‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: Joss Whedon Shares the Origin of Buffy’s Name

The name Buffy didn’t bring to mind images of a teen fighting evil before Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That all changed with Joss Whedon. When writing a story about an evil-fighting teen, he purposely selected a contrasting name.

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ started out as a movie

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Audiences first met the character of Buffy Summers in 1992. Whedon wrote the screenplay for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which hit theaters on July 31, 1992. 

In the film, Kristy Swanson plays the part of Buffy, the Sunnydale teen who fights demons and vampires. Some of Swanson’s co-stars include Donald Sutherland, Luke Perry, Hilary Swank, and David Arquette. 

The movie didn’t get stellar reviews. However, it did lead to the pop culture phenomenon that is the Buffy the Vampire TV series.

Joss Whedon picked a name he ‘took the least seriously’ for ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ title character

During an interview with IGN, Whedon opened up about the origin of Buffy’s name. He explained that he selected the name Buffy because he didn’t take it seriously. 

“It was the name that I could think of that I took the least seriously,” Whedon said. “There is no way you could hear the name Buffy and think, ‘This is an important person.’”

Cast of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' series
The cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer | Getty Images / Stringer

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He continued, saying it worked with the film and contrasted nicely with the rest of the title. 

“To juxtapose that with Vampire Slayer, just felt like that kind of thing – a B movie,” Whedon said. “But a B movie that had something more going on. That was my dream.”

TV executives didn’t love the name ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

TV network executives didn’t love the name Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In fact, people at the now-defunct WB urged Whedon to change the name. 

“The network begged me to change the title,” Whedon said. 

But he wouldn’t budge, insisting the name stay. 

“I was like, ‘You don’t understand. It has to be this. This is what it is,’” he said.  

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Joss Whedon on the set of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Joss Whedon on the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer| Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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On March 10, 1997, viewers met Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy and a pop culture phenomenon was born. Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran for seven seasons before going off the air in 2003. 

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan base is still going strong 15 years since Buffy retired her stakes. Now viewers refer to the show simply as Buffy

Joss Whedon says he’s been told ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ title ‘kept it from being taken seriously’

When Whedon spoke with IGN in 2003, it had been 11 years since the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. At that point, Whedon said the title still received criticism. 

“To this day, everyone says, ‘Oh, the title kept it from being taken seriously,’” he said.

Whedon continued, saying the comment didn’t bother him. 

“I’m like, “Well, f*ck them. It’s a B movie, and if you don’t love B movies, then I won’t let you play in my clubhouse,” he said. https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/sarah-michelle-gellar-buffy-remake-stupidest-idea.html/“Now, I’m not an exclusionary person, I don’t like to drive people away, but honestly, if people have trouble with that title.”

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