Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American television series; a supernatural drama that 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, and Marti Noxon. The series narrative follows Buffy Summers (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar), the latest in a line of young women known as Slayers. Slayers are 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"
The series usually reached between four and six million viewers on original airings. Although such ratings are lower than successful shows on the "big four" networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox), they were a success for the relatively new and smaller WB Television Network.Reviews for the show were positive,and it was ranked #41 on the list of TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time as well as #2 on Empire's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. Buffy was also voted #3 in TV Guide's Top 25 Cult TV Shows of All Time and included in TIME Magazine's 100 Best TV Shows of All Time. It was nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe awards, winning a total of 3 Emmys. The WB network ceased operation on September 17, 2006 after airing an "homage" to its "most memorable series", including the pilot episodes of Buffy and its spin-off Angel. 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
Writer Joss Whedon says that "Rhonda the Immortal Waitress" was really the first incarnation of the Buffy concept, just the idea of some woman who seems to be completely insignificant who turns out to be extraordinary." This early, unproduced idea evolved into Buffy, which Whedon developed to invert the Hollywood formula of "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie." Whedon wanted "to subvert that idea and create someone who was a hero." He explained: "The very first mission statement of the show was the joy of female power: having it, using it, sharing it."
The idea was first visited through Whedon's script for the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which featured Kristy Swanson in the title role. The director, Fran Rubel Kuzui, saw it as a "pop culture comedy about what people think about vampires." Whedon disagreed: "I had written this scary film about an empowered woman, and they turned it into a broad comedy. It was crushing."The script was praised within the industry, but the movie was not
Several years later, Gail Berman, a Fox executive, approached Whedon to develop his Buffy concept into a television series. Whedon explained that "They said, 'Do you want to do a show?' And I thought, 'High school as a horror movie.' And so the metaphor became the central concept behind Buffy, and that's how I sold it." The supernatural elements in the series stood as metaphors for personal anxieties associated with adolescence and young adulthood.Whedon went on to write and partly fund a twenty five minute non-broadcast pilotthat was shown to networks and eventually sold to the WB Network. The latter promoted the premiere with a series of History of the Slayer clips, and the first episode aired on March 10, 1997.
Joss Whedon was credited as executive producer throughout the run of the series, and for the first five seasons (1997–2001) he was also the show runner, a role that involves serving as head writer and being responsible for every aspect of production. Marti Noxon took on the role for seasons six and seven (2001–2003), but Whedon continued to be involved with writing and directing Buffy alongside projects such as Angel, Fray, and Firefly. Fran Rubel Kuzui and her husband, Kaz Kuzui, were credited as executive producers but were not involved in the show. Their credit, rights, and royalties over the franchise relate to their funding, producing, and directing of the original movie version of Buffy.