During her seven-season career as TV’s top vampire slayer, Buffy Summers saved the world. A lot. And this weekend marks the 15th anniversary of her final victory. On May 20, 2003, Joss Whedon’s groundbreaking supernatural teen soap opera, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, aired its series finale, “Chosen,” in which Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) fought the forces of evil and closed the Sunnydale-adjacent Hellmouth once and for all. As the writer and director of the last episode, Whedon ensured that his heroine’s last bit of world-saving exacted a high price (RIP, Anya), while also allowing her to glimpse a brighter future ahead.
According to Eliza Dushku — who fought alongside Buffy in “Chosen” as Faith, a fan-favorite Slayer — that brighter future probably won’t include a trip back to the airwaves anytime soon. Rumors about the show’s return have picked up steam in the wake of successful TV revivals like Roseanne and The X-Files, but Whedon has avoided tipping his hand about if and when Buffy might come back in live-action form. (For the record, Dark Horse has been publishing an ongoing canonical comic-book continuation of the show since 2007.) “I hear other cast members talk about it,” Dushku admits to Yahoo Entertainment. “Everyone would have a blast, and yet everyone feels if it weren’t Joss at the helm, it wouldn’t work. The reality is it’s probably not going to happen. But we can all wish!” (Watch our video interview with Dushku above.)
Although she wasn’t a founding member of Buffy’s signature Scooby Gang, whose early ranks included Willow (Alyson Hannigan), Xander (Nicholas Brendon), and her Watcher, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), Faith made an immediate impression when she blew into Sunnydale in the Season 3 episode “Faith, Hope, and Trick.” (The 20th anniversary of that episode is this October.) Dushku — who got her start as a child star appearing in films such as This Boy’s Life and True Lies — was 17 when she originally auditioned for the role and remembers feeling an instant kinship with the darker, edgier Slayer. “It was a little bit of art imitating life or life imitating art,” she confesses with a laugh. “I was a little bit of a kamikaze case!”
Like Dushku, Buffy fans lived vicariously through Faith’s kamikaze approach to slaying vamps and living life. “To this day, I have fans come up to me and talk about how she made them feel like an empowered woman. Faith gave them so much confidence and strength, and they confronted things that had previously terrified them.” The character also provided a case study in how a person that society at large wrote off as “bad” because of her attitude (and fashion choices) can step up to be a hero. “A lot of people found her very human — we’re not black and white; there’s gray area in between,” Dushku explains. “You can do bad things and still be a good person.”
Faith certainly steps up bigtime in the series finale. “Chosen” finds her serving as one of Buffy’s lieutenants in the climactic battle, helping to oversee an army of newly empowered “Slayerettes” — young women whose Slayer abilities are activated early via a magical assist from Willow. Dushku remembers crying when she reached the part of the “Chosen” script where ordinary girls around the world suddenly find themselves gifted with great power. “I loved that the show ended with Buffy making every woman a Slayer,” she says now. “I loved seeing all these young women just fighting. It can be a fight to be a young woman; it can be a fight to be a young man. It was a beautiful thing. And raw and violent just like it is in real life.”
The series finale ends with a small band of survivors — including Buffy and Faith — living to fight another day, zooming out of Sunnydale in a school bus as the town sinks into the Hellmouth. Asked where she personally thinks Faith is today, Dushku just smiles. “I bet she’s had a frigging journey! She could have gone in a lot of different directions. I like to think that she’s helping people not repeat the same mistakes she made.” Faith may even have found love along the way; the final moments of “Chosen” tease that her fling with Sunnydale High principal/demon slayer Robin Wood (D.B. Woodside) might lead to something more permanent. “I thought they were a pretty sweet match,” Dushku says. “It’s either that or the fans [thought] Buffy and Faith ended up running off together. One or the other, whatever floats your boat.”
The complete run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer can be streamed on Hulu.
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