In a long-awaited resurrection of the beloved Buffyverse, fans of the iconic Buffy the Vampire Slayer series are in for a treat. The original stars of...
Buffy the Vampire Slayer captured the hearts of audiences with its wit, strong female characters, and supernatural action. The series followed Buffy Summers and her group of friends as they battled vampires, demons, and other supernatural threats in the town of Sunnydale.
Although the show came to an end in 2003, its legacy has endured, with fans still discovering the show and its spin-off, Angel, to this day. In 2004, plans were announced for a new Buffy spin-off - an animated series that would bring the characters and their adventures back to life.
The show was set to capture the same humour and supernatural elements that made the original series so beloved, and would have allowed for even more creative freedom in terms of storytelling and visuals. However, despite initial excitement and promises of production, the animated series ultimately never came to fruition.
Here we're delving into the proposed Buffy spin-off, exploring what could have been, why the show didn't come to be, and the impact it could have had on the Buffyverse.
What was Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series about?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series was a proposed animated television series based on the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. It was developed by Joss Whedon, the creator of the original live-action series, in collaboration with Jeph Loeb, who worked on the comic book adaptation of the show. The animated series was intended to continue the adventures of Buffy Summers and her friends, but with a more youthful tone that would appeal to a younger audience. The series was set to explore the origins of the Slayer and delve deeper into the mythology of the show. Unfortunately, despite a lot of enthusiasm from fans and creators alike, the animated series never made it past the pilot stage.
The TV series, initially approved by 20th Century Fox in 2002, was never produced or broadcasted as no network was interested in acquiring it. The storyline was set in the midst of Buffy season 1, referred to by writer Jeph Loeb as "Episode 7.5." Sarah Michelle Gellar declined to reprise her role, although newcomer Giselle Loren had previously voiced Buffy in the Buffy video games, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Chaos Bleeds. Most of the Buffy cast were set to voice their respective characters, but when Fox Kids ceased operations, the series was pitched to other networks. However, the lack of interest from networks led to the production being cancelled.
What happened in the episode before Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series?
If Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series was to be set after the events in Season 1 Episode 7 "Angel", what was the storyline in that episode before?
Buffy faces a new challenge when The Master sends the Three, powerful vampire warriors, to kill her due to her numerous victories over his "family." However, Buffy's ally Angel intervenes, and they both manage to escape. While nursing Angel's wounds, Buffy discovers his tragic past and how vampires killed his parents. Meanwhile, Giles takes charge of Buffy's weapons training to prepare her for the inevitable confrontation with The Master's minions. A surprising turn of events occurs when Angel reveals his true nature by kissing Buffy and then transforming into a vampire. Despite his departure, Darla, Colin's older sister, tricks her way into Buffy's house and bites her mother, but Buffy see's Angel cradling Joyce and jumps to the conclusion he did it. This sets off a chain of events that exposes Angel's dark history as a remorseless killer who received a soul from Romanies as punishment for his past atrocities. Buffy sets out to find Angel and confront him, but instead discovers the source of his inner turmoil, the curse.
Why was Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series never greenlit?
In 2004, Fox revisited the idea of developing and selling the show to a different network. Despite voice work from several key actors, including Anthony Stewart Head, and the creation of artwork for a four-minute presentation, no network was willing to take on the risk of purchasing the series. Loeb explained that the show was deemed unsuitable for children's television due to its adult content, yet not quite suitable for prime-time slots either, making it a difficult sell for networks.
“We just couldn't find a home for (it). We had a great animation director, great visuals, six or seven hilarious scripts from our own staff—and nobody wanted it. I was completely baffled. I felt like I was sitting there with bags of money and nobody would take them from me. It was a question of people either not wanting it or not being able to put up the money because it was not a cheap show. One thing I was very hard-line about was, I didn't want people to see it if it looked like crap. I wanted it to be on a level with Animaniacs or Batman: The Animated Series. And that's a little pricier. But I just don't think it's worth doing unless it's beautiful to look at as well as fun.” - Joss Whedon, The Hollywood Reporter, 16th May 2003.
Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series
According to Jeph Loeb, the series would have kicked off with the episode "A Day in the Life," which he co-wrote with Joss Whedon. This episode was intended to introduce the characters, establish their dynamics, and set up the show's premise. Among the other episodes in development, one would have centered around Buffy learning to drive with a demon driving instructor. Jane Espenson contributed three scripts, including "The Back Room," "Lunch is Revolting!," and "Teeny," which would have featured a shrunken Buffy. Although eight scripts were written in total, two remained incomplete.
On August 1, 2008, the unaired four-minute pilot of Buffy The Animated Series was leaked online through YouTube.
Will Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series ever be made?
“Everything still exists — the designs, the scripts. It's such a 'no-duh' project, so why the hell not? All you need is to draw it. Eight years ago, there was no fascination with Family Guy or Robot Chicken, but there's an audience now that could drive to it. You can't stand in the way of pop culture.” - Jeph Loeb, 26th August 2008.
During the Buffy EW reunion in 2017, the cast speculated that they might be willing to participate in an animated series, with Sarah Michelle Gellar expressing particular interest. However, they all agreed that any potential revival of the show would hinge on the involvement of Joss Whedon, who had reportedly moved on from producing Buffy content for television.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series was a promising project that unfortunately never came to fruition. Despite having a talented team and a dedicated fan base, the show ultimately fell victim to budget constraints and a lack of interest from networks. However, Buffy fans can still enjoy the original live-action series, as well as the comic book continuation and various spin-off novels. Although it's disappointing that we'll never get to see Buffy in animated form, the impact of the original show and its characters continues to be felt in pop culture today, proving that Buffy will always be a beloved and iconic piece of television history.
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