‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ Star James Marsters Explains Why He Would Have Killed Spike Off
James Marsters and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
If James Marsters had it his way, his beloved blood-sucking character on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” would have been staked from the jump.
The actor, who starred in the show as Spike, the slick-talking punk rock vampire from 1997 to 2003, recently kept it real about why he would have killed him off and the reason the show’s writers “never really knew what to do with” him.
“I mean, the whole thing is, how do we get this guy on without having him ruin the theme? If it had been me producing that show, I would have killed Spike off in a heartbeat,” he told Radio Times in an interview to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the hit show’s finale.
Marsters, who played Spike opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar, then added that he would have given him the boot after fans began loving the murderous, soulless villain a little too much.
“As soon as the audience said, ‘Oh, we want him. Oh, have him with Buffy. Oh, we love that character.’ Like, uh-uh. He’s ruining the whole thing. I would have killed me off after probably three episodes,” the 60-year-old star confessed.
Marsters first appeared on the horror drama series as the bleach-blond fan-favorite during its second season alongside co-stars Gellar, Alyson Hannigan and Anthony Head.
Though he started off as a feared bad guy, Spike wound up having the ultimate character arc, becoming Buffy’s reluctant ally and eventually a self-sacrificing hero. During the series finale, Spike gave up his life to destroy the Sunnydale Hellmouth.
Later, he went on to reprise his role in the “Buffy” spin-off “Angel.”
On the other hand, Marsters admitted that he’s “very lucky” that the writers didn’t go the route he would have. “I’m kind of a bastard when I’m producing! I’m heartless! So I’m very lucky that they had more imagination and courage than I would have shown, frankly.”
Elsewhere in the interview, he revealed that he thought “they never really knew what to do” with his character, who became a series regular in the show’s fourth season, or how to properly weave him into the complex storyline that was originally meant to keep a “horrific” tone.
"Buffy" cast members Emma Caulfield, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, James Marsters, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Michelle Trachtenberg at the UPN sessions of the Television Critics Association summer press tour at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, California, in 2001.
“The original idea for Buffy was that vampires were just metaphors for the challenges of high school, or the challenges of life,” Marsters explained of the show’s underlying theme. “They were designed to be overcome; they were designed to die. Buffy is not an Anne Rice kind of thing, where you’re supposed to feel for the vampires. It’s why we’re hideously ugly when we bite someone. They did not want that to be a sensual kind of thing. It was supposed to be horrific.”
He recalled, “[The writers] were always, like, coming to me at the beginning of every season saying, ‘We don’t know what to do with you! We have a plan for the season, we have a plan for all the other characters, we have all the arcs of all the other characters, we just don’t know what to do with you again.’”
Marsters said luckily the writers were eventually “able to figure something out” amid all of Spike’s character changes, adding that he ultimately became “a kind of guinea pig hero by the end.”