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.
"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.
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.
Affably Evil: Mayor Wilkins, who provides the Trope picture. Also, Harmony, Clem, Spike (after his encounter with The Initiative), pretty much all the demons who showed up to Anya and Xander's wedding, Holden Webster from "Conversations With Dead People", and occasional random vamps. And Ethan Rayne.
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.
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.
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 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 Chaotic Evil: Vampires and (initially) demons. As the show went on, we met demons who were fully naturalized and driving station wagons.
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.
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.
For Seasons 1-5, Anthony Stewart Head was last in the opening credits, with an "and...as 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.
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.
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.)
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")
Banishing Ritual: There was one with a demon in the internet...it 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.
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.
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!
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. Anger 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.
Bilingual Bonus: Spells are almost always done in another language, often a dead one like Latin.
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").
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.")
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").
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.
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.
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.
Characterization Marches On: Wow. In the first episode of Buffy, Buffy herself was a perky cheerleader, Darla was somewhat ditzy, and Angel was aloof, mysterious, and kind of chipper. Fast forward to the episode Angel, and they've developed more into the personalities that they're known for.
With Darla, it's somewhat hard to tell, considering that she gets dusted so soon, but she does come back on Angel, and it's a lot more apparent.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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).
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.
In Angelus's 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 order...to 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."
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.
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 bitten, drained, and killed by vampire versions of Xander and Willow.
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
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.
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, Spike spend 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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 his girlfriend is lying dead, having been killed by Angelus.
Follow the Leader: Both Buffy and Angel share similarities with the Highlander TV series, as good a guiding stick as any for a flashback heavy franchise. These range from a cabal of secretive "Watchers", to an Older Sidekick who strums guitar, and even Angel's smooth Plymouth convertible. A tongue-in-cheek essay on the topic can be read here.
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.
Franchise Zombie: Became this in an almost literal sense after the fifth season when Buffy dies at the end of Season 5 and is resurrected along with the show at the beginning of Season 6. Word of God was that it was meant to be over and done with at the end of Season 5.
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 AroundBlood 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.
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 FaceHeel 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.
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.
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 military base. Y'know, for when the Scoobies need to steal a rocket launcher.
Most obviously, the town has 43 churches and twelve Gothic cemeteries.
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.
Green Eyes: You'd think the casting call explicitly asked for them. Willow, Giles, Riley, Joyce, and Buffy all have 'em. Yet the girl whose natural form is a big, green ball of energy doesn't, thus this trope is averted.
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 youre 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 its Nazi Germany and Ive got Playboys in my locker!"
Good-Looking Privates: The Agents of the Initiative are quite handsome. Lampshaded, when Riley's Black 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.
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.
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."