It’s been 20 years, you bought all the DVDs, watched every episode 1,000 times, written your own music to accompany the director’s commentary tracks, read every interview and every list that has ever been written about Buffy the Vampire Slayer becauseyouareasuperfanandyouknowthiscanonliketheFirstEvilknowsevil!!!
Slow down! We know you love the show. We do too. But we’re willing to bet that even 20 years on, Buffy still has some surprises.
From who Ryan Reynolds almost played, the show’s secret celebrity producer to exactly how much it costs for the SFX team to “dust” a vamp, give us a chance to teach you something new about one of TV’s best-ever shows!
Starting with …
Spike Isn’t As Street As He Pretends
Though it looks like Spike just pulled his kick-ass leather coat out of a dumpster (okay, off the body of slayer Nikki Wood, I know my canon), the truth is the iconic wardrobe piece came from a high-end fashion store and cost $2,000. This was before the “distressed” look was in, so they laid it on gravel and ran over it with a truck several times to toughen it up.
Think He Got This Far On His Superior Acting Method?
You would have never known the joy of Nicholas Brendon as Buffy’s painfully normal pal Xander Harris had Ryan Reynolds accepted the part first. The Deadpool actor was pre-celeb status and first in line to join the Scoobies, but skipped out because he didn’t want a “high school” role. “I love that show and I loved Joss Whedon,” Reynolds said in a 2008 interview. “But my biggest concern was that I didn’t want to play a guy in high school.”
Good thing, too. We might have missed out on that epic twin episode (Yes, Nicholas Brendon has a real-life twin named Kelly, who played his on-screen twin created for one episode because spells. There’s a bonus fact for you!).
I Need A Hug
Buffy fans know exactly what to expect at the end of every episode — the logo of Joss Whedon’s production company “Mutant Enemy” with the signature “Grr … Argh.” You can hear it in your head right now, can’t you? We know.
But did you know that “Mutant Enemy” is the name Whedon gave to his very first typewriter when he was 15? Did you know that the logo itself was created in under 20 minutes when producers told him he needed to have one? Did you know that Whedon himself provides the “Grr … Argh” at the end?
Also, did you know Giles’ accent is fake? Oops, getting ahead of the game here. That’s further down!
‘She Is The Slayer’
If you think about it, a valley girl named “Buffy” isn’t really your go-to for a badass vampire hunter. According to Joss Whedon’s commentary on “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” that’s kind of how he came up with the whole idea in the first place.
“The first thing I ever thought of when I thought of Buffy, the movie, was the little… blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed, in every horror movie. The idea of Buffy was to subvert that idea, that image, and create someone who was a hero where she had always been a victim.”
Willow Might Have Coined A Phrase You Use Every Day
Most Buffy fans know that the show is especially adored for its unique, clever dialogue which has had a major influence on a generation of film, TV and comic book writers.
But the Buffyverse’s unique lingo might have had a broader effect than you think. Though we can’t say it coined the phrase “Google it” for sure, it was definitely one of the first TV shows to actually feature it in dialogue (from Willow).
Given the show’s influence, if you want to tell people “Google it” comes from Buffy, we won’t tattle.
Whedon Asked For A Musical Episode Every. Single. Year.
“Once More, With Feeling” is frequently listed among the best episodes of the entire series. Even though most all-musical episodes fall somewhere between flat and cringe, “OMWF” is a treat for even musical-and-fun-hating monsters like me.
Whedon originally wanted to do the episode in the first season, but the network said no. He renewed his request every year, and like clockwork, they told him it’d never happen.
Between the fifth and sixth seasons, the show switched networks, and UPN was apparently so thrilled to have Buffy, they let Whedon do whatever he wanted. Thus, “Once More With Feeling” was produced.
Though we can’t help but wonder if the musical episode ultimately came to be thanks to some pressure from a particular producer in the next entry …
Oh, You Didn’t Know SHE Was A Producer?
Did you know that one of Buffy’s longest-running producers was none other than country superstar Dolly Parton?
Don’t go checking the credits on your DVDs just yet — she’s never listed by name, but her partnership with manager Sandy Gallin makes her an Executive Producer of the show under their company Sandollar Entertainment.
That might be how they managed to afford one ridiculously expensive special effect up next.
They Actually Had A Huge SFX Budget. Problem Is …
While the vampire “dusting” effects definitely improved over the course of the show, 90s TV computer animation just doesn’t really hold up all that well. Sorry, Joss.
Not to rub salt in the wound or anything, but every time you saw a vampire get dusted on the show, it cost production $5,000.
There are a few episodes where an off-screen dusting occurs, so probably reasonable to assume those scenes were shot toward the end of the season when their SFX coffers were running low.
Wait, Who’s Older?
Listen, we’re grown ups. We know that most people who play teenagers in movies and on TV are really probably closer to 30 than 20. Even still, what exactly kept actress Robia LaMorte from landing the part of Cordelia Chase instead of Charisma Carpenter?
You laugh, but Carpenter is actually a few weeks older than LaMorte, who played computer teacher Jenny Calendar instead.
Sure, it’d be hard to imagine them in each other’s roles, but think about it — Carpenter is playing 17, while her younger colleague is playing mid-30s. Uncle, this is insanity!
This isn’t the first or the last time the show had to fudge reality a little bit.
Basically, No One’s Accent Was Real (But They All Helped Each Other)
James Marsters is an American actor, and he auditioned for the role of Spike with a Texas accent. The producers apparently thought that sucked, and wanted a London accent instead.
Cue Anthony Stewart Head, an English actor. In real life, Anthony Stewart Head has a London accent. In the show, he affects a higher-class Oxford accent (though his real accent can be heard in “Band Candy”).
So it made perfect sense for Anthony Stewart Head to tutor James Marsters on set in his own native accent.
They weren’t the only two who were faking something, as you’ll see up next.
This Year’s Girl (Has To Go Red)
Apparently, all of the female actors cast for the first season of Buffy were brunettes. Actress Alyson Hannigan revealed in an interview that she volunteered to be the show’s redhead.
“Joss [Whedon] had us all over to his house,” she said. “Charisma and Sarah and I all had brown hair at the time. Joss said, ‘All of your hair is kind of the same shade. Does anyone want to be red?’ I went for it. Eventually, Sarah got more and more blonde, but it was because we all had a brownish, auburn mane.”
After seven amazing seasons, the series finale “Chosen” ends the show with the destruction of Sunnydale and supporting characters asking Buffy what she wants to do now. Mission accomplished, I guess? Meet up at Denny’s?
Whedon himself has given conflicting answers about when he wanted to originally end the show. UPN was more than willing to do a season eight, but it was Sarah Michelle Gellar who said she wasn’t interested in returning (sort of explaining her absence from”The Girl In Question” in Angel season 5, btw).
Whedon agreed, and the rest is history.
The Buffyverse has since continued with several more canonical “seasons” published in comic form by Dark Horse Comics. The cast members are often asked about a potential revival, and while most seem optimistically pragmatic about it (“yes, it would be fun, but would it be worth it”), Joss himself has been pretty coy.
“Everything sort of finds its way back somewhere,” he said in a recent interview.
Did you read the list? Think you can do better? Feel free to submit your own facts to help us round out this article, or share with your Buffy superfans on social.
Or just comment (but please be nice).
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