‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: The Series Finale Was a Backdoor Pilot for a Failed Spinoff

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the most iconic television shows of the late nineties and is largely considered to be the vehicle responsible for making a star out of leading actress Sarah Michelle Gellar. The series, helmed by geek icon Joss Whedon, went off the air in the early 2000s, but remains a subject of intense fan debate, and is still very popular with viewers of all ages. The series spawned numerous associated materials, including books and comics — but, as many fans likely don’t realize, there was a planned spinoff series that never quite made it to the small-screen. 

'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' season 7 cast with Joss Whedon, smiling in different directions
Cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

When did ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ debut on television?

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In 1997, Sarah Michelle Gellar was an up and coming young actress with serious horror movie credentials. She seemed like the perfect choice to play the lead in a TV series based on the 1992 film, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show premiered in March 1997, and almost immediately, made a strong cultural impact. With Gellar in the lead, joined by talented stars such as Alyson Hannigan, Seth Green, and Nicholas Brendon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer quickly shot to the top of the rating charts.

Over the next few years, Buffy the Vampire Slayer scored numerous awards and earned legions of devoted fans. The show also shot Sarah Michelle Gellar to fame, and she became one of the most bankable young stars of the late nineties and early 2000s. Even today, although Gellar has numerous other popular projects under her belt, she remains best known for portraying the cheerleader Buffy Summers. 

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ concluded in 2003

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By the time the early 2000s rolled around, Gellar was ready to pursue other opportunities and in 2003, Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air. The finale was one of the most-watched television shows of the year, featuring all the Potentials being gifted full Slayer powers. Rather than feeling like an ending, the finale had a sense of hope and had plenty of opportunities for expansion and future storytelling. 

Even though the show was no longer around, fans have remained devoted to the series and continue to discuss a possible reunion show. With video games, fan videos, comic books, and other materials all created around the world portrayed in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a wealth of material is available for those who love the supernatural — still, there could have been more, and at one point in time, there were plans for a major spinoff show that ultimately never materialized. 

The failed ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ spinoff series

Originally, Joss Whedon and his team had a lineup of spinoff shows that were set to begin production after Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air in 2003. For one reason or another, they fell through. The most interesting of these spinoffs is one that would have reportedly featured Alyson Hannigan, who played Willow, Buffy’s best friend and confidante. This show would have been called Slayer School, according to Screen Rant, and would have revolved around a team of potential Slayers, all taught by Willow in an academy-style setting. There would have been numerous training montages, lots of supernatural fun, and possibly even cameos from some stars of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer (although that has not been confirmed.) 

While the idea sounds intriguing, a writer on Buffy revealed that the show never really got past the initial planning stage, according to Digital Spy. “I think Marti talked with Joss about Slayer School. I assume there was some back-and-forth pitching.” Even though Hannigan never got the chance to strut her stuff as the lead on the spinoff show, she has gone on to enjoy a very lucrative career of her own. As for fans, even though they missed the opportunity to see Slayer School on television, the concept could still be explored in the show’s auxiliary materials.