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Quality Shares

The idea for quality shares came about when the Webmaster became interested in SABRmetrics, which involve advanced statistical analyses of baseball. (It should be a big surprise that someone interested in geeky statistical analyses of films and television shows could become interested in geeky statistical analyses of sports.) Some of these analyses attempt to find a single measure of how much a particular player contributed to his team during a season. These measures include Win Shares (by Bill James), Wins Above Replacement (WAR, with different formulas used by Baseball Reference and Fangraphs), and Value Over Replacement Player (VORP used by Baseball Prospectus).

In one of his geekier moments, the Webmaster wondered if he could do something similar here. The Quality share is an attempt to measure the importance of each person's contributions toward making the show as good as it is and create a ranked list of the people who most contributed to the success of the show.

The Quality Share Defined

On the Buffy Phenomenon, each episode gets a certain number of points based on how much fans like that episode. Quality Shares are simply these points divided among the cast and crew responsible for making the episode. Various roles get a fixed percentage of the points for each episode, with all people in those roles sharing those points. In general, people who worked on better episodes get more points than do people who worked on weaker episodes. Positions that were credited onscreen all by themselves tended to get a larger percentage of the points than did positions that were credited as part of a list. Positions that corresponded to Academy Award categories were more likely to get points than positions with no corresponding categories. Although there are exceptions, emphasis was placed on heads of departments (often people with “supervisor” or “coordinator” in the title) who stood in for everyone under them. For example, the contributions of stunt doubles are incorporated in the points for the stunt coordinator. Also, the creative elements are given heavier emphasis than what other elements received.

This is intended to be as objective a rating as possible. The points are based on a large number of best (and worst) episode lists. Each position gets a fixed percent of the points from that episode. People credited for participation in a given position get a share of those points. People who went uncredited do not. No bonus is given for a particularly memorable score, and no penalty is assigned for yet another terrible costuming choice for Tara.

This does not mean that there is no subjective factor. It would be difficult to prove that the actors deserve exactly 25% of the points and not 20% or 30%. Other than their relative prominence in the closing credits, there is no objective reason why the Unit Production Manager gets points but the Location Manager does not.

Quality Shares versus Win Shares, WAR, and VORP

As anyone familiar with the baseball statistics should figure out, the quality shares described on this page are not very similar to the baseball statistics mentioned above. However, if forced to choose, quality share resemble win shares more than they resemble WAR or VORP.

First, quality shares, like win shares, are based on actual success. In baseball, players on a team divide up a total of three win shares for every game that team wins, even if the team has a few (un)lucky breaks and wins or loses more games than what would be expected given the individual performances of the players. In Buffy the cast and crew divide up one quality share for every point that each episode earns, regardless of whether the episode overall was better or worse than the sum of its elements.

Second, quality shares, like win shares, are not dependent on a subjective replacement level. There is a shared assumption that everyone is making a positive contribution and that any exceptions will be fired / demoted to the minor leagues so quickly that the exceptions will have a negligible influence on the success of the episode / team. VORP and WAR compare a player’s performance to a standard that is usually defined as being what a top level minor leaguer would accomplish. A player who performs worse than a minor leaguer could get a negative WAR or VORP. This is actually a bit similar to the analyses on the writers ranked, and directors ranked pages on this site. These pages use Joss Whedon as the hypothetical replacement level and compare the writer or director to Whedon. As Whedon is hardly a minor league level writer and director, these pages set an unrealistic replacement level.

Calculation of Quality Shares

The Quality Share points for any given episode are divided as follows:

1 For example if Sarah Michelle Gellar had 20% of the lines in the episode, she would get 5% of the points. Only actors who had at least 250 lines across all episodes are counted. A separate analysis was done including all actors with at least 200 lines (actually 199 lines as Harry Groener’s lines as Mayor Wilkins and the First Evil combined put him one short of 200 lines, but it was unfair to exclude him while including Alexis Denisof who had 202 lines). In this separate analysis, no actor with a total of 199 to 249 lines ended up in the top 100 people on the show.

The lines for each actor roughly correspond to the lines for each character analyzed elsewhere on this site with a few exceptions. For example, Sarah Michelle Gellar gets credit for all the Buffybot's lines as well as most of Faith's lines in "Who Are You?" and some of the First Evil's lines in the seventh season. However, she does not get credit for most of Buffy's lines in "Who Are You?" or for a few lines spoken by child actors. Tom Lenk gets credit for a few lines as a minion vampire in "Real Me." Robia LaMorte gets credit for lines spoken by Drusilla and the First Evil when they impersonated Jenny.

2 The series creator is credited in each episode and would deserve credit for setting up the show even if he played no further part in running the show.

3 Even though the assistant directors work directly under the director and could be incorporated into the Director’s points, the final credits of the show gave the assistant directors too prominent a credit to be ignored.

4 The person responsible for original casting is credited in all 144 episodes, and the actors cast in the beginning play a prominent role throughout the show.

5 The credit for the Unit Production Manager was too prominent to ignore. Usually, that person had a producer credit alone on the screen as well as a second Unit Production Manager credit shared onscreen only with the assistant directors.

6 There was little consistency from episode to episode on whether these people were credited or not. If all four positions were credited, then each person received 1% of the points. If three of the four were credited, then each received 1.33% of the points. If two of the four positions were credited, each received 2% of the points.


To the extent that this analysis is valid, the 100 most important people to the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are:

Rank Name Points Position(s)
1 Joss Whedon 1200.83 Showrunner (Seasons 1-7), Writer (28 episodes), Creator, Director (20 episodes)
2 Sarah Michelle Gellar 734.23 Actress (Buffy, Buffybot, Faith, The First Evil)
3 Marti Noxon 358.12 Writer (23 episodes), Showrunner (Seasons 6-7), Director ("Into the Woods," "Forever")
4 Michael Gershman 356.33 Director of Photography (82 episodes), Director (10 episodes)
5 Carey Meyer 354.94 Production Designer (106 episodes), Art Director (Season 1)
6 Alyson Hannigan 351.27 Actress (Willow)
7 Cynthia Bergstrom 321.73 Costume Designer (Seasons 2-6)
8 Nicholas Brendon 317.37 Actor (Xander)
9 Anthony Stewart Head 239.26 Actor (Giles)
10 Jane Espenson 232.98 Writer (22 episodes)
11 Raymond Stella 213.37 Director of Photography (61 episodes)
12 Cindy Rabideau 200.84 Supervising Sound Editor (138 episodes)
13 Doug Petrie 197.48 Writer (16 episodes), Director ("Flooded," "As You Were," "Get It Done")
14 David Koneff 196.86 Set Decorator (116 episodes)
15 David Fury 194.31 Writer (17 episodes), Director ("Gone," "Showtime," "Lies My Parents Told Me")
16 Christophe Beck 178.70 Original Music (59 episodes)
17 Marcia Shulman 178.16 Original Casting, Casting (Seasons 1-2)
18 James Marsters 163.96 Actor (Spike, The First Evil)
19 Regis B. Kimble 125.04 Editor (32 episodes), Director ("Earshot")
20 John F. Perry 118.69 Unit Production Manager (82 episodes)
21 Thomas Wanker 113.75 Original Music (41 episodes)
22 Emma Caulfield 112.52 Actress (Anya, Anyanka)
23 James A. Contner 109.96 Director (20 episodes)
24 David Greenwalt 103.76 Writer (8 episodes), Director ("Reptile Boy," "Bad Eggs," "Homecoming," "The Wish")
25 Michelle Trachtenberg 103.55 Actress (Dawn)
26 David Solomon 101.98 Director (19 episodes)
27 Rebecca Rand Kirshner 100.55 Writer (8 episodes)
28 John Vulich 98.42 Special Makeup Effects (106 episodes)
29 Todd McIntosh 96.02 Makup Supervisor (Seasons 2-6)
30 Jeff Pruitt 95.81 Stunt Coordinator (65 episodes)
31 Peter Basinski 95.66 Editor (26 episodes)
32 John Medlen 94.94 Stunt Coordinator (Seasons 5-7)
33 Caroline Quinn 83.61 Set Designer (56 episodes)
34 David Boreanaz 78.78 Actor (Angel)
35 Loni Peristere 75.14 Visual Effects (100 episodes)
36 Bruce Minkus 73.13 Special Effects (90 episodes)
37 David Grossman 72.69 Director (13 episodes)
38 Drew Z. Greenberg 71.21 Writer (6 episodes)
39 Marc Blucas 70.53 Actor (Riley)
40 Jennifer Fishman Pate 69.79 Casting (97 episodes)
(tie) Amy McIntyre Britt 69.79 Casting (97 episodes)
(tie) Anya Colloff 69.79 Casting (97 episodes)
43 Skip MacDonald 69.52 Editor (20 episodes)
44 Charisma Carpenter 65.12 Actress (Cordelia)
45 Susan Eschelbach 63.89 Set Decorator (28 episodes)
46 Steven S. DeKnight 61.76 Writer (5 episodes)
47 Kristine Sutherland 57.41 Actress (Joyce, The First Evil)
48 Robert Duncan 57.12 Original Music (20 episodes)
49 Thomas Fichter 57.09 Production Designer (16 episodes)
50 Drew Goddard 54.50 Writer (5 episodes)
51 Amber Benson 53.12 Actress (Tara)
52 Eliza Dushku 50.43 Actress (Faith, Buffy)
53 Alan Steinman 49.86 First Assistant Director (33 episodes), Second Assistant Director (36 episodes)
54 Nancy Forner 47.65 Editor (13 episodes)
55 Brenda Kalosh 43.81 First Assistant Director (40 episodes)
56 Nick Marck 42.34 Director (7 episodes)
57 Bruce Seth Green 42.32 Director (8 episodes)
58 Seth Green 42.22 Actor (Oz)
59 Tom Lenk 36.86 Actor (Andrew, Cyrus)
60 Tracey Forbes 36.09 Writer ("Beer Bad," "Something Blue," "Where the Wild Things Are")
61 Kelly Manners 34.20 Unit Production Manager (Season 3), First Assistant Director ("Amends")
62 Terry Dresbach 33.64 Costume Designer (12 episodes)
63 Walter Murphy 33.42 Original Music (Season 1)
(tie) Steve Hardie 33.42 Production Designer (Season 1)
(tie) Susanna Puisto 33.42 Costume Designer (Season 1)
66 Gary Law 32.45 Unit Production Manager (Season 2)
67 Marilyn McMahon Adams 31.20 Editor (10 episodes)
68 Kimberly Ray 30.46 Editor (8 episodes)
69 Dean Batali 29.42 Writer (5 episodes)
(tie) Rob Des Hotel 29.42 Writer (5 episodes)
71 Matt Van Dyne 28.90 Costume Designer (10 episodes)
72 Ty King 28.50 Writer ("Some Assembly Required," "Passion")
73 Brian Myers 27.86 Casting (13 episodes)
74 Dan Vebber 27.68 Writer ("Lover's Walk," "The Zeppo")
75 Joshua Charson 27.43 Editor (8 episodes)
76 James Whitmore Jr. 27.06 Director (6 episodes)
77 Tammis Chandler 25.96 Editor (8 episodes)
78 Danny Strong 25.21 Actor (Jonathan, The First Evil)
79 Adam Busch 24.70 Actor (Warren, The First Evil)
80 Michael Lange 24.25 Director ("Surprise," "Band Candy," "Bad Girls," "Pangs")
81 Louise A. Innes 23.77 Editor (7 episodes)
82 Athena Alexander 23.51 Second Assistant Director (65 episodes)
83 David Semel 21.97 Director ("Never Kill a Boy on the First Date," "What's My Line, Part 2," "Go Fish," "Lover's Walk")
84 Michael Cedar 20.42 First Assistant Director (19 episodes)
85 D.B. Woodside 19.30 Actor (Principal Wood)
86 Lisa Lassek 19.14 Editor (5 episodes)
87 Robia LaMorte 19.01 Actor (Jenny, The First Evil, Drusilla)
88 Robert Hall 18.70 Special Makeup Effects (26 episodes)
89 Clare Kramer 17.79 Actress (Glory, The First Evil)
90 Sam Hill 17.52 First Assistant Director (16 episodes)
91 Jeff Smolek 16.71 Stunt Coordinator (Season 1)
(tie) Glenn Campbell 16.71 Visual Effects (Season 1)
(tie) Joseph M. Ellis 16.71 Unit Production Manager (Season 1)
94 Andre Ellingson 15.64 Special Effects (Season 7)
(tie) Peter Montagna 15.64 Makeup Supervision (Season 7)
96 Juliet Landau 15.55 Actress (Drusilla, The First Evil)
97 Iyari Limon 14.53 Actress (Kennedy)
98 William Durrell, Jr. 14.44 Art Director (5 episodes)
99 Geoffrey Rowland 14.24 Editor ("Welcome to the Hellmouth," "Teacher's Pet," "Angel," "Nightmares")
100 Diego Gutierrez 14.12 Writer ("Normal Again")


It is a good thing that Joss Whedon came out on top in the calculations. A measure of the most important people on Buffy the Vampire Slayer that did not start with Whedon would have as much face validity as a list of the best baseball players of all time that did not start with Babe Ruth. It was probably also good that Sarah Michelle Gellar came in a clear second.

The rankings are still not perfect. David Solomon did get some quality shares for directing 19 episodes. However, he was a lot more than just a director. Unfortunately, he was not credited with his work other than as a producer. Producers could have claimed a share of quality points, but this would mean that people who did real work on the show, like Solomon, would split points with people like Fran Ruebel Kuzui, who claimed in the first edition of the Watcher's Guide that nobody recognized her when she showed up on the set one day.

This page was last modified on February 5, 2013