I wrote an article for another website but it was never published. I'm sure I'll get arguments and disagreements but see what you think - read it here.
Created by Joss Whedon
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series which aired from March 10, 1997, until May 20, 2003. The series was created in 1997 by writer-director Joss Whedon under his production tag, Mutant Enemy Productions with later co-executive producers being Jane Espenson, David Fury, David Greenwalt, Doug Petrie, Marti Noxon, and David Solomon. The series narrative follows Buffy Summers (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar), the latest in a line of young women known as "Vampire Slayers" or simply "Slayers". In the story, Slayers are "called" (chosen by fate) to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. Like previous Slayers, Buffy is aided by a Watcher, who guides, teaches, and trains her. Unlike her predecessors, Buffy surrounds herself with a circle of loyal friends who become known as the "Scooby Gang".
Buffy's success has led to hundreds of tie-in products, including novels, comics, and video games. The series has received attention in fandom (including fan films), parody, and academia, and has influenced the direction of other television series.
The show is set in the fictional California town of Sunnydale, whose suburban Sunnydale High School sits on top of a "Hellmouth", a gateway to demon realms. The Hellmouth, located beneath the school library, is a source of mystical energies as well as a nexus for a wide variety of evil creatures and supernatural phenomena.
Season one exemplifies the "high school as hell" concept. Buffy Summers has just moved to Sunnydale after burning down her old school's gym and hopes to escape her Slayer duties. Her plans are complicated by Rupert Giles, her new Watcher, who reminds her of the inescapable presence of evil. Sunnydale High is built atop a Hellmouth, a portal to demon dimensions that attracts supernatural phenomena to the area. Buffy meets two schoolmates, Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg, who help her fight evil through the series, but they must first prevent The Master, an ancient and especially threatening vampire, from opening the Hellmouth and taking over Sunnydale.
The emotional stakes are raised in season two. Vampires Spike and Drusilla (weakened from a mob in Prague, which presumably caused her debilitating injury), come to town along with the new slayer, Kendra Young, who was activated as a result of Buffy's brief death in the season one finale. Xander becomes involved with Cordelia, while Willow becomes involved with witchcraft and Daniel "Oz" Osbourne, who is bitten by his young werewolf cousin Jordy and becomes one himself. Buffy and the vampire Angel develop a relationship over the course of the season, but after they sleep together, Angel's soul, given to him by a Gypsy curse in the past, is lost and he once more becomes Angelus, a sadistic killer. Kendra is killed by a restored Drusilla. Angelus torments much of the "Scooby Gang" throughout the rest of the season and murders multiple innocents and Giles's new girlfriend Jenny Calendar, a gypsy who had been sent to maintain Angel's curse. To avert an apocalypse, Buffy is forced to banish Angelus to a demon dimension—right after Willow restores his soul—and leaves Sunnydale, emotionally shattered.
After attempting to start a new life in Los Angeles, Buffy returns to town in season three. Angel is mysteriously released from the demon dimension, but he and Buffy realize that a relationship between them can never happen; he eventually leaves Sunnydale at the end of the season. A new watcher named Wesley is put in Giles's place when he is fired from the Watcher's Council because he had developed a "father's love" for Buffy, and towards the end of the season Buffy announces that she will also no longer be working for the council. Early in the season she is confronted with an unstable Slayer, Faith, who was called up after Kendra's death, as well as affable Sunnydale Mayor Richard Wilkins, who has plans to "ascend" (become a giant snake demon) on Sunnydale High's Graduation Day. Although she works with Buffy at first, after accidentally killing a human, Faith becomes irrational and sides with Mayor Wilkins, eventually landing in a coma after a fight with Buffy. At the end of the season, Buffy and the entire graduation class defeat Mayor Wilkins by blowing up Sunnydale High, killing him in the process.
Season four sees Buffy and Willow enroll at UC Sunnydale while Xander joins the workforce and begins dating Anya, a former vengeance demon. Spike returns as a series regular and is abducted by The Initiative, a top-secret military installation based beneath the UC Sunnydale campus. They implant a microchip in his head which prevents him from harming humans. He reluctantly helps the Scooby Gang throughout the season and eventually begins to fight on their side after learning that he can still harm other demons. Oz leaves town after realizing that he is too dangerous as a werewolf, and Willow falls in love with Tara Maclay, another witch. Buffy begins dating Riley Finn, a grad student whom she later realizes is a member of The Initiative. Although appearing to be a well-meaning anti-demon operation, The Initiative's sinister plans are revealed when Adam, a demon/human/computer hybrid secret project, escapes and begins to wreak havoc on the town.
During season five, a younger sister to Buffy, Dawn, suddenly appears in Buffy's life, and although she is new to the series, to the characters it is as if she has always been there. Buffy is confronted with Glory, an exiled Hell God that is searching for a "Key" that will allow her to return to her Hell dimension and in the process would blur the lines between dimensions and unleash Hell on Earth. It is later discovered that the Key's protectors had turned the Key into human form as Buffy's sister Dawn, concurrently implanting everybody with lifelong memories of her. The Watcher's Council aids in Buffy's research of Glory, and she and Giles are both reinstated. Riley leaves early in the season after realizing that Buffy does not love him and joins a military demon-hunting operation, while Spike, still implanted with the Initiative chip, realizes he is in love with Buffy and continually helps the Scoobies in their fight. Buffy's mother Joyce dies of a brain aneurysm, while at the end of the season, Xander proposes to Anya. Glory later discovers that Dawn is the key and kidnaps her. Buffy sacrifices her own life to save Dawn's and prevent the portal to the Hell dimensions from opening.
At the beginning of season six, Buffy's friends resurrect her through a powerful spell, believing that they have rescued her from Hell. Buffy later reveals she was in Heaven during her death and she falls into a deep depression for most of the season. Giles returns to England after deciding that Buffy has become too reliant on him, while Buffy takes up a fast-food job for money and develops a secret, mutually abusive relationship with Spike. Dawn suffers from kleptomania and feelings of alienation, Xander leaves Anya at the altar, after which Anya once again becomes a vengeance demon, and Willow becomes addicted to magic, causing Tara to temporarily leave her. They also begin to deal with The Trio, a group of nerds led by Warren Mears who use their technological proficiency to attempt to kill Buffy and take over Sunnydale. Warren is shown to be the only competent villain of the group and, after Buffy thwarts his plans multiple times and the Trio breaks apart, he comes unhinged and attacks Buffy with a gun, killing Tara in the process. This causes Willow to descend into darkness and unleash all of her dark magical powers, killing Warren and attempting to kill the others. Giles returns to face her in battle and infuses her with light magic, tapping into her remaining humanity. This overwhelms Willow with guilt and pain, whereupon she attempts to destroy the world to end everyone's suffering, although it eventually allows Xander to reach through her pain and end her rampage. Late in of the season, after losing control and attacking Buffy, Spike leaves Sunnydale and travels to see a demon and asks him to "return him to what he used to be" so that he can "give Buffy what she deserves." After Spike passes a series of brutal tests, the demon restores his soul.
During season seven, it is revealed that Buffy's second resurrection caused an instability which allows the First Evil to begin tipping the balance between good and evil. It begins hunting down and killing the inactive Potential Slayers, and raises an army of ancient, powerful Turok-Han vampires. After the Watchers' Council is destroyed, a number of the Potential Slayers (some brought by Giles) take refuge in Buffy's house. Faith returns to help fight the First Evil, and the new Sunnydale High School's principal, Robin Wood, also joins the cause. The Turok-Han vampires and a sinister preacher known as Caleb begin causing havoc for the Scoobies. As the Hellmouth becomes more active, nearly all humans and demons flee Sunnydale. In the series finale, the Scoobies descend into the Hellmouth while Willow casts a spell that activates all of the Potential Slayers, granting them Slayer powers. Angel comes to Sunnydale with an amulet, which Buffy gives to Spike. Anya, now human again, dies in the fight, as do some of the new Slayers. Spike's amulet channels the power of the sun and kills all of the vampires in the Hellmouth, incinerating Spike in the process. This causes the Hellmouth to collapse, and the entirety of Sunnydale collapses into the resulting crater, while the survivors of the battle escape in a school bus.
Buffy Summers (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) is "the Slayer", one in a long line of young women chosen by fate to battle evil forces. This mystic calling endows her with dramatically increased physical strength, as well as endurance, agility, accelerated healing, intuition, and a limited degree of clairvoyance, usually in the form of prophetic dreams.
Buffy receives guidance from her Watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head). Giles, rarely referred to by his first name, is a member of the Watchers' Council, whose job is to train and assist the Slayers. Giles researches the supernatural creatures that Buffy must face, offering insights into their origins and advice on how to kill them.
Buffy is also helped by friends she meets at Sunnydale High: Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon). Willow is originally a bookish wallflower; she provides a contrast to Buffy's outgoing personality, but shares the social isolation Buffy suffers after becoming a Slayer. As the series progresses, Willow becomes a more assertive character, a powerful witch, and comes out as a lesbian. In contrast, Xander, with no supernatural skills, provides comic relief and a grounded perspective. It is Xander who often provides the heart to the series, and in season six, becomes the hero in place of Buffy who defeats the "Big Bad." Buffy and Willow are the only characters who appear in all 144 episodes; Xander is missing in only one.
The cast of characters grew over the course of the series. Buffy first arrives in Sunnydale with her mother, Joyce Summers (portrayed by Kristine Sutherland), who functions as an anchor of normality in the Summers' lives even after she learns of Buffy's role in the supernatural world ("Becoming, Part Two"). Buffy's teenage sister Dawn Summers (Michelle Trachtenberg) does not appear until season five.
A vampire with a soul, Angel (portrayed by David Boreanaz), is Buffy's love interest throughout the first three seasons. He leaves Buffy to make amends for his sins and search for redemption in his own spin-off, Angel.
At Sunnydale High, Buffy meets several other students willing to join her fight for good (alongside her friends Willow and Xander), an informal group eventually tagged the "Scooby Gang" or "Scoobies." Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), the archetypal shallow cheerleader, reluctantly becomes involved, and Daniel "Oz" Osbourne (Seth Green), a fellow student, rock guitarist and werewolf, joins the group through his relationship with Willow. Anya (Emma Caulfield), a former vengeance demon (Anyanka) who specialized in avenging scorned women, becomes Xander's lover after losing her powers and joins the group in season four.
In Buffy's senior year at high school, she meets Faith (Eliza Dushku), the second current-Slayer who was brought forth when Slayer Kendra Young (Bianca Lawson) was killed by vampire Drusilla (Juliet Landau), in season two. Although she initially fights on the side of good with Buffy and the rest of the group, she comes to stand against them and sides with Mayor Richard Wilkins (Harry Groener) after accidentally killing a human in season three. She reappears briefly in the fourth season, looking for vengeance, and moves to Angel where she voluntarily goes to jail for her murders. Faith reappears in season seven of Buffy, having helped Angel and crew, and fights with Buffy against The First Evil.
Buffy gathers other allies: Spike (James Marsters), a vampire, is an old companion of Angelus and one of Buffy's major enemies in early seasons, although they later become allies and lovers. At the end of season six, Spike regains his soul. Spike is known for his Billy Idol-style peroxide blond hair and his black leather coat, stolen from a previous Slayer, Nikki Wood; her son, Robin Wood (D. B. Woodside), joined the group in the final season. Tara Maclay (Amber Benson) is a fellow member of Willow's Wicca group during season four, and their friendship eventually turns into a romantic relationship. Buffy became involved personally and professionally with Riley Finn (Marc Blucas), a military operative in "the Initiative", which hunts demons using science and technology. The final season sees geeky wannabe-villain Andrew Wells (Tom Lenk) come to side with the Scoobies, who regard him more as a nuisance than an ally.
Buffy featured dozens of recurring characters, both major and minor. For example the "Big Bad" (villain) characters were featured for at least one season (e.g. Glorificus was a character that appeared in 13 episodes, spanning much of season five). Similarly, characters who allied themselves to the group and characters which attended the same institutions were sometimes featured in multiple episodes.
The spin-off Angel was introduced in October 1999, at the start of Buffy season four. The series was created by Buffy's creator Joss Whedon in collaboration with David Greenwalt. Like Buffy, it was produced by the production company Mutant Enemy. At times, it performed better in the Nielsen ratings than its parent series did.
The series was given a darker tone focusing on the ongoing trials of Angel in Los Angeles. His character is tormented by guilt following the return of his soul, punishment for more than a century of murder and torture. During the first four seasons of the show, he works as a private detective in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles, California, where he and his associates work to "help the helpless" and to restore the faith and "save the souls" of those who have lost their way. Typically, this mission involves doing battle with evil demons or demonically allied humans (primarily the law firm Wolfram & Hart), while Angel must also contend with his own violent nature. In season five, the Senior Partners of Wolfram and Hart take a bold gamble in their campaign to corrupt Angel, giving him control of their Los Angeles office. Angel accepts the deal as an opportunity to fight evil from the inside.
In addition to Boreanaz, Angel inherited Buffy regular Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase). When Glenn Quinn (Doyle) left the series during its first season, Alexis Denisof (Wesley Wyndam-Pryce), who had been a recurring character in the last nine episodes of season three of Buffy, took his place. Carpenter and Denisof were followed later by Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall) and James Marsters (Spike). Several actors and actresses who played Buffy characters made guest appearances on Angel, including Seth Green (Daniel "Oz" Osbourne), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Eliza Dushku (Faith), Tom Lenk (Andrew Wells), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Julie Benz (Darla), and Juliet Landau (Drusilla). Angel also continued to appear occasionally on Buffy.
Outside of the TV series, the Buffyverse has been officially expanded and elaborated on by authors and artists in the so-called "Buffyverse Expanded Universe." The creators of these works may or may not keep to established continuity. Similarly, writers for the TV series were under no obligation to use information which had been established by the Expanded Universe, and sometimes contradicted such continuity.
Dark Horse has published the Buffy comics since 1998. In 2003, Whedon wrote an eight-issue miniseries for Dark Horse Comics titled Fray, about a Slayer in the future. Following the publication of Tales of the Vampires in 2004, Dark Horse Comics halted publication on Buffyverse-related comics and graphic novels. The company produced Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight with forty issues from March 2007 to January 2011, picking up where the television show left off – taking the place of an eighth canonical season. The first story arc is also written by Whedon, and is called "The Long Way Home" which has been widely well-received, with circulation rivalling industry leaders DC and Marvel's top-selling titles. Also after "The Long Way Home" came other story arcs like Faith's return in "No Future for You" and a Fray cross-over in "Time of Your Life." Dark Horse began producing Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine in August 2011 and is planned to run for 25 issues.