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Rupert Giles, the beloved Watcher of Buffy Summers, had always been a mysterious and intriguing character in the Buffyverse. Fans had been clamouring for a deeper exploration of his backstory for years, and in the early 2000s, it seemed like their wish had finally been granted.
Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, announced plans for a spin-off series called "Ripper," which would delve into Giles' past as a Ripper and his return to England for a new set of supernatural adventures. The show was set to be in the tradition of classic English ghost stories, exploring themes of loneliness and isolation.
Despite generating interest from both fans and network executives, the series never made it to air, leaving fans to wonder what could have been.
We're taking a closer look at the proposed Buffy spin-off, Ripper, and explore why the show never materialised, and what we might have seen if it had.
Take a look at the other Buffy The Vampire Slayer Spin Offs that were never made here.
What was the Buffy spin off Ripper going to be about?
"Ripper" was a proposed spinoff of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was in development during the early 2000s. The series was set to focus on the character Rupert Giles, played by actor Anthony Stewart Head, who was Buffy's Watcher and mentor throughout the original show. More recent information has suggested that if Ripper were ever made it would be a TV-movie or a DVD-movie.
The show was intended to explore Giles' backstory, particularly his past as a Ripper, a nickname he earned during his youth as a member of a group of occultists who used their skills for personal gain. The series would have followed Giles as he returned to England and became embroiled in a new set of supernatural adventures.
However, despite generating interest from both fans and network executives, the "Ripper" spinoff never made it to air. Plans for the series were repeatedly delayed and ultimately abandoned, with Anthony Stewart Head later commenting that the show's failure to materialise was a "source of great sadness" for him. Whedon said that the show would be in the tradition of "classic English ghost stories" and would explore the theme of loneliness. Head described the idea as being like "Cracker with ghosts";
Whedon elaborated on some of the themes he had planned for the series, "The people who live there, it's all very isolated. [Giles] himself has been gone for many years. He was surrounded by a de facto family that he no longer has. And [he is] sort of picking up his life all alone, and then getting involved in the underbelly of other people's lives, and finding out all about them. Loneliness is what I think of. It may not be the theme so much as the emotional intent of the series, but that's what really attracts it to me the most."
Ripper: The 90 Minute BBC Special
Whedon announced plans for a Ripper series as soon as Head left Buffy in 2001 to return to his home in England. At Comic Con 2007, Joss Whedon confirmed that talks were almost completed for a 90-minute Ripper special on the BBC, with both Head and the BBC completely on board. It was later reported that Whedon had written the two-hour pilot, and that Jane Espenson and other Buffy staff writers had penned story outlines for other potential episodes.
The development process was supposedly set to begin in 2008 and Ripper was to be shown in the summer of that year. However, in a BBC interview in April 2008, Head stated that "Creator Joss Whedon is busy with another project, I'm tied up too, so at the moment I'd just say that it's still out there." In this same interview, Head mentioned that Whedon had discussed the project with Doctor Who and Torchwood producer Julie Gardner. Whedon had also been locked in talks over the rights issues of the character of Rupert Giles. This is the only hurdle with the BBC having funding, location and local production team in place, with Whedon delivering the initial script.
Using The Ripper Storylines In The Comic Book Angel & Faith
In 2012, content for the Ripper TV series began to be adapted for the comic book Angel & Faith, which depicts Angel's quest to resurrect Giles, while living in Giles' London home, which passed on to his primary inheritor, Faith Lehane. Storylines depicting Giles' past in this series were intended for Ripper, as were several of its characters. Giles' aunts feature, ageless witches named Sophronia and Lavinia Fairweather. Whedon had intended from them to be portrayed by Anthony Head's daughters Emily and Daisy Head in the live action series.
The idea of a Buffy spin-off centred around Anthony Stewart Head's character Rupert Giles has been a topic of speculation among fans for years. While Head has expressed interest in reprising the role, there have been no official announcements or confirmations of a Ripper series. However, with the continued popularity of the Buffyverse and the recent announcement of a Buffy reboot, there may be renewed interest in exploring the character of Giles in a new way.
What is Angel & Faith, the comic book about?
Angel & Faith follows the characters of Angel and Faith after the fallout of the Twilight crisis. After Giles's death at Angel's hands, Faith inherits Giles' estate including his apartment in London. After Angel becomes catatonic, Faith takes him in, as nobody else would. At the start of the series, Angel is ready to redeem himself once more; together they deal with Angel's involvement in the Twilight crisis, the end of magic, the emergence of zompires, and the death of Giles.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding a potential Ripper series, Head's portrayal of Giles remains a fan favourite and a significant part of the Buffy legacy. The character's complex backstory, wisdom, and dry wit have made him a beloved mentor to Buffy and a compelling figure in his own right. As for Head himself, he has continued to have a successful acting career and remains active in the Buffy fandom. Whether or not a Ripper series ever comes to fruition, the legacy of Giles and the Buffyverse as a whole continues to captivate and inspire viewers around the world.
Thanks for reading "Ripper Buffy’s Giles Spin Off: Will Anthony Stewart Head Ever Reprise Rupert?" on January Media.