Buffy The Vampire Slayer was one of the most popular TV shows of the ’90s, and catapulted its cast to fame. Sarah Michelle Gellar is still known best as Buffy, the kick-ass, cheerleading, chosen one, James Marsters and Nicholas Brendan can often be found signing autographs at horror conventions, and to many of us, Anthony Stewart Head will always be Giles.
In fact, out of the main cast of the show, few have had another role quite as iconic as they did in Buffy. A few managed it: Alyson Hannigan (Willow) became Lily in the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother, Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn) shook off her dorky kid sister image with Gossip Girl, and David Boreanaz (Angel) is the star of his own show, Bones. For most of the Slayerettes, Buffy was impossible to top.
For some of the more minor characters, however, Buffy (or Angel) was just the beginning. It’s been thirteen years, and these 13 actors are all well known now, but you probably never noticed them popping up in Sunnydale all those years ago… Summer Glau
Summer Glau appeared in Angel, in Season 2, Ep 13 ‘Waiting In The Wings’ as the Prima Ballerina stuck in time and dancing the same dance over and over for a hundred years… before Angel and the gang come to the rescue, of course. It was after that that she became known as River in another Joss Whedon project: Firefly. Glau is also known for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The 4400, The Unit, Dollhouse (alongside another Buffy alum, Eliza Dushku), and recently had a recurring role in Arrow.
Miller’s first role was in Season Two, Ep 20 ‘Go Fish’, as Gage Petronzi. Gage was a member of the Sunnydale High swim team, back with Buffy and the Slayerettes were still dealing with low-levels monsters in the school halls. Courtesy of an unscrupulous coach, Gage’s story doesn’t end well – he turned into a sea monster and swam out to sea in the end. Miller, on the other hand, has a much happier ending (or middle, given that he’s still doing well!). He’s best known as the star of Prison Break, which is coming back to our screens this year, and is currently starring in the Arrow-verse as Leonard Snart/Captain Cold, one of the Legends of Tomorrow team. Amy Adams
Adams may be one of the golden girls of Hollywood right now, but early on in her career she was still doing bit parts on television – including one on Buffy! In Season Five, Episode Six ‘Family’, Adams appears as Tara’s cousin Beth – part of a family who has convinced Tara that she is half-demon and therefore evil. Turns out, Tara’s just a naturally talented witch, and she has a new family now, thank you very much! The Slayerettes took her in, and she never looked back. Adams, meanwhile, went on to star in films such as Enchanted and American Hustle, and is Lois Lane in the DCEU. Jeremy Renner
Another huge name who made an appearance on the Angel side of the Buffy-verse is Jeremy Renner, who played vampire Penn in Season 1, Ep 11 ‘Somnambulist’. Sired by Angel, we got a little look at Penn and Angelus in the 1700s as well as Penn and Angel in modern-day LA. Like most low-level vamps, though, Renner’s character didn’t survive the episode. Now, of course, the world knows Renner as Hawkeye/Clint Barton in the MCU. Carmine Giovinazzo
Carmine Giovinazzo has the dubious honor of being the first person ever to die on Buffy The Vampire Slayer – right at the start of the pilot ‘Welcome To The Hellmouth’. He’s murdered by teen vamp Darla at Sunnydale High. Now, he’s much better known as Danny on CSI:NY. Pedro Pascal
Another vamp who became a super-star, Pedro Pascal played Eddie, one of Buffy’s first friends in college in Season 4, Ep 1, ‘The Freshman’. Starting college, Buffy is a little unsure of herself, and slaying is about to get in the way of her schooling as a gang of vamps starts turning students. Of course, because it’s Buffy and she just has the worst luck, one of those is new friend Eddie, and she has to kill him. Darnit. Now, Pascal is known as the ill-fated Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones – although we’re not sure if being staked or having your head crushed is a worse way to die… probably the head-crushing. Kal Penn
One of Penn’s first ever credits, he played the bartender in Season 4, Ep 5, ‘Beer Bad’. One of the preachier episodes of the show, it saw college-Buffy getting drunk for the first time… and the beer just happened to turn her and her drinking buddies into neanderthals. As the title says, beer is bad, kids. Penn played Hunt, one of the drinkers-turned-cavemen. Now most people know him as Kumar, one half of comedy due Harold and Kumar, although he has also appeared alongside fellow Buffy cast member Alyson Hannigan in How I Met Your Mother.Felicia Day
Geek-girl Queen Felicia Day appeared in several episodes of Buffy – starting mid-way through Season 7 all the way to the finale. She brought her quirkiness to Sunnydale as Vi, one of the potential slayers gathered to Sunnydale to train under Buffy and help her defeat the ultimate big bad of the show. She was also one of the few to survive the destruction of Sunnydale, and her story continued in the comics. Now, Day is known for creating and starring in The Guild, her recurring role in Supernatural, and for her many shows revolving around nerd culture. Ben Affleck
This is a little bit of a cheat, because Affleck was actually in the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie, rather than the TV series. Released in 1992, the movie was the inspiration for the series, although the cast is entirely different (and the film is nowhere near as successful). Affleck played a basketball player (Player #10, if you want to be really specific), and appeared for a few short moments on the court. Now, there’s no need to tell you who Ben Affleck is. Oscar winner, superstar, and Batman – he’s come a long way! Bianca Lawson
She is Kendra, The Vampire Slayer, and we bet that you just read that in her voice, didn’t you? Lawson appeared in several episodes of the second season of Buffy, as the Slayer who was activated when Buffy was killed by the Master. Not only was she amazing, she revealed a whole lot about the mythology of the Slayer – information that would become crucial for the big finish in the final season. Now, Lawson is known for Save The Last Dance, Pretty Little Liars, Teen Wolf, and The Vampire Diaries. Plus, she’s Beyonce’s step-sister!Clea DuVall
Buffy dealt with a lot of adolescent issues in amongst all the slaying, and in Season 1, Ep 11 ‘Out of Mind, Out of Sight’, the issue of the day was feeling invisible. DuVall appeared (and disappeared) as Marcie Ross, a teen so ignored by her peers that she became literally invisible – and insane. She attempted to slice up prom queen Cordelia before Buffy got to her, although it was the FBI who finally took her away. Now, Clea DuVall is better known for her work on American Horror Story and The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, as well as the award-winning film Argo. Rachel Bilson
Another potential slayer, Bilson only appeared in one episode of Buffy: Season 7, Ep 18, ‘Dirty Girls’. Faith is back and causing conflict with Buffy, but Bilson’s biggest scene was actually with Xander – who had a sex dream about her and another potential. Bilson went on to find fame with The OC, appeared (like so many Buffy cast members!) in How I Met Your Mother, and is currently starring in Hart of Dixie. Nathan Fillion
One of the greatest evils that Buffy has to face in her final season is psychotic preacher Caleb – played by Nathan Fillion. He appeared in five episodes, and murdered a slew of potentials as well as blinding Xander in one eye using only his thumb (yikes). His Buffy appearances were at the same time as his starring role in Whedon’s other beloved ’90s series, Firefly, and since then he has worked with Whedon (and Buffy co-star Felicia Day) again in Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. He has appeared in a huge number of other shows and films, but is probably best known as the star of Castle.