It's official: The end is near for UPN's cult hit ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'' After seven years, Sarah Michelle Gellar is leaving the series, which will conclude this season with a five-part story featuring the return of Faith, some surprise deaths, and an appearance by a certain Angel. ''We're gearing up to tell a fabulous, huge, great arc,'' Gellar tells EW. ''It's going to be pretty spectacular.''
But why leave now? ''You always worry about being the show that's been on too long -- especially when you're a cult hit,'' explains Gellar. ''Last year, a lot of people were ready to tear us down. [So when] we started to have such a strong year this year, I thought: 'This is how I want to go out -- on top, at our best.'''
To read Gellar's complete interview -- and get the latest news about a possible ''Buffy'' spin-off -- pick up the upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly, available on newsstands Friday, Feb. 28.