"To make you a vampire, they have to suck your blood and then they have to suck your blood. It's like this whole big sucking thing. Mostly they're just gonna kill you."
Nighttime. In a deserted high school, a randy young man invites his leery date, a Catholic schoolgirl, up to the gym roof for some boffo "stargazing". Just as they are about to kiss, she pulls away and claims she heard a noise. Coast is clear. Suddenly, her lovely face becomes bumpier and paler as if she was—gasp—dead! But more importantly she now has fangs! Before the poor sap knows it, she's already at his neck draining his blood. Bet you didn't expect that!Somewhere else, a teenage girl sleeps fitfully; visions of cemeteries, monsters, and rivers of blood interrupting her rest. She jerks awake just in time to hear her mother call her name. This is Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer. She's not like other teenagers. It's her first day at her new school.Pan up to Sunnydale High. Xander Harris menaces pedestrians with his out-of-control skateboarding. He looks over to see Buffy walk past, then smacks into a guardrail. Dazed, he looks up to see a redhead (Willow) stand smilingly over him. Willow pines for Xander, Xander obsesses over the new girl, Willow makes gentle jabs at his libido, End Scene. The dynamic of the next three Seasons is set. They run into a third member of their trifecta, Jesse, blissfully unaware that he's a tertiary character on a Joss Whedon show and thus not long for this world.Elsewhere, Buffy is in a meeting with her Principal to hash over her colorful dossier. Principal Flutie jovially rips up her school record, only to tape it back together when he reads that Buffy burned down a school gym. Things go all downhill from there. As Buffy exits his office, she rams into another student, spilling the contents of her bag. Xander sees this and seizes the opportunity to play Rico Suave. As they gather her things, Buffy thanks him and goes back to her business. Xander notices she left something behind ("Oh, hey! You forgot your...stake.").Buffy gets chummy with a popular girl, Cordelia, who takes Buffy under her wing. It's all syrup and honey until they run into Willow at the water fountain; Cordelia does a 180° as she barks at Willow to beat it. Buffy looks droopy, but says nothing.Buffy heads into the school's cavernous library to pick up some textbooks. There she meets Mr. Giles, the school librarian. Instantly, Giles makes her for The Slayer and whips out a giant tome marked Vampyr. Buffy, shaken, tells him he's mistaken and leaves.In the girls locker room, two students are gossiping about Buffy. Her reputation precedes her. As they continue to dish dirt, one of the girls opens her locker and a dead body falls out. It's our Romeo from earlier. Buffy, alarmed, wants to know how the guy died and if he had any marks on him. She breaks into the cordoned-off locker room—breaking the door in the process—and finds a bite mark on the deceased's neck.
"Oh, great."Buffy returns to the library to confront Giles. She tells him that she's retired from slaying, but Giles reminds her who she is—the Slayer, the one girl in all the world with the strength to fight vampires, et cetera. He also tells her that Sunnydale is built on a convergence of mystical forces, making it a mecca of magical mischief. Buffy suggests that if he's so keen on slaying, then maybe he should do it. Befuddled, Giles asserts that he is a Watcher—he trains and mentors the Slayer. Buffy asks him to prepare her for getting kicked out of school and losing all her friends, then leaves in a huff. Behind them, Xander pops out of the stacks with a WTF look on his face.Buffy accepts Cordelia's invitation to go to the Bronze, a club on "the bad side of town" (which is "half a block from the good side of town", since there's not a lot of town). Along the way, Buffy is shadowed by a sinister figure. He tails her into an alley, then glances about impotently. Above him, Buffy is doing a handstand on a bar spanning the alleyway. She swings down and bowls him over with a kick. The stranger (actually, Angel, but you're not supposed to know that yet), irritated, straightens his jacket and claims that they have a common goal—to kill all the vampires. He reaches into his coat and tosses Buffy a small box, telling her to be ready for "the Harvest". Buffy opens the box to reveal a silver cross.Underground, a grotesque figure rises from the pit of blood. It's a wizened vampire, but one who doesn't look remotely human. A kneeling vampire, Luke, addresses his "Master". They discuss how the Harvest will restore his power. Luke has sent his servants for food for the Master, who requests something "young".Buffy joins Willow at the bar, and the pair get acquainted. Willow explains that she's nervous around boys. Buffy tries to draw Willow out of her shell and says that her life philosophy is "seize the moment". She then spots Giles lurking about on the upper deck of the Bronze and jets off to chastise him for being grody. Giles grumbles that he's come to persuade Buffy to take her duties seriously. Downstairs, Jesse approaches Cordelia and asks her to dance. Cordy makes a blech face and gives him the brush-off. Burned again, Jesse glances around for fresh prospects.Back on the landing, Giles opines that the club is a perfect hunting ground for vamps. He encourages Buffy to try and sniff out a vampire in the room. She pegs one in about five seconds and points. "There's one," she says, interrupting him; the vintage eighties getup is a dead giveaway. Suddenly, the vampire moves and reveals his date: it's Willow, seizing the moment. Buffy draws her stake and chases them into a back alley, but only finds Cordelia in a snit. Cordelia immediately starts dialing everyone she knows to rescind Buffy's Libby membership card. Meanwhile, we see Jesse chatting up the vampire schoolgirl (Darla) from The Teaser, still on the prowl.Buffy runs into Xander outside the Bronze. He makes a pointed comment about slaying vampires. Buffy grumpily wonders if there was an announcement in the newspaper. Xander thinks Buffy is suffering from delusions of grandeur, but Buffy convinces him of their serious need to find Willow fast.The vampire stops outside a crypt and tries to entice Willow to go in. When she declines, he shoves her inside; this is not a democracy. They are soon joined by Darla and Jesse, whose throat is bleeding. Game faces on, the vamps are about to chow down when Buffy swoops in. The vampires circle her, unsure what to make of this. Topside, Willow, Xander, and Jesse are scrambling to safety. They come to a dead stop when several leering vampires surround them.Buffy cracks wise to Darla about how she just wanted a quiet life, but Luke comes from behind and grabs her by the neck. He throws Buffy across the crypt and then bitches Darla out for not bringing the Master his dinner. Luke tells Darla to leave and seems pretty assured that he can take care of the little girl himself. Buffy grabs a stake and is just about to drive it into Luke's heart, but he breaks it in half with his hand. He flings Buffy ass over teacup into a stone coffin, then vanishes. The room is silent. Just when Buffy has gotten up the courage to peek out, Luke leaps in with her. He grabs her and prepares to bite her neck. To be continued.
- All of Them: Xander says hello to Willow and then tells her that he's having problems with his math homework. She wants to know which part and he replies, "The math."
- All Women Love Shoes: Cordelia wishes she was living in L.A., "that close to so many shoes"note . In the unaired pilot, she recognizes Buffy as a potential member of her Girl Posse by looking at her shoes.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When news reaches him of vampires on campus, Giles emits little surprise; he was expecting this. Well, Buffy sure as hell wasn't. "It's my first day! I was afraid that I was gonna be behind in all my classes, that I wouldn't make any friends, that I would have last month's hair!"
- Ask a Stupid Question...: Buffy tells her mother that she's going to the Bronze, and Joyce asks if there are going to be boys. Buffy quips, "No, mom—it's a nun club."
- Being Watched: En route to the Bronze, Buffy senses herself being shadowed by a nosy man in black.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Cordelia starts out being perfectly nice to Buffy, but it's revealed to only be because she thinks Buffy is another Alpha Bitch, and Buffy is quite turned off after seeing her behavior towards Willow.
- Blatant Lies: Buffy's excuse for burning down the gym is that it was full of asbestos. Also, her stake is for self-defense; all the rage in LA.
- Blood Bath: The Master arises from one of these. Fully clothed.
- The Brute: Luke.
- The Cameo: When the Master is summoned, an elderly man with a beard is seen walking silently behind Luke. No surprise it turns out to be Christopher Lee.
- Can't Believe I Said ThatXander: Well, uh, maybe I'll see you around. Maybe at school, since we both...go there.
Buffy: Great! It was nice to meet you.
[She starts down the hall]
Xander: "We both go to school." Very suave. Very not pathetic.
- Captain Obvious
- Reliable old Jesse's got the goods on the new girl. "New girl!" Xander absorbs this breaking news with extreme unction.
- Willow keeps yammering on as her date glares into the middle distance, obviously trying to tune her out. "Sure is dark!" she exclaims. The vampire deadpans that, yes, it's night.
- Catapult Nightmare: We first see Buffy in bed. She's having the Slayer Visions, with nightmares of vampires, demons, and finally the Master's ugly mug. She wakes with a start.
- Averted in that she doesn't launch herself out of bed; she simply opens her eyes with a slight jolt—a much more realistic way of waking up from a nightmare.
- Ceiling Cling: Buffy's pursuer darts his eyes around the empty alley, just as the camera pulls up to reveal Buffy on a bar high above the pavement.
- Celeb Crush: As part of Cordelia's popularity screening, Buffy is quizzed on James Spader. "He needs to call me."
- Chair Reveal: Jesse works his mojo on a girl lounging in the Bronze. Her hammock chair turns around to reveal that it's Darla.
- Chekhov's Gift: The silver cross necklace.
- Cheshire Cat Grin: When Buffy blows off Angel's warnings, he smiles like she's about to be the butt of a bad joke.
- Continuity Nod: Vampires in the gym. Thus endeth pretty much any similarity between the series and the original movie.
- Costume Test Montage: Buffy's considering what to wear to the Bronze. She holds a shiny black outfit up to the mirror.Buffy: Hi! I'm an enormous slut!
[holds up a blue floral dress]
Hello! Would you like a copy of The Watchtower?
[lowers the dress]
I used to be so good at this.
- Crash-Into Hello: Slightly inverted. Buffy walks out into the hall looking through her bag, and just then a girl runs into Buffy and knocks the contents of her bag onto the floor. This is Xander's cue to work his mojo, and he quickly starts gathering her things for her.
- Cryptic Conversation: Angel warning Buffy to be ready for "the Harvest". Sounds festive.
- Damsel in Distress: Willow.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Cordelia reporting that gym class got cancelled, on account of the dead guy in a locker.Buffy: Dead?
Cordelia: Totally dead. Way dead.
Xander: So not just a little dead, then.
- Description Cut: In the first of many ironic segues, Buffy reassures Giles, "C'mon. This is Sunnydale. How bad an evil can there be?" Cut to the Master's crypt, where Luke chants about making the world bleed and whatnot.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Xander's zooming down the sidewalk on his skateboard, which we'll never see again. And it might be a good thing, too, because when he catches sight of Buffy in her miniskirt, he loses all coordination and smashes head-on into a guardrail.
- Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: Giles politely tapping Buffy's shoulder in the library.
- In the alley behind The Bronze, Buffy skulks around a corner, and, as a figure looms behind her, whirls and grabs that person by the neck, stake ready. Buffy has just made the worst move of her short social life at Sunnydale High, because she's applied her stranglehold to Cordelia Chase.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- This episode is the only time we see Xander riding a skateboard, since the scene required lots of space and was a pain to shoot. We later see Xander holding a skateboard a couple of times, but never again does he ride one.
- This isn't quite the only episode to feature a vampire dressing as was fashionable when he diednote . But they're rare. The show was still working on its mythology and style, and they were considering being able to date vampires that way. They realized quickly that it was kinda stupid and didn't go with it.
- Later episodes put Buffy in brighter, bubblegum colors (which ended up being part of the mythology; vampires are attracted to bright colors), but here she's in more muted colors. The change was partly character-driven, partly to help differentiate her from Willow.
- The Totally Radical slang only shows up here. They eliminated it in favor of Buffy Speak, which is how Joss and his writers talk in real life.
- Eating Lunch Alone: Outside, Willow is sitting down to lunch. Buffy walks up to her and says hello. Willow wonders if she wants her to move.
- Especially Zoidberg: From the unaired pilot:
- Establishing Series Moment: A comely blond is about to be the victim of the bad boy who's lured her into the school for mischief. Instead, the blond girl turns out to be a 400-year-old vampire who takes him out.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- When Giles attempts to remind Buffy of her duties, she sneers, "Blah, blah, I've heard it okay?" Cements her character pretty solidly, but she has many much cooler moments.
- Cordelia seeming nice until she's confronted with shy, nerdy Willow.
- Willow herself eating lunch alone and offering to move when someone comes to sit in her spot.
- Everyone Meets Everyone
- Evil Sounds Deep: Luke.
- Exact Eavesdropping: After Giles' argument with Buffy over her Slayer duties, a very confused Xander steps out from the stacks."...what."
- Expecting Someone Taller: Or with bigger muscles. Angel does think Buffy is quite spry, though.
- Face-Revealing Turn: Subverted with Darla and her first victim, but played straight when she's in the Bronze.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: Principal Flutie dramatically tears up Buffy's record to show she has a clean slate, then has second thoughts when he reads about Buffy committing arson and starts taping it back together again.
- Giles tries to appeal to Buffy's sense of duty, reminding her that she is the "Chosen One", the "one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires—" "To stop the spread of their evil, blah blah," finishes Buffy flippantly.
- Giles loads Buffy up with a bunch of books and opines that every myth she's ever heard is true. Buffy scoffs, "What, you sent away for the Time-Life series?" A chagrined Giles admits that he did—and he got the free gift calendar, too.
- Giles admonishes Buffy that she knows very little about vampires and her own powers—that a Slayer should be able to sense vampires in her vicinity.Giles: Reach out with your mind. You have to hone your senses, focus until the energy washes over you, until you, you feel every particle of—
Buffy: There's one.
- Feet-First Introduction: Buffy's new friend.
- Foreshadowing: Willow is very enthusiastic about helping Buffy study and suggests that they meet in the library. Buffy says that place gives her the "wiggins". Willow really likes it there because the "new librarian" brought all sorts of interesting books with him.Willow: He was a curator of some British museum. Or The British Museum, I'm not sure.
- Giles opines that a place like the Bronze is a veritable vampire buffet. He's not wrong, as "The Harvest" shows.
- Freudian Slip: Xander kneels down to help scoop up Buffy's books, saying, "Can I have you?" Off Buffy's look, he recovers with, "Uh, can I help you?"
- Gibberish of Love: Xander later suggests "Maybe we could...hang out at school, since we both...go there." He lampshades the trope immediately afterwards: "'We both go to school.' Smooth."
- Good Morning, Crono: The pilot starts with Buffy having a nightmare about the coming of the Master, and her mother calls her name to remind her not to be late for school.
- Half Truth: Buffy sheepishly confesses that her transcripts are "a little colorful".Principal Futie: Do you think, uh, "colorful" is the word? Not "dismal"?
- Hypocritical Humor: Two girls gossiping about Buffy in the locker room.Girl #1: The new kid? She seems kind of weird to me. What kind of name is Buffy?
Girl #2: [walking by] Hey, Aphrodesia.
- I Believe That You Believe It: "I only know that you think that you're the Slayer." Xander's excited to hear that Willow hooked up with somebody until Buffy expresses a desperate need to find her. He then sarcastically hopes Willow didn't leave with a vampire and that Buffy won't have to do any slaying. He doesn't really believe what he's heard about Buffy's supernatural calling, but he's willing to humor her if Willow's in trouble.
- Implausible Deniability: Xander reaches into his backpack to get Buffy's stake and hands it to her; "The only thing I can think is that you're building a really little fence." Buffy stammers that it's for self-defense, and all the people in LA have them because pepper spray is passé.
- Angel, after being clocked to the ground and pinned under Buffy's shoe. "Ahh, heh. Is there a problem, ma'am?"
- Improvised Weapon: Buffy, tailing Willow and her date into a dark hallway, stops to break the leg off a chair to use as a stake.
- Instructional Dialogue: Giles sidelines Buffy by asking her if the dead guy is going to rise again. Buffy, huffing, says "no" and takes a moment to explain some of the vampire mythology of the Buffyverse—namely, that you have to suck vampire blood to change."To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It's like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly, they're just gonna kill you."
- 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. "No," says Giles exasperatedly, and goes on to explain what a Watcher does.
- Last-Second Word Swap: Principal Flutie is going over Buffy's transcripts and notes that Buffy was responsible for burning down the gym of her old school. Buffy almost slips and tells him that the gym was full of vampires but quickly amends that to "asbestos".
- "From now on I'm only going to hang out with the living...lively...people."
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Unless you've already seen the show, don't listen to the commentary. Whedon gleefully ruins everything. (Okay, not gleefully. He's talking to longtime fans. Still.)
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Buffy and Darla trading barbs. Darla curls her lips and invites her to bring it on. Buffy cautions that it's won't be pretty. "We're talking violence, strong language, adult content..."
- Love Martyr: Jesse is a glutton for Cordelia's punishment.
- Many Questions Fallacy: Buffy huffs into the library and demands that Giles tell her what's going on. "You heard about the dead guy in the locker? He's got two little little holes in his neck and all his blood's been drained. Isn't that bizarre? Aren't you just going 'ooh'?"
- Meet Cute: Buffy and Xander, and later Angel.
- Mirror Monologue: Buffy in her room, trying to decide on an outfit for the evening. She seems torn between a skimpy black number ("Hi, I'm an enormous slut!)" and a floral dress ("Would you like a copy of The Watchtower?") She grouses about losing her sense of fashion.
- Mook Chivalry: Lampshaded in the unaired pilot.Buffy: I don't suppose you'd have the good manners to attack me one at a time, would you?Vampire: You watch too many movies.
- Disappointingly, they then proceed to do exactly that, playing this trope straight.
- Mundane Utility: (unaired pilot) Buffy uses her Slayer agility to do an impressive flippy-thing in order to descend a spiral staircase.
- Mythology Gag: It's possible that Angel's catty remarks about Buffy's height was an in-joke at the movie. Kristy Swanson, who played Buffy in the movie, is 5'7" and Sarah Michelle Gellar is 5'3".
- Neck Lift/Punched Across the Room: After breaking her stake, Luke grabs Buffy by the throat and lobs her into a cement wall.
- Noodle Incident: Buffy burning down the gym at her old school, which took place in the original Joss Whedon script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer but did not make it into the film.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Everybody keeps opining that not much happens in a "one-Starbucks town" like Sunnydale. Then again, perhaps everyone chooses not to notice what does happen.
- Occult Detective: Beginning one of the show's basic premises. Buffy hears someone died, and goes to investigate how he died so that, if necessary, she can kill the killer.
- Offhand Backhand: Buffy dusts her first vampire this way.
- Offscreen Teleportation: The very large and noticeable Luke manages to sneak up on Buffy from behind. Part 2 of this story explains how he was able to do that.
- The Oner
- "Open!" Says Me: Buffy approaches a locked door and, in the very first ever display of her Slayer Strength!, forces it open, breaking the lock.
- Peek-A-Boo Corpse: A lifeless Det. Danny Messer takes a tumble out of Aura's locker.
- Inside the coffin, Buffy flips around to see a moldy skeleton and lets out a scream.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The scene where Jesse asks Cordelia to dance is taken from Joss Whedon's school experience. Though in answer to the girl's reaction ("With you?"), he said nothing and left (unlike Jesse).
- Red Herring Shirt: Darla.
- Red Shirt: Darla's date. Poor boy just wanted to neck a little, and now his neck is ventilated.
- Refusal of the Call: Buffy wants to know if a Watcher prepares her for "getting kicked out of school? For losing all of my friends? For having to spend all of my time fighting for my life and never getting to tell anyone because I might endanger them?" Giles gives her a blank stare for an answer, and Buffy stomps out.
- The black-clad man explains that what he wants, like Buffy, is to "kill 'em all." Buffy snipes that he's incorrect.Buffy: But you do get this lovely watch and a year's supply of Turtle Wax. What I want is to be left alone.
- The black-clad man explains that what he wants, like Buffy, is to "kill 'em all." Buffy snipes that he's incorrect.
- Screaming Woman: Aura and Aphrodesia. You'd think they had never seen a corpse before.
- Sherlock Scan: Buffy picks a vampire out of a crowd, not through Spider-Sense as Giles wants, but though seeing his dress sense is ten years out of date.
- She's Got Legs: In the unaired pilot, we're introduced to our heroine via a Male Gaze look at what's below the hemline of her miniskirt.
- Short Cuts Make Long Delays: Willow points out that they're taking the wrong way to the ice cream parlor, but the vampire grabs her hand, saying he knows a "shortcut". Through a cemetery.
- Sinister Silhouettes: Our first glimpse of Angel.
- Starter Villains: Luke and Darla.
- Subverted Trope: As mentioned in the commentary for the episode, Joss Whedon began the show with the intent to subvert horror tropes. The episode opens with a boy and girl breaking into the high school, presumably for sexy times; the girl's nervous and the boy predatory. Every horror buff knows what's going to happen. Then she turns into a monster and kills him, not quite what people were expecting (unless they're really into horror).
- The alleyway example nearly happens, but he double-subverts it in that the mysterious stalker she ambushes is an ambiguous ally.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: At lunch time, Cordelia barges up to talk to Buffy, causing Willow to immediately exclaim that Buffy is not actually hanging out with them.
- Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: Luke flings Buffy ass-over-teacup into the stone coffin, where she lies panting. She can't hear or see Luke. Just when Buffy has gotten up the courage to peek out, Luke leaps into the coffin with her.
- Take That: John Tesh is the Devil.
- There Are No Coincidences: Giles catches up to Buffy in the hall and steers her out of sight. He earnestly insists that the situation in town is getting worse; "There's a reason why you're here and a reason why it's now." Buffy snits that it's "Because now is when my mom moved here," and takes a hike.
- To Be Continued: This episode originally aired as part of a two-hour premiere. In reruns and on Netflix, a "to be continued" card is placed at the end of the episode.
- Totally Radical: A great deal of the slang. Particularly the Valley Girl speak in the locker room. Neg! Pos! Negly!
- Trouble Entendre: Jesse has trouble placing Darla, and she mentions she has "family" in the area. Jesse wonders if he's met them. Coyly, Darla says he probably will soon.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Buffy enters the locker room and sees the dead guy covered by a sheet. She peels back the sheet to reveal two very obvious fang holes on the guy's neck. "Oh, great," she sighs in extreme irritation.
- Welcome Episode: To the Hellmouth.
- Welcome to Hell: The episode title, of course. In the alley, Buffy rejects Angel's help and stomps away, but he stops her by saying Buffy's in too deep now. "You're standing at the mouth of Hell. And it's about to open."
- Who Are You?: Buffy's parting shot at Angel, who prefers to stay coy.
- Buffy stakes the henchvamp without much effort, which seems to surprise Darla. "Who are you?"
- You Have No Chance to Survive/You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With:Luke: You think you can stop me, stop us? You have no idea who you're dealing with.
- Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: The redshirt smashes a windowpane, and his blonde companion questions if breaking and entering is a good idea (the boy is taking Darla up to the top of the gym so they can see all of Sunnydale from that vantage point). Soon-To-Be-Dead Boy reassures Darla that it's a "great" idea and clambers over the windowsill.
- Darla sneers at the henchvamp's catch, saying that Willow is "hardly a mouthful". She then calls in her own prey, Jesse, who holding his neck and wobbling. Unlike Willow, he apparently didn't need a lot of arm-twisting to follow a sexy blonde into a graveyard.Jesse: [woozily] I think you gave me a hickey.
- Darla sneers at the henchvamp's catch, saying that Willow is "hardly a mouthful". She then calls in her own prey, Jesse, who holding his neck and wobbling. Unlike Willow, he apparently didn't need a lot of arm-twisting to follow a sexy blonde into a graveyard.