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)...
Then in "Once More With Feeling"
Buffy: I'm worried our training's gonna turn into a montage from an '80s movie. Giles: If we start to hear inspirational power chords, we'll just lie down until it goes away.
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. She grabs a knife and chases him.
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.
Hidden Supplies: Giles stashes his weapons in the library's book cage. He has a another cache hidden in his apartment.
Xander: 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 Encryption: Willow can decrypt anything, seriously, though admittedly the Initiative's most secretest files took her a few days...
Actually, she didn't manage to decrypt them; they eventually decrypted themselves, which was a less-than-subtle clue that the season's Big Bad had slipped those files to the good guys intentionally.
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.
And Xander, especially where Buffy's vampire boyfriends' bloody histories are concerned. Usually when someone has a Jerkass moment (especially when it's jerkass moralising), it goes hand-in-hand with some hypocrisy.
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 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.
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.
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.
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."
Buffy glancing up from her career aptitude test to inquire, "Do I like shrubs?"
Xander: That's between you and your God.
In "Killed by Death", Willow mentions that she and Xander used to play doctor (With medical textbooks and things).
In "Earshot", Buffy, discussing her "Touch of the Demon", is obliged to mention that it was "A good touch. Not a bad touch."
In Season 4's "The Freshman", Willow's speech about her excitement with school, which when she notices the wide-eyed look from Buffy realizes how dirty it sounded.
And in Hush, though this is nonverbal, when the Scoobies are trying to determine how to defeat the Gentlemen, Buffy makes a fist and mimicks stabbing....vertically....while seated....upon seeing the looks from the others, she reiterates this with a stake in hand.
In "Wrecked", Dawn describes a delicious hamburger as "like a meat party in my mouth." After a beat, she admits that came out wrong.
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.
Buffy: 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."
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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 At the time, Buffy aired on Tuesday nights, or the Hellmouth typically erupting in Maynote The end of a typical American school year and television season.
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.
Mama Bear: Joyce goes after Spike with an axe early in season two. Seems Buffy didn't get all her Badassness from magic Slayer powers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Monochrome Casting: None of the series regulars are anything but white, and the background actors are largely white as well. This is especially noticeable at the scenes set in "UC: Sunnydale," as the average UC campus is 40% Asian.
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".
Mooks: Most commonly vampires. Also, Glory's demon lackeys.
Moral Luck: Willow's Roaring Rampage of Revenge is forgiven fairly easily, even though (in-universe) it was really just luck and timing which prevented her from bringing about the apocalypse.
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. Discussed by Wareen Mears, who comes closer to kill Buffy with a gun than the great majority of her adversaries with a vast arsenal of supernatural warfare.
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.
And said habit was also inspired by one critic of his poetry, who stated that "[they] would rather have a rail spike driven through [their] head than listen to his bloody awful poetry!"
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.
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 although he didn't know the details of his curse.
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!
By the way, well done Buffy, your bitchiness did half The First Evil's job and fractured the team to the point it nearly won. In fairness she realizes she had a narcissist complex after being kicked out of the team.
No Body Left Behind: Vampires immediately turn to dust and dissolve when staked, along with their clothes.
No Dress Code: Buffy herself, at least during the first three seasons. To the point where it was more note-worthy when she didn't wear an outfit that was either painted on, cropped, strapless, cleavage-bearing, midriff-baring, too short, spaghetti-strapped or some combination of all of the above. She was usually the only one who dressed this way, or at least the only one who did so on a regular basis, but was only called out for this once (and not by one of the Scooby Gang, or even Giles, who had good reason to ask her to wear more practical slaying outfits). This was seemingly done for little more than Fanservice, despite the character of Buffy generally shown to be the only Scooby who wasn't obsessed with popularity, fashion and/or sex.
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."
Xander: I will pay you to talk about Star Wars again.
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.
This is true of Buffy, too. There's her relationship with Faith, which contains enough subtext to fill at least two books, and then in Season 8 she outright sleeps with lovelornLipstick Lesbian Satsu, not once but twice. THEN in Season 9 she has a comical misunderstanding with Willow, thinking that the two of them had drunken sex, but they didn't really. Yet she continues to identify as straight.
Buffy burning down the gym at her previous school. It was eventually depicted in the graphic novel The Origin.
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.