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Hear Me Out

Ted Lasso's Rupert and Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Giles Are the Same Person

Anthony Head plays both characters, who are so diametrically opposed that one must be the other's evil doppelgänger.
  • Anthony Head in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Ted Lasso (Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection; Apple TV+)
    Anthony Head in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Ted Lasso (Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection; Apple TV+)

    In Hear Me Out, Primetimer staffers and contributors espouse their pet theories, spicy takes, and even the occasional galaxy-brain idea.

    Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head) is the most blatantly bad person on Ted Lasso. He pops up only to cause conflict — it’s his indiscretions that lead to Ted (Jason Sudeikis) getting hired in the first place. Throughout the series we’ve seen Rupert sabotage his ex-wife Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) on more than one occasion and cheat on his new wife within months of their baby being born. Most recently, in Season 3, Episode 9, “La Locker Room Aux Folles,” he puts on his most evil smirk to try to derail Nate’s (Nick Mohammed) budding relationship (and in turn, his potential redemption) by tempting him with a pair of hot models at a supposed “guy’s night.”

    It’s a sharp contrast from Head’s most well-known role, Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Throughout that series’s run, Giles was supportive, kind, and loyal. He led with compassion and grace, but there was still something dark beneath the surface (never forget Giles’ days as Ripper). Head can’t help but bring the same gravitas to his Ted Lasso role as he did to later seasons of Buffy, and it’s hard to even look at that grin and into those eyes without flashing back to everyone’s favorite watcher. It’s almost as if… no, it couldn’t be… Giles? Is that you?

    Maybe that same glint in Rupert’s eye is a flash of his former self, begging to be noticed and set free. Everyone else is too caught up in Ted’s spell of toxic optimism to see what is so clear to the most fervent Buffy fans: Much like Ben and Glory in Season 5, Rupert and Giles are the same person.

    Forget the fact that Ted Lasso has no elements of fantasy or science fiction, no history of crossovers, and no other things in common with Buffy — none of that matters to the chaos that spews out of the Hellmouth. It was practically a daily occurrence for those in the Buffyverse to fall prey to a demonic spell or stumble across a portal to another dimension and end up altered in some way, and Giles was never immune to the dark forces at play. Somehow, someway, our Giles is trapped in Ted Lasso.

    It actually seems so obvious when you think about it, because what do we know about Rupert Mannion’s past really, hmm? His life as we know it started 12 years before the first episode of Ted Lasso when he and Rebecca got married, which would have been about four years after Giles was last heard from in Season 5 of the Buffy spinoff Angel in the 2004 episode “A Hole in the Heart.”

    At that time, Giles was based in Europe, training new slayers, a task that in itself isn’t unlike, I don’t know, running a football club. He was certainly putting himself in harm’s way as the leader of the most powerful group fighting against all the world’s evil at the time, which could mean that someone (or something) wanted to get him out of the way. But in the world of Buffy simply killing someone is never enough — whatever evil force is at play would want to torture him by making him spend his life as a reviled multimillionaire who is way too obsessed with women and football. And those new personality traits (plus a new last name, duh) would make him completely untraceable to anyone trying to get Giles back to where he belongs.

    The stark differences between Giles and Mannion’s personalities make it seem even more likely that these characters could be connected — Buffy has a history of diametrically opposed doppelgängers wreaking havoc. Season 3’s “The Wish” revealed that in an alternate dimension Willow (Alyson Hannigan) was actually Vampire Willow, a suave, sex-obsessed killer who was nothing like her meek, chaste counterpart. In Season 5’s “The Replacement,” it seemed at first that a cooler, smarter, more confident Xander (Nicholas Brendon) was out to take over “real” Xander’s life, when in fact Xander had just been split into two separate people, with the extremes of his personality divided between them. Then of course there’s Angel (David Boreanaz) who spent the entire series plus a self-titled spinoff grappling with the two sides of himself, the soulless Angelus and the heroic Angel.

    Despite Rupert Mannion’s penchant for sucking the joy out of a room, he has been seen in daylight, so we can cross vampire off the list. If Giles was in fact split in two, it would make sense that all his most despicable qualities would end up in one person, and if his soul was ripped out, well, at least he hasn’t gone on a murderous rampage — yet. And sure, maybe this really is just another character named Rupert played by Anthony Head who has absolutely no connection to the hellmouth or vampires or Buffy Summers at all. But just in case, if Ted knows what’s good for him, he’ll find himself some runic stones, animal bones, and an Orb of Thesulah, stat.

    New episodes of Ted Lasso drop every Wednesday on Apple TV+. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seasons 1 through 7 are streaming on Hulu. Join the discussion about both shows in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Ted Lasso, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Head, David Boreanaz, Hannah Waddingham, Jason Sudeikis, Nicholas Brendon, Nick Mohammed