Four years ago, news broke that Joss Whedon—working with Monica Owusu-Breen, who’d serve as showrunner on the new project—was developing a reboot of his beloved TV breakthrough, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Now Indiewire is reporting that, after a long period of silence—and the complications surrounding Whedon’s last show, The Nevers, which he eventually parted ways with ahead of its HBO debut—the Buffy reboot has been put “on pause.”
Even at the time, responses to the Buffy reboot were muted, despite the interesting news that Whedon and Owusu-Breen were looking to cast a Black actor as the franchise’s new Slayer. There were probably a bunch of reasons for that minimal reaction: General reboot fatigue, questions about whether Buffy’s particular lightning in a bottle could be re-captured in a landscape that the original show itself helped shape, and, of course, the beginnings of a backlash against Whedon, in the aftermath of a 2017 open letter from his ex-wife Kai Cole, calling him out for alleged infidelity and sexism.
Said backlash has only gotten quite a bit worse over the past few years, though, especially after various performers on Whedon projects—most notably Ray Fisher, but also Gal Gadot and Buffy/Angel performer Charisma Carpenter—came forward with allegations of abusive or unpleasant behaviors by the writer-director on their sets. Investigations into Whedon’s behavior on Justice League coincided with news that HBO was distancing itself from him; it was announced around that same time that he’d be leaving The Nevers, which is hypothetically supposed to release its second batch of first-season episodes some time this year.
But, back to Buffy: News of the “pause” came from executive producer Gail Berman, as reported by THR’s TV’s Top 5 podcast. (Who went on to note that “on pause” is “industry speak for purgatory, make of that what you will.”) Reports on the series have been extremely quiet over the last few years, even as Whedon’s stock has continued to tank; Owusu-Breen, whose past credits include Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lost, and Fringe, and who created 2018's Midnight, Texas, was attached last year to the writers room of the new Percy Jackson TV series at Disney+, which isn’t something you normally associate with showrunning a healthily in-development show.
So, yeah: This thing is probably dead—and not in the “so we can dramatically resurrect it for a season-long meditation on grieving and growing up” sort of way.