Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be rebooted with black lead

Series creator Joss Whedon will also return and serve as executive producer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reboot Sarah Michelle Gellar candle
Sarah Michelle Gellar

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the beloved supernatural drama series from Joss Whedon, is returning to television, once again under the auspices of 20th Century Fox. The reboot is being developed by Monica Owusu-Breen, a writer who has previously worked with Whedon on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Breen will serve as showrunner and pen the adaption, while Whedon, who will serve as executive producer, is also working with Breen on the script.

No network or timeline for the series has been announced, but there’s one other concrete detail: This time around, the titular role, last played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, will be played this time around by a black actress. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the reboot “will be contemporary and build on the mythology of the original. Like today’s world, the new Buffy will be richly diverse, with some aspects of the series, like the flagship, seen as metaphors for issues facing society today.”

THR also notes that the studio will be pitching this new Buffy to streaming and cable networks this summer, and a bidding war seems likely.

Whedon’s dance card is predictably full, despite departing the Batgirl film earlier this year. This week, HBO announced a straight-to-series order for The Nevers, which will follow a gang of Victorian women with unusual abilities bent on saving the world. Whedon, who will write, executive produce, and serve as showrunner for the series, called it “the most ambitious narrative” he’s ever created. As a result, it’s unclear how active his involvement in the new Buffy will be.

Whedon has been vocal about a possible Buffy reboot since 2017. Talks reportedly began in the fall of that year; THR notes that Breen’s involvement pushed the project to the next stage. Breen’s other credits include stints in the writer’s rooms for AliasCharmedFringeBrothers & Sisters, and the aforementioned Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

The original Buffy series ran for seven seasons on The WB and UPN, eventually leading to a spinoff series, Angel, which ran for five seasons. The WB eventually became The CW, a network on which it’s easy to spot the influence of Whedon’s seminal series. Scroll through The CW’s offerings and you’ll see supernatural series — including the one called Supernatural — and more than a few complicated and strong-willed female protagonists.

In addition to Gellar, the cast included David Boreanaz, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Anthony Head, Charisma Carpenter, Michelle Trachtenberg, and others. In addition to its knack for using monsters as a gateway to explore issues that teenagers face every day, it’s also celebrated for inventive episodes like “Once More With Feeling”, a musical episode, and “Hush”, which was largely silent.

Whedon, whose take on The Avengers helped to push the Marvel Cinematic Universe into high gear, has undergone increased scrutiny in recent years; his ex-wife, Kai Cole, wrote an open letter alleging years of emotional abuse, and a leaked screenplay for an unproduced Wonder Woman film was roundly criticized.

While Whedon’s star may have diminished, Buffy the Vampire Slayer remains a cultural mainstay for many, and this news is certain to provoke strong reactions in fans. Consider Consequence of Sound among that group — we recently named Buffy Summers one of the best teens in TV history.