It has been 20 years since #Buffy first picked up her stake and started kicking demon butt on Joss Whedon’s hit TV series, #BuffytheVampireSlayer. A pop culture phenomenon, the series entertained us with humor, witty dialogue and stellar stories.
Buffy also taught us lessons that we could take with us on our own journeys. For many, the greatest lessons were about loss and how to overcome it.
As a child of the Buffy age, I faced my own adolescent demons alongside the Scooby gang. Little did I know that their trials, romances and heartaches would maintain relevance deep into my adult life. During my senior year of college, my first boyfriend (read: love) abruptly ended our relationship. As he told me in the middle of the night that he loved me — but didn’t want to be together anymore I felt as powerless as Buffy did when Angel told her he was leaving Sunnydale after graduation. I closed my eyes; in an instant he was gone, but the pain had only just begun to set in.
After the breakup, I watched Buffy and saw her cope with loss from a whole new perspective. She hurt. She cried. She projected onto others. Eventually, though, she turned her loss into determination as she fought to save the world time and again.
While I didn’t have an evil mayor or Hell god to contend with, I did have to pull myself together, finish my senior year and graduate. Under my cap and gown, heartache still lingered months later, but no one tried to ascend into a pure demon at graduation, so I called it a win when I was handed my degree.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer continues to help me and others deal with loss and suffering, helping us find the strength to grow. Across the internet, people share their stories of how the series has helped them deal with heartbreak, psychological issues, and death of loved ones. A Reddit thread titled "Has Buffy Saved Anyone Else?" gives a glimpse into these experiences:
"My mother died of cancer 6 years ago. [Buffy] was a very large part of helping me get through the very difficult times following her death. Particularly season 6. I read season 6 as being more about Buffy coming to terms with her mother's death than her own. I know I spent a long time feeling just like Buffy does in season 6 after my mother died. Since my mother's death I have struggled on and off with serious depression. [Buffy] is something I often think about to help me process my feelings."
Over at Everyday Feminism, Jayson Flores shared how Buffy enabled survival against depression:
"I was seeing a character, Buffy specifically, who stood up for herself. I saw someone face the darkness, much like the darkness I felt myself facing, and not give up. I witnessed someone fighting through physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain and not letting it turn them into a cruel person."
Though 20 years have passed and the show may seem like a dated '90s remnant, the narrative and characters continue to be as relevant as ever. The strength of Buffy as an icon that has profoundly influenced a generation is highlighted by her ability to show us how to overcome emotional adversity and loss.
A fearless and witty leader, an expert fighter, and a flawed hero, the Slayer didn't just save the world— she saved many of us. A lot.
What did Buffy the Vampire Slayer teach you about life? Share your stories in the comments below!