While multiverse stories have experienced a surge in popularity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer broached the concept years ago while avoiding some of the problems franchises are seeing today. While multiverses are a creative and expansive tool for storytelling, they also tend to be a double-edged sword, bringing with them a host of narrative problems that, if not approached carefully, can ruin a movie or TV show. Regardless of whether a multiverse is meant to create comedy, drama, or both, it’s important to see what Buffy the Vampire Slayer did well with its introduction of a multiverse that today’s franchises can mimic.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer follows the Slayer Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) on her adventures. As a chosen monster-hunter who makes her home in Sunnydale, Buffy and her friends protect the world from demons and monsters drawn to the Hellmouth beneath their school while also dealing with everyday high school problems, such as trying to get along with popular girl Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter). Generally, the series stays focused on its main timeline and doesn’t expand into the realm of time travel or other dimensions, except for one notable exception involving Cordelia.

Related: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: What Happened to Buffy After the Series Ended

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Introduced A Multiverse (Without Losing Focus)


Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 3, episode 9, is a notable exception in the series as one of the few episodes that dabbles with the idea of an alternate universe. In the episode, entitled “The Wish,” Cordelia makes a wish with Anyanka, a revenge demon (Emma Caufield), that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. This wish whisks Cordelia to a hellish version of Sunnydale where the entire town is overrun by vampires. Regretting her decision, Cordelia undoes it and sends the cast back to the main timeline, with the only other crossover with this universe coming in season 3, episode 16, entitled “Doppelgangland.”

With this alternate universe established in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it stands to reason that the show could have leaned more into this concept and explored plotlines where Buffy is a vampire, or the Master (Mark Metcalf) succeeds, or someone else is the Slayer entirely. However, the show doesn’t fall victim to an unfocused, broad narrative with impossible stakes by making its alternate universe episode a standout story, and not the premise of the entire series. By keeping this plot limited to two episodes, it also avoids making the main series feel like it doesn’t matter.

What 2020s Multiverse Franchises Can Learn From Buffy

Buffy and The Master in

2020s multiverse franchises can learn from how Buffy the Vampire Slayer handled its multiverse in terms of two elements: stakes and scale. The problem that many recent multiverse series are seeing is that establishing a whole multiverse makes the main timeline stop mattering as much as the wild variety of the infinite ones. But because Buffy’s series limits its multiverse exposure and keeps the story focused on Sunnydale, the Slayer, and her friends, it doesn’t distract from the main plot but augments it. This way, the stakes and scale of the setting feel just as important to the audience as the characters, because they’re not so huge as to feel beyond comprehension.


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