It’s been 18 years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer first aired on the WB and even after all these years it continues to stand the test of time. I was a teenager during the late 90s and there was no greater defining feminist hero from those, my formative years, than Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Buffy may have been a slayer, gifted with physical abilities that helped her in fighting demons, but more so than anything else she was just a typical teenager. She went through the same trial and tribulations that I found myself facing in high school, and later as I ventured off to college.
There have been many complex, strong teenage heroines since then but no one quite like Buffy. Buffy was always confident and believed in herself, but she also knew when to ask for help and surrounded herself with friends who were always willing to support her. Buffy helped show that even the strongest, bravest and most confident of us have demons of their own that need slaying. She was a revolutionary character, and still is to this day. She’s a defining character for a generation of TV fans out there and I feel lucky to have known her during those important years in my life.
Thankfully for TV fans of today there’s a similar character to grace our small screens, and one that I personally feel like Buffy Summers would love to hang out with: The 100’s Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor). There’s the obvious physical resemblance Clarke shares with Buffy: both are young, blonde teenagers who despite obviously looking like models, start off as an outcast and at the end of the day end up saving everyone. But the reasons why Clarke Griffin could very well be this generation’s Buffy Summers go far beyond any physical features. Let me explain as we take a look at the similarities that exist between the two characters.
They Can Hold Their Own
Upon first glance, Buffy may have looked like a tiny blonde woman, but she could stand up to and fight the darkest, fiercest and meanest monsters out there.
Clarke Griffin has faced down some pretty scary monsters of her own in the form of the Grounders, Reapers and the Mountain Men who wanted to suck the life (literally) out of the Sky People, and yet, at the end of the day, Clarke is the one still standing.
They Don’t Run. They Fight.
When the Grounders and Lexa were ready to attack, Clarke didn’t run and hide or flee with Jaha. Instead, she stepped up and show the Grounders how to turn the Reapers and saved her people. She single-handedly escaped Mount Weather and even rescued a Grounder leader, Anya, in the process. When the rest of the Sky People reached Earth from the Ark and the adults, including her mother, the Chancellor, seemed ready to take control and leadership back, Clarke would have none of it. She was the true leader of the Sky People and she wasn’t going to relinquish that role to anyone, even her mother.
In that same vein, Buffy was never a damsel in distress. She wasn’t going to just sit back and wait around for some man to come along and rescue her. She was the Chosen One and that meant fighting any demon, monster or threat that came her way. No matter how the odds may have been stacked against her, if there was a fight to be had, you could be certain Buffy Summers wasn’t backing down.
They know when to ask for help
Just because Buffy or Clarke never backs down from a fight doesn’t mean they never need any help along the way. Sometimes one of the greatest characteristics a hero can have is knowing when to ask for a little help. Buffy had her Scooby Gang and Clarke has Bellamy, Raven and Octavia by her side and helping her. After all, sometimes being a great leader means surrounding yourself with the right people.
They aren’t perfect
Buffy Summers wasn’t perfect and neither is Clarke Griffin. Buffy messed up and she made mistakes, but that’s when we could identify with her the most. Yes, even the Chosen One had the same everyday issues that all teenage girls faced, and when she went off to college she had just as difficult of a time adjusting as everyone else.
Clarke isn’t perfect either. Should she have let Lexa talk her into leaving Tondc before the bombing? Maybe not. But it’s those flaws and mistakes that really allow the audience to identify with Clarke and the struggles she’s going through as she tries to survive and save her people.
It’s lonely at the top
Maybe it’s just that both of these women are destined to live a life alone, but neither one of them lets romance be the first priority in their life. The greater good always matters more than their own heart. For Buffy it was never about the men in her life, they were just supporting characters. Remember when Buffy had to kill Angel? She had to look the great love her of life in the face, tell him that she loved him and then drive a sword through him.
The same could be said for Clarke, for whether it’s been Finn, Bellamy or Lexa, romantic possibilities may exist, but they aren’t Clarke’s first concern or sole reason for her character’s existence. While Clarke’s relationship with Finn never reached the level of Buffy and Angel’s, I couldn’t help but get a slight case of déjà vu when Clarke had to kill Finn in order to save her people. In both cases, Buffy and Clarke gave mercy to their loved ones by saving them from a much more painful death despite the lasting effects it had on their hearts.
These ladies have much bigger worries, like living on a Hellmouth or just trying to live to see another day, than to sit around pining over someone. Clarke and Buffy never need anyone’s approval or validation in order to validate themselves.
They Have Cracks in their Armour
Buffy wasn’t always strong and sometimes carrying around the weight of the world on her shoulders got to her. For as much as her friends could be there and support her, there were still times when it all became too much and we’d see Buffy break down.
The same goes for Clarke, for no matter how strong she may be, there still exists some moments (however small they are) of weakness, and when we see them it’s hard not to love her even more. This is when Clarke and Buffy are the most relatable. Clarke still carries the guilt of burning 300 Grounders in Season 1 and her actions in the Season 2 finale, pulling the lever with Bellamy, is something she’s going to be living with for a long time to come. In fact, that guilt is the very thing that left her leaving everyone behind in the Season 2 finale as she said goodbye to Bellamy and took off to deal with her actions. (Once again inspiring another moment of déjà vu a la the Buffy Season 2 finale when she left Sunnydale.)
Inner strength that’s just as strong as physical strength
Buffy was a slayer, so she’s got one up on Clarke in that regards, but just because she was physically gifted didn’t mean that Buffy wasn’t also tactical and smart when battling vampires and demons. The same goes for Clarke, and in fact, more often than not it’s a mental game for her rather than a physical one. Clarke has not become a trained warrior the way Octavia has, and she lacks the engineering know how that Raven possesses, but Clarke still puts her mind to use as an advantage. She knows how people work and how to sway them as she leads her people.
They never stop fighting
Buffy never ran from a fight and neither does Clarke. Instead of backing away or looking to a man to protect her, Buffy learned how to fight and in the process “she saved the world … a lot.” Buffy never quit. Even in her Season 1 fight with The Master she was just a fledgling slayer but yet she never quit. Not once.
Clarke Griffin would make Buffy proud. She doesn’t sit back and watch. When the ark and the Sky People landed on the ground she didn’t just back down and let Abby, Kane and Jaha regain the leadership position. They may have thought they knew what they were doing, but Clarke had experience on her side and knew in her heart she had to make the decisions. She never backed down and in the end she was right and saved her people. Time and again on The 100 characters are faced with a decision between two horrible choices and they have to pick which of those horrible things may be the least destructive in the end. It’s an exhausting way of life and one that would cause a lesser character to snap from the pressure, but not Clarke. Never Clarke. She never stops fighting until all of her people are safe, no matter the cost to herself.
Enemies that become allies
Some of Buffy’s biggest enemies actually ended up fighting with her in the end. Look no further than Spike for proof of that. He was dead set on killing her in Season 2, only to turn around and fight alongside her by Season 5 (not to mention fall in love with her).
When Clarke first met Lexa she was Commander of the Grounders, dead set on invading the Sky People and making them pay for what Finn had done to her people. However, Clarke was able to turn things around, and just a few episodes later the two were standing side by side as they prepared to invade Mount Weather.
No matter how many times I watch Buffy, even after 18 years, it still holds up. A strong lead with engaging, heartfelt stories that involved believable characters still proves its worth. Sure, the special effects and 90s fashion can make you wince or laugh out loud every now and again, but most of the time you know it was a show making the most out of a small budget and limited resources.
The 100 is on the list of shows I have for my daughters to watch one day when they are old enough. I suspect that when I do that rewatch with them I’ll be saying a lot of the same things about Clarke and The 100 that we’re still saying today about Buffy. The special effects aren’t so great at times, there’s a lot of walking around the same woods over and over, but the show does wonders with what it’s got and should be commended for that. Above all, The 100 works because of its characters and that all starts with Clarke Griffin.
As important as Buffy Summers was to me when I was growing up, I believe Clarke Griffin holds that same importance to this generation of TV watchers.
Do you see similarities between Buffy and Clarke? Let us know what your thoughts on the comparison are in the comments below!
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.