Though the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a 1992 movie starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry, the version of that most people are familiar with is the television spin-off that aired on the WB network from 1997 to 2003. The show starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, a teenage girl who also happened to be a slayer of vampires and other demons that haunted the town of Sunnydale. She was assisted in her battles by a group of friends, primarily Willow, Xander, and Cordelia, as well as Giles, who served as her teacher, or Watcher. The show was created by director and writer Joss Whedon, and received great critical acclaim and a large cult following.
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy uses her expert fighting skills, Giles' knowledge, and Willow's research skills to defeat all kinds of monsters, from vampires, to giant grasshoppers, to sea creatures. Much of the action takes place right at the students' high school, or at their local hangout, the Bronze. In the first season, Buffy meets and falls in love with a reformed vampire, named Angel. Buffy and Angel's relationship is a major part of the first three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though by season four, the actor who played Angel, David Boreanaz, left the show to star in a spin-off, called Angel.
In total, the TV series lasted for seven seasons, during which time the show explored a range of issues, including lesbianism and witchcraft. Though an eighth season of the show was never produced, it was made into comic book form in the Dark Horse series. The first story arc of the series, "The Long Way Home," is written by Joss Whedon, the series' creator.
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer name and concept has been used for many other products, including five video games and more than 60 novels based on the television series, which are published by Pocket Books. The show has had a lasting impact on American culture, and paved the way for many other programs with strong, independent female protagonists with supernatural powers.