Buffy The Vampire Slayer Reshot Pilot Scenes And Sarah Michelle Gellar Was Not Happy

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

When Buffy the Vampire Slayer first came out, a big part of what made the series special was that its title character was strong and independent. The cute, blond-haired club kid that would normally be the victim in any given slasher film was instead re-imagined as a protagonist who would make the forces of darkness shake in their collective boots. However, in a surprising twist, Buffy creator Joss Whedon later revealed that he reshot scenes for the show’s pilot episode to make Buffy appear weaker and less angry.

The Reshoots

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This information is buried in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 1 DVD set and appears on the commentary track for the pilot. In that commentary, Whedon discussed having to reshoot certain scenes. Two of the scenes that he mentioned reshooting were Buffy’s argument with Giles in the library and her first meeting with Angel, a scene that kicked off the series’ greatest romance (sorry, Spike fans).

When you go back and watch the Buffy pilot, these reshot scenes don’t really stand out in any way. That’s kind of impressive on its own considering that Whedon reshot these scenes eight months after the rest of the pilot was filmed. The reshot scenes blend seamlessly in with everything else, which is certainly more than we can say for the reshot scenes Whedon added to the theatrical Justice League.

Expertly Executed Compared To Justice League

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Speaking of which, those Justice League reshoots are a great way to understand how surprising the Buffy pilot reshoots really were. For this ambitious DC superhero film, the studio wanted something lighter than what Zack Snyder had shot, prompting Whedon to go back and add some Buffy-style jokes and quips while changing the lighting, quite literally lightening things up. The final result was new shots that stood out about as badly as the Henry Cavill mustache barely hidden by CGI.

A Surprising Motivation

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On the Buffy pilot commentary, Whedon makes it clear that these reshoots were of a milder nature, but his motivation is a tad shocking. He claims that the goal of the reshoots was to make Buffy Summers come across as less angry and more vulnerable, but Buffy actor Sarah Michelle Gellar absolutely hated reshooting these scenes. While Whedon had to consider various factors (including what the network wanted and what ‘90s audiences were ready for), it’s still very surprising that the purpose of the reshoots seems to go against the purpose of the show itself.

Didn’t Want To Confuse Confidence With Anger

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

As we noted before, early marketing for Buffy the Vampire Slayer always centered her as a strong female character, and the pilot emphasized this, showing how she kicked the butts of vampires that threatened and even killed her friends (RIP, Jesse, we barely knew you). Behind the scenes, though, it seems Whedon was worried about making Buffy too strong and also worried that her confidence would be mistaken for anger. The result is that he made the character appear weaker, which is darkly ironic for someone who became famous by flaunting his feminist values and then became infamous for allegedly exploiting stars and cheating on his wife.

High Hopes For The Reboot

In this way, you could say that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been misleading fans from the beginning, starting with the pilot episode. Fortunately, toning the title character down behind the scenes didn’t keep this Slayer from becoming a strong icon to women all around the world. Now, if the Disney-owned reboot of this series ever escapes the development Hellmouth, it will be interesting to see how much stronger Buffy is from the beginning when the showrunner isn’t secretly making her appear weaker with reshoot after reshoot.