Buffy / Tropes O to Z
aka: Tropes O-Z

  • Obvious Stunt Double: Buffy's stunt double was quite a bit larger than she. During one commentary, Joss Whedon says of the switch that Buffy "straps on her fightin' boobs". The stunt double for Spike was more heavyset than James Marsters, and wore a wig that did not quite mimic the slicked-back hair. Perhaps the most egregious, however, was when a heavyset cafeteria lady was replaced by a stunt double half her size. And male. Or the balding guy sword fighting in place of David Borenaz in the season 2 finale.
  • Offscreen Afterlife: Twice — Buffy in Heaven and Angel in Hell.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Most of the spoken magic in the series. Gaelic is a rare variation
  • Only I Can Kill Him: Followed in the first few seasons, averted in Seasons 5, 6, and 7.
  • The Only One: The Slayer is supposed to be this. Due to some supernatural Loophole Abuse, it's only technically true until the end of the first season.
  • On the Rebound: After Angel leaves the show for LA, Buffy falls for Parker, a TA in her class who promptly dumps her after a one night stand.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The characters whose accents were different from their actors tended to maintain them quite well. There are a few exceptions.
    • David Boreanaz had a great deal of difficulty with Liam's Irish accent in flashbacks and in an episode of Angel asked that he not have to use it during an episode where he otherwise should have. It was lampshaded as part of the weirdness of the episode.
    • James Marsters was very good with his accent (as far as most Americans could tell), with only slight wobbles. Later in the series, according to some, he's finally mastered a lower-class overlay on top of an upper-class accent, allowing Marsters to play with his presentation of Spike, using his history to drive his voice to motivate certain scenes.
    • In-universe: Once Spike had to try and fake an American accent and it was hilariously awful.
      • This gets brain bending when you realize that this is an American man (James Marsters) pretending to be an upper-class Englishman (Spike's actual origin) pretending to be a lower-class Englishman (Spike trying to sound tougher) pretending to be an American (to fool Riley).
    • Alexis Denisof's accent for Wesley was normally impeccable, to such a degree that his natural accent sounds disturbingly false on other shows, but even he slipped once or twice.
    • The she-mantis in Season 1. The actress is from South Africa and her American accent is far from perfect. However, since she's a giant, man-eating bug, this could be acceptable or justified.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted — there are three characters named "Nancy" over the course of the series. In Season 3, the bizzaro universe of The Wish has a White Hat called Nancy who fights vampires alongside Giles, Oz and Larry. Later in the same season, Earshot has a highly competitive student named Nancy who dislikes Buffy. In the Season 7 episode Beneath You, Anya grants a wish to another Nancy, turning her ex-boyfriend Ronnie into a giant carnivorous worm. (Ronnie could also be an example, as Faith mentions a pre-Sunnydale ex with this name, but technically it could be the same guy, wildly unlikely though that is)
  • Opening Narration: Only there for the first season and occasionally the second, thankfully. First spoken by a generic narrator then by Giles.
  • Open Secret: Some people believe that The Masquerade in Buffy the Vampire Slayer was broken early on, if not before the show started. This is made much more clear in the third season episode "The Prom", during which Buffy is given the "Class Protector" award. Jonathan mentions while he's presenting that everyone present knows that Sunnydale isn't like other schools, but it's an unwriten rule that no one ever talks about it.
    • In the very first episode:
    Buffy: Was there a school bulletin? Was it in the newspaper? Is there anyone in this town who doesn't know I'm the Slayer?
    • And when Wesley first came to Sunnydale and finds out even Cordelia knows:
    Wesley: Does everyone know you're the Slayer?
    • The school newspaper has a regular obituaries section. We know it's a regular item because Oz mentioned always reading it first.
  • The Ophelia: Drusilla and, to some extent, Tara after Glory wrecks her mind.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Glory and the First Evil, both of whom spend long stretches of time not doing very much of anything.
  • Our Gods Are Different
  • Our Monsters Are Weird
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The vampires in the series are stated to be demons taking over a human body after they've been sired. Since the souls of the victims are gone, the demon takes over the victim's memory and builds on their personality, with a sense of unlocking new potential or getting rid of the humanity that was in their way.
    • A partial aversion, though, as the vampires here have pretty much the classic vampire traits: blood sucking, sunlight bad, crosses and holy water are harmful, stake to the heart is lethal, etc. The Master and some other powerful vampires have demonstrated that the aversion to crosses is psychological to some (ambiguous) degree, and can be overcome with willpower.
    • One point that causes a small degree of confusion in-series is the rule about vampires needing an invitation to enter a home: once they're invited the first time, they're always "welcome". And welcome signs count.
    • This trope is played with in the Dracula episode. Dracula fits all the tropes you would expect him to, in contrast to the usual vampires on the show. He can shape-shift & turn people into obedient minions, he lives in a Big Fancy House, and he's more focused on romance than just finding food. This is partly down to personal taste—he's seen as an eccentric celebrity by other vamps—and partly due to having unique and mysterious powers, which Spike attributes to some kind of Romani magic.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They can "infect" you even in human form. They don't just change under the full moon, they change the night of the full moon, the night before, and the night after. They can learn to suppress the change though this comes at the cost of transforming in broad daylight given enough emotional turmoil.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Season 3 gives us Type V zombies, Season 8 gives us Type O, popped into existence by an angry witch.
  • Outlaw Couple: Most notably Spike and Drusilla, but also Angel & Darla, Evil Willow & Xander and Spike & Harmony
  • Papa Wolf: It would be wise not to harm or threaten Buffy (to a lesser extent the entire Scooby Gang) and let Giles find out. He may not look like much, but the guy isn't her Watcher for nothing.
    • The Mayor, as well. Don't. Touch. Faith.
  • Parrot Expo-what?: Both Buffy and Willow do this a fair amount.
    Anya: Buffy's got some kind of job there helping junior deviants, Spike's insane in the basement, Xander's there doing construction on the new gym —
    Willow: Wait, Spike's what in the what-ment?
    Anya: Insane, base.
  • Place Worse Than Death: The high school paper has an obituary section. 'Nuff said.
    • It's still better than Cleveland.
    • Sunnydale is home to twelve cemeteries and forty-three churches. And only one nightclub and Starbucks.
  • Planet of Steves: The writers of Buffy seem to love the name William and all its derivatives. Here’s a list of all the William variants used on the show: William the Bloody (Spike’s human name and original title), Liam (Angel’s human name), Billy Fordham ("Lie to Me"), Billy Palmer ("Nightmares"), Billy Crandal ("I Only Have Eyes For You"), Billy Blim (the eponymous Angel episode), Willy the Snitch, and Willow's name being shortened to Wil (yeah, this one is a bit of a stretch).
  • Plot Armor: At one point during Season 3, Faith strikes Willow across the mouth in genuine anger. Since Faith is a Slayer (and not inclined to pull punches even when she's in a good mood), only a solid layer of Plot Armor prevents Willow's jaw from shattering, and broken teeth flying about like so much popcorn.
  • Polyglot: As part of her Character Development to The Smart Guy, Dawn has learned at least Turkish and Sumerian between Seasons 6 and 7. Giles can read five languages, including German and Sumerian.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: An absolutely chilling one from Dark Willow in Season 6's "Villains"
    "Bored now."
  • Previously On: Season 6
    • The Season 5 finale had one that included clips from nearly all of the previous 99 episodes.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: David Boreanaz (as Angel), Seth Green (as Oz), Mark Blucas (as Riley), James Marsters (as Spike), Emma Caulfield (as Anya), Michelle Trachtenberg (as Dawn)
    • Played with for Amber Benson as Tara. After she and Willow get back together, she's finally in the opening credits for the first time in the next episode...the episode where she dies. Joss Whedon said that he had intended to do this with Jesse in the Pilot, but didn't have the budget to make two sets of opening credits.
    • Blucas and Trachtenberg are really only partial examples. Blucas was marked for promotion from the minute he first appeared, and Trachtenberg was only a guest star for one episode, because her first appearance was supposed to be a surprise (and because Emma Caulfield had just been promoted in that episode).
  • Post-Script Season: Season 6 after the show was Un-Cancelled and moved to UPN. After the series was cancelled for good, it received a comic book continuiation starting with Buffy: Season 8.
  • Private Tutor: One episode has Principal Snyder forcing Willow to tutor a Jerk Jock so he doesn't fail all his classes. And by "tutor him", Snyder of course means "do all his schoolwork for him so he can focus on sports".
  • Product Placement: Buffy's iBook almost becomes a tertiary character in later years.
  • Profane Last Words:
    • In "Doppelgangland", Willow's vampire Evil Twin dies saying "Fuck".
    • Played With with the Mayor, who goes with a much more tame, "Well gosh."
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality:
    • Anya is considered to have become good once she's depowered and teams up with the good guys, even though she shows no remorse for going around killing people for a millennium. Of course, it helps that once she became human she stopped killing people and started romancing one of the Scoobies. Angel is forgiven pretty easily, as well, and most of the hostility the Scoobies direct towards Spike has more to do with his jerkass behaviour than his kill total.
    • A version of this is in "Doppelgangland". Apparently the Scoobies thought it was perfectly fine to send vampire Willow back to her universe instead of stake her, based on the fact that she was willing to go home and only kill people there, where they can't see it (she would be staked there, but the Scoobies had no way to know that).
    • In both Buffy and Angel, when Angel loses his soul, the characters go to great lengths to restore it - but they never try to do the same for anyone else who gets turned into a vampire. It's only because they already know Angel that they make an exception for him. Every other vampire just gets slain. It is possible they have considered the fact that Angel's soul was restored as (apparently very successful) punishment for the crimes of his demon half, and come to the conclusion that pulling a more-or-less innocent soul out of the afterlife to inhabit the body of an undead murderer might not be the most merciful of acts, but it's never mentioned on screen.
    • In one of the last season's episodes, Anya has killed over a dozen people and Buffy decides she'll have to kill her. Xander tries to dissuade her, saying that Anya's her friend, and Buffy gives him an epic chewing out on how she doesn't get to play favorites, while conveniently forgetting her own hypocrisy. The guy Buffy was in love with gets infinite forgiveness, but the person she only sort of likes? Has to die, no question. Xander notes the hypocrisy however.
    • Ironically the reverse happened in Season 2. Xander didn't like Angel (who at the time was Angelus) so he told Buffy that Willow said to "kick his ass" when she really told him to inform Buffy about the planned restoration of Angel's soul. Buffy ended up running Angel through with a sword and sending him to hell for about a century.
    • A social worker sent to look after Dawn sees legitimately suspicious activity. Buffy, who has turned invisible, sets things up to make it look like the social worker is insane in a way which could easily get her fired or sent to a mental institution. This is portrayed as a comedy routine and we are apparently supposed to feel sympathy with Buffy harassing an innocent person merely because she's frustrating a main character.
    • Spike and Harmony are quite sympathetic in the latter series, mainly because they are both so ineffective as to be laughable, and because Spike is such a martyr for love. Meanwhile, Harmony is killing a whole bunch of people while Spike is completely unrepentant and cares so little for other's welfare that he helped a Big Bad bring on the end of the world at least once, and was selling weapons (demon eggs) - the sort which could kill entire cities - to the highest bidder.
    • 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. She also flayed somebody to death. Given a notice in the final season episode "The Killer In Me", where it's pointed out by a bad guy who put a hex on her not for almost destroying the world but just because they're jealous. "She almost destroyed the world! And yet everyone keeps on loving her?"
  • The Public Domain Channel: Faith watches it a lot in her hotel room.
  • Public-Domain Character: Dracula. Apparently, he's one vampire immune to Permadeath. Even Whedon couldn't off the classic vampire. Spike, however, is pissed in that apparently thanks to Drac, everyone knows about vampire Weaksauce Weakness.
  • Punctuated Pounding
  • Put on a Bus: Oz, Faith, Angel, Amy and Cordelia. We know where all of them went, and all of them eventually return note , even if for only a single episode. Everyone who survived in the final episode actually escaped town in a school bus.
    • The Bus Came Back: Oz and Riley both get episodes like this.
    • Amy comes back in a big way in the comics
    • Cordy never returns after getting Put on a Bus. At least, not on Buffy anyway. Even in Season 8, she's dead before the comic even begins and only shows up in dream sequences and flashbacks.
  • Put on a Bus to Hell: Oz and Riley.
  • Rebuilt Set: Sunnydale High 2.0.
    • The Bronze underwent a major renovation following the rampage of Olaf the Troll, including a new sign.
    • Giles renovates The Magic Box to accommodate the gang's exploits, including a gym in the back room.
  • Reality Ensues: Season 5 final — Buffy approaches The Dragon atop a tower. He gears up for a fight, and she just knocks him off the tower.
    • In the Season 3 premiere, the Monster of the Week knocks The Chick down and does a speech about how his realm is inescapable. Then the girl gets up and pushes him off the edge. It's nevertheless a Crowning Moment of Funny.
    • Joyce's death in Season 5. After five seasons of dramatic deaths, Joyce dies of natural causes, something that utterly surprises the Scoobies.
    • Also, the death of Cassie Newton in Season 7's "Help". Given Cassie's ominous warning to Buffy that she would die soon, the Scoobies believed that supernatural causes would be at play. While Cassie is kidnapped and later rescued by the Scoobies, she dies... of a heart condition that she wasn't aware of.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: Spike is quite fond of recalling the Slayers that he killed.
  • The Renfield: Xander in "Buffy Vs. Dracula", Glory's minions.
  • Retargeted Lust: Spike has sex with Harmony while thinking of fighting Buffy (in a later episode he gets her to dress up as Buffy before sex). Then he has a Buffy Sex Bot built for him.
  • Retcon: Throughout the series it is firmly established that Sunnydale is the center of all evil activity (thanks to the Hellmouth) and has been for a long time. However, in the first season, no one in town (including Willow, Xander and Cordelia) seem to be aware of the existence of vampires and demons until Buffy shows up. Whedon tries to cover this up by claiming that everyone in town was just ignorant and/or in denial. Another possible subtle (justified) retcon occurs with regards to ages of vampires. Vampires played by humans will naturally age over time. If the actor starts at 25, it implies that the vampire was turned at 25. If the actor ends up 35, it implies the vampire was turned at 35 and that that's the age the vampire always was. Flashbacks especially seem to reinforce the "always 35 view". In particular, flashbacks with Julie Benz and David Boreanaz during Angel set over a century before the first season of Buffy show both of them looking older than they did when they were first introduced and therefore imply that they'd always been that age.
  • Retired Badass: Giles in his youth was a rebellious demon-summoning warlock known as "Ripper".
  • Retired Monster: Spike, after he got the Chip in Series 4.
    • And then when he got his Soul back in Series 7.
  • Ritual Magic: Very popular in the Buffyverse, whether it be the Roma who cursed Angel, or Willow doing incantations.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: In "The Harvest", Angel tries to talk Buffy out of going into the sewers.
    Buffy: I've got a friend down there. Or at least a potential friend. You do you know what it's like to have a friend? (Angel bows his head) ...That wasn't supposed to be a stumper.
    • Mr Whitmore lecturing his Teen Health class. ("Bad Eggs")
    "The sex drive in the human animal is intense. How many of us have lost countless productive hours plagued by unwanted sexual thoughts and feelings? (Xander puts his hand up) That was a rhetorical question, Mr. Harris. Not a poll."
    • Cordy bitching at Xander for dragging her out of bed for a ride. "What am I, mass transportation?" ("What's My Line, Pt.1")
    Xander: "That's what a lot of the guys say, but it's just locker-room talk."
  • Rubber Forehead Demons: A lot of demons are pretty much indistinguishable from humans apart from skin tone and horns or some other head feature. There are also a fair number of non-humanoid ones. Justified by the backstory in that they're actually descended from Uneven Hybrids of pure demons and humans or animals. Or the descendants of said hybrids crossing with something else.
  • Rule of Escalating Threat: Season 1: The Master, a vampire lord. Season 2, Angleus, a possibly more vicious vampire, if not powerful, and, of course, a more personal threat, seeing as it was Buffy boyfriend having a Face–Heel Turn that Buffy herself was partly responsible for. Season 3, the Mayor, a century old sorcerer who can't be injured or killed, and is a Villain with Good Publicity. Season 4 was Adam, a demon/human/cyborg hybrid that was so strong, it took tapping into the primal forces of the Slayer to defeat him. Season 2 was Glorificus, a hell-god capable of destroying all reality. To top this, Buffy went with the "personal enemy" again, this time being her best friend, Willow, taking the Face–Heel Turn. In Season 7, Buffy fought the personfication of all evil. Now in Season 8, she has to deal with Twilight, a powerful... something that can easily beat her physically, and who has a massive cult behind him. Plus the United States military and the general public are against her. Oh, and a couple of rogue Slayers.
  • Sadly Mythcharacterized: The Halloween episode is notorious among certain circles for portraying Janus as a god of chaos. Nothing could be further from the truth; while the "division of self" does fit the idea of people and their costumes becoming one, Janus could better be portrayed as a god of Order, not Chaos, especially in his role as the Roman god of portals, doors, and gateways.
  • Safety in Muggles: Sometimes people break off a fight by hiding in a crowd. The Scoobies don't want to break the masquerade.
  • Sapient Fur Trade: In "Phases", Kane is a werewolf hunter who hunts werewolves to sell their pelts on the black market. The fact that his targets are humans for all but three nights a month does not bother him in the slightest.
  • Scenery Censor: The Monster of the Week in The Dark Age is naked when he comes out of his body bag in the morgue, with a conveniently placed autopsy table to cover his lower half.
  • School Is Murder: Being a student at Sunnydale High is so bad for your health, Buffy's senior class celebrates the lowest mortality rate in school history after the audience spends four seasons watching teenagers be murdered by the handful by the Monster of the Week. How many members of the previous senior classes died?!
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Master, Acathla, the Seal of Danzalthar, among others..
    • Sealed Evil in a Six Pack: The Judge could not be killed in ancient times, so instead he was cut into pieces and scattered in a number of boxes around the world. Cue modern times and Spike and Drusilla reassembling them.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: Several.
  • Secret Relationship: Xander and Cordelia in the second season, Willow and Tara in the fourth, and Buffy and Spike in the sixth.
  • Series Fauxnale: "Prophecy Girl", "Graduation Day" and "The Gift". Also "Chosen", if you want to count the Season 8 comics. This happened a lot.
  • Sex Is Violence
  • Shadow Archetype: Faith, Ethan, Adam, etc.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Buffy writers love this trope.
    • In the pilot, Buffy tells Giles that she's taken an early retirement, and suggests that if he's so keen on slaying, why doesn't he go slay vampires instead? Giles protests that he's a Watcher and his duty is to... "Watch?" Buffy pipes up.
    • After being inducted into the Scooby Gang ("The Harvest"), Xander and Willow are left discussing their new knowledge while the rest of the school parades around innocently. "It's like we got this big secret!"
      Willow: [beat] We do. That's what a secret is, when you know something other guys don't.
    • Jenny Calender had a similar reaction to Giles demanding to know details of their "secret" date. ("Lie to Me") Unluckily for him, it was a monster truck rally.
    • Buffy makes a mess of advising Giles how to talk to Jenny in "Some Assembly Required":
      Buffy: Speak English, not whatever they speak in...
      Giles: England?
    • To Willow's question about when the Reconstruction began, Buffy tries to focus and replies, " Um, Reconstruction...uh, Reconstruction began after the...construction, which was shoddy so they had to reconstruct." ("Angel")
    • In the same episode, Giles sits at Joyce's sickbed and chats about Buffy. Giles confesses that Buffy is having trouble in history class because she "lives very much in the now. And, um... history, of course, is very much about the, uh... the then."
    • In "School Hard", Buffy and Willow scurry around trying to keep Joyce and Snyder from exchanging words. Buffy, seeing Snyder coming, babbles that Joyce hasn't seen the boiler room yet.
      "The boiler room is really interesting! What with the boiler being in the room and all."
    • Oz complimenting Cordy's Halloween costume, which consists of a black unitard with cat ears and drawn-on whiskers. "You're like a big cat."
    • Ms. Calender apologizing to Giles for spying on him for over a year. ("Passion")
      Jenny: I know you feel betrayed.
      Giles: Yes, well, that's one of the unpleasant side effects of betrayal.
    • In "Anne", Cordelia seems to have a feeble grasp on what being "The Bait" entails.
      Cordelia: What's the plan?
      Xander: The vampire attacks you.
      Cordelia: And then what?
      Xander: The vampire kills you. We watch. We rejoice.
    • In "Earshot", One of the headlines in Freddy's school newspaper reads, "APATHY ON THE RISE — NO-ONE CARES."
  • Shipper on Deck: A bunch of them. Dawn is a Willow/Tara shipper, as is most of the cast, Buffy is an Anya/Xander shipper, Xander's a Riley/Buffy shipper, Willow is a Buffy/Angel shipper, Buffy was an Oz/Willow shipper and more. And the First, who is, on some level, the people he turns into (he has their memories and stuff), was a Buffy/Faith shipper which means the Mayor likely was as well and the Mayor knew Faith better than anyone...
  • Shirtless Scene: Angel seemed to develop an aversion to shirts in season 3.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Lie To Me", Ford says that they (the people who believe that they will become vampires) will be able to "Die young and stay pretty"
    • The Master’s sunken lair is reminiscent of the 1987 vampire classic The Lost Boys, one of Whedon’s inspirations for Buffy.
    • In "Nightmares", the Master tells Buffy that "a dream is a wish your heart makes. This is real."
    • Buffy gives a shout out to Charmed: in the series finale, Willow, after performing the spell that awakens all the Slayers on earth, exclaims, "Oh my goddess!" This is the title of the fifth season finale of Charmed. Apparently Joss Whedon saw the title of the episode, thought it was awesome, and threw it into the finale.
    • Joss has stated that Buffy's last name is a Shout-Out to Cyclops (IE Scott Summers).
    • Dawn wolfing down two bowls of "Sugar Bombs."
    • On the eve of the final battle, when Xander, Giles, Amanda, and Andrew are playing Dungeons & Dragons, they encounter Trogdor the Burninator.
    • During "No Future For You", Giles mentions the great bearded wizard of Northampton.
    • The one time Giles is skeptical of the supernatural effect of the week, Buffy tells him not to "Scully me."
    • The cover of the sixth issue of Season 9 comics is stylized after the tenth issue of The Tomb of Dracula.
  • Shrinking Violet: Willow and Tara. Also, Marcie Ross from the first season is this trope taken Up to 11: She was so shy that she eventually began to feel invisible, a feeling that was made worse by the fact that no one in school really noticed her. The power of the Hellmouth made that feeling into reality and Marcie could no longer be seen by anyone.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Some demons, and to some vamps, Buffy or Slayers in general.
  • Simple Score of Sadness: Buffy and Angel's love theme.
  • Sinister Minister: Caleb: Taking mass and kicking ass.
    • The Anointed One's guardian, Abasalom. ("When She Was Bad")
    • A Catholic Priest, Josephus du Lac, wrote a number of books containing dark rituals, resulting in du Lac being excommunicated. ("What's My Line?")
  • Six Student Clique - The high school years: Buffy = The Head and The Wild One, Willow = The Smart one, Xander = The Quirk, Cordelia = The Pretty one, Oz = The Muscle. During college, Riley became the muscle and Tara became the pretty one.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: The whole show could be considered a subversion of this trope.
    • Darla is a villainous subversion. First introduced to us as a simpering 'victim,' she ends up luring two hapless males into her web.
  • Slave Mooks: Strangely common. The mooks of the various Big Bads are this, some only because of the Big Bad being a very Bad Boss and some due to brainwashing. Also shows up with some weekly villains like the giant worm demon thing in Bad Eggs' baby-controlled people and Spike becomes one for a bit in Season 7.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Spike, Faith. Parodied with Harmony, who tries to smoke and well, looks like an idiot.
    • But not as much of an idiot as Andrew does, in his opening "Storyteller" fantasy, when he has his big Meerschaum pipe. (Which he still hasn't got the hang of, when he pops up in Angel...No, not like that!)
    • Subverted in "Nightmares". Smoking gets you beat up by a boogeyman
  • Soft Glass
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Many demons are surprisingly this like D'Hoffryn and the Beljoxa's Eye.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Subverted sometimes, but when in use it's exponential. Big Bads in order:
    • Season 1: Vampire (The Master)
    • Season 2: Vampire(s) (they also used demons to try and end the world)
    • Season 3: The Mayor and his desire to become a "True Demon"
    • Season 4: Cyber-Demonoid and a Government agency.
    • Season 5: A dethroned God.
    • Season 6: Dark Willow, with the power to destroy the world. Also The Trio (a bunch of nerds who spend most of the season as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains). Life, according to Word of God.
    • Season 7: The First Evil, the embodiment of that concept in that universe. Life.
    • Season 8: The Universe itself! Life.
    • Season 9: Slayer vampires (as in Slayers turned. Life.
    • Season 10: Super vampires. The King of Hell. Life.
    • Season 11: Donald Trump-esque plot to depower all supernatural beings to rule the world.
  • Speculative Fiction LGBT: Started using the genre with gay vampire Willow, then with actual Willow and Tara, Kennedy, etc.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Three ("Angel")
    • The Judge.
    • The First Evil.
    • Not to mention The Slayer. Though starting with the second season, there were actually two or more Slayers due to supernatural Loophole Abuse. With the exception of the third season, the latter part of the seventh season, and the eighth season, any Slayers other than Buffy were usually Put on a Bus somewhere.
  • Spider-Sense: Slayers are said to be very attuned to vampires in the area; trying to sneak up on one is a bad idea. However, we've seen normals like Giles use this ability, too, so it could just be a matter of training.
    • Similarly, Angel is able to detect Darla lurking in his apartment ("Angel"). The spin-off series established (late in its run, waaaaay at the end of Season 5) that vamps can sense each others' presence.
  • Staging an Intervention: The Scoobies stage an intervention for Buffy when her odd behavior towards Spike worries them. It was actually Spike's Buffybot that was acting out of character.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye Used by Angel in the early seasons, such as when he moves in and out of Buffy's room through her window while she looks away without any discernible sound. This is joked about in the penultimate episode of the third season when Angel walks quietly into a room Buffy is in, only to accidentally walk into a cardboard box laying around which blows his sneakiness.
  • Stock Phrases
    • From "The Harvest"
    Luke: Ladies and gentlemen, there is no cause for alarm. Actually, there is cause for alarm...it just won't do any good.
    • From "Real Me"
    Harmony: So, Slayer. At last we meet.
    Buffy: We're met, Harmony — you half-wit!
    • From "Once More With Feeling"
    Giles: Spike, if I want your opinion... (looks at him in contempt) I'll never want your opinion.
    • In "As You Were" Riley insists on searching a shirtless Spike's crypt.
    Spike: Over my dead body.
    Riley: I've seen enough of your dead body for one night, thanks.
  • Stock Sound Effects: The occasional scream and a few others.
    • Does Joss Whedon have only one chanting sound effect that shows up roughly every other episode?
  • Stronger with Age: Vampires.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: Willow's lesbianism came straight out of nowhere, and somehow superseded her existing attraction to boys.
  • Superman Stays out of Gotham: Buffy would be a big help in Los Angeles since, as Angel admits, she's stronger than even he. After appearing twice on Angel to read him the riot act (and wring Faith's neck), Angel tells her to take her cowboy antics someplace else.
    • Fortunately for Angel, he has a spare Slayer stewing in jail.
    • The opposite is in effect, too. Angel turns up again in the Series Finale, ready to help fight the Big Bad, but Buffy immediately sends him away so he can prepare "a second front" in Los Angeles in case she dies.
  • Supernatural Angst
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: Gachnar, the Fear Demon from the fourth season Halloween episode.
  • Supernaturally Delicious and Nutritious: Slayer blood is tastier than that of normal humans, to the point of possessing healing properties.
  • Super Strength: One of the Standard Powers of Slayers, vampires, and the majority of the enemies encountered on the show.
  • Super Toughness: Slayers can take quite a bit of damage when it comes to blunt force trauma. One episodes does a Bait-and-Switch when Buffy is hit by a truck before the commercial break and serious music plays to make us concerned, only for Buffy to get up and run off without a care in the world at the start of the second act.
  • Supervillain Lair:
    • Season One: The collapsed church beneath the Hellmouth. Doubles as a Tailor-Made Prison, since the Master's really anxious to get out of there.
    • Season Two: The factory for The Anointed One/Spike, and Crawford Street mansion for Angelus.
    • Season Three: City Hall.
    • Season Four: The Initiative.
    • Season Five: Glory's apartment. Tough act to follow, those clandestine underground government labs.
    • Season Six: Warren's basement. Erm...
    • Season Seven: The vineyard. And eventually the Hellmouth itself.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Nobody in Sunnydale ever locks any doors.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: Unique example with Angelus having his soul restored to torment him (which he gets out of via perfect happiness brought on by deflowering Buffy.) The Ubervamps are in one (the Hellmouth) as well.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Buffy and Angel in "Amends", though there's no actual talking involved. The First Slayer also communicates with Buffy and the gang this way in "Restless".
  • Tangled Family Tree: Angel has one, which gets even worse on his own show and in Buffy Season 7. The Master sired Darla, who sired Angel, who sired Drusilla who sired Spike. Angel killed Darla, who was later brought back from the dead on Angel, as a human. Dru then sired Darla, making her Darla's mother grandchild and Darla her own Great Grandchild. This makes Spike her brother and Great Grandchild and Angel her son and Grandfather. Angel and Darla then break the laws of reality, having a child. This child is Angel's brother, child and Great Grandchild. His Grandchild/Brother/Child then has Jasmine with Cordelia, making Jasmine his Grandchild, Great Great Grandchild and Niece. Meanwhile, Spike went on a siring rampage against his will. Some of those vamps can be assumed to have sired others, making them all clean, if numerous, branches on a very fucked up tree. I would imagine Spike and The Master would be looking on with horror as to what's going on behind/in front of them on the family tree.
  • Tap on the Head: Dear god, this happens a lot. Giles should be brain damaged by now.
    • Lampshaded numerous times, by Giles himself and other characters.
  • Tattooed Crook: Faith and Angelus both have tattoos (Faith has one on her arm, Angelus on his back (It's also there when he's Angel)).
    • Also Giles in his Ripper phase. Ethan counts until he removes his.
  • Temporarily a Villain: Faith. She goes nuts as a result of accidentally killing a man and the repeated betrayals of the Scooby gang, then continues after waking up from being nearly killed by Buffy and finding out the one person who was decent to her was dead. She gets better.
    • Willow at the end of Season 6 when she becomes Dark Willow and eventually tries to destroy the world. She gets better.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Several instances.
  • There Can Only Be One: Mostly averted with the Slayers. In theory, there is only supposed to be one slayer in each generation. (At least, as indicated by the page quote.) However, due to Buffy's first death, a girl named Kendra became a Slayer. After Buffy was resurrected, they both acted as Slayers. Then, a year later, Kendra was killed by Drusilla and Faith became a Slayer, resulting in a similar situation.
    • Of course, it's averted at the end of Season 7, when Willow casts a spell to make all of the Potential Slayers into full fledged Slayers.
    • Oddly absent in Seasons 5 and 6, when Buffy dies a far more permanent (supposedly, anyway) death, but no new slayer appears, or is even mentioned.
      • Because as far as the rules were concerned, Buffy died already. Instead of calling a third Slayer, Buffy's death in Season 5 caused a disruption in the Slayer line that led to the events of Season 7. (To elaborate on that, the Slayer line runs through the most recently called Slayer. In other words, Faith was the rightful Slayer at the time. In order for a third Slayer to be called, she, not Buffy, would have to die. Buffy's continued existence after her second death represents a weak point in the line, because Buffy herself doesn't belong.)
  • Those Two Guys: Forrest and Graham; Jonathan and Andrew.
  • Title Drop: "I'm Buffy. The vampire slayer. And you are?"
    • Many episodes have a title drop on the episode title as well.
  • To Create a Playground for Evil: Quite a few villains have this as their goal.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Multiple instances through the series. Dawn is the most dramatic of this.
  • Too Happy to Live: This trope is Joss's best friend in life. Seriously, it happens to a lot of people.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Xander, Willow, Giles, Dawn, Warren, Amy, Harmony, Oz, the entire 1999 Class of Sunnydale High, ALL of the Potentials and more. Giles' levels are more "Regained Levels In Badass" though.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: There's an entrance into Hell under the high school, the Mayor wants to be a demon, vampires rise from the cemetery every night and there are buried (sometimes magical) treasures hidden in the right mausoleum. The secret government lab under the college is the least exciting secret there was.
  • Tracking Device: Willow's oft-used "locator spells."
  • Trash the Set: Many times.
    • Spike's factory is set aflame thanks to Angelus' recklessness. However, Spike did revisit the charred ruins.
    • Giles lighting up Sunnydale High with a Plunger Detonator would be the Ur-example.
    • The Bronze seems to have an unlimited refurbishment and furniture-replacement budget and, throughout all seven seasons of Buffy, seems to have self-repairing capabilities (like the school) since major damage is completely fixed by the next episode. An exception is when Xander rebuilt the window jamb after a Sex Bot tossed Spike through the window.
    • The Magic Box is destroyed after Dark Willow, crazed by magic, sucks its contents dry. Her battle royale with Giles doesn't help.
    • There's also a dining-room chair in the battle-weary Summers household that's conspicuously duct-taped through most of the end of the series.
    • Lampshaded in Season 7:
      Buffy: Every piece of furniture has been destroyed and replaced since you left, so actually, new house.
    • Late in Season 7, Xander finally declares that he is tired of the picture window being smashed in over and over again, and refuses to repair it again. It remains boarded up for several episodes.
  • Trespassing to Talk: People often break in to have a chat with Buffy, or leave her a note. Happens once or twice with Angel, too.
  • Triple Shifter: Dealt with by a minor Slayer power being able to get by with very little sleep.
  • Truce Zone: Willy's Bar. Later subverted in "The Zeppo" when it gets trashed and Willy is beaten to a pulp by a bunch of demons.
  • Two Girls and a Guy (with Buffy, Willow, and Xander.)
  • Unfortunate Names: How many people (not least in Britain) watching later episodes started giggling on seeing "Score By Thomas Wanker" in the end credits may never be known.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: It's amazing how they just walked around Sunnydale High throwing words around like "Vampire", "Slayer", "Witch", "Demon", "Disembowelment", "Innards" in full view of others with no one paying attention.
    • It was implied that most of the town either knew or was in such deep denial that you could dust a vamp in front of them and they wouldn't change their views. Hell, it happened a bunch of times.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Buffy trains constantly to prevent this. Oddly enough, when her powers are taken, Weak, but Skilled wasn't invoked.
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Vampire Hunter: Of course.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Mocked. Inability for a vampire to feed is a metaphor for impotence. Poor Spike...
  • Variations on a Theme Song: The usual theme song by Nerf Herder is changed to a classical styled orchestral version.
  • Villain-Beating Artifact: The series had some of these-such as Thor's Hammer, used to whomp Glory down to size.
  • Villain Episode: "Fool For Love" (Spike) and "Who Are You" (Faith).
  • Villain World: The world we see in The Wish.
    • The Wicked Willow trilogy of books explored what would've happened if Willow had stayed power mad.
  • Villain Pedigree: Vampires, the Big Bads for the first two seasons, are little more than no-name Mooks by the end.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Buffy encounters what she thinks is her father in "Nightmares", but is actually a cruel manifestation of all of her own insecurities as a delinquent daughter. She spends the summer with her dad over the first season hiatus, but their relationship remains frosty.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Spike and Angel, and Willow and Anya.
  • The Virus: Vampirism.
  • Wainscot Society: Vampires, demons, and other supernatural beings run a society of sorts in parallel to the humans on whom they prey, mostly preserving a Masquerade.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World
  • Walk and Talk: The hallways of SHS and UC Sunnydale.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Oh, Angel. Not that we mind...
  • Wardrobe Wound: Glory often seems more upset about her outfit being ruined than say, the fact that a teleporting spell was being put on her.
    Glory: Look what you did to my dress!
    • Also a variation where she was hit on the head by a crowbar.
    Glory: Hey! Beat Watch the hair!
  • Was Once a Man: Vampires obviously. Also, one episode had Giles turn into a demon.
  • Water Torture: During Spike's quest to get a soul his head is held underwater. It was supposed to be holy water but they forgot to add the sizzle sound effect so it looks like he's being drowned - except vampires don't breathe so they can't drown.
  • Weapon Twirling: Buffy frequently twirls her stakes.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Sunnydale in general, but especially Xander.
    • Taken to its extreme in an episode where Willow lampshades this and accidentally turns Xander into a literal demon magnet.
    • Also one could take note of Ted a robot serial killer who dated Buffy's mom so he could murder her that what are the odds, out of all the single moms in the city, he chooses Buffy's (who just so happens to deal with these situations on a weekly basis).
  • We Used to Be Friends: Faith, Cordelia, Angelus, Giles, Willow - a lot of characters at some point in the story.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Kendra and Angel.
  • What Would Buffy Do?: Xander in The Freshman, and mantra fans adopted.
  • Where Do They Get All Those Wonderful Swords, Axes, Knives and Medieval Crossbows? Seriously, is there a mail-order catalog?
    • In real life, there are several.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Guns can hurt vampires and kill demons, so why doesn't Buffy load up? This is examined throughout the series, she Doesn't Like Guns for one thing, if vampires get the idea the job will be that much harder, vampires can be really good at dodging bullets and in any event it's a covert war, so even with something like a crossbow that's generally more effective and harder to come by, such a weapon would be more conspicuous.
    • Even so, there were many instances throughout the show where a gun would have been the most practical way of dealing with the given situation. Guns Are Worthless, I suppose.
  • Wimp Fight: Xander versus Harmony in "The Initiative", complete with slow-mo and combat music.
  • With Friends Like These...: A big reason for Faith's Face–Heel Turn. The Mayor, a guy who planning on turning into a demon to eat the town, was more concerned that a teenage girl was living by herself in a No-Tell Motel than the Scoobies were. In fact, what made Gwendolynn Post's manipulations of Faith so successful was that she didn't have to lie to her.
  • Working with the Ex: Buffy The Vampire Slayer is not shy about using this trope.
    • Angel and Buffy during Season 3 of her show.
    • Buffy ended up working briefly with Riley and his wife in the sixth season in the episode As You Were.
  • World of Snark: Just about every character ever seen is snarky as hell.
  • Would Harm A Child: Many times, Der Kindestod stalks and preys on sick children within hospital, a monster in the sewers only eats babies, and the vampires and mayor had no issues with attempting to give it baby sacrifices; Spike kills the annointed one in his first appearance, though at this point he was less of a child and more full fledged demon; a demon was stalking a kid in his nightmares, and the nightmare became one with reality; the demons in "Anne" had a few children as slaves; the list goes on.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: It's revealed that Buffy's one in "Chosen" when she says to Spike "You know one of these days, I'm just going to put the two of you on a room and let you wrestle it out" When Spike seems to like the idea, Buffy then excitedly adds, "There could be oil of some kind involved."
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: Played for laughs at the end of "Ted".
    Buffy: Willow, tell me you didn't keep any parts.
    Willow: Not any...big ones.
    Buffy: Oh, Will, you're supposed to use your powers for good.
    • Coming right after a discussed example, when Willow comments on how tragic it is that the original Ted's brilliance was turned to evil. Though this isn't addressed to the villain, and it's a might-have-been uttered when it's far too late for him.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Master kills one of his minions in episode 2. "You have something in your eye."
    • The Anointed One and his lackeys try to pull this on Spike. Tried.
    • It looked like Spike was going to pull this on Billy Fordham in "Lie To Me" when Billy's plan to deliver several dozen people to Spike is foiled by Buffy. But not only does Spike not kill Billy, he keeps his end of the deal and sires Billy. After all, Billy kept up his part of the deal, and Spike probably knew that Buffy would be waiting at Billy's grave to stake him when he rose anyways.
    • Glory does this to 2 of her minions in "Intervention" (although they're in the next episode, so whatever she did can't be that bad).
  • Your Vampires Suck: Aimed at Anne Rice a few times, but Buffy's also been on the receiving end.
    • Dracula gets this a lot from Spike. To be fair, Drac still owes him money.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb