“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 number. She is the Slayer.” This narration played during the earliest episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and helped set the tone for just how special of a character the title player would be, but ot even the narration could prepare us for just how powerfully Buffy would be able to resonate with viewers.
Buffy as both a television show and a lead character helped paved the way for strong women in leading roles. Thanks to a consistently tremendous performance from Sarah Michelle Gellar that delivered for seven seasons straight, Buffy Summers became a character who worked as a believable role model. Buffy Summers gave audiences a glimpse of a woman who was both strong as an ox — both physically and mentally — but was also able to vulnerable and overcame in the face of adversity. As much as Buffy Summers was an incredible character on-screen, there are a few secrets about the character that even die-hard fans don’t know. Here are some examples.
15. RHONDA THE IMMORTAL WAITRESS
During the earliest stages of developing Buffy’s character, Joss Whedon still had a lot that he needed to figure out as far as what he wanted for the character. In those early stages, Buffy was not always Buffy. In fact, her name was Rhonda, and she was almost a waitress, and an immortal one at that. Thankfully, Whedon realized that Rhonda the Immortal Waitress does not have the best ring to it and he started to flesh out the concept more and eventually made her a Vampire Slayer named Buffy.
Whedon named her Buffy for the same reason he almost named her Rhonda: he wanted a name that sounded insignificant. He thought that the least important name he could think of juxtaposed with a Vampire Slayer title would provide a tone of “a B movie that had something more going on.”
14. SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR AUDITIONED FOR CORDELIA…
Just as Sarah Michelle Gellar was perfect for playing Buffy, Charisma Carpenter was perfect for Cordelia Chase. Over the span of three seasons of Buffy and five seasons of Angel, Cordelia evolved from Buffy’s bratty antithesis, to a mature diamond in the rough, and did so with a believable gusto thanks to consistently strong performances from Carpenter. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role, but we almost nearly did get a few different faces representing Cordelia.
One of them being Gellar herself, who originally auditioned for Cordelia. Whedon was impressed with her read, but not enough to cast her in the role. He let her read for Buffy, and after a few readings, he was blown away. Also worth noting that Bianca Lawson, who played Kendra Young, was originally cast as Cordelia, but had to bow out due to contractual obligations on a sitcom.
13. …AND CHARISMA CARPENTER AUDITIONED FOR BUFFY
Sarah Michelle Gellar was more than perfect in the role of Buffy. Strong, funny, vulnerable…these (and more) are all qualities that Gellar brought to the table to make Buffy Summers a role model in pop culture circles. It is hard to imagine anyone else in the role, but there were plenty of other actresses who almost played Buffy. Charisma Carpenter actually auditioned for Buffy.
While she did impress Whedon, Whedon thought she had an attitude better suited for Cordelia, and after Carpenter’s quick read for the character, he was proven right. It is also worth noting that Katie Holmes even auditioned and was Whedon’s first choice to play Buffy, but the studio deemed Holmes too young for the part. Other notable auditions came from future alumni for the show: Julie Benz, Elizabeth Anne Allen, and Mercedes McNab.
12. SHE ALMOST FOUGHT A DRAGON
Some readers may remember that during Glory’s ritual of Dawn in the season five finale, “The Gift,” the ritual opened up a portal where a giant dragon emerged. We never heard from or saw that dragon ever again, but there were plans to bring that dragon back a whole season later. In the season six finale, “Grave,” there was originally a scene in the script where that very same dragon would return and Buffy would have to fight it off.
Plans were changed when it turned out that the budget was not big enough to produce an entire CGI dragon, and instead, Buffy fought off earth monsters in the episode. Whedon did finally get his dragon — albeit it was merely a brief glimpse — when one flew through the skies in the climax of the Angel series finale.
11. SHE ALMOST KILLED THE JUDGE WITH A TANK
The second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is often hailed as a favorite among fans because it had a lot to offer packed into one single season. The on-screen debut of Spike, a relationship between Buffy and Angel that rivals that of Beauty and the Beast, and Angel’s heartbreaking turn to the dark side. The season was also packed with plenty of “Holy Cow!” moments that left jaws on the floor.
Arguably, the biggest such moment came when Buffy fired a bazooka missile at Angelus, Drusilla, and The Judge, killing the latter. Believe it or not, original plans saw the moment get even crazier. Rather than stroll in with a bazooka in hand, Buffy was supposed to ride in on a tank and fire a killing blow to The Judge. Looks like the budget wasn’t big enough for a tank.
10. SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO APPEAR IN THE 100TH EPISODE OF ANGEL
Buffy rarely appeared on Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s sister show, Angel. Aside from a couple appearances during the spinoff’s first season, Buffy is usually mentioned but never seen on-screen. Since there literally would be no Angel without Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it seems only fitting that there were plans in place for Buffy Summers to make an appearance for the show’s landmark 100th episode in season five, titled “You’re Welcome.”
Buffy was supposed to be the one who helped get Angel out of his mental rut and remind him of what his greater purpose in the world is. Unfortunately, due to the death of a dearly beloved aunt, Sarah Michelle Gellar had to pull out. Therefore, the script was rewritten with Cordelia in the Buffy role.
9. SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR’S AFRAID OF GRAVEYARDS
During the 10th episode of season one, titled “Nightmares,” the greatest fears of every character in Sunnydale literally comes to life. In one scene, it is revealed that one of Buffy’s greatest fears is that of being buried alive. In a plethora of interviews, Sarah Michelle Gellar revealed that she shares the same fear as the character that she plays. She is afraid of being buried alive, which made filming the “Nightmares” scene difficult because Gellar had to be buried in a real cemetery to film it.
Gellar also said that just filming scenes in graveyards and mausoleums proved difficult because of this phobia. Both Buffy’s and Gellar’s fear would come to fruition once again in the season six episode “Bargaining, Part Two” where Buffy awakens from the dead in her coffin.
8. HER BODY COUNT IS HIGHER THAN ANY OTHER CHARACTER’S
It has been calculated that throughout the entirety of her on-screen Buffyverse appearances — as in those seen on both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel — Buffy has killed close to 137 vampires, 73 demons, 8 humans, two cyborgs, one spirit warrior, and one robot. In total, Buffy has killed 222 beings on during her tenure on television, giving her the highest body count out of everyone on the show.
Which is kind of surprising because Buffy has not even appeared in the most episodes of the show. Both Angel and Willow have been in more episodes than Buffy — Buffy’s been in 146, Willow in 147, and Angel in 167 — and yet, Buffy still has the highest slay count. Guess Buffy really did live up to her nickname and title of “The Slayer”.
7. SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR ANNOUNCED THE SHOW’S END
The first time it was announced that the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be the last was when Sarah Michelle Gellar mentioned it in a 2003 interview with Entertainment Weekly. This news came as a shock to everyone, and when we say everyone, we mean everyone including Gellar’s castmates. Before Gellar made the announcement, the cast were not yet told that season seven would be the last season.
Many of them discovered the news either by reading the magazine firsthand, or getting the juicy details from a friend. An actor having to find out that they just lost their job of seven years by reading a magazine has to be even more soul crushing than just finding out that their run on the show is over by itself.
6. GELLAR WASN’T ALLOWED TO APPEAR ON THE ANGEL FINALE
For the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, David Boreanaz returned to reprise his role as Angel for the episode. A year later, Sarah Michelle Gellar wanted to return the favor when Boreanaz’s spin off show, Angel, was having its own series finale. When Gellar personally asked Joss Whedon if she could appear in the episode, he declined her offer.
There was speculation that it was due to Whedon disapproving of Gellar pulling herself out of appearing in Angel’s 100th episode, but in reality, it was for the same reason why she rarely appeared on Angel in the first place. Whedon feared that her presence on the show would overshadow both the main character of Angel, and the rest of the storyline for the episode.
5. THE ORIGINAL MOVIE IS SEMI-CANON
The larger masses of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans consider the 1992 film of the same name to be of a separate canon from the show. Actually, the movie is canon. Kinda. When Joss Whedon first conceived the television show, he continued the canon of his original screenplay from the movie, of which a lot was changed during production.
For example, Whedon’s original script sees Buffy burn down her school gym filled with vampires, and in the pilot of the show, we learn that Buffy transfers schools and was sent to a psych ward because she burned down the gym at her last school. The canon of the film is solidified with the publishing of the canon prequel mini-series The Origin, which envisions the events of the film as Whedon originally intended it, with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the title role.
4. WHEDON NEVER WANTED BUFFY’S PARENTS TO APPEAR
When Joss Whedon was still developing the show, he specifically wanted Buffy’s parents to never appear on-screen. They would have been heard of, but never seen. This would have been done in a similar fashion to how parents are treated in the world of Charlie Brown, or more recently in the film It Follows.
Whedon’s reasons being that he wanted to focus more on the action surrounding Buffy rather than her home life, and worried that having Buffy try to explain her extracurricular demon slaying activities would grow difficult. Unfortunately for Whedon, the studio decided that it would be even more difficult to focus on a teenage girl with no parents present. Whedon settled on allowing Buffy to be raised by a single mom, Joyce.
3. BUFFY WAS SUPPOSED TO STAY DEAD
A lot of people believe that if the series ended with Buffy’s death at the end of the season five finale, “The Gift,” it would have made for a perfect ending to the series. Little do many fans know is that the episode was written and filmed with every intention that it would be the final episode of the show. The cast, Joss Whedon, and the rest of the crew were all certain while filming the finale that it would be the final episode after The WB failed to renew it for a sixth season.
After The WB dropped Buffy, there was a bidding war between networks, and there was no guarantee that any network would pick up the show at all. Thankfully, Whedon managed to work out a deal with UPN, who hosted Buffy’s sixth and seventh seasons.
2. SEASON SIX MADE SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR DEPRESSED
Buffy went through a lot during the show’s sixth season, and it would be an understatement to say the season was a traumatic one for The Slayer. She was brought back from the dead only to be pulled out of blissful heaven and back to the stress of modern life, she had to fight her best friend Willow, and she was nearly brutally assaulted by Spike.
Season six was tough for Buffy, and it was just as tough for the actress who played her. Gellar has gone on record as saying that she was not a fan of most of Buffy’s actions during season six because she was of the belief “it betrayed who she was.” This often led to on-set clashes with Joss Whedon over the direction of the character. The whole ordeal put Gellar in a terrible depression.
1. SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR WAS SICK OF PLAYING BUFFY
During an episode of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, Alyson Hannigan was a guest and during a game of “Plead the Fifth” revealed some shocking revelations about her former Buffy co-star. When asked who was the most annoyed to be on Buffy by time the show ended, Hannigan didn’t hesitate to name drop the star herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. When asked when Gellar got tired of the show, Hannigan said way back during season three.
Gellar somewhat confirmed this when the show first ended in 2003. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she explained that she was 18-years old when she was cast as Buffy. By time the show was on its last legs at age 26, there were times when working on the show “was difficult — you want to pick up and go, try other things, live in different places….”
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