Is Whedon planning to drive a stake through ''Buffy''? The series creator says this may be the slayer show's last season, though UPN says such talk is premature
James Marsters, Sarah Michelle Gellar, ...
Credit: Buffy: Mitchell Haaseth

This season’s Big Bad on ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” may just be the makers of the show. All summer, the biggest threat to Buffy and Co. seemed to be star Sarah Michelle Gellar’s stated reluctance to renew her contract at the end of the 2002-03 season. Now, series creator Joss Whedon is also talking of throwing in the towel. ”I’m beginning to suspect that it may be [‘Buffy”s] last season,” he told TV Guide. ”Nothing’s official, but it’s starting to feel possible. The way people are talking, there’s a finality to it.”

One of those people is Gellar, who Whedon says has yet to decide whether she’ll return for another season. ”She hasn’t told me one way or another, but I know she has movies she wants to do,” he said. ”She has been doing [‘Buffy’] for seven years, so if she did decide that this was her last year, it’s certainly a decision I’d respect.”

Even outsiders are saying it may be time for the show to pick up stakes and leave the lineup. After all, ratings are down 16 percent this season, and spinoff ”Angel” has eclipsed ”Buffy” in popularity. ”It had a really good seven-year run and it’s time to call it quits,” Mediaweek columnist Marc Berman told TV Guide. ”Leave with some dignity.”

UPN, however, is not ready to kill off ”Buffy” and hopes to keep the show alive, in some form. ”’Buffy’ is an extremely important franchise to UPN,” a network spokesperson told TV Guide. ”There are a lot of options, whether it be bringing the show back, bringing it back in a different form, possibly doing a spinoff… But really, it’s just way too soon to say what’s going to happen.”

One possible future for the show is a series built around little sister Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg). Another is one built around rival slayer Faith (Eliza Dushku), who’s coming back for a few episodes at the end of this season. Asked about a Faith spinoff, Whedon said, ”That possibility exists. It’s one of many.”

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