In 1992, a movie hit our screens that, to be honest, bombed pretty badly. The critics slammed it and audiences didn’t like it, and yet its creator, Joss Whedon, didn’t give up hope. Taking the movie back to basics and moving it to TV, Buffy The Vampire Slayer was reborn and 20 years later we are still enjoying it, talking about its impact, and reliving the cultural phenomenon that it became.
Telling the story of a teenage girl coping with high school life, as well as being chosen to save the world from vampires and demons, Buffy The Vampire Slayer became must see TV. With the help of her friends, affectionately named the “Scooby Gang,” Buffy and co dealt with friendship, love, heartbreak, high school, growing up, and of course, they saved the world a lot! You know, regular teenager stuff.
So here are 15 surprising facts about Buffy The Vampire Slayer that even the hardcore fans may not know.
15. Charisma Carpenter Was Almost Buffy
We start our list with cast choices and changes, and it’s the ladies first. With many shows that get the green light for a pilot, getting the right actors to play the main characters is one of the most important aspects. Buffy The Vampire is one of the rare TV shows in which a lot of the characters were cast and then the producers decided to change them around. Not only that, but many of the people that auditioned for a main character may not have gotten the job but were written into the show as other characters.
For the role of Buffy, many future Buffyverse characters auditioned but didn’t make it. Julie Benz, who would end up playing Darla, Elizabeth Anne Allen, who played Amy, and Mercedes McNab, who played Harmony, all went for Buffy and although they didn’t get the part, they were loved so much they still found their way into the show. The biggest cast change came in the form of Buffy and Cordelia. Originally Sarah Michelle Gellar was cast as queen cheerleader Cordelia and Charisma Carpenter went up for Buffy. Whedon and his team then decided that they would be better suited if they switched and we’re glad they did.
14. And Nathan Fillion Wanted To Be Angel
And now for the men. Casting a good, strong male character can be a difficult one. The most important male leads on Buffy The Vampire Slayer were Buffy’s best friend and comic relief Xander Harris and the Slayer’s true love, and the vampire with a soul, Angel.
Originally Nathan Fillion wanted the part of Angel. Not only did he audition for it but he strongly pushed himself for the role. Unfortunately, Fillion lost out to David Boreanaz, who incidentally was told to audition for the role after an executive saw him out walking his dog! But Whedon loved Fillion so much that he used him in pretty much everything else he did.
The role of Xander, however, was so close to being completely different. Originally the part had actually been offered to Ryan Reynolds but he turned down the role at the last minute because he didn’t want to be stuck playing a high school student.
13. Nicholas Brendon Has A Twin
Many science fiction and fantasy shows have episodes in which main characters have duplicates and Buffy The Vampire Slayer is no different. In fact, all three main cast members have had episodes in which they have doubles. Willow has had a few scenes in which she faced off against her vampire alternate self. Buffy has had a few, most famously with robot Buffy in later seasons, and Xander had an episode in which he was spilt in two.
Normally these doubles can be achieved by having look-alikes or with some CGI/split screen trickery. But in the case of Xander, he actually used his twin brother to play his other self. Not only that but Nicholas Brendon‘s twin, Kelly, has stood in for him a few times when he’s been sick or unable to film.
12. Tucker Was Supposed To Be In The Trio
In season six of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Whedon and the writers wanted to go a slightly different route with the season’s “big bad,” and went for three geeky guys. In a comic book supervillain kind of way, The Trio wanted to take over Sunnydale and kill the Slayer.
The two main members of The Trio had already been established characters within the show; Jonathan had been a side character since the very first season, and had a few big episodes, and Warren was the man behind the robots. However, the third member, Andrew, was a new addition. Originally, Tucker, who set the hellhounds on Sunnydale in season three, was supposed to be in it but the actor was unavailable at that time so they brought in his younger brother Andrew. This was often made fun of as most episodes Andrew had to explain who he was, as none of the Scooby Gang knew him and he was often referred to as Tucker’s Brother.
11. A Lot Of Characters Were Supposed To Die
Joss Whedon has many strengths but one strength that we have to admire him for is that he listens to the audience and to the fans of his shows. So when a character comes along that people take an instant liking to, Whedon will go back and change the character in order to keep the fans happy.
This has happened many times within the Buffyverse. Originally, the character of Darla, Angel’s sire, was supposed to die at the beginning of season one, which she did. But once Whedon started to use her in flashbacks to tell Angel’s story, the character proved popular and was resurrected. Strangely enough the characters of Spike and Drusilla were also supposed to die during their season but again, fans loved them so much that they got a permanent place within the Buffyverse. Other characters such as Anya, Wesley, Faith, and Oz weren’t supposed to be recurring characters. In fact, rogue vampire slayer Faith wasn’t supposed to last very long and it was actually planned for her to commit suicide. But she became a big fan favorite that she was kept within the show and used in both Buffy and Angel.
10. Spike Was Almost From Texas
Speaking of character changes, probably the most distinctive and recognizable character from Buffy The Vampire Slayer is Spike. With his British punk accent, his bleached blonde hair, and long leather jacket, Spike has become an icon of the show.
Throughout the seasons on Buffy, and it’s spin-off Angel, the character of Spike has probably undergone the biggest changes and story arc of anyone. Starting off as an evil slayer-killing machine, Spike would soon have a chip implanted in his brain to stop him from killing, he would then fall in love with Buffy, turn evil again, and then, finally, he would be granted a soul. However, through all these changes to the character, James Masters originally did a Texas accent for Spike. The California born actor thought it suited Spike’s character more but Whedon preferred a punk British style and wanted Spike to be more like Billy Idol. Not having a very good British accent, Master actually used Anthony Head, who played Giles, to coach him on the perfect accent.
9. Charisma Carpenter Was The Oldest Teenager
It’s a very common thing in the world of teenage dramas to have older actor playing younger people, like in the case of fan favorite shows like Dawson’s Creek, Beverly Hills 90210, The O.C., the list goes on and on! But within those shows, we know we’re watching a bunch of 20 year olds pretending to be 16 or 17. It’s not just on TV either, the movies do this all the time as well. If you don’t believe us then ask Michael J. Fox, who, let’s be honest, spent most of his acting life playing teenagers.
However, most young actors who take on a teenage role are only a few years older than their characters are supposed to be. This is for obvious reasons, like for starters, they want the audience to believe that the character is 16 and not 30. But in the case of Sunnydale cheerleader Cordelia, Charisma Carpenter was actually 27 when the show first aired, which probably makes her one of the oldest actors to portray a high school student ever on TV.
8. Seth Green And Alyson Hannigan Have Been Together Before
Throughout Buffy The Vampire Slayer, there have been many great couples and love stories. Buffy and Angel, Buffy and Spike, Xander and Anya, and Willow and Tara are the big ones. But one of the earliest, and sweetest, relationships on the show was Willow and Oz. First of all, this relationship wasn’t supposed to happen. The character of Oz was actually supposed to die within the second season of Buffy at the hands of Angelus, but because of Oz’s popularity and the chemistry between Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green, Whedon decided to keep him and have Angelus kill Jenny Calendar instead.
So the love between the timid, geeky witch and the rock star werewolf was allowed to blossom and it did, up until season four. But this isn’t the first time Hannigan and Green have been an item on screen. In the 1988 Dan Aykroyd-starring comedy My Stepmother Is An Alien, a young Hannigan and Green appeared as a childhood couple.
7. Xander Was Almost Gay
The next entry on our list isn’t really a secret. Joss Whedon has said many times that he knew from the beginning of Buffy The Vampire Slayer that one of the main characters would be gay. Obviously now we all know that this would be Willow. After all, there were plenty of hints dropped in the early days: meeting a version of herself that was a vampire and a lesbian was a big hint and the metaphor for magic was all about sexuality.
But before that, Whedon himself didn’t know who would end up coming out. Originally he played with the idea that Xander would be the gay character but then changed his mind as he thought Willow would be better suited. It also must be noted that when Willow started to “befriend” Tara, many people were actually outraged, which is strange when we look back at it now, but it just went on to strengthen the Buffy brand and solidify just how culturally relevant and groundbreaking it was.
6. Xander And Buffy Almost Had A Romance
Speaking of Xander, throughout the run of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Xander had a lot of “almosts,” but never really got any of them. Most of the residence of Sunnydale changed over the years; Willow became a powerful witch and a lesbian. Oz was a werewolf. Buffy, although obviously the Slayer, went through the mill with love and finding her place in the world. Even Cordelia Chase grew into a different character with the help of visions of Angel. But Xander Harris pretty much stayed the same throughout the show’s run. Always loyal to his friends, the quick-witted Xander was surrounded by super beings and never became one of them.
So it’s not surprising that over the years, Nicholas Brendon wanted Xander to have a bit more to him. As well as almost being gay, Brendon and Sarah Michelle Gellar pleaded with Whedon to give Buffy and Xander a big romance together. Luckily, Whedon shot this one down pretty quickly, but for a brief moment, it was considered/1
5. Buffy Summers Was Inspired By X-Men’s Kitty Pryde
Over the years, Joss Whedon has mentioned many influences that led to him creating his popular shows. With Buffy The Vampire Slayer in particular, Whedon has mentioned his love of the horror and fantasy genres, looking to turn those genres on their heads and have the pretty blonde girl be the hero and not the victim, which Whedon did exceptionally well. But what about the inspiration for Buffy Summers herself?
Well, Whedon has gone on record to say that a lot of the inspiration for Buffy’s traits and characteristics comes from the X-Men’s Kitty Pryde, and we can see why. On a similar path to Buffy, Kitty Pryde is a young girl with incredible powers, she often gets herself caught up in doomed romances, she yearns for guidance by older and experienced adults and she likes having a small team to fight alongside her. The similarities are obvious when you look at it.
4. Giles The Killer
A lot of shows out there, especially shows aimed at teens and young adults, like to have a heart and moral compass at the center of it. Buffy The Vampire Slayer definitely has this. The show itself is full of metaphors for life and growing up but more than that, the show at its core has a good moral compass. In other words, the bad guys will always get their comeuppance and the good guys will always get rewarded, and in some cases the good guys can always achieve forgiveness if they earn it. Just look at Willow, Angel, and Spike; those three characters have flipped between good and bad more times than most but each time they come back to the side of good they are allowed to earn forgiveness. But when they go bad they have to deal with the consequences.
Even Buffy herself has had to face this from time to time. However, there is one character within the Buffyverse that can do what ever he wants and he never gets his comeuppance, and that’s Giles. Forgetting the fact that he was a bit of a naughty boy in his youth, for which he has paid the price for a few times, Giles has actually killed a man with his bare hands. After Glory reverted to her human self in season five, and takes on a male form named Ben, Giles killed him. We’re not saying that he shouldn’t have, but every other character on the show has had to deal with killing someone and then paying the price, both physically and ethically. All except Giles. In fact, it’s never mentioned again.
3. The Almost Spinoffs
Many TV shows have popular and successful characters that fans really take a strong interest in. So with that, we get the spin-off show. Buffy The Vampire Slayer already did this with Angel. Taking a popular character like Angel and having his own show proved very popular with fans and only went on to strengthen the Buffy brand and further flesh out the Buffyverse. Being able to use existing characters and introducing new ones helped launch Angel in its own right.
However, as both Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel were starting to wind down, many other spin-off shows were being considered. Out of all the characters that made up Sunnydale, Faith, Giles, and Spike were the closest ones to getting their own series. The idea of a Spike led show first got mentioned when Angel became popular, but James Masters turned down the chance to take it forward because he felt he was getting too old to play an eternally youthful vampire. Faith almost had her own show as well but the actress wanted a break from playing the tortured slayer so she turned it down.
2. Whedon Likes To Reuse His Favorite Actors
There is one thing that Joss Whedon does very well and that is looking after his people. We’ve already mentioned on this list that if you’re an actor and Whedon likes you, but you’re not right for the role, then he’ll make one for you. He has done this countless times in most of his shows. However, Whedon actually goes one further than that and will often offer roles to actors he has used before.
This was most notable when his short lived series Firefly got cancelled. Not wanting to leave his cast high and dry, Whedon found a home for them within the Buffyverse. Nathan Fillion played the evil priest Caleb on Buffy, Gina Torres played season four baddie Jasmine on Angel, and Adam Baldwin also went over to Angel in season five. Not only that, but Whedon constantly uses his favorite actors in projects that he’s doing. It’s fair to say that if you’re a friend of Whedon then you’ll always have work.
The number one interesting fact you may not know about Buffy The Vampire Slayer is Joss Whedon’s, and his fellow Buffy writers, ability to plan for the future. While it’s true that a lot of things in the Buffyverse happened naturally, such as character traits and developments, love stories and romantic incidents, for example, a lot of the show was still planned in advance.
The major ones were the arrival of Buffy’s younger sister Dawn and Buffy’s death at the end of season five. It’s now become a hot topic among fans, but when Buffy and Faith share a dream sequence at the end of season three, Faith says “Little Miss Muffet counting down from 730.” Little Miss Muffet refers to the coming of Dawn but even more spooky that that, Buffy would drop dead at the end of season five, two seasons after this episode, in exactly 730 days from when Faith said that. That’s quite the prediction!