Acting for Two: In the flashback, the medieval Slayer and her Watcher are played by Kristy Swanson and Donald Sutherland. On the other hand, the Slayer and the Watcher continually reincarnate looking identical to her past lives, so they are theoretically still the same characters.
Deleted Role: Seth Green filmed some scenes as a vampire but most of them were cut. He can be seen from behind and briefly when Buffy kicks him outside the gym.
Executive Meddling: Joss Whedon wanted a B-Movie feel to the movie, while the execs much preferred the comedy aspects of the script. The meddling was so bad that Whedon — himself no stranger to executives meddling in his TV series — walked off set one day and never came back. A version of the original script apparently still exists and is considered canon in series continuity. Whedon claims that the Origin comic miniseries is the closest publicly available thing to it.
Fake Nationality: The medieval maiden played by the California-born Swanson in the flashback sequences would obviously have to be non-American. She comes off as English(not that Swanson tries very hard), but a brief line by Merrick suggests that she was Hungarian. (In the original script, she's an Italian.)
Vindicated by Cable: The film got a much better reception on VHS and TV re-airings than it's initial release and it was because of that that Joss was able to try again and make a TV series out of it. A lot of fans are grateful for the movie because if it wasn't for the home releases, we likely wouldn't have the TV show in the first place.
Amilyn was written to be female and played by Joan Chen. When she dropped out, the character became male instead.
In the original version of the script, Merrick committed suicide to escape being turned into a vampire by Lothos, who wanted to know the Slayer's identity so he could dispatch with her. It is this version that was restored in the Buffy "Origin" comic.
Producers were reluctant to cast Amber Benson as Tara because she was too voluptuous - they wanted someone daintier and waifier to take Willow's place as The Woobie. But Amber won them over with her ability to play awkward and vulnerable.
Alyson Hannigan's casting went something like this too. Joss stated that all the other girls who auditioned for Willow wore Nerd Glasses and acted stereotypically nerdy (including Riff Regan, who played her in the pilot). Alyson won the part based on the fact that she didn't do that.
Speaking of Dawn, Michelle Trachtenberg says she was thrust into the role without knowing much about Dawns personality; she describes her initial meeting with Joss Whedon as Alright, welcome to the cast, youre a teenager, youre a Key, have fun.
James Marsters based his accent on Anthony Stewart Head's. Giles uses an RP English accent on-camera, but his actor sounds like a working-class "tough guy" in real life, using an accent close to Estuary English. Head uses it for Giles' adolescent persona in "Band Candy."
Baby Buffy went through a phase during which she idolized ice skater Dorothy Hamill. Sarah Michelle Gellar enjoys figure skating in real life.
The scene in "Lovers Walk" where Cordelia gets impaled is based on a real incident. At five years old, playing around a swimming pool that was still under construction, Charisma Carpenter fell onto a piece of rebar. Only in real life she fell off a horse and not through stairs.
Faith became a Boston native after Eliza Dushku was cast, though Eliza herself is actually from Watertown rather than South Boston like Faith.
Kristine Sutherland said that she drew from her experiences to play Joyce:
My mother was a single mother and struggled with a lot of those same issues that I struggle with as Joyce. For the sense of deep love and connection, I draw on my own feelings for my own daughter. In terms of trying to parent an adolescent and my relationship with my mother. I try to figure out those struggles, and try to get into that from her point of view.
Due to Willow and Tara appearing in LBGT magazines, the actresses did have to remind fans that neither of them were lesbians in real life.
Emma Caulfield claims she constantly has to tell fans that she's not afraid of bunnies like Anya is.
Cash Cow Franchise: There was no real need to continue the series after it ended (and many feel it should have ended a few seasons before it did), but Joss Whedon and company continue to profit off of it with the line of comics that continue the series.
When Bianca Lawson actually won the role initially, she opted instead to take a role in the sitcom Goode Behavior instead. Producers liked her so much that she was introduced on the second season as Kendra.
Julie Benz (Darla), Elizabeth Anne Allen (Amy), Julia Lee (the girl who goes by Chanterelle, Lily and Anne) and Mercedes McNabb (Harmony) all auditioned for the lead role of Buffy.
Danny Strong auditioned for Xander originally. He didn't get the part, obviously, but was later given the role of Jonathan, and his talent at portraying a hapless dupe of a Spear Carrier with Hidden Depths led to his becoming a recurring, popular character. What would have happened if he, not Nicholas Brendon, had won the role of Xander?
Felicia Day auditioned for the role of Fred in Angel that went to Amy Acker. She played the smaller recurring role of the potential Vi in Season 7 of Buffy.
Armin Shimerman first auditioned for Principal Flutie, before getting cast as Sunnydale High's next principal Snyder. Although the plan was for each principal to be killed off after a few episodes as a Running Gag, they liked his performance enough to keep him on the show until the end of season 3 (with a cameo appearance in "Restless" the following season).
K. Todd Freeman was in the running for the role of Spike before being cast as Mr. Trick.
Sarah Michelle Gellar disliked Season 6 because of the dark tone of the storylines, leading to her ultimately leaving the show (ending it completely) after the seventh. She also wasn't a fan of the extensive preparation that had to be done for the Musical Episode. This is especially ironic because Word of God says that Sarah was one of the people continually lobbying to do it in the first place. As Joss Whedon was tied up with Firefly at the time, she felt there was no one she could appeal to if she disliked certain decisions.
Most of the cast came to hate the library scenes because they would take forever to film.
Subverted with Alyson Hannigan. She requested that she not sing too much in "Once More With Feeling" because she hates her singing voice. But upon seeing the episode, she was surprised at how good she sounded and regretted not singing more.
Willow's "magic addiction" arc was disliked by both Alyson Hannigan and Joss Whedon himself; the latter added a scene in season seven's first episode where Giles explicitly states that magic is not addictive, and it's explained that Willow's actions were actually due to her not using magic.
James Marsters was so disturbed by Spike's Attempted Rape of Buffy that he had his contract updated so he would never film such scenes again.
Jenny Calender's actress, Robia Lamorte, had become a born-again Christian by the time she reprised her role as a guise for The First Evil and didn't take kindly to it, seeing it akin to playing Satan.
Emma Caufield was a little annoyed at Anya's death when she saw the completed series finale. She had volunteered for the character to be killed off in the final battle but didn't realise it was going to be so sudden.
Creator's Favorite: Xander (who was a stand in for Joss), Dawn (with her actress being such a big fan of the series, focus was given to her), and Kennedy (Whedon really liked the character and gave a lot of focus to her) being standouts. Within Season 4, Giles' girlfriend Olivia only appears in episodes Joss directed. She's also mentioned in "Who Are You?" - which is directed by him also. He called Spike his most fully developed character.
In 2015, when asked at about the favorite character among his own, Whedon replied: My answer would change daily. But, I kind of feel how can say Buffy? She is the distilled essence of everything I am not. Shes the beating heart of everything I have done or will do.
Some actors were a full decade older than their characters. In an extreme example, Charisma Carpenter was 26 when she played 16-year-old Cordelia.
Averted by Dawn and Faith, who are both the same age as the actresses playing them, Eliza Dushku was even legally emancipated from her parents so she wouldn't be limited by child labour laws. Dawn was likewise made a couple of years older to match Michelle's age, since she was originally written as a preteen. Mercedes McNabb (Harmony) was also sixteen when the first season was shot.
According to Joss Whedon, all three lead actresses had the same brownish auburn hair colour when they were cast. Sarah Michelle Gellar eventually bleached her hair blonde for Season 2, Alyson Hannigan went fully redhead, and Charisma Carpenter darkened hers (which she has kept to the present day).
James Marsters also had to bleach his hair to play Spike.
Nicholas Brendon was told by producers to stop working out, because they didn't want Xander "looking too buffed." This also resulted in Xander often being dressed in baggy clothing to hide Nicholas Brendon's muscuar build.
In the pilot, Willow wears drab clothing that her mother picked out for her. Network execs told creator Joss Whedon that they wanted Willow to "look more like Buffy" who wore brighter, preppier, and more stylish clothing. This had a positive result, however, as Whedon decided to give Willow colorful, if geeky clothing, leading to the famous fuzzy sweaters and silly clothes.
Willow's character was the subject of a lot of meddling. In the unaired pilot, she was played by Riff Regan, who actually looked like she could be a geeky social outcast, as opposed to... say... Alyson Hannigan. She wasn't recast for this reason, however — she frequently flubbed lines and generally played the character as too nervous.
But the most famous example of Buffy meddling involves The WB's notoriety for jumping to ridiculous conclusions about what would upset the audience (see also the X-Men: Evolution example in Western Animation). Remember when the "Graduation" season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer almost didn't air in the wake of the Columbine tragedy? True, it involved the image of a class full of students coming to school armed to the teeth... to fight a giant demon-thing in a showdown between good and evil that had been set-up as the climax for the entire season. This was apparently considered Too Soon. Yeah...
The WB also postponed the Buffy episode "Earshot", as the episode involved a plot to mass-murder students (with a Red Herring that it would be by shooting). It was supposed to be the next episode to air following Columbine, so the network instead aired a rerun of "Band Candy". The irony is that Buffy keeps the character Jonathan from killing himself in "Earshot", which makes it all the more significant that he is the one to give her the Class Protector Award in "The Prom", the episode that was originally to air after "Earshot". Out of Order like that, it makes little sense.
Joss Whedon's comments regarding the decision to postpone "Earshot" indicate that he agreed with it wholeheartedly. However, Joss was very angry about the delaying of the Season Finale, to the point of advising fans to "pirate the damned thing," a rare (maybe unique) instance of a producer encouraging fans to pirate copies of his own show. A key difference was that "Earshot" was not significant in the seasonal arc (likely why Whedon was okay with its postponement), but making viewers wait months to see the payoff of the season-long Story Arc was pretty cruel. TV would be much better without the Moral Guardians.
Whedon has confirmed that the "Buffy Working At A Fast Food Place" plotline would have been taken further in Season 6, if not for network worries that it would alienate advertisers.
James Marsters (American, born in California) as Spike. He based his accent off Anthony Head's real voice.
Juliet Landau (American, born in California) as Drusilla. Interestingly, while Landau is an American, she really does have an English accent on account of growing up in England. Its just that her real accent isn't anywhere near as broad or campy as the one she put on to play Drusilla. She later admitted that she gave Dru that accent as a sort of satire of every bad English accent she's ever heard come from an American actor, and as Whedon found it hilarious, they went with it.
Alexis Denisof (American, born in Maryland) as Wesley Wyndham-Pryce.
Clara Bryant & Courtnee Draper (American, born in California & Florida respectively) as Potential Slayers Molly and Annabelle.
The men from the Watchers' Council are played mostly by Americans, with the exception of Alistair Duncan.
Kali Rocha (American, born in Tennessee) as Cecily in "Fool For Love". If the theory that Cecily and Halfrek are the same person is canon, then this is an in-universe example.
Darla was reportedly written out of the first season more quickly than intended because of conflict between Julie Benz and the regular cast members, especially Alyson Hannigan. Fortunately, she later mellowed out enough for Joss Whedon to bring her back for a couple of guest spots, and eventually a recurring role on Angel.
By various accounts that have circulated from the set and interviews later on, Sarah Michelle Gellar was one of two things: a diva who let fame get to her head (especially after doing I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2 before the second season filmed), or a Consummate Professional who was committed to her work, and as such avoided the media and didn't fraternize much with the rest of the cast and crew. Both the show's stunt coordinator/second unit director Jeff Pruitt and Gellar's Stunt Double (and Pruitt's wife) Sophia Crawford held the former view regarding Gellar, and eventually left the show after the fourth season because of it. Pruitt even wrote a short fantasy story that was a thinly-veiled Roman à Clef of his and Sophia's feelings regarding working with Gellar, and while he would later disown it and be more diplomatic regarding her later on, saying that she'd mellowed out since, he still believes that, back then, Gellar had a tendency to Wag the Director with the way scenes were shot and that she had grown jealous of Crawford during the third season. Joss Whedon, for his part, has countered that Pruitt and Crawford weren't blameless in their departure, and that Pruitt had an ego of his own, seeing himself "as a noble knight being plotted against by evil courtiers, [which] really doesn't help."
Alyson Hannigan, once close friends with Gellar, was also not on speaking terms with her by the time the show wrapped. In a post-series interview, she blamed her for putting her out of a job without any warning (Gellar chose to end the show after the seventh season through an announcement in Entertainment Weekly), and said that Gellar was getting sick of working on the show as early as the third season. However, time (and mutual parenthood) seems to heal all wounds, and the evidence indicates that Hannigan and Gellar are friends again.
Emma Caulfield said as much in interviews after announcing she was leaving the show in Season 7. She didn't name names but said that she felt very "underappreciated" on set.
Nicholas Brendon was notably absent from the twentieth anniversary photoshoot due to David Boreanaz having him blocked (possibly due to his substance abuse issues). According to Caulfield, Brendon was never a big fan of Boreanaz.
Although Sarah Michelle Gellar did become a star in the late 90s and 2000s, she's still best known as Buffy Summers. She even says that when she's acting she's just playing Sarah in a costume. Buffy is her most remembered role twenty years later.
In contrast to Anthony Head and Alyson Hannigan - who moved onto Merlin (2008) and How I Met Your Mother quite soon - Nicholas Brendon never had another notable role and to this day is best known as Xander.
Amber Benson ultimately retired from acting and became an author instead, so Tara is her best known role.
Jossed: Sarah Michelle Gellar denies that Ryan Reynolds turned down the role of Xander, saying "not everything you read on the internet is true".
Killed by Request: Anya became the only regular character permanently killed off in the Grand Finale, because Emma Caulfield had no interest in playing the character again and asked for it, though she was reportedly taken aback by how sudden and brutal the character's death was.
Looping Lines: Anthony Stewart Head had to loop many of his lines as Giles in order to incorporate the character's mild stutter. This was such a hassle that Head declared he would never play a character with a speech impediment again.
McLeaned: A very weird example occurred in the last episode. Emma Caulfield wanted to take her career in other directions so explicitly asked to be killed off so that her character could never be used in any of the Spinoffs.
Kristy Swanson played Buffy in the movie, but Sarah Michelle Gellar took over for the TV show because Kristy was thought too old to play a sixteen-year-old at the age of twenty-eight. Likewise Donald Sutherland played Merrick in the movie, and is portrayed by Richard Riehle in a flashback to Buffy discovering she's a Slayer.
Nikki Wood, the second slayer Spike kills, is played by a stuntwoman in "Fool For Love". When The First assumes her shape in Season 7, she was recast as a more vulnerable-looking actress.
Post-Script Season: The fifth season ended with Buffy dying heroically to save Dawn and, by extension, all reality; the episode even ended with a shot of her gravestone ("She saved the world. A lot."). It was picked up for two more seasons on a different channel. Even after the series was cancelled for good, it received a comic book continuation starting with Buffy: Season 8.
Real-Life Relative: Nicholas Brendon's twin brother Kelly Schultz (their real last name) worked as his stunt double, and they also brought him in to play Xander's magically created double in season five's "The Replacement".
Willow is portrayed as a redhead for the whole series because Joss Whedon wanted the three lead actresses to differentiate themselves - and Alyson Hannigan volunteered to go that colour (she is naturally brunette).
Buffy chops off her hair in Season 6 in a fit of depression. This was because Sarah Michelle Gellar had asked to cut her hair and they wrote it into the episode.
Reality Subtext: Kristine Sutherland was the daughter of a single mother too, and took inspiration from her own mother to help create Joyce's persona.
Sarah Michelle Gellar had to stand on a box just so she could be seen in the same frame as the much taller David Boreanaz. The later seasons had her wear high heels to have Buffy appear taller than Dawn.
James Marsters has admitted that he would wear lifts in his shoes so that he would look about equal height to Boreanaz.
Though it was bizarrely not used during Buffy's romance with Riley, with the 6'2" Marc Blucas (who'd even hoped to become a pro basketball player before getting into acting) having to practically bend himself in half to kiss Gellar.
In "Once More, With Feeling", for a scene where Willow and Tara walk through the park, Alyson Hannigan can be seen wearing high heels in order to minimise the three inch height difference between herself and Amber Benson.
Separated-at-Birth Casting: Kristine Sutherland and Sarah Michelle Gellar look remarkably like mother and daughter. Michelle Trachtenberg also very much passes for Sarah's sister.
Sequel in Another Medium: Season Eight onward exists in the form of a comic book, following on from what happened after the Hellmouth in Sunnyday was finally destroyed and all the potential Slayers were activated at once rather then one at a time when one dies.
Serendipity Writes the Plot: When people kept telling Joss Whedon that the dialogue was what made the show great, he said "That's the only thing really great about the show? Fine I'll do an episode with no dialogue." - thus "Hush" was written.
Shrug of God: Joss Whedon was originally shocked at people shipping Buffy and Faith. But when one fan had him look at her website, where she analysed all the Les Yay scenes between them, he later said the fans were spot on about the subtext between the Slayers.
The cast would have been saved from many a scrape if they'd just had cellphones. Quite a few episodes use a character being in peril and unable to contact Buffy as a plot device. This wasn't a big deal in the earlier seasons, but the show hit it big just as cellphones were starting to become mainstream, so after a few years it began to seem rather odd, especially since the cast was full of teenagers (later, young adults), the group most likely to carry a cellphone. This was lampshaded at the start of the final season (in September 2002) when Buffy gives her sister Dawn "a weapon" to help protect herself, which turns out to be a cellphone. From then on most of the cast had cellphones — although ironically, they hardly ever needed to use them, since that season also saw every single character move into Buffy's house. One episode reveals that Giles does indeed own a pager, joking that they should page him if the apocalypse happens when he's not around.
Two notable examples from the second season: when Angel loses his soul and reverts to evil, the information that Willow needed to restore Angel's soul was stored on a 3 1/2 inch floppy disk that fell between desks. Earlier, Joyce's boyfriend Ted, who worked for a computer company, curried favor with Willow by giving her freebies from work, including a new hard drive with a gargantuan capacity of 9 gigabytes — a tad more than a $15 USB drive could hold little more than a decade later.
The Big Bad of season 4, a cyborg/demon crossbreed named Adam, is also seen inserting floppy disks into a slot in his chest, which causes more hilarity in the present day age of streaming and the internet, than the insteded impact of awe and suspense in 2001.
None other than Michelle Trachtenberg says she experienced this when she became a writer. Having been so used to her time on Buffy, she struggled to make her stories work in the age of cellphones and widespread internet.
"Buffy lived in a world where social media and cellphones weren't a part of the story. You couldn't Google "blah blah blah demon." You had to go physically to the magic shop and find a book. You cannot re-create that today."
The famous Mutant Enemy title card was reportedly scribbled by Whedon with only seconds to go until broadcast.
In "Innocence", The scene where Angel dumps Buffy in his apartment was originally supposed to take place on Buffy's lawn. Halfway through shooting the scene, SMG and David Boreanaz told Joss that the scene wasn't working, so he moved it to the bedroom. Buffy can still heard saying she saw him "at the house". She was so Lost in Character afterwards they had to close down the set for half an hour, being that invested in the romance.
The gag in "Earshot" with Giles walking into a tree was ad-libbed by Anthony Stewart Head. He never dreamed Joss would keep in the cut.
In the Season Three finale, Cordelia cowers behind the diminutive Jonathan. According to Danny Strong, this scene was an idea of Charisma's, because she was leaving for Angel and never got much screen time with him.
Not in the original work but in the motion comic Anywhere But Here there is a scene where Kennedy guesses Willow is upset about Tara's death. A line's added that makes her look like Queen Bitch.
The scene in "The Harvest" where the Master blinds a vampire and says "you've got something in your eye" was added to fill time.
Kali Rocha was cast as Halfrek in Season 6 after having briefly played Spike's human love interest Cecily in a flashback. Knowing that eagle-eyed viewers would notice, they wrote in Halfrek saying "William?" when she sees Spike, and Spike rejoinding with "Hey, wait a minute..."
Joss joked that he was going to kill Anya off in "The Gift" - when she pushes Xander out of the way of some falling bricks - but Emma Caulfield kept moving too much in the final scene with all the survivors.
Willow running off the stage during the Scooby Gang's Talent Show performance in "The Puppet Show" was improvised by Alyson Hannigan.
Too Soon: "Earshot ", which depicts a student bringing a rifle to school (albeit to kill himself and no one else), was set to air within a week of Columbine and was therefore delayed until after the season finale, which was also delayed in light of Columbine because of the destruction of Sunnydale High School.
Tribute to Fido: Joss Whedon gave Riley the last name of "Finn", after hearing executive producer Marti Noxon talking about taking her dog, Finn, to the vet.
Trolling Creator: David Fury wrote in many scenes of Buffy laughing just to troll Sarah Michelle Gellar, who hates laughing on camera.
Tuckerization: Riley's last name Finn was taken from Marti Noxon's dog.
Unfinished Episode: According to Nicholas Brendon, he and Sarah Michelle Gellar proposed a storyline for season seven where Xander and Buffy get together romantically. Their idea was shot down, and they continued with the Buffy-Spike relationship.
Unintentional Period Piece: The early seasons don't so much scream "1990s" as they beat you with a sledgehammer labeled "1990s" and perhaps teamkill you with a tank. The effect gradually fades as the seasons progress, though. The same is also true of Angel, on an accelerated scale.
"If the apocalypse comes, beep me."
Ur-Example: This show is literally the reason the site The Fanlistings Network exists. Back in the late 1990s, someone wanted to know how many Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans were out there online. This led to people creating fanlistings, websites designed for the purpose of listing fans of a variety of subjects.
Word of Gay: Jane Espenson opined that Giles and Ethan may have had some sexual history in their younger days.
Word of Saint Paul: Kali Rocha has said that she believes Halfrek was already a vengeance demon by the time she knew Spike, and the party she was at in "Fool For Love" was an assignment (making Cecily just a cover).
Write Who You Know: Joss Whedon based Cordelia Chase on a girl with whom his wife attended high school, and Xander Harris on himself. According to Nicholas Brendon, this is why Xander "gets all the good lines".
Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Angel's extremely vague writing (plus comfortably standing in partial sunlight a couple times) in the first few episodes was because the crew started out with basically no idea what the deal was with him. His name was actually a holdover from one early idea that he was a literal angel who'd been expelled from Heaven and was trying to earn his way back.
Spice Williams plays the police instructor who tries to murder Buffy, Patrice, in "What's My Line?" She also appeared in "The Zeppo" as a member of the Sisterhood of Jhe, and later turned up on Angel as a convict hired to kill Faith in prison.
Jeff Kober first appeared in the season three episode "Helpless" as a vampire named Kralik. He appeared again during season six as the warlock Rack.
Brian Thompson portrays the vampire "Luke" in season 1, as well as the demon called "The Judge" in season 2.
Tom Lenk plays a vampire lackey to Harmony a few seasons before playing Tucker's brother (and a member of the Trio).
Subverted with Kali Rocha. She played Spike's girlfriend Cecily in his flashback in "Fool For Love", and was later cast as the demon Halfrek in Season 6. They had her say "William?" when she sees him to imply that the two were the same person. Likewise a flashback in "Selfless" was rewritten from the Renaissance to the Russian Revolution to accommodate this.
Creator's Pest: While Joss Whedon loved Kennedy despite the fans' hatred of her, the other writers grew to hate her as much as said fans.