‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: Is Sunnydale, California a Real Place?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a TV show that inspired rabid fan devotion, and to this day, it is still an undeniable piece of pop culture history. The show, which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar and a host of other talented young stars, ran from 1997 until 2003 and spawned several spinoff shows, comic books, novel tie-ins, and a wealth of other merchandise and product lines.

Still, it is the legacy of the show itself, and of the characters it introduced, that really resonates with fans. And many of them are diving deeper than ever, learning what they can about the production and filming of the iconic series. 

What is ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ about?

Sarah Michelle Gellar (r) with co-star Alyson Hannigan (wearing a pink top) and Seth Green (front) at the UCLA campus shooting "Buffy The Vampire Slayer"
Sarah Michelle Gellar (r) with co-star Alyson Hannigan (wearing a pink top) and Seth Green (front) at the UCLA campus shooting Buffy The Vampire Slayer. | JOHN FAGERNESS/Online USA, Inc.

RELATED: 8 ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Clips To Watch and Make You Feel Empowered

Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on The WB network in 1997. The show tells the story of Buffy Summers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, a young high school cheerleader who also happens to be the latest in a mythical line of “Vampire Slayers,” also referred to simply as “Slayers.”

As Buffy learns to accept her fate as a warrior against the forces of darkness, she also has to deal with the normal stresses of high school, including treacherous friends and young love. Still, as Buffy’s powers grow, she learns whom she can trust, and starts to surround herself with loyal, trustworthy supporters.

Full of drama, supernatural intrigue, and fascinating characters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer quickly amassed a legion of dedicated fans, who loved the originality of the series. The show made a star out of Gellar, and critics showered the series with praise. Ultimately, the show received five nominations in the Television Critics Association Awards.

Is the town of Sunnydale a real place?

RELATED: ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: 5 Behind-the-Scenes Photos

As much as the characters and storylines helped to set the scene for the dramatic episodes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the town did as well. The series was set in the town of Sunnydale, California, a fictional town that hosted a variety of mythical creatures, from vampires to werewolves.

According to Yardbarker, the completely fictional town became as popular as many of the characters, developing a personality all its own — in spite of the fact that it was fleshed out for the series using a variety of filming locations in and around the Southern California area. 

Where was ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ filmed?

RELATED: Why Visiting the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Season 1 Set is Nearly Impossible

While Sunnydale, California might not have been a real place, showrunners utilized a variety of filming locations in order to make Buffy the Vampire Slayer as thrilling as possible.

According to ScreenRant, producers filmed the show at a few different places through Southern California, including Torrance High School, the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery in LA, Royce Hall of the University of California at LA campus, downtown Santa Monica, and Castle Green Apartments in Pasadena. Many of these places can be visited by fans of the show to this day — although they might look somewhat different than they did two decades ago. 

In addition to these real-life locations, the production team built several permanent sets, that were used throughout the series run. These permanent sets included the high school’s interior, the Summers house, the Master’s underground lair, Angel’s mansion, and Giles’ apartment.

Ultimately, although the series might have been set in a fictional place, the atmosphere, and environment that it created were very real.