Into every generation, a Slayer is born, and if she’s really, really lucky, she’ll have some awesome friends. That was sort-of the premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the horror-comedy-drama series that took fans by storm 20 years ago. Sure, in many ways, it was all about the Chosen One, played to perfection by Sarah Michelle Gellar. In so many different ways, though, BtVS was nothing without its strong supporting cast of characters, the friends and allies that always made sure that Buffy had back up. Willow, Xander, Giles, and all the rest are legends in their own right. The team they formed, the Scooby Gang, will go down in history as one of the best in TV history.
Since we tend to put a lot of emphasis on the slayer herself, though, sometimes we forget about the weird and wacky history behind her BFFs. Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Buffy’s Scooby Gang.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer helped truly launch the careers of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, and David Boreanaz. It also featured dozens of appearances from actors and actresses who would go on to become big stars. So, to say that the casting director for the series had a good eye would probably be an understatement. Need further proof? Before Nicholas Brendon was cast as the lovable if sometimes annoying Xander Harris, the role was offered to another under-the-radar actor: Ryan Reynolds. The future Deadpool star turned the part down, however, because he wasn’t really psyched about playing a high school character because he’d absolutely despised his recent high school experience.
Of course, Brendon ended up doing a fantastic job as Buffy’s BFF, so it wasn’t a big loss. Everything obviously turned out just fine for Reynolds, too – five years after Buffy premiered, he got his own big break as Van Wilder.
It’s not hard to see why Buffy’s main group took up the name of one of television’s other best crime-fighting teams. After all, both BtVS and the various animated incarnations of Scooby-Doo have a lot in common: they both featured wise-cracking teens who fought an endless stream of ghouls and ghastlies (even if the ones that Shaggy, Velma, and the rest of them faced often weren’t real). The shared nickname isn’t the only thing that the two franchises have in common, of course.
Buffy threw out several references to its more light-hearted predecessor throughout the course of the series – Willow had multiple pieces of Scooby-Doo gear, including a lunch box and some t-shirts. Oz drove a van that looked like the Mystery Machine minus the psychedelic paint job. Plus, Sarah Michelle Gellar played Daphne in the oh-so-cheesy early 2000s live-action Scooby-Doo films, and Seth Green played a big role in Scooby-Doo 2.
Before Buffy, Willow, and Xander officially started referring to themselves as the Scooby Gang, they were still an evil-fighting entity – and not necessarily a nameless one, either. In Buffy’s first season, Willow referred to herself and Xander as the “slayerettes,” a reference to the fact that they routinely played backup to the Chosen One. Despite the cutesy and clever play on words, the term didn’t really seem to fit the team that had formed.
That didn’t stop other characters from using it periodically throughout the next few seasons, though. Spike, in particular, used it in a derogatory fashion when referring to Buffy’s friends in the Season 4 episodes “The I in Team” and “The Yoko Factor.” In Season 7, as the potential slayers began to swarm Sunnydale in preparation for the big battle, they too were referred to as slayerettes. In that case, the name did make a bit more sense.
While it seems like a no-brainer to think of Buffy’s friends as the Scooby Gang, the name didn’t materialize overnight. It wasn’t until almost midway through Season 2, in the two-part episode “What’s My Line,” that Xander first referred to himself and his buddies as the Scooby Gang while they were in the midst of running away from the Order of Taraka. At the time, it probably just seemed like another clever throwaway pop culture reference, but the name stuck – both for fans and for Buffy’s writers. Throughout the next five seasons, it became a part of the BtVS lexicon. A group discussion about some impending evil was dubbed a “Scooby meeting.” Sometimes, they just called themselves the Scoobies.
Regardless of how it was communicated, the sentiment was clear: even if it took them a while to find it, the name was perfect for the team. Nowadays, it’s hard to think of them as anything else.
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer first premiered in 1997, the series really centered around four characters: our titular heroine, her Watcher, Giles, and her two best friends, Willow and Xander. Sure, Angel and Cordelia were around, but they weren’t an essential part of Buffy’s team – at least, not yet. While the Scooby Gang in its original incarnation really just included the “core four” BtVS characters, the group did grow to include plenty of other key players.
At varying times, Oz, Anya, Riley, Tara, Dawn, and even Andrew were considered to be part of the Scooby club. Even on-again, off-again members like Jenny Calendar and foes-turned-friends like Faith were eventually incorporated into the fray. While it might not seem quite as special when so many people are involved, there’s no question that the Scooby Gang expanded mightily during its prime, and that was definitely bad news for the Hellmouth’s bad guys.
Buffy’s love life was certainly complicated, and at times, so were her alliances. That is a large part of the reason why some fans have a hard time conceding the idea that Angel and Spike were ever truly official members of the Scooby Gang. In fact, on more than one occasion, fans have debated what the criteria was for truly being a Scoobie. Sure, Buffy’s exes fought the big bads right alongside her and the gang. They also, on occasion, were just as much a threat to her as anyone else in Sunnydale.
Technically, it seems like both soul-having vampires probably should be considered official members of the club, since they were willing to lay their lives down for the great good – at least, for the time that they were around and not being evil. Still, the arguments against giving them the official title do make a lot of sense. It's really up to you who you consider to be a true Scoobie.
Back in Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Watchers Council felt almost as dangerous as some of the major villains that our heroes had faced. They willingly put Buffy’s life in danger just because of some archaic ritual test. At varying times, they also tried to basically put Faith in Slayer jail twice – once when Buffy was trapped inside her body – and more or less proved to be more trouble than they were worth when it came to fighting evil.
So it might come as a surprise that in the Buffy comic series, the Scooby Gang teamed up with the Watchers Council in a big way. Of course, this was after their headquarters had been destroyed, along with many of their most nefarious members and methods. These days, in comic-land, the Scooby Gang has made the Council into an international organization with a single main purpose: to find and train as many potential slayers as possible (and, you know, not try to kill them when they turn 18).
The original Scooby Gang had the Mystery Machine, one of the coolest modes of transportation/evil-fighting ever created. On the Hellmouth, Buffy’s gang had to get a bit more creative when it came to where they did most of their strategizing (and socializing). Throughout seven seasons of BtVS, the Scoobies had numerous hangouts, but only a few really stuck as clear headquarters for their operations. The first, of course, was the Sunnydale High School library, which was tragically blown to bits in the Season 3 finale.
After that, the Gang mostly assembled at Giles’ apartment until he bought the Magic Box in Season 4. Both of those locations served as rallying points for the crew for years – until the former Watcher moved to London and Willow exploded his previous place of employment during her “I’m gonna end the whole world” phase at the end of Season 6. After that, there was only one place left for Buffy and her friends to go: the Slayer’s house. Once the Hellmouth swallowed the Summers’ residence, and all of the gang’s previous hangouts, they went global, and now the Scooby Gang has HQs in several countries, including Scotland, San Francisco and Tibet.
All told, there were 144 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which really isn’t bad for a niche series on a lesser-known network, right? Between the first hour and the last, we saw dozens of characters cross our screens, and only a key few stuck around for the long haul. Among them were Buffy (obviously), and Willow, and they were actually the only two characters in the whole series that showed up in every single episode. Xander came in a very close second, as far as appearances are concerned: he was in 143 episodes, missing just one – Season 7’s moody, creepy “Conversations With Dead People.”
Furthermore, when it comes to appearances in both Buffy and Angel, Willow was still close to coming in on top, with 147 episodes total (the broody vampire guy was the winner, with 167). In other words, the Slayer and her Scoobies definitely reigned supreme when it comes to screentime on BtVS.
Faith Lehane was in many ways the anti-Buffy, but we all know opposites attract. Joss Whedon didn’t initially envision any lesbian subtext between the two slayers when he brought the Bostonian on board as a supporting character in Season 3. However, countless scenes of the two sweating it out together on the battlefield and the dance floor definitely gave some fans the idea that maybe there was something more between them.
Over time, though, the vibes between the two of them were undeniable, according to Buffy writer Douglas Petrie. Eliza Dushku, who played Faith, also confirmed that she was pretty sure her character was bisexual, and that she probably also had a thing for her ally-turned-nemesis-turned-ally. Fans of the comic know that Buffy recently had a relationship with a woman, so if they’re both “kinda gay,” to steal a term from Willow, there may still be hope yet for shippers of the Buffy/Faith pairing.
Whether you absolutely hate Dawn or you feel like she sometimes gets more flack than she deserves, there’s no denying that she got into some serious trouble during her time on Buffy. That was particularly true of her burgeoning love life, since both of the main objects of her affection ended up being sorta deadly. Still, that’s nothing when compared to what she’s been up to in the post-Season 7 Buffy comics.
Dawn has dealt with becoming a giantess, which came about as a result of sleeping with her mystical college boyfriend, Kenny. As if that weren’t weird enough, she also started dating Xander. Yes, that Xander. The two eventually bonded over her dismay at the whole giant thing, and her childhood crush on her sister’s best friend eventually materialized into a real, actual relationship. They even moved in together for a while, though they eventually – and thankfully – went their separate ways.
Willow’s first boyfriend started helping out the Scooby Gang almost immediately after meeting her, mostly because he seemed pretty nonplussed about the whole “living on a Hellmouth” thing. Before long, he seemed like an essential member of the team; he did research and offered up transportation, while they helped him lock himself up during the full moon so his werewolf-self didn’t kill anyone. Then, in Season 4, Oz suddenly left Willow, Sunnydale, and the Scoobies behind after he realized he couldn’t control his lycanthropic tendencies.
The abrupt departure took fans by surprise, but it didn’t come out of nowhere for the actor who played him. Seth Green asked to be released from his full-time gig on Buffy so he could have more time to focus on his film career. According to the actor, he felt like Oz fit more as a recurring character – but unfortunately, we never got the chance to see if he was right, since he only appeared in two more episodes after his initial departure. Green’s movie career went okay, by the way, but he really found his groove back on TV with roles on Family Guy and Greg the Bunny, and as the creator and star of Robot Chicken.
Some fans love Spike and think he’s the best thing that ever happened to Buffy and the Scooby Gang. Others despise him and don’t think he deserves to be anywhere near the slayer or her friends. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, it’s hard to deny that he left one of the most lasting impressions of any character in the entire series – and that’s thanks in large part to James Marsters’ dynamic performance.
So it may come as a bit of a shock that anyone else was even considered for the part, let alone another actor who ended up playing a different villain. K. Todd Freeman originally put himself on the Buffy casting team’s radar when he auditioned for the role of Spike. They obviously didn’t choose him for that particular part, but kept him in mind when they were devising the character of Mr. Trick for Season 3.
On Buffy, there were a few givens. One was that, if you were in the Scooby Gang, you were probably going to end up killing something or other before your days on the Hellmouth were over. While Buffy clearly did the lion’s share of the slaying, plenty of the Scoobies racked up some pretty impressive kill counts over the years, considering that they were basically civilians. Even though they weren’t quite as supernaturally strong and coordinated, Willow, Giles, Xander, Anya and most of the rest of the Gang managed to slay at least a handful of baddies.
One Scooby Gang member clearly was the least battle-focused, though, and that’s Tara. During her tenure on BtVS, she logged just a single on-screen kill – a demon who was trying to strangle Willow in the Season 6 opener, "Bargaining". Of course, that’s not a big surprise, since Tara was always more of a lover than a fighter. She did get some love from her fellow Scoobies for her ax-ing, though. Hey, it's all about quality, not quantity, right?
Xander Harris was a central figure in the Scooby Gang, and he certainly had his ups and downs. More often than not, he was a truly loyal and wonderful friend, though there were certainly times where he was a completely selfish and immature jerk. Of course, the same can be said of most teenagers, so at the very least he was pretty realistic.
He was also, in many ways, based on Buffy creator Joss Whedon. In the DVD audio commentary for the series’ first episode, “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” the writer-director said that Xander, with his non-stop wittiness and verbosity, was the character he was “most like” in high school. Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander, also caught on to the fact that his character was based on Whedon because the character had a tendency – especially in the earlier episodes – to get many of the best lines. No word yet on whether Whedon also had a tendency to date praying mantises and vengeance demons in his teenage years.
Who’s your favorite member of Buffy’s Scooby Gang? Let us know in the comments!