There are few shows out there that have become icons long after they have ended. Every generation seems to have at least one that they continue to talk about, write about, and in some cases sneak little homages to in their own work. I Love Lucy, ER, Xena: Warrior Princess, and Game of Thrones are just a few of those shows. For a time in the late ’90s and early 2000s though, the name on everybody’s lips was Buffy. Movies, television, even comics were giving callbacks to the vampire series and its titular character. These references have continued long after the show ended in 2003.
These references have been everything from plays on the show’s title to dropping in phrases that were made popular by their use on the show. As you can probably guess, if we were to include every single one we’d be here all day. That is why, after spending many hours combing through the references and sometimes using good old Google, I have managed to cut the list down to five. Are these the best? Perhaps not. They are the ones I felt were used in creative ways that also reflected why Buffy the Vampire Slayer was as popular as it was. I did leave out ones that were a play on the show’s title (which could be its own list honestly) so I apologize for those expecting to see Xena: Warrior Princess and The Simpsons.
1. Charmed – “Bite Me” S4E18
Back before the CW, there was a little network called the WB. This was the place to be if you were gearing television towards teenagers and young adults. The network had found success with Gilmore Girls, 7th Heaven, and Dawson’s Creek. It was on this network in 1997 that Buffy the Vampire Slayer would begin its reign. Come 2001, the show had gotten too big for its breeches and creator Joss Whedon wanted a bigger budget. Instead of coming to a compromise, the WB decided to cancel the show, allowing Whedon to shop around for another network to pick it up. That lucky network would be the UPN which would continue the show for two more seasons.
When a show cuts ties with its network there’s for sure going to be talk. Usually, a cancellation of a show gets mentioned by an actor on a future project. In this case, a fellow fantasy series from Buffy’s original network would throw some shade in a blink and you’ll miss it throw-away line.
The “fellow fantasy series” was Charmed, a series about three sister witches played by Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, and Rose McGowan who recently joined the series. The sisters fight demons while balancing out their careers and love lives. In the Season 4 episode “Bite Me” the Charmed Ones find themselves coming face to face with vampires. When Paige (Rose McGowan) gets attacked by a bunch of bats and winds up in the hospital the sisters bounce off ideas on who might have caused it. When she brings up vampires, their Whitelighter (guardian angel) Leo makes the comment on how they’ve been banned from the Underworld for centuries and for all he knew, “switched networks”.
2. The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships — both old and new — begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.
The world of fandom is quite a fickle thing. It can cause joy, create family, and it can bring people together. In the 2007 film The Jane Austen Book Club, a group of women decide to start a book club reading the novels of Jane Austen. As you can probably guess, each woman becomes a representation of an Austen heroine. Jocelyn (Maria Bello) is the Emma Woodhouse of the group. The one who is constantly making attachments among the people she knows but can’t see when there is love right in front of her face.
She finds herself going to an author’s convention being hosted at a hotel at the same time a sci-fi con is also being held. When she gets on the elevator she meets Grigg (Hugh Dancy) who is a sci-fi author himself and the first thing he asks her is if she is there for the Buffy con. They are soon interrupted by a group of teens dressed in goth gear pretending to be vampires. Later on, the pair find one another again in the hotel restaurant and Grigg brings up how a sci-fi con usually draws in a “Buffy contingent”. This conversation leads to Grigg recommending Jocelyn a few Jane Austen-inspired fantasy reads and eventually discovering a love for Austen himself.
Oh, the power that fandom can hold on bringing people together in the strangest of ways! Now, I wonder if the group would ever be up for reading some Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters?
3. Gilmore Girls – “But Cute As A Button” S5E10
Gilmore Girls is a show revolving around a young mother and her teenage daughter as they go about their lives in suburban Connecticut. It was always known for its quick wit and thrown-around references. So, it comes as no surprise that they would eventually throw in a Buffy reference or two. What’s quite enjoyable is their ability to do so in such a way where, if you really know Buffy, the events of “But Cute As A Button” can be appreciated on a deeper level.
The Season 5 episode sees Rory’s school friend and college roommate Paris (Liza Weil) being told by her counselor “to get out more”. When she decides to take his advice to heart she ends up going out wicked late (yes, I will let my Massachusetts show through here) which she decided would be the best time to put this advice into action. Before she leaves she asks Rory how she looks and Rory remarks that since it’s eleven o’clock who was she hoping to run into? Spike and Drusilla? If you are reading this then you most likely know that Spike and Dru are two of the most well-known vamps to come from the fellow WB series.
This entire exchange becomes funnier when later Paris continues her journey of “getting out” by attending a speed dating event being held at the university. Of all the people she comes to find an attachment to it just has to be her fellow, equally awkward, classmate Doyle who just happens to be played by Danny Strong. That’s right, Paris is dating “Superstar” Jonathan Levinson! The two remain together for the rest of the series and it’s just cute to think that the episode which brought them officially together is also the one where a Buffy comment is made.
4. Fable II (2008)
When I was just getting into video games I found myself being completely obsessed with Fable II. My brothers had an X-Box and this was the one game I would constantly insist they allow me to play on it. It was one of the things that began my love of RPG video games. Fable II follows a young orphan named Hero (you choose to play male or female). As Hero, you witness your sister being killed and are almost killed yourself. You are saved by a blind woman who ends up raising you in her tribe until you are of age to go get revenge on the man who slain your sister, Lucien. Along the way you are faced with many other tasks and depending on how you respond to those tasks determines your appearance for the rest of the game. If you choose to proceed throughout the game doing all good, then by the end you will look like a god. If you choose to proceed to do wrong then you come out having a demonic appearance. I always tried to go through doing good only to then go on a mass destructive streak after I’ve initially beaten the game.
As I’ve mentioned, throughout the game you encounter many tasks or quests that present themselves. One of the quests that you come across is given to you by Farmer Giles. Giles’s family had been tormented by a bandit named Ripper and his henchman, Ethan. Ethan had ended up killing Giles’s wife Jennifer leaving his son, Rupert, without a mother. When you come to Farmer Giles, he asks for your help in defeating Ripper and Ethan. If you agree and go about it on the good path, by the end you reunite Giles with his son and years pass to find yourself helping Rupert find love.
If those names are familiar that’s because they are. Rupert Giles was Buffy’s watcher. In Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer he began a relationship with fellow teacher, Jennifer “Jenny” Calendar (Robia LaMorte). That relationship would end disastrously when Angelus would murder Jenny soon after she was able to interpret the Romani curse that her ancestors had put on to give him a soul. Ripper was the nickname given to him during his university days (before dropping out) when he found himself experimenting with magic. It was given to him by his best mate and fellow magic enabler, Ethan Rayne (Robin Sachs). Ethan would come and go during the early seasons to wreak havoc and then run and hide again.
It’s really fun to stumble on your favorite characters becoming a part of another world.
5. Once Upon A Time – “Skin Deep” S1E12
Buffy the Vampire Slayer gave the television world so many writers who would go on to bigger things. One of my absolute favorite writers to come out of the series, and one that I continue to admire is Jane Espenson. After Buffy, Jane would go on to create Warehouse 13 and write episodes of Battlestar Galactica, Torchwood, and Once Upon A Time.
Even though Once Upon A Time was the brainchild of Adam Horwitz and Eddie Kitsis, Jane Espenson soon found herself imprinting on many of the series’ best episodes including the Season 1 introduction to Rumbelle, “Skin Deep”. For a show still sticking to classic fairy tales, “Skin Deep” was the first attempt at giving the 1994 Beauty and the Beast a twisted remake which would eventually lead to the downfall of the series. The episode features Belle (Emily de Ravin) agreeing to go live with Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) as his servant in exchange for him saving her land. While working there the two begin to strike up a romance.
It’s in this episode we are able to first see how Rumple, the manipulator, and antagonist of the series, lives. He is quite the collector since he’s lived quite a long time and as the audience comes to learn, the fairy tale land isn’t the only realm he’s visited. One day while cleaning, the two strike up a conversation about his past and if you look carefully around the room there are many items that have come from some peculiar places. The Golden Fleece from the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts can be seen on the right side of a window while on the right is the Slayer’s Scythe. The Scythe was a weapon that was a part ax and part stake designed to give Buffy, Faith, and the Potential Slayers their powers. In the final battle at the Hellmouth, Willow ended up transferring its power to every girl who could be a Potential.
One must wonder in the world of Once Upon A Time what deal Rumplestiltskin must have dredged up in order to get his hands on it. Could it be that “the Slayer” was just another title that could be given to “the savior”? I can see Buffy and Emma Swan fighting side by side.
That’s it! Those are the five Buffy the Vampire Slayer references in other media that I found quite fun to share! I know there were many out there that weren’t included. Do you have one that’s your favorite? Did it make the list? Did any of these surprise you? Let us know in the comments.