For Millions of Fans, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Was Their Escape But for the Cast, Joss Whedon Made It “Toxic”

Joss Whedon

During the ’90s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed the face of mainstream television and cemented its place as one of the most iconic TV series of all time. 

While for scores of fans over the world Buffy offered a heady hybrid of escapism and relatable teen issues, for the cast, the experience of creating the hit series was decidedly different. 

Actress Charisma Carpenter, who portrayed Cordelia Chase in the first three seasons of Buffy and four seasons of the spin-off series Angel was the first of several cast members to come forward with allegations against series creator Joss Whedon, saying that he fostered a “toxic environment” for the shows entire seven-season run. 

In a lengthy post uploaded to her social media, Carpenter wrote, “For nearly two decades, I have held my tongue and even made excuses for certain events that traumatised me to this day. Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

“While he found his misconduct amusing, it only served to intensify my performance anxiety, disempower me, and alienate me from my peers. The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition from which I still suffer. It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at times, destructively.”

The actress went on to accuse Whedon of lambasting her for getting a tattoo, calling her “fat” when she fell pregnant and threatening to fire her on multiple occasions. 

According to Carpenter, Whedon “manipulatively weaponised my womanhood and faith against me. He proceeded to attack my character, mock my religious beliefs, accuse me of sabotaging the show, and then unceremoniously fired me the following season once I gave birth.”

Carpenter’s fellow Buffy actor Amber Benson, who had the recurring role of Tara for three seasons of the show, echoed her co-star’s sentiments, taking to Twitter to retweet Carpenter’s statement while adding, “Buffy was a toxic environment and it starts at the top. Charisma is speaking truth and I support her 100%. There was a lot of damage done during that time and many of us are still processing it twenty plus years later. #IStandWithCharismaCarpenter.”

Notably, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played the titular character, also showed her solidarity with her castmates while refraining from going into too much detail. 

“While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon,” she wrote on Instagram, before explaining that she wouldn’t be making any further statement currently, but stands with all survivors of abuse. 


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Meanwhile, Michelle Trachtenberg, who played Buffy’s younger sister, Dawn, shared Gellar’s post adding, “Thank you @sarahmgellar for saying this. I am brave enough now as a 35 year old woman…. To repost this. Because. This must. Be known. As a teenager. With his not appropriate behaviour. You. Are my rock!! What he did was very bad. But we win. By surviving! We know what he did. Behind. The. Scenes.”

Alyson Hannigan, who played the role of Willow, has yet to comment on the allegations made by her co-stars or provide details of her own experience on the show.

The male castmembers of the supernatural series had remained noticably absent from the conversation for several days, much to the chagrin of fans, before David Boreanz — who played Angel in both Buffy and it’s spinoff — posted a comment under Carpenter’s original post.

“I am here for you to listen and support you. Proud of your strength,” the actor wrote.

“I know you’re there for me, David. I appreciate all you’ve done to demonstrate that support privately as well. Especially since Wednesday. Thank you so much,” Carpenter responded.



Anthony Stewart Head, who played Buffy’s mentor Rupert Giles, said that he’d had no idea of situation during his time on the set, expressing his regret that he had remained unaware.

Appearing on UK talk show This Morning, Head said that he had been going over his memories, looking for things he had missed.

“This is not a man saying: ‘I didn’t see it so it didn’t happen.’ I am gutted, I’m seriously gutted, because one of my memories, my fondest memory was the fact that it was so empowering. Not just with the words in the script, but the family feel of the show … I am really sad if people went through these experiences,” he said.

“I was a sort of father figure. I would hope that someone would come to me and say, ‘I’m struggling, I just had a horrible conversation,’” he continued.“There are other posts which subsequently are making me think, ‘How on Earth did I not know this was going on?’”

Meanwhile, Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander in the series, explained that he needed more time to process the disturbing information.

“It’s a big part of my life, a very emotional part of my life and I want to give it the proper respect and time that it deserves,” Brendon said.

In a follow-up video, Brendon said, “I love and support [Charisma Carpenter] very much and I know that story, and it’s not a kind story. I know my relationship with Joss and it … there’s a lot of kindness. But also not, you know? So it’s kinda hard to give a statement when things are like that. It’s like, ‘Hey, make a statement.’ My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s families. I don’t do that sh—t.”

And James Marsters, who portrayed Spike, used his Twitter account to weigh in writing, “While I will always be honoured to have played the character of Spike, the Buffy set was not without challenges.”

“I do not support abuse of any kind, and I’m heartbroken to learn of the experiences of some of the cast. I send my love and support to all involved.”


The allegations from the Buffy cast come after actor Ray Fisher spoke out against Whedon in 2020, claiming that the Buffy creator was guilty of “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behaviour whilst directing 2017’s Justice League.

Fisher’s co-star Jason Momoa defended Whedon saying that the allegations needed to be investigated, but Fisher doubled down on his claims saying that every single one of them was true.

“It’s taken me two and a half years to get all the information I need to be able to build something that’s strong enough so people can’t dismiss it,” he said during an online fan convention. 

Even Whedon’s ex-wife, Kai Cole, has spoken out against her former husband, revealing in a personal piece written for The Wrap in 2017 that he had carried out multiple affairs with actresses, co-workers, fans and friends throughout their 15-year marriage. 

“He deceived me for 15 years so he could have everything he wanted. I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights, committed to our marriage, and to the women he worked with,” she wrote. “But I now see how he used his relationship with me as a shield, both during and after our marriage, so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinise his writing as anything other than feminist.”

Whedon has not yet responded to the most recent allegations against him. 

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