2012 marks two anniversaries for Joss Whedon's signature creation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. July marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the original 1992 movie starring Kristy Swanson and Donald Sutherland. More notably, however, Saturday was the 15th anniversary of the TV series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Joss Whedon created the character for a spec script he shopped around Hollywood in the early 1990s. He was inspired by the idea of inverting the traditional horror movie open with a monster chasing a girl and killing her. Instead, the girl fights back and kills the monster, because that's her job. Whilst the 1992 movie (directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui) was a modest success, Whedon was unhappy with the degree to which his script was messed around with. In 1996 he was offered the chance to helm a TV spin-off and seized the opporunity with enthusiasm. Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on 10 March 1997 and ran for seven seasons, concluding in 2003. It also spawned an arguably superior spin-off, Angel, which ran for five seasons in 1999-2004.
The series was notable for combining drama and humour, whilst its ensemble cast was impressive. It made Joss Whedon a cult star, along with several of the cast (such as James Marsters and Allyson Hannigan) as well as kicking off the career of David Boreanaz (now famous in the States for his role in the long-running Bones). Ultimately it led to Whedon being picked to write and direct the movie The Avengers, due out this year. It wasn't the most consistent series in quality - arguably only the second and third seasons were reliably excellent and the rest were highly variable - but when it was on form it was very entertaining, with several episodes (such as the inventive, almost dialogue-less Hush and the unrelentingly dark The Body, an impressive take on loss and grief) that are borderline genius.
The future of the Buffyverse appears in doubt these days, with apparently the studio that owns the rights more interested in pursuing a movie remake rather than anything new in the existing setting.