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  • Abandoned Hospital Awakening: In "This Year's Girl", the hospital wing Faith wakes up in after her eight-month Convenient Coma has an ill-maintained look with flickering lights, unpainted walls, and no staff on duty at the time.
  • Abandoned Playground:
    • The Cold Open of "Lie to Me," an episode with a theme of how the illusions of childhood give way to the Black-and-Gray Morality of the adult world. There's a boy who's been left at the playground. It's dark, and he's the last one there, and then Drusilla shows up. Fortunately for him Angel shows up and stops her.
    • "Helpless," the episode where Buffy reaches her eighteenth birthday has an Action Prologue of Buffy fighting a vampire in a playground at night, with all the 'leave childhood behind' metaphors that implies.
  • Abandoned Warehouse: Plenty of these. Lampshaded by a deleted line in "Crush" which had Buffy learning of some vampires hanging out in an abandoned warehouse and commenting, "Is there any other kind in Sunnydale?" Another example would be Spike and Drusilla using one as their lair in Season 2.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • In Season 2, it was hinted that Mr. Snyder was conspiring with Mayor Wilkins to eliminate Buffy as a threat by bullying her, and later by expelling her from school on trumped-up murder charges. Season 3 revealed that while he was doing some work with the mayor, Snyder was still as much in the dark about what was going on as the rest of the adults of Sunnydale.
    • Also in Season 2, Willow suddenly becomes a lot stronger in magic and seems possessed while performing the curse to restore Angel's soul. The other characters are notably frightened. Despite this being a good starting explanation for Willow's developing magical powers, the possession is never mentioned again.
    • Once more, with feeling: in Season 2, the Anointed One — a prepubescent child who'd been made a vampire in the first season — was meant to be the main villain of the season. The problem was, while vampires don't age, the actor playing the role had had something of a growth spurt and clearly wouldn't be able to hold up as an immortal, ageless vampire. As a result, his storyline was scrapped and he was killed off rather anticlimactically — if satisfyingly — by Spike three episodes into the season.
  • Aborted Declaration of Love: A strange variant (an inversion, perhaps) as Spike, who's loved Buffy for years, makes his Heroic Sacrifice in the Series Finale:
    Buffy: I love you.
    Spike: ...No you don't. But thanks for saying it.
    • Season 10 also has one. Upon misunderstanding the idea that vampires in the same line are in some way the same person as each other, Buffy blurts out her shock that she'd fallen in love with the same guy twice. Spike tries to clarify if she'd just indirectly given him a Love Confession, but Buffy clams up.
  • Above the Influence:
    • In "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered", Xander of every female in Sunnydale, particularly Buffy... well everyone except for Cordelia, who the spell was intended for. The spell was botched, and she ended up the only woman protected from the spell.
    • Oz with Willow at more than one point. The first time Willow tries to get him to kiss her, he thinks she is trying to get at Cordelia and Xander and instead he wants to be the gentleman and wait. The second time is after he caught Willow cheating on him, and she tries to seduce him. He lets her down and says she doesn't have to prove anything to him and rejects her obvious sexual advances.
    • Also happens with Giles and Jenny Calender at one point, but she's possessed by a demon at the time, so it soon escalates into a big fight.
  • Absent Animal Companion: At one point, Willow and Tara got a kitten, who was only seen in three episodes. An off-hand comment much later on suggests that this kitten was killed off-screen by an accident. It's not explicitly confirmed that the cat is dead, though, and the wording could be interpreted a number of ways.
    Dawn: I told you, I don't leave crossbows around all willy-nilly...not since that time with Miss Kitty Fantastico.
  • Absentee Actor: The series was usually very good about not doing this, with regulars showing up in most episodes, even if it was just for a mandatory line. Despite that, every season but 4 contains at least one episode with a main character absent. None of these absences are explained on-screen.
  • Abstract Eater: Glory had to manage her hell god composure by eating human sanity, leaving her victims gibbering wrecks.
  • Absurd Phobia: Anya is afraid of bunnies.
  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade:
    • In "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date", Xander and Willow lock themselves in a meeting room by shoving a couple of chairs in front of the door: so far so good. How do they reinforce this barricade? Chair cushions, and a lampshade.
    • In "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered", after a spell gone awry has caused every girl in the school aside from Cordelia to fall madly in love with Xander, he attempts to take refuge in the school library by moving a library card catalog in front of the double doors that serve as the entrance. Since he apparently didn't realize that the doors open outward, Buffy in a coat (and not much else) calmly opens the doors and walks around the catalog while Xander's back is turned.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Scythe, which is actually more of a Lochaber Axe but regardless it's absurdly sharp. Moments after acquiring it, Buffy effortlessly bisected the super-strong and super-durable Caleb. Earlier, there was also the Blessed Sword used to defeat Acathla, which also cut through vampires' necks like a hot knife through butter.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: In Sunnydale alone there's fourteen million square miles of them, not including a lot of natural cave formations and a gateway to Hell. In "Enemies" it's revealed that the Mayor built Sunnydale "for demons to feed upon", so it makes sense that the sewer system is constructed so as to give easy access to the whole town.
  • Abusive Parents: This is Sunnydale, and good parent-child relationships will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Just about every Sunnydale parent not named Joyce Summers is either absent, invisible or this. Tara's family convinced her she was part-demon and therefore dangerous to be in the outside world. Buffy's father, who does not show up when Buffy's mom dies, forcing Buffy to take care of her underage sister (she also neglects this surrogate parent role); Willow's parents who are too wrapped up in their own affairs to pay attention to her (however, in true Buffy style, this neglect manifests as two seasons of total absence followed by a brief appearance where her mother incites the populace of Sunnydale to burn her daughter alive; Xander's father who is an alcoholic; Spike's mother, who tried to come onto him after being turned into a vampire; and Principal Wood's mother, who prioritized her Slayer duties over him. The latter is witnessed from four-year-old Wood's point of view, which is somewhat biased.
  • Abusive Precursors: The Old Ones and other "pure" demons. These monstrous primal entities ruled the Earth with an iron fist for untold millennia until humanity eventually supplanted them. Though all of the Old Ones still on Earth are either dormant or "dead", the return of even one to full power would likely bring Hell on Earth and/or the Apocalypse.
    • On a much, much lesser scale, Mayor Wilkins. He created Sunnydale for the sole purpose of creating a feeding ground for demons so that he could become a pure demon himself.
  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Cordelia scores well on standardised tests as a gag. She also did well enough academically to get into top schools.
    "What? I can't have layers?"
  • Academy of Adventure: Sunnydale High School. Not for nothing does Buffy eventually blow it up. (It gets better, but of course that doesn't last long.)
  • Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: "Once More, With Feeling" cleverly exploits this for innuendo. Imagine you're a censor reading a script in which a girl in bed with her lover sings the repeated line "you make me complete". Tame enough, right? Except that to fit the tune, the stress happens to fall on the first syllable of "complete"...
  • Accidental Murder:
    • Warren tries to knock Katrina out by hitting her over the head, but she dies.
    • Earlier in the third season, this is the cause of Faith's Face–Heel Turn.
    • And then there's the worst case of Type 2; Warren fires wildly into the air after having shot Buffy, hitting Tara through the window and driving Willow insane with grief.
  • Accidental Public Confession: Happens to Buffy in "Angel" where she accidentally reveals what she's been writing in her diary when she thinks Angel has read it.
  • Accidental Truth: Willow's Power Incontinence makes it so that whatever she says becomes literally true. Hilarity Ensues before anybody figures out what's going on.
  • Accidental Unfortunate Gesture: In "Hush", everyone has lost their voices, so have to communicate with sign language. Buffy pumps her hand up-and-down to indicate how she might kill the Monster of the Week, but everyone just stares at what seems like an obscene suggestion so she has to grab a wooden stake and do it again.
  • Accidentally Broke the MacGuffin: After Buffy dies the second time, the Scoobies find a one-of-a-kind sacred urn that will let them resurrect her. Demons interrupt their spell, and the urn gets dropped and broken, but it turns out the resurrection was completed moments before that.
  • Action Dad: The Mayor is this himself to Faith, with whom he shares an oddly touching father/daughter relationship. When Buffy puts her into a coma, he first tries to smother Buffy in a Tranquil Fury, then has a miniature Villainous Breakdown, dropping his usual Affably Evil persona:
    Angel: Don't do that!
    Mayor: Oh, I will. I'll do worse! Murderous little fiend! Did you see what she did to my Faith?!
    Angel: I got no plans to weep over that.
    Mayor: Yeah, well, I'd get set for a world of weeping! I'd get set for a world of pain! Misery loves company young man, and I'm more than willing to share that with you and your whore!
  • Accuser of the Brethren: The gypsies who gave Angel his soul, in retaliation for the murder of one of their own, in an effort to make him suffer eternal guilt. Generations later, the gypsies would still try to make sure Angel never finds happiness. Justified as him being happy will be enough to unleash his demonic split-personality Angelus.
  • Achilles in His Tent:
    • The premiere of the second season. In "When She Was Bad", Buffy comes back from her summer in L.A. still steaming with issues from being killed for a minute in the Season One finale. When the Master's men steal the Master's bones with the intent to resurrect him, Buffy explodes at Giles and blows off the Scooby Gang's attempts at consoling her. This lasts until Willow, Giles, Cordelia, and Miss Calender are captured by the vampires for the resurrection ritual. In this case, the prompt for her glorious return is less that she realizes that she's needed and more that it's brutally spelled out for her by Xander, who basically gives her an "As a result of this mess I'm completely over indulging your self-pity; get over yourself and do what you should have done in the first place" speech.
    • Buffy getting deposed by her own pupils in Season 7, who install Faith as their new leader. One episode and bomb explosion later, and everyone goes crawling back to blondie.
  • Acid-Trip Dimension: There's "a dimension of all shrimp". We never see it, but Anya mentions it. So does Illyria. It's reportedly very boring. Anya also mentions a "Crazy Melty Land", which probably fits this trope better.
  • Act of True Love: Spike thinks he's doing this when he offers to slay Drusilla, the vampire who sired him, to prove to Buffy he loves her. Buffy is not impressed. Several episodes later, Spike is willing to be tortured to death to protect Dawn. It's this act that finally gets her attention.
  • Acting Unnatural: In "Lie To Me", when Willow investigates the past of Buffy's newly-arrived old friend and early crush, she feels guilty about it and tries to act naturally around Buffy - failing spectacularly, but Buffy shrugs off her squeaking high-pitched panic as the result of too much coffee.
  • Action Dress Rip:
  • Action Fashionista:
    • Buffy has an amazing wardrobe. Even when she is working at a fast food restaurant. When joining the Initiative, she turns down their practical black-clad nightgear because it looks too Private Benjamin for her. The exception is when Buffy is having a crisis of confidence and changes into her Dungarees of Doom.
    • The vampire Sunday in "The Freshman" weaponizes her fashionista tendencies by insulting Buffy's fashion sense, then punching her while she is distracted. She also steals clothes from her victims, throwing out anything she thinks is "not" and keeping anything she thinks is "hot".
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Several moments, especially those directed personally by Joss Whedon himself. At the end of "Hush", Buffy and Riley tell each other "We have to talk.", and it is immediately followed by a long uncomfortable silence. When you remember that earlier in the same episode, the two of them had no problems in expressing their feelings to each other or fighting side by side, both with their voices muted by magic, the final scene packs quite a punch since they've gotten their voices back, but neither of them can think of anything to say.
    • The rightly-praised "The Body" is all quiet drama scene. Whedon admits that the action scene in "The Body" was out of place, but he wanted to provide the audience with some action because he knew that particular arc of stories would be fairly lacking in that department.
  • Action Girl: Buffy herself, from the very beginning. Joss Whedon explained that besides the pure female-empowerment angle, he wanted to take the opening of virtually every horror movie ever made and turn it on its head; normally, the pretty blond girl walks into the dark alley, the monster goes in after, and the girl dies. Here, the girl rips the monster a new one. In the pilot episode of the show, she walks into a dark alley and clobbers Angel from above. And in the very first scene of the show, Darla chows down on a creeper while wearing a schoolgirl outfit in a dark and abandoned school.
    • Willow (in later seasons) is also one. Anyone who manages to inflict pain on a goddess deserves this title.
    • Anya is one, with hints of Magic Knight, being more than competent in magic as well.
    • We also get Faith, Kendra, Kennedy, and all the Potential Slayers.
  • Action Mom: Nikki Wood, the mother of Principal Wood, was a Slayer, and is seen in the comics fighting off a vampire while pregnant and deprived of her Slayer powers. She continued to fight the forces of darkness after giving birth to her son, up until her death at the hands of Spike.
  • Action Survivor: Xander walks the line between this trope and Badass Normal throughout the course of the series. Losing an eye will do that to you.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Actually a Doombot:
    • Used with the Buffybot, a robot replica of the title heroine. A good example is the end of season 5, where Buffy apparently gets decapitated by Glory. Lo and behold, the real Buffy then reveals herself, showing the first one to be a fake.
    • In Season 6, the Scoobies use the Buffybot to make the underworld think that the Slayer is still protecting Sunnydale. When a vampire accidentally discovers this, it provokes immediate Rape, Pillage, and Burn by demon bikers.
    • The first time Willow gets her mitts on Warren in Season 6. Fizz crackle pop.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • In "Phases", Giles is talking about how the phases of the moon exert a great deal of psychological influence, and the full moon "tends to bring out our darkest qualities." Xander quips, "Yet, ironically, also led to the invention of the moon pie." Buffy and Willow are unimpressed as always but Giles almost cracks up.
    • In "Crush", when Buffy discovers that Spike is in love with her and tells Xander, he laughs about it.
    Buffy: I'm not joking.
    Xander: Oh, I hope not. It's funnier if it's true.
  • Adam and/or Eve: The Big Bad of season four is named Adam. Aside from his connection to Frankenstein (being an undead mixture of human and demon parts), he ultimately plans to make more beings like himself.
  • Addictive Foreign Soap Opera: An early episode shows the Scoobies raptly watching a Hindi soap opera and braiding Willow's hair, utterly unable to understand it. Well, Willow understands it and explains.
  • Addictive Magic: Giles' past as a demon-summoner was treated a bit like his hooligan/stoner phase—he himself describes it as an extraordinary high. Willow's subplot in season six was less subtle. It started with her abusing Mundane Utility and getting carried away with her rapidly-increasing power. It ended with her visiting an actual "pusher" who provided his customers with weird hallucinations. It was later subject to an Author's Saving Throw that denied that magic itself is addictive.
  • Adopt the Dog:
  • Admiring the Abomination:
    • Giles occasionally gets excited over the Monster of the Week. "A werewolf! One of the classics!"
      Giles: Grave robbing? That's new. Interesting.
      Buffy: I know you meant to say "gross and disturbing".
      Giles: ...Yes, yes, yes of course. Uh, terrible thing. Must... must put a stop to it. Damn it.
    • In "Bad Eggs", Tector Gorch (a vampire) makes the mistake of stopping to admire the Bezoar, thinking it's cute. It eats him.
  • Adorable Abomination: Gachnar the Fear Demon from "Fear Itself".
    Giles: [puts open tome on the table] I should have translated the text under his picture.
    Buffy: What does it say?
    Giles: "Actual size."
  • Adoring the Pests: When Amy turns herself into a rat to escape burning at the stake, a few seasons are spent by (mainly) Willow looking after her and trying to find a cure.
    • Oz was also a werewolf.
  • Adult Fear:
    • "The Body". Buffy comes home to find her mother dead on the couch. Buffy, a girl who fights vampires and demons, is reduced to a near catatonic state clearly wondering how long Joyce had been in the house and if she could have been saved. It gets worse several episodes later when, despite the Scoobies' best efforts, her sister Dawn is still captured.
    • The possibility of Buffy losing guardianship of Dawn is discussed several times, but it comes to a head in the Season 6 episode "Gone" when a social worker comes at absolutely the worst time, everyone says absolutely the wrong things, and ends up with the following:
      MS. KROGER: I think I've seen enough.
      BUFFY: No, actually, I really don't think that you have. It's just ... it's been kind of, kind of a, a bad time.
      MS. KROGER: It's been a bad time now for a while, hasn't it, Ms. Summers? [...]
      BUFFY: But there—there are good reasons.
      MS. KROGER: Oh, I'm sure there are. But my interest is in Dawn's welfare. And the stability of her home life, something I'm just not convinced that an unemployed young woman like yourself can provide.
      BUFFY: I can. I, I do!
      MS. KROGER: Well, we'll just have to see about that then, won't we? Oh, and I'm, uh, going to recommend immediate probation in my report.
      BUFFY: What does that mean?
      MS. KROGER: It means that I'll be monitoring you very closely, Ms. Summers. And if I don't see that things are improving, well, I'll be forced to recommend that you be stripped of your sister's guardianship.
      BUFFY: You can't do that.
      MS. KROGER: I do what is in Dawn's best interest ... as should you. Have a nice day.
  • Adults Are Useless: Xander's parents are drunks, Buffy's father is rarely around, Willow's mother shows up once, getting in her way, and Willow's father is mentioned in reference, with Willow worrying what "Ira Rosenberg will think of his only daughter nailing a crucifix to her wall." The only parent who isn't completely useless is Joyce, and that's because she's too busy being Team Mom.
    • The Watcher's Council plays into this as well, as does Wesley. Averted big-time by Giles, though.
    • Played up in Season 3's "Band Candy," where a certain brand of chocolate makes adults who eat it revert to teenage maturity levels.
  • Adventures in Comaland: Faith spends most of one episode having semi-lucid dreams as she struggles to awaken from her coma.
    • In "Nightmares, a comatose young boy gets the entire cast into this trope as his dreams begin to infect the real world.
  • Advertised Extra: The third season DVD se heavily feature images of Spike as much as the other post-season one cases do, and he even appears on the label of one of the discs. He also appears in only one episode of the entire season.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • The core cast consists of Buffy, Willow, Xander and Rupert. The last one is older than the others, British, and mostly goes by his last name, Giles.
    • In the expanded cast there are names such as Cordelia, Spike, Angel and Drusilla alongside Tara, Joyce, Dawn and Riley. Somewhat justified in that most of the odd names are nicknames and the characters' actual names are rather plain (for example, Oz is Daniel, Spike is William and Angel is Liam).
    • The fact that people on the Hellmouth have unusual names was lampshaded in the very first episode of the show.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Mayor Richard Wilkins III, who provides the page image. Actor Harry Groener, who portrayed him, claims to have based him in part on Ted Bundy: charming, able to talk you into anything, will kill you without blinking. Wilkins is friendly, mannerly, and is implied to be an upstanding, hard-working and (debateably) honest politician (Joss Whedon has admitted that Wilkins was intentionally portrayed as an efficient civil servant who authentically cared for his community, other than the entire "kill a bunch of high school students to fuel his ascension into demonhood" thing). He also provides well-meant (and, frankly, accurate) relationship advice to Buffy and Angel, inspired by his own marriage a century ago where she aged and died while he was immortal, and the exchange makes it obvious he did love her. He also genuinely cared for Faith, and while he was The Corrupter to her, Faith was already corrupted by the time she sided with him. By contrast she has fond memories of him into the rest of the series, seeing him as the only friend she's had who didn't try to manipulate or use her. And this was after her Heel–Face Turn. His status as basically a good guy — absent the "destroy the world" parts — was repeatedly lampshaded during the show, most brutally when they defeated him: the Mayor was destroyed because Buffy manipulated his finest quality — his paternal love for Faith. For all his evil, it was his sliver of goodness that did him in.
      • In fact, The Mayor was so polite and well-mannered, his Famous Last Words before being blown sky-high?
    Mayor Richard Wilkins III: Well gosh...(To make this rather silly, he said that while he was in Giant Snake Demon form.)
    • Harmony Kendall — the only person ever to have her personality improved by being turned into a soulless undead monster. As both a human and a vampire, she pays no attention to the internal voice telling her right from wrong, and simply wants to be popular and liked. Bad results when she ignores her inner voice as a human, gaining a superego and showing no empathy. Good results when she's a demon, and she shows no malice. She later founds the Reform Vampire Movement, in which vampires only feed off consenting humans and avoid killing.
    • D'Hoffryn, master of the vengeance demons, seems to be a pretty nice guy, making conversation with Willow, showing up to Anya and Xander's wedding, etc. He got really nasty in his final appearance, though.
    • Sweet, the demon from the musical "Once More, With Feeling". He never even engages in physical violence. On the other hand, he can cause people to catch on fire, bring whole cities to ruin, tries to marry 15-year-old Dawn — and still has time to get a soft shoe in.
    • Halfrek, an evil vengeance demon, who is best friends with Anya and truly cares about her. She was the only person to notice how screwed up Dawn was in Season 6, and her raison d'être was enacting vengeance for mistreated children gives her the chance to deliver a truly epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the Scoobies because of it. It's honestly very sad when the previously mentioned D'Hoffryn murders her.
    • Anya. She's cheerful and quirky and bubbly, while reminiscing about the days when she had vengeance demon powers and flayed men alive.
    • Mr. Trick. Always smooth and cool, even when he's about to chomp on a hapless fast food employee (that he'd cheerfully conversed with just a few seconds before).
    • Holden Webster from "Conversations With Dead People", a rather cheerful newbie vamp who turns out to be an old classmate of Buffy's (and stops mid-fight when he realises it, greeting Buffy with all the surprised pleasure of an old classmate). He uses his psych major skills to rather accurately and - occasional, obligated murder attempt aside - professionally analyse Buffy and help her deal with her issues. His approach is best summed up in his line, delivered in a patient, friendly standard psychiatrist voice: "Buffy, I'm here to kill you, not judge you."
    • Clem, Spike (after his encounter with The Initiative), pretty much all the demons who showed up to Anya and Xander's wedding, and occasional random vamps. And Ethan Rayne.
    • Dracula is this, to Xander at least. Their Odd Friendship included Xander teaching him how to ride a motorbike. No one understands it, least of all Xander.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head:
    • Anya patting Dawn, but as it's a patronizing gesture it only annoys her. Whereas Buffy stroking Dawn's hair is used to show the squabbling siblings actually do have affection for each other.
    • Another surrogate-parent relationship: Mayor Wilkins strokes Faith's hair when she's hospitalized in "Graduation Day".
  • Affectionate Nickname: Rampant within the Scoobies.
    • Buffy is called "Buff" by Xander and Willow on occasion, and "B" by Faith. "Slayer" by Spike started off as a Term Of Endangerment, but grew into an affectionate nickname—especially in seasons 7 onwards, when he gains a soul and thus their relationship in general could grow far more genuinely affectionate.
    • Willow tends to be called "Wil" by Buffy and Xander, and she'd taken to affectionately calling Tara "Baby".
    • Dawn is often called "Dawnie" by Willow, Buffy, Tara, and Xander. Xander stopped using the nickname once they became a couple. She's additionally called "Little Bit" and "Niblet" by Spike, though he drops the latter post-soul, likely because of the affiliation with food.
  • Afraid of Their Own Strength: Willow spends most of Season 7 in this state; after the Dark Willow fiasco at the end of Season 6, which ended with her nearly destroying the world, she's terrified of using magic out of fear she would lose control again.
  • After Action Patch Up:
    • Buffy and Angel's First Kiss is preceded by her bandaging Angel's shoulder ("Angel"). Similarly, an ice rink skirmish is followed by Buffy tending to Angel's bleeding, bumpy forehead ("What's My Line, Part 2").
      Angel: You shouldn't have to touch me when I'm like this.
      Buffy: I didn't even notice.
    • And yet again, in "Ted" Buffy redresses Angel's hands from his wounds sustained in the episode before. She's babbling on about what's happening in her life before it turns into a sweet moment between the two of them.
    • In "Helpless", when Buffy discovers that Giles injected her with a drug that removes her superpowers on the orders of the Watcher's Council, she threatens to kill him if he ever touches her again. At the end of the episode, after Giles is fired by the Council for his "fatherly love" toward Buffy, she allows him to clean her forehead where she's bleeding.
    • In "Never Leave Me", Buffy cleans the blood off Spike after kicking her vampire boyfriend in the face, then chaining him in the basement. This seemed rather symbolic of their relationship until then.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Dawn's whininess and kleptomania are considered severely obnoxious, but when you consider she's a 15 year old girl whose mother and sister died, and then her sister comes back completely depressed and incapable of taking care of her, and then her pseudo foster moms (Willow and Tara) break up, and then one of them DIES and the other tries to kill her, her behavior seems rather understandable. This is compounding the fact that her parents divorced when she was 8 or 9, she knows her sister is going to die young, she lives with the fact that she could easily become demon prey to fuck with or bait Buffy, Buffy seems to not give a damn about this, and more. The icing on the cake is that at 14, she finds out that she's a magical construct who's only existed for six months, that all of her memories are false, and that the people she loves the most knew this and didn't tell her. The fact that she hasn't snapped and killed them all or become a serial killer is actually pretty surprising.
  • Age-Inappropriate Dress: Buffy's school garb included micro-minis, cropped tops and strapless tops that no school would allow.
    Joyce: You're just too young to wear that.
    Buffy: Yeah, and I'm gonna be too young to wear it until I'm too old to wear it.
    Joyce: That's the idea.
  • Age Is Relative: While Dawn was quite whiny and downright bratty in seasons 5 and 6, there was a shift in her maturity during season 7. She was certainly as mature as Buffy who shirked her responsibilities and lied to her Watcher, mom and friends so she could go make out.
  • Age Without Youth: At some point, vampires lose the ability to assume human form, and are stuck in their Game Face, which grows increasingly aged and inhuman over time. Exactly what they'll look like (or become) in the end is unknown, but one particularly old vamp named Kakistos eventually developed cloven hooves.
    • Giles does refer to Kakistos as being 'so old his hands and feet are cloven'. Info given in the RPG books gives Kakistos' possible age as around 2000, since it mentions him being able to 'remember when Constantinople was Byzantium'.
      • Vampire appearance is likely more complex than age, however. The Master (Heinrich Ness) was said to be 'over 600', yet his appearance in flashbacks to his siring of Darla in the 1600s is the same as in the 1990s. If he was only slightly over 600 this would make him only around 300-400 when he sired her. Other 'old' vampires such as Darla and Dracula have no sign of deformities or other corruption (Dracula even appears human even when using his fangs in contrast to all other vampires seen onscreen). It is possible that magic, demonic taint (the Master's Order of Aurelius worshipped the Old Ones) or a refusal to live in human civilisation, as well as extreme age, cause the changes in appearance.
    • In Angel, vampires are established as being humans in a symbiotic relationship with a blood-borne warrior-demon. Assumably how much like a blood-crazed satyr one looks is related to one's relationship with the inner demon, and age is just one way to get there. Whatever makes the Master the big bad is likely another, and the super-vampires from the last season are probably close to the demon for a third reason.
  • Agent Peacock: Spike, at least in Seasons 2-5. He rocks nail polish, guyliner, and more jewelry than the average man, cries freely over his relationship problems, and appalls his fellow vampires by preferring sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll to cosmic destruction. Despite his Camp Straight personality, he's badass enough to take out two Slayers and the Anointed One and survive four rounds with Glory. While later seasons dial back his girly characteristics somewhat, he retains a more emotional demeanor than that of Angel, Xander, Oz, Riley, or Giles.
  • Agent Scully: There's an interesting twist to the trope in "The Pack", which turns it into a verb" — "I cannot believe you, of all people, are trying to Scully me!" For the record, the Scully was Giles, who assumed that Xander's recent shift in behaviour (being a Jerkass to Willow, hanging out with morons) was just him being a teenager. When he learns that Xander and pals ate a pig, he starts taking it a lot more seriously. To clarify the pig was still alive when they started eating it. And in the case of Xander's pals (but not Xander), the vice principal was alive when that feast started as well.
  • Agitated Item Stomp: Buffy gets stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, gets annoyed by Giles' Glasses Pull Character Tic, and stomps his glasses underfoot.
  • Ahem: In "The Zeppo", Xander is involved in a Trapped by Mountain Lions plot, with The End of the World as We Know It presented as the unimportant B-story. At one point he walks right into the middle of a classic Buffy/Angel melodrama, with mutual Love Confessions and declarations that a Heroic Sacrifice is The Only Way. After making a half-hearted attempt to bring up his own problems Xander leaves, and the romantic music commences again as Buffy and Angel start up exactly where they left off.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Wesley's craven pleading is directly contrasted with Giles' snarky defiance in the face of a hideous demon and his vampire minions.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Lampshaded on "Beer Bad" with its Devolution Device plot that turns the college kids and Buffy into neanderthals. Played straight in "Life Serial", when Buffy goes out drinking with Spike, throws a punch at a Big Red Devil, and falls flat on her face.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Xander's parents (and entire family, really). Played both for laughs and drama. Also, Faith's mother.
  • Alien Among Us: Anya could be considered a variation on this device. She was a 1,120-year-old former demon, who did not understand the conventions of humans and, therefore, had wacky misunderstandings and needed to have things explained to her. Anya eventually subverted this trope in an episode which flashed back to show her in her pre-demonic days. Turns out that her inability to grasp the conventions of humans has less to do with her being a former demon, and more to do with her just being very Literal-Minded.
  • Alien Blood: In "Earshot", a mouthless demon's fluorescent blood splashes onto Buffy's hand and gives her an "aspect of the demon", which turns out to be hearing people's thoughts.
  • Alien Catnip: Slayer blood is this for Vampires. It's also mentioned that a vamp can become high by feeding off someone who is high.
    Spike: If every vampire who said he was at the Crucifixion was actually there it would've been like Woodstock. I was actually at Woodstock... that was a weird gig. I fed off a flower person and I spent six hours watching my hand move.
  • Alien Episode:
    • "Bad Eggs" has the crew fighting a nonparanormal parasite — one of earthly origin, but decidedly alien-like.
    • "Listening To Fear" featured, as Giles put it, "a killer snot monster from outer space" as the Monster of the Week, summoned to Earth to kill the still-living victims of Glory.
  • Aliens and Monsters: Sorta. A grand total of one (supremely scary) alien appears in the entire run of the series, and its origin is supernatural anyway.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: The series makes occasional references to a second Hellmouth in Cleveland. In fact, Cleveland is rather frequently a subject of this trope, hence its alternate title, Aliens in Cleveland. It's part of a long-Running Gag in popular culture that Cleveland is a depressing hellhole of decay, corruption, and a river of fire. The city's demonic influence permeates into its residents, who actually like it there.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Ampata learned the language after all the years that she was touring all over the country.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Under the helm of Marti Noxon, the show tended to drift in this direction. Whenever the show did an episode about domestic violence, the abuser is usually a male.
    • Averted in season 6; Buffy is just as abusive (if not even more so) as Spike during their Destructive Romance, and is acknowledged as such in-universe.
  • All According to Plan:
    • The Mayor is smart about this. Faith is eager for some action and asks her boss if there's likely to be any fighting. The Mayor replies no, not if everything goes according to plan "but since when do things go according to plan?"
    • Played straight with the heroine in "The Freshman". Buffy is spying on a nest of vampires when she falls through the skylight into their midst.
      Sunday: I must say, you've really got me now. I mean, it's a diabolical plan, throw yourself at my feet with a broken arm and no weapons of any kind. How'm I going to get out of this one?
      Buffy: You got a nice set-up here, but you made one mistake.
      Sunday: Yeah? What was that?
      Buffy: Well, I'm not actually positive, but statistically speaking people usually make at least— (Sunday makes Buffy Talk to the Fist).
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Zig-zagged. Buffy is stronger than all the men she dates, not one of them ever beat her in a fight, and are all heavily implied to be weaker fighters than her. However, any man who she's involved with for more than a few episodes is a substantially stronger and better fighter than normal—unnaturally so, whether due to vampirism or to the meddling of evil government scientists. Normal, human men like Owen, Scott, Parker, and Dowling were out of the picture extremely quickly, and Xander never got a chance in the first place. Buffy may be the strongest around, but she also tends to gravitate more towards men who can at least keep up with her in a fight.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: Season six opens with Sunnydale being ravaged by a demon biker gang.
  • All Cavemen Were Neanderthals: The cavemen that the college students are turned into in "Beer Bad" are like this, though in this case it was the result of a punitive magic spell and thus no one was trying for scientific accuracy. In contrast, the First Slayer, as seen in "Restless", was physically like a modern human and could speak. As newer research reveal that Neanderthals could speak and were capable of some more sophisticated customs (like funerals and memorial places), the "cavemen" in this particular episode resemble Homo Erectus more than the Neanderthal stock.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Referenced in a throw-away gag in "Revelations" when Faith is describing her ex-boyfriends: "Ronny: deadbeat; Steve: klepto; Kenny: drummer..."
  • All for Nothing:
    • Season 5 has all the drama of Joyce's brain tumor. Then she dies of an aneurysm after the tumor is removed.
    • A purposeful, tragic example in season 7: a girl named Cassie has prophetic powers and repeatedly predicts that she will die this Friday. Because of this, a cult tries to sacrifice her to a demon, figuring people will just rule her disappearance a suicide. Buffy saves her from the demon, saves her from a booby trap, tells her that people can make their own destinies. Cassie then falls dead from a heart condition that she didn't even know that she had. After giving a veiled prediction that Buffy will stop the Apocalypse.
  • All Just a Dream: In "Normal Again", it is suggested that the entire series is a hallucination of the main character, who is living in a mental institution and has power fantasies of saving the world with her imaginary friends. The episode's end leaves room for interpretation as to which existence (Buffy's life as a vampire slayer, or her life as a mental patient) is really All Just a Dream. Joss Whedon]] has outright stated that either one is a definite possibility.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Parodied. Xander isn't a pervert but is shown to suddenly think about sex at random intervals. Which, thinking about it, strikes oddly close to home.
    • The most prominent example takes place in Season 3's episode, "Earshot", where Buffy gains mind-reading powers.
      Xander: [thinking] What am I gonna do? I think about sex all the time! Sex! Help! 4 times 5 is 30. 5 times 6 is 32. Naked girls. Naked women! Naked Buffy! Oh stop me!
      Buffy: God, Xander! Is that all you think about?
      Xander: Actually... bye.
    • And earlier in the episode:
      Buffy: ...and the boys of this school are seriously disturbed.
    • And Wesley's thoughts, too, centering on Cordelia.
      Wesley: I'm a bad man, I'm a bad bad man. [runs away]
    • In "Innocence", when Xander and Cordelia talk their way into the (rather less than) secure munitions storage on the local army base to steal a rocket launcher (partly by telling the guard he wants to show her weapons to get her excited):
      Coredlia: Does looking at guns really make you want to have sex?
      Xander: I'm 17. Looking at linoleum makes me want to have sex.
    • Spike has his moments of perversion too, especially in season 5. Highlights include breaking into Buffy's house to sniff articles of her clothing, stealing her panties and ordering a Sex Bot made in her image. When Xander finds out about the Sex Bot, he says that it's every guy's dream. Faced by the disapproving looks of the female Scoobies, he says there's too many girls in their group. "I miss Oz. He'd get it. He wouldn't have said anything, but he'd get it."
  • All Myths Are True: Subverted as a Running Gag. Despite living in a world where vampires, werewolves, witches, dragons, demons, and zombies are all real and have been encountered by the main cast at one point or another, everyone agrees completely unanimously that leprechauns aren't real. Unfortunately, Santa is also real, a child-eating demon who comes down chimneys. Double Subversion as of the Season 10 comics; as it turns out, leprechauns do exist.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • Buffy is constantly ridiculed for her strength, even by those students whom she saves. However, at the Prom, she is given a "Class Protector" award by her classmates, recognizing how she always saved them from the strange things that happen in Sunnydale. Willow and Xander are her only friends in school, and everybody seems to consider her a violent and dangerous person with violent and dangerous friends (i.e. the vampires she fights) for most of the time. But by the end of school she's saved enough people for this to become common knowledge, and people realize they misjudged her. Part of it is because Buffy set her last school's gym on fire (it was full of - asbestos).
    • Also Giles, who's shunned by his fellow Watchers and not allowed to attend the retreat in the Cotswolds. This is a Justified Trope: before Giles was as we currently see him, he was part of a group of magic-abusing rebellious youths, who did things like summoning demons and getting high on the possession as a fun, everyday activity.
    • Marcie in "Out of Mind Out of Sight" who was shunned so much she turned invisible.
    • Wishverse "Puppy" Angel is another good example of this. And regular 'verse Angel from time to time as well.
    • Spike began being shunned by at least a portion of the Sunnydale demon community for exercising the fact that he could still kill demons with his chip, which leads to him being outright thrown out of Willy's bar. He is additionally treated this way by the Scoobies for seasons 5-6, being as much the Butt-Monkey as he was a valuable asset, and thus was often the target for snark or insults.
  • All Part of the Show: In "The Puppet Show", the Scoobies fight a demon on the stage of the school talent show, only to have the curtains open just after they finish. Buffy is holding a ventriloquist's dummy. Willow is holding a hatchet. Giles and Xander are standing next to a guillotine with a decapitated demon.
    Principal Snyder: I don't get it. What is it, avant garde?
  • All Periods Are PMS: Referenced when Willow is consoling her boyfriend Oz, who we've just learned is a werewolf.
    For a few days a month, I'm not so fun to be around, either.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: The fourth season featured a psychology teacher who in one episode explicitly referenced Freud and the id. However, given that this was a first-year course, it could be she's simply going through the history of the field; since it occurs in Buffy's dream, it might also be a way of showing that Buffy's not doing too well in the class.
  • All Take and No Give: Spike and Buffy's "relationship" in season 6, with Buffy as Taker and Spike as Giver. They seem caught between the two types - he puts up with truly ridiculous amounts of abuse from her due to obsessive love, yet is constantly trying to drag her into the darkness.
    • Harmony regarded her relationship with Spike to be this, as she put up with him being mean to her and still offered herself as his sexual companion and cohort in his evil plans. He's better to her when they get back together in season 5, but it's mostly because he was using her as a replacement for Buffy.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles:
    • Buffy sees a counselor in "Beauty and the Beasts" who has no idea about vampires and the like, though he turns out to be a pretty good counselor anyway, and figures out what her problem essentially is minus the supernatural elements. Then he gets killed by a Hulk expy.
    • Inverted a bit, however, in season 7, where Buffy herself becomes a counselor at the rebuilt Sunnydale High School. Buffy will sometimes tell when students are having supernatural problems even when the students are muggles.
    • Played with in "Conversations With Dead People", when a newly arisen vampire turns out to have a psychology degree, and he and Buffy have a very long chat. Although, aside from knowing that vampires exist (and only because he is one), he gives no indication of knowing anything else supernatural exists.
  • All Trolls Are Different: We meet a Troll a few times, and he's a fierce, hairy giant man with horns like a water buffalo. He has an...interesting back-story that involves Anya. He owns a Troll God's hammer. The fact that it is a godly weapon is not established until they need it to be, and how Olaf came to own it is never mentioned. At first, from Olaf being over two metres tall, it seems that Buffyverse trolls are very large — but we later find out that Olaf, a magically transformed human, was that size BEFORE he became a troll, and is by far the biggest troll his fellow villagers had ever seen.
  • All Up to You: Several times, when Buffy is out of commission it is up to Xander to save the day, despite having no special powers himself. Including but not limited to bringing Buffy back from the dead. Twice.
    • The most egregious case is probably the episode "The Zeppo", where everybody is so busy preventing the return of the Sealed Evil in a Can, that they overlook the more immediate threat of four zombie jocks (It Makes Sense in Context) planning to blow up the school (incidentally killing the Scoobies and freeing said evil). Guess who's deemed too fragile to deal with the tentacled ancient evil, and ends up taking care of the bomb-making zombies, instead.
  • All Witches Have Cats: Tara suggests she and Willow get a cat. Willow thinks she means a familiar but no, she just wants a pet. And so Miss Kitty Fantastico guest-stars for a few episodes before its unfortunate demise in an off-screen accidental crossbow discharge.
  • All Women Are Lustful: When Xander and Amy botch a love spell and accidentally make every woman in Suddydale in love with Xander, many of them immediately jump to sexual come-ons—including Buffy, Willow and Joyce.
  • All Women Love Shoes:
    • At least Buffy and Cordelia have one thing in common. When Cordelia learns that Buffy has just moved to Sunnydale from L.A. Cordelia says she'd kill to live in L.A. so she could be "that close to that many shoes!"
    • Also Glory, who takes the form of a self-obsessed blonde female. At one point Buffy when goes to kick Glory in the face, Glory grabs her ankle and compliments Buffy on her shoes.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In season 7, Buffy's home becomes a literal base for their Super Hero team, complete with The Mole (The First, impersonating one of the Potentials), multiple sieges and examples of set trashing, until the end of the season, which climaxes with the ultimate Trash the Set.
    • This is also what Adam did to The Initiative in season 4.
    • Played with using the Watchers' Council—-their headquarters are attacked right as Quentin Travers is announcing their plans to go to Sunnydale and help Buffy fight the First.
    • For the first three seasons, the school library was where they always went to research, train, and plan for the upcoming confrontation with evil. Being (1) public space, and (2) the location of the Hellmouth, bad guys came there looking for a fight pretty frequently.
      • Got one of the more low-key, if still very creepy, uses of this trope in the third season finale. The Main Characters are all gathered in the library, discussing how they should bring down the Mayor, when, Speak of the Devil, he comes in through the front door, not to attack them or interrupt their plans in anyway, just to see how they're doing and deliver a few threats while he's in the neighborhood.
    • Buffy's house got trashed by attackers so many times that Joyce took to buying the absolute cheapest furniture available. She successfully covered this up until well after her death the Scoobies realized the coffee table was made of balsawood.
  • All Your Powers Combined: In the almost-finale of "Primeval", the rest of the Scooby Gang uses magics to combine their spirits and with them their talents within Buffy.
  • Almost Kiss:
    • In "When She Was Bad", Willow and Xander share a sweet and believable exchange, before a sexually tense Almost Kiss. It's interrupted when they are attacked by a vampire.
    • Averted when Mr. Giles and Ms. Calendar have a sweet romantic talk right before class. They're about to kiss, only to be interrupted by the school bell — but they don't let that stop them.
    • At the beginning of "Hush" Buffy and Riley are about to kiss when a nervous Buffy does a Moment Killer by babbling about something inconsequential. Fortunately the Gentlemen steal the voices of e everyone in Sunnydale, so the two communicate the only way they can.
  • Alternate Identity Amnesia:
    • At the end of "The Pack", where several students are possessed by hyenas, Xander says he doesn't remember what happened during that time. Giles privately confronts him, saying none of the other students displayed amnesia, and Xander admits he just doesn't want to talk (or think) about it.
    • Werewolves start out with a classic case of this trope, not remembering anything of what they did during the full moon, but as the time they have been cursed lengthens they will start to remember bits and pieces.
  • Alternate Personality Punishment: When Angelus is cursed by gypsies, he is given a soul, creating the alternate personality Angel. Angel is then punished with the guilt for all his evil alter ego has done.
  • Alternate Reality Episode:
    • Played terrifyingly in "The Wish". Cordelia, bitter over her failed relationship with Xander, makes an idle wish that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, believing that her popular status would still be intact if she had never gotten involved in the Scoobies' affairs; unfortunately, she speaks in front of a disguised vengeance demon who grants her wish to the letter. Cordelia is tossed into a crapsack alternate universe where the Sunnydale population is a tenth of what it was, due to unchecked vampire attacks, due in turn to the Master having ascended a year and a half before without Buffy there to stop him. Cordelia is killed by evil vampire versions of Willow and Xander, Giles and Oz are trapped in thankless work as desperately outnumbered vigilantes attempting to do what they can to restore some semblance of safety to the community, Angel is kept in a cage with the Master's minions allowed to torture him for fun, and Buffy eventually makes an appearance as a hardened, pitiless rogue Slayer who has gone off the deep end without her friends' humanizing influence. The episode ends with a vicious Final Battle in which the entire main cast kills each other; Giles' last-minute actions save the day and propel everyone back into their proper reality, but it's still incredibly frightening.
    • "Dopplegangland" was a play on this trope. Vampire!Willow from the alternate reality of The Wish accidentally finds her way to the real world, setting some serious foreshadowing for further seasons.
    • Played with in "Tabula Rasa", where Willow casts a spell intended to remove Tara's memory of breaking up with her but instead blanks out everyone's memories including her own. They're in the same universe but because they're all starting from a blank slate they reach some very different conclusions about themselves. Giles and Anya think they're married, Spike thinks he's a vampire with a soul (usually Angel's role) and Buffy finds being a Slayer cool.
    • "Normal Again" had Buffy, under the effects of a demon's venom, flashing between the normal Buffyverse, and an alternate universe where she had spent the last seven years catatonic in an insane asylum in Los Angeles, where they have been trying to treat her for her insane delusions about fighting vampires. The episode makes no attempt whatsoever to clarify which, if either, of Buffy's perceived realities are the real thing.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: In "Superstar", Jonathan was suddenly propelled to the show's main hero, even dominating the opening credits sequence.
    • According to Xander, Jonathan is a polymath scientist/athlete/singer/military commander who was responsible for killing the show's Big Bad, had the lead role in The Matrix, and led an Olympic sports team to victory. The episode is plastered with Jonathan-related merch (with Giles secretly owning the swimsuit calender).
  • Alternate Universe: Plenty of em, five mentioned or seen: The Wishverse, The Universe of the Trolls, The Universe of Perpetual Wednesday, The One with No Shrimp and the One That Is All Shrimp.
    • YMMV on whether or not the Normalverse (from 6x17 "Normal Again") was an alternate universe or a hallucination.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: A scene occurs at least once per season in which some minor vampiric menace (who is convinced he's the Monster of the Week, or even Big Bad) shows up to kill Buffy just in time to get eaten by the true Monster of the Week.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Vampires and (initially) demons. As the show went on, we met demons who were fully naturalized and driving station wagons.
  • Always Murder: Most deaths have supernatural causes. This is averted in "The Body" where Buffy's mother dies from natural causes. Xander suspected Glory was behind it, but this was disregarded because if Glory was behind it she would have made sure they knew it.
  • Always Need What You Gave Up: Buffy is nearly given another dose of the demon power that made the first Slayer, but breaks free of her chains and beats up the guys who want to give it to her, on the grounds that it supposedly would make her less human. The strength upgrade would have come in real handy against the uber-vamps and Caleb.
  • Always Night: "Nightmares" has a cemetery suddenly appearing near Sunnydale High. It is night there, even if it is day everywhere else.
  • Always Save the Girl: Buffy is willing to let the entire world die in torment to save Dawn. Notably, Dawn thinks this is crazy, and insists that Buffy let her die. She takes a third option. It doesn't fit on the surface, but Word of God says that Dawn was intended to fill the dramatic role of Love Interest from Season 5 on out.
  • Am I Just a Toy to You?:
    • In "Hush", Anya complains that Xander doesn't have any strong feelings for her and believes the only thing he cares about is "lots of orgasms." She's proven wrong when Xander assaults Spike, believing him to be attacking her and drinking her blood.
    • Spike also accuses Buffy of this once they start sleeping together. While she admits to having feelings for him on some level, the combination of her self-loathing, depression and their Moral Dissonance due to his soulless nature makes it impossible for her to truly love and accept him. Meaning, for the most part, he's entirely correct.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents:
    • "Nightmares", where everyone's worst nightmares were coming true had a typical tough-guy/juvenile delinquent student visited by his babying, over demonstrative mother in front of his friends.
    • Buffy's mum slept with Giles in "Band Candy". On the hood of a police car. Twice.
  • Ambiguous Disorder:
    • Anya — at first viewers are led to believe her complete lack of social skills is a result of having been a demon for centuries, but eventually it's revealed that she acted exactly the same before she became a demon.
    • Andrew also shows a fair degree of social ineptness, sometimes flat affect, and a fascination with certain topics that leads him to recite in detail at times.
    • Spike managed to improve his social skills over the course of a century, but he has a mixed bag of vaguely bipolar, obsessive, borderline and schizoid tendencies which come and go with the story. Whenever he's bored, he'll do something ridiculously suicidal just for the hell of it, he stalked Buffy for over a year, and once had a full-blown psychotic episode.
  • Ambiguous Situation: "Normal Again" follows the Cuckoo Nest trope: Buffy is injected with a poison that makes her hallucinate... Or is it the other way around? According to a psychiatrist, who may or may not be a real person, she is in fact getting better: She has been sick all along, and now she's finally waking up from years of catatonic schizophrenia. So, the whole series is either This Is Reality or a mad All Just a Dream with a dash of The Schizophrenia Conspiracy. In the end, Buffy chooses her life in Sunnydale over her life in the mental institution, but the ending leaves it ambiguous whether or not the world she settled for is the real one.
  • Ambiguously Bi:
    • Faith routinely has sex with guys—though, if her treatment of Xander is any indication, she never has any emotional or romantic feelings for them—but also has huge Foe Yay with Buffy, and occasionally Willow. Her having a crush on Buffy is seemingly confirmed by the First as the Mayor in season 7, and Eliza Dushku said that she always thought that Faith definitely had something for Buffy. In season 8 Faith herself denies this, but it isn't like this would be the first time Faith has lied about something personal, and the very same arc included some heavy-handed lesbian innuendo between Faith and Gigi.
    • Buffy was definitely in love with Angel and Riley (and Spike, in the comics), but her legendary Les Yay with Faith was hardly one-sided, her and Willow have all the signs of a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship, and season 5 kept drawing parallels between her and Dawn and Willow and Tara. In season 9, she thinks she slept with Willow after a night of partying, but didn't. This ambiguity is likely due to the Buffyverse having No Bisexuals.
    • In the first three seasons this was the case for both Willow and Xander, having explicit crushes and relationships with men and women respectively, but also creating lots of subtext and various (intentional and unintentional) homoerotic comments. Then Willow came out as a supposed lesbian and they both...became even more ambiguous (especially when Spike was involved, in Xander's case.
    • The group of Darla, Angelus, Drusilla, and Spike were implied to be in a sort-of poly relationship on top of the usual Darla/Angelus and Drusilla/Spike couples, and are shown to be very affectionate (in their own way) with each other and plenty of others regardless of gender. Vampires in general are implied to be bisexual by nature, but these four were the only ones that got more than a comment or two towards it. There's also a one-off gag where Spike outright admits he and Angelus had slept together once.
  • Amnesiac Costume Identity: In "Tabula Rasa", Spike wakes up with amnesia in a stolen suit coat with a note addressed to "Randy" in the pocket. Being Spike, he immediately complains about the vulgarity of said name in British slang, but it sticks.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: To some extent the Watcher's Council, although they hover between this trope and Ancient Tradition. The organization is decended from a trio of prehistoric African shamans who created the first slayer by infusing a teenage girl with demon strength. Their initial purpose was to guide and protect the slayer, to make sure that she had at least some human allies even if she was ostracized from the rest of her community, and to ensure that she had the knowledge and training necessary to fight demons effectively. However, by the time they make their first appearance, they're an arrogant Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering that don't do much more than cling to the slayer as a reason for existing and hinder her work with their archaic rules and Lawful Stupid behavior.
  • Ancient Grome: The series has Greek Gods, Roman Gods, Egyptian Gods and a few more. The only god that isn't included is the Christian/Jewish/Islamic God due to Joss not liking him. This trope could be justified, seeing as all these various gods seem to exist.
  • And Here He Comes Now: Happens multiple times about various characters, usually when one is having problems, though sometimes the other characters don't take the hint.
  • And I Must Scream: The fate of Amy's mother. There was a continuity nod to this at the start of "Phases" when Oz notices that the cheerleading trophy's eyes seem to follow him around.
    • Possibly subverted in season 3 finale.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: One aspiring heir to the Master chatters on that when he kills Buffy, it'll be the greatest event since the Crucifixion. "And I should know. I was there." Behind him, Spike's voice cuts in:
    Spike: Oh please! If every vampire who said he was at the Crucifixion was actually there, it would've been like Woodstock.
    • In his first scene, Willy demurs that he's staying away from that whole vampire scene and "living right." ("What's My Line, Pt.1")
      Angel: Sure you are, Willy. And I'm taking up sunbathing.
    • Willow trying to masquerade as her vampire counterpart. Anya smells a rat. "If she's a vampire, then I'm the Creature from the Black Lagoon."
  • And Starring:
    • For Seasons 1-5, Anthony Stewart Head was last in the opening credits, with an " Giles", because he was by far the most accomplished and famous actor in the series at that point. In the last 2 seasons, he was dropped from the main cast but would still get a "Special Guest Star..." (post opening). Alyson Hannigan, whose career had recently taken off thanks to the American Pie movies, would be moved to the end with "and ... as Willow", replacing Head.
    • James Marsters, despite never officially receiving the "With" tag, is noticeably kept in the penultimate position in the credits order throughout his entire run as a main cast member, even though Marc Blucas, Emma Caulfield, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Amber Benson were all eventually added to the intro after he was.
  • Anger Born of Worry: In "Passion", Buffy gets a moment of this after saving Giles when his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Angelus goes wrong. She straight-up decks him in the face and chews him out for doing something so stupid... then collapses and hugs him in tears.
    Giles: Why did you come here?! This wasn't your fight!
    [Buffy punches him in the face, knocking him down]
    Buffy: Are you trying to get yourself killed?! [tears up, collapses, and hugs him] You can't leave me... I can't do this alone...
  • Anger Montage: In "Blood Ties", Dawn destroys her room (and burns her diaries) after she learns that she is the Key. On Buffy's birthday.
  • Angst Coma: Buffy spends most of "The Weight of the World" catatonic over her failure to protect Dawn. Willow performs a Journey to the Center of the Mind to snap her out of it.
  • Angst Nuke: This is one of the signs of the Hellmouth regaining power in the last season. It acts as a Literal Genie to the kids in the high school built on top of it, so one of them says they're so stressed they think they might explode, one can imagine what happens shortly after...
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Spike is on the point of blurting this out in the Season 5 episode "Crush", when a shocked and disgusted Buffy stops him, well aware of what he's about to say despite being clueless as to his odd behaviour up to then—Dawn had tipped Buffy off earlier that Spike was smitten, but Buffy refused to believe it. Buffy violently denies that Spike feels true love—or that she has romantic feelings in return until "Chosen" when she tells Spike as he's making a Heroic Sacrifice that she loves him too (this is the first time she's told any boyfriend she loved them since her disastrous affair with Angel). In a subversion of the trope Spike replies, "No you don't, but it was nice of you to say so."
  • Animal Stereotypes: Witch Amy turn herself into a rat and remain that way for about three years. When she becomes human again in Season 6, she has a craving for cheese. In Season 8, which takes place a few years later, she still has a constant craving for cheese.
  • Ankle Drag: One of the Hellmouth's tentacles slithers up Willow's ankle. ("Prophecy Girl")
    • Buffy, wracked with guilt over her role in the death of Deputy Mayor Finch, has a nightmare of his corpse dragging her underwater. ("Consequences")
  • Animated Adaptation: Attempted after Season 5 but didn't get going. You can see What Could Have Been here.
  • Annoying Arrows:
    • In "Graduation Day Part 1" Angel gets an arrow through the chest, and Giles is seen cutting off the feathered shaft before Buffy pulls it out of his chest. Painful as it is, Angel isn't bothered at first thanks to his Healing Factor — unfortunately the arrow was poisoned.
    • In "Pangs", Buffy gets an arrow through her arm, and Spike gets turned into an arrow pin-cushion (fortunately none of them hit his heart). Justified for Spike, since he's a vampire and wounds like that are non-fatal as long as they don't hit his heart. In the same episode there is an amusing crossbow error, as Buffy shoots a bolt at the Native American ghost outside the window, who just casually bends aside as the bolt sails veeery slowly out into the night.
    • In "Ted", Giles is shot with a crossbow bolt at point blank range and proceeds to pull it out, stake a vampire with it, and limp to the hospital.
      Giles: No, no, really, I, uh, I don't think it went in too deep. The advantages of layers of tweed. Better than kevlar.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling:
    • Buffy thinks of Dawn as a burden to be endured quite often, and not only because of the usual younger sister nonsense.
    • Anya's relationship with Willow is meant to be like this; despite being thousands of years older than Willow, she's more naive and immature, which Willow is frequently annoyed by.
  • Another Dimension:
    • In "Anne", a demon continuously captured teens to use as slaves, working them until they're in their old age, then finally dumping them crazed and confused back into our world—all of which happened in a matter of a day or two, Earth-time.
    • Glory's world, an H. R. Giger type dimension which we see bits of in "The Gift".
    • "The Wish" introduces an alternate continuity timeline caused by Anyanka, which was supposedly destroyed when her demonic power source was destroyed. But it gets confusing because this alternate timeline is actually ALSO an alternate dimension, since "Doppelgangland" has AU!Willow being pulled from that universe into the primary universe. Just to make it vaguer, the time she gets pulled from is during the events of "The Wish"; whether the world continues beyond the point where that episode ends is unknown.
  • Answer Cut: In "Earshot", Buffy is bedridden due to being unable to control her temporary telepathy. The only cure is the heart of a certain demon. Giles wonders who will kill the demon, since Buffy herself is out of commission. Cut to Angel beating the crap out of the demon.
    • Parodied in a later episode, where Giles asks Buffy how she plans to fight the incorporeal manifestation of evil itself. Buffy responds that she has "the best plan ever". Cut to her googling the word "evil."
    • In "The Harsh Light Of Day", Buffy wonders about Harmony's so-called vampire boyfriend, noting that he must be the most tolerant guy ever to put up with an undead Harmony. Cut to Harmony returning to her vampire lair and greeting her boyfriend, who removes his welding mask to reveal that he's Spike.
  • Answers to the Name of God: In "Fear Itself", Xander came dressed as James Bond for Halloween, just in case they get turned into their costumes like they were in a previous Halloween episode. Willow dressed up as Joan of Arc, because of their similarities, like the time she was almost burned at the stake for being a witch, or her close relationship with God. Her boyfriend, Oz, reveals his costume as a simple name tag sticker: "Hello. My name is God".
    Xander: Why didn't I think of that? I coulda been God!
    Oz: Blasphemer.
    • Later, after having to listen to annoying "spooky" sound effects in a haunted house, the noises finally stop:
    Buffy: Thank God!
    Oz: (holding power lead) You're welcome.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The First is the very idea of evil itself. It seemingly has some aspect of being a personification of death, as well, seeing as it can take the appearance of anyone who has ever died (and in fact has no actual appearance of its own). This includes anyone who's died and then been brought back to life, and thus one of The First's common guises is Buffy herself (who's been revived twice, once through simple CPR after her heart stopped and once via magic).
  • Anti-Climax:
    • The show has a big one in its season 4 episode "Fear Itself". At one point in the episode, a fear demon is accidentally summoned ... but it turns out the demon is barely the size of a hand and poses no threat at all.
    • There is lots of build-up over the enigmatic Anointed One, Collin, his mysterious powers and his role in Buffy's battle with the Master. In the end, it basically boiled down to Collin escorting her to him. While he was supposed to take a more active role in season two as the Dragon Ascendant, the child actor was starting to hit puberty which wouldn't work for a character who couldn't age in-universe so he was killed shortly afterward.
    • Played With in the Season 5 premiere "Buffy vs. Dracula". Though Dracula demonstrates powers no other vampire in the series has, he's still treated like a bad joke by Spike, and easily defeated.
  • Anti Climax Cut:
    • "Witch":
      Giles: I make allowances for your youth, but I expect a certain amount of responsibility, and instead of which you enslave yourself to this, this... cult?
      [reveal: Buffy in cheerleader uniform]
      Buffy: You don't like the colors?
    • "Lessons":
      Buffy: Vampires, demons... they're nothing compared to what's coming.
      Dawn: I know. I just can't believe it's back.
      Buffy: Believe me, I thought I was long past it. I guess you never are. Just a few more days til it starts, and then we'll never know what's coming next.
      [cut to the opening ceremony at the new Sunnydale High School]
    • Giles refuses to let Buffy go on a date because the Anointed One is supposed to rise.
      Giles: Tonight, you go into battle!
      [cut to Buffy and Giles in the graveyard, bored out of their minds]
    • "Nightmares": Dreams are becoming reality, and Giles says they've got to stop it quickly "or else everyone in Sunnydale is going to be facing their own worst nightmares." Cut to Cordelia shrieking over an inexplicable onset of Messy Hair.
    • "Lover's Walk": Buffy is talking to her mother on the phone when she hears vampire Spike speaking on the other end. Buffy rushes out without replacing the phone; cut to Buffy's mother pouring hot cocoa for Spike and providing a sympathetic ear while he moans on about being ditched by his girlfriend.
    • "Doomed": While staying in Xander’s basement, Spike dramatically tells him, “Don’t look at me.” Xander turns around and looks at him in horror, the music crescendoes—cut to Spike wearing a Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts after having shrunk his clothes in the wash when Xander forced him to do his own laundry.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Spike was a Nominal Hero but stubbornly plowed his way up to Unscrupulous. His anti-heroic traits were especially evident after he gets wired by the Initiative and before he gets a soul.
    • Faith runs the entire Anti-Hero spectrum.
    • Giles (known as "Ripper" in his youth), who says outright that he is not a hero, unlike Buffy (right before he smothers Ben to prevent Glory from ever returning).
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: When one Slayer dies another girl is called forward to take her place. Well Buffy did die and despite being revived is replaced by Kendra, a Knight Templar whose sole focus is on hunting and killing vampires regardless of who they are. When she died she was replaced by Faith, very much an Anti-Hero before, during and after her Face–Heel Turn. Not a typical example, since Buffy was only dead for a few minutes at most; so she continued being the main character and maintained the role as the main slayer. With Faith as the "active" slayer, if she died, a new slayer would have taken her place, but Buffy's later (temporary) death did not have any effect.
    • Wishverse Buffy was Pragmatic.
  • Anti-Magic:
    • Adam unaffected by reality-altering spells. The universe itself may change, but he won't. The exact mechanics of this aren't really explained beyond Adam commenting that he is "more aware of himself" than any other being.
    • Vampires are immune to telepathy, but oddly not empaths.
  • Anti-Magical Faction:
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Mayor Wilkins. Whilst unquestionably evil (his ultimate aim seems to be to grow into a big demon and eat a few dozen teenagers), he has a genuinely fatherly love for Faith. So much so that, even when she's on the other side of the Heel Face Revolving Door, he's still the person she remembers with the most fondness, judging by her interaction with the First.
    • Before becoming an Anti-Hero, Spike was this for his single appearance in Season 3. He was just too heartbroken to go all-out with the evil.
    • The General is in between Type III and Type IV.
  • Anxiety Dreams:
    • In "Nightmares", everyone's dreams start to come true. Most are "classic" anxiety dreams such as being in class in one's underpants (Xander), having to sing in public (Willow), losing the ability to read (Giles), and having to sit a test for which she had not taken the class or studied (Buffy).
    • In "Restless" Willow dreams that she's turned up for a play (with everyone she's ever known in the audience, including the cast) without having learnt the lines, then she has to deliver a talk in her Season One nerd persona before a classroom full of her jeering friends. Xander's dream involves him going to the toilet, only to find the entire Initiative is watching him and taking notes.
    • A more subtle version is in "Hush" when Buffy has an Erotic Dream of kissing Love Interest Riley Finn — except it's taking place in front of an entire class, showing her nervousness about trying to get his First Kiss.
    • Spoofed in "The Zeppo":
    Buffy: Do you remember the demon that almost got out the night I died?
    Willow: Every nightmare I have that doesn't revolve around academic failure or public nudity is about that thing. In fact, once I dreamt that it attacked me while I was late for a test and naked.
  • Anything That Moves: Faith recounts three ex-boyfriends before having a one-night stand with Xander; then, she tries to hook up with Angel, there's a lot of Les Yay subtext with Buffy, she sleeps with Riley (while in Buffy's body), flirts with Spike, and does the deed with Wood. For those counting at home that's at least three guys Faith bagged during her twenty appearances on the show, compared to four for Buffy during the whole series.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips:
    • In "The Body" Xander kisses Willow on the forehead. It makes sense, given that Willow and Xander are close friends, the kiss is one of comfort, and their significant others are both present. Ironically, Willow and Tara had just shared their first onscreen (lesbian) kiss a few minutes earlier.
    • Faith kissed Buffy on the forehead during one of their fights in Season Three. Originally, it was going to be a kiss on the lips.
    • Willow is working herself up to ask ex-girlfriend Tara out for coffee and lesbian love when she sees her greet-and-kiss another girl. From her viewpoint it's difficult to see how intimate the kiss was, but she runs off anyway. Willow tries to tell herself she overreacted ("I kiss my friends all the time.") Tara later informs Willow they were in fact Just Friends.
    • Angelus kisses Spike on the forehead in "Innocence". As with all displays of 'affection' between the two rival vampires, it's part Ho Yay, part "Take That!" Kiss.
    • Riley gives Buffy a good luck kiss on her forehead. Buffy says she needs more luck than that, so he smooches her on the lips as well.
    • Notably averted in "Intervention". Buffy gives Spike a kiss out of gratitude for his being willing to be tortured to death rather than surrender Buffy's little sister. Despite not wanting to give any encouragement to Spike's repeated advances, Buffy kisses him on the mouth instead of the cheek. This is Spike's first indication that their attraction might be mutual.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: In season 4, after being implanted with a chip that shocks him whenever he attempts to attack humans, Spike (a vampire) becomes gleeful when he discovers that he still has the capacity to harm other demons and vampires. He's then ostracized by those who show contempt for anyone willing to kill "their kind."
    • Although given all the demon-on-demon violence we see throughout the series, and even more mentioned in backstories, it appears that the real problem Sunnydale's demon community has with Spike is that he keeps helping the Slayer.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: For all that it treated apocalypse as routine, the show didn't often show the effect on the general public because the public almost never knew. Only thrice did they show how the public would respond to a world-ending threat.
    • "Graduation Day Part 2": the students of Sunnydale High band together to take on an attack of vampires and snake. Averted.
    • "Hush": The Gentlemen steal everyone's voices. Everyone freaks out, gets drunk, goes to church, resorts to violence in the streets.
    • "Chosen". Everyone knows the end is entirely nigh, and they all leave town. With a minimum of violence, even.
  • Apocalypse How: Generally Once a Season, sometimes more. Buffy's tombstone rightly reads "She saved the world a lot." An incomplete list of episodes where the world almost ended:
    • Prophecy Girl, where the Master was nearly freed to rule the world.
    • Becoming, where Buffy has to kill Angel to seal away the hell on the other side.
    • The Zeppo, where it's a Funny Background Event to Xander's story.
    • Graduation Day, where a super-demon is unleashed, and must be killed.
    • Doomed, where Buffy is now so accustomed to expecting the end of the world that she believes a simple earthquake in California is an omen. She's right.
    • Primeval, where the Scoobies stop Adam from constructing an army of darkness (and cyborgs)
    • The Gift, where a hellgoddess tries to unleash Hell on Earth (as a side effect of her simply wanting to go home).
    • Grave, where Xander has to talk Willow down from the precipice to save the world
    • Chosen, in which the attempted apocalypse actually ends with the destruction of Sunnydale.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Vampires and demons prefer to use either their teeth and claws or edged weapons rather than firearms, as do Vampire Slayers and other demon fighters. There are notable exceptions, more so in the Angel spin-off which is set in Los Angeles with vampires etc acting as part of (and therefore influenced by) the criminal subculture. The trope is lampshaded in "Bad Girls" when the modern-thinking vampire Mr. Trick remonstrates an opponent who comes at him with a sword.
    "Why do they always gotta be using swords? It's called an Uzi, ya chump! Could have saved your ass right about now."
    • For the slayers there is a justification: guns don't kill vampires (or demons) and the gunshot can attract innocent bystanders. Darla however makes a point of shooting Angel because although it won't kill him getting shot will still put him out the fight, which makes one wonder why demons hunters don't shoot vampires and stake them while they're down. Fortunately explosives can still bring down even the biggest monster and The Scoobies use this fact from time to time.
    • The reverse is also true; when a human villain shoots Buffy, he boasts about it in a demon bar afterward. The demons just laugh at him, pointing out that Slayers are notoriously difficult to kill, heal very fast, and get really pissed when they get better.
  • Arc Villain: Trope Codifier for live action television. The Master was this in Season 1; Spike/Drusilla/Angelus was for Season 2; The Mayor for season 3; Adam for Season 4; Glory for Season 5; The Trio for Season 6; and The First Evil was for season 7.
  • Artifact Domination: The Brooks Family's letterman jacket, passed down through generations as a family heirloom. The jacket carried a love spell that made Buffy, Dawn, Willow, and Anya fall in love with its current owner, R.J. Brooks. As a result, Dawn pushed R.J.'s rival down a flight of stairs and tried to kill herself on a railroad track to show how much she loved him even if she couldn't compete with the older women; Buffy tried to kill Principal Wood due to R.J.'s issues with him; Willow tried to transform R.J. into a woman to make him fit her sexual preference; and Anya robbed a bank.
  • Art Shift: A unique case. The series was aired in 4x3 full screen, like most TV shows of the day. However, when the Season 4 boxset came out in the UK in 2002, it was revealed that it, and Seasons 5-7 was actually filmed in 16x9 widescreen. Though HDTV's were in their infancy, Joss insisted the US releases of Seasons 4-7 be 4x3. Eventually, when reruns aired on a now defunct cable channel called Pivot in 2015, it was discovered that, through pitiful attempts to update the special effects, that the entire series was in fact filmed in widescreen. As of 2018, the widescreen prints of Seasons 4-7 are available for viewing on Hulu, Seasons 1-3 remaining in 4x3.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: In the pilot, Joyce asks if Buffy's going out to a nightclub.
    Joyce: Will there be boys there?
    Buffy: No, Mom. It's a nun club.
    • In "The Harvest", Harmony asks Cordelia if they're going to the Bronze tonight. "No," Cordy snorts, "we're going to the other cool place in Sunnydale." Harmony seems to struggle with that conundrum.
    • In "When She Was Bad", Xander's announcing that Cibo Matto will be gracing their presence at the Bronze. Willow asks if they're playing.
    Xander: No, Will, they're going to be clog dancing.
    Willow: (amazed) Cibo Matto can clog dance?! (beat) ...oh, sarcasm, right.
    • Buffy defusing a school shooting actually a suicide in "Earshot":
      Jonathan: You think I just want attention?
      Buffy: No, I think you're up in the clock tower with a high-powered rifle because you wanna blend in.
    • In "The Wish", Cordelia, oblivious to the fact that Xander's a vampire in this reality, tells him that they need to find Buffy pronto.
      Wishverse Xander: (warily) ...Buffy. The Slayer?
      Cordelia: No! Buffy the dog-faced girl!
    • Wishverse Buffy and Angel are present at the factory's unveiling, observing from the back. Angel asks, "What's the plan?" Without looking at him, Buffy holds up a stake and says, "Don't fall on this."
  • Artifact Title: Despite being called a "vampire slayer", it would be more technical to call Buffy a monster slayer as she deals with various other monsters in the series.
  • The Atoner: They're everywhere. A given for Fully-Embraced Fiends -turned-Friendly Neighbourhood Vampires Angel and Spike, but beyond them there's more. Giles, who'd once been involved in a demon cult in his late teens/early 20's. Faith, who joined the dark side when she became The Dragon to The Mayor. Willow, who'd lost herself to dark magic and brutally murdered Warren in revenge for Tara's murder. And Andrew, who was a Sycophantic Servant to Warren, and had a large hand in the amount of evil he managed to pull off. Amazingly, only two of them end up suffering Redemption Equals Death. Spike and Giles. And they both got better.
  • Ax-Crazy: Drusilla, Faith, Caleb, Warren Mears.
  • Baby-Doll Baby: Crazy Drusilla spends much of her time mothering dolls, particularly "Miss Edith". She even punishes them for perceived bad behavior. (E.g. excluding them from playing with the rest or denying them meals.)
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Willy's. It may be run by a human, but it serves blood, alongside the usual menu of alcohol, and caters to a largely vampiric/demonic customer base.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool:
    • The billard table at The Bronze is usually an indicator that someone's up to no good. Xander is angrily playing a game by himself when Faith approaches him with a plan to dust Angel. ("Revelations")
    • Percy, the basketball jock who exploits Willow to pass his tests, is cockily shooting pool when Vampire Willow (from the Wishverse) strolls in. ("Doppelgangland")
    • In "Fool for Love", Spike shoots pool while relating his past to Buffy.
    • The Wishverse Bronze also has a pool table, but a hapless human victim is strapped to it.
  • Baddie Flattery: In her nightmare encounter with the Master, he comments that Buffy is prettier than the last Slayer. He compliments her aim in "Prophecy Girl", after casually catching her crossbow bolt.
    • The Mayor concurs with that assessment. ("Choices") "She's pretty, Angel! A little skinny."
    • Friend-turned-enemy Billy Fordham sadly tells Buffy he's missed her, which is tantamount to admitting that her analysis of him (that he's a scared kid hiding behind delusions of villainy) is spot-on. ("Lie to Me")
    • Spike considered Nikki Wood pretty attractive, and his flashbacks in "Lies My Parents Told Me" show that he made that clear to her too.
  • Banishing Ritual: There was one with a demon in the was trapped in a book until Willow scanned it. Jenny Calendar and Giles had to combine their skills to do a virtual binding ritual. It never returned to the book but got smashed in the robot body it had humans build.
  • Bar Full of Aliens: Willy's place is a demon bar, the owner Willy himself is human but his clientele is exclusively demonic (vampires, demons and the like).
  • Basement-Dweller:
    • Xander, who does not enroll in college during the fourth season and lives in his parents' basement, where he pays rent. He gets his own place in season five. By season seven, everyone seems to be living in the Summers household, but that's for mutual protection.
    • Also the Trio of season six, whose evil headquarters is Warren's parents' basement. ("Why can't we have a lair with a view?")
    • Spike in parts of Season 4 and 7. ("I'm chained in a bathtub, drinking pig's blood from a novelty mug!")
  • Batman Cold Open: Occasionally doubles as a Couch Gag; for instance, "Halloween" starts with Buffy fighting a vampire in a pumpkin patch.
  • Batter Up!: A popular weapon amongst the Scoobies. Anya doesn't know how to hold one properly.
    • The demon in "Nightmares" is a lumbering figure with a club for a hand. The club is representative of a baseball bat, and the monster itself is a manifestation of an abusive baseball coach.
    • In "Dead Man's Party", Joyce attacks a zombie with a baseball bat that happened to be nearby.
    • As punishment for murdering Ms. Calendar, Giles pays a visit to Angelus and greets him with a kerosene-soaked flaming bat to the head.
      Angelus: Jeez, whatever happened to wooden stakes?
    • For attempting to strangle Xander in her bed, Faith is treated to a baseball bat to the teeth (courtesy of Johnny-on-the-spot Angel)
  • Battle Couple: All of Buffy's boyfriends, except Scott Hope.
    • Buffy and Angel, who spent a lot of time fighting evil together and were nearly unstoppable. He left after season 3, but they got to fight one last battle together in the series finale.
    • Buffy and Riley, until he lost his heightened abilities when he stopped taking The Initiative's drugs. Unfortunately this was one of the factors leading to their break-up, as Riley's lack of superpowers meant he couldn't keep up with Buffy in a fight. Riley returns for "As You Were" in Season 6 where he's married to a Badass Normal Action Girl, forming a new Battle Couple.
    • Buffy and Spike form an instinctive fighting team from the moment they reluctantly team up to fight Angelus at the end of Season 2. It's a sign they're Not So Different and foreshadows their eventual pair-up in Season 6. It's taken even further in their proper relationship in the comics, in which they often ended up Flirting Under Fire.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Happens with some vampires, who either unleashed and emphasized repressed parts of their personalities or went mad.
    • Drusilla was sweet, religious and "pure" before Angelus set his sights on and turned her. After turning, she became cruel, unhinged and Too Kinky to Torture.
    • William Pratt was a shy, socially awkward and mild-mannered victorian poet. Upon turning, he became Spike; a brash, endlessly confident Blood Knight with a rockstar flair for the dramatic.
    • Jesse was an awkward dork who couldn't get a date for his life. Upon turning, however, he became confident and cool, managing to catch the attention of Alpha Bitch Cordelia who'd previously turned him down flat.
    • Xander is a Deadpan Snarker Loser Protagonist, always cracking jokes and providing comic relief. Wishverse!Xander was a stoic bad boy with a cool demeanour.
    • Willow is generally sweet, empathetic and shy (particularly in earlier seasons). Wishverse!Willow was sadistic, sultry and utterly Chaotic Evil.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Happens frequently, as you might expect from living on a Hellmouth. Here are just a few examples.
    • Xander stepping up to the plate and taking his best shot with Buffy. "I want to dance with you". He gets his wish in the very next episode, when a shell-shocked Buffy bumps and grinds against him to enrage Willow and Angel.
    • The M.O. of vengeance demons.
    • Quoted by Halloween costume fashionista Ethan Rayne. "Don't wish to blow my own trumpet, but it's genius. The very embodiment of 'be careful what you wish for'."
    • Buffy has a love-hate relationship with her job. She complains about being a Slayer, but is reluctant to give up her duties when Kendra and Faith threaten to edge her out of the gang.
    • "Helpless" depicts what would happen if Buffy were truly a normal girl stuck in a house with vampires.
    • Conversely, "The Wish" shows what would happen if Buffy never came to Sunnydale at all.
    • Ken's Hannibal Lecture in "Anne". He ridiculing her for running away from Sunnydale and her old identity — trying to disappear. "Congratulations. You got your wish."
    • The Trio in Season 6 wanted to be taken seriously as super villains. Willow completely flayed Warren, leading Jonathan and Andrew to flee the country to escape her wrath.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me:
    • Faith and Gwendolyn Post, Faith and the Mayor, and Faith and Angel. (Faith loves this trope.)
    • Spike brings flowers and a card after Joyce's death, and explains to Xander—who'd been accusing him of trying to use the death to get close to Buffy—she'd been the only one out of any of them to treat him decently. Xander and Willow remain skeptical until he storms away and they realize he'd left no name on the card, meaning the gift was meant to be anonymous.
    • Also the reason Spike remained with the Scooby gang after resolving that Buffy would never love him.
      Spike: "I know you'll never love me ... I know that I'm a monster. But you treat like a man."
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Caligula and Jack the Ripper were the same vampire, and Anya was partially responsible for the Russian Revolution.
    • Billy Idol stole his look from Spike.
    • Martha Stewart is a witch.
  • Best of All Possible Worlds: The Alternate Universe where Willow and Xander were vampires and its Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies at the end would qualify.
    • Though given the point of the episode wasn't so much that the world they had was good as that Buffy had done a lot less harm than good over the course of the series, the bar is set low enough to be highly reasonable.
    • Anyanka invokes this — or possibly its inverse — in the climax, by demanding to know how Giles is so sure the original reality was better than the one he's in. He simply responds "Because it has to be." Smash!
  • Beyond Redemption: In Season 2, when Angel loses his soul and becomes Angelus, Buffy and the Scoobies are initially focused on finding a way to restore said soul. Then comes "Passion", when Angelus kills Jenny Calendar; Xander cites this as evidence that Angelus is a monster who needs to be staked, and Buffy agrees, remarking that she's finally ready to slay him after the fact.
    Buffy: I can't hold onto the past anymore. Angel is gone. Nothing's ever gonna bring him back.
  • Big Bad: The show started the term, although possibly inspired by The Big Bad Wolf archetypes used in fairy tales.
    • Lothos in the movie.
    • The Master in the first season, who seeks to escape his prison and bring about the hell on Earth seen in The Wish.
    • Season 2 introduces Spike and Drusilla, but they are joined in the role by Angelus, Angel's demonic alter ego.
    • Season 3 has Richard Wilkins, the mayor of Sunnydale.
    • Season 4 puts the Scoobies against the Initative, but the role goes to Adam, a monster that was created by the Intiative.
    • Season 5 has Glorificus, whose efforts would destroy the entire universe.
    • Season 6 puts up with a trio of nerds. Although, in this case, the trope is subverted. After the trio's leader Warren Meers kills his own girlfriend, he makes it his objective to murder Buffy and in his attempt to do so, shoots Willow's girlfriend Tara. This then leads to Willow's Face–Heel Turn as she assumes the role as the season's ultimate Big Bad. However, Word of God says the true Big Bad was "life itself".
    • Season 7 has The First Evil, who counts as the Greater-Scope Villain because it is the embodiment of evil itself.
    • The Season 8 comic book continuation presents a masked mysterious rebel leader known as Twilight (Interestingly not a Take That!) who turns out to be Angel who was manipulated by the true Big Bad, the true Twilight entity, which embodies a universe planning to be "born".
    • Season 9 again makes life itself the Big Bad, before it throws in Simone: take Faith and Dana, make them ten times more evil and psychotic, obsessed with killing Buffy, and believes in Slayer superiority so seeks to make them all vampires and take over the world. Angel and Faith has Whistler, yes Angel's former guide, and his former lackeys Pearl and Nash trying to force everyone into being magic, no matter the consequences.
    • Season 10 has Anya's old boss, yes the vengeance demon, using wishes to manipulate events to his own ends. We also get the King of Hell brought forth by Drusilla.
    • Season 11: The Super Registration Act and forcibly depowers anyone mystical, which turns out to be a power grab by the US Secretary of State.
  • Big Guy Rodeo: Xander does this in 'Reptile Boy', jumping onto one of the frat guys. Punctuated Pounding ensues.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Spells are almost always done in another language, often a dead one like Latin.
    • One verging on Did Not Do the Bloody Research: an old grimoire is unearthed with dread and eldritch spells, the speaking of which would bring about catastrophe, horror, suffering and destruction. Eagle-Eyed viewers of the appropriate nationality froze the frame at this point and discovered the age-old text in Irish Gaelic had been lifted directly from an application for planning permission to Dublin City Council to create a new bus lane. Read more here.
  • Birthday Episode: There is one of these every almost season for the title character's birthday (January 19th). They even lampshade the fact that some horrible monster always strikes on Buffy's birthday in later seasons.
    • There isn't a Season 1 birthday episode because the show began airing in March, a full two months after it would have taken place.
    • Season 2: "Surprise"/"Innocence". Buffy and Angel have sex for the first time, unwittingly breaking his curse by providing him with a moment of pure happiness. As a result, this awakens Angelus, who serves as the Big Bad for the rest of the season and spends the majority of it psychologically torturing Buffy and her friends.
    • Season 3: "Helpless". As part of a test by the Watchers' Council gone awry, Buffy is secretly drugged by Giles to strip away her powers so that she can fight against the monstrous Zachary Kralik. Unfortunately, Kralik gets out and kidnaps Joyce, forcing a depowered Buffy to fight for both of their lives. To top it off, Buffy's father Hank breaks a promise to maintain their annual tradition of going to the Ice Capades.
    • Season 4: "A New Man". Giles gets transformed into a Fyarl demon by Ethan Rayne and is almost killed by Buffy and friends by mistake.
    • Season 5: "Blood Ties". Dawn finds out that she's the Key and has an identity crisis. She ends up coming across Glory and has to be saved by Buffy.
    • Season 6: "Older and Far Away". Everyone gets trapped inside the Summer House after Dawn's wish that nobody would leaver her gets picked up by Halfrek.
    • There isn't a birthday episode in Season 7. Notably, in the Season 6 episode, Spike makes a comment that they should probably stop commemorating the event since such awful supernatural occurrences seem cursed to happen on it every year. It's possible the Scooby Gang took this warning to heart, though it's not explicitly commented on afterwards and it's also a possibility that they were just too busy training the Potentials for the fight against the First Evil at this point (which would have likely been sometime between the episodes "Showtime" and "The Killer in Me").
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: After Oz leaves Willow (and Sunnydale) to find a cure for his lycanthropy, Willow grows closer to her fellow witch Tara and finds they have a deep bond in magic. When Oz returns, seemingly cured, his anger at realizing Tara is falling for her brings his werewolf side back out. Deciding between a gentle, magical relationship with Tara and the possible danger Oz brings, Willow ultimately chooses Tara (and identifies as gay moving forward).
  • Bit Character: Deputy Mayor Finch's death marks the third murder investigation involving Buffy in less than two years: she is previously suspected in the deaths of fellow Slayer Kendra and her would-be stepfather, Ted. Each investigation is headed by the same Detective (played by James MacDonald).
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Buffy and Xander, on different occasions. Buffy gets a dose at the start of Season 2, 'When She Was Bad', systematically hurting Angel, Willow, and Xander at the same time. She revisits it at the start of Season 3 when she runs away, then again in Season 7, to the point that's she's thrown out of her own house. Xander has a tendency to evoke this trope with nasty comments whenever he's in an argument, such as when Buffy's caught considering running away again in Season 3, and throwing Buffy's near-rape in Dawn's face as a way to shut Dawn up, after Buffy specifically didn't want to disclose it.
  • Bit Part Bad Guys: Vampires starting around Season 3 or so.
    • Team Rocket Wins: Run of the mill, common vampires, under no leadership but their own — have bested Buffy on a couple of occasions and are among the most common sources of Slayer overall deaths in the series.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Very common. Seasons 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 8 all have them. Episodes also have them often, including the musical episode.
    Everyone: "The battle's done and we kinda won, so we sound our victory cheer, but where do we go from here?"
    • Arguably, Season 3 ends with this as well: On the one hand, Buffy defeats the Mayor and all of the main cast make it through the battle alive, with Buffy, Xander, Willow, Cordelia, and Oz ready to leave high school behind and start the rest of their lives. However, Angel leaves Sunnydale and Giles now has no means of supporting himself, as he has been sacked from the council and Sunnydale High (along with its library) have been blown up. Additionally, a lot of students and parents die before the Mayor is stopped, including some recurring cast members like Larry (whose neck gets broken when he's swept aside by the Mayor in demon form) and Harmony (who is sired by a vampire during the final battle and becomes a recurring bad guy in future seasons). Taking all this into consideration, Season 4 is easily considered the only season without a bittersweet ending.
  • Bittersweet 17: The events of Buffy's 17th birthday are in one of the most important episodes in the series. She loses her virginity to Angel, who is said to reverse to his evil self called Angellus when he is the happiest in his life, ie: having sex with Buffy. Buffy would finally realise that Angel is definitely not the man (or Vampire) she liked and realises he must be defeated.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Tends to accompany spellcasting.
  • Blood Knight: Spike. He tracks down Slayers specifically to take them down in a fair fight, for the thrill of it. And his overjoyed discovery that the chip permits him to harm his own kind show that he doesn't care that much who he fights, so long as he can fight.
    • Faith too, who admits she loves slaying and states it actually kinda turns her on.
    • She may hate to admit it, but as long as the stakes aren't too high and nobody she loves is in danger, Buffy loves a good fight.
  • Blood Magic: In the Master's first attempt at an early parole, his Dragon Luke volunteers to become the Master's "Vessel", supplying him with power by feeding on human blood.
    • It's Buffy's blood which ultimately allows the Master to break free. ("Prophecy Girl")
    • In the Season 2 premiere, the Master's acolytes attempt a ritual to bring him back to life. This involves slitting the necks of his adversaries (ie the Scoobies) and wetting his skeleton with their blood.
    • Angelus' blood is the key to de-petrifying the demon Acathla and opening a portal that would suck the world into hell. Unluckily for him, it's a two-way street; Buffy runs Angelus through with a sword whilst standing in front of Acathla, sending Angelus to hell and sealing the portal shut.
    • Likewise, the blood of "The Key" is necessary to open and close the wall separating Glory's universe from ours. Her zealots succeed in using Dawn as the Key by spilling her blood; however, Buffy takes advantage of a loophole by using her own blood (which is identical to Dawn's) to close the vortex.
    • In Season 7, the Seal of Danzalthar opens only when a large quantity of blood is spilled on it.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Lots of death, lots of vampires sucking blood out of people, a few plain old slit throats, very little red. Helped by vampires bursting into a cloud of dust when staked, probably for the purpose of reducing complaints about violence on the show.
  • Bond One-Liner: Subverted more than once.
    • "That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo!"
    • "Hey Ken, wanna see my impression of Gandhi?" (SPLAT)
      Lily: Gandhi?
      Buffy: (beat) Well, you know, if he was really pissed off.
  • Bookends: At the end of the pilot, Giles signs off with, "The world is doomed." He amends this in the series finale. ("Definitely doomed.")
    • The finale's conversation happens in more or less the same place and in much the same manner as the pilot's, with Giles trying to talk about the upcoming end of the world and Buffy, Xander, and Willow ignoring him and wandering off. (This is Lampshaded by Giles who remarks that he is once again, "invisible to the naked eye.")
    • Season 2 began with Buffy arriving from LA and ended with Buffy leaving for LA.
    • At the start of Season 2, Joyce says she hopes Buffy can make it through the school year without getting kicked out. At the end of the season Buffy does get kicked out.
    • In the "Graduation Day" two-parter, the teacher prodding his students to play "Hangman" is the same guy from the season premiere urging everyone to "be somber" now they've returned to school.
    • In "Lie to Me", Ford arranging a "surprise" date with Buffy is eerily reminiscent of the scene between Angel and Drusilla at the beginning of the episode, and conveys the same sense of battle lines being drawn.
    • In the same episode, Buffy says she's done with being lied to by her friends, but Angel tells her that some lies are necessary — which is a nice setup for the Title Drop at the end of the episode.
    • When Buffy reawakens in the hospital in the Season 3 finale, she approaches Faith's bed and returns the forehead kiss that Faith had given her in "Enemies."
    • Principal Snyder is killed by being eaten. Ironically, this is after Snyder made such a big deal back in his first appearance ("The Puppet Show") about how former Principal Flutie got devoured by hyenas because he was too soft on kids.
    • Willow suggested to Buffy in "The Harvest" that one way she could get out of school would be to "blow something up." Guess how Season 3 ends.
    • Buffy began and ended Season 6 at the cemetery. (Though it should be noted that every season, except the first, begins in a cemetery).
      • The real Book End of Season 6 is the fact that both the premiere and the finale feature Buffy climbing out of the ground and showing the stark differences in the circumstances. In the premiere she's clawing her way out of a coffin, terrified and desperate and she emerges to darkness and what she thinks is Hell. In the finale she climbs out of the Sunnydale ruins with her sister and emerges into the sun, looking hopeful and peaceful.
    • Season 7 premiere. "It's about power"
  • Bottomless Magazines: In "Halloween" Soldier Xander just blasts away with an M16A2 that he never seems to have to reload. Justified in that it's from Ethan Rayne's shop and is probably magical anyhow.
  • Brainless Beauty:
    • Harmony. Then she becomes a soulless vampire making her stuck in this role forever.
    • Glory makes Harmony look like a rocket scientist. She's the ditziest Big Bad ever. Not that it makes her any less terrifying or unstoppable. Actually lampshaded by Buffy after Glory decapitates the Buffybot and still assumes she was the real Buffy:
    Buffy: You're not the brightest God in the heavens, are you?
    • Cordelia Chase, on the other hand, subverts the trope; she appears at first to be a classic example but is later revealed to be quite intelligent, just reluctant to show it because she doesn't want to lose social status. (It doesn't help that she is often shown in comparison with Willow.) Lampshaded early in Season 3 of Buffy when discussing the SAT:
    Cordelia: "Actually, I'm looking forward to it. I do well on standardized tests." (beat) "What? I can't have layers?"
    • Unlike her movie version, Buffy has long since put this personality behind her — but we do get a brief glimpse of it in the flashback to when Angel first sees her.
  • Brainy Brunette: Double Subverted with Cordelia Chase. She was shown at first to be an example of the Brainless Beauty trope. Later, though, it was revealed that she actually had very good grades which she simply chose to hide from her peers, thinking it would make her less popular.
  • Brass Balls: Buffy's mother Joyce is being held prisoner by evil Slayer Faith.
    Faith: You're thinking "You'll never get away with this!"
    Joyce: Actually I was thinking "My daughter is going to kill you soon."
    Faith: That a fact?
    Joyce: More like a bet.
    Faith: Whoa. You got a pair on you, Joyce.
  • Break the Cutie: Willow, Dawn, Buffy herself, Anya from "Hell's Bells" on, arguably Riley and even Faith. Blame Joss Whedon.
    • Poor bumbling Victorian poet William Pratt got so broken he let a deranged vampire bite him and turned into Spike.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking:
    • Angelus broke into Buffy's room to draw her sleeping as a Break-In Threat.
    • In "Buffy vs Dracula," Dracula wisps into Buffy's bedroom as a cloud of mist and then uses his hypnotic charm to get Buffy to let him bite her. She even assists him by moving her hair off of her neck when Dracula asks her to.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Lampshaded in "Once More With Feeling". Anya complains that during her musical number with Xander, it felt like their apartment had only three walls, not a fourth, and that it felt like they were being watched. Also near the end of the same episode the song "Something to Sing About" features the line "And you can sing along" which Buffy sings while looking directly at the camera.
    • The only other time Buffy looks directly at the camera in a close-up is in "Living Conditions.
      • In "When She Was Bad" where after she saves Willow & Xander, Buffy looks at the camera and asks "Missed me?"
    • And the same episode has Buffy's line, "Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday." (At the time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired on Tuesdays.)
      • There's a version of this as early as the Season 3 episode "Revelations". Buffy: "Some demon looking for some all-powerful thingamabob, and I gotta stop him before he unleashes unholy havoc, and it's another Tuesday night in Sunnydale."
    • And then there's Willow's line; "I think this line's mostly filler."
    • Again in the song "Something to Sing About", Giles calls out "She needs backup! Tara! Anya! Go!" Tara and Anya immediately run to Buffy's side and... start dancing as backup dancers. (Made even funnier by the fact that those two have less combat skills than anybody else on their team, even Xander.)
      • And the fact that Amber Benson (Tara) proceeds to accidentally dance straight into a pillar, breaking character in the process. And they keep it in the final cut.
      • Give them their due! They also sang backing vocals.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: In the sixth season, Willow and Tara end up broken up for much of the season, and reconcile just before the series finale. And then Tara is shot and killed by accident.
  • Brick Joke: "Passions" has a throwaway line about the Orb of Thesulah being sold to dumb New Agers as paperweights. In the season finale, Giles mentions he has been using one as a paperweight.
    • Buffy remarks that she could use a snack after killing The Master. In her debut episode, Faith, another Slayer, says that slaying always makes her "hungry and horny."
    • The origin of Chanterelle's name.
    • Xander looks forward to leaving school so he can finally tell Snyder what he thinks of him ("What's My Line, Pt. 1"). This never happens, but in "Restless" Xander does have a cathartic exchange in his Dream Sequence. ("You know, I never got the chance to tell you how glad I was you were eaten by a snake.")
    • "You HAD SEX WITH GILES?!"
    • In "Lover's Walk", Spike wails that Dru left him for a Chaos Demon. ("All slime and antlers!") The spat between Spike, Dru, and Antler Guy is shown in "Fool for Love".
    • In "Choices", Xander is reading Jack Kerouac, inspiring to him to go on a road trip after graduation. However, as Buffy learns in Season 4, he only makes it as far as Oxnard when his car breaks down.
    • In Season 5, Spike tries to hide his Stalker with a Crush obsession with Buffy with a Lame Comeback; "I never liked you anyway, and you have stupid hair." In Season 6, after finally making out with Buffy, Spike gushes over how good her long hair looks (Buffy responds by getting a bobcut).
    • The story behind Once More, With Feeling's "The Mustard" from Season 6, is given a little exposition in Season 7, with "Mustard on my Shirt" ("Selfless").
  • Broad Strokes: The series, accepts the broad strokes of the movie. Specifically, it takes the original screenplay as correct, while ignoring all the (many) differences that accumulated through Executive Meddling (for instance, the first episode of the series refers to Buffy burning down her old school's gym to kill the vampires inside, which happened in Whedon's version of the story but not in the finished film). A comic was eventually produced called "The Origin", which tells the movie's story in the style of the series.
  • Buffy Speak: Obviously. Interestingly, it's never referred to as "Buffy-speak" in the show, but in "I Only Have Eyes For You", Giles refers to it as "Xander-Speak".
    • Lampshaded by Buffy herself once.
      Buffy: All of the Hellmouth's energy is trying to escape from that one little spot, and it's getting all...
      Principal Wood: Focus-ey.
      Buffy: Careful! Starting to speak like me now.
    • Spoofed when we hear a quote from Giles' first diary entry as Watcher.
      Her abuse of the English language is such that I understand only every other sentence.
    • Spoofed again when Riley has to explain that 'buffy' is not an example of this trope, but a girl's name.
    • In one episode Buffy called E-Mail "E-Letters".
  • Bully Hunter: Buffy displays herself to be this through the series, then she encounters Amanda who jumped a boy picking on her in the parking lot. As she was a school councilor at the time Buffy really struggles to give her guidance one way or the other.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Buffy to Spike in "Fool For Love." While Spike hasn't felt like a genuine threat to the main characters for the last couple of seasons, the episode establishes very clearly that Spike is capable of killing Buffy even with the Initiative chip in his head, and implies that the real reason he's never actually done so is because he's never truly wanted to. Buffy nevertheless ends the episode by taunting Spike and cruelly (though unknowingly) pouring salt on an old wound; Spike is about to retaliate with a shotgun, but relents at the last second because he comes across Buffy in tears over her mother.
  • Bury Your Gays: Surprisingly enough, this trope is played straight more often than not.
    • We have Larry, the only confirmed gay man ever on the show, who was killed in the battle against The Mayor in "Graduation Day"
    • And Tara, Willow's long time girlfriend, was shot and killed by Warren Mears.
    • And then there's Kennedy, Willow's second girlfriend, who was killed between the end of Season 7, and the beginning of Season 8. She was subsequently revived by Willow.
  • But Not Too Gay: Willow and Tara were a couple for about twenty-five episodes before they so much as kissed on-screen, probably partly for this and partly to avoid claims of sensationalism.
    • The WB only allowed the relationship on the grounds they weren't seen to kiss and Joss Whedon had to fight to keep the first kiss in. They weren't seen to kiss again until after the show had moved to UPN.
  • Butt-Dialing Mordor: In "Once More With Feeling" Xander brings the singing demon Sweet to Sunnydale through a talisman. Thought that it was just a spell to bring "dances and songs," not realizing that Sweet would kill people.
  • Canon Marches On: The Young Adult book Halloween Rain, the third Buffyverse book ever written, has Buffy fighting for her life during All Hallows Eve, when the forces of evil are at their strongest. Days before its release, the show had its own Halloween episode — which established that not only is there nothing particularly supernatural about Halloween, but most demons actually take the night off, making it the most normal night in Sunnydale.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • The Trio, three supernerds who explicitly set out to become supervillains because they thought it was cool. Warren, especially, would constantly go on about being a supervillain. They were really bad at it though. At first.
    • Spike, on multiple occasions, proudly reminds the Scoobies that, although defanged, he is still a demon and therefore evil. Harmony (in Angel) is more ambivalent; apparently, she doesn't mind being good but, ultimately, cannot help doing evil.
    Harmony: Is this okay? I mean. I am evil, technically. I don't mind torturing her for the team.
    • See also Faith in season 3. After the accidental murder of the deputy mayor, she throws herself so far into villainy that she becomes about as scary as Angelus. Justified in that she first wanted to corrupt Buffy by forcing her to kill her, and it then turns out that Faith genuinely did have a death wish. The massive jump in the quality of life she experienced from switching sides didn't hurt either.
    • And the First Evil does what she does because she is, well, evil.
    • Buffy vampires are unapologetically evil in general, unless they have souls.
    • Glory and Caleb.
    • Adam, being a demon cyborg and programmed to kill. Despite murdering his creator, Adam accepts this purpose and goes about fulfilling her Evil Plan.
  • Car Fu: Sort of. In All the Way, Buffy uses a stationary Ford Taunus to beat a vampire into submission, then behead him with the door.
  • Casual Danger Dialog:
    • In "Bad Girls", in the middle of fighting some vampires, Faith asks Buffy if she has ever slept with Xander.
    • Glory would engage in this while Buffy was punching her in the face.
    • Lampshaded in the season 7 episode "Bring on the Night", where Xander's making jokes while the Potentials are scared to death waiting for night to fall and the übervamp to come crashing in:
      Willow: Xander? Newbies. Let's ease them in to the whole jokes-in-the-face-of-death-thing.
    • Spike and Buffy tend to engage in this with each other in every fight they're in, regardless of if they're fighting together or each other.
  • Caught in the Ripple:
    • In the episode "Superstar" even the credits are changed to show the change of a spell that makes Jonathan into a Black Hole Sue.
    • The first episode of Season 5 introduces Dawn, Buffy's younger sister who didn't exist before this episode. Everyone (including Buffy) remembers Buffy as always having a younger sister.
  • Character Development: Plenty for all, but it's worth noting that ones who get the most of it are the ones who end up on Angel: Cordelia, Wesley, and Spike, all of whom end their time in the Buffyverse very different from when they first appeared.
  • Character-Magnetic Team: Especially in season seven, where new potential slayers are collected every episode, along with characters like Andrew and Wood, and old recurring characters like Faith coming back.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Angel, Buffy and Darla had remarkably different personalities in the first few episodes; Angel was mysterious and kind of chipper (especially his first appearance), Buffy was a perky cheerleader and Darla was whiny, cowardly, not particularly smart or capable, and seemingly not even all that important in the Master's hierarchy (Luke, for one, clearly outranked her). It wasn't until the episode "Angel" that they settled into the personalities they are better known for; Angel became brooding, Buffy was a kind of grim optimist and Darla had a distant, haunting persona (since she died in this episode, this is better seen when she returns from the dead in the show Angel).
    • Angel specifically shows very little of his alleged badassness in early Buffy episodes. Mostly he's knocked around by whatever Big Bad they're fighting to show how much stronger Buffy is than he. After his Face–Heel Turn he does actually become majorly badass, then is stuck somewhere in between badass and Wimpification post-resurrection. He finally is shown as the Badass Anti-Hero he's meant to be when he gets his own show.
    • Spike undergoes the reverse of Angel: from a Manipulative Bastard badass villain to wimpified Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain once he gets a violence-inhibiting chip in his brain. He gradually gains his badass back once he learns he can still fight demons, but never loses the slight air of incompetence so that Buffy is unwilling to simply stake him and be done with it. After his soul and working through the subsequent madness it ensues, he arguably manages to fully recapture his competency and fighting prowess, though as a Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire now.
    • Anya was also initially manipulative and infiltrated herself into Cordelia's social circle almost immediately. Later she developed a No Social Skills personality that left her unable to understand much of human interaction and claimed she had a Villains Never Lie attitude when she was a demon.
    • Willow's infatuation over Xander and love for Oz in early seasons seems somewhat odd given that she's a lesbian. Several instances after her sexual awakening make it pretty clear that she is bisexual, but the word doesn't seem to exist in the Buffyverse.
    • Harmony was an obnoxious but not particularly stupid Smug Snake in her earlier appearances before turning into the airheaded Harmless Villain she is known for. Being turned into a blood sucking demon just might have something to do with that: Other vampires lose their soul. Harmony lost her brain.
    • Something like this happened to Buffy's dad once he stopped appearing. In the first couple of seasons, he seemed like a decent guy whenever he visited. Starting with a broken promise in "Hopeless", however, he morphed into a quintessential deadbeat dad who couldn't even show up for Joyce's funeral. It says something that his last two appearances are Buffy's memory of a Cosmic Retcon and the Cuckoo Nest episode.
    • Clem was kind of a jerk in his first appearance. On the other hand, it could just be that kittens are his preferred meal.
    • There may have been plans to make Kennedy more than a Jerk with a Heart of Gold Lipstick Lesbian with a dose of Character Shilling before the series ended, but the comics have her turn into the Slayer version of Rainbow Six and something of a spokeswoman for LGBT people, then a Reasonable Authority Figure, before becoming what Price might be like if Modern Warfare had vampires instead of terrorists.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Willow's magic in Season 3, Xander's construction job in Season 5. Giles' skill with black magic in Season 8.
    • Xander's military knowledge from his brief time as a soldier in the Season 2 episode Halloween is crucial in killing The Judge in Innocence and holding off The Mayor after he transforms in the Season 3 finale.
  • The Chosen Wannabe: The Tabletop RPG of the show includes "Slayer Poseur" as a character class, which is basically a slayer wannabe.
    • Also, Dawn in Season 7, when she briefly believes she's a potential. Later in the episode, she comes to realize that it was Amanda instead and wrestles with being The Unchosen One.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Happens a few times. In the episode "Spiral" Spike tries it. Problem is, his hands are screwed up from the fight they were just in, so Xander ends up lighting it for him. Reversed in the episode, Get It Done. Spike, who has been various flavors of The Woobie throughout the first half of the season, and who has just gotten curb stomped by a demon that he needs to kill to help Buffy, goes back to an old hideout of his to retrieve his duster, before going out to fight the demon again. After he dispatches the demon, he lights up a smoke to show that He's Back to his old badass self.
    • When Faith returns to help save the world with people who hate her she sneaks down into the basement when she gets sick of the potentials to smoke. In the comics she returns to being very cynical and uses smoking to cope, and when tricked to kill a slayer who is targeting Buffy she needs a lot of cigarettes to cope, then seemingly quits after getting with Giles then Angel.
  • Clock Tower:
    • The Gentlemen in "Hush" have made their base in a boarded-up clock tower, and the climactic battle takes place there.
Sunnydale High's steeple, showcased in "Earshot".
  • Sunnydale High's steeple, showcased in "Earshot."
  • Clones Are People, Too: Dawn Summers is technically a clone of Buffy, having been "made from the Slayer" by the Monks of Dagon. Initially, after this is discovered, some of the Scooby Gang want to treat Dawn as a made thing, but Buffy insists that she be treated as her sister.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Buffy vs. Angel in his eponymous episode.
    • Buffy and the Master in "Prophecy Girl."
    • Spike hollering at the drop ceiling panels in "School Hard."
    • In "Ted", Buffy goes hunting for something to take out her frustrations on, but she's too depressed to make an effort; we see her sitting on a playground swing saying "Vampires? Heeeere vampires..."
  • Conceive and Kill: The Monster of the Week in "Teacher's Pet" is a She-Mantis which preys on male virgins: mating with them to fertilise her eggs and then killing them.
  • Conflict Killer:
    • In the fourth season, Maggie Walsh was replaced as the Big Bad by Adam in the second half of the season, turning an interesting "do the ends justify the means" conflict into an excuse for the heroes to turn into some spirit magic version of Voltron.
    • Season 2 did this twice. Season 1 ended with the Anointed One set up as the new Big Bad. That was awesomely undone when Spike showed up and started his plans to reassemble The Judge. Spike vs. The Slayer was later taken over when Angelus appeared in the middle of the season.
    • Also happens when Willow goes Woobie, Destroyer Of Worlds and kills Warren in Season 6.
    • Happens yet again in season three, with Mr. Trick, a clever vampire crimelord who gave Buffy a great deal of trouble early on in the year, getting abruptly staked by Faith, just in time for her and The Mayor to step in as the real villains of the season. By then Mr. Trick had already become The Dragon to The Mayor, Faith just replaced him in that role.
    • And once more in season 10; first it introduces three demon lords, the Mistress, the Sculptor and the Soul Devourer who function as the primary direct sources of conflict for most of the season. They get unceremoniously killed by D'Haffryn, who'd planted the ghost Anya with the Scoobies for the chance of one of them wishing for him to take control of the situation. When the time came, Anya granted the wish, which gave him extra power to take out all the other baddies, allowing him to take the mantle of Big Bad.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Vampires were particularly subject to this trope. Individual vampires could be fairly respectable opponents, though they still had a bad track record of getting one-stab killed after Season 1. Whenever vampires gathered in groups, they were cannon fodder. One just hopes they don't have problems with splinters. This is justified in that each character is constantly improving their fighting skills.
    • The final season mixed this trope with a good dose of, ahem, Villain Decay. The first Turok-Han 'uber-vamp' was a nearly unstoppable force very narrowly beaten by the Slayer after several victories. In the finale, however, the Scoobies went up against an army of them, and Xander, Anya, and the slayers-still-in-training were taking hundreds of them down easily. In the DVD Commentary, Joss Whedon points out that this was a conscious decision, claiming that "they couldn't all be as hard to beat as the first one," since that would make the last fight unwinnable. No in-universe explanation is given, though each potential Slayer had presumably been trained by Buffy and had just each received powers equal to a fully fledged Slayer, so it isn't entirely implausible. Several Slayers die in the battle until Spike saves the day with a Heroic Sacrifice. Nothing else left to do but recite the Mantra and shrug it off.
    • Applies to Slayers too: Buffy on her own can take any number of vampires, but whenever she's fighting with Faith or Kendra, at least one of the Slayers gets into a position where they need the other's help.
  • Continuity Lock-Out: Happens at least three times in-universe. First Joyce has to learn what it means that her daughter's a slayer, then Riley does the same and later learns about Faith, then in Season 7, Principal Wood is out in the cold apropos all the things that have happened to Spike. The first time it's a Tear Jerker, the second just a Lampshade Hanging, the last one a Funny Moment.
  • Continuity Nod: In "Phases" Oz notices that the eyes of the cheerleading trophy seem to follow him around This trophy is actually Amy's mother who was turned into a trophy at the end of "Witch" and who could only move her eyes.
  • Cool Car: Played straight with Cordelia's (Chrysler Cirrus) convertible (QUEEN C), Xander's (uncle's) 57 Chevy Bel Air, Spike's DeSoto Fireflite and Giles' BMW convertible. Subverted with Giles' earlier Citroën, but still cool enough to have fanpages devoted to it.
    • Mainly because if it were restored it would actually be pretty cool.
  • Coolest Club Ever:
    • The Bronze has an unending lineup of top quality bands, and is full seven nights a week. It is literally the only club in town though. They managed to score Cibo Matto, which is nice. (How 90's can you get?)
    • Well, Mayor Wilkins spared no expense to make his town attractive to homeowners so the monsters could eat them. The problem is that it's still open several years after Buffy blows him up. Maybe Willow did it?
    • "Man, I hate playing vampire towns."
  • Cosmic Plaything: The series makes it clear the universe has it in for most of the characters in general, and Buffy in particular. No two ways about it.
  • Cramming the Coffin: In "Goodbye Iowa", Initiative soldiers search Spike's crypt, reading to kill any undead person on sight. Realising from the still-warm television that someone has been there recently, they lift the lid off a stone sarcophagus, only to find a skeleton covered by a burial shroud. After they leave, Spike appears from beneath the corpse. Buffy herself has pulled the same trick when hiding from vampires.
  • Creator Cameo: "Parking Ticket Lady" (Marti Noxon) and "Mustard Guy" (David Fury) in the musical episode, "Once More With Feeling."
    • In "Lie to Me", the fake vampire lying in a coffin who greets Willow enters a club ("Hi" Vampire in the credits) is played by Todd McIntosh, the show's makeup supervisor.
  • Credits Gag:
    • In "Superstar", the episode in which Jonathan turns himself into an in-universe Mary Sue, the usual title sequence is interspersed with shots of Jonathan being heroic.
    • "Once More With Feeling" also features altered credits, with a peppy orchestral version of the theme tune playing over characters' faces appearing on the moon while their names appear underneath.
    • Normally, the actress who portrayed Faith would be billed "Eliza Dushku as Faith". However, for the episode "Who Are You", where she and Buffy switch bodies, her credit instead reads "Eliza Dushku as Buffy".
  • Curse That Cures: In the episode "Lie to Me", a childhood friend of Buffy's sells her out to some vampires in exchange for being turned into a vampire to cure his fatal brain tumor. Buffy was quick to point out that the vampires in her 'verse don't have the Soul of the human the body belonged to; his body would move around, and a demon might have his memories, but "he" would still die.
  • Cutesy Name Town: Welcome to "Sunnydale," the most evil and horrible place on the planet, next to Cleveland.
  • Damned by Faint Praise:
    • Willow's excited to hear that since Angel came to our fair shores about eighty years ago, there are no reports of him hunting ("Angel"). She reads this as proof that he is a good vampire. "I mean, on a scale of one to ten, 10 being someone who's killing and maiming every night, and 1 being someone who's... not."
    • In "Prophecy Girl", Xander takes the plunge and asks out Buffy. She's at a loss for words."Well, you're not laughing, so that's a good start."
    • In "School Hard", Joyce wonders what Buffy's teachers will have to say about her scholastic performance. "Well," Buffy declares, "I think they'll all agree that I always bring a pen to class, ready to absorb the knowledge."
    • Willow congratulates Buffy from moving on from Angel ...then makes the mistake asking the Scoobies if they approve of the new guy, Scott. "He didn't try to slit our throats or anything," quips Cordelia. "It's progress." ("Faith, Hope, and Trick")
    • Buffy concedes that she's not popular. But she's not exactly unpopular! ("Homecoming")
      Buffy: A lot of people came to my Welcome Home party.
      Willow: But they were eaten by zombies.
    • In "Earshot", Hogan feigns excitement at Percy's improved verbal skills. "I actually heard him complete a sentence," he tells Willow. "It had a clause and everything."
    • At a pep rally in the same episode, Oz muses that the cheerleaders' spelling has improved.
    • In "Graduation Day pt. 2", Snyder congratulates the Class of '99, saying that they were "more or less adequate."
    • In season 7, while discussing their upcoming date, Buffy comments on the fact that Robin is 10 years older than her. Willow responds that he's still 100 years younger than her usual type.
  • Dangerous Workplace: The Magic Box's storekeeper keeps getting killed over the seasons. In "Real Me", Giles decides to buy the shop and run it with the Scooby Gang there to hangout and protect him.
    • On an eerie note, none of the magic store's owners have lived. This includes Anya (killed by a Bringer) and Giles (killed in Season 8).
  • Dark Is Evil: The outfits of many vamps take on this trope. Also, The Bringers, servants of the First Evil, all wear black robes.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Post-Heel–Face Turn Spike still wears his black leather duster and Angel's entire wardrobe seems to be various shades of black.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Oz is a preeminent example, though his snark was not usually pointed. Before and after he was on the show, though, snark was Xander's stock in trade.
      Oz: That was my sarcastic voice.
      Xander: Sounds a lot like your regular voice.
    • Giles also did this a lot.
      "I'll just jump into my time machine, go back to the 12th century, and ask the vampires to postpone their ancient prophecy for a few days while you take in dinner and a show."
      "'Do you like my mask? Isn't it pretty? It raises the dead.' Americans!"
    • The show also has a self-appointed Deadpan Snarker in the form of Quentin Travers, the Head of the Watchers' Council, who twice arrives in town to tell everyone, in quite pointed, deadpan, and snarky terms, what a terrible job they're all doing. The failings of everyone on the team are plainly evident to him, but the fact that he's an authoritarian meanie means that even if he has a good point or two, the audience is free to dismiss those points because he "just doesn't know them like we do." Let's face it, except for Tara every regular character took their turn as this trope.
      • Even then, Tara got in on it at least once. Case in point: "Older And Far Away", after she witnesses Buffy and Spike together, with Buffy's hand close to Spike's crotch area, Spike claims to have had a muscle cramp.
        Tara: (clearly suppressing laughter) Muscle cramp? In your... pants?
      • And later, after Spike makes a suggestive comment to Buffy...
        Tara: How's that cramp, Spike? Still bothering you? (grinning slyly) Maybe you should put some ice on it.
    • Buffy herself is also one of the show's main snarkers. She was often slinging some witty line at Giles for being too serious (or too British) or the Monster of the Week or something else.
      • To the point where a vampire asks her "Are we going to fight, or is this just a monster sarcasm rally?"
    • Faith likes this. Most of the time it's pretty adult.
      Faith: "You don't know how many men have said that to me." On being promised that she'd get off (the murder charges against her would be dropped).
    Faith: "Just like riding a biker." On getting back into slaying after her stint in prison.
    • Giles' aunts in the Season 9 comics. Faith continues to be one.
    • The caterpillar guy from the Wonderland comics of Season 9 seems to be in perpetual Sarcasm Mode.
    • Whistler's quite a sarcastic fellow.
    • Just about every other sentence out of Spike's mouth is snark. It softens a bit once he has a soul, but not entirely.
  • Death and the Maiden: Buffy's relationship with Angel has overtones of this, especially given that being with 'death' isolates Buffy from her (human) friends and even her moral code. Both she and Angel note that their relationship is dangerous and hurtful to both of them.
    Angel: This isn't some fairy tale. When I kiss you, you don't wake up from a deep sleep and live happily ever after.
    Buffy: No. When you kiss me I want to die.
  • Death of Personality: Vampires in the Buffyverse are humans who have died and had their soul replaced by a demon. This means that the person themselves is dead, even though the demon in question has all their memories and often believes they are the original.
  • Decoy Damsel:
    • In the Pilot, Xander's best friend Jesse is nabbed by the Master's goons. By the time they free him in the sewers, he's already been vamped.
    • The Annointed One tries this on Buffy in "Prophecy Girl", standing on the school lawn and wahing for help. Buffy sees right through him.
    • A whimpering brunette vampire who impersonates Cordelia in "When She Was bad."
    • Inverted with Faith's introductory scene, when the Scoobies rush in to 'rescue' her from a disco vampire.
  • Defiant to the End:
    • In Angelus' torture chamber, Giles is barely conscious and bound to his chair. Angelus circles him like a buzzard, telling him he can make the pain stop. Giles finally cracks; he'll tell Angelus what he wants to know. He speaks in a hoarse whisper so Angelus has to put his face very near Giles's and listen very carefully:
    Giles: In be worthy... you must perform the ritual... in a tutu!
    • As Faith holds Willow at knife point, Willow tries to reason with her. Faith senses another speech coming on, and invites Willow to tell her it's all right, there's still good in Faith, it's not too late to change, et cetera. Willow furrows her brows and says it's way too late.
    "You know, it didn't have to be this way. But you made your choice. I know you had a tough life; I know that some people think you had a lot of bad breaks. Well, boo hoo! Poor you. You know, you had a lot more in your life than some people. I mean, you had friends like Buffy. Now you have no one. You were a Slayer, and now you're nothing."
  • Demon of Human Origin:
    • The Big Bad of the third season deliberately sets out to become a demon.
    • Vengeance demons are all former humans who attracted the attention of a lower power by using dark magic to get revenge on someone they believed had wronged them.
    • Played with in the case of the vampires, who are in general only half-demon, the other half being the humans that they took over. Some pureblood demons look down on vampires for being half-breeds.
  • Determinator: Buffy qualifies as this, given everything she overcame throughout the show.
    Angelus: No weapons. No friends. No hope. Take that away, and what's left?
    Buffy: Me.
  • Devil's Advocate: The Devil's Advocate ball gets passed around the cast of characters, but tends to land in Xander's lap as often as not. The opposing viewpoint is commonly prefaced with "Not to be the bad guy here, but..." or some form of "I don't want to be that guy, but..."
  • Devoured by the Horde: In "The Wish" Cordelia wished that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, so it becomes overrun with vampires. Cordelia is killed by vampire versions of Xander and Willow.
  • Digital Destruction: This one needs backstory. Buffy was filmed with 16x9 widescreen cameras, and cropped to 4x3 fullscreen as that was the style of TV back then. When DVD season sets became a thing, the UK inadvertently got the widescreen prints of Seasons 4-7, while the US got the entire series in 4x3. Flash forward to 2016, when Buffy got an HD "remaster", one was widely disparaged by both fans and the show's creators alike. Instead of using the widescreen prints of the series, Fox instead opened up the sides of the frame and cropping the top and bottom, sometimes creating a host of problems like making film equipment and even sometimes crew members visible. Joss Whedon even stated, "Buffy was shot 4x3 [because] TVs were shaped that way. Widescreen Buffy is nonsense." The restoration team also removed many color filters applied to the original versions, sometimes changing night scenes to day, and due to heavy noise reduction viewers pointed out the HD version actually had less fine detail and much flatter lighting than the SD version.
  • Disc-One Final Boss:
    • Spike, Mr. Trick, The Initiative, Dracula, The Trio — this happens a lot. The only season that doesn't use this is Season 7 (though even then Caleb does come across as this when he's not being the Dragon).
    • Happens twice in Season 2 alone, first the anointed one who takes charge after the Master's defeat, who himself is killed by Spike a few episodes in. Spike takes stage to become the main atagonist but is himself upstaged by Angelus.
    • Arguably Adam from Season 4 (who is the only big bad who is killed in an episode other than the finale) acts as a disc one final boss for the first slayer who believes Buffy's has too many shortcomings to do her job properly
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Often, but never more so than Sid the dummy.
    • The first time Xander sees Buffy (while skateboarding), he careens into a guardrail.
    • In "Prophecy Girl", Willow sits enraptured while Xander tries his pick-up lines on her. When he asks for Buffy, Willow points out she's gone, and pathetically offers to let him practice on her some more.
    • Xander losing his train of thought as Willow's leg creeps up his shin. ("Band Candy")
    Xander: The band. Yeah. They're great. They march.
    Willow: Like an army. ...Except with music instead of bullets, and...usually no one dies.
    • Wesley's introduction to comely Cordelia ("Consequences"). "In fact, I am... here to watch... girls."
  • Distressed Damsel: Cordelia in Seasons 1 and 2, Willow fairly often, and, in a frequent subversion, Xander. Also, Dawn in Seasons 5 and 6 and the potentials in Season 7. Actually, most every character was a Distressed Damsel sooner or later. Even Buffy once or twice, like the time when she was an 18th century aristocrat.
    Buffy: Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday.
    • Subverted by the show itself, however, as Buffy appears to be the stereotypical petite, blonde girl who is constantly in need of rescue, which she almost never is and on the rare times that she is captured, she almost always gets herself out of trouble.
      • Also the Season 3 episode "Choices" plays with this trope as Willow gets captured by The Mayor and does eventually need rescuing but only because her attempts to liberate herself fell through when she got distracted gathering intelligence about The Mayor's plan which was arguably a good trade off, since she knew Buffy would get her out anyway.
  • Distressed Dude: Pretty much all the guys on this show at one point or another. It's been lampshaded that Xander frequently gets involved with demonic women who try and kill him, Angel gets tied up and tortured a few times, Giles has be rescued from time to time, and Spike spends a good deal of Season 7 in custody of the First Evil tied up and bled as a sacrifice. Even the stoic Oz ends up captured by the US military at one point.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: LOTS AND LOTS.
    • Magic = Drugs and sex, lesbian sex in particular. Lampshaded in "Same Time, Same Place" when Anya initially is reluctant to do a spell with Willow because "it might get sexy", and it did.
    • Vampire attacks = sex
      • And when Spike has his chip, inability to commit vampire attack = impotence
    • Dawn believing she's a Potential = pregnancy
    • Buffy revealing she's as a slayer to her mother = coming out of the closet. The initial incident aside, Joyce later refers to a figurative "Slayer Pride Parade"...
    • Witchcraft = also homosexuality
    • Dawn finding out she's The Key = adoption
    • Riley letting vampires feed on him = drugs/prostitution
    • Towards the end, D'Hoffryn was portrayed less as Anya's boss and more as her pimp.
    • A big one is Buffy releasing Angelus when they make love = your boyfriend will turn into a jerk/monster after you sleep with him.
    • How about Caleb, the Dragon-come-lately of Season 7? A tall, charming man decked out in priestly duds, who turns out to be a sadistic, misogynistic, Ax-Crazy Old Testament-spouting Serial Killer? Seriously, all he was missing was the Love/Hate Knuckle Tattoos.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Xander, when he sees the fear demon. It's not Tempting Fate, it's just tacky.
    • And in "Something Blue", Buffy taunts Spike:
      Buffy: Oh, look at my poor neck. All bare and tender and exposed. All that blood just pumping away.
      Spike: Giles, make her stop.
  • Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That:
    • Buffy herself does it pretty often, which is excusable considering that she hunts monsters by baiting them into jumping out at her from the shadows. It's how she meets Oz, for example.
    Oz: That is a tense person.
    • Happens in reverse after Buffy returns to Sunnydale at the start of Season 3. Buffy sees a suspicious-looking character in an overcoat creeping along a dark alley at night. She sneaks up on him, only to step on a discarded soda can whereupon she's almost staked by a startled Xander.
    • Played for Laughs when Giles is startled by his Love Interest Jenny walking up behind him while he's on patrol. He waves a cross in her face and she quips, "I get that reaction from men all the time."
    • Exploited by the villains in the season 6 episode "Dead Things", who manage to make Buffy think she killed an innocent woman this way.
  • Doppelgänger: The three core scoobies have had at least one each: the Buffybot, Vamp Willow, and, arguably, the time Xander's personality was split into two physical bodies.
    Xander: Hey, wait 'til you have an evil twin. See how you handle it. (leaves)
    Willow: (muttering) I handled it fine!
  • Double Entendre: Used plenty of times.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Slayers occasionally have prophetic dreams.
    • One dream at the end of Season 3 prophesies Dawn, who shows up in Season 5. It even gives the number of days until Buffy's death at the end of Season 5... at the end of Season 3.
  • Dresses the Same:
    • In the episode "Angel", Cordelia spots a girl wearing a dress identical to her own, and accuses her of wearing a cheap knockoff of her designer original. The girl scurries off with Cordelia in hot pursuit, haranguing her. "This is exactly what happens when you sign these free trade agreements!"
    • At the Sunset Club, Angel rails on about how these kids don't know anything about vampires. "What they are, how they live, how they dress..." At that moment, a dude dressed in exactly the same outfit as Angel appears next to him, checks him out, and walks away. "...ahem."
  • The Dragon:
    • The Master has Co-Dragons in Luke and Darla. The Annointed One becomes a Dragon Ascendant following the Master's death. The vampire preacher Absalom could be considered the A.O.'s Dragon.
    • Spike is Demoted to Dragon after making the mistake of letting Angelus crash at his place.
    • Mr. Trick begrudgingly serves as a Dragon-in-Chief to Kakistos before getting fed up and leaving him to the Slayers. He later finds himself employed by Mayor Wilkins, but meets his end during a scuffle with Faith, who goes on to take his job.
  • Drugs Are Bad:
    • Steroids will turn you into fish monsters.
    • The villain's Psycho Serum in "Beauty and the Beasts" was another analogue.
    • Magic=drugs, complete with dealers.
    • Riley's blood-addiction thing (which is also played with in Angel, to an even further degree)
  • Dub Name Change:
    • While the French dub didn't change Xander's first name, Alexander, it opted for its more common diminutive, Alex.
    • The Ukrainian dub took the railroad spikes anecdote seriously, because Spike ended up being named with the word ("Kostyl") intead of using the original name. Angel also ended up named after the Ukrainian word for "angel" ("Yangol") , but at least the change was less glaring in his case.
  • Dumb Blonde: Buffy is deliberately blonde to subvert this (see Action Girl above). Her hair color (as well as SMG's natural color) was brunette in the unaired pilot
  • Dynamic Entry: In "The Harvest", Luke is about to chow down on Cordelia when Buffy kicks one of his mooks over a railing and onto the stage below. Luke watches him land with a thud.
    • In the episode "Angel", things aren't going so well between Buffy and her fan club. As the leader of the Three is going for the kill, Angel suddenly yanks his hair from behind and punches him in the face.
      Angel: Good dogs don't... [socks vampire] bite!
    • In the Season 2 premere, Xander grapples with a vampire in a losing effort until a hand yanks the vamp away. We then see the vamp get pummeled by someone in a shiny micro-mini.
      Buffy: Miss me?
    • While Angelus is busy with her Watcher, Buffy swoops out of nowhere and judo kicks him in the back. ("Passion")
      Angelus: (to Giles) All right, you've had your fun, but you know what it's time for now?
      Buffy: My fun.
    • Perhaps the most famous example in the Season 2 finale. A Sunnydale cop, so nonexistent in previous weeks and so very prevalent in this one, jumps out and tells Buffy to hold it right there. Suddenly, the gun gets kicked out his hands. Spike pops out of nowhere, slaps around the cop and kicks him into the hood of his car, knocking him out.
    • In the same episode, Angelus readies himself to free Acathla as his acolytes look on. Buffy enters quietly behind one of the henchvamps and cleanly decapitates him. O hai!
    • In "Consequences", Faith is straddling Xander in her bed and about to strangle him. She hears a sound and looks over to see Angel swinging a baseball bat before the screen goes black. Ow.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Virtually any time anyone takes off an article of clothing—the female Scoobies are pleasantly surprised by Xander's Speedo.
    • The First, while taking Buffy's form, comments to Spike that it had originally planned to use Andrew as the blood sacrifice to open the seal, but that he looks better with his shirt off.
  • Elemental Plane: Several elemental dimensions are mentioned as a gag, namely the "land of the trolls", "land of perpetual Wednesday", "crazy melty land", "world without shrimp" and "world with nothing but shrimp".
  • Emergency Impersonation: Willow impersonates the captured alternate universe Willow to get her mooks to go outside.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse".
  • The End... Or Is It?: used a LOT.
    • At the end of "Teacher's Pet", slow pan to Mantis eggs hatching under a shelf
  • Enemy Mine: Spike frequently found himself calling on Buffy for help, even as far back as Season 2.
    • In "Prophecy Girl", Xander enlists his hated enemy's (Angel) help to storm the Master's lair, and save Buffy. Angel scoffs at that, so Xander shoves a cross in his face for extra convincing.
    • A very brief one occurs in Season 3's "Choices," when the Mayor and Faith, in the interest of mutual survival, team up with the Scooby Gang in the high school cafeteria when demon spiders escape from the Box of Gavrok.
  • Enter Stage Window: Buffy typically uses her bedroom window to enter and leave the house after curfew, before her mother finds out she is The Slayer.
    • At one point, she climbs in through the window, despite knowing that her mother is out of town for the weekend. When asked why she didn't just use the door, she is at a loss.
  • Erotic Dream: Has had its fair share. One Season 3 episode had Angel and Buffy share such a dream.
    • Willow's awkward moment in "When She was Bad":
      Xander: Dreams are meaningful.
      Willow: Tell me about it. The other night I dreamt that Xander... uh... It wasn't Xander! In fact it wasn't me, it was a friend's dream! And she doesn't remember it. looks down
      Buffy: I bet she doesn't.
    • Spike's Love Epiphany is prompted by one of these.
  • Escaped from Hell: Buffy does this in the third season, though as hells go, this one was more like Satanic factory than eternal fire, and it did have a simple two way door.
  • Establishing Series Moment: In another series, the schoolgirl in the first episode would have been a Dead Blonde Walking. Here, she's a vampire.
  • Estranged Soap Family: Hank Summers, who was gradually retconned into being a deadbeat dad. He made one reappearance in later seasons, but as part of the Cuckoo Nest. He later returns for real in the comics, even stating that his new fiancee wants him to be more present in Buffy and Dawn's lives... but tells Buffy not to come to his upcoming wedding, as she tends to be a Doom Magnet. Dawn tells him off for it and though it's implied in season 11 that they're still keeping in touch, they're still clearly not terribly close as he's never seen again.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Spike explains that while vampires may love to talk about destroying the world amongst themselves ("It's just tough-guy talk."), he prefers the world as it is. Where he draws the line, however, is sucking the world into Hell.
    "The truth is I like this world. You've got... [beat] dog racing. Manchester United. And you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Piccadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square, y'know what I'm saying?"
    • And despite claiming that he doesn't care what happens to Tara, when he begins to piece together that the men of her family created a false mythology that the women in the family are demons as way to keep them under control, he expresses genuine disgust in their abusive control tactics. He even steps in to offer definitive proof showing otherwise; he punches Tara in the face and purposely sets off his chip, proving that she's human even at the expense of his own pain.
    • Mayor Wilkins says that he married his wife in '03 and that he was with her to the end, which was "not a pretty picture." He suggests that the immortal Angel and the mortal Buffy will have the same problem. Wilkins gets in Angel's face, saying that he's selfish for keeping Buffy from the life she should have. "Is that what you came back from hell for? Is that your greater purpose?" Receiving a blank stare for an answer, Wilkins disgustedly turns his back on him.
      • He was also disturbed that the Scoobies would be okay with Faith living in a roach motel.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex : Played straight despite the fact that in the seven-year series, Buffy only has four sexual partners (Angel, Parker, Riley and Spike) and she sleeps with Satsu in Buffy Season 8, Willow has three (Oz, Tara and Kennedy) and Xander has two (Faith and Anya, not counting demonic seductions with intentions on his life). With the exception of Parker and Faith, two one-night-stands who promptly abandoned the cast regulars after the event, all these relationships evolved into sexual contact after prolonged friendship and/or dating. However, once sexual contact begins, well, this trope gets played very straight, becoming a plot point and basis for an entire episode.
  • Everyone Hates Mimes:
    Buffy: So then Kathy's like, "It's share time." And I'm like, "Oh, yeah? Share this."
    [she punches the air a few times]
    Oz: So either you hit her, or you did your wacky mime routine for her.
    Buffy: Well, I didn't do either, actually. But she deserved it, don't you think?
    Oz: Nobody deserves mime, Buffy.
  • Evil Counterpart: Giles in particular racked up a high count, if only because anyone with a vaguely mentor-like personality or British accent will qualify. Giles had an evil counterpart on Angel, too, despite never even appearing on that show!
    • Faith to Buffy but later subverted when Faith is reformed in prison.
    • Oz has an evil counterpart in Veruca.
    • Willow's archenemy (still at large by the time of Season 8) is Amy Madison.
    • Riley = Forrest
    • Dawn = Glory
    • Anya = Halfrek
  • Evil Gloating: A few of the villains do this. Ethan Rayne acknowledges that it's generally a bad idea, but he can't seem to help himself.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: Something of a recurring theme in the show. Angel has a permanent version going on with Angelus, Giles would rather not even think about his past as Ripper, etc.
    Faith-in-Buffy's-body: Shut up! Do you think I'm afraid of you? (*starts punching "Faith"*) You're nothing! Disgusting! Murderous bitch! You're nothing! You're disgusting!
    • It's more internalized than with Angel, but Spike also experiences this. While they're going up against a soul-devouring demon in season 10, Spike orders Buffy to stake him if it manages to get his soul, stating he'd rather be dead than go back to how he was.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: The stakes to losing to any of the Big Bads.
    • Spike makes a speech about how this is the Slayer's lot in life: she will kill however many vampires and demons in her life, but eventually someone will have "One. Good. Day."
  • Evil Orphanage Lady: In an episode the frat house that Reily lives in is haunted by the spirits (not ghosts) of the kids who lived there when it was an orphanage; their caretaker, Mrs. Holt, abused them and punished them severely for doing anything even remotely sexual (like preening in front of a mirror to look nice).
  • Evil Plan:
    • Lothos had a fixation on the Slayer.
    • The Master wanted to escape his can and feast on humans
    • The Trio had number of plans such as make Buffy their Sex Slave.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Ethan, The Mayor and, in his past, Giles. It's been hinted that Giles was much, much worse than Ethan.
  • Evil Tainted the Place: A children's home turned college dorm, called the Lowell house is tainted by the lingering psychic mojo of the sexually abused children that once lived there. The mojo manifests itself as a gang of poltergeists that heighten and live vicariously through various college students' steamy err... interactions.
  • Exact Words: A possible explanation for Buffy killing the Judge with a rocket launcher. While the prophecy says that "no weapon forged" could kill him. Like other modern metal weaponry, the AT-4 she used is cast, not forged.
  • Exercise Excuse: When Xander walks in on Spike having sex with a temporarily-invisible Buffy, Spike gives the excuse that he's exercising — doing naked push-ups.
  • Expy:
    • Der Kindestod, of Freddy.
    • Ted, and The Stepfather.
    • For another example, look at Gnarl from "Same Time, Same Place" and tell us he doesn't remind you of Gollum. They even have the same habit of referring to themselves in the third person.
    • The episode with the "Fish People" — there is no way you can look at them and not think of The Creature From The Black Lagoon
  • Exposition of Immortality: It's a TV show with vampires and demons and werewolves, oh my! There was going to have to be some of this going on at some point. Being television means a lot of it comes through flashbacks; mainly provided for Angel as Angelus, Angel being cursed by the gypsies, Angelus being evil with Spike and Dru etc.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: When Buffy's hair is all curly she is normally not herself or crazy. This goes all the way back to Xander's daydream in the fourth episode of the series.
  • Extra-Long Episode: "Once More With Feeling", the musical episode. It never aired in complete form after the first time.
  • Eye Color Change:
    • Whenever Willow makes intensive use of magic, her eyes abruptly turned pitch-black while closed. Then, in the series finale, when using the scythe to activate all the potential slayers, her eyes (and hair) turned white, hinting she was using powerful white magic.
    • When Willow buffed up Buffy with magic to fight Adam, Buffy's eyes turned gold/yellow.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: The Trio do this a few times, as they often try to imitate evil villains from media but fail due to their own awkwardness.
    • And Willow in "Doppelgangland", when she meekly explains that she's storming off now. "It doesn't really work if you come with me."
    • When the earthquake stops, and the Master, in mid-rant, asides, "Whaddaya think? 5.1?"
    • "Prophecy Girl:" When he wakes up, tell him... I dunno. Think of something cool. Tell him I said it.
    • Oz insists on a moment of silence after the school blows up. Everyone gets annoyed and leaves. "..And we're done."
    • Ethan Rayne in "A New Man" tried to do an "I'm back to raise Hell" monologue when he thought he was alone but Giles heard him.
    • Spike falls into an open grave in "Out Of My Mind"
    • Spike's return to Sunnydale in Season 4:
    "Watch your mouth, little girl. You should know better than to tempt the fates that way. Because the Big Bad is back — and this time, it's — GNYAARGGHHLL!!" *tased from behind*
  • Fake Band: In Season 2 Dingos Ate My Baby; the name came from the famous case of Lindsey Chamberlain, became a regular at The Bronze. Their lead guitarist Oz becomes attracted to Willow and the two hook up until Seth Green leaves the series in Season 4.
  • Fang Thpeak: Common throughout the show. It gets better as the show goes on, thanks to better prosthetics. It also tends to be better for repeat characters, because they tend to get specially made prosthetics fitted to their mouths, whereas generic vamps get generic prostheses.
  • Fantastic Racism: Buffy, mostly. She has no problem killing demons, but when humans do things that are just as bad (like murder one of her best friends), she absolutely refuses to fight.
    • Xander seems to have a specific dislike for vampires in particular, as he holds both Angel and Spike accountable for their pre-soul actions whereas the rest of the cast generally places a seperation—even Giles, who lost Jenny to Angelus' cruelty. Verges on Hypocrite territory at times, given that he doesn't seem too bothered by Anya's actions as a vengeance demon, despite that they were just as brutal and she is older than both of them combined. He eventually curbs this in the comics by befriending Spike.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: They're all real, according to Giles. He bought the Time-Life volumes; he knows what he's talking about.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: All gods seem to be real aside for "the" God and there are a group of god-like beings called The Powers That Be. There are also beings known as Hellgods, which can be killed. Oh, and the Old Ones are there, too. There's an unnamed goddess mentioned a few times by Willow (probably The Goddess of Wicca). Basically, there's a fuckton of gods.
  • Femme Fatale: Gender-swapped by Spike (a knowingly seductive, platinum-blond male vampire), who tells Buffy that she belongs "in the dark, with me." Especially pronounced in "School Hard," in which he implies he wants Sheila to follow him for sex (but feeds her to Dru instead), and "Dead Things," the source of the quote.
    • Played straight with Darla, who uses her feminine allure to lure and murder a man in the show's very first scene, as well as seducing Jesse and Xander later in the episode. She also enticed Angel/Liam to becoming a vampire through seduction.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Part of the Slayer package is flashbacks to battles of other Slayers in the form of nightmares. Angel Season 5 shows what happens when a crazy person gets them.
  • Flowers of Romance: Subverted in an episode where Giles comes home and finds a trail of rose petals leading up the stairs to his bedroom...where Jenny is lying dead, having been killed by Angelus.
  • Foreshadowing: Joss Whedon planned out the series from the start, so the audience gets tons of foreshadowing.
    • Word of God says they hadn't planned to make Willow gay as of The Wish let alone even earlier in Phases, but then there's this exchange:
    Buffy: What guy could resist your Willow charms?
    Willow: At last count? All of them, maybe more.
    • Any dream Buffy has, especially involving Faith, clocks, Little Miss Muffet, or beds.
    • Anytime Little Miss Muffet is referenced, at all.
    • A blink-and-you'll-miss example comes in the Season 4 episode "Who Are You", where Faith (in Buffy's body) reads off Joyce's credit card expiration date: May 2001. Flashforward a season later, where Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn, and the world. The episode's airdate? May 22, 2001.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: For vaguely defined reasons, apparently because they think it is just corny, Vampires and demons do not cause problems on Halloween, and instead stay in their respective lairs and wait for the night to end. Spike is disgusted when a couple of teenaged Vampires try to cause trouble and explains that there are rules for this sort of thing, and explains that he is a rebel, whereas they are just idiots.
  • Forgettable Character: A Running Gag with Andrew, who has to frequently reaffirm who he is to both the Scoobies and the baddies alike.
    • Buffy's boyfriend Scott Hope that she dates for a few episodes in season 2 is forgotten by pretty much everyone the second he's offscreen, both in-universe and in a meta sense. When Buffy has a Freudian Slip in season 6 about the four guys she's been romantically involved with—something that is technically true, even leaving out her current-at-the-time secret Destructive Romance with Spike—she corrects it to three, meaning the fourth she was referring to was indeed Spike and Scott wasn't even considered part of it in the first place.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Darla, Glory, and Buffy aren't exactly names that inspire fear, but you absolutely should be afraid of all 3 of them.
  • Freudian Slip:
    • Xander helping to gather Buffy's books in the pilot. "Can I have you— Uh, can I help you?"
    • Later outshined by, "We're your bosom friends! The friends of your bosom!"
    • Xander also does this in "Teacher's Pet", when seeing the She-Mantis in a rather tight and revealing dress: "It's the most beautiful chest — dress I've ever seen."
    • In season 6, when Buffy's doomed romantic entanglements are brought up, she protests that there's only been four—three!—guys.
  • Freudian Trio:
    • The original Scoobies: Buffy (ego), Willow (superego) and Xander (id).
    • The Trio, of course: Andrew (ego), Jonathan (superego) and Warren (id).
    • The three activated Slayers absolutely personify the three parts of a Freudian Trio. Buffy, the series protagonist, believes in always doing the right thing. She has to balance out her slayer duties with her emotions, believing that emotions are what give her the will power to continue fighting. However, it's made clear that Buffy would much rather be a normal teenage girl than have the burden of spending the rest of her life fighting monsters. Buffy is (from our perspective) pretty much the idealized slayer. She has family and friends to get her through the bad parts of her life. Then comes Buffy's polar opposite, Kendra, who is dedicated to her job and has trained for years to be what the Watchers' Council perceive as the idealized slayer. In spite of this, Kendra is lacking in the social skills department due to being taken from her parents at an early age, and forbidden to develop emotional ties with anyone. After Kendra's death, another Slayer is activated: Faith, who embodies everything that Buffy would never let herself become, specifically intended by Joss Whedon to be Buffy's Shadow Archetype. Faith is a hotheaded, impulsive, Really Gets Around Blood Knight who abides by the philosophy "Want, Take, Have" and lives on the edge, with slaying a source of pleasure rather than misery. She had a rough childhood, so it's the first thing in her life that she can actually be proud of. It also gives her a sense of authority which, for Faith, automatically makes her better than and above everyone else, including the law. Faith's recklessness leads to her accidental murder of a human, and a downward spiral to the Dark Side, which includes working for Season 3's Big Bad.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampires: Angel is the first one and Spike mellows into one because of his chip and later his soul.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes:
    • Anya was a bit of a downplayed example; she wasn't disliked per se, but she was clearly Xander's girlfriend rather a friend of the rest of the Scoobies. Willow and her plain didn't get along, Buffy could get irritated with her bluntness, and Dawn didn't like her due to her Precocious Crush on Xander.
    • Spike from seasons 5-7. Justifiably, he was considered largely untrustworthy to everyone besides Buffy and Dawn (and occasionally Willow showed him some kindness), even after he acquired his soul. Eventually subverted in the comics, in which he becomes fully integrated into the Scoobies friend group, becoming Vitriolic Best Buds and roommates with Xander, as well as getting back together with Buffy with the encouragement of nearly every Scoobie.
    • Andrew, who sticks around the Scoobies from season 7 onward but is kept at an arms distance for most of it. Again, justifiably, as his discretions didn't even have the excuse of having no soul at the time. By season 10, he attempts to resurrect Tara in an effort to help make up for his sins towards the group. After which, he is forgiven and accepted fully into the group.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Anya and Tara had barely any close personal interaction despite hanging out together for years in the Scooby Gang and their love interests being best friends with each other, possibly due to their vividly contrasting personalities.
  • Frozen Fashion Sense: According to Buffy, this is the dead giveaway. Another one is hilariously outdated dance moves.
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: This happens to Faith after she first kills another human being (as opposed to a soulless and Always Chaotic Evil vampire, demon, etc.) The kill itself is unplanned; she lashes out thinking the man is a vampire. It is her subsequent justification of the act—that the man was expendable, collateral damage—that indicates the beginnings of her Face–Heel Turn and her subsequent killing of more innocent people.
  • Gayngst: Despite having four (possibly five) homosexual characters, there is very little gayngst on the show. Larry suffers a little before coming out of the closet but by the time it's mentioned again, he's out and quite happy about it. Spike manages to bring out a little gayngst in Willow during "The Yoko Factor" but that too fades quickly.
    • Tara probably fits this trope. She's rather insecure, and worries that Willow will leave her for a guy. And she seems to have this a lot in the episode where her abusive family arrives in town, though a lot of it is metaphorical.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Zig-zagged due to all the cast changes.
    • Played straight during Season 2 and the first half of Season 5 (before Riley left). For Seasons 1, 5 (in the latter half), 6, and 7, the main cast was predominantly female, whereas it leaned more male during Seasons 3 and 4.
    • That said, Season 4 can also count as fitting the trope narratively; while Buffy and Willow were the only female characters listed in the credits, Anya and Tara appeared in so many episodes and were so closely tied to the core cast of Scoobies that counting them balances things out.
    • For a while in Season 9, after Giles' death, it was the core three plus Spike, Andrew and Dawn.
  • Geographic Flexibility: Sunnydale was described in the pilot as a "one Starbucks town" and turned out to have everything a Californian could possibly want:
    • For a "one Starbucks town", there's a lot of local hot spots, even though it was also stated in the pilot that the Bronze was the only hot spot in town; Buffy's mom moved to Sunnydale to work at an art gallery, and a zoo, an ice rink, and an indoor mall all appeared in the first two seasons. In Season 7, there are now several more nightclubs, once a Serial Killer starts stalking them. Oh, and there's also a warehouse district. Not just a couple of warehouses, but an entire district that the functions as a de facto community for the town's nonhuman population.
    • It's a small town that's also an Atlanta-class transportation hub; It has a bus station, a train station, an airport, and not just a beach but an entire waterfront district. It also lost the entire beach/waterfront portions when the finale needed it to be landlocked.
    • The Police Are Useless, of course, but most small towns don't have a police department, just a sheriff. Sunnydale not only has enough LEOs to have multiple detectives, but also a fire department. With multiple fire engines.
    • The high school was described as typical of a small town, but turned out to have football and baseball fields, as well as an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool. It's also within walking distance of a community college and a campus of the University of California. Both with enough dormitories that one or two fell into disuse and became vampire dens.
    • Just in passing, a reservoir and dam were shown, justifying how Buffy never complained about water shortages. This is a big one, as anyone who's ever lived in California will admit.
    • It even has a . Y'know, for when the Scoobies need to steal a rocket launcher.
    • Most obviously, the town has 43 churches and twelve Gothic cemeteries.
    • Possibly Truth in Television - to someone used to a community of 5k people, a place with 100k is “the big city” whereas, for someone coming from a metropolis of several million, the same place would seem downright quaint. People within the cultural radius of LA probably have a very skewed idea of what “small town” means.
    • Lampshaded in the Season 5 episode "Buffy vs Dracula";
      Riley: "I've lived in Sunnydale a couple of years now. You know what I've never noticed before? This big honkin' castle."
      • In that case it's presumed that either Dracula teleported his own castle to Sunnydale, assuming residents wouldn't notice or care, or that the entire episode was caused by reality alteration due to the retroactive creation of Buffy's sister Dawn.
    • Also all justified by the Mayor of Sunnydale being a Big Bad who built the town specifically to draw humans to the Hellmouth as food for demons. Another theory is that the magical shenanigans of a Hellmouth make it an Eldritch Location.
    • Sunnydale's sewer system appears to belong to a city of a million plus inhabitants.
  • Girlish Pigtails:
    • Buffy sports pigtails while working incognito at a Greasy Spoon.
    • Buffy during Giles's dream sequence in the episode "Restless." Buffy's attitude in the scene is that of a much younger child, and Giles is essentially her father.
  • Gone Horribly Right: A scorned Xander performing a love spell on Cordelia. Needless to say, it backfires.
    Giles: I cannot believe that you are fool enough to do something like this!
    Xander: Oh, no, I'm twice the fool it takes to do something like this.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars:
    • The Leader of the Three has a scar over his eye ("Angel"), as does Kakistos ("Faith, Hope, and Trick"). The latter's scar is a memento from Faith, whose Watcher was slain by Kakistos.
    • Wishverse Buffy from the alternate universe ("The Wish") wears green camo and has a prominent scar across her mouth.
    • Spike has a scar in his eyebrow, shown later to be the result of a battle with a Chinese Slayer.
  • Graying Morality: Gradually, over the course of all seasons, the gaps between the clear white and black of the first season fade. Never hits Grey-and-Gray Morality, though.
  • Go for the Eye: Several examples:
    • The Nigerian masked zombie-demon in the episode "Dead Man's Party." Buffy didn't know it was the monster's only weak point but you'd be surprised how many things don't like having their eyes gouged out.
    • This could be applied somewhat to Xander as well. Sure he's had an arm broken here and there, and has been beaten with a Troll God's Hammer, but all to little actual effect. It was only an attack on his eye that really harmed him. Right after telling his fighters to "go for the (...) eyes. Everything's got eyes." Ouch. Also... their opponents didn't have eyes.
    • At one point Buffy lectures potential Slayers about dealing with monsters. She says to avoid things like tentacles and go for the brain, heart and eyes. It is then pointed out to her that Bringers don't have eyes.
  • Go Through Me: The whole gang does this to protect Tara from her abusive family. Except Spike.
    Buffy: "If you want Tara, you'll have to go through all of us."
    Spike: "Except me."
    Xander: "Except Spike."
    Spike: "I don't care what happens."
    • Xander tried this several times, and gets his ass handed to him once or twice. Mostly averted such as when he kept watch over Buffy in the hospital or the time with Jack O'Toole in the school basement with the bomb.
      • Though he has a major success with it at the end of Season 6 when pulling one on Willow, mostly due to The Power of Friendship .
  • Godwin's Law: Nazis have been referenced a few times in Buffy.
    • In "The Witch", Buffy says Amy's mother is, "Nazi-like".
    • In "Becoming Pt. 1", Cordelia says of Principal Snyder, "How about because you’re a tiny impotent Nazi with a bug up his butt the size of an emu?"
    • In "Gingerbread", Xander is dismayed at all the parents rallying against the occult. "Aw, man it’s Nazi Germany and I’ve got Playboys in my locker!"
  • Good-Looking Privates: The Agents of the Initiative are quite handsome. Lampshaded, when Riley's best friend laments that they can't tell girls that they're demon slayers so they have to rely on their looks to get the girls.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Buffy does this to Angelus in "Innocence". She also kills Caleb by vertically bisecting him, from the groin upwards.
    • The scythe version was also attempted by Buffy on Twilight in Season 8 during their first fight. Twilight's reaction is kinda foreshadow-y.
  • Guns Are Useless: "These things? Never helpful." They really aren't except that one time, when they killed a smurf. Averted in Season 10 where some Slayers use silver bullets and show to be just as effective as using medieval weaponry, if not more so.
  • Gut Punch: Damn did this show love this trope. Of the most prominent candidates:
    • "The Pack" with Principal Flutie being cannibalized.
    • Season 2 has "Innocence," where Angel loses his soul and becomes Angelus once again.
    • "Passions," a few episodes later, where Angelus gleefully murders Jenny Calendar.
    • Season 5's "The Body," where Buffy finds Joyce on the couch, dead of a brain aneurysm.
    • The extremely sudden death of Tara directly following her and Willow finally getting back together in season 6.
  • Guy-on-Guy Is Hot: In "Chosen", Buffy suggests putting Angel and Spike in a room together to wrestle in the nude while she watches. Her eyes widen with excitement when she adds, "There could be some kind of oil involved."


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