Sunnydale, California is the fictional suburban setting for the popular television drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Series creator Joss Whedon conceived the town as a representation of the typical, anonymous, generic suburban city, as well as a narrative parody of the all-too-serene towns typical in traditional horror movies.
Sunnydale's size and surroundings are implausible, as it was designed largely for comic effect and narrative convenience. Moreover, the size of the town changed as the series progressed. During the first three seasons, Sunnydale was depicted as a small California town: population of 38,500, very few high schools, forty-three churches, a small private college, and one modest main street. Even so, it had twelve gothic cemeteries.
However, in later seasons it was revealed that Sunnydale sported a campus of the University of California system, and enough witches to keep a magic supply shop profitable.
Sunnydale possesses many common horror-movie characteristics, such as an abundance of dark alleyways, abandoned mansions and factories, and an inexplicable divide between its demon-fighting, supernaturally aware teens and the sinister or clueless, perpetually in-denial adults.
Sunnydale is somewhat isolated, and is not adjacent to other urban or suburban areas. It has a train station, a bus station, and a small airport.
Sunnydale is adjacent to several acres of woods, and has an ocean port as well as tall cliffs overlooking the sea. There is a nearby beach, and the desert is a short drive away. In the final episode Sunnydale is shown as being in the middle of the desert; however, this is a continuity error, since Sunnydale was shown to be adjacent or near to the sea in several episodes.
By the final season, the population had fallen to 32,900...