You've all heard of her. You have at least one nerdy friend who saw all the episodes (and you have me, so I guess that's TWO nerdy friends who saw all the episodes). Buffy is a pop culture icon, and one of the first in an illustrious but far too short line of strong, butt-kicking female TV leads.
Buffy was created by Joss Whedon in an original movie script which was heavily rewritten to become the much lighter, much lamer Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1992. Buffy the TV series first aired in 1997, featuring a younger, smarter, less whiny heroine. With the TV show, Whedon was able to bring us the Buffy he originally created.
There is no other character in the fictional world quite like Buffy Summers. Spunky, smart, and strong, Buffy is still a teenage girl and thus relatable. The emotional ups and downs of teenagerdom are universal, and Buffy has to deal with her share of angst too, though it's often in a different context than the average teenager. For instance, most teenagers do not have to sacrifice themselves to save the world (twice), nor do they suddenly find themselves needing to know the plural of "apocalypse."
Buffy was a groundbreaking character, paving the way for the likes of Sydney Bristow (from "Alias") and Nikita*. Scully had to share the limelight with Mulder, but Buffy stood on her own. Though she was surrounded by some gals who were pretty tough in their own right, and Joss Whedon continues to populate his shows and movies with strong, take-charge female characters. There is a legendary quote floating around the internet where someone asks Joss Whedon in an interview, "Why do you write strong female characters?" Whedon answered, "Because you're still asking me that question."
*Okay, we could argue a little about the origins of Nikita, but she didn't become a really real butt-kicker until the show "Nikita" started, and that was after Buffy.
Tomorrow: A mysterious child prodigy . . .