New Buffy series has the chance to right one of the original show's biggest mistakes

Amber Benson and Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Slayers: A Buffyverse Story, a new series for Audible, will reunite us with the Scooby Gang for the first time in 20 years. Well, some of the gang, anyway – including the surprise return of one Sunnydale resident, which could wind up righting one of the biggest wrongs in the original show.

Set two decades after the events of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer finale, the newly announced production will center around reformed vampire Spike (James Marsters), who's living incognito in Los Angeles where he crosses paths with new teen Slayer Indira (Laya DeLeon Hayes). The pair then encounter a Slayer from a parallel universe where Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) never existed – and the vampire killer is none other than Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter).

Spike and Cordelia are joined by other returning characters (and their original actors) like Watcher and librarian Giles (Anthony Head) and Spike's vampire ex-beau Drusilla (Juliet Landau), along with two surprise announcements: Emma Caulfield Ford, whose character Anya died in the season 7 finale, and Amber Benson, whose character Tara died in season 6, will also have a role in the series.

While we don't know anything about Anya's or Tara's involvement in the series just yet, we can guess that it's probably due to the aforementioned parallel universe. 'Another multiverse story?' you may ask (or groan). But this Buffyverse has a chance to do good. While one of these characters got to die a heroic death saving the world at the Hellmouth, the latter met her end in an inconsequential, throwaway manner – much to the frustration of fans.

Tara's death is one of the most widely criticized aspects of the show. She's accidentally shot by the season's main antagonist, Warren (Adam Busch), the morning after she and ex Willow (Alyson Hannigan) share an emotional reconciliation and sleep together. Nothing explicit is shown, and we only see the pair in bed after the act, covered by bedsheets to appease network execs – but this is the closest that Buffy had come to showing sex between Tara and Willow, despite the fact that the duo had been dating since season 4. That one-half of the couple is almost immediately killed afterward? Well, it didn't sit right with many viewers. 

Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Of course, women being killed after sex is an age-old trope in the horror genre – sex means death, and only the virginal final girl will survive, but this is only exacerbated when queer women come into the equation. Lesbian and bisexual women often meet a tragic fate on screen – so many, in fact, that the trope even has a name: 'bury your gays'.

One study conducted by Vox found that 10% of all TV deaths in the 2015-2016 season were queer women. Another study by Autostraddle, covering nearly 2,000 scripted US television series from 1976 to 2016, revealed that only 11% of these shows featured queer female characters. Among these, 35% of queer female characters ended up dead, and only 16% were afforded a happy ending.

Tara's death serves to propel Willow toward the dark side, with her grief accelerating her powers as a witch and sending her on a path of vengeance against Warren and 'the Trio'. But it came at the cost of the show's only queer relationship, and one of its two queer characters. Only in season 7 was another queer female character introduced – Kennedy (Iyari Limon), a potential Slayer and Willow's new love interest.

Burying of gays aside, it was frustrating to see Tara go out with a whimper rather than a bang after everything she went through in the show – especially when you consider that she was a supporting character who only appeared in three seasons. Right off the bat, she was dealing with her controlling, misogynistic family (anyone remember Amy Adams playing her sister?), but her relationship with Willow gave her the confidence to stand up to them. If that wasn't enough, she had to regain her memories – and sanity – after season 5's big bad Glory (Clare Kramer) scrambled her brain. For Tara to then be robbed of any sort of real peace was hugely disappointing for those who identified with the shy, sweet witch.

If Slayers does use its parallel universe to keep Tara alive, it has the chance to rectify the mistakes of its predecessor and give her character the arc she deserves. Demands for a happy ending seem juvenile, but if she doesn't lose her life in an outdated, homophobic trope? That's enough for us.

Slayers: A Buffyverse Story premieres on Audible on October 12. For more, check out our picks of the best new TV shows coming our way in 2023 and beyond. 

Entertainment Writer

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.