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Sarah Michelle Gellar thanks 'greatest fans' on Buffy the Vampire Slayer anniversary

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Buffy lives on, nearly 14 years after the beloved series left the air. With Friday marking the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s debut on the WB in 1997, star Sarah Michelle Gellar is thanking fans for the #BuffySlays20 love with a throwback photo from filming.

“To the greatest fans ever, thank you for keeping this show going long past our seven seasons,” Gellar tweeted. The photo captures a clapboard with the names of series creator Joss Whedon and cinematographer Michael Gershman, as Gellar prepares to slay a scene in the background.

The actress left a much longer  and more personal letter to the cast, crew, and fans on Instagram. “While we knew the potential, I don’t think any of us saw the lasting impact our show would have,” she wrote. “As an actor, you wish for that one role where you can leave your mark and forever be remembered, with Buffy I got so much more. She’s a feminist challenge to gender hierarchy. Buffy may have been the Chosen One, but I was the lucky one.”

Addressing the fans, Gellar added, “We made this show for you, and your unwavering support has kept this show going long past our seven years. You are everything. And always remember…’if the apocalypse comes, beep me.'”

Read her full letter below.

20 years ago today, I had the greatest privilege to bring Buffy to your tv screens for the first time. It was a long and challenging road to get there. First the movie, then a passed over pilot presentation, and eventually a mid season time slot on a little known network. That first season, we liked to think of ourselves as the little show that could. While we knew the potential, I don’t think any of us saw the lasting impact our show would have. As an actor, you wish for that one role where you can leave your mark and forever be remembered, with Buffy I got so much more. She’s a feminist challenge to gender hierarchy. Buffy may have been the Chosen One, but I was the lucky one. Thank you to Gail Berman for always believing there was a show in that movie. Thank you to Joss Whedon, for trusting me to give life to one of the greatest female characters ever created. Thank you to David, for always being my Angel. Thank you to James for understanding that while Buffy and Spike may have been love/hate, I have nothing but love for you. Alyson, as any woman knows, you are nothing without the love and support of great female friends, so thank you for being that. Michelle, you will always hold a key to my heart. Thank you to all the incredible actors for seven seasons of amazing performances. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the incredible crew that worked tirelessly (and also really tired) to bring this show to life. And lastly, but most importantly thank you to all of you, the fans. We made this show for you, and your unwavering support has kept this show going long past our seven years. You are everything. And always remember…"if the apocalypse comes, beep me" #buffyslays20

A post shared by Sarah Michelle (@sarahmgellar) on

She also tweeted a GIF of “one of [her] favorite moments”: Buffy is awarded a golden umbrella, a class protector award, at prom in season 3. “We’re proud to say that the Class of ’99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history, and we know at least part of that is because of you,” Danny Strong’s Jonathan Levinson said in the episode.

Alyson Hannigan, who played Buffy’s witchy friend Willow, marked the occasion by tweeting to Whedon, “What can I possibly say to thank you?  No really, what can I say?!? I need YOU to write it!!!”

“And I need you to say it,” the series creator responded.

“[Angel] initially had an arc of 6 out of the 12 episodes,” actor David Boreanaz recently recalled to EW of his casting. “He was somebody who could be recurring and a love interest to Buffy [Sarah Michelle Gellar]. It happened so quickly, but in order for things to happen quickly when you recognize them, you have to be ready; when it hits, it’s quick. When Buffy hit, I was in the right spot at the right time, but I had been struggling for years just to get in the door.”

Giles actor Anthony Stewart Head also tweeted, “Here’s to all who watched, and all who were part of its creation, but most of all, here’s to you @joss.”

See more reactions to the show’s 20th anniversary on social media.