasons, and Buffy and Willow are the only characters to appear in every single episode. Next up is Nicholas Brendon’s Xander with 143 episodes, with the season seven episode Conversations With Dead People being his only absence.
6. It’s studied in academia
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a hugely popular show that transcended television and pop culture, and actually made its way into academia. ‘Buffy Studies,’ as it was affectionately known, was a term given to the literary study and analysis of the show, and its enduring influence on popular culture.
7. ‘Hush’ was a response to the show’s dialogue being praised
The critically-acclaimed season four episode Hush was almost entirely silent, with a plot line following demons who steal the voices of Sunnydale’s population. The episode was written by Whedon as a response to the praise the show received for its witty and punchy dialogue.
8. Dolly Parton was technically a producer
Believe it or not, country music legend Dolly Parton was actually technically a producer on the show. This has to do with the production company Sandollar Entertainment, a production company created by Parton and Sandy Gallin, which produced the movie, and was responsible for bringing the show to television.
9. The show had the first TV usage of the word Google
Google is such a ubiquitous part of modern lexicon that its hard to imagine its first usage was as recently as 2002. It was in the season seven episode Help, that the show would make television history. In an exchange, Willow asks Buffy “Have you Googled her yet?,” before clarifying “It’s a search engine!”
10. It rejuvenated the vampire genre
We all know how popular the teen vampire drama became, with shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries enjoying huge success. But Buffy set the benchmark for these show, as well as the popularity of Twilight, and a host of other successful fantasy TV shows, such as Grimm and Supernatural.
11. It popularised the ‘Big Bad’ trope
One of the structures of the show focused around a major villain who would prove to be an antagonist for a whole season, sometimes more than one, and they were referred to as the ‘Big Bad.’ This is a term and a structure that was popularized by the show, and has become common in many shows since.
12. The show blended genres
The show was quite unique in the sense that it blended and sprawled multiple genres, including action, horror, comedy, high school, tragedy, coming-of-age, melodrama, romance, fantasy, supernatural, musical, and mystery. This made it a fascinating and accessible show for audiences everywhere.
13. Xander could have wound up gay
Willow discovered she was gay in the show’s fourth season, developing a deep relationship with fan-favorite Tara, but it nearly wasn’t the case. Early on, Whedon actually considered Xander as the character who would realise they were gay, but felt that it fit Willow’s character arc better.
14. Spike was only meant to be in a handful of episodes
Spike was initially only meant to appear in five episodes, but the character proved so popular he was kept around long-term. James Marsters’ career-making performance turned the sneering, leering British bad boy vampire into the show’s breakout character, and revolutionized the vampire trope in modern pop culture.
15. It featured the first lesbian sex scene on network television
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was always a groundbreaking show that pushed boundaries and none more so than in the season seven episode Touched. In the steamy ep, Willow and her new lover Kennedy have sex, a milestone that became the first-ever lesbian sex scene on American network television.
16. There were many recognizable guest stars
Buffy was a show that featured many actors and actresses who were either already established names, or who would go on to become big name stars following their guest appearance. Among these guest stars included Rachel Bilson, John Ritter, Kal Penn, Ashanti, Pedro Pascal, and Academy Award-nominee Amy Adams.
17. Sunnydale High School was also used in Beverly Hills, 90210
The interior scenes at Sunnydale High School were filmed on a set but the exterior shots were filmed at Torrance High School, a real high school based in the Southern California city of Torrance. In addition to Buffy, the school was also featured prominently in Beverly Hills, 90210.
18. It had a successful spinoff show
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a hugely successful show in its own right, but it also led to a hugely successful spin-off show, Angel. David Boreanaz’s tormented vampire with a soul left Sunnydale for his titular spin-off, working as a private detective in Los Angeles, with a new crew, and Cordelia along for the ride.
19. Giles was the first role cast
Some of the characters were tougher to cast than others, but the first role cast was that of Rupert Giles, school librarian, and Buffy’s Watcher. The part went to Anthony Stewart Head, who’d already had a prolific career, but was best-known in America at the time for starring in a series of 12 Taster’s Choice coffee commercials.
20. Ryan Reynolds was initially considered for the role of Xander Harris
Incredibly, Deadpool star and all-round funnyman Ryan Reynolds could have wound up becoming Xander Harris. The Canadian revealed that he was actually offered the role, and though he came to love the show, he rejected the part as he didn’t want to play a high schooler.
21. There are only 7 episodes of the show with no vampires
Only seven episodes of the show do not feature any vampires, most likely due to the fact that Angel, and later Spike, who were vampires, became core cast members. These episodes are Witch, The Pack, I, Robot… You, Jane, The Puppet Show, Inca Mummy Girl, Living Conditions, and Fear Itself.
22. David Boreanaz is the only cast member to appear in the pilot and finale of both Buffy and Angel
Having been a mainstay in the cast of Buffy in the opening three seasons, and then heading his own spin-off show, David Boreanaz has the unique honor of being the only cast member to appear in the pilot and the finale of both shows, despite departing Buffy at the end of season three.
23. Nicholas Brendon has a twin who’s been on the show
Xander actor Brendon has a twin brother in real life named Kelly Donovan, who actually made an appearance on the show. The two brothers starred together in the season five episode The Replacement, and Kelly also filled in for his twin in the episode Intervention when Brendon became sick.
24. James Marsters isn’t English
Believe it or not, despite Spike’s foul-mouth, punk rock attitude, and cockney accent, actor Marsters is not actually English. In fact, the Smallville and Hawaii Five-0 actor was actually born in Glenville, California, but he adopted a London accent for the role of peroxide bloodsucker Spike.
25. …But Anthony Stewart Head Is
Whilst Marsters may not be a native Brit, Anthony Stewart Head is, in fact, a born and bred Englishman. The Ted Lasso star was born in London’s Camden Town, and dilutes his natural accent when playing Giles. He even provided co-star Marsters with vocal coaching on set.
26. The show continued as a graphic novel
After seven seasons the show came to a close, but the story continued in a series of comic books that took place after the events of the show. The comic book series, created by Whedon, has spanned multiple issues, and has run seasons eight, nine, ten, and eleven.
27. There were several planned spinoffs that never happened
Although Angel was the only Buffy spin-off to actually go into production, there are several planned spin-off shows that never came to fruition. There were plans for a Giles spin-off with the BBC, titled Ripper, a Spike TV movie was planned, and Faith actress Eliza Dushku turned down a proposed Faith spin-off.
28. Buffy has technically died 3 times
Although the accepted cannon officially determines she died twice – season one finale Prophecy Girl and season five finale The Gift – on a technicality Buffy has actually died three times. In the season six episode Villains, she flatlines following a gunshot wound from Warren Mears, only to be revived seconds later by Dark Willow.
29. Faith was the Official Slayer
The Slayer line is a complicated beast. The rule is clear, ‘One Slayer dies, the next one’s called.’ But what if the one who died comes back? Buffy dies in Prophecy Girl, but is revived. Her death activates Kendra, whose death results in Faith being called. At this stage Faith is officially the Slayer, meaning Buffy’s future deaths don’t affect the line.
30. Buffy’s death was foreshadowed in S3
In season three finale Graduation Day Part 2, there is an element of foreshadowing. In a dream sequence, Faith tells Buffy “Little Miss Muffet, counting down from 7-3-0”. 730 days is two years, which would account for the season five finale, The Gift, in which Buffy dies.
31. Dawn and Xander are the only members of the Scooby Gang who haven’t killed a human being
Incredibly, despite being aligned with good, most of the Scooby Gang has actually killed a person. Spike and Anya killed thousands as vampire and demon respectively, Buffy took out a Knight of Byzantium in season five. Giles murdered Ben to defeat Glory, Andrew killed his friend Jonathan, and Willow skinned Warren alive!
32. Tara was meant to return in S7
There were plans for Tara to return in season seven, and a scene was planned for The First Evil to take her form and appear to Willow. However, reports suggest that Tara actress Amber Benson turned down the chance to return as she didn’t want the character to be associated with evil.
33. David Boreanaz was discovered walking his dog
David Boreanaz was a struggling actor with a couple of modest credits before being cast as Angel. Apparently, the casting director Marsha Shulman revealed that casting Angel proved difficult, until a friend of hers called and told her they had seen a guy walking his dog who ticked every box; that guy was Boreanaz.
34. There was a good reason for vamp face
The reason vampires looked different was to differentiate them from human characters, as well as to create heightened tension that anyone could be a vampire. Additionally, Whedon did not like the idea of people who looked human being killed by the Slayer, so this was written in as a way to get around that.
35. Gellar struggled with some of the dialogue
The show became famed for what was known as ‘Buffyspeak,’ a dialect common among Californian Valleygirls, as well as Whedon himself. However, Gellar, a native New Yorker, sometimes found it hard to understand some of the dialogue and abbreviations of things.
36. Writer and producer Marti Noxon had a cameo
The show was known for its high-profile cameos, but it also had a few fan-favorite cameos too, and one of the most beloved came in musical episode Once More With Feeling. Writer, producer, and temporary showrunner Marti Noxon had a cameo as a disgruntled driver singing at a parking attendant.
37. Joyce was the hardest character for Whedon to kill off
There were quite a few high-profile deaths that occurred in the show, including Buffy, Angel, and *spoiler alert* Tara, but none hit quite as hard as Joyce. The decision to kill off Buffy’s mother – who dies from a brain tumor – is one that Whedon described as the hardest he had to make.
38. The theme song was recorded by a local band
When it came to recording the theme song for the show, the network tried to hire some executives to come up with a song, but nothing worked. Whedon instead auditioned local bands to record theme music, with Californian group Nerf Herder winning out with their composition.
39. The show built its own graveyard
During the first season, the show shot in an actual local graveyard, and this meant a lot of intensive night shoots, which were a toll on cast and crew. After this, the production team made the decision to build a graveyard specifically for the show to shoot in, making everything more efficient.
40. Gellar knew the show was over before the rest of the cast
Controversially, Gellar knew the show would end before the rest of the cast, which caused tension. In an Entertainment Weekly interview in March 2003, the Cruel Intentions actress revealed she would not be returning to the role and the show would be ending. The rest of the cast only found out when the story broke.