Whether you are Team Edward or Team Jacob, Team Angel or Team Spike there is one thing that all of these fans have in common and that is passion, passion for the characters and stories that make up the two most popular contributions to the pop culture of vampires in the last 20 years. With that passion, as is often the case, comes debate and controversy.
In 2008, the film adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s book Twilight was released catapulting the series of books written by Stephanie Meyer off the charts. The Twilight craze had begun and fans all over the country devoured as much of the books, films, soundtracks and merchandise as possible. The series itself is four books, Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.
There was another group of fans, a slightly older fan-base, that reacted with annoyance at the fans of the new craze claiming that this was nothing new, the storylines now famous bore a striking resemblance to the vampire culture that they had known and loved for 10-plus years, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the TV series written by Joss Whedon, ran for seven seasons from 1997 through 2003. Gradually, the Buffy community began to grow ever more irritated at the attention being received by the Twilight series and the Twilight fans became equally as irritated claiming that the Twilight series was both different and superior to the Buffy series.
While the Twilight craze was initiated by the release of the films, there was a large fan-base that was already in place; the books themselves had already generated a large following of devoted fans. I should warn the reader that I don’t consider someone a Twilight fan if they haven’t read the books, while the films are great; I am always biased towards the book in nearly every case. Whenever a book is adapted for film there is always so much material that is left out. The books chronicle the story of Bella Swan and her arrival in the town of Forks. She meets a young man named Edward who has a secret. The two of them fall in love and have to deal with the consequences related to friends, family, society and Edward’s secret.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The Buffy The Vampire Slayer series chronicles the story of Buffy Summers, a girl with a secret, and her arrival in the town of Sunnydale. She meets a young man named Angel who has a secret. The two of them fall in love and have to deal with the consequences related to friends, destiny, fate and their respective secrets.
Stephanie Meyer maintains that she had never seen Buffy The Vampire Slayer prior to writing her series. The creation of the Twilight world began when she had a dream about the two main characters and a dialogue that they have, which sparked the novels, the world and pop culture. While there is no reason to disbelieve Stephanie Meyer, there are some significant similarities between the two series.
** Warning: The remainder of this article will cover content from both series that would be considered a spoiler if you have not read all of the Twilight Series or seen the entire Buffy The Vampire Slayer series.**
Buffy Summers and Bella Swan, both independent strong young women. Each of them are deposited into a new town and left to climb the mountain of integrating into a new school, making new friends and adjusting to life with a single parent.
- Buffy falls in love with a vampire named Angel, Bella falls in love with a Vampire named Edward.
- The Buffy series had a werewolf named Oz who was part of the main cast of characters. Jacob is the werewolf in the Twilight Series.
- Both of the female leads have a best friend (female) with supernatural powers.
- Both series have a supernatural governing body, which sets rules for the worlds that they live in and disapproves of the relationship between vampire and human.
- In each series there is a male vampire and his female companion who come to town to stir up trouble.
- The topic of forbidden love, betrayal, and heartbreak are prevalent in both.
- The best-guy friend of the female lead is a victim of unrequited love.
The list of similarities goes on for quite a while longer, however, the point has been made.
In spite of all of the similarities, there are many ways in which the two storylines deviate.
- Buffy has supernatural powers from the introduction of her character and struggles with a dual identity through the entire series. Her life is a constant struggle between fate, destiny and free will. Bella does not come into full realization of her supernatural abilities until near the end of the series. While her story does not deal with such ominous ideas like fate and destiny, hers is more of a story of love, romance and family.
- Buffy is never able to make her relationship with Angel work and while he will always be the love of her life, their relationship will never be fully realized. Bella and Edward at the end of the series find them selves in love, happy, with a daughter and an eternity laid out before them.
- Buffy on a nearly weekly basis finds herself in the midst of a battle in which the fate of the world rests in the balance. Bella may feel often times that the world is ending but in reality the scope of her actions does not extend too far outside of Forks.
- Buffy is a hero, with that comes struggle, resolve, failure and redemption. Bella is a teenager, relatable, fallible, and her character is developed intensely throughout the series.
In my mind, the verdict is simple, Twilight is not a remake, nor did Buffy The Vampire Slayer largely inspire it. While there may be some similarities in the details of the characters and plot elements that can easily be explained by the genre in which the stories where based. When you write stories about vampires in modern day times, when your lead is a teenage female, it should be expected that some of the same plot devices will be present in both. When analyzing the rites of passage and the inner workings of love in youth it is no wonder that the stories unfold in similar ways after all Buffy and Bella are both human.
The overarching storyline of Buffy The Vampire Slayer is that of a young woman who was destined by fate to be a hero. She struggles with the dual identity of being a normal girl who wants to fall in love and the Slayer who carries the responsibility of protecting the world from unimaginable evil. The Twilight series is a character study of a young teenager caught up in a star-crossed love affair. However, discounting either story because of its similarity to previous works sets a scary precedent for countless great works of fiction. Over and over again we see stories with storylines that closely mirror and are inspired by other works. Some of them have come to be milestones of popular culture. The Harry Potter series, the Inheritance series and even the Star Wars series are all rooted in literature that predates when it was written. It doesn’t negate the value or the entertainment inherent in those works. We are all inspired daily by things that we see, read, and hear. Our lives are the sum of our experiences and as writers take experiences and use them to inspire their work it is still valuable, still entertaining and still honest.
Why must there be a choice? Why must you be on Team Buffy or Team Twilight? I for one am a huge fan of both series. I think they are fantastic stories full of elaborate characters, and deal with issues that are far reaching beyond the superficial layer of entertainment, that should be what you take away from either series. That is what has generated fans on both sides that share one thing in common, passion.