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What is Buffy the Vampire Slayer without Sarah Michelle Gellar as the title character? Fans of the popular TV show never had to find out. But the actor known for her role as Buffy Summers once threatened to retire her stakes and leave the fictional town of Sunnydale for good. 

 Sarah Michelle Gellar attends the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards
Sarah Michelle Gellar attends the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog Awards | Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ premiered on The WB and dominated the network 

The now-shuttered network, The WB, debuted Buffy the Vampire Slayer on March 10, 1997. In the drama, Gellar plays Buffy, the seemingly average teen who spends her days in school. But when she’s not doing in class or doing homework, Buffy’s fighting vampires, demons, and other forces of evil in Sunnydale. 

The show went on to become one of the supernatural powerhouses on TV at the time. In fact, Buffy the Vampire Slayer would draw such large audiences for the network, it led to a spinoff series, Angel

Contract negotiations for ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ led to a bidding war between The WB and UPN

Contract negotiations are a regular occurrence for TV shows, but they can get complicated fast. Negotiating the terms for Buffy the Vampire Slayer following the show’s fifth season, the people behind the drama wanted a budget increase.

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

Creator Joss Whedon asked The WB to up the program’s budget from $1 million to $2 million per episode. At the time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had developed a major following and solidified itself as a heavy hitter. 

In response to Whedon’s request, The WB came back with an offer of $1.8 million. It ultimately led to a bidding war between The WB and UPN, according to The Things

After lots of back and forth, Buffy the Vampire Slayer moved to UPN. What sealed the deal? UPN offered the program a budget of $2.33 million per episode. They made the offer more enticing by throwing in a guaranteed 2-year deal. 

Sarah Michelle Gellar wanted ‘Buffy the Vampire’ to stay with The WB

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer | Online USA

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: Joss Whedon Almost Brought a Character Back to Life Because Fans Were So Mad

Gellar didn’t take to the contract negotiations well. Supposedly, she didn’t want to leave The WB. Instead, the actor wanted to spend all of her Buffy the Vampire Slayer days with the same network. She even went so far as to threaten to quit the show if it left The WB. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer did leave The WB and find a new home at UPN. And Gellar stayed on as Buffy Summers for the duration of the series. 

Sarah Michelle Gellar’s role on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ is one of her most memorable

Running for seven seasons before ending in May 2003, Buffy the Vampire Slayer developed a significant following it maintains more than 15 years later.

For Geller, her role as Buffy still resonates with viewers. Although she’s gone on to star in other TV shows, no acting credit has eclipsed the actor’s turn as a vampire slayer.