Series / Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I'm the thing that monsters have nightmares about.

Into every generation a Slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a Chosen One. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer.

In 1992, Joss Whedon wrote a largely forgotten film about a bog standard trope: the fragile (and doomed) blonde cheerleader attacked by monsters in a dark alley. In a postmodern twist, the "Slayer" — the most recent in a line of warrior women picked by fate — has the power to make monsters afraid of meeting her in dark alleys. Since Whedon, a mere writer, lacked creative control over his work, he viewed the actual film as a disappointment. Not wanting the character and overall concept to go to waste, and given the opportunity to re-visit it as a television series, he wasted no time in saying "yes".

In 1997, the fledgling WB network raised Buffy from the dead with an abbreviated first season. The pilot treats the motion picture as originally scripted (not the film that resulted) as canon: Buffy, hoping to elude her Slayer responsibilities (and the authorities after burning down the high school's gym), transfers to Sunnydale, a sleepy town in Southern California. Forming a tight-knit group of friends, Buffy continues to battle hellspawn while juggling her double life as a carefree schoolgirl. That last part is easier than it sounds, as Sunnydale's adults are too wrapped up in lawn care (and denial) to acknowledge the evil brewing right under their feet. Given that demons on Buffy are walking metaphors for existing evils — reptilian authority figures, suddenly-soulless boyfriends, and so on — the B-horror trappings take on an entirely new meaning, usually with a sly feminist wink inserted.

The show didn't catch fire in its first season, but did garner enough critical acclaim to attract viewers by year two. However, Buffy (and Angel) were not inexpensive shows to produce, and neither were expected to grow beyond their cult demographic. Although WB attempted to shove Buffy off the air in 2001, it was picked up by UPN in time for Season 6 and 7. The jump was heralded by Buffy's literal death and resurrection, along with a ratings-grabbing ad campaign.

The show pioneered the Half-Arc Season, with a singular villain behind that year's events, and signposted a few major plot developments months (and even years) in advance. Perhaps most surprisingly, the central cast grew like kudzu, with even walk-on roles getting a dose of character development much later on... Just in time for Joss to kill them off, alas.

Nobody can deny or ignore the influence of Buffy on the TV shows that followed it, both within and outside the genre. (Russell T Davies had at least one eye on this show when he revived Doctor Who.) This series has become one of the most Trope Overdosed and Lampshaded shows in existence — thousands of references to Buffy exist across this entire wiki — partially because TV Tropes began with a specific focus on Buffy (based on a 2004 thread on the fan site before branching out to all of TV and eventually all of everything. However, we no longer consider this show as merely Trope Overdosed — we now officially classify it as kiloWick and one of The Truly Awesome. With over 7,000 wicks and a runtime of 6,056 minutes, this page now has over one wick per minute.

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Tie-ins and Possible Reboot

Buffy remains Joss Whedon's mothership series, with numerous tie-in novels, merchandise, video games, and spinoffs in the offing (see Fray), though plans for a Spike and/or Giles TV show remain in Development Hell. In 2001, Joss even tried shopping around an animated series based on the show, but most networks felt it wasn't suitable for small kids.

In 1999, Joss and co-producer David Greenwalt conceived a spin-off starring Buffy's vampiric love interest, Angel — the He-Man to Buffy's She-Ra, if you will. While Buffy focused on adolescent woe, Angel revolved around stressed-out twenty-somethings in thankless jobs, trying to hold onto their youthful ideals. Angel ended the only way it could have: the gang sold out and become Corporate Sponsored Superheroes, much to the disgust of Buffy and her allies, who disavowed them. Crossovers and cross-references between the two shows persisted even after Buffy ended in 2003.

In 2007 Buffy started up again — in comic form. Produced by Joss Whedon, it encompasses three "Seasons" of TV time so far. In 2011, the mainline series branched off into Angel & Faith, which is London-based (in a nod to Excalibur).

The producers of the original film (the Kuzui couple listed in the credits) retained the rights to Buffy throughout the show's run despite having no creative involvement past the film. Plans have been proposed to revive/remake the film without Joss Whedon's input. No one involved with the series had anything pleasant to say about it.

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Alternative Title(s): Buffy The Vampire Slayer