Buffy the Vampire Slayer Jane Espenson Episodes

Buffy at 20: EP/Writer Jane Espenson Chooses Her Best and Worst Episodes

To mark the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s series premiere, TVLine spoke to a few of its key players. First up: writer/co-executive producer Jane Espenson.

Buffy Summers started slaying on TV 20 years ago today. And to celebrate that, we thought we’d go to one of the people who put the quips in the heroine’s mouth.

Jane Espenson wrote for Buffy the Vampire Slayer for much of its run, eventually rising in the ranks to the role of co-executive producer. And while she penned plenty of Ms. Summers’ lines, “Buffy was the hardest, because she was the most nuanced,” Espenson tells TVLine. “It was always fun writing the more peripheral characters. I love Anya, Jonathan, Andrew, et cetera, because they can have more focused points of view. But a more central character like Spike is perfect, because he’s nuanced, but he still has strong outlier opinions — because, evil.”

Espenson joined the then-WB series at the start of Season 2 and stayed until the series finale, which allows her to reflect on how Joss Whedon’s vampire-drama-movie-reboot went from teen drama to pop culture touchstone in the space of seven seasons. “The atmosphere was most changed by decreasing amounts of Joss as he started splitting his time with Angel and then with Firefly and beyond,” Espenson says. “But the whole time, we felt that we were doing something of quality, that we were accomplishing something important and aiming high. That never changed.”

Also: “The writing was the king the whole time,” she adds. “We were more likely to shut down production while we wrote than we were to rush the writing to fit the production schedule. That was a rarity then, and now.”

We asked Espenson — whose extensive TV resume also includes Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, Battlestar Galactica and Gilmore Girls — to think back on her time with the Scoobies.

Click on the gallery above (or go to it directly here) for her thoughts on her best and worst episodes, favorite lines and more.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jason says:

    “Triangle” is my favorite episode of Jane’s. Abraham Benrubi is hilarious as Olaf the Troll, whom Willow and Anya accidentally conjur up.

  2. Alichat says:

    OMG! Pangs! I still do Spike and his reaction to the bear!
    ‘A bear! You made a bear!’
    ‘I didn’t mean to’
    ‘Undo it! Undo it!!’

    I actually quoted last week…..and it at Christmas when my best friend, whom I met through Buffy, and I were riding down the road to see her neighbor’s insane Christmas decorations. We thought it was a snowman, but it was a bear. Hence….’A bear!?!’

  3. McQ says:

    I am always excited to see Jane Espenson’s name in the credits. She’s also one of my favorite panelists at cons.

  4. Phil says:

    Putting this here because I haven’t found the info and maybe fellow Whedonites will know: Anyone know what happened to Joss’ comic “Twist”? The Victorian-era female Batman? The promo art was beautiful – two years ago.

  5. Phil says:

    Another comment: Such a fan of Jane’s work on Buffy. And her explanation for Starbuck’s role in the Battlestar finale is FOREVER how I choose to remember that finale: She didn’t disappear, she was just hiding in the grass.
    BUT: I agree Tom Lenk’s was talented and great at delivery, but why did the entire production go so crazy for him? The devotion to and continued inclusion of his character is not one of the better choices made in Season 7, and I just don’t see what they all saw.

  6. Brigid says:

    God I miss this show. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years already. This is and will always be my favorite show of all time. Buffy struck a cord with me and I became totally obsessed with it. I’ve loved a lot of good TV over the years but BTVS will remain #1 forever!!

  7. Rachel says:

    Omg I remember absolutely hating the episode doublemeat palace :/