HBO has been the home of many stand out TV series over the years and is often seen as central to the Golden Age of Television. Some of the best HBO sh...
Despite originally being released back in March 1997, Buffy The Vampire Slayer is still one of the most talked about teenage drama series to come out of America today.
It focuses on Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a rebellious yet otherwise ordinary high schooler, who at 16-years-old is chosen by fate as the next Vampire Slayer. Buffy and her friends, the bookish Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and well-meaning Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), try to navigate their adolescent emotions while saving Sunnydale from demons but end up finding out that good and evil aren’t as clearly defined as one may think.
Showrunner Joss Whedon led Buffy The Vampire’s success and amassed a total of 144 episodes across 7 successful seasons ending in 2003. Whedon was also responsible for carrying on the "Buffy Universe" with 5 seasons of Angel, the spin off series focussing on Buffy's first love interest and vampire with a soul looking for redemption Angel played by David Boreanaz.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer has a huge following of loyal fans who know the show inside out, however here are 23 little known facts about Buffy that you may not have seen before and ones to use to impress fellow fans of the Hellmouth!
1. Sunnydale High School Is The Same High School Used In 90210
Buffy The Vampire Slayer was almost always shot in Los Angeles, California which mimicked the fictional Californian town of Sunnydale. The damned Sunnydale High School was set on top of a ‘Hellmouth’, an opening through which demons and monsters could enter the world and human reality. Joss Whedon, Buffy The Vampire Slayer's creator, cites that ‘high school is hell’ is one of the main metaphors in the episodes.
Torrance High School in California is the location used for Sunnydale High School in the first three seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and is the same high school used in the filming of Darren Star's Beverly Hills, 90210.
2. Season 1 Of Buffy The Vampire Slayer Only Had 3 Sets
Due to budget restrictions in the early seasons, the only sets created for Buffy The Vampire Slayer were the library in which Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) worked, Buffy’s bedroom and the underground lair of Season 1’s Big Bad, The Master (Mark Metcalf). Interestingly the Sunnydale School Library set was actually stocked with all real books!
In Season Two of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the production team built the sets for the homes of Buffy, Angel and Giles as well as extended the high school before transforming one of the Fox Studio driveways into a graveyard. It was only during Season Three of Buffy The Vampire Slayer that the main street of Sunnydale was built.
3. Joss Whedon Wanted Buffy To Be All About Female Power
Joss Whedon, Buffy The Vampire Slayer's creator has said in interviews that he wanted to develop a show that would switch the Hollywood convention of ‘the little blonde girl goes down a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie’. He instead wanted Buffy to be about female power, ‘having it, using it and sharing it’ which can definitely be seen at play during the final season of the show.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer has many powerful female characters away from Summers herself. Willow in season six, Anya's power as a Vengeance Demon, Glory the God in Season five and the power Dawn holds as the key. There are a lot more examples - let us know your favourite in the comments below!
Joss Whedon is cited as describing Buffy The Vampire Slayer as “My So-Called Life with The X-Files”.
4. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Was Originally A Film
Buffy The Vampire Slayer started off life as a movie in 1992 in which Buffy was played by Kristy Swanson (Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Whilst an entertaining stand alone feature, the film's director Fran Rubel Kuzui adapted Whedon’s original script from a ‘scary film about an empowered woman’ into ‘a pop culture comedy’ and Whedon has alluded to the film version losing its intended edge.
The 90s film adaptation of Buffy The Vampire Slayer featured Donald Sutherland as Merrick the Watcher who informs Buffy of her destiny, Rutger Hauer as Lothos a local Vampire King, and David Arquette as Benny a cynical school-boy who gets turned into a vampire.
The film's director Fran Rubel Kuzui and husband Kaz Kuzui are credited on the television version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer as Executive Producers on every episode despite never being involved in the creation of the show.
5. Demons Are Teen Anxiety Manifested
The Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon uses his ‘high school as hell’ metaphor as the central theme and created scenarios and demons to reflect the anxieties teenagers go through in adolescence.
One of the key writers of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Jane Espenson has discussed on her own website how a script came together for each episode. The writers of Buffy The Vampire Slayer would sit and decide firstly the emotional issues Buffy the character would be facing and how she could confront them through the supernatural.
Probably one of the most notable examples of this is her relationship with Angel (David Boreanaz). Buffy during season two loses her virginity to Angel and when she wakes up the next morning Angel isn't there. Angel is a Vampire who was cursed by gypsies reinstating his soul. When he experiences a 'moment of true happiness'... yes, that tortured metaphor, he loses his soul and his dangerous alter-ego Angelus is restored. However in Buffy's eyes, she has given away her virginity to a man who suddenly turns out to be different to what she originally thought, rude and shuns her after getting what he wants.
6. There Is A Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8
Sarah Michelle Gellar wanted to finish up filming Buffy The Vampire Slayer while the show was at its peak in season seven but the Buffyverse carried on for an 8th season in comic book form.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer has been continued in comics since 1998 by Dark Horse Comics and now BOOM! Studios. Not all of the issues are considered canonical but episodes 1 - 63 were released as official Buffy merchandise while the show was still on air. They include characters who were not originally in the television series but also continue the arcs of some of the smaller characters such as Oz. Dark Horse Comics released a Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8,9 and 10 as well as many spin offs including Willow and Tara (written partially by Amber Benson) and Spike and Dru (partially written by James Marsters).
Joss Whedon supervises and occasionally writes the comic book series and officially classes them as part of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer canon. Dark Horse Comics have also released a Season 6 of Angel and an Angel & Faith themed spin off.
7. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Was Edited For UK Audiences
In the UK audiences could watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer on BBC Two however it was given a pre-watershed timeslot (before 9PM) which meant some of the material featured had to be edited out to comply with strict broadcasting rules around when children would be watching.
Fans were unhappy with the edits so the BBC ended up giving Buffy The Vampire Slayer two time slots, one for the edited family-friendly version with violence cut out and a late night version which aired in full on Friday nights.
8. The Bronze Featured Famous 90s Pop Artists
While the Buffy The Vampire Slayer producers usually used unsigned artists to play on stage at Sunnydale's nightclub The Bronze due to their believable sound, some episodes featured well-known artists of the 1990s. Famous acts to play at The Bronze were Blink 182, The Dandy Warhols, Sarah McLachlan and Coldplay.
The Buffy The Vampire Slayer soundtrack became increasingly popular and four soundtrack CD Compilations were released during its run including the iconic, ‘Once More With Feeling’ Soundtrack from the Musical Episode.
9. Everyone Under The Sun Auditioned For Buffy Summers
Before landing on Sarah Michelle Gellar, actors including Katie Holmes and Selma Blair were in the running for the title role of Buffy Summers. Many other actors who were featured in Buffy The Vampire Slayer originally auditioned for the part of Buffy including Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase), Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall), and Julie Benz (Darla).
Sarah Michelle Gellar on the other hand, originally auditioned for the role of Cordelia Chase before being asked by Joss Whedon to come back in and read for the lead.
10. Angel Was Only Supposed To Be In The Pilot Episode
One of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s main and best loved characters Angel (David Boreanaz) was only meant to star briefly in the pilot episode. Nathan Fillion was one of the actors in the running to play Angel before starring in the role of Caleb in Season 7. Unbelievably a talent scout spotted David Boreanaz out walking his dog and rang Buffy casting director Marcia Shulman to say that he had found their Angel.
11. Nicholas Brendon Had Little Acting Experience Before Xander
Unlike the other cast members of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Nicholas Brendon who plays one third of the Scooby Gang, Xander Harris, had very little acting experience. He had many jobs including a plumber’s assistant, a veterinary janitor, waiter and food delivery driver before breaking into acting to overcome a stutter. He secured the role of Xander Harris with only 4 days of auditioning beating Ryan Reynolds and Danny Strong who later went on to play Jonathan.
12. Willow Was The Last Character To Be Cast
Alyson Hannigon was the last of the original six cast members to be appointed in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Her positive and juvenile approach to playing Willow Rosenberg was different to other actors who auditioned and was ultimately the reason she was hired.
Alyson Hannigan is also the reason that music from the Californian Rock Band Nerf Herder was chosen for the Buffy The Vampire Slayer opening titles. She had recommended Joss Whedon listen to the band.
13. Angel Was Just As Successful As Buffy
Unlike many other successful television series, Buffy The Vampire Slayer actually achieved a successful spin off show, Angel which ran from October 1999. It followed troubled Vampire with a soul and Buffy’s first love interest Angel (David Boreanaz) as he relocated to Los Angeles. It has a much darker tone than Buffy The Vampire Slayer itself and sees Angel work as a private detective, under the guise of Angel Investigations, removing demons from the LA area.
Angel saw many original cast members of Buffy The Vampire Slayer join the show including Charisma Carpenter who played Cordelia and Alexis Denisof who appeared in the last 9 episodes of season three of Buffy as the dithering English watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. Other characters who appeared in the spin off were Spike, Oz, Faith, Willow, Darla, Drusilla and Buffy Summers herself.
The storyline of Angel was also continued in comic book form in a sixth season and in a spin off series named Angel & Faith.
14. Giles, Faith, Willow and Spike Nearly Had Spin Offs
Other proposed spin offs for Buffy The Vampire Slayer were Buffy: The Animated Series which would take place after Season 1 and a 90 minute BBC Special called Ripper focussing on Buffy's watcher Rupert Giles presumably in his younger days. Slayer School was another that featured new slayers including Willow Rosenberg and Faith, a show following Eliza Dushku’s character driving around on a motorcycle. There was even a proposed Spike movie which is the one we're most sad about not being made.
15. Buffy Studies Exist
Many Film and Television academics have been attracted to the Buffyverse as a topic for literary and cultural analysis. Many books and papers have been published with an academic and analytical approach to Buffy The Vampire Slayer through the lens of Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy and Women’s Studies.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Buffy Summers has been voted as the third greatest character of all time behind Homer Simpson and Harry Potter.
Rhonda Wilcox is named as the foremost authority on Buffy The Vampire Slayer Studies writing on its characters and themes. Her book Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was released in 2005 and is the editor of Slayage: The Journal of Whedon Studies, now The Whedon Studies Association who hold annual Slayage conferences.
16. Spike’s Full Length Leather Coat Cost $2,000
Vampire Spike (James Marsters) is well known for his bleach blonde hair and flowing floor length leather jacket stolen from his second Slayer battle in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It is reported that his iconic coat cost $2,000 but the costume team needed it to look more distressed to simulate it being worn for many years so repeatedly ran it over with a truck!
17. Willow Rosenberg Is The Reason We Say “Google It!”
Buffy Summers and the Scooby Gang are well known for their unique slang and many of the phrases used in Buffy The Vampire Slayer made it into the late 90s and early 00s teen vernacular.
Joss Whedon and fellow Buffy The Vampire Slayer writers use slang to separate the younger and older characters. Giles on many occasions mimics their wording and Buffy apologies for her "pop-culture references".
Buffyisms include, ‘Wig’ as in to ‘wig out’ be freaked out, feel ‘wiggy’ or get 'the wiggins', Faith’s trademark, ‘five by five’ suggesting that she feels neutral or fine as well as the now common ‘sitch’ replacing situation. One of the most notable phrases to be born out of Buffy The Vampire Slayer is ‘Google It’ which was first used by Willow Rosenberg..."It's a search engine!"
18. Grrr... Arrgh Is Voiced By Joss Whedon
At the end of each Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode the credits roll and the card for Mutant Enemy Productions is played accompanied by a comical voice saying ‘Grrr...Arrgh!’ . The famous Grrr...Arrgh is actually voiced by Joss Whedon himself.
The name Mutant Enemy was created by Joss Whedon at 15yrs old for his first ever typewriter and the company's logo was drawn in 20 minutes after being told that he needed one.
19. It cost $5,000 To Dust A Vampire
Another large expense on the set of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was the special effects and computer graphics used to dust a vampire during an episode. It reportedly cost around $5,000 each time it was used.
20. James Marsters Has An American Accent
Despite playing everyone's favourite bleach blonde, British, bad-boy vamp in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, James Marsters is actually from California and has a strong American accent. He was tutored by Anthony Stewart Head who plays Buffy’s Watcher and father figure, Rupert Giles. Head also tweaks his own British accent using a more refined tone than his own on set.
21. Xander Harris Is Based On Joss Whedon
According to Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, he based the character of Alexander Harris on himself during high school and Cordelia Chase on a girl his wife attended high school with. Nicholas Brendon was apparently told by producers to limit the amount of working out he did as they didn’t want Xander looking ‘too buffed’.
22. Buffy Summers Was Originally Telekinetic
In the early drafts of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, writer Joss Whedon gave Buffy the power to move objects with her mind as well as being able to speak to the dead however this was removed from the final plot. Surely the episode The Body would have been much less traumatising for us all to watch if that was the case!
23. Spike Or Angel - We’ll Never Know
Despite Buffy The Vampire Slayer being over since 2003, you ask any fan who Buffy Summers was meant to end up with and you’ll get half saying Angel and half saying Spike. Surely no one says Riley, right? It's the show's chicken and egg question. Joss Whedon himself however says that he prefers the Buffy and Spike pairing but Sarah Michelle Gellar prefers her character being with Angel. Who do you prefer?
Thanks for reading "23 Buffy The Vampire Slayer Facts You Haven't Seen Before" on January Media.