It may seem unfair to compare and contrast the groundbreaking Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the freshman The Vampire Diaries' spin-off, Legacies. After all Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran for 7 seasons, is considered a cultural phenomenon, a cult classic, and a trailblazer due to its strong female lead.
Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, famously said that he had grown, "so tired of slasher film cliches, especially the dumb, oversexed blond stumbling into a dark place to have sex with a boyfriend, only to be killed. I began thinking that I would love to see a scene where a ditsy blond walks into a dark alley, a monster attacks her and she kicks its ass." How can Legacies compare to such an iconic show?
Legacies is the second spin-off of The Vampire Diaries. In it, we follow the children of important characters from The Vampire Diaries and The Originals.
Though promising, one season has been released so far. For that reason, we will primarily be looking at the first seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
10 Similar: Setting
Both shows start in a high school setting. Our main characters, Buffy and Hope, are 16 and 17 respectively. While Buffy is new to this high school, Hope has grown up at her school. However, the struggles they face are similar. While recognizing that they are different than their peers, they want acceptance and to be more "normal."
In addition, both of the schools are in a town that has its own supernatural connection. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is in Sunnydale, the Hellmouth, a gateway for demons to enter Earth.
Legacies takes place in Mystic Falls, the small town where The Vampire Diaries took place. Mystic Falls has a long history with the supernatural. Even Hope's father, one of the original vampires, lived there. Though it has a small town charm, its history is much darker and deeper. The school they attend is full of magic.
9 Different: The Tone
While Legacies does have a much lighter tone than its predecessors, The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, it still is darker than the first couple seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This may be due to the previous shows casting a shadow over Legacies. As viewers, we know that Hope suffered extreme tragedy and is learning to cope with life and living. This is apparent from the pilot episode.
To contrast, Buffy is excited to be at a new school and meet new people. She swaps trendy advice with the resident mean girls and finds good friends in Willow and Xander. Although it's true that Buffy the Vampire Slayer's tone does change, especially in Season 6, it starts out light with loads of humor.
8 Similar: Main Protagonist's Journey
Buffy and Hope are the only one of their kind. Buffy is the chosen one, the only vampire slayer (until she dies, of course, and another slayer awakens). Hope is the only triad: a vampire, werewolf, and witch. Buffy knows her quest but, like most classic protagonists on a hero's journey, struggles to accept it. On the other hand, Hope suspects that she has a quest but doesn't understand her purpose until the last episode. Wrecked with guilt through much of the season, Hope wants to prove that she is worthy of the sacrifice that her family made for her.
In addition, Buffy and Hope are strong female leads. While they have supernatural strength, they also have strong personalities and morals. They both defend others, even if it could mean their own deaths. They care about others and consider it a duty to help and protect those incapable of protecting themselves.
7 Different: The Dialogue
Joss Whedon was praised for his use of witty, smart dialogue in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was another aspect that set his show apart. Due to the praise, Joss Whedon actually challenged himself to do an episode where there was no dialogue, Season 4's Hush. He succeeded in this episode as well, proving that while the dialogue was great, the show's success was due to more than just all the clever words.
The dialogue in Legacies doesn't stand out as much as the dialogue in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While it has a little lighter tone than the dialogue in The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, it is still dramatic. The humor and wit are mainly missing. The focus is on the mythology of The Vampire Diaries universe, rather than witty teen dialogue.
6 Similar: Monster of the Week
In Season 1, Legacies uses a monster of the week story-telling device. We have a dragon, a unicorn pooping mind-altering slugs, a necromancer, and more. Each monster does have the same goal: Retrieve the keys to release the Malivore. While they are one-off monsters, they are connected to a larger issue.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer practices this same strategy. Each episode had a monster of the week and, for the most part, the conflict was resolved by the end of the show. Also, we have monsters that are connected to the big bad, the Master. This, of course, changes in the later seasons, where we have stretches of episodes revolving around a solitary antagonist.
5 Different: The Scoobies
Though Buffy was the heroine of the show, she had her buddies - nicknamed the Scoobies or the Scooby Gang - help out frequently. At first, the Scoobies didn't possess supernatural abilities, but that changes throughout the show. Perhaps one of the Scoobies' strongest powers is to hold Buffy accountable. In the show, Spike (a vampire) tells Buffy that what kept her alive longer than the other slayers is her connections to others. The Scoobies may not be the title characters, but they are just as important to the show.
Hope doesn't want friends or a team to help her, besides Alaric, but she does get a team. Most of the members are supernatural beings. Hope acts primarily as a solo agent. She doesn't listen or consider their advice, thinking that she knows best. Buffy's friends feel uniquely themselves. We have yet to see all the members of Hope's team accomplish the same.
4 Similar: Main Protagonist Becomes an Orphan (basically)
Many shows and books with a heroic child protagonist willing to risk or sacrifice their lives in order to save others, feature orphans (think Harry Potter). They aren't held back by parental love and aren't regarded as children. In Legacies, Alaric is okay with Hope risking her life but not his own young children (Lizzie and Josie), who are the same age.
Legacies begins two years after Hope lost her mother, father, and uncle. Partly due to her grief, she both isolates herself and risks her life to save others. At the end of the season, she sacrifices her life to save others. Sadly, they won't remember the sacrifice due to the Malivore erasing the memories others have of magical beings. Hope, as a triad, is a magical being.
Buffy doesn't start out as an orphan. She has a loving mother and a mostly absent father. In one of the most heartbreaking episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "The Body," Buffy loses her mother. The episode shows us how each character reacts to the loss. Joyce, Buffy's mom, didn't die from anything supernatural, making Buffy feel truly helpless. Buffy's father isn't really ever there to be a parental figure. Even if this only happens in Season 5, Buffy keeps her vampire business a secret from Joyce. Consequently, the hero has to act on her own most of the time.
3 Different: Mirrors and Metaphors
Buffy the Vampire Slayer uses many different creative writing techniques like mirrors or metaphors. Its text was layered with a lot of meaning ripe for analytical study. Passion of the Nerd, a vlogger, does a great time analyzing such techniques. In his series, he identifies Cordelia as Buffy's mirror, serving as Buffy's identity prior to becoming a slayer. The fact that vloggers, college professors, and fans can analyze Buffy the Vampire Slayer in such depth and for so many years, shows how well the use of mirrors, metaphors, and other creative writing tools worked.
Legacies is a younger show, with only one season to its name. So far, there hasn't been much creative writing strategies. This could change in the future.
2 Similar: Enigmatic Boyfriend
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel presents a great mystery. Along with Giles, Angel is the only person who knows Buffy is the slayer when she arrives in Sunnydale. Angel gives her a cross necklace for further protection. It isn't until he stays at her house that Buffy finds out what he is a vampire. Later, we find out that Angel is a unique vampire since he has a soul. When the show was new, Angel's reveal was a huge deal.
Whereas Angel might have been hiding his true nature intentionally from Buffy, Landon of Legacies doesn't know his true nature. He doesn't know his past or his parents. Later, due to a drastic death, we learn that Landon is a supernatural being. He is a phoenix, rising from the ashes, from death. In addition, we find out that Landon's father is the Malivore. Matter of fact, Landon's parentage makes Hope's family look like a golden family.
1 Different: A School of Supernatural Training
Alaric and Caroline created the "Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted" so that children like Lizzie and Josie would have a safe place to live and learn about their abilities. The idea was to provide a place where they could become stronger and better citizens to each other and to humans. Hope has been learning and improving her abilities since she was a child. She also has the support of her family and the other students with magical abilities. Although Hope believes herself to be alone, she is surrounded by other students who relate to what she is going through.
On the flip side, Buffy doesn't even know that she is the slayer until she is a teenager. She learns that most slayers don't live long lives. While she has Giles to provide one-on-one training, she is alone. Rather than being eased into her gift, Buffy was submerged in the icy water instantly. Later, she does meet other slayers (like Faith) that help her feel less alone, but she remains separate. She may have benefited from learning more about her gift; however, it would have limited her more ordinary experiences.
We'll see what Season 2 has in store for Hope in Legacies. It could be that there will be even more connections with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.