The show's creator, Joss Whedon, stated that his aim was to change from the usual horror film formula, where a small blonde girl would take a short cut through the graveyard and meet an unpleasant end; with her superhuman strength, agility and martial arts, Buffy is more than capable of looking after herself.
The show is set in the fictional California town of Sunnydale, which happens to be the site of a "Hellmouth", a gateway between our universe and others dominated by all manner of evil creatures. One of the more prominent examples of evil creatures are vampires, who in the show's mythology are a human body possessed by a demon.
Buffy (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) is the "Slayer", who, under the direction of her "Watcher" Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), must destroy demons threatening humans. She is also assisted by her close friends, nicknamed the "Scooby Gang" because of their resemblance to the characters of the cartoon Scooby Doo. Within this framework the show has managed to pack in martial-arts action, horror, comedy, and extensive character drama with friendships, family, and romantic relationships of all types.
Unlike the moderately successful movie, the TV series has been a massive popular and critical success, appreciated just as much by middle-aged TV critics as by its primarily teenage and twentysomething audience. While the attractive, charismatic cast has undoubtedly helped greatly, most believe the real reason for the show's success is the beautifully written scripts and inspired direction of Whedon, who manages to create convincing, three-dimensional characters in a bizarre, but internally consistent alternate world that to many ring far truer than shallow caricatures of many other television shows set in the more mundane worlds of law offices and police stations. The series is also notable for its ability to deal with the maturation of its characters and themes, and to use its fantastical elements as metaphors for more earthly concerns.
- /Buffy Summers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar
- /Joyce Summers, played by Kristine Sutherland
- /Rupert Giles, played by Anthony Stewart Head
- /Xander Harris, played by Nicholas Brendon
- /Willow Rosenberg, played by Alyson Hannigan
- /Angelus (aka Angel), played by David Boreanaz
- /Anya Emerson, played by Emma Caulfield
- /Cordelia Chase, played by Charisma Carpenter
- /Riley Finn, played by Marc Blucas
- /Tara Maclay, played by Amber Benson
- /Dawn Summers, played by Michelle Trachtenberg
- /Spike, played by James Marsters
- /Daniel Oz Osborne, played by Seth Green