If you’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and come on, you’ve got to be), there’s probably a lot you already know about her. You know that she’s the Chosen One; the Slayer. You know that two actresses have played her: Kristy Swanson in the movie and Sarah Michelle Gellar in the TV series. You know she lives in Sunnydale, California, on the Hellmouth, with a sister who magically appeared out of nowhere. And you know she died twice.
But there may be a few things you don’t already know, things that might have slipped through the cracks of your knowledge, or things that you might not have tracked unless you were taking really precise notes. If you haven’t read the canon comics, there could be some new bits of trivia for you in there.
We’ve tried to cover all the “Angels,” as it were. So please “stake” out a few minutes of your time to find out 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Buffy The Vampire Slayer (The Character).
15. KATIE HOLMES WAS ALMOST BUFFY
Swanson was a solid Buffy. Gellar made the character iconic. But imagine what would’ve happened if Katie Holmes had been handed the role in the TV series instead of Gellar. Or don’t, if it’s too painful. Holmes hadn’t yet made her debut on Dawson’s Creek when the Buffy series began in 1997, but it’s said she was originally creator Joss Whedon’s first choice, and she lost out on the role because of her relative youth. She’s only about a year and a half younger than Gellar, but Holmes definitely looked younger than her 18 years back then.
Other significant actresses were up for the TV role back then. Selma Blair, who was a much-older 25 in those days, evidently went deep into the audition process. And then there were a couple of actresses who auditioned for Buffy, and while Whedon didn’t like them enough to cast them as his headlining heroine, he liked them enough to give them jobs. These actresses included Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase in Buffy and Angel, and Julie Benz, who played the vampire Darla, Angel’s sire, on both Buffyverse series.
14. THE MOVIE VERSION IS NOT CANON
It’s rare that the first version of something is not considered canon, but such is the case with the 1992 feature film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, starring Kristy Swanson in the title role. Imagine A New Hope wasn’t considered canon within the Star Wars universe. Okay, it’s not quite the same thing. With Buffy, you have a film that was turned into a much more successful TV series. And even though both were created by Joss Whedon, and both follow a cheerleader named Buffy who learns she’s a Slayer, there are too many differences between the two to say they’re in the same universe.
When it comes to Buffy herself, there are physical differences. For example, even though Whedon has said the character has blue eyes, Swanson’s are brown and Gellar’s are green. We never learn her last name, Summers, in the film. And unlike the canon version, the film Buffy gets cramps when vampires are around and has a birthmark common to all Slayers called “the mark of the coven.”
13. THERE ARE ALTERNATE BUFFYS
Buffy Summers of Sunnydale, California may be the Buffy we know and love, but she’s not the only Buffy. Let’s count ’em down, shall we? First, there’s something creepy and disappointing about the notion of Asylum Buffy. It stems from the sixth season episode “Normal Again,” where demon venom gives her visions that she’s actually a patient in an asylum and her whole life as the Slayer is a delusion. We don’t want that to be true. There’s also the third season’s “Wishverse” timeline, where Cordelia’s wish that Buffy never moved to Sunnydale is granted, Buffy becomes a hardened Slayer in Cleveland, and things get really dark in Sunnydale. Another unwelcome version.
But there are more playful alt-Buffs as well. There are the robot versions, or “Buffybots,” created by Warren and Andrew. There’s the Slayer made to look like Buffy as a decoy, who parties in Rome and returns for a more detailed storyline in the comic. In the episode “Beer Bad,” Xander refers to her as “Cave Slayer” when beer and a little magic turn her into a sort of Neanderthal. Finally, in the first season episode “Nightmares,” everyone’s nightmares come true. Not surprisingly, Buffy’s worst nightmare is becoming a vampire herself, so she becomes one, complete with fangs and ridged eyebrows.
12. SHE’S BASED ON X-MEN’S KITTY PRYDE
Back in 2012, coinciding with the release of his film The Avengers, Whedon admitted that film wasn’t his only major connection to Marvel Comics. He told Wired magazine that X-Men character Kitty Pryde was a major influence on Buffy. Specifically, he said, “Kitty was the mother of Buffy, as much as anybody.”
So let’s take a look at Ms. Pryde and find the similarities. First appearing in 1980, she’s introduced as a teenage girl with extraordinary powers. Sounds Buffy-esque. Upon the emergence of her powers, she’s approached by adults who want to mentor her. Sounds like Buffy and her first Watcher, Merrick. They both had a male friend who was unrequitedly in love with her, they both arguably dated inappropriate older men (Colossus for Pryde, Angel and Spike for Buffy), and they both had a team of teens fighting evil alongside them (New Mutants, Buffy’s Scooby gang). Whedon even had the opportunity to go full circle with Kitty Pryde when he took over the writing of Astonishing X-Men in 2004 and brought her back to the team.
11. SHE HAS SEVERAL CELEBRITY CRUSHES
In the feature film, Buffy tells us her life goals: “All I want to do is graduate from high school, go to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die.” While these days, Slater is a ghostly dead dad on Mr. Robot, back in 1992, he was the absolute bomb, a young-Jack-Nicholson/teen-heartthrob type hot off the heels of films like Heathers and Pump up the Volume. So it makes sense that your average high school cheerleader would have been obsessed with him back then.
In the series, Buffy cites another distinctly ’90s crush while playing a game of “Anywhere but Here” with Willow in the season two episode “The Dark Age,” saying, “I’m on a beach… and Gavin Rossdale’s massaging my feet!” Rossdale, of course, is best known as lead singer of the ’90s British grunge band Bush. And in the Season 8 comic book series, published from 2007-11, she mentions more contemporary obsessions like Daniel Craig and Christian Bale.
10. SHE’S THE ONLY SLAYER TO FALL IN LOVE WITH A VAMPIRE
The line of the Slayer goes way back, all the way to ancient times in Africa when the First Slayer was involuntarily infused with the spirit of a demon. She never hooked up with a vampire. After all, vampires, demons, and other assorted baddies were her mortal enemies. She was the Chosen One, meant to destroy evil. And through the centuries, not a single Slayer hooked up with a vampire.
And then along came our Buffy. She set herself apart from other Slayers in many ways, but one of the most significant differences was that she could see the humanity in some members of the undead, specifically Angel and Spike. Not only did she fall in love with both vampires, but they fell in love with her, and they even had girl-on-dead-guy relations. Unfortunately, though, when she did the deed with Angel, it somehow turned him into the evil Angelus. Whoops?
9. SHE DOESN’T HAVE THE MOST APPEARANCES IN THE BUFFYVERSE
She’s Buffy, she’s the Slayer, so you’d think she would have appeared in more episodes of the television universe we call the Buffyverse than any other character. But it’s not true. There are actually two other characters with more appearances across Buffy and Angel than the Slayer herself: Angel and Willow.
There are a total of 254 episodes across the two shows, 144 for Buffy and 110 for Angel. Angel himself was a major character in the first few seasons of Buffy, so it stands to reason that since he was a major part of that cast, then had his own show, he’s the leader at 167 total episodes. Buffy’s best girlfriend Willow is the only character, along with the heroine, to appear in every episode of Buffy, and then she popped up three times on Angel for a total of 147. Buffy only appeared on screen twice in Angel, leaving her at 146.
8. SHE HAS THREE DIFFERENT BIRTHDAYS
Okay, we know Buffy has a lot of powers and we know that there’s a mystical element to her being the Chosen One. But she’s so mystical that she can actually have three different birthdays. It’s thanks to continuity weirdness, or possibly an internet demon (yup, internet demon), that the exact date of Buffy’s birth is a little fuzzy.
In the eighth episode of the first season, “I Robot, You Jane,” there are two completely different references for her birthday. First, we see a profile of her online that says her birthday is October 24, 1980. Later in that episode, the website shows her birthday as May 6, 1979. But a few seasons later, in the 11th episode of the fourth season, “Doomed,” she says her birthday is “Capricorn, on the cusp of Aquarius.” This seems like the most accurate timeframe, around mid-late January, since this is when her birthday is usually celebrated, and Whedon has later claimed that she was born on January 19, 1981. Plus, it’s thought that the strange birthday discrepancies online in “I Robot, You Jane” could be the work of the demon Moloch, who Willow had accidentally released onto the internet.
7. SHE’S HAD SIX SIGNIFICANT ROMANCES
Buffy’s romantic relationships begin with Pike. No, not Spike, more on him later, but Pike. Played by Luke Perry in the movie, which as we’ve said is not canon, he does squeak into canon thanks to the three-issue “The Origin” comic book series, which weaves events of the movie into the canonical timeline of the series. He was a high school student who initially wasn’t a big fan of Buffy, but they later got close and he helped her take down vamps.
It’s in the series that we meet Angel and things get complicated for our hero. She’s a Vampire Slayer who loves a vampire, and he comes to be the man who takes her virginity. After the drama with Angel, she decides to try non-immortals again with a failed attempt at a relationship with Parker, who just wanted to have a “good time” with her. Then another living man came along in Riley Finn, who she thought was just a regular dude but turned out to be a soldier with the shadowy Initiative organization, and they grew apart. After that came Spike, a punk-rock vampire who Buffy despised at first but later became one of two men (along with Angel) that she ever told she loved. But it wasn’t just men that Buffy “loved,” in a manner of speaking. In the Season 8 comic, she had a brief dalliance with a fellow Slayer named Satsu. They were intimate a couple of times, but Buffy was ultimately unable to reciprocate Satsu’s romantic feelings.
6. SHE HAS 215 KILLS IN FILM AND TV
Starting with a vampire named Robert Berman in the feature film, Buffy kills 215 vampires, demons, assorted monsters, humans and other beings — including a robot — over the course of the movie and TV series. We’ll argue that there’s no more hilarious stake through the heart and subsequent death scene than that of evil henchmen Amilyn, played by Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) in the movie.
Amilyn was one of 15 vampires she offed in the movie, which comprise the entirety of her kill stats for the film. All told, between the movie and TV show, she took out 133 vampires, 68 demons and other monsters, 11 humans, one Native American vengeance spirit in the form of a bear, and one robot. As for the humans, generally, Slayers (like pretty much anybody) are not supposed to kill humans. But Buffy’s human victims were the Knights of Byzantium, who were threatening to kill her sister Dawn, so it wasn’t so bad.
5. SHE’S HAD TEMPORARY ABILITIES
We all know that as the Slayer, Buffy has powers well beyond what any human her size should naturally have. She has super strength, speed and agility, she can heal faster than a normal human can, her reflexes are super sharp and she has some semblance of precognitive abilities. These are powers inherent to every Slayer from the dawn of Slayerdom. But she was known to add on temporary powers above and beyond those from time to time.
She briefly has the power of invisibility, thanks to the Trio. In the season three episode “Earshot,” Buffy slays a demon but its blood infects her with its power of telepathy. It’s fun for her at first, but eventually becomes unbearable, though Angel is able to reverse the infection. In the fourth season’s “Primeval,” Giles casts a temporary spell that combines her powers with his, Willow’s and Xander’s, making her a sort of “super Slayer” to defeat the robo-demon Adam. And in the comic, the universe grants her new powers as a reward for making the world a better place, enhancing her current abilities and adding Superman-like powers including flight, super hearing and telescopic vision. But these powers only last until she destroys the Seed, effectively destroying all magic in the world.
4. SHE’S YOUNGER THAN SHE SEEMS
Buffy goes through a lot in her young life. When we first meet her in the film and TV show, she’s just your average cheerleader type with a gift for unique lingo. She’s voted Prom Princess and Fiesta Queen at her old high school. But things get weird and she finds her calling as the Slayer. She dies twice. A little sister, Dawn, shows up out of nowhere. Her mother dies and she becomes Dawn’s guardian and handles her mom’s estate. And, as it said on her tombstone, “She saved the world a lot.”
So it’s kind of amazing to think that by the time the TV series ends, she’s only 22, based on the January 19, 1981 birthday we mentioned earlier. That’s a time when a young woman would normally be finishing up college, exploring the world and all her options in life. But because of everything she’s already been through at that point, it just seems like she’s got to be in her late twenties. Although we can’t discount part of that having to do with Sarah Michelle Gellar being 26 at the time.
3. SHE’S BEEN BITTEN BY THREE VAMPIRES
In the Buffyverse, for your average human, if you’re bitten by a vampire, it’s not a particularly good thing. The vamp may just be using you for sustenance if you’re lucky, otherwise they’ll drain you and you die. Or, if they deem you worthy, they’ll sire you and turn you into a vampire yourself.
In the first season’s finale, Buffy is bitten by “big bad” the Master, who believes her Slayer blood will free him. He leaves her for dead before Xander resuscitates her and she defeats the villain. Fast forward to the finale of season three, and her bite from Angel is much different. She asks for this one. After Faith shoots him with a poisoned arrow, only the blood of a Slayer can cure him, so she insists that he bite her. This particular bite shows there can be some pleasure involved in a vampire bite. Finally, Dracula himself comes a calling on Buffy’s neck. He’s able to entrance her, allowing him to bite her without a fight and place her under his control.
2. SLAYING ISN’T HER ONLY JOB
Slaying is without a doubt hard work. The hours are long, often stretching late into the night. The labor can be excruciatingly physical. You have to be on call 24/7, as there are no sick days or vacation days. Oh, and the threat of death literally lurks around almost every corner. And yet, somehow, Buffy manages to find time to hold down a few other jobs when the occasion calls for it.
Even though an aptitude test revealed that she should go into law enforcement, waitressing seems to be her fallback. In the first episode of the third season, she’s moved away to L.A. and left slaying behind to work as a waitress. And in the comic, when the Seed’s destruction leaves no need for Slayers, she waitresses at a coffee shop in San Francisco. Similarly, in season six, she infamously takes a job at the creepy fast-food joint, Doublemeat Palace. And in the seventh season, she takes a much more fulfilling job, one that helps her with her Slayer duties: as the high school guidance counselor.
1. SHE’S A TIME TRAVELER
The Season 8 comic series is considered canon and picks up where the TV series left off, as though it were the eighth season of the series. In it, Buffy travels through time to meet a future Slayer named Fray, who was introduced earlier in a separate comic book series of her own. It turns out that there’s some sort of temporal shift in New York City that’s causing a disruption in time, affecting the past, present, and future all at once.
In New York, Buffy suddenly finds herself transported into the future, trading places with a demon Fray had been fighting. Fray thinks the demon simply shape-shifted into the legendary old Slayer, and takes Buffy down. We won’t spoil the whole exciting futuristic plot if you haven’t read the comic, but it involves a return of Dark Willow, flying cars, and Fray being afraid that Buffy returning to her time will destroy Fray’s future time. It’s all…pretty damn cool, actually.
What other fun facts should fans know about Buffy? Let us know in the comments.