Buffy Summers, the Slayer, the Chosen One, and the girl who saved the world — a lot — debuted onscreen twenty years ago. Technically speaking, the character appeared earlier in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1992 movie, but that was more of a first draft of Joss Whedon’s idea. It’s the 20th anniversary of Buffy The Vampire Slayer as a cult hit series adhering to Whedon’s original vision, with the character played by Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Curiously, Whedon’s vision had a lot of twists and turns behind the scenes. The cast of Buffy has shared new details in a flood of recent interviews in honor of the 20th anniversary. If you don’t have time to comb through them all, here’s a round-up of the most pertinent and fascinating information that has come to light.
1. Xander and Buffy Were Originally Supposed to End Up Together
In the early days of Buffy, Xander always pined away for her. He never quite understood her, however, and Anya ended up being a far better match. But according to Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander, Season 7 was originally supposed to circle back around to the idea of Buffy and Xander as a romantic pairing. “Joss did have a talk with Sarah and me,” he said, “because he was kind of contemplating the idea of Xander and Buffy ending up together at the end of season seven. He just said, ‘What do you guys think about that?’ And we were both for it, but then that never came to fruition and I lost my eye.”
2. The Controversial “Seeing Red” Scene Was Gender-Bent
One of the most controversial scenes in the entire series occurs in the Season 6 episode, “Seeing Red,” when Spike tries to rape Buffy. Their relationship leading up to the event was deeply complicated, filled with physical fights, sex conflating, and the word “no” failing to hold any conviction. After the scene in question, however, the show treated it like a black and white rape scene, which has caused fans to debate it ever since. James Marsters, who played Spike, recently shed light on the scene by explaining the reason there’s a dissonance with how it comes across:
…Joss, throughout the entire series, was asking his writing team to come up with their worst day. The day that they didn’t talk about, the day they were ashamed about, the day that was too painful to talk about…In the case of that scene, one of the female writers, in college, had been broken up with by her boyfriend, and decided that if she went over to his place, and if they made love one more time, everything would be fine. And so she tried to do that, and really kind of jumped the guy, and he had to push her off and,say, “No, you have to leave now.” The thinking I think was that since Buffy was a superhero and completely capable of pushing Spike through a wall that it was kind of the same thing, and you could flip the sexes. My argument was that, actually, when anyone is watching Buffy, they are Buffy. That’s the vicarious experience that we’re offering. And so the audience, especially the female audience, they are not superheroes, but they are Buffy. And so I’m attempting to rape them. And that doesn’t quite work so well.
## 3. Andrew Added the ‘Vam-PYRE’ Thing Himself
One of the most standout and universally beloved Buffy episodes is Season 7’s “Storyteller,” in which minor character Andrew takes over, narrating and framing events Christopher Lee-style. Memorably, he stares into the camera while pronouncing the word “vampire” as “vam-PYRE.”
As it turns out, Tom Lenk, who played Andrew, added that himself. “That was one of my things that I added, was ‘the slayer of the vam-PYREs.’ I just like getting some little details in there. That was a fun moment.”
4. Spike Thinks Angel Is Better for Buffy…Sort Of
The question of whether Buffy belongs with brooding Angel or snarky Spike is one for the ages. You’d think James Marsters, who played Spike, would be a Buffy/Spike shipper. But his answer to the question is far more nuanced and intriguing.
Angel was not as fun because he felt so bad about everything: “Oh, I shouldn’t have done that. I regret that. Oops, oops.” That’s a hard thing to make entertaining, but, frankly, that’s a mature attitude when you’ve done the stuff that he did. Spike had a lot of maturing to do. I think [Spike] did have a profound love for Buffy that confused him and drove him to try to be a better creature. And I think ultimately, in the long run, once Spike has enough time to mature, he was the right one for Buffy. In the long term. [But] for the run of the series, Angel.
5. Jonathan Could Have Been a Much Bigger Superstar
Jonathan, played by Danny Strong, originated as a reccurring nerd at Sunnydale High and evolved to becoming a member of the villainous Trio in Season 6. His most memorable episode, however, is Season 4’s “Superstar,” in which Jonathan is the center of the universe. He helped the Scoobies save the world, starred in The Matrix without leaving Sunnydale, graduated from medical school by the age of eighteen, and is generally regarded as perfect. The opening credits are even tweaked to center around him.
However, according to Strong, Jonathan could have been a much bigger superstar, in the form of having a bigger role. He originally auditioned to play Xander. “My first encounter with Buffy — was auditioning for the pilot presentation for the part of Xander,” he said. “And to this day, I say I was robbed. I think I would have made a great Xander.”
On this 20th anniversary of Buffy, go forth and slay, Scoobies. Whether a stake, magic, fangs, or a simple yellow crayon is your instrument of choice, just save the world. A lot.
Photos via Buffy/Facebook