Complex TV


In 2000, Buffy the Vampire Slayer suffered a crisis of faith. I am not referring to the titular character, although Buffy Summers certainly suffered many crises of faith over her serialized transmedia existence. Rather, I mean the series itself was the site of such a crisis, with fans freaking out over a plot development that threatened to undermine the program’s integrity and vision as they had come to know it. The crisis was triggered by the introduction of a new character in the final moments of the fifth season debut, “Buffy vs. Dracula”: Buffy’s 14-year-old sister, Dawn. Fans who had spent four seasons, more than 50 hours of screen time, watching the series, knew Buffy as an only child; suddenly they were being told that she had a teenage sister who had never been seen before. The next episode, “The Real Me,” did little to clarify matters, as Dawn became a central character in the ensemble with no explanation for her sudden existence. Despite numerous references to her teen angst that “nobody knows who I am” and hints that something supernatural was afoot, the established characters all acted as if Dawn had always been part of the storyworld.

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