- Halloween Episode: Three of them. In season 2, "Halloween. In season 4, "Fear Itself". In season 6, "All the Way".
- Hanlon's Razor: Harmony was the only person whose transformation into a soulless monster wasn't portrayed as tragic; objectively, it wasn't much of a change.
- Hard Work Montage: Referenced, of course,
Buffy: I thought it was gonna be like in the movies. You know, inspirational music ... a montage, me sharpening my pencils, me reading, writing, falling asleep on a big pile of books with my glasses all crooked ('cause in my montage I have glasses)...
- He Knows Too Much: Angelus is very thorough in disposing of everyone who knows how to restore his soul.
- Faith murders a Volcanologist in his office, seemingly at random. We later learn that the doctor excavated the fossilized remains of an Old One, which puts Buffy on the trail of the Mayor's weakness.
- Xander walks in on the lunch lady pouring what appears to be rat poison into the jell-o.
- Headbutt of Love: Willow and Tara do this a few times.
- Held Back In School: the character Oz.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Spike, Faith, and especially Vampire Willow.
- Hell Gate: The Hellmouth.
- Her Boyfriend's Jacket:
- Angel gives Buffy his leather jacket in the fourth episode, Teacher's Pet, she wears it for the rest of the first season, albeit with the sleeves rolled up. They're not a couple yet, but when he says, at the end of the episode, that "it looks better on you", she knows she's fallen for him.
- Tara wears Willow's sweater in the fourth season episode "New Moon Rising", which precipitates the episode's trouble.
- Hey, It's That Place!: The external (and some internal) shots of Sunnydale High School are of Torrance High, the same school used for the Beverly Hills 90210
- The exterior of Angel's mansion is of Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House, a popular shooting location.
- Buffy's old school, Hemery High, is the clock tower made famous in Back to the Future.
- The battle between the Slayers and Kakistos ("Faith, Hope, and Trick") takes place inside L.A. Firestation 23, also used as HQ for the Ghostbusters.
- Hidden Supplies: Giles stashes his weapons in the library's book cage. He has a another cache hidden in his apartment ("These are his good weapons).
- Buffy keeps her gear hidden in a false-bottom chest under her bed.
- Higher Education Is for Women: Buffy and Willow go to university while Xander doesn't. Cordelia got accepted to several universities but couldn't go because her family fortune vanished when her father went to jail. Oz does go to university but drops out after killing Veruca and skipping town.
- Hollywood Dateless: Everybody. Not least of which Miss Maybelline herself.
- Home Field Advantage: The hell mouth gives people living above it superpowers. Demons and other mystical beings are drawn to its energy, and Word of Joss is that Warren was taking advantage of it for his robots and other super science.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Except of course when Dawn is in trouble. Other than that Halloween (despite being boycotted by any self-respecting demon), Buffy's birthday party, and any school event is a guaranteed demon magnet.
- Hypocrite: Buffy, dear god, Buffy.
- Humans Are White: Not one of the Scoobies in 7 seasons is black.
- Hypothetical Casting: The tabletop RPG made a lot of hay out of the televised nature of its inspiration; the GM position is called 'The Director', and individual adventures are called 'Episodes' and meant to be part of a larger 'Season'. To top it all off, the rulebook encouraged players to identify the actor who would play their character if the game they were in was actually a TV show.
- I Call It Mr. Pointy
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Sunnydale's original name, before the Mayor renamed it.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Buffy, who insists on trying to have a normal life, going to school, having friends, dating boys, trying out for the cheerleading team, etc., despite her all-consuming mission to keep the world safe from evil. This makes for an ongoing source of angst for Buffy.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Xander and Dawn.
- Bites her in the ass in Season 8. She gets turned into a giant (which is problematic for her, though she does fight a giant Mecha-Dawn), a Centuarette and a Doll (which gets her captured by an insane doll collector). Xander at this point had gotten over this, basically running the Slayer Organization and Dawn is quite happy to be normal again and is actually comforted by Xander throughout the whole ordeal while everyone else basically ignores her. They get together.
- Xander gets a big one in "The Zeppo" as well.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: Willow realises Malcolm is not who he says he is after he mentions Buffy had burned her old school down - something he had no reason to know.
- I Know You Are In There Somewhere Fight: Subverted at least once, with Jesse openly mocking Xander for it.
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Many characters, since this is a Joss Whedon show after all; Tara may be the most notable.
- Immortality Begins at Twenty: Angel is over two hundred years old. However, he was conveniently sired at age 26, making him seem "college" age to a layman.
- By the fifth season of Angel, actor, David Boreanaz had changed quite a lot, not just in terms of age of also physical build. He's a pretty burly guy; no longer the lithe pretty boy that he was in 1997. At the time, the disconnect between character and actor was not huge, but only would have grown larger with time.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Buffy makes them quite regularly, but probably the worst one is Xander's:
Giles: I've never actually heard of anyone attacked by a lone baseball bat before.
Xander: Maybe it's a vampire bat.
- That one Buffy made about her Valentine's Day staking being "heart-felt" was even more cringe-worthy.
- Informed Attribute: Vampires are quite often described as being very pale. The make-up artists apparently gave up on this early on, because with the exception of the first couple seasons most vampires sport a rather healthy complexion.
- Possibly allowed given that many if not most of the vampires on the show are "new recruits".
- Innocent Innuendo: In "Lie to Me", Giles is unsure about a "surprise" date, but finally stammers, "Alright, I put myself in your hands."
Jenny: That sounds like fun.
- Insult to Rocks: While Buffy is hunting Angel inside the empty Bronze, she calls out that she knows he's in there, and she knows what he is ("Angel"). From the balcony, Angel, in game face, sneers, "I'm just an animal, right?"
Buffy: You're not an animal. Animals I like.
- In "Lover's Walk", Spike sobs that he's "nothing" without Dru, a sentiment which Buffy is inclined to agree with. "You're not even a loser anymore. You're a shell of a loser."
- In "Consequences", Angel's sermon to Faith doesn't appear to be sinking in. In the privacy of his garden, he grumbles to Buffy that it's like talking to a wall. "Only you get more from a wall."
- Interim Villain: The strongest example is perhaps the Anointed One in season 2, who takes over for and tries to resurrect the Master, the previous season's Big Bad, and is subsequently used to introduce Spike... who promptly kills him.
- Buffy would often do this: Mr. Trick was replaced by Faith and the Mayor, The Trio gave way to Dark Willow, Spike (season 2) was eclipsed by Angelus, etc.
- Internal Affairs: The Watcher's Council keeps its Slayers on a tight leash. In fact, they have an entire wetworks team dedicated to taking down rogue Slayers. The Watchers themselves (poor Giles) are also under close scrutiny.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: As far as vamps are concerned, there is no separating wall. Buffy struggles with this side of herself throughout the series.
- Interspecies Romance: A whole lot, though Dawn, in between Seasons 7 and 8 takes the cake by dating a demon thing with tentacles.
- Inverted Trope: Y'know all those classic horror movies where some blonde bimbo cheerleader is the victim of the film's monster? Well here that idea is gleefully turned upside down, where vampires and demons check the wardrobe for Buffy before going to bed.
- Ironic Name: You'd think that characters with names like Angel, Faith, Harmony, and Glory would be heroic characters, but they're all villains. While Angel does pull a Heel-Face Turn eventually, he's still a vampire and becomes more of an Anti-Hero than a shining example of heroism. Faith similarly pulls a Heel-Face Turn, although she's even more of an Anti-Hero after it. Harmony is really only Affably Evil and a Card-Carrying Villain, but unlike the other two she stays a villain. Of the four, Glory is the only really purely evil one (and she's at least Faux Affably Evil)
- It should be noted that Angel specifically picked his name to be ironic (his real name is Liam): he is the "vampire with the angelic face." His evil side, when it resurfaces, is referred to with the much more intimidating name of "Angelus."
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Tried with Riley. Sadly, it fails.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In the season 2 premiere, Buffy tortures a vamp by making her swallow her silver necklace.
- If Band Candy is anything to go by, Ripper, even years before he was at his worst, was a huge fan of this.
- Jerkass Ball: The series was a game of catch with the ball, and everybody got to play with it. No exceptions.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Larry for Xander, and Percy for Willow.
- Karma Houdini: Andrew, Drusilla, Willow, Anya, Harmony.
- In the season 2 finale, Willow asks Xander to tell Buffy to buy some time while fighting Angelus, so that Willow can do the spell to return Angel's soul. Instead, when Xander catches up to Buffy, he says Willow's message is: "Kick his [Angelus's] ass." Buffy ends up having to kill a re-ensouled Angel to save the world, which leads to a major Heroic BSOD. Xander's actions are only brought up once, years later, and even then he never suffers any consequences for not giving Buffy false hope.
- Possibly justified in that it may have been the right thing to do at the time. Giles was missing, the world was in danger of ending and Willow had just come out of a coma. Buffy, although her reluctance was understandable, had allowed Angelus to go unchecked for months before she had gathered the nerve to stake him (or found any hope of a re-ensouling spell). By the time Willow did the spell, she had only a few spells under her belt and had just woken up from a coma. Considering that Willow would be performing the spell in her hospital bed, it's no wonder that Xander might not want to give Buffy false hope.
- Also, even though Xander couldn't have known it at the time, Angel doesn't get resouled until after he releases the demon... killing him was the only thing she could do. Not saying it's a justification for what Xander said, but it is a pretty solid reason why no one would have brought it up since.
- "Once More With Feeling" has Xander (more through foolishness than malice) summon a demon that danced several people to death and caused several unwanted confessions.
- Downplayed with Willow; she tried to end the world and her only official punishment summer getaway to England. However, it was no vacation (intense therapy and formal training) and when she returned she is the first suspect when flaying bodies appear.
- Averted with Anya, whose past as a vengeance demon comes back to haunt her when a man she had turned into a demon and sent to a hell dimension for adultery sabotages her wedding with Xander as payback.
- Anya also lampshades this when complaining about Buffy's treatment of her in a season 7 episode, pointing out that Buffy's entire team was evil at one time.
- Killed Off for Real: Miss Calender, Tara, and several Potential Slayers over the course of Season Seven. The Series Finale also saw the abrupt death of Anya.
- Kind Restraints:
- Oz is confined on full moons. At first in a cage locked with a key, later in a cage locked with a combination keypad which he can supposedly only operate when he is human.
- When Buffy starts rooming with a new girl her own age, then starts to get annoyed about those kinds of little things that roomies do to annoy each other... then she starts to get delusional and claiming that the girl is 'evil', and that she's going to have to 'slay' her, which prompts the rest of the Scoobies to tie her up to stop her while trying to find out why she's suddenly gone crazy. Turns out the girl actually IS a demon in disguise, and she's been performing nightly rituals to drain Buffy's soul, which is why she's acting erratic. Also, the restraints are less than effective at holding her.
- Buffy chains Angel up to keep him from hurting himself or attacking others after his return from hell, when he's still feral and wild.
- Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: April, the Buffybot.
- Don't forget the demon that turned the Internet and any computer connected to it into his plaything, trying to romance Willow.
- Knight Templar:
- The Knights of Byzantium.
- The Watcher's Council.
- Lame Comeback:
Buffy: Let's be realistic Willow, your basic spells are usually only about 50/50.
Willow: Oh yeah? Well... so's your face!
- A deleted scene (though still viewable in the first pilot) had Xander shouting after Cordelia, "Check back tomorrow! I'll have that devastating comeback ready!"
- Also, when Cordelia is campaigning to be May Queen:
Cordelia: Here's a chocolate... (snatches chocolate away from Buffy) Oh. I don't think I need the loony-fringe vote. (walks off)
- Lampshade Hanging: Whedon appears to have bought up an entire IKEA worth of lampshades, here and in his other work.
- Large Ham:
Olaf: YOU DO WELL TO FLEE, TOWNSPEOPLE! I WILL PILLAGE YOUR LANDS AND DWELLINGS! I WILL BURN YOUR CROPS AND MAKE MERRY WITH YOUR MORE ATTRACTIVE DAUGHTERS! HA HA HA! MARK MY WORDS! (Pauses and sniffs the air) OOH! ALE! I SMELL DELICIOUS ALE!.
- There was also Balthazar the fat demon, and the original Big Bad, the Master.
- Late Arrival Spoiler: The fact that Angel is a vampire was originally a huge, shocking revelation mid-way through season one. Nowadays, it's common knowledge. Having his own spinoff makes him worse than other examples.
- The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Particularly later in the show, where lampshades are hung on such facts as something bad always happening on Buffy's birthday, Dawn being in trouble on Tuesdaysnote , or the Hellmouth typically erupting in Maynote
- Legacy Character: The Slayer, seeing as there have been millions of them.
- Let's You and Him Fight:
- In "Angel", Darla concocts a plan to entice Angel "back to the fold" by arranging to have him kill Buffy.
- Kendra first sees Buffy when she's tonguing with Angel, who's still in game face, and naturally assumes she's his vampire honey.
: Did I not see you kissing a vampire? Willow
: (stands up in her defense)
Buffy would never do that! —Oh. Except for that... sometimes you do that
- In "Revelations", rogue Watcher Gwendoyln Post exploits the rift between Faith & Buffy to conceal her own hunt for a mystical glove. When Angel gets in her way, Gwen sic Faith onto him, also.
- Love Theme: Angel and Buffy have a slightly mournful, sweet melody called "Close Your Eyes" that underscores many of their scenes throughout seasons 1-3.
- Luck Manipulation Mechanic: In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, Drama Points can be used to increase the chance of success for Heroic Feats.
- Mad Scientist: Professor Walsh, Warren Mears, Ted.
- Magic Floppy Disk: Ms. Calendar's spell, Maggie Walsh's data.
- Magnetic Plot Device: The only reason the Hellmouth existed was to be a perpetual handwave to explain the large numbers of supernatural beings that come to Sunnydale. Only a few villains are directly connected to it.
- Malaproper: Buffy does this all the time.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Done twice, first with the episode that leaves us unsure if Buffy is actually in a mental institution and the whole show has been dreamed up by her, and also with the blizzard that prevents Angel from killing himself. Word of God is that second one's a miracle.
- Meaningful Name:
- Xander's name references the original Buffy movie, in which Buffy had a friend named Pike - zander and pike are closely related species of fish. Xander is also short for Alexander, which means "defender of mankind".
- Wesley is likely named after the original Creator's Pet from Star Trek: The Next Generation considering that he was intended to be hated by the audience and killed off. Ironically, he became a well-liked, long-running character. In-Universe
- Buffy's last name is Summers referencing vampires' vulnerability to sunlight. Her sister's name is Dawn.
- "Willow" is a type of tree. Wood is one of the vampires' main weaknesses.
- "Snyder" is Danish for "cheater".
- Oz's band, Dingoes Ate My Baby: a dingo is a type of wild dog, and the lead for said band just happens to be a werewolf.
- Medicate The Medium: Buffy spent some time in a mental institution after telling her parents about the things she's been seeing.
- Meet Cute:
- Buffy and Angel didn't hit it off at first. Though there was hitting involved.
- Season Two has a running gag of Oz admiring Willow from afar, but the pair keep missing each other. They finally meet at the school's career fair, after their genius IQs land them in a VIP room with waiters and classical music.
- Buffy accidentally dumping a pile of textbooks over Riley's head.
- Willow being shushed by her Wicca group for perpetuating "stereotypes". A shy girl in the back raises her hand to support Willow's opinion. Oh hi, Tara.
- Mercy Lead:
- Angelus toys with Ms. Calender for a bit, letting her scramble out of her classroom. "Oh, good. I need to work up an appetite first." ("Passion")
- A video recording of Mr. Trick welcoming Buffy and Cordelia to Slayerfest '98. He explains that they have "exactly 30 seconds—'(checks his watch)'' no, that's 17 now—to run for [their] lives." ("Homecoming")
- In "The Wish", Vamp Xander and Vamp Willow snuggle a bit, prompting Cordy to screech that she can't win, since Xander and Willow are an item even in the Wishverse. Xander agrees with the "can't win" sentiment, and vamps out. "But I'll give you a head start."
- Mid-Season Twist: the revelation that Angel is a) a vampire and b) a vampire with a soul. Hits on exactly episode 7
- Season 2: Angel reveals his connection to Drusilla.
- Season 3: Faith loses her trust in people.
- Season 4: Riley works for the Initiative. Spike becomes a series regular.
- Season 5: "Every Slayer has a death wish".
- Season 6: Buffy and Spike kiss.
- Season 7: The Big Bad confronts the Scoobies. Spike has been feeding again.
- Minored In Ass Kicking: Giles and Dawn.
- Mistaken for Gay: Larry mistakes Xander for gay in "Phases". Over a season later in "Earshot", he still hasn't been corrected.
- A social worker thought Buffy was gay when she found out she lives with Willow.
- The Mole: Shows up a few times.
- After Buffy joins the Initiative, she considers herself still to be investigating them and not really a member.
- Spike is a mole inside the Scoobies, for Adam.
- Monster Munch: A young Carmine Giovinazzo in the very first episode, who pretty much is only there to be killed by the vampire and is credited only as "Boy".
- Monster of the Week: Most of the first season is this.
- Mooks: Most commonly vampires. Also, Glory's demon lackeys.
- More Deadly Than The Male: There's a reason Slayers are always women. Dudes have traditionally stayed on the sidelines, from the Shadow Men all the way down to their descendants, the Watcher's council.
- Muggles Do It Better: Zigzagged. Buffy blows up the Judge with an RPG, and later the ascended Mayor with some TNT. However, later seasons begin playing this completely straight.
- Murder by Mistake: The Mayor's Assistant and Tara both die this way.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: "The cow should touch me from Thursday."
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast :
- The First Evil.
- As a young rebel Giles was known as Ripper.
- Vampires really love this. Angelus is Ominous Latin Chanting in name form, The Master has a name that screams evil and Spike, well, if a name makes you think of sharp things, it's not likely to be a nice person. Kakistos also just sounds evil (it means worst of the worst in Greek, so yeah, evil). Averted with Darla
- Spike's original nickname is a subversion: William The Bloody. Before he was a vampire, he earned that nickname for his bloody awful poetry. His current nickname, however, comes from his habit of sticking railroad spikes into his (still-living) victims.
- The Initiative. Nondescript name that starts with "The" and is an organization? The logical analytical circuits find that highly unlikely and the bullshit meter agrees.
- The name "Glory" doesn't strike fear into the hearts of the common person, but the name she's known by among the Monks? The Beast.
- National Stereotypes:
- Englishmen hate showing their emotions, drink gallons of tea, and love tweed.
- Once Wesley crossed over to Angel, it surfaced on that show as well.
- Nerd in Evil's Helmet: The Trio tried really hard, but never quite got the "evil" part down.
- Never Forgotten Skill: Xander got magically transformed into an army soldier. After the transformation wears off, he still has the skills he "learned" even though he rarely uses them.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- Okay, you have the hots for this guy you know is a vampire. So you do the deed, which ends up causing him to lose his soul and become the mind raping Big Bad. Yeah, nice job bringing in Angelus, Buffy. Of course, Angel gets equal blame for not keeping it in his pants despite knowing full well his curse.
- Thanks so much for wishing hell on earth where everybody dies Cordelia.
- Nice job bringing Buffy back to life, and allowing The First to enact his Evil Plan.
- While we're at it, nice work imitating Twilight, becoming possessed and killing Giles, Angel.
- Nice job having Faith arrested just as Angel was getting through to her, Wesley.
- Toyed with in "Fear, Itself": Nice job breaking the seal and instantly bringing the Fear Demon into his corporeal form Buffy....wait a minute, he's just 4 inches tall?! SQUISH!
- No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: In one episode Warren makes a robot girlfriend who looks exactly like his ex and has the same personality—except it agrees with him 100% and becomes a Clingy Jealous Girl. He tries to run away, but it tracks him down.
- No Communities Were Harmed: When characters consult a Sunnydale map, they are really examining Santa Babara.
- No Body Left Behind: Vampires immediately turn to dust and dissolve when staked, along with their clothes.
- No Dress Code: Had a lot of this during the high school years. The skirts were way too short and the tops didn't cover enough.
- No Fourth Wall: Stated as a joke by Anya in "Once More With Feeling": "It's like there were three walls, but not a fourth one."
- No Periods, Period:
- Flat-out averted in the movie, as Buffy gets menstrual cramps whenever a vampire is around. This is explained as her body's reaction to something perceived as unnatural (it also underscores the connection between slayer-ness and femininity).
- Xander going through Buffy's purse in search of a stake and being horrified to discover a tampon.
- Willow telling Oz, in response to discovering he's a werewolf, that "for a few days a month, I'm not so fun to be around, either."
- When Harmony (under the effects of a love spell) seethes that Cordy never loved Xander, Cordy deadpans, "... Okay, Harmony, if you need to borrow my Midol, just ask."
- Lampshaded in Season 7:
I will pay
you to talk about Star Wars
- No Smoking: The show has a clear bias against smoking, as every character in the show who has smoked has been either evil (Spike and the evil Angel) or doomed (Laura in Nightmares; the prostitute who was Angel’s first kill after re-losing his soul; and Sheila in School Hard). Subverted with Faith, she starts smoking after her Heel-Face Turn.
- No Bisexuals: Willow, from Season 4 onwards. In some episodes suggest she still has feelings for Oz (and a continuing attraction to Xander and Giles, among other male characters), whereas in some she'll chirp "gay now!" at the very idea that she could be attracted to a boy, or react to a Love Potion-induced crush by trying to turn her target into a girl (though she only did so when someone else claimed that she couldn't be attracted to him if she's gay). This could be the character's own assumption that she's gay rather than bisexual, as one of Willow's defining traits is jumping headlong into her current role (of which magic and lesbianism are both big parts) in an effort to overcome her original Shrinking Violet background.
- Also, a lot of those instances were when she was with her first girlfriend, who for a lot of that time was very insecure. This may have started as having to constantly reassuring Tara about her sexuality (as well as feelings) and become a habit.
- Noodle Incident:
- Buffy burning down the gym at her previous school. This is a reference to Joss' original script for the movie, before Executive Meddling kicked in.
- In "Angel", Darla reminiscences with Angel about their fling in Budapest.
- "Zeppo" is one big lampooning of this trope. The Scoobies face the deadliest threat ever, and we never see it.
- In their debut episode, Dru complains to Spike that she's hungry, and that she misses Prague. Spike points out that she nearly died in Prague; "Idiot mob." This was expanded on in the comics, where a flashback shows Drusilla being captured by an "Inquisitor" and thrown into a Prague jail. Spike didn't fare much better, as he got tossed into a lake by an angry mob.
- Not Even Bothering with an Excuse: Spike didn't help fight the monster of the week once because he was "paralyzed with not caring very much".
- Not So Dire: Very common gag.
- Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering:
- The Watcher's Council. By the time of Angel, even Wesley shrugs off their violent demise without much grief.
- In Fray, whatever remnants of the Council that survived to the 23rd century have been reduced to a few insane zealots.