Recent years have seen no shortage of supernatural series about everything from vampires to werewolves to demons. Some shows have definitely been better than others, but none of them would likely have made it to the airwaves if not for the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show played on two networks over seven seasons from 1997 - 2003, launched a generation of young adult actors to fame, and gave Joss Whedon the reputation for knowing how to put out great – if occasionally heartbreaking – entertainment.
Buffy was definitely all about Buffy Summers and her misadventures in battling forces of evil, but the show wouldn’t have been worth watching for the better part of a decade if not for the supporting cast of characters. Keep on reading for a breakdown of what the actors who brought those characters to life have been up to since 2003.
Sarah Michelle GellarSarah Michelle Gellar got to show off her acting chops in a big way as Buffy Summers. She brought emotional realism to a fundamentally unrealistic series, and she was a pro at dropping one-liners. Those acting chops have served her well in the years since Buffy came to an end. She mostly stuck with films immediately after Buffy, but she dabbled in voice work ranging from the TMNT feature to the Call of the Dead video game. Gellar then spent 29 episodes on the soap All My Children before heading to The CW to star in the short-lived drama Ringer in 2011. She was a hilarious leading lady opposite Robin Williams in the CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones, but her magnum opus since her Buffy days might just be her appearance as Cinderella in a Disney Princess Rap Battle. Soon, she’ll reprise her 1999 Cruel Intentions role of Kathryn in an NBC revival.
Alyson HanniganAlyson Hannigan played Buffy’s witchy best friend Willow for the whole seven seasons of the show, and she mostly stayed on TV following the Buffy finale. She appeared on a couple of episodes of That ‘70s Show shortly after the end of Buffy, and Veronica Mars fans will remember her as Logan’s shifty sister Trina in 2005. Then, Hannigan landed the role of Lily Aldrin on How I Met Your Mother, and she was a major face on the sitcom circuit until the show finally concluded in 2014. She’ll tackle the part of Rachael in the gay marriage drama Modern Love, and she’s set to take over hosting duties for the Penn & Teller: Fool Us show.
Nicholas BrendonNicholas Brendon played Xander Harris, who was especially unique among main Buffy players for not having any magical powers. He was always a great source for comic relief, but he could deliver on the drama as well. Brendon stayed on TV after the end of Buffy when he moved to Fox to star with Bradley Cooper in the sitcom Kitchen Confidential. As it happens, Kitchen Confidential was cancelled after only 13 episodes were shot, and Brendon spent most of his TV appearances in subsequent years as one-off characters. He did recur as analyst Kevin Lynch for twenty-one episodes of Criminal Minds from 2011 – 2014. Unfortunately, Brendon may be better known for his arrests and addiction over the years than for any of his non-Buffy roles.
Anthony HeadAnthony Head was a regular on Buffy as the Watcher Rupert Giles for the first six seasons, and he reappeared throughout the seventh season. After leaving Buffy, Head began working on more projects in his native Britain. Doctor Who fans will know him as an evil alien headmaster circa 2006, and he tackled the thankless role of the magic-fearing Uther Pendragon on BBC’s Merlin from 2008 – 2012. He was the centaur Chiron in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters in 2013, and he spent two seasons on Syfy as part of the apocalyptic supernatural series Dominion. Dominion was cancelled in 2015.
James MarstersJames Marsters played the century-old vampire Spike, who switched from bad guy to borderline antihero on Buffy as well as spinoff Angel. He was half of the doomed romance between vampire and vampire slayer with Buffy. The end of Buffy didn’t mean the end of Marsters as a villain. He played the bad guy Brainiac on Smallville in its fifth season, and returned sporadically in the rest of the series. He had a role in the 2007 romantic tear-jerker P.S. I Love You before showing up on Torchwood to vex the good guys and make out with John Barrowman in 2008. Marsters spent seven episodes on Witches of East End, then played Lord Tensley in the 2015 fantasy action comedy Dudes & Dragons.
David BoreanazDavid Boreanaz debuted in the role of Angel in the first season of Buffy. He was a vampire who ended up with a restored soul that transformed him from an evil monster to a broody, romantic, and generally good guy. Angel was a popular enough character over the first three seasons to warrant a spinoff, also called Angel. The spinoff actually outlasted Buffy and didn’t come to an end until 2005. Boreanaz didn’t leave television, however; instead, he moved to Fox to play male lead Seeley Booth on the forensic drama Bones. He’ll finally leave Booth behind when Bones ends after Season 12 in 2017.
Emma CaulfieldEmma Caulfield played one of the more unusual characters of Buffy. Anya was a vengeance demon who became mortal after losing her powers. She had to learn how to live a life that did not involve avenging wronged woman, and she just so happened to discover a terror of bunnies in the process. Following the end of her time on Buffy, Caulfield was a figure on the guest star circuit until she landed recurring parts on Gigantic and Life Unexpected. She produced and starred in the satire Bandwagon as a version of herself in 2010. Caulfield has made a handful of appearances on Once Upon a Time as a witch, and she turned up in a Season 1 episode of Supergirl as Cameron Chase.
Michelle TrachtenbergMichelle Trachtenberg made her Buffy debut in Season 5 when a mystical ball of energy became a teen girl who would be called Dawn. The character was retroactively inserted into the series and became a major part of the rest of the show. Trachtenberg made the unusual jump from UPN to HBO for four episodes of Six Feet Under in 2004, which she followed with Ice Princess as figure skater Casey Carlyle in 2005. She played Zac Efron’s contemporary/daughter in 17 Again in 2009 before returning to television in shows ranging from Weeds to Gossip Girl. Her twisty turny character in The Scribbler was the highlight of the 2014 movie and played against type for Trachtenberg, and she’s worth watching in Killing Kennedy.
Seth GreenSeth Green came on the Buffy scene in Season 2 as the werewolf Oz who needed help learning to deal with his transformation each month. He formed a bond with Willow that fortunately was not broken even when it became clear that a romance between them would never work. Green has found plenty of success in the years since Buffy, particularly when it comes to voice work. He is a co-creator, co-producer, writer, director, and performer for the stop-motion comedy series Robot Chicken, and he’s voiced Chris Griffin on Family Guy from the very beginning. On the live action front, Green turned up on How I Met Your Mother to reunite with Alyson Hannigan in 2012, and he was the leading man in the short-lived Fox sitcom Dads in 2013. More recently, he starred in one of the segments of the 2016 horror anthology film Holidays.
Eliza DushkuEliza Dushku played a second Slayer named Faith on Buffy, and her methods of fighting vampires tended to be much wilder than Buffy’s. Faith flirted with going dark, but she ultimately proved to be more of a good guy. Dushku stuck with the supernatural in her first big TV role after Buffy as the leading lady of Fox’s Tru Calling in 2003, and she reunited with Joss Whedon for Dollhouse in 2009. She leant her voice to projects from both major comic companies as She-Hulk in Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. for Marvel and Catwoman in Batman: Year One for DC. Dushku joined the cast of Banshee for a major role in the fourth and final season in 2016.
Charisma CarpenterCharisma Carpenter played Sunnydale High queen bee Cordelia who might have been awful if not for the peculiar charm that Carpenter brought to the character. She was wealthy, snobby, and superficial, but she also had a heart that aligned her with the heroes when it came to all the supernatural shenanigans around her. Carpenter left Buffy after Season 3 to join David Boreanaz on his Angel spinoff, and she played the unforgettable Kendall for a run on Veronica Mars starting in 2005. Carpenter made a big screen break with a supporting role in The Expendables in 2010 and The Expendables 2 in 2012. Recently, she showed up for two episodes of Chicago P.D. as a lawyer who changed careers to become owner of a marijuana dispensary.
Amber BensonAmber Benson played a witch named Tara on Buffy. Tara was a lovable character whose romance with Willow was surprisingly healthy for a show about vampires. Unfortunately, however, Tara came to a deeply distressing end that remains one of the most heartbreaking twists of the entire series. Benson has accumulated a long list of guest spots in the years since Tara’s untimely demise, including an appearance on Ringer in 2011 that reunited her with Sarah Michelle Gellar. Her most notable accomplishments have actually been behind rather than in front of a camera. She co-produced an animated fantasy film called Ghosts of Albion: Legacy that resulted in multiple sequels, and she has collaborated on projects ranging from feature films to web series with her own production company. Earlier in 2016, she turned up in the flesh in a miniseries short called Sunday Morning.
Danny StrongDanny Strong played the somewhat dorky recurring character Jonathan, who shot to greater prominence toward the end of Buffy when he became one leg of the villainous “Trio.” After Buffy, Danny Strong moved to Gilmore Girls for twenty-one episodes as Doyle McMaster, and he tackled the role of Danny Siegel in five episodes of Mad Men. Behind-the-scenes, Strong won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for co-writing HBO movie Game Change, and he penned the scripts for the final two installments of the Hunger Games franchise. He even co-created Fox’s smash hit Empire.
Sadly for any Buffy viewers who are now in the mood for some new material from these actors, Sarah Michelle Gellar has already said that she doesn’t want a Buffy reunion. Luckily, the whole series is streaming on Netflix, so at least binge-rewatching is an option.