During the winter of 1997, a show that would change the face of female power on television made its debut, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Originally a film that premiered in 1992, Buffy gathered a massive cult following. It took about four years to bring her back on television; we have to thank Joss Whedon for making it happen. This show helped consolidate the careers of young newcomers and single-handedly changed the role of females on TV. Let's take a look at the cast back then in the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and now, 19 years later.
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Buffy was a regular, bubbly, SoCal teenager; she enjoyed family, friends and hated school — all the things that a normal teenager is supposed to do in high school. But this was no ordinary girl — Buffy was the Chosen One, the Slayer. She alone had the power and strength to fight against vampires, demons and other unearthly creatures. After seven years of fighting evil Buffy changed the course of the Slayer line forever.
Gellar, now a mother of two, is married to Freddie Prinze Jr., and is launching a startup in the food industry. She has never stopped acting, we will soon see her in the pilot of the NBC reboot of Cruel Intentions, and she was last seen in the TV comedy The Crazy Ones. I honestly would like to see her take on the role of Buffy again, but one can only dream, right?
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Willow was the epitome of the wallflower in high school. She was noble, sweet and a little shy... let's make that a lot shy. Her confidence improved when she met Buffy and realized she had a lot of inner power. I love her character because it shows that you need to discover your passions and embrace them, but there is also danger in falling too deep, too fast.
Willow was one of the characters that changed the most over the course of the seven seasons of Buffy; her story arc in season six is one of the most real, human and dark on the show. After Buffy, Hannigan then went on to star in the acclaimed sitcom How I Meet Your Mother where she played the role of Lily and proved she is a chameleon of an actress. I will gladly see anything she does in the future. Fun fact, she married Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof); or Sandy Rivers if you prefer, and they have two gorgeous daughters.
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Xander was an odd but funny character. It seems that at the beginning he was just there to provide comedic relief to the tensions of Slayer-drama. Initially he pined after Buffy, but he was put in the friend-zone very fast. However, his relationship with Buffy evolved and he becomes some sort of a brother figure to her, a reminder of humanity among a world of chaos.
I greatly enjoyed how Xander's character developed over his seven years in Buffy. Sadly, reality for the actor has not been as uplifting; Nicholas Brendon has a number of arrests for misconduct, aggressive behavior and he has been in rehab at least once in the past five years. His struggles with substance abuse started after the show was over, but he has been able to maintain a steady career with roles in television shows like Kitchen Confidential, Private Practice and a steady tenure in Criminal Minds.
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Every slayer has a Watcher — a guide that helps them train and learn about the demon world and how to combat it. Buffy's Watcher was more than his trainer against the forces of evil; Giles became a father figure for Buffy and for every other Scoobie in the gang, including some redeemed villains. Buffy wouldn't have been the same without him, he became the voice of reason and always provided critical help in the face of several apocalyptic events.
Head is still acting and has appeared in other magical roles in recent years, such as Uther Pendragon in Merlin. But I will always remember him as Rupert Giles. Fun fact, he appears as Galavant's father in the musical television comedy Galavant, taking on a role which is almost a polar opposite from beloved Giles.
David Boreanaz as Angel
Angel was a complex character; he had a pivotal role in the battle of good versus evil as he is a vampire with a soul. Angelus (Angel's diabolic vampire persona) is cursed by having his soul reinstated, condemned to live his eternal existence in pain due to the evil he caused. Angel tries to make amends by helping Buffy and eventually falls in love with her. The Buffy and Angel romance plays a key role over the course of the show, but the intensity of their romance is mainly explored during Season 2.
I guess we will never know if slayer and vampire are meant to be or if it was just the passion of first love. After finishing with Buffy and the popular spin-off Angel, Boreanaz landed a role as Special Agent Seeley Booth in Bones, and he has been playing the FBI agent for the last decade. Bones is airing its final season this fall, and after that I think I'll fall into a Boreanaz withdrawal.
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
Cordelia was the Queen Bee in the first season of Buffy. As the second and third season progressed, she's pulled into the supernatural fight and bands with the Scoobies to defeat evil many times. Cordelia matures a lot during her tenure in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and then at the end Season 3 she left the show to go and star in the spin-off Angel.
Carpenter still acts, and has taken on a variety of different roles in shows like Charmed, Supernatural, Scream Queens and Chicago P.D, and films like The Expendables and The Expendables 2. Cordelia was a great character because she was honest, a bit rude but always direct. Joss Whedon mentions how he sometimes used the Cordelia character to point out the obvious that no one wanted to talk to about on the show.
After the end of Season 1, no one was sure how long Buffy would stay on the air, its popularity kept rising and the show continued until it concluded at the end of its seventh season. Over the course of seven years some of the main characters changed, but the core always was Buffy, Willlow, Xander and Giles.
Want more? You can check the other beloved characters in the Buffy-verse in this post!
Which Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast member was your favorite?