If, after Tuesday night's shocking season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you were to ask the supernatural series's fans what they wanted on their tombstones, the reply no doubt would be a resounding, "Not the name Buffy Anne Summers!" Talk about a showstopper! When the Chosen One perished in the episode's final minutes, millions of viewers (more than 5 million, to be exact), felt their blood run cold. After all, many still were reeling from the untimely passing of the Slayer's mother in February — not to mention the cult favorite's move from the WB to UPN next fall. So, has the heroine really gone on to that big Slayer graveyard in the sky? Did Sarah Michelle Gellar volunteer to be killed off rather than go to UPN? Go on and dry your tears now. Buffy creator Joss Whedon feels your pain, and he has agreed to speed up your grieving process by answering TV Guide Online's burning questions about the bombshell felt 'round the world... and the netherworld.
TVGO: First off, is Buffy really dead?
Whedon: Yes. She's rotting in her grave even as we speak.
TVGO: But Sarah's coming back?
TVGO: You can understand how some people might be confused...
TVGO: Are you worried about alienating viewers by bringing her back from the dead? I mean, we saw the tombstone.
Whedon: Yes, I'm always worried about that. The point is, you have to take it seriously and pay it homage and make it as hard and strange for the people in the show as it is for the audience to accept. Then you earn it.
TVGO: If you bring Buffy back, then why couldn't you also bring back Joyce?
Whedon: You could, but we'll explain why.
TVGO: What's the craziest Buffy resurrection scenario you've heard in the last 48 hours?
Whedon: Buffy shows up in an alternate universe, but I don't think that's a good idea.
TVGO: You already know how this will be resolved, then?
Whedon: We've had next season planned out for a long time — before we even knew we were changing networks.
TVGO: Do you think, in retrospect, it's a little confusing? First Buffy leaves the WB, and now Buffy is dead. Some fans are wondering if the show is over.
Whedon: It's our job this summer to make people aware that Buffy — starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy — is coming back on UPN next fall. And I'm just gonna keep saying it to everybody I meet and every chance I get, and UPN is going to start advertising it today. We'll get the word out.
TVGO: Do you think the WB purposely added that farewell message at the end of the episode to further confuse people?
Whedon: You know, it was sort of incredibly classy and slightly underhanded. The whole "Series Finale" thing has been a little cheesy, but actually, I was pretty touched when I saw the message. The fact of the matter is they didn't say, "Goodbye. It's over." They said, "Thank you." So, at the end of the day, I thought that was kind of nice.
TVGO: If and when the day comes that Sarah leaves the show, would you retitle it Dawn the Vampire Slayer?
Whedon: What I would do with it is hard to say, but that's certainly a show I'd watch. Michelle [Trachtenberg] is a powerhouse. I have the best ensemble that I could ever hope to work with. It could happen, but if it did, it wouldn't be for years because Sarah's coming back.
TVGO: Did anyone else die during the climax? Anya looked like she was in pretty bad shape.
Whedon: She's OK, she made it.
TVGO: What was up with Giles killing Ben? Is that going to be the beginning of a trend?
Whedon: No, that's just the thing he had to do. And you know, Giles will be recurring next year instead of a regular because [Anthony Stewart Head is] going to live in England. We're working on a BBC [spinoff] show for [that character]. So, it's a side of Giles you're more likely to see on his show than you are on Buffy. But, it's not like he's going to become an evil killer or anything.
TVGO: Does Ben's death mean Glory is dead too?
Whedon: Yeah, it does.
TVGO: Whose voice was telling Spike to go rescue Dawn? It was a very Star Wars-type moment.
Whedon: It was Willow... Just yet another example of how Willow's power is increasing.
TVGO: Given that Buffy's death factored into Angel's finale, won't you have to kick off the season with some type of WB/UPN crossover?
Whedon: No, I really won't. And I'm not entirely sure that either network would want to. Not that Angel won't be dealing with the idea of Buffy's death and her rebirth, but the fact is, he's on his own now. He's at the big scary network by himself and he's going to have other very pressing matters to deal with.
TVGO: So you won't pick up Angel next fall where the season finale left off?
Whedon: No. Like we usually do, it will be a few months later.
TVGO: Do you know the date of Buffy's two-hour premiere?
Whedon: I don't know the date. I believe we're looking at early October, but nothing's been set.
TVGO: Will Amber Benson (Tara) be added to the opening credits next season?
Whedon: No, Amber's going to stay at a recurring status. But she will, like this year, be in most of the shows.
TVGO: Any other cast changes on Buffy?
Whedon: Apart from Giles becoming a recurring character? No.