On April 14, 2021, beloved '90s actress Sarah Michelle Gellar — who famously starred as Buffy Summers on the cult series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" — celebrates her 44th birthday! In honor of her big day, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at one of our all-time favorite shows to see how much its stars have changed since it debuted on The WB in 1997. "Buffy," which centers around the titular vampire slayer, spawned a spinoff ("Angel"), survived a network change (from The WB to UPN) and won countless fans across the globe (like us!) during its seven seasons on the air. Keep reading to see how the Buffster and her Scooby Gang have changed over the years…
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Sarah Michelle Gellar starred as the titular vampire-slaying heroine on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Though she started out more ditzy than deadly, the onetime cheerleader ultimately became "the thing that monsters have nightmares about."
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After "Buffy" went off the air in 2003, Sarah Michelle Gellar went on to star in "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" (the 2004 sequel to 2002's live-action "Scooby Doo"), plus a few independent films and horror flicks including "The Grudge," "The Grudge 2" and "The Return." She also starred on two short-lived TV series: "Ringer" and "The Crazy Ones." In 2002, she married "I Know What You Did Last Summer" co-star Freddie Prinze Jr. They welcomed daughter Charlotte in 2009 and son Rocky in 2012. In 2015, Sarah launched Foodstirs, a brand that sells organic baking kits, and in 2017, she released a cookbook, "Stirring Up Fun with Food." Next up, she'll appear on two new television series: "Sometimes I Lie" and "Other People's Houses."
Charisma Carpenter starred as mean-girl cheerleader Cordelia Chase, who eventually became a core member of the Scooby Gang — at first against her will. She left Sunnydale after graduation (the end of the show's third season) and relocated to Los Angeles, where she teamed up with Angel to help the helpless on "Angel" and became one of the Buffyverse's most compassionate and selfless characters.
A year after "Angel" went off the air, Charisma Carpenter joined the cast of "Veronica Mars" as Kendall Casablancas. She also enjoyed stints on "Greek" and "The Lying Game," appeared in 2010's "The Expendables" and its 2012 sequel, and executive produced and hosted the true-crime docu-series "Surviving Evil," which ran for three seasons on Investigation Discovery. She and Damian Hardy, with whom she shares son Donovan, divorced in 2008 after five years of marriage. On Feb. 10, 2021, Charisma made waves across the entertainment industry when she shared her truth: "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon emotionally abused her during their time working together, she alleged on social media. Several of her former co-stars — including Sarah Michelle Gellar — came forward to show their support in the wake of her bombshell allegations. Wrote SMG on Instagram, "While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don't want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon. … I stand with all survivors of abuse and I'm proud of them for speaking out."
Michelle Trachtenberg joined the cast of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" during season 5 as Dawn Summers, Buffy's annoying kid sister — even though the slayer had been previously established as an only child. Dawn, it turned out, was a mystical entity known as The Key who'd been sent to Buffy for protection. Natch.
Michelle Trachtenberg went on to star as Georgina Sparks on "Gossip Girl" from 2008 to 2012. She also had stints on "Six Feet Under," "Mercy" and "Weeds" and starred in the films "EuroTrip," "Ice Princess," "Black Christmas," "17 Again" and "Take Me Home Tonight," as well as on made-for-TV movies "Killing Kennedy," "The Christmas Gift" and "Sister Cities." She's been romantically linked to Kid Cudi, Josh Groban, Jason Segel, Pete Wentz, Jason Lewis, Shawn Ashmore and more since "Buffy" went off the air. In late 2020, Us Weekly reported that Michelle was dating her longtime talent agent, Jay Cohen. After Charisma Carpenter came forward with abuse allegations against "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon in February 2021, the former child star wrote that she also experienced "not appropriate behavior" on the filmmaker's part. "There was a rule. Saying. He's not allowed in a room alone with Michelle again," she wrote on Instagram.
Amber Benson joined the cast of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in season 4 as Buffy and Willow's super-shy college classmate Tara Maclay, a witch and Willow's eventual girlfriend.
Amber Benson has appeared in several small, relatively unknown films — some of which she wrote and directed — since she left "Buffy" in 2002. She's also popped up on episodes of "Private Practice," "Grey's Anatomy," "Supernatural" and "Ringer." Additionally, Amber is an accomplished writer — she's penned several novels for Penguin Random House and has written a handful of comics, including a few in the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series. From 2002 to 2009, she reportedly romanced "Buffy" co-star Adam Busch — he portrayed Warren, the villain who tragically killed her on-screen alter ego. In 2019, she appeared in the film "The Nightmare Gallery." After Charisma Carpenter came forward with abuse allegations against "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon in February 2021, Amber tweeted, "'Buffy' was a toxic environment and it starts at the top. [Charisma] is speaking truth and I support her 100%. There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later."
David Boreanaz starred as Angel, the vampire with a soul — sometimes, anyway! Buffy's ally, lover and occasionally enemy became so popular with fans that he left "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" after the third season in favor of his very own show, "Angel," which aired from 1999 to 2004.
A year after the "Buffy" spinoff "Angel" wrapped, "Bones" debuted. David Boreanaz starred as Seeley Booth on the crime drama until it went off the air in early 2017. He can currently be seen on the CBS series "SEAL Team." Sadly, his personal life has been as dramatic as the shows on which he stars… In 2001, David married his second wife, model-actress Jaime Bergman. They had a son, Jaden, the following year, and a daughter, Bella, in 2009. In 2010, the actor made headlines when it was revealed he had an extramarital affair with Tiger Woods' mistress Rachel Uchitel. (He publicly fessed up to cheating, claiming that he came clean out of fear that Rachel would extort him for money.) Months later, an extra from the set of "Bones" filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit against the actor alleging that he'd attempted to kiss and fondle her. They ultimately settled out of court. Surprisingly, David and Jaime are still married.
Alyson Hannigan starred as Buffy's brainy bestie, Willow Rosenberg, who might have started out as a mousy bookworm but eventually became one of the most powerful witches in the Buffyverse.
Two years after "Buffy" went off the air, "How I Met Your Mother" debuted. Alyson Hannigan starred as Lily Aldrin until the sitcom came to an end in 2014. She also starred in two more installments in the "American Pie" franchise: 2003's "American Wedding" and 2012's "American Reunion." In 2019, she had a two-episode stint on "Pure," headlined Lifetime's "Abducted: The Mary Stauffer Story" and portrayed Dr. Ann Possible on the Disney Channel's live-action "Kim Possible" made-for-TV movie. She's also hosted "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" since 2016 and can be seen in the Disney+ adaptation of the children's book "Flora & Ulysses." She can soon be seen in the comedy flick "Dodie & Cheryl Get Hitched" alongside Mira Sorvino. In 2003, she wed "Buffy" co-star Alexis Denisof. They've since welcomed two daughters: Satyana in 2009 and Keeva in 2012.
Eliza Dushku starred as Buffy's fellow slayer Faith. She joined the series during its third season as a friend and ally of the Scooby Gang but quickly became one of their most deadly enemies. The complicated character spent time on "Angel" after leaving "Buffy" during season 4 but ultimately redeemed herself and returned to Sunnydale for the seventh and final season.
After "Buffy" ended, Eliza Dushku starred on two short-lived series: "Tru Calling" and "Dollhouse." She's also appeared in a number of small films over the years, has had success as a voice actress and teamed up with her brother, Nate Dushku, to produce and star in the 2015 documentary "Dear Albania." In 2014, the brunette beauty parted ways with Rick Fox after five years as a couple. (In the years after she left the Buffyverse, she was also linked to Seth MacFarlane, to MLB pitcher Brad Penny and to Los Angeles nightlife promoter Brent Bolthouse.) In early 2017, Eliza revealed that she was an alcoholic and drug addict who'd been sober for nearly a decade. That same year, she went public with sexual assault allegations against Hollywood stunt coordinator Joel Kramer. But that wasn't all 2017 had in store for the actress… Eliza joined the CBS show "Bull" in 2017 but was fired after appearing on only three episodes. In December 2018, she revealed why, writing in an op-ed for the Boston Globe that she was let go because she "did not want to be harassed." Eliza — who ultimately reached a $9.5 million confidential settlement with the network after alleging that she'd endured on-set sexual harassment from "Bull" star Michael Weatherly — said that she was written off after confronting Michael about his behavior, which allegedly included comments about her appearance, inappropriate jokes and sexually charged remarks. In recent years, she's stepped away from acting to pursue other endeavors: She produced the 2019 biopic "Mapplethorpe" and studied holistic psychology at Lesley University. She also started a family: Eliza got engaged to tennis player-turned-businessman Peter Palandjian in 2017. They tied the knot in 2018 and welcomed a son, Philip, the following year.
Nicholas Brendon starred as Xander Harris, the third wheel on the show's main friendship tricycle (along with Buffy and Willow). He might not have had an excess of brains or brawn, but he was always the heart of the Buffyverse.
Two years after "Buffy" ended, Nicholas Brendon starred on the short-lived Bradley Cooper-led sitcom "Kitchen Confidential." He also popped up on "Criminal Minds" regularly between 2007 and 2014 and had a four-episode stint on "Private Practice" in 2010 and 2011. In more recent years, though, his messy personal life has overshadowed his career. In 2006, he and actress Tressa DiFiglia parted ways after five years of marriage. He and his second wife, Moonda Tee, split after just four months of marriage in early 2015. (She later accused him of cheating on her.) Nicholas has also struggled with addiction issues and has spent time in rehab over the years. He's also been arrested several times for a wide range of bad behavior. That hasn't totally derailed his career, though: He's appeared in a handful of smaller independent films over the past few years. He'll next appear in the films "Wanton Want," "On a Dark and Bloody Ground," "Christmas Slasher" and "Dark Christmas."
Anthony Stewart Head starred as Rupert Giles, Buffy's Watcher, mentor, friend and father figure.
Anthony Stewart Head has worked regularly — predominantly in British productions — since "Buffy" went off the air. Most notably, he starred as Uther Pendragon on the BBC's "Merlin" from 2008 to 2012. He also popped up on Syfy's "Dominion" and on Freeform's "Guilt" and appeared in a trio of Hollywood films: "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," "The Iron Lady" and "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters." In 2020, he appeared on the first season of the lauded Apple TV+ comedy "Ted Lasso" and had stints on "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan" and on the 2018 "Vanity Fair" miniseries. He'll next appear in three films: "Sideshow," "The Selection" and "Let the Wrong One In." Anthony has two daughters — actresses Emily Head and Daisy Head, who starred alongside her dad on "Guilt" — with his partner of more than three decades, Sarah Fisher.
James Marsters starred as Spike, the vicious vampire with a Billy Idol complex. Like many "Buffy" characters, his trajectory was complicated: He started as a deadly enemy, eventually became an unwilling ally and ultimately transitioned into Buffy's friend and lover. When "Buffy" concluded after seven seasons in 2003, Spike got a second lease on life (literally) on "Angel." He was a main character on that show's fifth and final season.
Since "Angel" went off the air, James Marsters has had brief stints on "Without a Trace," "Torchwood," "Caprica," "Smallville," "Warehouse 13," "Witches of East End" and "Hawaii Five-0." He also starred on "Runaways" and appeared in 2007's "P.S. I Love You" and in 2009's "Dragonball: Evolution," in which he portrayed the live-action version of Lord Piccolo. In 2021, he'll appear on the series "Casa Grande" and will voice Les Hackel in the film "Abruptio." James released four albums between 2003 and 2015 with the rock band Ghost of the Robot and two albums as a solo artist. In 2011, he wed second wife Patricia Rahman. (She filed for divorce in early 2021.) He also has a son, Sullivan, from his first marriage.
Alexis Denisof portrayed Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, who'd been sent to Sunnydale to replace Giles as Buffy's Watcher, on season 3 of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." After the Watchers Council gave him the boot, Wesley relocated to Los Angeles, where he teamed up with Angel and Cordelia to help the helpless as the resident expert on occult lore on "Angel."
After "Angel" went off the air in 2004, Alexis Denisof enjoyed stints on "Dollhouse," "How I Met Your Mother," "Grimm" and "Finding Carter." More recently, he had recurring roles on supernatural shows "Legacies" and "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina." He also appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, portraying a villain in "The Avengers" and "Guardians of the Galaxy." In 2018, he earned an Emmy nomination for his work on the web series "I Love Bekka & Lucy." Alexis wed Alyson Hannigan in 2003. They've since welcomed two daughters: Satyana in 2009 and Keeva in 2012.
Emma Caulfield first appeared on season 3 of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as a Vengeance Demon named Anyanka. Once her mortality was restored, Anya became an important member of the Scooby Gang, as well as Xander's off-and-on love.
After "Buffy" went off the air, Emma Caulfield starred on two short-lived series — TeenNick's "Gigantic" and The CW's "Life Unexpected" — and portrayed the Blind Witch on seven episodes of "Once Upon a Time" between 2012 and 2016. She scored a major comeback in 2021 when she popped up on Marvel's Disney+ series "WandaVision." In August 2006, Emma wed Cornelius Grobbelaar, but it wasn't meant to be: She filed for divorce in 2010. She and actor Mark Leslie Ford tied the knot in June 2015 and welcomed daughter Knightley the following year.
Seth Green joined the cast of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in the third season as the guitar-playing teen werewolf Oz, who broke Willow's heart (even though she cheated) when he left Sunnydale during season 4.
After he left "Buffy" in 2000, Seth Green appeared in films including "America's Sweethearts," "Rat Race," "Austin Powers in Goldmember," "Party Monster," "The Italian Job," "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed," "Without a Paddle" and "Old Dogs." He also had stints on "That '70s Show," "Grey's Anatomy," "Entourage" and "Heroes," headlined three short-lived series ("Greg the Bunny," "Four Kings" and "Dads"), popped up on a 2017 episode of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and has had an extremely successful career as a voice actor. (He's voiced Chris Griffin on "Family Guy" for more than two decades and has served as the voice of Howard the Duck for Marvel since 2014.) Additionally, Seth is the co-creator of the Emmy-winning stop-motion sketch-comedy series "Robot Chicken," which he's written, produced and directed since its launch in 2005. He made his feature film directorial debut with the 2019 dramedy "Changeland," which he also wrote and starred in. The multi-hyphenate married actress Clare Grant in 2010.
Marc Blucas joined the cast of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in season 4 as Buffy's college TA and boyfriend, Riley Finn … who also happens to be a member of The Initiative, a government special ops team fighting supernatural threats in Sunnydale.
After he left "Buffy" in 2002, Marc Blucas appeared in a number of films including "View from the Top," "The Alamo," "First Daughter," "The Jane Austen Book Club," "Meet Dave," "Knight and Day" and "Sleeping with Other People." He also starred on "Necessary Roughness," "Killer Women," "Underground" and, more recently, "The Fix." As for what's next? He'll appear in several projects including "Quiet In My Town," "Cold Dead Hands" and "One Heart." In 2009, Marc married Christian Slater's ex-wife, Ryan Haddon, with whom he's since welcomed two daughters.
Julie Benz's centuries-old vampire Darla, who turned Angel into a vampire (and has a penchant for dressing up like a school girl), was actually the very first character to appear on screen on the very first episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" back in 1997. She appeared on just five episodes of the series over the years but popped up regularly on "Angel," first in flashbacks and then in the present-day storyline.
Julie Benz went on to star on "Dexter," "No Ordinary Family," "A Gifted Man," "Defiance," "Hawaii Five-0," Training Day" and, most recently, "On Becoming a God in Central Florida." She's also appeared in "Saw V," "Punisher: War Zone," "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" and the 2008 "Rambo" reboot. In 2007, Julie and actor John Kassir parted ways after nine years of marriage. She married her second husband, marketing executive Rich Orosco, in May 2012.