NEWS & STORIES

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Why Anthony Stewart Head’s Giles Left In Season 6

Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Anthony Stewart Head (Giles) left the show in season 6—here’s why both the actor and character took a brief hiatus.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Why Anthony Stewart Head's Giles Left In Season 6
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Why Anthony Stewart Head’s Giles Left In Season 6

However, season 6 showcased how Giles felt about standing in Buffy’s way as, over time, he started to feel like he was holding her back from her true potential. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s musical episode, “Once More With Feeling”, Giles delivers a heart-wrenching song, “Standing”, where he discloses his true feelings about his relationship with the Slayer. He’s clearly conflicted by his choice to leave, yet seems to feel that it’s what is best for Buffy. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s portrayal of the titular character went through an incredible amount of growth throughout Buffy’s seven seasons; she began as a somewhat self-centered, even typical high school girl and turned into someone who selflessly chose to give her own life to save both her sister and the world in the season 5 finale.

Yet, being resurrected from the death and pulled out of Heaven—another devastating blow revealed in the musical episode—took a toll on Buffy. This partially contributed to Giles’ reasoning for leaving her, though he seemed to have made that decision before she confessed about her stint in the afterlife. More meaningful than this confession alone was the implication that Buffy being pulled out of Heaven also took her away from her mother’s side; Joyce passed away from natural causes in season 5, episode 16, “The Body”. Giles’ reasons for leaving were perhaps somewhat misguided, as it could be argued that Buffy needed his guidance during season 6, which was a dark turn for the show on the whole. However, characters’ motivations are often guided by writers working to make sense of an actor’s choice to step away either for a short hiatus or permanently.

Why Did Anthony Stewart Head Leave Buffy The Vampire Slayer?

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Why Anthony Stewart Head's Giles Left In Season 6
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Why Anthony Stewart Head’s Giles Left In Season 6

Giles may have left Buffy to give her some opportunity to fully embrace her newfound responsibilities as an adult, raising her sister alone, and heading into the world as more than just the Slayer, but Anthony Stewart Head’s choice to step away was far more simple. Filming a TV show is hard work and often requires long hours, often for months at a time. Head is a native of England, so filming Buffy the Vampire Slayer meant that he had to spend this time primarily away from his family. That can take a toll on any actor, and after six seasons of filming a show, that certainly can add up to some much-needed vacation time.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer first aired on The WB in 1997. By the time season 6 rolled around, it was 2001; season 6 finished airing in 2002. Head stated during several interviews, when asked about his decision to leave the show, that his primary reason was to step away and focus on his own family, particularly his youngest daughter. In this regard, art imitated life as both Giles and Head returned to England. Originally, Giles left for England after Buffy’s death in season 5, but returned when he heard of Willow and the rest of her friends resurrecting her. He also returned in season 6 to stop Dark Willow (Alyson Hannigan), and then took her back to England to help rehabilitate her, as her magic had gotten out of control following Tara’s death.

Head’s departure is understandable, but has been heavily criticized by fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Some felt the decision for Giles to leave was hasty and misplaced; Buffy had come to rely on him more in the absence of her mother, and this was exacerbated by her being brought back to life. Some fans have gone as far as to say that her entire relationship with Spike was a result of the abandonment she felt. Regardless, Giles did end up returning to the show, though not quite in the same capacity as before.

YOU MAY LIKE THESE DVD