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Friday, September 22, 2023

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Cast and Character Guide

It’s been twenty years since the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) aired on television. It was one of the first supernatural drama series on TV and spawned generations more like it, with the likes of Charmed and franchise spinoff Angel following shortly after. However, Buffy still reigns. For fans who grew up with the show, it’s cathartic in its allegories and provides a sense of solidarity and camaraderie. Long-time viewers feel like they’re a part of the Scooby Gang; they learn and grow with Buffy, Willow, and Xander, and discover just how much one person can fight through and still come out in one piece. Buffy is still an inspiration to underdogs everywhere.

With so much time having passed since its time on the air, we’ve seen our favorite demon-fighting actors do quite a lot of great work since Buffy. Audiences have seen Alyson Hannigan in the major sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and of course, David Boreanaz as Agent Booth in the crime drama Bones. Sarah Michelle Gellar was in the spotlight earlier this year for her supernatural series Wolf Pack, streaming on Paramount+. It was also recently announced that Audible will be releasing a new original sequel series titled Slayers: A Buffyverse Story, which is due to premiere this October. And if you’d like to know what the Buffy cast is up to these days, Collider is here with a handy guide.

Editor’s Note: This piece was updated on September 18, 2023.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV Show Poster

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Release Date
March 10, 1997

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Michelle Trachtenberg, Emma Caulfield, James Marsters

Main Genre

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi



Joss Whedon

Production Company
Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers

Buffy Summers holding a wooden stake in 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'

Sarah Michelle Gellar was, to most fans, the one and only Buffy. No one could carry the fate of the world on their shoulders with that much sass and style and still draw tears from viewers when her own world fell apart. Buffy fought for seven years on the Hellmouth while losing loved ones and growing up faster than any teenager should have. Buffy was the epitome of strength, and many still revere her for that.

While on Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar was also involved with some prime projects, including Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions, and the first Scooby-Doo live-action film. After BTVS ended in 2003, Gellar continued showing up on the big screen in the Scooby-Doo sequel Monsters Unleashed, as well as in The Grudge, the American adaptation of the Japanese horror film, Ju-On. Gellar had a couple of TV stints that only lasted one season, including The CW’s Ringer, about identity theft and the secrets of the wealthy, and CBS’s The Crazy Ones, co-starring Robin Williams and following an unconventional advertising agency. Sarah Michelle Gellar is also co-founder of Foodstirs, an online shop that sells baking kits, and she has her own cookbook, Stirring Up Fun With Food.

SMG returned to the small screen earlier this year and for the first time in a long time, she was back in her element in a supernatural role. Wolf Pack is a supernatural drama about teen werewolves with Sarah Michelle Gellar as the investigator on their tails.

RELATED: Where to Watch ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - 1997-2003 - willow rosenberg
Image via UPN

Alyson Hannigan’s character, Willow, was probably the most loved character by Buffy fans. Willow is dorky and loyal and goes through a massive character transformation. Her development was the most prominent in the entire show. She goes from sweet, nerdy Willow to a badass witch who almost destroys the world. The exploration of Willow’s sexual orientation also gained a lot of respect from fans across the board and invited a new bill of representation into the show. Willow made BTVS magical and was definitely a driving force in the show’s popularity.

While filming Buffy, Alyson Hannigan also appeared in the American Pie movies. Later, Hannigan portrayed the role of Lily Aldrin in the favored sitcom How I Met Your Mother as a series regular from 2005 until the finale in 2014. Actually, a few Buffyverse actors have made appearances on the sitcom, including Alexis Denisof, Alyson Hannigan’s husband whom she met filming Buffy, with the recurring role of Sandy Rivers. Seth Green and Amy Acker, who played Fred in Angel, also appeared on the sitcom. In 2021, Hannigan starred in the superhero comedy-drama Flora & Ulysses as Phyllis Buckman.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Image via The WB

Nicholas Brendon played Alexander Harris, a character either loved or hated by fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Xander was the one among his friends who didn’t have supernatural powers or an extensive library of knowledge at the ready, but he relied on his passion and his powers of observation to fight the forces of evil. What made Xander special was that he wasn’t special, an underlying theme in the emotional waters of BTVS.

After Buffy, Brendon landed the role of Kevin Lynch in the crime series Criminal Minds. He also appeared in the 2013 sci-fi psychological thriller Coherence, in which the passing of a comet is tied to a series of strange occurrences involving alternate dimensions and doppelgängers. Brendon is currently a professional visual artist; his latest gallery tour was in 2019 and in 2020 he released a “Fall Art Collection.”

Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles

Buffy - Rupert Giles
Image via The WB

Giles, portrayed by Anthony Stewart Head, was everyone’s favorite father figure. Although appointed as Buffy’s watcher and mentor, he played a fatherly role to everyone in the gang. For most of the show, that gang couldn’t get anything done without Giles consulting his books. His dark, demon-raising past gave an edge to his character that invited reverence and made his fighting abilities unquestionable.

Before Buffy, Head gained prominence in the musical theater scene as well as in a number of BBC television series. Since Buffy, he’s starred in the BBC series Merlin and Little Britain. He also had an appearance in the film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and played the character Chiron in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. His latest roles include playing Rupert Mannion in the comedy series Ted Lasso, appearing as Lord Sheffield in Bridgerton, and Bill in the British sitcom Motherland. Head will be reprising his role as Giles in the Audible original Slayers: A Buffyverse Story.

David Boreanaz as Angel

David Boreanaz as Angel
Image via The WB

Angel, the vampire with a soul on a path to redemption, was portrayed by David Boreanaz. He was Buffy’s first love, and to a lot of fans, her only true love. They had a volatile relationship and Angel was constantly breaking Buffy’s heart, but the love never faded. At the end of Season 3, Angel left Sunnydale (and Buffy) to pursue his own battle with evil and search for the answers pertaining to his resurrection. At the onset of Buffy Season 4, audiences got the debut of the spinoff series, Angel, running for five seasons.

David Boreanaz had a stint on the big screen in 2001 in the slasher film Valentine, but other than that, he is primarily known for his work on the small screen. After Angel, he landed the role of FBI Agent Seeley Booth in the crime series Bones, co-starring alongside Emily Deschanel. Bones ran from 2005 to 2017. Following his role as Agent Booth, Boreanaz moved on to play Jason Hayes in the show SEAL Team until 2022. As of today, he is still involved in the nail polish business his wife, Jaime Bergman, started with her friends, called Chrome Girl. Boreanaz and the other husbands run the business side of things, and he is involved in the creation of the special National Hockey League colors.

James Marsters as Spike

James Marsters as Spike in
Image via The WB

James Marsters played Spike, a fan favorite for most. Spike was introduced in Season 2 as Buffy’s chaos-inducing nemesis, along with his sire and vampire girlfriend, Drusilla, portrayed by Juliet Landau. However, over the seasons, Spike went through a progressive character transformation: from enemy to informant, to ally, to love interest. There’s an ongoing heat on the Buffy-boards between “Bangel” and “Spuffy” fans. Sarah Michelle Gellar herself has stated that she believes Buffy’s true love was always Angel, while series creator Joss Whedon is pro-Spike. Spike also made a cross-over to Angel, where he remained a central character.

Since Buffy and Angel, Marsters has had a pretty consistent career both on and off-screen. He was in the films P.S. I Love You and Dragon Ball Evolution. Incidentally, Marsters has worked quite a bit in the Dragon Ball franchise, voicing Zamasu in the English dub of Dragon Ball Super and various games. Along with recurring roles in the Smallville series and the short-lived Witches of East End, he’s made appearances in a number of live-action and animated TV shows. Marsters has been a recording and performing musician for many years, as both a solo artist and in the band Ghost of the Robot. He has also voiced audiobooks, most notably the Dresden Files, a fantasy-mystery series written by Jim Butcher. Marsters most recent work is in the 2023-released puppet horror film Abruptio, which also stars Jordan Peele, Robert Englund, and more in voice roles. Marsters will be reprising his role as Spike in the Audible original series Slayers: A Buffyverse Story.

RELATED: ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: Sarah Michelle Gellar Recalls “Extremely Toxic” Set Experience

Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers

Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Image via The WB

Buffy’s mom, Joyce Summers, was played by Kristine Sutherland. A divorced single mother, she worked hard to give Buffy a comfortable life and all the support a teenage girl could need. When she was finally made aware of Buffy’s demon-fighting extracurricular activities, Joyce marched in the “Slayer Pride Parade” with gusto, always believing in her daughter and having her back. Her love made Buffy stronger. When she was killed off the show in season five, fans everywhere wept.

Sutherland has had a few stints on TV since Buffy, including appearances on New Amsterdam, One Life to Live, and 2013’s The Following, but her main line of work is in photography, having opened her own studio after her time on the show.

Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase

Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Image via The WB

Cordelia, portrayed by Charisma Carpenter, was Sunnydale’s most popular and hated mean girl. Everyone wanted to be her and everyone wanted her to choke on something. After many supernatural life-threatening events, which meant getting saved repeatedly by the Scooby Gang, she eventually became an essential part of the group. It was on the show Angel, however, that Cordelia really got her shine. Audiences saw a massive character shift and watched Cordelia grow into an amazing woman with nothing but love to give. For fans of both Buffy and Angel, Cordelia went from abhorred to adored.

Charisma Carpenter has appeared in a number of TV films and shows since her role in the Buffyverse, most notably in recurring roles in Veronica Mars, Charmed, and the ABC series The Lying Game. Her most recent prominent role was in The Expendables series, appearing as Lacy in the first two films. From 2013 to 2016 she hosted the show Surviving Evil which focused on survivors of crime, herself included. Carpenter will be reprising her role in the aforementioned Audible original Slayers: A Buffyverse Story.

Seth Green as Daniel “Oz” Osbourne

Seth Green as Daniel
Image via The WB

Seth Green was Oz, the cool-guy guitar player turned werewolf. He was Willow’s high school sweetheart and the lead guitarist for the band Dingoes Ate My Baby. He never really said much, but he had superpowers and a quiet kind of bad-boy vibe. Willow and Oz went through a lot together despite being a cutesy couple, and when Oz left to find answers about his werewolf tendencies, his stoicism was sorely missed.

Seth Green is known for a lot of things: Family Guy, American Pie, Robot Chicken…the list goes on. Both before and after Buffy, fans have seen a lot of him. He’s been in major films such as Josie and the Pussycats, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (alongside Buffy co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar), and Without a Paddle. While he is still the voice of Chris Griffin in Family Guy, his most recent projects include appearing in the film Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022), and as the voice of Thunderbolt in the show Stargirl.

Amber Benson as Tara Maclay

Amber Benson as Tara Maclay in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Image via The WB

Tara, played by Amber Benson, was introduced in Season 4 (the college season). She was Willow’s first girlfriend and, to many, her one true love. Like Oz, Tara was quiet and sort of a background character, but she acquired many fans. Audiences everywhere suffered a huge loss when Tara was killed off on the show, but it brought another element to Willow’s character development and showed us her dark side. Thus, Tara was more of a catalyst for Willow’s story, but her smile, strength, and wit warmed the hearts of Buffy fans.

Besides acting, Benson is a director and producer, and since leaving Buffy has directed and starred in a number of her own films, including Chance (also co-starring James Marsters) and Lovers, Liars & Lunatics. She’s produced a BBC animated series titled Ghosts of Albion, collaborated on comics (including a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic), and has multiple novels to her name. Benson has been very busy mostly off-screen, but her work is still highly appreciated by Tara fans. Coming up for Benson, she’ll be starring opposite Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine in the A24 horror movie I Saw the TV Glow. Benson will also be returning to her role as Tara in the upcoming Audible original, Slayers: A Buffyverse Story.

Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy and Michelle Rrachtenberg as Dawn in 'The Gift'
Image via The WB

Michelle Trachtenberg played Dawn Summers, one of Buffy fans’ least favorite characters. Dawn mysteriously showed up in season five as Buffy’s bratty little sister, and it took a while for audiences to find out where she actually came from. There was a lot of sibling rivalry between Buffy and Dawn, but after Buffy learns of Dawn’s possible fate at the hand of Hell God Glory, they grow a little closer. When the Summers sisters lost their mother, Buffy assumed the role of Dawn’s parent, which was an uphill battle. While Dawn grew up over her three seasons, viewers didn’t get much character development from her. Like Tara, Dawn served as a catalyst for Buffy’s character growth.

Since Buffy, Michelle Trachtenberg has appeared in recurring roles in numerous TV series, including hosting the Discovery Kids Channel show Truth or Scare, as well as roles in Six Feet Under, Gossip Girl, Mercy, and Weeds. Most of her acting work was in the early 00s and 2010s, but she did reprise her role as Georgina Sparks in the revival of Gossip Girl. She’s been in music videos and web series and currently hosts her own online true-crime documentary series, Meet, Mary, Murder, available on Tubi TV.

Emma Caulfield as Anya Jenkins

Emma Caulfield as Anya Jenkins in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Image via The WB

Anya the vengeance demon was portrayed by Emma Caulfield. She went through a few back-and-forth transitions from demon to human to demon to human again. She and Xander had a relationship that many questioned (even he questioned it when he left her at the altar) but she was a favorite among fans for her tactless, straightforward truth bombs. Luckily, Anya wasn’t killed off until the last episode of Buffy, but it was still sad for many to see her go.

Caulfield had a role in the hit horror film Darkness Falls, and after that had recurring roles in the shows Gigantic, Life Unexpected, Once Upon a Time, and WandaVision. She is reprising her role as Sarah Proctor in the WandaVision spin-off series, Agatha: Coven of Chaos. She will also be part of the cast of the Audible original sequel series Slayers: A Buffyverse Story.

Eliza Dushku as Faith

Image via The WB

Last but not least, there was Faith, played tragically and beautifully by Eliza Dushku. Faith was pretty much Buffy’s evil twin. She was a slayer who befriended Buffy and the gang, but after a few incidents that left her feeling betrayed, she went to the dark side. Faith and Buffy fought multiple times from Season 3 and on, a showcase of their volatile relationship. While Buffy tried her hand at making a breakthrough with Faith, it was Angel, in his own show, who showed her the path to redemption.

Besides Buffy, Dushku is probably best known for her roles in the comedy films Bring it On and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Since Buffy, she starred in the short-lived series Tru Calling and Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, also short-lived. She’s voiced many video games and animated series, but the brunt of her work is in activism and production. She serves on the board THRIVE-Gulu, an organization that serves survivors of war, and is CEO of her own production company, Boston Diva Productions, which she runs with her brother, Nate.

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