‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Almost Had a Spinoff Following Giles’ ‘Ripper’ Roots

It can be heartbreaking to hear that your favorite TV show isn’t coming back. Some fans have taken the drastic step of petitioning — some even successfully — to keep their beloved series on the air. Still, all good things must come to an end, and show creators have to walk a careful balance of keeping their fans happy, finishing the story to satisfaction, and not letting things linger until they become stale.

In the case of the extremely popular and groundbreaking Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there was still plenty of material to explore, so when the show ended after seven seasons, many fans were anxious to see at least some characters continue through spinoffs. One option was to explore the darker side of Rupert “Ripper” Giles. Could the series still happen? 

Anthony Stewart Head looking off camera in front of a black background
Anthony Stewart Head | David Livingston/Getty Images

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ was groundbreaking

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When Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered in 1997, it was groundbreaking. Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind the show, had first brought it to audiences through film, but it fell short of Whedon’s expectations, according to Empire Online. The 1992 film starred Kristy Swanson as the titular Buffy, and Whedon was pleased with the script he had created. However, the actual film didn’t achieve what he had hoped. When he reworked the same basic plot — a somewhat aloof and self-absorbed cheerleader finds out that she’s the chosen one with superpowers — into the television series, the tone was considerably darker, and the heroine was much more complex. 

The series has received accolades galore, including some who credit it with creating modern-day television. By relying on complex plots, Whedon helped usher in the kind of multithreading that today’s viewers — aided with binge-watching options — have come to expect from their entertainment. Back in 1997 when viewers had to wait for long stretches of time between episodes, though, that kind of writing was unexpected and impressive — especially for a show about a bunch of teenagers. 

‘Buffy’ ended after seven seasons

When Buffy came to an end, there was definitely a finality to the story. Most of the characters got some kind of conclusion (though some were tragic endings), and the final scene suggested that though evil would still continue to threaten the world, there was a new plan to face it. That wasn’t the end of the story, however. There is an entire “Buffyverse” that traverses genres. Through novels, comics, and video games, the dark world of good vs. evil continues to captivate fans’ imaginations and attention. 

On TV, fans got to see only one more season of action as the spinoff Angel, following Buffy’s former lover and a vampire with a soul, wrapped up one year after the original series did. The absence left a gaping hole in the hearts — and viewing schedules — of fans who had spent years following the ups and downs of Sunnydale’s monster fighters. 

A ‘Buffy’ spinoff could have featured Rupert Giles

There were plenty of talks about more spinoffs. One might have followed rogue slayer Faith, but when Whedon admitted he couldn’t commit the same kind of time to a new series, talks fell apart. One possibility that got some serious consideration was a show that would follow Rupert “Ripper” Giles, Buffy’s father-figure and Watcher, according to Digital Spy. In the series, Giles is serious, level-headed, and reliable, but there are frequent hints and occasional glimpses at his darker self, one that was embodied by his youthful persona “Ripper,” who was known to dabble in dark magic. 

Whedon wrote a two-hour pilot for the series, and it almost found a home with BBC in both 2001 and 2007. In 2015, Whedon — whose fame has only grown — suggested that fans shouldn’t give up hope for the series, according to SyFy. Whedon explained that the series’ premise was timeless: “that story was always about a mature guy who’s lived, and about the choices he’s made. So you could make that now, or you could make it 10 years from now.” 

Whedon, however, has been very busy with his work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and more years have passed without any sign of Ripper. It’s likely the project is actually dead for good, but then again, Whedon has always been talented at bringing things back from the grave.