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Buffyverse Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

Before "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" concluded in 2003, the series' success helped launch "Angel," starring David Boreanaz as the tortured, heroic vampire he first made famous on "Buffy." That spin-off series came to an end a year after "Buffy" did. Together, these shows make up the Buffyverse, whose heroes battle vampires, ogres, ambitious nerd trios, musical-inducing demons, and sundry other things that go bump in the night.

Neither series is a stranger to death. The monsters our heroes fight cut short the lives of far too many citizens of Sunnydale and Los Angeles, including quite a few of Buffy and Angel's allies. Buffy Summers herself dies not once, but twice over the course of her series. 

Sadly, death in the real world is a lot more permanent than it is in the Buffyverse. What follows is a list of Buffyverse actors who have passed away since their time portraying heroes, villains, and all those in between.

Robin Sachs played one of Buffy's few human bad guys

Robin Sachs is one of the few actors to play a recurring villain on "Buffy" whose character is just as human as the titular hero. An old friend of Rupert Giles from the watcher's wilder youth, Rayne is a chaos-worshipping warlock. He first troubles the people of Sunnydale in Season 2's "Halloween" when he sells costumes that transform the wearer. In his final appearance in Season 4's "A New Man," he fools Giles into letting his guard down and transforms him into a demon.

Ironically, while Sachs played one of the few supernatural baddies on "Buffy" who doesn't require any heavy make-up or prosthetics, he was regularly covered in the stuff for other productions you might recognize him from. In the 1999 sci-fi satire "Galaxy Quest," he played the ruthless alien bad guy Sarris. Sachs also enjoyed a few recurring roles as alien characters on the celebrated sci-fi series "Babylon 5." He first played the disguised Minbari warrior Coplann, and later portrayed Warleader Na'Kal and General Na'Tok, both of whom are Narn characters. While he probably didn't need make-up for it, Sachs stepped into a much more famous alien's shoes in 1994 when he voiced the Silver Surfer in three episodes of "Fantastic Four: The Animated Series."

In February 2013, four days before what would have been his 62nd birthday, Sachs died of a heart attack.  

Brian Turk played a vamp who doesn't like taking orders

In "Real Me," Episode 2 of Season 5 of "Buffy," ditzy vampire Harmony forms a gang. No one takes her very seriously, however, until she kidnaps Buffy's sister Dawn. Bigger and stronger than anyone else in the gang, Mort, a vampire played by Brian Turk, takes over when Harmony refuses to let them kill Dawn. Luckily, Buffy saves her sister by arriving in the nick of time. She proceeds to wipe out all the vamps except Harmony. Mort is the last of Harmony's former thugs to fall, taken down when Buffy stakes him with the horn of a wooden unicorn.

Turk worked as a character actor from the early '90s to a couple of years before his death in 2019. Along with his role on "Buffy," he landed one-offs and recurring roles on "Saved by the Bell: The New Class," "Beverly Hills, 90210," "ER," "Two and a Half Men," and many other series. He also enjoyed smaller roles in 1997's "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," "American Pie 2," and "A.I. Artificial Intelligence." He's best remembered for playing the strongman Gabriel on HBO's celebrated drama "Carnivàle." 

Turk died in September 2019 of complications related to brain cancer. He was 49 years old.

Vincent Schiavelli appeared in a plethora of classic films

Halfway through "Buffy" Season 2 comes the game-changing episode "Surprise," in which Angel goes bad, Jenny Calendar is revealed to be something of a spy, and one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood makes an appearance. Vincent Schiavelli played Enyos, Jenny Calendar's uncle and a member of the Romani clan who restored Angel's soul in the 19th century. Enyos arrives in Sunnydale to warn Jenny that Angel's pain is lessening and that she must find a way to separate him from Buffy. In the following episode, "Innocence," Angel — having gone over fully to the dark side — finds Enyos before Buffy can and silences him permanently.

Schiavelli was the kind of character actor everyone recognizes but no one can name. In the 1975 classic "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Schiavelli played Fredrickson, a patient who loves harassing Dale (William Redfield) during group therapy. He followed that up by portraying biology teacher Mr. Vargas in the beloved 1982 comedy "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," and stepping into the shoes of the belligerent subway specter who teaches Sam (Patrick Swayze) how to interact with the physical world in 1990's "Ghost."

In 1997, the same year he played the assassin Dr. Kaufman in "Tomorrow Never Dies," Vanity Fair named Schiavelli one of America's best character actors (via NPR). Schiavelli was in Italy in December 2005 when he died of lung cancer. He was 57 years old.

Glenn Quinn brought a half-demon to life

Just as Angel starts off in "Buffy" as an ally with unknown motives, the soulful vampire has his own mysterious helper when he begins working as a private detective in "Angel." Glenn Quinn played the half-demon Doyle for the first nine episodes of "Angel." Doyle receives psychic messages from the Powers That Be about dangers the titular hero needs to face. Sadly, Doyle sacrifices himself in "Hero," and is never seen on the show again. 

Before joining the cast of "Angel," Quinn started his professional acting career as a pool shark in the 1990 Richard Marx music video "Satisfied." Beyond the role of Doyle, he was probably best known as Mark Healy, Becky's (Sarah Chalke) boyfriend and eventual husband on the hit sitcom "Roseanne." He also starred in the 1992 slasher "Dr. Giggles."

In December 2002, three years after leaving the cast of "Angel," Quinn's body was found at a friend's home in North Hollywood. The cause of death was eventually determined to be a heroin overdose. He was 32 years old. While his time on "Angel" was brief, at the 2019 Entertainment Weekly reunion shoot for "Angel," David Boreanaz called Quinn "a really close friend," and added, "God rest his soul."

Bob Morrisey was a busy character actor

In the final moments of the Season 5 "Buffy" premiere, we meet Buffy's 14-year-old sister Dawn ... except Buffy doesn't have a sister. We eventually learn that Dawn is a mystical entity called the Key, and only people with severe mental illnesses can see her for what she is. In "Real Me," a seemingly mentally ill homeless man played by Bob Morrissey appears to be the first person to notice Dawn isn't what she seems. He reappears a couple of other times later in the season. Morrissey actually returned to the Buffyverse for the Season 3 premiere of "Angel" in a more substantial role: In "Heartthrob," Morrissey played Dr. Gregson, a demon in disguise who removes a vampire's heart to render him temporarily invincible.

Morrissey died in his home in December 2017 at the age of 71. Before he passed, Morrissey worked as a tireless character actor with a long list of credits. After "Angel," he landed dozens of one-off and recurring roles on hit shows including "Dharma & Greg," "That '70s Show," "Six Feet Under," "Numb3rs," "Desperate Housewives," "Star Trek: Enterprise," and too many other series and films to name here.

John Ritter played a memorable villain on Buffy

John Ritter didn't get tapped to play a lot of villains, but judging by his performance in the Season 2 "Buffy" episode "Ted," he had a serious knack for it. Ritter played the episode's namesake — or, more precisely, a version of him. Ted is a suitor eager to earn the affections of Buffy's mother, Joyce. At first, he seems like the perfect gentleman, but whenever he's alone with Buffy, he becomes increasingly abusive — first verbally, and eventually physically. We ultimately learn Ted isn't a demon or another type of mystical threat, but a robot built by the real Ted Buchanan who died decades earlier. 

Ritter was perhaps the most well-known actor to ever appear on "Buffy." Making a huge splash years before on the classic sitcom "Three's Company," Ritter worked in TV and film until his passing. The year before his death, he began work on another successful sitcom, ABC's "8 Simple Rules."

In September 2003, while rehearsing for "8 Simple Rules," Ritter was rushed to the hospital. Because he was vomiting and complaining of chest pains, it was first believed that he was suffering a heart attack. It was later determined, however, that the problem was aortic dissection. He died during surgery at the age of 54.

Andy Hallett was an inspiration to the people around him

The Season 2 premiere of "Angel" introduces the green-skinned, red-horned demon Lorne, played by Andy Hallett. A modern day oracle with the ability to read the auras of both humans and demons — but only after hearing them sing — Lorne owns Caritas, a karaoke bar where almost any human or demon is welcome, but violence is prohibited. While initially only a recurring character, Hallett was promoted to a series regular in Season 4 and remained in the cast until the end of the series.

Hallett not only played Lorne, he was the character's inspiration. "Angel" co-creator Joss Whedon got the idea for the character while watching Hallett perform karaoke. The series' other co-creator, David Greenwalt, told EW that other actors read for the role, but Hallett was "the best." 

Other than appearing as an extra in the Emmy-nominated Season 4 "Buffy" episode "Hush," "Angel" made up the bulk of Hallett's resume. Circumstances stopped him from doing much acting after "Angel" concluded: Towards the end of the series, Hallett was diagnosed with congestive heart disease, forcing him to scale back his work. He passed away in March 2009 at the age of 33. 

Angelo Spizzirri started his acting career on Buffy

In "Some Assembly Required," Episode 2 of "Buffy" Season 2, Angelo Spizzirri played Chris Epps. Before the events of the episode, Chris' older brother Daryl dies in a rock climbing accident. With the help of his creepy friend Eric, Chris brings Daryl back from the dead as a kind of Frankenstein's Monster. Worse still, Chris and Eric have been busy robbing the graves of teenage girls to build Daryl a bride.

Spizzirri's role on "Buffy" was his first professional acting credit. He continued landing small roles on other series like "Sliders" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." Perhaps his most visible role proved to be in the 2002 sports drama "The Rookie," in which he played Big Lake Owls catcher Joel De La Garza.

When Spizzirri died in October 2007, the cause of death was not widely publicized. In October 2018, however, Spizzirri's "The Rookie" co-star Chad Lindberg posted a touching tribute on Instagram, saying Spizzirri "took his own life 11 years ago today." He added that he missed Spizzirri "dearly & think of him all the time." 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Jean Speegle Howard was the mother of one of Hollywood's best filmmakers

As any "Buffy" fan will tell you, Xander Harris has famously supernatural tastes in women. In Season 1's "Teacher's Pet," we meet the first of this long list of seductive beasts: An insect demon who assumes the identity of substitute teacher Natalie French (Musetta Vander). After learning her true nature (and that she plans to murder Xander), Buffy and her friends go to what they think is her home — but it turns out to be the home of the actual Natalie French, a sweet elderly woman played by Jean Speegle Howard.

Perhaps Howard's greatest claim to fame is that she helped begin a major Hollywood legacy. Howard was the mother of both famous character actor Clint Howard and Oscar-winning director Ron Howard. On screen, some of her more memorable roles include Blanch Lovell, Jim Lovell's (Tom Hanks) mother in "Apollo 13," and the elderly neighbor who enjoys walking around her home in the nude with her windows open in "Rear Window," a Season 7 episode of "Roseanne." In the 1988 comedy "Scrooged," she played a very different sort of Mrs. Claus, who hurriedly hands out automatic weapons to Santa's elves when terrorists attack. 

Howard died a few years after appearing on "Buffy" in September 2000 from heart and respiratory illness. She was 73 years old.

John Mahon started his career translating a demonic language

We first meet Trevor Lockley, played by John Mahon, at a party celebrating his retirement from the LAPD in a Season 1 episode of "Angel" entitled "Sense and Sensitivity." We don't see much of him after that, but he indirectly has a big impact on the direction of the series as a whole. Trevor is the father of Kate Lockley, an LAPD detective and Angel's love interest. After he's murdered by vampires in "The Prodigal," the trauma turns his daughter against Angel. 

While John Mahon was often cast in police or military roles, his screen debut saw him play a very different part. In 1971, Mahon appeared in the Off Broadway production "Nobody Hears a Broken Drum," written by Jason Miller, who became friends with Mahon. When Miller was cast as Father Karras in the classic 1973 horror film "The Exorcist," he brought Mahon along with him. Mahon played the language lab director who discovers that the recorded demonic "language" is actually English spoken backwards. Mahon's other memorable roles include playing a police chief in 1997's "L.A. Confidential," a riverboat captain in 2007's "Zodiac," and a NATO colonel in the 1999 comedy "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me."

Mahon passed away from natural causes in May 2020 at the age of 82. 

Conchata Ferrell was an amazing talent

When you get cast on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" for a single appearance and your character grows a conscience, there almost definitely won't be a second appearance in your future. Serving as proof is the fate of Conchata Ferrell's character, school nurse Ruth Greenliegh, in Season 2's "Go Fish." At first, she helps the Sunnydale High swim coach administer an experimental drug to his team. But as the swimmers begin turning into ravenous, mindless fish men and Greenliegh insists they stop messing with the drug, the coach gives her to some of his swimmers as a snack.

According to Deadline, Norman Lear called Ferrell "one of the dearest people and most amazing talents I have ever worked with." As she starred on "The Hot l Baltimore," a 1975 sitcom Lear produced, he knew what he was talking about. That talent was recognized three times with Primetime Emmy nominations. The first nomination was for her work on Season 6 of the legal drama "L.A. Law," while the last two were for the role for which she is likely most remembered: Berta the housekeeper on the hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men."

Ferrell passed away in October 2020 after suffering a cardiac arrest. She was 77 years old.

Steven Gilborn played Xander's uncle

Sometimes Xander Harris' romantic choices lead to trouble — not just for him, but for the people in his life as well. Such is the case in the "Buffy" Season 6 episode "Hell's Bells." Xander is finally set to tie the knot with Anya. Though he eventually gets cold feet and calls the wedding off, before that happens, Anya's vengeance demon lineage attracts a whole bunch of demons to the ceremony. The mixing of human and demon guests doesn't lead to a lot of harmony, as you might imagine. On the groom's side of the family is Xander's Uncle Rory, played by Steven Gilborn. 

To sitcom fans, Gilborn is likely best remembered as Harold Morgan, the titular lead's father on "Ellen." Along with many other small roles in film and television, Gilborn played math teacher Mr. Collins on the popular coming-of-age dramedy "The Wonder Years," had a recurring role as medical examiner George on Seasons 9 and 10 of "Columbo," and played A.D.A. Gavin Bullock on three seasons of the legal drama "The Practice." 

Gilborn died in January 2009 of cancer (via The New York Times). He was 72 years old.

Kathryn Joosten played many memorable roles

While Kathryn Joosten's character Genevieve Holt isn't a "Buffy" villain when she appears in Season 4's "Where the Wild Things Are" — at least not in the sense that she has any kind of conflict with our heroes — she's far from a saint. After things start getting supernatural in a UC Sunnydale frat house, Buffy's friends discover the building was once a home for troubled teenagers. Genevieve Holt ran the home, and subjected her charges to horrible abuse, especially if she suspected them of being "dirty." Somehow, the intense sexual repression Holt caused in the past manifests as energy that drives Buffy and her boyfriend Riley into an obsessed tryst that will eventually kill them if not stopped.

Depending on your TV tastes, there's a good chance you remember Joosten best as one of two characters. On "Desperate Housewives," Joosten played Karen McCluskey, sworn enemy of Felicity Huffman's Lynette Scavo. Joosten won two Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy for playing McCluskey. On the much-lauded political drama "The West Wing," Joosten played Mrs. Landingham, personal assistant to Martin Sheen's President Josiah Bartlet.

Joosten died of lung cancer in June 2012. She was 72 years old.