Buffy Summers

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For other uses, see Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Buffy Summers
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel character
Buffy as portrayed by Sarah Michelle Gellar, the actress most associated with the role.
First appearance Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Film, 1992)
Created by Joss Whedon
Portrayed by Kristy Swanson (Film)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (TV Series)
Giselle Loren (Video Games)
Kelly Albanese (Motion Comics)
Information
Affiliation Scooby Gang
Watchers' Council
Sunnydale High Administration
Classification Slayer
Notable powers Supernatural strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, and rapid healing.
Enhanced intuition, prophetic dreams.

Buffy Anne Summers is a fictional character from Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise. She first appeared in the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer before going on to appear in the television series and subsequent comic book of the same name. The character has also appeared in the spin-off series Angel, as well as numerous non-canon expanded universe material, such as novels, comics, and video games. Buffy was portrayed by Kristy Swanson in the film, and later by Sarah Michelle Gellar in the television series. Giselle Loren has lent her voice to the character in both the Buffy video games and an unproduced animated series, while Kelly Albanese lent her voice to the character in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight motion comics.

Buffy is the protagonist of the story, and the series depicts her life and adventures as she grows up. In the film, she is a high school cheerleader who learns that she is the Slayer (a Chosen One gifted with the strength and skills to fight vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness). The television series shows Buffy carrying out her destiny in a small town built atop a portal to hell (Hellmouth), surrounded by a group of friends and family who support her in her mission. In the comic book continuation, she is a young woman who has accepted her duties and is now responsible for training others like her.

Buffy was created to subvert the stereotypical female horror film victim; Whedon wanted to create a strong female cultural icon. In 2004, Buffy was ranked at number 13 in Bravo's list of The 100 Greatest TV Characters.[1][2] In June 2010, Entertainment Weekly ranked her third in its list of the 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years.[3] AOL named her the sixth Most Memorable Female TV Character.[4] She was ranked at No. 5 in AfterEllen.com's Top 50 Favorite Female TV Characters.[5]

Appearances[edit]

Film[edit]

The character of Buffy first appears in the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, played by Kristy Swanson. The film, written by Joss Whedon, depicts Buffy as a shallow high school cheerleader who is informed by a man named Merrick (Donald Sutherland) that she has been chosen by fate to battle the undead. Buffy reluctantly undergoes training in her abilities by Merrick, and as her responsibility as the Slayer causes her to become alienated from her valley girl peers, she finds friendship and romance with fellow outcast Pike (Luke Perry). Merrick eventually comes to respect Buffy's rebellious nature, and she defeats vampire king Lothos (Rutger Hauer) by relying on her own contemporary style as opposed to traditional Slayer conventions.[6] Although this film is not in continuity with the later television series, in 1999, author Christopher Golden adapted Joss Whedon's original script into a comic book entitled "The Origin", which Whedon later confirmed to be "pretty much" canonical.[7][8]

On May 25, 2009, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo Entertainment would be working with Fran Rubel Kuzui and Kazi Kuzui on a relaunch of the Buffy series for the big screen. The series would not be a sequel or prequel to the existing movie or television franchise and Joss Whedon will have no involvement in the project. None of the cast or original characters from the television series will be featured.[9] Television series executive producer Marti Noxon later reflected that this story might have been produced by the studio in order to frighten Joss into taking reins of the project.[10] Studio interest in the project has continued, however. A script was rejected in 2011.[11]

Television[edit]

Buffy returned in Joss Whedon's television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this time played by Sarah Michelle Gellar for all of the show's 144 episodes. In season one (1997), Buffy begins to accept the responsibilities and dangers of her calling as the Slayer after moving to the small California town of Sunnydale. She becomes best friends with Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) and Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), and meets her new Watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head).[12] Together, they form the Scooby Gang, and work together to battle various supernatural occurrences which plague Sunnydale High. In the season finale, Buffy battles the villain known as the Master (Mark Metcalf), and is drowned in the process. She is resuscitated by Xander and rises to defeat the vampire.[13] In the show's second season (1997–1998), Buffy continues to come to terms with her destiny, finds forbidden love with benevolent vampire Angel (David Boreanaz), and clashes with new villains Spike (James Marsters) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau). In the episode "Surprise", Buffy loses her virginity to Angel, an event which triggers the loss of his soul and unleashes his sadistic alter-ego, Angelus.[14] Angelus proceeds to subject the characters to mental and physical torture for the remainder of the season. In the final episode of season two, Buffy is forced to reveal her identity as the Slayer to her mother (Kristine Sutherland), and send the newly good Angel to hell in order to save the world. She then leaves Sunnydale for Los Angeles in the hopes of escaping her life as the Slayer.[15] Season three (1998–1999) sees Buffy reconnect to her calling, her friends, and her family after her departure, as well as make difficult life decisions regarding her relationship with the resurrected Angel. She must also deal with the introduction of rebellious new Slayer Faith (Eliza Dushku), who becomes increasingly destructive and disloyal over the course of the season. In the season finale, Buffy stabs Faith in an attempt to save Angel's life, and leads her classmates into a climactic battle against the demonic Mayor of Sunnydale (Harry Groener). Angel then leaves Sunnydale in hopes that Buffy can have a more normal life without him.[16]

In the fourth season (1999–2000), Buffy balances her Slayer duties with her new life as a college student at UC Sunnydale. She experiences some difficulty adjusting to college life, and becomes increasingly disconnected from her friends, who all seem to be moving in different directions. Buffy eventually finds a new love interest in the form of Riley Finn (Marc Blucas), a soldier in the demon-hunting government task force known as the Initiative. She briefly joins forces with Riley's team, until they discover one of the Initiative's experiments, Adam (George Hertzberg), is creating an army of demon-human hybrids.[17] Buffy literally unites with her friends to defeat Adam in a spell which invokes the power of the First Slayer.[17] During Buffy season four, Buffy also appears in the first season of spin-off series Angel (1999–2000), guest starring in the episodes "I Will Remember You" and "Sanctuary". In season five (2000–2001), Buffy battles the hell-goddess Glory (Clare Kramer), and fully embraces her destiny for the first time. A younger sister named Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) mysteriously appears in Buffy's household, her existence having been seamlessly integrated with memories of the other characters. Buffy suffers emotional turmoil throughout this season, including the realization Dawn is not actually her sister,[18] the deterioration of her relationship with Riley,[19] the discovery that Spike has become obsessed with her,[20] and her mother's death from a brain aneurysm.[21] While on a quest to learn more about her nature as the Slayer, Buffy is told "death is her gift,[22] a message she has difficulty understanding until the episode "The Gift", in which she sacrifices herself to save Dawn and the world by diving into Glory's interdimensional portal and closing it.[23]

Season six (2001–2002) depicts Buffy's struggle with depression after her friends, believing she was trapped in a Hell dimension, performed a spell to bring her back from the dead; however, she was actually in Heaven, and feels great loss after being ripped out. Forced to take a mundane and degrading job slinging burgers at the Doublemeat Palace after realizing her family were in financial ruin, she sinks into a deep depression amid feelings of self-loathing, embarking on a violent sexual relationship with the vampire Spike which leaves neither satisfied and spawns dire consequences for the both of them. As the season draws to a close, Buffy is forced to battle her best friend when Willow becomes psychotic with dark magics after the human, Warren (Adam Busch) shoots and kills Willow's girlfriend Tara (Amber Benson) and wounds Buffy in the process. Willow then tries to destroy the world to end all suffering, although Xander gets through to her in the end. Buffy then promises to change her self-destructive behavior in order to be there for her sister. In the final season of the show (2002–2003), things start to come around for Buffy when Principal Robin Wood (D. B. Woodside) hires her as a school counselor for the newly rebuilt Sunnydale High School and she has repaired her relationships with Dawn and her friends. However, she is also confronted with the threat of the First Evil and becomes a reluctant leader to the Potential Slayers, who are initially respectful of her, but become increasingly more alienated by her tactics and decisions throughout the season. She unexpectedly becomes emotionally close with Spike, who has sought out his soul in an effort to prove himself to her. In the show's final episode "Chosen", Buffy shares her power with her fellow Slayers before leading them into an epic battle against an army of Turok-Han vampires. She also confesses her love to a disbelieving Spike before he sacrifices himself to save the world; as he dies, Buffy escapes Sunnydale's destruction with the surviving characters.[24] Following the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the character maintains a presence in the fifth season of Angel (2003–2004), but does not appear onscreen. In the episode "The Girl in Question", Angel and a resurrected Spike travel to Rome to find her, where they learn she is apparently now dating the Immortal.[25] Sarah Michelle Gellar was approached to appear as Buffy in Angel's one hundredth episode, but declined, so the character of Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) was used instead. She was asked to appear in the second to last episode of the series, "Power Play", but had to decline due to outside conflicts.[26]

Between 2001 and 2004, Joss Whedon and Jeph Loeb developed a 4-minute pilot episode for Buffy the Animated Series, which was set during the show's first season. Had the series been picked up by a network, the series would have focused upon Buffy (voiced by Giselle Loren) in more high-school adventures. Following a 2008 leak of the pilot to YouTube, Loeb expressed some hope the series may be resurrected in some form.[27]

Literature[edit]

Buffy appears in literature such as the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight comic book series and various spin-offs. Art by Jo Chen.

As the main character of the franchise, Buffy appears in almost all Buffy the Vampire Slayer literature. This includes a Dark Horse ongoing comic book and a series of novels. Buffy's debut into literature came in the comic Dark Horse Presents 1998 Annual on August 26, 1998,[28] while her first prose appearance was in Halloween Rain by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder on October 5, 1998.[29] Most of these stories occur between episodes and seasons of the television series, however, some are set outside the timeline of the show to explore in depth other areas of Buffy's history. Christopher Golden adapted the film into a comic entitled "The Origin" (1999) which more closely resembles Joss Whedon's original script.[7][8] In 2003, Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza wrote a Year One-style run on the Buffy comic book series which filled the gap between the film and the first season of the show. These stories explain how Buffy's relationship with Pike ended,[30] as well as fleshing out events alluded to in the television series, such as the time she spent in a mental institution and her parents' divorce. The novel Queen of the Slayers (2005) by Nancy Holder offers a potential follow-up to the television series; set after season seven, it depicts Buffy living in Italy with the morally ambiguous Immortal.[31]

Buffy also makes appearances in literature outside of her own titular series. In the Tales of the Slayers comic one-shot "Broken Bottle of Djinn" (2002) by Doug Petrie and Jane Espenson, Buffy battles a spirit in Sunnydale High,[32] while the Tales of the Vampires comic book story "Antique" (2004) by Drew Goddard sees her breaking into Dracula's castle to rescue Xander from the infamous vampire.[33] Volume II of the similar series of novels Tales of the Slayer (2003) features two stories about Buffy; the character battles a mummified spirit in Todd A. McIntosh's "All That You Do Comes Back Unto Thee," while Jane Espenson's "Again Sunnydale" sees a season six-era Buffy sent back in time to high school, when her mother is still alive but Dawn does not exist.[34]

In 2007, Buffy's story was continued when Joss Whedon resurrected Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a comic book. These comics differ from previous Buffy literature in that they are the official continuation of the television series and are considered canon.[35] In Season Eight (2007–11), it establishes Buffy is not living with the Immortal in Rome which is simply a cover story to ensure her safety as she is now the leader of a global organization which recruits and trains Slayers to deal with demonic threats worldwide.[36] However, a mysterious group led by the masked villain 'Twilight' believe the Slayers themselves are the danger, should they begin to consider themselves superior to mankind.[37] In the story "Wolves at the Gate", Buffy shares a sexual encounter with fellow Slayer Satsu;[38] however Satsu leaves soon after because she realizes Buffy cannot return her feelings. Earlier in the series, the audience glimpsed Buffy's most personal sexual fantasy in her dreamspace: a threesome with Angel and Spike.[39] The series' final two arcs are in some sense are about Buffy's relationships with Angel and Spike. In "Twilight", Buffy mysteriously obtains super powers and discovers that Twilight is in fact Angel. Despite his actions, Buffy succumbs to her passions and engages in an act of passionate airborne sex with Angel, only having them return on waking up in a paradise dimension which will replace the existing universe. In spite of the lure of eternal happiness together in this new dimension, the two return to Earth to assist their friends against extra-dimensional demons, when Spike arrives. In "Last Gleaming", Spike's information leads them to source both of magic and of Twilight's power, a mystical "seed" buried beneath Sunnydale. Giles plans to destroy it, but Twilight possesses Angel and snaps his neck. Distraught, Buffy smashes the seed herself. Twilight is stopped but magic is also removed from the universe. Though Slayers and vampires retain their powers, witches for example are left entirely powerless. A pariah in the community of Slayers and former witches, Buffy moves to San Francisco where she lives with her sister and Xander, and resumes her former duties as Slayer: patrolling at night for vampires.

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine (2011–13), Buffy adjusts to the new status quo of a world without magic. As a consequence of demons no longer being able to enter their dimension and fully possess human bodies, newly sired vampires are feral and mindless creatures, which Xander dubs "zompires". Buffy faces a new antagonist in Severin, who works with the rogue slayer Simone Doffler and has the power to drain others of their mystical energy. In the story arc "Apart (of Me)", Buffy mistakenly believes that she is pregnant and makes the difficult decision to have an abortion. Spike also leaves San Francisco after it becomes difficult for him to be around Buffy anymore. Willow also leaves town on a mission to restore her abilities, leaving Buffy to patrol for vampires with new friends, including SFPD officer Robert Dowling and teenager Billy Lane. As the season goes on, Buffy teams with a council of powerful supernatural beings to take on Severin. However, Severin is able to steal the powers of Illyria, a member of that group, including her time travel abilities. When Buffy learns Dawn is dying as a result of the end of magic and Willow returns with restored powers, they venture to the Deeper Well in England, a tomb for ancient demons in the hopes of finding magic to save Dawn, who begins fading out of existence. Desperate to save Dawn, Xander informs Simone and Severin of Buffy's plan because Severin wants the same magic to avert the events of Season Eight using time travel. Within the Well, Buffy fights and kills Simone who had intentionally became a vampire, as Severin in an act of redemption, restores magic to the universe for which he and Illyria sacrifice their lives. After this, Willow is able to bring Dawn back from nonexistence. Buffy and Willow begin to realize however that the rules of magic and vampire abilities have been entirely rewritten by their actions. In Season Ten (2014–present), Buffy and her friends grapple with the new rules of magic and the new threats and allegiances it has required them to make.

Concept and creation[edit]

The character of Buffy was conceived by Joss Whedon as a way of subverting the cliché of "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror film".[40] Whedon stated "Rhonda the Immortal Waitress" was the first incarnation of Buffy in his head, "the idea of a seemingly insignificant female who in fact turns out to be extraordinary."[41] When asked how he came up with the name of "Buffy," Whedon states "It was the name that I could think of that I could take the least seriously. There is no way you could hear the name Buffy and think, "This is an important person. To juxtapose that with Vampire Slayer, just felt like that kind of thing—a B movie. But a B movie that had something more going on. That was my dream." Whedon claims the title was criticized for being too silly, and the television network begged him to change it. He refused, insisting "You don't understand. It has to be this. This is what it is."[42] Jason Middleton feels that Buffy avoids the "final girl" character trope seen in horror films, where the androgynous and celibate heroine gets to outlive her friends and exact revenge on their killer; in Middleton's words, "she... gets to have sex with boys and still kill the monster".[43]

Whedon always intended for the character to become an icon, claiming "I wanted her to be a hero that existed in people's minds the way Wonder Woman or Spider-Man does, you know? I wanted her to be a doll or an action figure. I wanted Barbie with Kung Fu grip! I wanted her to enter the mass consciousness and the imaginations of growing kids because I think she's a cool character, and that was always the plan. I wanted Buffy to be a cultural phenomenon, period."[44] In developing Buffy, Whedon was greatly inspired by Kitty Pryde, a character from the pages of the superhero comic X-Men. He admits, "If there's a bigger influence on Buffy than Kitty, I don't know what it was... She was an adolescent girl finding out she has great power and dealing with it."[45][46][47] In a 2009 interview, Whedon revealed he only recently realised how much he saw of himself in Buffy. After years of relating more to Xander, he says, "Buffy was always the person that I was in that story because I'm not in every way." Whedon openly wonders why his identification figure is a woman, but describes it as "a real autobiographical kind of therapy for me" to be writing a strong female character like Buffy.[48]

According to Whedon, Buffy "had been brewing in [him] for many years" before finally appearing in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film played by Kristy Swanson. However, he was not satisfied with the character's treatment in the film, feeling "that's not quite her. It's a start, but it's not quite the girl."[44] Although Whedon's vision of female empowerment was not as apparent as he would have liked in the 1992 film, he was given a second chance when Gail Berman approached him with the idea of re-creating it as a television series.[49] Adapting the concept of the movie into a television series, Whedon decided to reinvent the character of Buffy slightly. The shallow cheerleader of the original film had grown more mature and open-minded, identifying with social outcasts such as Willow and Xander, and instead, the character of Cordelia was created to embody what Buffy once was.[50] Early in the television series, make-up supervisor Todd McIntosh was instructed to make Buffy "a soft and sort of earthy character." He gave Gellar a soft, muted green make-up and kept her look very natural. However, it was later decided this was inappropriate for the character, and Buffy needed to look more like a valley girl. McIntosh switched her make-up around, giving her frosted eyeshadow and lip colors, bright turquoise and aqua marines, bubblegum colored nails, and bleach-blonde hair, causing the character to "blossom."[51]

References[edit]

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