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18 Facts You Might Not Know about Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a hugely successful television series on WB and UPN from 1997-2003. Writer and producer Joss Whedon, long heavily constrained by the requirements of others, finally had the opportunity to create a series that was completely his own. Whedon had worked on it for years, first selling the screenplay in 1988 for a film version which was released in 1992. The story had been shredded and reworked into a campy, funny movie that Whedon loathed.

After five years, he was able to launch a darker, more dramatic, but still funny television series which captured the imagination of a generation of fans. Here are eighteen facts that you might not know about that show:

1. Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia, was Whedon’s original pick for the role of Buffy. Sarah Michelle Gellar was slated to play Cordelia. Gellar had to lobby Whedon heavily before he would allow her to read for the lead role.

(Video Link)

2. When she was five, Sarah Michelle Gellar starred in a Burger King commercial that disparaged McDonald’s burgers. She was promptly named in a lawsuit by McDonald’s and had to give a deposition in the case.

(Video Link)

3. If you were watching US television during the early 1990s, you may have spotted Anthony Stewart Head (Giles) in a series of 13 commercials for Taster’s Choice coffee which imagined Head as the wooing paramour of a new divorcee. The role somewhat typecasted him, so Head came to Los Angeles during “pilot season” in order to find a very different sort of role.

4. The name “Giles” came from Barbara Giles, Whedon’s housematron when he attended a private high school in the UK.

5. Nicholas Brendon (Xander) has a stutter.

6. James Marsters’ (Spike) first role was in a fourth-grade production of Winnie the Pooh. He played the role of Eeyore and fell in love with acting. His professional debut came years later in a stage production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. He had a nude scene in that play and has been comfortable performing unclad ever since. Marsters later broke into television as a bellhop on Northern Exposure. He returned the next season to play the role of a priest.

7. Can you imagine Spike with a deep Southern accent? Because that was Whedon’s original plan before casting Marsters.

8. Sunnydale’s ZIP code would place the town in Morgan Hill, California.

9. Sarah Michelle Gellar has a pronounced fear of cemeteries.

10. Whedon was inspired for The Gentlemen in the episode “Hush” from, in part, Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. This episode, a fan favorite, received two Emmy nominations for writing and cinematography.

11. The Sunnydale weatherman in the episodes "Amends" and "Hush" is a real-life weatherman -- Mark Kriski of KTLA in Los Angeles.

12. Buffy occasionally made favorable references to Xena: Warrior Princess. The writers of Xena returned the favor by mentioning a play called “Buffus the Bacchae Slayer” in their episode “The Play’s the Thing.

13. The show was the central metaphor that terrorism expert Anthony Cordesman used in a major 2002 treatise called “Biological Warfare and the Buffy Paradigm.” Cordesman explained that Buffy was “about a teenage vampire slayer who lives in a world of unpredictable threats where each series of crises only becomes predictable when it is over.”

14. The Simpsons was a leading inspiration for Whedon’s work in Buffy. Whedon wrote “If I could write for any show, it would be The Simpsons and Twin Peaks...As much as you could say that Buffy is a cross between 90210 and The X-Files, you could say it’s a cross between The Simpsons and Twin Peaks.”

15. The episode “I Was Made for You” has Warren building a robotic girlfriend who goes crazy and becomes destructive. The role was written with Britney Spears in mind, but she turned it down.

16. “Graduation Day” was delayed and rewritten due to the Columbine school shooting. The story involves the destruction of Sunnydale High School with explosives by the show's heroes. That central element was kept, although certain statements by them were removed.

17. The musical episode “Once More, With Feeling”, lasted 68 minutes during its first run. It was edited down for subsequent rebroadcasts. Much of the episode is sung. Even the mutant in the Mutant Enemy trademark at the very end of the credits sings. That name, by the way, comes from a line in the song “And You, And I” by Yes.

18. Vera Wang designed Buffy’s wedding dress in “The Prom”, as well as the dress that Sarah Michelle Gellar wore to her own wedding.

Sources: Topping, Keith. Slayer: A Totally Awesome Collection of Buffy Trivia. London: Virgin, 2004. Print. -----. Slayer: An Expanded and Updated Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. London: Virgin, 2002. Print. Tracy, Kathleen. The Girl's Got Bite: The Original and Unauthorized Guide to Buffy's World, Completely Revised and Updated. New York: St. Martin's, 2004. Print.

Images: NY Post, Fox Studios, Warner Bros., Renaissance Pictures


Some of these aren't quite correct...

Anthony Michael Head's series of commercials in the U.K. with Sharon Maughan were for Nescafé Gold Blend. They later made a similar series in the U.S. for Taster's Choice.
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I'm in the UK We don't have any coffe called "taster's choice". We also don't have an accent like Spike's. I assume that's meant to be an English accent? Or am I wrong there. Sounds more like southern US than anything I've ever heard here.
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And I though I was going to be the only one pointing out mistakes but yes... RE:#3 The instant coffee commericals were Nescafe in UK and Taster's choice in US RE:#6 JM played a minister on Northern Exposure not a bell hop.
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You say that the entirety of Once More With Feeling is sung...it's not. There's a ton of spoken dialogue. It's a musical episode, not an opera episode. =)
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For the person who says that Spike's accent is from the US: it's not. He is actually copying Anthony Stewart Head's real life accent.I forget where exactly, but he IS from England.
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I've corrected the post to reflect the errors indicated -- at least those that I was able to verify.

I started out with 22 neat things and pared them down. I guess my numbering got muddled in the process.
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@Bra1ny1

I was joking about it being southern US, the joke being that it's not really a very good copy of a north London accent. I'm sure Anthony Head has one, just that Spike does not.

Of course, I know to American audiences it works just fine. We like hearing these funny weird voices representing an 'English accent', it's funny.

I am totally aware that British people attempting American accents are just as bad, and often much much worse. I have an idea that Hugh Laurie's "American" accent in Stewart Little would be a nice parallel.
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I call shenanigans on saying Marsters accent isn't good.

I'm a Brit. The ONLY thing which ever really gave away that Marsters wasn't was when he used the word "ass" instead of "arse". Other than that he does a bloody good job. I always considered the fact that he's 200 years old and been around the world. His accent isn't going to be pitch perfect.

Now Alexis Denisof on the other hand, that just floored me when I found out he wasn't English.
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"Graduation Day" wasn't the episode that was held back, it was "Earshot" when Jonathan was in the school's tower with a rifle. I remember watching the commentary with Whedon when they were talking about how they had to hold it back, I think they played a rerun instead.
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@Jaz

Actually, it was Earshot and Graduation Day. They both had to be shown at later times. They were originally going to show Graduation Day Part 1 and 2 but decided last minute to pull them and show them later when school wasn't in session in America (so after May and June).

And I think Spike has a wonderful English accent! I'm not English or anything but I've been studying the English accent for a while (I want to be able to use the accent for auditions) and his voice is done pretty well. I've compared it to a lot of videos of real English men talking and it's more of a low-class stylized voice, in my opinion. Again, I'm not an expert but there's gotta be ONE person in the UK who sounds like Spike! :D
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You had James Marsters correct, in that he played both bellhop and priest because I bought the series just because James was in them. :) James has all kinds of different voices and he reads the audiobooks of The Dresden Files with different voices for each character and it is like a movie playing in my head. Excellent.
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I am from England.

(Not UK! No one here is from the UK or Great Britain for that fact lol. Evenyone is from Egland or Scotland or Wales etc. Mind I am from Northen England, dont think the Southeners are so fussy.)

So, as I was saying, I am from England, born and bred and I think Spikes accent is as good as an American could do so top marks to him.

Sure he give away from time to time with things like ass (UK Arse) SemI (UK Sem'eeee) and other bits and bobs but on the whole its very good.

Then again on films with geniune UK actors such as Harry Potter, in the first one Harry's dad threaterns someone with "breaking and entering."

We dont have this in England we have "burglary." So here we have UK born actors being forced to use Americanism's.

So was 'ass' and 'SemI' acctually, James's fault or was he told to do this. Doubt we will ever know for sure.
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Some of these facts aren't exactly about the show, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Any fan worth their stake already knows things like fact #2, which doesn't pertain to the show as much as Sarah Michelle Gellar the actress. Whether or not the guy who plays Xander has a stutter doesn't impress me, unless he gets cast in a "The King's Speech" remake.
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It was Earshot that was pushed back hence why it has a diffrent original air date, it was shown after all the other episodes!
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A script was rewritten to be similar to the Columbine shooting shortly after the actual event? That has got to be the most pathetic excuse to gain viewers ever.
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No, Steveo,

Earshot was written and ready to go and Columbine happened. The execs thought it was inappropriate to show Earshot at that time and Josh agreed. Of course, the execs acted like it never should air and Josh pushed to get it broadcast later.
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How about the fact that Nicholas Brendon has an identical twin brother, Kelly Donovan, who has stepped in to play Xander twice. The first time as the second Xander in the episode "The Replacement", and the second when Nicholas Brendon was ill he covered the role in "The Intervention".
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