Most TV stars get scared to death when the Grim Reaper makes a guest appearance with good reason. Anybody hear from NYPD Blue fatality Rick Schroder lately? ER flatliner Kellie Martin? Didn't think so. However, Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast members know that being killed off isn't necessarily a grave matter. In fact, a little tomb raiding among the recent arrivals at Sunnydale Cemetery reveals that at least a few actors' careers actually blossom after their characters start pushing up daisies. And the others? Well, may they rest in peace.
The dearly departed: Kristine Sutherland, a five-season Buffy veteran as the Slayer's single mom, art dealer Joyce Summers. Cause of death: Complications from a brain tumor made a memory of Joyce. Afterlife: Sutherland is taking some time off from pounding the pavement to stroll the streets of Italy.
The dearly departed: Clare Kramer, season five's big bad, the hell-raising goddess Glory. Cause of death: Giles smothered Glory's mortal counterpart Ben (don't ask). Afterlife: Kramer rubs elbows with a bevy of young Hollywood all-stars in the big-screen adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's The Rules of Attraction (opening Oct. 11).
The dearly departed: Amber Benson, Willow's bewitching lover, Tara Maclay. Cause of death: When vengeful nerd Warren Meers took aim at Buffy, Tara was hit by a stray bullet. Afterlife: Benson already has two indies in the can the Sundance pic Taboo and Chance, which reunites the writer-director-leading lady with Buffy's James Marsters. In addition, Benson has agreed to return to Buffy this fall in a new role.
The dearly departed: Adam Busch, fembot-making power monger Warren. Cause of death: Reeling from Tara's demise, Willow exacted rough justice, skinning her girlfriend's killer alive. Afterlife: Busch and his band Common Rotation are spending the summer recording their second folk-pop album with Dan Weinkauf of They Might Be Giants.