When Entertainment Weekly compiled its list of the 100 greatest characters of the last 20 years, Buffy Summers came in third—and all we can say is, it's a good thing the vampire slayer knows how to use that stake, because Tony Soprano, who came in fourth, doesn't look happy about it at all.
So how do you come up with a character that memorable? Joss Whedon, who created Buffy in his script for the 1992 movie that preceded the television show, shared his recipe with EW:
There's a whole recipe for how to make a Buffy. Take one cup Sarah Connor from the first Terminator movie; one cup Ripley [from Alien]; three tablespoons of the younger sister in [the 1984 postapocalyptic comedy] Night of the Comet; a few sprigs of A Little Princess—the book, not the movies; and a pinch of Jimmy Stewart for pain, because nobody does better pain. Bake those up. Once it's cool, add a little Rosalind Russell from His Girl Friday. All of this must be in a P.J.-Soles-in-Halloween crust. That's very important.
We never thought of Buffy as a female Jimmy Stewart before, but if Whedon says it's so, we'll give it another think. ...