If you were a kid in the 90s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was probably one of your favorite shows. If you weren't a kid in the 90s (or were just too young to watch the show), you probably watched reruns or binge-watched it on Netflix. Either way, you're a Buffy fan and that's why you're here. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was originally a movie created by Joss Whedon in 1992 and starred Kristy Swanson as Buffy Summers. It was then developed into a TV series for The WB which first aired in 1997 and Whedon initially described it as My So-Called Life meets The X-Files.
The show starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy who is a young woman chosen by fate to battle evil forces...but you know all this from the opening narration: "Into every generation, a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer." Bonus points if you have it all memorized.
With seven seasons and 144 episodes, the show received both critical and popular acclaim and it is widely considered one of the greatest TV shows of all time. Many of the stars from the cast of Buffy went on to have successful careers but then there were also some who could never escape the shadow of Buffy.
15 Sarah Michelle Gellar: She is the Slayer
Sarah Michelle Gellar was obviously the star of the show since she played the titular character of Buffy. Though she was a big star on a hugely successful show, she almost exclusively played offbeat characters in what are now considered to be cult classics. The success of the show helped her to land roles in the iconic 90s movies, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, and Cruel Intentions. Before the series ended in 2003, Gellar played Daphne in Scooby-Doo which became her biggest live action commercial success. However, once Buffy was over, she did not find as much success. She tried to make a comeback with the short-lived TV series The Crazy Ones which she starred in with Robin Williams but it was soon cancelled in 2014, the same year that Williams passed away. In 2016, she reprised her role as Kathryn Merteuil in the TV movie Cruel Intentions following the events that took place fifteen years after the original movie.
14 Alyson Hannigan: She Became Buffy's Biggest Star
Of all of the members of the main cast of Buffy, Alyson Hannigan has had the most commercial success after the show came to an end. Though she had some acting experience before she landed the role of Willow, this was her big, breakout role. Willow was Buffy's shy and nerdy best friend who resonated with many viewers who maybe didn't exactly identify with the confident and beautiful blonde protagonist. In 1999, she starred in American Pie as Michelle Flaherty and she reprised her role in American Pie 2, American Wedding, and American Reunion. She then went on to star as Lily Aldrin in the hugely successful CBS series How I Met Your Mother which ran for nine seasons. She married her Buffy costar Alexis Denisof (who played Wesley Wyndam-Pryce on the show) in 2003 and they have two daughters together. It looks like Willow did alright for herself.
13 Nicholar Brendon: Poor Xander
Things didn't exactly work out for Nicholas Brendon the way they did for Alyson Hannigan who played his onscreen love interest on Buffy. He was 25 years old when he was cast as Xander in Buffy and he appeared in all but one of the 144 episodes. After Buffy ended, Brendon landed a role in the short-lived TV show Kitchen Confidential alongside Bradley Cooper. While Bradley Cooper went on to become, well, Bradley Cooper, Brendon's career didn't exactly take off. He appeared on various shows such as Private Practice and Criminal Minds and has been writing for the comic book series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten. Unfortunately for Brendon, he has struggled with addiction for years and he has been in and out of rehab since 2004. In 2017, the LAPD tasered and arrested the actor after he swung his fists at the officers and tried to run away. He was later charged with four misdemeanors.
12 Charisma Carpenter: Cordelia Had a Lot To Work With
Charisma Carpenter was 26 when she first appeared in Buffy as high school student Cordelia Chase and she appeared in the first three seasons of the show before she was offered a bigger role in the Buffy spin-off Angel. Though she starred in the first three seasons of Angel, her character leaves in the fourth season which angered fans. In order to give fans closure, Cordelia does come back until the 100th episode in the fifth season--but it turns out that Carpenter wanted to come back long before then. It has since been speculated that the reason Carpenter was absent for most of the fourth and fifth season was that Joss Whedon fired her for getting pregnant. After she left (or was fired from) Angel, she appeared in Charmed as Kira and in Veronica Mars as Kendall Casablancas. More recently, she starred in The Expendables movies as Lacy.
11 David Boreanaz: A Fallen Angel
Luckily for David Boreanaz, he did manage to find success after Buffy and he even got to star in the successful Buffy spin-off, Angel. Angel is Buffy's love interest early on in the show but their relationship is a tad complicated considering he's a vampire. However, it turns out that Angel is actually a good guy and in the spin-off series, he moves to Los Angeles and starts a supernatural detective agency called Angel Investigations with Cordelia Chase as one of his employees. After leaving during the fifth season, Angel comes back for two episodes in season 7, the final season, of Buffy. After Angel ended in 2004, Boreanaz landed a few roles here and there but, in 2005, he landed the lead role opposite Emily Deschanel in the hugely successful series Bones which ran for 12 seasons before coming to an end in 2017. Most recently, Boreanaz stars in the CBS drama SEAL Team which first aired in 2017.
10 James Marsters: He Became the Breakout Star of the Series
James Marsters first appeared as Spike in season 2 of Buffy and became the show's breakout character. Spike proved to be popular among Buffy fans and though he was supposed to be a temporary villain in the series, he ended up starring in 97 episodes. According to Marsters, "Spike was supposed to be dirty and evil, punk rock, and then dead." But, in the end, Whedon actually considered him to be the most "fully developed character" in the series. His success on Buffy caused him to be the "the obvious go-to guy for US cult [television]" according to Marsters. He appeared in Angel as Spike in a few episodes in the beginning of the series but he made most of his appearances in season 5. After Angel ended, Marsters starred in multiple cult television shows such as Torchwood, Caprica, Smallville, Warehouse 13, and the new Hulu series Runaways.
9 Tara Macklay: Fans Are Still Unhappy About Her Fate
Fans are still angry about the fat of Tara Maclay on Buffy and many believe that the reason she was killed off in the show was due to homophobia. Amber Benson played Tara who begins a relationship with Willow making it the first recurring depiction of a lesbian couple on a prime-time network series in the U.S. This was a big deal to members of the LGBTQ community who were rarely represented in the media at that time. However, Tara is killed by a stray gunshot in the sixth season and her death causes Willow to go on a rampage. Though fans sent angry protests to the producers and writers, Whedon claimed that her death was necessary to propel Willow's story arc further. Fans still aren't happy. After appearing in 47 episodes of Buffy, she landed a lot of small roles in various TV shows and TV, the most popular of which are Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Supernatural.
8 Juliet Landau: A Victorian Kate Moss
Juliet Landau appeared in Buffy as Drusilla, a villainous vampire who is also Spike's lover. Before she landed the role of Dru on Buffy, she played Loretta King in Tim Burton's Ed Wood (which she appeared in along with her father, Martin Landau, who played Bela Lugosi) and she starred opposite Whoopi Goldberg in Theodore Rex. Drusilla only appeared in 17 episodes of Buffy but she left a lasting impression on fans and the character continues to appear in the comics in the Buffy expanded universe. She also appeared in several episodes of Angel. After her stints on Buffy and Angel ended, she appeared in multiple indie movies such as The Yellow Wallpaper and Where the Road Runs Out and has made guest appearances on Criminal Minds, Millennium, and La Femme Nikita. She has also lent her voice to multiple video games including BioShock and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
7 Anothy Stuart Head: Every Slayer Needs a Watcher
Before being cast in Buffy, Anthony Stewart Head first rose to prominence when he appeared in TV advertisements for Nescafé Gold Blend in the late 1980s. In Buffy, Head played Rupert Giles the librarian at Sunnydale High School, who serves as Buffy's mentor, father figure, and Watcher (a designated individual who oversees the actions of the Slayer). After starring in 123 episodes of Buffy, he left the show to spend more time with his family who still lived in Britain while he was living and working in the U.S. Whedon intended to create a spin-off series called Ripper which would follow Giles' story after Buffy but it never came to be. Head later starred in the popular BBC series Merlin as Uther Pendragon and has also appeared on various BBC shows such as Doctor Who, Monarch of the Glen, Little Britain, Warehouse 13, and Drunk History: UK.
6 Emma Caulfield: She Was Only Supposed to Appear in One Episode
Before she starred as Anya in Buffy, Emma Caulfield had already gained recognition for her role as Susan Keats on Beverly Hills, 90210 and her role as Lorraine in General Hospital. Caulfield was a guest star in Buffy's third and fourth season but became a series regular in the show's fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons. Her first appearances was in "The Wish" when Cordelia wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale after she catches her boyfriend Xander kissing Willow. Since Anya (or Anyanka) was a vengeance demon who granted the wishes of women who were wronged by men, Anya grants her wish. She was only supposed to be in the one episode but she was eventually worked into the storyline and appeared in 85 episodes. Caulfield has since appeared in Once Upon a Time, Supergirl, Fear the Walking Dead, and she also starred in the 2009 film TiMER.
5 Seth Green: A Guitar-Playing Werewolf
Before he was cast as Daniel "Oz" Osbourne on Buffy, Seth Green had already been pretty busy as an actor. As a child, he appeared in Woody Allen's Radio Days, Stephen King's It, The Wonder Years, The X-Files, and Beverly Hills, 90210. In Buffy, Oz is a guitar-playing werewolf who becomes Willow's boyfriend in the second season. Though he was a series regular in season three, Green left the show at the end of the fourth season. By this time, he had already become a voice actor for Family Guy which first aired in 1998. Green then went on to star in the Austin Powers movie as Scott Evil, and Flight Lieutenant Jeff 'Joker' Moreau in the popular video game series, Mass Effect. He is also the creator and star of Robot Chicken, the stop-motion animation show which ran for nine seasons over the course of 13 years.
4 Eliza Dushku: From Buffy to Dollhouse
By the time Eliza Dushku was cast as Faith in Buffy, she had already landed roles in movies such as This Boy's Life which also starred Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio and True Lies in which she played the daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. In Buffy, she played another Slayer who is much more brooding and troubled than Buffy. Because her character became so popular among fans, she stayed on for the rest of the third season and returned for a few episodes in season four and five. The rest of her story arc played out in Angel. Dushku was offered the chance to star in a Buffy spin-off about Faith but she turned it down. However, Whedon offered her the lead role in his short-lived series Dollhouse which ran for two seasons. It has since developed a cult following. She has also starred in the TV shows Tru Calling and Torchwood: Web of Lies, as well as the movies, Bring it On and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
3 Marc Blucas: He Was the Opposite of Angel
Riley Finn was Buffy's boyfriend during season four and five but considering that they both kept the fact they led other lives secret from each other, it didn't exactly work out for them. Riley worked for The Initiative, a secret government organization which researched and killed demons in Sunnydale and she was, of course, the Slayer. Whedon wanted Riley to be the antithesis of Angel who had, at this point, left the show which. This means that Riley was supposed to be a lot more optimistic and reliable than the dark and brooding vampire and it was his normalcy that initially attracted Buffy to him. Marc Blucas played Riley in 31 episodes of Buffy and after his stint on Buffy was up, he then went on to play Katie Holmes' love interest in First Daughter and starred in the TV series s Thr3e and The Killing Floor. Most recently he appeared in WGN America series Underground.
2 Nathan Fillion: From Hero to Villain
Nathan Fillion appeared in the last five episodes of the seventh season as the villainous Caleb who Buffy defeats at the end of the season. This was the second time Fillion worked with Whedon after he starred as Captain Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds in the short-lived series Firefly which has since gained a cult following and is considered one of the greatest sci-fi television series. After he reprised his role as Mal in Serenity, he landed the lead role of Richard Castle in the ABC series, Castle which first ran in 2009 and ran for eight seasons. Fillion worked with Whedon again in his TV mini-series, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and his 2012 film Much Ado About Nothing appeared in various. He has also lent his voice to various movies such as the Cars movies and various video games such as Halo 3 and Destiny. Most recently he appeared on the Netflix series, Santa Clarita Diet.
1 Michele Trachtenberg: Everybody Hates Dawn
Buffy is full of interesting and likable characters who resonated with fans of all ages and backgrounds. Dawn Summers, however, was not one of them. Buffy's little sister is so widely hated that she is often considered one of the most annoying characters on TV, (Entertainment Weekly actually named Dawn on their list of the "21 Most Annoying TV Characters Ever". Michelle Trachtenberg played Dawn in 66 episodes of Buffy up until the finale of the final season. She then starred in the Disney Channel original movie Ice Princess before appearing on Gossip Girl as Georgina Sparks, a manipulative young socialite. It's been fifteen years since the series ended but Trachtenberg claims that there is still hatred for Dawn, but it has died down a bit over the years. During the 2017 Buffy reunion, Trachtenberg insists that she was playing Dawn like she was a teenager who, like any teenager was not "docile, sitting in the corner, doe-eyed and happy to be there."