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Sarah Michelle Gellar reflects on ‘uphill battle’ 25 years after ‘Buffy’ premiere

The show became iconic and launched Gellar into stardom.
/ Source: TODAY

For fans of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," it's got to be a stake in the heart to realize that it's been a quarter century since the cult classic first aired.

But it's thanks to those exact fans, says star Sarah Michelle Gellar, that the show continues to endure. As the erstwhile Buffy noted on Instagram Thursday, "25 years ago today I had the honor to introduce the world to my version of Buffy Anne Summers. It was an uphill battle. A mid season replacement, on a new network based on a movie, that was by no means a giant success. But then there was you. The fans. You believed in us. You made this happen. You are the reason 25 years later we are still celebrating. So today we celebrate you as well. #wwbd"

The Instagram post also came with a delightful throwback photo to Gellar on the set, complete with a slate indicating what scene was being shot.

Co-star Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn) commented with emojis and text, noting, "Congrats big sister. There was no 🗝 without your 🔮 Magic"

The American Humane Hero Dog Awards - Portraits
Sarah Michelle Gellar in 2019, at the American Humane Hero Dog Awards in Beverly Hills, California.Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for Hallmark Channel

Fellow co-star Julie Benz (Darla) added a series of "high 10" emojis, too.

"Buffy" didn't have huge ratings in its time, but has become more of a cult favorite over the years. Airing from 1997 to 2003, it focused on a tight-knit group of high schoolers with a vampire slayer (Gellar) at their center in a town centered on a Hellmouth, and a surprising number of vampires and other awful creatures lurking about. (Though maybe not so surprising; see: Hellmouth.)

At the time, creator/director/writer Joss Whedon, who would go on to direct films like "The Avengers," was lauded for his female-focused scripts, but in recent years multiple allegations of offensive behavior and sexual misconduct on the set of the show have tarnished his star.

James Marsters, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan from "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" in 2001.
James Marsters, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan from "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" in 2001.Alamy Stock Photo

But Gellar keeps Buffy's flame lit. In 2021, when her character ostensibly would have turned 40, the actor posted an Instagram showing her in various empowering images. "(Buffy) taught that the the hardest thing in the world is to live in it," she wrote at the time, quoting a speech Buffy gave to her sister Dawn in one episode. "So in her honor let’s all be brave. Live."