Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the most popular and influential television series ever created. The show helped change the way TV is both consumed and created, and the design of the show highly influenced the golden age of Tv - which is all about the long story arcs that Buffy helped popularize.
The show also helped to launch the careers of show creator Joss Whedon as well as many of his actors, such as Alyson Hannigan and David Boreanaz. These people all went from being very obscure to being household names that would later be attached to some of the most popular creative properties in the world.
Unfortunately, for every success story about actors’ careers after Buffy, there are several stories about failure. Some actors ended up being typecast, making it difficult for them to play characters that were quite different from their characters on Buffy. Some actors simply chose a different creative path than acting, while one actor’s life got derailed by personal problems.
If you’re curious about which actors’ careers got a fatal stake in the heart after the show, you don’t need to consult the Magic Box. Just keep scrolling to check out 15 Buffy The Vampire Slayers Stars Whose Careers Flopped After the Show!
15 Amber Benson - Tara
Amber Benson played Tara, who is so beloved that no introduction is really necessary. She was the fellow witch and great love of Willow’s life who was killed by a stray bullet in season six. Buffy fans mourned one of their favorite characters, but the unfortunate truth is that Benson never found a bigger role than as Tara.
Compared to some other Buffy actors, Benson has had a little more success finding roles. However, all of them have been small roles, and some are a bit embarrassing, such as “Space Chicken 2” and Tinkerbell. However, we are not immune to Benson’s great charm and talent, and we’re fully confident that bigger and better roles are around the corner for our beloved Tara!
14 Kristine Sutherland - Joyce Summers
On Buffy, actor Kristine Sutherland played the role of Joyce Summers. She was the emotional rock of Buffy’s life, and she helped put Buffy back together whenever the Slayer was falling apart. She is a gifted actress, too, showing how easily she can transition from maternal care with Buffy to lowkey flirting with Giles. This is what made it so tragic when her character died. However, her regular acting career seemed destined to die, too!
Buffy was the last series that Sutherland was a regular in. After the show ended, she appeared very sporadically in several different shows, including One Life to Live and The Following. Interestingly, she also did voice work for Grand Theft Auto V.
Overall, she’s had an interesting career, but it's undeniable that she peaked during Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
13 Nicholas Brendon - Xander
As Xander Harris, actor Nicholas Brendon was always the heart of the Scoobies. Later episodes made that explicit, noting Xander’s ability to see things in various characters that they could not see themselves. This is why Caleb ripped one of his eyes out, but looking back, he may as well have ripped out the actor’s future, too.
After Buffy ended, Brendon had a modest run on shows like Kitchen Confidential, and he had some notable cameos on the popular show Criminal Minds. But roles as a series regular or leading man seemed to dwindle right after Buffy ended.
Coupled with the actor’s unfortunate substance abuse problems and run-ins with the law, you’re pretty unlikely to see Brendon on the TV or big screen anytime soon.
12 Juliet Landau - Drusilla
When it comes to Buffy, everyone remembers big, bad vampire Spike. However, Spike was initially a package deal, and he terrorized Sunnydale and the entire world with his love Drusilla, played by Juliet Landau. Eventually, Drusilla leaves Sunnydale, and it looks like she took Landau’s career when she did!
She was on quite a few episodes of Buffy and then a few on the spin-off series Angel. Almost right after that, though, she disappeared from being onscreen so she could work more behind the scenes. Landau’s been a voice actor in everything from Justice League Unlimited to Ben 10, but it’s become almost impossible to find her in many live-action roles.
Landau is meant for better things than voice acting in cartoons and video games and hope she’s got a major return brewing.
11 Robia LaMorte - Jenny Calendar
Robia LaMorte played the character of Jenny Calendar on Buffy. It was a short-lived role, but she ended up changing the show in several ways. In her life, she helped shepherd Willow’s journey into magic and helped plan to restore Angel’s soul. However, she ended up being killed by Angelus. When Jenny died, so did LaMorte's rising career.
LaMorte was done with Buffy the Vampire Slayer by 1998, with her character clearly and definitively killed. However, she seemed to be done with acting altogether after 2005. She had a few appearances on Rescue 77 and made brief appearances in shows like 18 Wheels of Justice and CSI. However, she eventually retired from acting to practice as a Christian Counselor - a far cry from the “techno-pagan” she played on Buffy!
10 Mercedes McNab - Harmony
Within the Buffyverse, it often seemed like Harmony, played by Mercedes McNab, couldn’t die. At first, it looks like a vampire gets her in the season three finale. Later, we find out that she’s become a vampire herself, but she escapes Sunnydale without getting staked. Later, she even works alongside Angel, but manages to bail before he calls down Hell on Earth. However, even her luck had to run out eventually!
Once Buffy and Angel had ended, there wasn’t a lot out there for McNab. She had bit roles in assorted movies, TV shows, and TV movies, but none of them were very memorable. McNab may agree because, as of this writing, her last role was back in 2011 in the movie Glass Heels.
When you think about the fact that McNab actually auditioned for the role of Buffy, it’s crazy to think how her career may have gone differently.
9 Elizabeth Ann Allen - Amy
On Buffy, Amy was another character that had a lot of impact despite very little screen time. Played by Elizabeth Ann Allen, she was a would-be witch at Sunnydale High, and she eventually transforms herself into a rat to escape being burned at the stake. Willow rescues her and, after many years, is able to make her human again. At that point, though, Amy is a bad influence while Willow struggles with an addiction to magic.
It’s tough for us to see Willow struggle, which is one of the reasons why some fans dislike Amy so much. Those fans may be happy to see that her post-rat, post-Buffy career mostly fizzled: she appeared in small roles in one movie and two TV shows before seemingly giving up on acting altogether. Her last performance was on Close to Home back in 2007.
8 Hinton Battle - Sweet
You may not immediately recognize Hinton Battle by his name or face. However, he was the antagonist in one of the best episodes of Buffy ever made, “Once More With Feeling”. As the demon Sweet, he helped Sunnydale become a musical from Hell, complete with people singing and dancing until they died. Afterwards, he disappears from our reality, which is something the actor also managed to do when it comes to TV!
Hinton Battle actually only starred in two roles after Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One of them was a single appearance in the TV series Smash and the other was as Wayne in the hit movie Dreamgirls. However, he has kept busy on and off Broadway during this time, meaning that the spirit of Sweet lives on - just not on your screens.
7 Iyari Limon - Kennedy
Most of the characters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer are beloved by the fans. However, one character earned a lot of hatred in that final season. Iyari Limon played Kennedy, a Potential Slayer who ended up in a relationship with Willow. For fans who mourned the late, great Tara, it was tough to like this new lover for their favorite witch.
After the show ended, it was similarly difficult for Limon to find her place in the world of TV. Following Buffy, her most regular role was playing in two episodes of The Brothers Garcia. Aside from that, her career seems to have been a shotgun approach of small roles on assorted series, and she eventually transitioned to mostly providing voice work for video games like Dead Space and L.A. Noire. Maybe she’ll find her onscreen “potential” once again!
6 George Hertzberg - Adam
Looking back, season four is one of the most overlooked seasons of Buffy. Sure, it doesn’t have the sizzle of season three or the jaunty confidence of season five, but it gave us some low-key great episodes. Part of the reason it was good was the villainous Adam, played by George Hertzberg,
Unfortunately, Hertzberg hasn't had a screen credit since 2008, when he appeared in an episode of Friday Night Lights and had a minor role in Taken. Buffy was the only regular role he ever had, and afterwards, he only had one episode appearances in in four shows over the next eight years. Fortunately, he was a very memorable villain in Buffy, and helped usher in an interesting storyline about the intersection between science, magic, and the military.
5 Dean Butler - Hank Summers
Dean Butler played Buffy’s absentee father, Hank Summers. Fittingly for an absentee father, he was only in a handful of episodes throughout the series. A large part of Buffy’s narrative arc is discovering who she and her mother are now that he is no longer part of their lives. As it turns out, Butler is no longer part of Hollywood!
After Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended, Butler only had two more performances. He had a bit role in JAG (the series that eventually spawned NCIS) and a small role in the movie Chemical Wedding. That movie came out back in 2008, and Butler has been absent from TV and films since then. It’s an odd career end for someone who brought such an influential Buffy character to life.
4 Paige Moss - Veruca
Many fans still have mixed feelings about the character of Oz (played by Seth Green). As our favorite ironically-detached werewolf and Willow’s lover, he’s a really great guy. However, he left the relationship after a messy supernatural affair with werewolf Veruca (played by Paige Moss). Fans love to hate her character, so they might cheer at what happened next.
Paige Moss appeared in only three episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Afterwards, she had a smattering of bit roles, eventually landing regular work on the TV series It’s All Relative. However, that show was doomed to only last one season, and her career never fully recovered. Moss' last live-action role was back in 2005, while her last contribution as a voice actor was in 2008.
3 Clara Bryant - Molly
There was a kind of “meta” aspect to the Potential Slayers. The show’s finale was all about Buffy passing on her Slayer power to these Potentials all across the world. Many were hoping that the show would help to kickstart the careers of young actors like Clara Bryant, who played the Potential Slayer Molly.
Her character ended up being killed by Caleb. Unfortunately, he seemed to take her acting future with him. After Buffy ended, Bryant only had three more appearances as an actor: two TV series and a TV movie. These were all bit parts, though, and her last performance was back in 2007. While she showed great potential as a Slayer, it turns out Hollywood discovered what she could truly do.
2 Robin Sachs - Ethan Rayne
One of the most underrated Buffy villains was Ethan Rayne (played by Robin Sachs). While he was never a season’s Big Bad, he always caused mischief and mayhem when he showed up. As an added bonus, he served as a reminder of Giles’ dark past, back when he went by the name “Ripper.”
When Buffy was over, though, it seemed like Robin Sachs used some of Ethan Rayne’s dark magic to make his career disappear. After the show, he had a few live-action performances (the highest profile ones being small roles in Star Trek: Voyager and Ocean’s Eleven) before pivoting almost entirely to video game and cartoon voice acting. His last live-action appearance was on NCIS, way back in 2012!
Here’s hoping he has a magical ace or two up his sleeve.
1 Sarah Michelle Gellar - Buffy Summers
Sarah Michelle Gellar’s performance as Buffy was nothing short of jaw-dropping. She could make viewers cry with the emotion of tragic scenes and laugh hysterically with sarcastic humor in others. Out of all of the actors, she was the one who everyone was certain had a bright future. However, that future ended up being cursed.
After the show, she had some film success with The Grudge and the sequel to her first Scooby-Doo movie. However, a major film career didn’t seem to be happening, so she returned to TV. And unfortunately, every major role she landed was on a show doomed to quick cancellation - including The Ringer and The Crazy Ones. Recently Gellar starred in the pilot for a Cruel Intentions sequel TV show that never got picked up to series.
Who's your favorite actor on Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Let us know in the comments!