In a particularly cruel example of the relentless passage of time, Buffy The Vampire Slayer turns 20 years old this month – truly, it seems like only yesterday that Sarah Michelle Gellar was plunging stakes into the hearts of demons and thus winning the hearts of us nerds the world over.
To celebrate this momentous Buffyversary, Syfy are running hand-picked selections of special themed episodes every weekend in March and, to get us ready, we're running through the alphabet from A-Z to give you a complete rundown of the Buffyverse...
A is for... Angel
Born in 1727 in Galway, Ireland, Angel looks pretty good for his age – and he's named after his angelic looks, despite being one of the most powerful and savage vampires in history. Angel was, of course, the great love of Buffy's life, but their relationship was doomed never to last – vampires and vampire slayers do not a happy couple make - leaving Angel to move to LA and leave Sunnydale behind in his very own spin-off.
B is for... The Bronze
The second coolest place to hang out in Sunnydale (after the vending machine in Burgin's), The Bronze is the Scooby Gang's nightclub of choice after a hard day's slaying. Buffy and pals really didn't have anywhere else to socialise, so despite the fact it played host to troll attacks, werewolf transformations, vampire cult feeding sessions and frequent cockroach fumigations, still they returned to the Bronze's dancefloor week after week.
C is for... Cordelia
Just because she's a cheerleader doesn't mean she won't kick your ass. Sunnydale high school student Cordelia Chase was originally Buffy's frenemy but upon learning of the school's location on a Hellmouth, she decided to cut the Slayer some slack and help fight the good fight. Eventually, Cordelia left Sunnydale with Angel to move to Los Angeles, where they started supernatural detective agency Angel Investigations.
D is for... Drusilla
Raised by Angel back when he was known as Angelus and was into stuff like killing people's entire families for giggles, Drusilla is a vampire who possessed powerful psychic abilities when she was a human. Inherently evil and cunning, Drusilla fought Buffy and Angel several times over the years, and was responsible for turning a charming poet named William into a crazed Cockney vampire named Spike.
E is for... Ethan Rayne
Ethan Rayne used to hang with Giles – back when he went by the name Ripper – and practised magic in the 1970s, but the two diverged when Rayne began experimenting with summoning demons. When the sleepwalker demon Eyghon began to cause chaos, Giles knew that his old friend Ethan has turned to the dark arts. Rayne continued to be a thorn in Giles' side even decades later, and has appeared in Buffy comics since the end of the show.
F is for... Faith
Every good TV show needs an anti-hero, and Faith was Buffy's – a former Slayer with her heart in the right place, she was prone to emotional turmoil and defection to the dark side. A day before the epic Graduation Day battle, Buffy put Faith in a coma, where she remained for eight months, but even after awakening she continued to cause havoc. She later turned back to the side of good and set up a London-based Slayer squad.
G is for... Giles
That's Rupert Edmund Giles to you, member of the Watchers Council of three generations and unofficial father figure to star Slayer of Sunnydale High Buffy Summers. School librarian Giles was always keen on a bit of extra-curricular activity and guided Buffy through those difficult high school years, acting as her Watcher as she blossomed into a vampire slayer par excellence. He survived the series but was murdered by Angel in the comics and was later resurrected in his 12-year-old body, which is kind of a long story.
H is for... Hellmouth
Note to potential house buyers in Sunnydale: estate agents won't put it on the website, but do what the creators of Sunnydale High School did not do, and ask if your property is built on a Hellmouth – these portals to otherworldly dimensions will tend to make the neighbouring area a little more... demony. A hot spot for supernatural activity (they are what Starbucks are to hipsters), Hellmouths allow magic from other dimensions to flow through.
I is for... Initiative
Established during the Second World War and originally named the Demon Research Initiative, this United States Government agency were tasked with capturing demons and experimenting on them with an eye to weaponising them to aid the war effort. The Initiative survived and continued to breed super-soldiers, including Adam, a bio-mechanical demonoid who tried to convince the various ne'er-do-wells of Sunnydale to succumb to his program.
J is for... Joyce
Joyce Summers was a concerned parent and then some. Mother of Buffy – and later Dawn, more on her later – Joyce not only had to worry about her daughter's slipping academic grades, but also her constant battles with the forces of the undead. Joyce was a surrogate mother to all of the Scooby Gang – even Spike – and her eventual death from a brain aneurysm left them - and us - in pieces.
K is for... Kendra
After Buffy's (temporary) death in 1997, Kendra was activated as a Slayer. Born in Jamaica, Kendra's parents gave her over to Slayer training at a very young age, and she studied under Watcher Sam Zabuto, honing her fighting skills to a deadly degree (if you were a demon, you'd pray you never felt the wrath of her stake, which she named Mr Pointy). Kendra was killed by Drusilla while under hypnosis, but passed on Mr Pointy to Buffy.
L is for... Luke
No, not Luke Perry. This Luke was the most powerful acolyte of The Master and one of Buffy's toughest adversaries. Undefeated in combat since 1843, Luke led The Harvest at the Bronze nighclub, where – as the chosen Vessel for The Master - he gathered patrons to feed on. He might have been physically stronger than Buffy and friends but he wasn't smarter: Buffy staked him after tricking him that the sun was out (it was the middle of the night, duh).
M is for... The Master
The Boss. The Daddy. The King of Vampires. No matter what you call him, The Master is the oldest and most powerful vampire on record. He sired Darla, who sired Angel, who sired Drusilla, who sired Spike, who... you get the picture. The leader of a vampire cult called the Order of Aurelius, The Master was ultimately bested by Buffy, who resisted his attempt to kill her and subsequently chucked him through a window onto a broken table.
N is for... Nerf Herder
They might be named after a Star Wars reference (and yes, most of them are scruffy-looking), but Nerf Herder are legends in Buffy lore, for it was the pop punk band from Santa Barbera who recorded the show's theme tune. Nerf Herder also appeared in the show in the episode Empty Places. “What kind of band plays during an apocalypse?” wonders Kennedy. “I think this band might actually be one of the signs,” replies Dawn.
O is for... Once More, With Feeling
Arguably the greatest Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode ever, Once More, With Feeling went down in history as "the musical episode". A mysterious force in Sunnydale causes everyone to spontaneously burst into song and reveal their innermost secrets to music. It turns out that a tap-dancing, all-singing demon called Sweet is responsible, and that if residents can't fight the urge to sing, they'll combust from sheer emotion. It was written and directed by Joss Whedon, who proved to be an obvious fan of musical theatre.
P is for... Potential Slayers
There's only one Slayer, but at any given time, there are Potential Slayers being groomed around the world, ready to step into the Slayer's shoes should an unfortunate accident occur. Identified by the Watchers Council, the Potentials were summoned by Giles to create a Slayer Army and activated by Willow to fight the First Evil alongside Buffy. The future wasn't bright for all of them and many died in battle, but they all did their bit.
Q is for... Quiet
Another great gimmick episode, Hush (Season 4, Episode 10) is the episode in which the citizens of Sunnydale have their voices stolen by a group of demons known as The Gentlemen. Buffy and the gang have to communicate via dry-wipe boards and realise that the only thing that can kill The Gentleman is the sound of a human voice – the one thing they don't have. This episode is also notable for introducing Tara, Willow's eventual girlfriend.
R is for... Riley
Buffy was destined never to find a legit boyfriend – there was Angel, there was Spike and there was Riley, a boy who seemed like a regular high school jock but was eventually revealed to be a covert operative working for The Initiative. That old chestnut. For a while, Riley and Buffy were a couple, but it wasn't to be: the former government agent eventually hooked up with fellow agent Samantha in South America for a (marginally) less complicated life.
S is for... Spike
Legendary vampire Spike – so named for his love of torturing victims with railroad spikes – enjoyed a complex relationship with Buffy, the woman he loved (who was also trying to kill him). Sired by Drusilla, the former poet once went by the name William the Bloody, but only because his poetry was so awful. Reborn, he became one of the most evil and terrifying vampires ever, but he was a romantic at heart and was just as capable of good.
T is for... Tara
Tara is introduced in Hush in the University of Sunnydale's Wicca group, and is revealed to be of demonic descent, which gives her magical powers she uses for the forces of good. Tara enjoyed a relationship with fellow witch Willow, but because Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a Joss Whedon show, the good times wouldn't last; Whedon killed Tara off with a stray bullet, leaving fans howling at the beloved character's demise.
U is for... University
The University of Sunnydale was where Buffy and the gang graduated to after Sunnydale High School. They thought they'd moved onto firmer educational ground, what with their last place of learning built upon a Hellmouth, but UC Sunnydale was also built on a deep, dark secret: The Initiative were based underneath the campus and the building served as a front for young members like Riley.
V is for... Vengeance Demon
Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins – also known as Anya Emerson, also also known as the Patron Saint of the Women Scorned – is a former Vengeance Demon, a race of demons who can grant vengeful wishes. With a mission to inflict vengeance upon men on behalf of wives and girlfriends, Anya was sent to destroy Xander but, stripped of her demonhood, ended up falling in love with him.
W is for... Willow
A computer nerd turned powerful witch, Sunnydale's resident sorceress is one of the most beloved characters in the Buffyverse. Shy and timid, Willow the wallflower expresses herself via her dry wit and her magic powers. Drawn out of her shell by girlfriend Tara, Willow descended into dark magic after her death, briefly going goth with black hair and black eyes. She ends the series as the dimension's most powerful witch and the best BFF Buffy could ask for.
X is for... Xander
The main conduit for Joss Whedon's many wisecracks, sarcastic high schooler Xander laughed in the face of danger when he wasn't cowering in fear. The only member of the Scooby Gang who doesn't have supernatural powers, Xander is a valuable member of the team for that very reason: he often sees simple things the others can't. Though he originally crushed on Buffy, he eventually fell for Anya, but Joss couldn't let them be happy either.
Y is for... Younger Sister
Dawn Summers is no ordinary little sister. For starters, she began life as a ball of mystical energy called The Key, who was transformed into a human teenage girl to hide her from a Hell God. Thus, Dawn was added to the Summers family fully-formed, with memories of her upbringing planted into the minds of Buffy's family and friends. Though she wasn't a sister by birth, Dawn still went on to become a plucky and valuable member of the Scooby Gang.
Z is for... Zingers
The reason Buffy The Vampire Slayer has endured this past 20 years is not only down to the strength of the cast but the quality of the writing, and show creator Joss Whedon can rightly claim credit for all the best one-liners. So when Buffy stakes a vamp through the chest and lamely quips “You're going to get heartburn!”, or when she responds to a claim that she's a myth with the reply “You were myth-taken”, that's all Joss. Start the petition now for the 25-year Buffy reunion...
Buffy The Vampire Slayer airs every weekend from 11am on Syfy (CH 135) and Syfy HD (CH 165). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > Syfy