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  • Halloween Episode: Three of them. In Season 2, "Halloween." In Season 4, "Fear Itself." In Season 6, "All the Way." Ironically, Halloween was usually portrayed as the safest night in Sunnydale, as the various monsters and demons would take the night off out of disgust for how commercialized the holiday had become.
  • Hanlon's Razor: Harmony was the only person whose transformation into a soulless monster wasn't portrayed as tragic; objectively, it wasn't much of a change.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Referenced, of course,
    Buffy: I thought it was gonna be like in the movies. You know, inspirational music ... a montage, me sharpening my pencils, me reading, writing, falling asleep on a big pile of books with my glasses all crooked ('cause in my montage I have glasses)...
    • Then in "Once More With Feeling"
      Buffy: I'm worried our training's gonna turn into a montage from an '80s movie.
      Giles: If we start to hear inspirational power chords, we'll just lie down until it goes away.
  • He Knows Too Much: Angelus is very thorough in disposing of everyone who knows how to restore his soul.
    • Faith murders a Volcanologist in his office, seemingly at random. We later learn that the doctor excavated the fossilized remains of an Old One, which puts Buffy on the trail of the Mayor's weakness.
    • Xander walks in on the lunch lady pouring what appears to be rat poison into the jell-o. She grabs a knife and chases him.
  • Heal It with Blood: Slayer blood has the power to increase the strength of vampires. Draining the blood of a slayer is the only way to cure the vampiric poison "Killer of the Dead" (or Interfector Mortis in Latin).
  • Heart in the Wrong Place: The location of vampires' hearts seems to vary from vaguely close to the actual heart to, in the case of Candy Gorch, the stomach.
  • Heinous Hyena: In 'The Pack' (though a group of hyenas is actually called a clan!).
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Spike, Faith, and especially Vampire Willow all favour wearing leather.
  • Hell Gate: The Hellmouth is the literal entrance to a hell dimension, and the series concludes with it being closed once and for all.
  • Her Boyfriend's Jacket:
    • Angel gives Buffy his leather jacket in the fourth episode, Teacher's Pet, she wears it for the rest of the first season, albeit with the sleeves rolled up. They're not a couple yet, but when he says, at the end of the episode, that "it looks better on you", she knows she's fallen for him.
    • Tara wears Willow's sweater in the fourth season episode "New Moon Rising", which precipitates the episode's trouble.
  • Hero of Another Story: Angel becomes this after he leaves the show at the end of Season 3.
  • Hidden Supplies: Giles stashes his weapons in the library's book cage. He has a another cache hidden in his apartment.
    Xander: These are his good weapons.
    • Buffy keeps her gear hidden in a false-bottom chest under her bed.
  • Higher Education Is for Women: Buffy and Willow go to university while Xander doesn't. Cordelia got accepted to several universities but couldn't go because her family fortune vanished when her father went to jail. Oz does go to university but drops out after killing Veruca and skipping town.
  • Historical Rap Sheet: A segment of The Origin comic based on Whedon's original script for the movie had this little tidbit:
    Merrick: You've heard of the emperor Caligula, perhaps? Or Jack the Ripper?
    Buffy: No way! They were both vampires?
    Merrick: The same one, actually.
  • Holiday Ceasefire: It's mentioned on the Halloween episode that most of the monsters on Sunnydale consider the day to be a "day off" (which is the reason Buffy and the rest of the Gang decide to go trick-or-treating). Unfortunately for the Slayer, it's more of an unwritten rule and Spike decides to disobey it. More unfortunately, Ethan Rayne enchants some costumes and turns Buffy (among others) into the people they disguised as, making her harmless. Unfortunately for Spike, Giles destroys the enchantment before he can do much more than gloat that he has Buffy corralled, which gives him a quite humiliating beat-down in response.
  • Hollywood Beauty Standards: Regarding Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon mentions this trope in the DVD commentaries:
    Joss Whedon: Of course, Nicholas Brendon is way too good-looking, but this is Hollywood, so get over it.
  • Hollywood Dateless: Everybody complains about not getting dates, yet every Scooby has had multiple long-term partners (Willow and Xander had two, and Buffy has had three). That's not even mentioning the several guys and girls of the week they've all had.
  • Hollywood Encryption: Willow can decrypt near anything, seriously, though admittedly the Initiative's most secretest files eventually decrypted themselves before she had a chance to do it herself.
  • Hollywood Healing: Both averted and played straight depending on the character.
    • Buffy can shrug off most minor wounds, and even major ones rarely stick around for more than a day or two. Justified in that Slayer powers include a Healing Factor.
    • Giles' ability to recover from being knocked unconscious with no long-term effects is something of a running joke.
    • The rest of the cast are an aversion. For the most part when someone gets injured they'll have visible wounds or bandages for several episodes afterwards. Spike has to spend the latter half of season 2 in a wheelchair after getting a pipe organ dropped on him (although he was faking for some of that time, and Vampires also have a Healing Factor). In season 5 Xander gets his wrist broken by Olaf and wears a cast for the next two episodes.
  • Horrifying the Horror: The basic premise of the series, actually. Instead of the cute blonde checking underneath the bed for monsters before going to bed it's the monsters checking the closet for Buffy.
  • Home Field Advantage: The hell mouth gives people living above it superpowers. Demons and other mystical beings are drawn to its energy, and Word of Joss is that Warren was taking advantage of it for his robots and other super science.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Except of course when Dawn is in trouble. Other than that Halloween (despite being boycotted by any self-respecting demon), Buffy's birthday party, and any school event is a guaranteed demon magnet.
  • Hypocrite: Xander, especially where Buffy's vampire boyfriends' bloody histories are concerned. Usually when someone has a Jerkass moment (especially when it's jerkass moralizing), it goes hand-in-hand with some hypocrisy.
  • Humans Are White: Not one of the Scoobies in seven seasons is black. Of course, this only really applies to the core group (many of whom didn't change throughout the series and were drawn from the predominantly white Sunnydale population). Throughout the first season there are different races seen in the school, Kendra is Jamaican, Wood is black, and the Potentials are made up of multiple races.
  • Hypothetical Casting: The tabletop RPG made a lot of hay out of the televised nature of its inspiration; the GM position is called 'The Director', and individual adventures are called 'Episodes' and meant to be part of a larger 'Season'. To top it all off, the rulebook encouraged players to identify the actor who would play their character if the game they were in was actually a TV show.
  • I Call It Mr. Pointy: Kendra's name for her favorite stake. She gives it to Buffy shortly before getting killed.
  • I Can't Do This by Myself: The show has one of these. Buffy does it to Giles after she saves him when he goes to kill Angelus, right after Jenny's death.
    Buffy: Are you trying to get yourself killed??? *grabs onto him* I can't do this by myself!
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Sunnydale's original name, before the Mayor renamed it.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Buffy, who insists on trying to have a normal life, going to school, having friends, dating boys, trying out for the cheerleading team, etc., despite her all-consuming mission to keep the world safe from evil. This makes for an ongoing source of angst for Buffy, though there are a few hints that her friends and the "normal" part of her life keep her grounded and stable, instead of turning into a cold and unfeeling Death Seeker.
    • Ironically, Cracked did an article that criticized Buffy's desire to be normal: as they put it, the demons she fights have turned Sunnydale into a war zone, and the only difference Buffy has from everyone else is that she isn't helpless, and that her powers are in fact the very reason she's able to stay alive. The article also points out that there are enough supernatural deaths in Sunnydale that the idea of normalcy doesn't exist for anyone, and this is a town where 'normal' people have to live in fear of their organs being harvested or being eaten alive by bullies possessed by demonic hyenas, and every season, at least 10 students and faculty at Sunnydale High School are killed by supernatural creatures. In short, Cracked summed it up by saying that, in the Buffyverse, "Being 'normal' means being a vulnerable hunk of meat just burning time before getting eaten by a demon."
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Xander and Dawn.
    • Bites her in the ass in Season 8. She gets turned into a giant (which is problematic for her, though she does fight a giant Mecha-Dawn), a Centaurette and a Doll (which gets her captured by an insane doll collector). Xander at this point had gotten over this, basically running the Slayer Organization and Dawn is quite happy to be normal again and is actually comforted by Xander throughout the whole ordeal while everyone else basically ignores her. They get together.
    • Xander gets a big one in "The Zeppo" as well.
  • "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight: Jesse openly mocks Xander with this trope.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Jenny Calendar's death is used to show that Angelus is a genuine threat and that Angel is unreachable without his soul. Tara's death is similarly used to set Willow off on her Roaring Rampage of Revenge at the end of season 6.
    • Spike views Buffy's death this way, during his time between season 5 and 6. He blamed himself for being unable to stop Doc from opening Glory's portal, thus "causing" Buffy to have to jump to close it.
  • Inconvenient Attraction: In Season 5, Spike falls hopelessly in love with Buffy—much to his horror.
    • In season 6, Buffy becomes extremely attracted right back, played to rather dark extremes.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Buffy makes them quite regularly, but probably the worst one is Xander's:
    Giles: I've never actually heard of anyone attacked by a lone baseball bat before.
    Xander: Maybe it's a vampire bat.
    • That one Buffy made about her Valentine's Day staking being "heart-felt" was even more cringe-worthy.
  • Informed Ability: The threat posed by the Anointed One was difficult to actually see in practice. Originally the character was supposed to have a larger role than he did in the second season so it's likely we would have gotten to see this ability in practice, but all we really got to see him do was have a few conversations with The Master and then get killed rather easily.
  • Informed Attribute: Vampires are quite often described as being very pale. The make-up artists apparently gave up on this early on, because with the exception of the first couple seasons most vampires sport a rather healthy complexion.
    • Possibly allowed given that many if not most of the vampires on the show are "new recruits".
  • Innocent Innuendo: In "Lie to Me", Giles is unsure about a "surprise" date, but finally stammers, "Alright, I put myself in your hands."
    Jenny: That sounds like fun.
    • Buffy moped over Ford for months, and would sit in her room listening to "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls. She quickly shifts gears by saying she had no idea what the song was about.
    • Buffy glancing up from her career aptitude test to inquire, "Do I like shrubs?"
    Xander: That's between you and your God.
    • In "Killed by Death", Willow mentions that she and Xander used to play doctor (With medical textbooks and things).
    • In "Earshot", Buffy, discussing her "Touch of the Demon", is obliged to mention that it was "A good touch. Not a bad touch."
    • In Season 4's "The Freshman", Willow's speech about her excitement with school, which when she notices the wide-eyed look from Buffy realizes how dirty it sounded.
    • And in Hush, though this is nonverbal, when the Scoobies are trying to determine how to defeat the Gentlemen, Buffy makes a fist and mimicks stabbing....vertically....while seated....upon seeing the looks from the others, she reiterates this with a stake in hand.
    • In "Wrecked", Dawn describes a delicious hamburger as "like a meat party in my mouth." After a beat, she admits that came out wrong.
  • Insult to Rocks: While Buffy is hunting Angel inside the empty Bronze, she calls out that she knows he's in there, and she knows what he is ("Angel"). From the balcony, Angel, in game face, sneers, "I'm just an animal, right?"
    Buffy: You're not an animal. Animals I like.
    • In "Lover's Walk", Spike sobs that he's "nothing" without Dru, a sentiment which Buffy is inclined to agree with.
      Buffy: You're not even a loser anymore. You're a shell of a loser.
    • In "Consequences", Angel's sermon to Faith doesn't appear to be sinking in. In the privacy of his garden, he grumbles to Buffy that it's like talking to a wall. "Only you get more from a wall."
  • Interim Villain: The strongest example is perhaps the Anointed One in Season 2, who takes over for and tries to resurrect the Master, the previous season's Big Bad, and is subsequently used to introduce Spike... who promptly kills him.
    • Buffy would often do this: Mr. Trick was replaced by Faith and the Mayor, The Trio gave way to Dark Willow, Spike (Season 2) was eclipsed by Angelus, etc.
  • Internal Affairs: The Watcher's Council keeps its Slayers on a tight leash. In fact, they have an entire wetworks team dedicated to taking down rogue Slayers. The Watchers themselves (poor Giles) are also under close scrutiny.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: As far as vamps are concerned, there is no separating wall. Buffy struggles with this side of herself throughout the series.
  • Interspecies Romance: A whole lot; Buffy (a human Slayer) and Angel/Spike (Vampires). Willow (a human witch) and Oz (a werewolf), then later, with Aluwyn (A trickster snake-demon). Dawn, in between Seasons 7 and 8 takes the cake by dating a demon thing with tentacles. Honourable mention to Xander with ex-demon Anya.
  • Intimate Artistry: In a disturbing variation of the trope, Angelus would draw sketches of his future victims and leave them to be found as a barely-veiled threat.
  • Inverted Trope: Y'know all those classic horror movies where some blonde bimbo cheerleader is the victim of the film's monster? Well here that idea is gleefully turned upside down, where vampires and demons check the wardrobe for Buffy before going to bed.
  • Invisible Parents: Buffy's mom is a major character, but everyone else's parents might as well not exist. Xander, Willow and co. are constantly going out to battle evil and end up in the hospital for doing so, and not only do their parents never show, the characters rarely ever talk about them. The only time this was subverted was in Season 3, when Willow's mom had a major role in one episode before vanishing back into the ether.
  • Ironic Name: You'd think that characters with names like Angel, Faith, Harmony, and Glory would be heroic characters, but they're all villains. While Angel does pull a Heel–Face Turn eventually, he's still a vampire and becomes more of an Anti-Hero than a shining example of heroism. Faith similarly pulls a Heel–Face Turn, although she's even more of an Anti-Hero after it. Harmony is really only Affably Evil and a Card-Carrying Villain, but unlike the other two she stays a villain. Of the four, Glory is the only really purely evil one (and she's at least Faux Affably Evil)
    • It should be noted that Angel specifically picked his name to be ironic (his real name is Liam): he is the "vampire with the angelic face." His evil side, when it resurfaces, is referred to with the much more intimidating name of "Angelus."
    • Buffy was named to be ironic; the joke encapsulated in the show's title was 'valley girl versus the forces of darkness'.
    • In-Universe, Spike chose his names this way. "William The Bloody" was originally an Embarrassing Nickname he was dubbed by his human peers, in reference to his "bloody awful poetry". Once a vamp, Spike decided to live up to it, literally. Also, the name "Spike" comes from a preference for torture with railroad spikes, inspired by a mean comment made by another Victorian gentleman he knew. One can only assume the guy got his wish to "shove railroad spikes" through his head instead of listening to William's poetry.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Buffy breaks things off with Guy of the Week Owen for this reason.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In the Season 2 premiere, Buffy tortures a vamp by making her swallow a silver necklace.
    • If Band Candy is anything to go by, Ripper, even years before he was at his worst, was a huge fan of this.
  • Jerkass Ball: The series was a game of catch with the ball, and everybody got to play with it. No exceptions.
    • Buffy catches it in season 6, when her self-destructive depression leads to much lashing out (usually at Spike) and in season 7, when her Drill Sergeant Nasty personality pops out due to mounting stress and facing her biggest apocalypse yet while having to play den mother to a bunch of baby Slayers.
    • Spike also catches it on and off in season 6, defying his Character Development in a misguided effort to get the relationship he wants with Buffy, and in response to the quite severe abuse thrown his way.
    • Xander catches it on several occasions, not the least of which being the time he opts against telling Buffy about Willow's efforts to restore Angel's soul.
    • Giles catches it in season 7, when he decides to go behind Buffy's back to have a reformed-ensouled Spike murdered because he's a potential Manchurian Agent.
    • Most of the Scoobies, sans Spike, catch it all at once, when they kick Buffy out of the only house in Sunnydale with threshold magic while demons roam the desolate streets, because they didn't like her leadership.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Cordelia, Faith, and Spike. Cordelia starts off as the Alpha Bitch, Faith as Buffy's Evil Counterpart, and Spike as a Fully-Embraced Fiend. The first two got more Character Development on Angel, with Faith taking a level in kindness upon her return; a Restraining Bolt and the Power of Love brought out Spike's good side, to the point where he made a Heroic Sacrifice in the finale.
    • Larry for Xander, and Percy for Willow.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • In the Season 2 finale, Willow asks Xander to tell Buffy to buy some time while fighting Angelus, so that Willow can do the spell to return Angel's soul. Instead, when Xander catches up to Buffy, he says Willow's message is: "Kick his [Angelus's] ass." Buffy ends up having to kill a re-ensouled Angel to save the world, which leads to a major Heroic BSoD. Xander's actions are only brought up once, years later, and even then he never suffers any consequences for not giving Buffy false hope.
      • Possibly justified in that it may have been the right thing to do at the time. Giles was missing, the world was in danger of ending and Willow had just come out of a coma. Buffy, although her reluctance was understandable, had allowed Angelus to go unchecked for months before she had gathered the nerve to stake him (or found any hope of a re-ensouling spell). By the time Willow did the spell, she had only a few spells under her belt and had just woken up from a coma. Considering that Willow would be performing the spell in her hospital bed, it's no wonder that Xander might not want to give Buffy false hope.
      • Also, even though Xander couldn't have known it at the time, Angel doesn't get resouled until after he releases the demon... killing him was the only thing she could do. Not saying it's a justification for what Xander said, but it is a pretty solid reason why no one would have brought it up since.
    • "Once More With Feeling" has Xander (more through foolishness than malice) summon a demon that danced several people to death and caused several unwanted confessions.
    • Downplayed with Willow; she tried to end the world and her only official punishment was a summer getaway to England. However, it was no vacation (intense therapy and formal training) and, when she returns, she is the first suspect when flayed bodies appear.
    • Averted with Anya, whose past as a vengeance demon comes back to haunt her when a man she had turned into a demon and sent to a hell dimension for adultery sabotages her wedding with Xander as payback.
    • Anya also lampshades this when complaining about Buffy's treatment of her in a Season 7 episode, pointing out that Buffy's entire team was evil at one time.
    • Jack the bartender from "Beer Bad" who served tampered beer that turned students into cavepeople gets away with nothing worse than Xander telling him he's a "very bad man".
    • Genevieve Holt from "Where The Wild Things Are" serially abused the children placed in her foster home for years but the worst thing that happens to her is Giles telling her off and then leaving. The poltergeists that formed as a result of her actions focus on the current residents of the house and ignore her completely.
    • Drusilla is the only member of the Scourge of Europe to be neither killed off nor reformed (or both), despite the fact that she murdered Kendra and played sidekick to both Spike (before his Heel–Face Turn) and Angelus.
  • Killed Off for Real: Jenny Calendar, Joyce Summers, Tara, Jonathan, and several Potential Slayers over the course of Season 7. The Series Finale also saw the abrupt death of another main character, Anya.
  • Kind Restraints:
    • Oz is confined on full moons. At first in a cage locked with a key, later in a cage locked with a combination keypad which he can supposedly only operate when he is human.
    • When Buffy starts rooming with a new girl her own age, then starts to get annoyed about those kinds of little things that roomies do to annoy each other... then she starts to get delusional and claiming that the girl is 'evil', and that she's going to have to 'slay' her, which prompts the rest of the Scoobies to tie her up to stop her while trying to find out why she's suddenly gone crazy. Turns out the girl actually IS a demon in disguise, and she's been performing nightly rituals to drain Buffy's soul, which is why she's acting erratic. Also, the restraints are less than effective at holding her.
    • Buffy chains Angel up to keep him from hurting himself or attacking others after his return from hell, when he's still feral and wild.
    • Buffy chains Spike up in season 7 to keep the First from triggering him into a fury and hurting anyone.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: April, the Buffybot.
    • Don't forget the demon that turned the Internet and any computer connected to it into his plaything, trying to romance Willow.
  • Lame Comeback:
    Buffy: Let's be realistic Willow, your basic spells are usually only about 50/50.
    Willow: Oh yeah? Well... so's your face!
    • A deleted scene (though still viewable in the first pilot) had Xander shouting after Cordelia, "Check back tomorrow! I'll have that devastating comeback ready!"
    • Also, when Cordelia is campaigning to be May Queen:
      Cordelia: Here's a chocolate... (snatches chocolate away from Buffy) Oh. I don't think I need the loony-fringe vote. (walks off)
      Buffy: Well, I-I don't even like chocolates! (beat) Okay, that was the lamest comeback of our time.
    • Buffy and Spike in "Something Blue":
      Buffy: One more word outta you, and I swear.
      Spike: Swear, what? You're not gonna do anything to me. You don't got the stones.
      Buffy: Oh, I got the stones. I got a whole bunch of ... stones!
  • Lampshade Hanging: Whedon appears to have bought up an entire IKEA worth of lampshades, here and in his other work.
  • Large Ham:
    • Olaf the troll
    • There was also Balthazar the fat demon, and the original Big Bad, the Master.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The fact that Angel is a vampire was originally a huge, shocking revelation mid-way through Season 1. Nowadays, it's common knowledge. Having his own spinoff makes him worse than other examples.
    • The twist that former Big Bad Spike becomes a series regular gets pretty spoiled by the fact that he's on most of the box sets past season 4.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Particularly later in the show, where lampshades are hung on such facts as something bad always happening on Buffy's birthday, Dawn being in trouble on Tuesdaysnote , or the Hellmouth typically erupting in Maynote 
  • Legacy Character: The Slayer. Once one dies, another is instantly called to take her place.
  • Let's You and Him Fight:
    • In "Angel", Darla concocts a plan to entice Angel "back to the fold" by arranging to have him kill Buffy.
    • Kendra first sees Buffy when she's tonguing with Angel, who's still in game face, and naturally assumes she's his vampire honey.
      Kendra: Did I not see you kissing a vampire?
      Willow: (stands up in her defense) Buffy would never do that! —Oh. Except for that... sometimes you do that. (sits)
    • In "Revelations", rogue Watcher Gwendoyln Post exploits the rift between Faith & Buffy to conceal her own hunt for a mystical glove. When Angel gets in her way, Gwen sic Faith onto him, also.
  • Literal Metaphor: In "Witch":
    Willow: That girl's on fire!
    Cordelia: Enough with the hyperbole.
  • Love Informant: Dawn is the first person to tell Buffy about Spike's crush on her.
  • Love Theme: Angel and Buffy have a slightly mournful, sweet melody called "Close Your Eyes" that underscores many of their scenes throughout Seasons 1-3.
    • Buffy and Spike have their own theme in season 7.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, Drama Points can be used to increase the chance of success for Heroic Feats.
  • MacGuffin Turned Human: Dawn is an ancient energy construct called The Key who was hidden in human form by a group of mystical monks.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: If there was ever a true American example of this genre, Buffy would be it. It ticks nearly all the boxes— a high school girl who is enlisted to fight supernatural forces of evil, possesses an alter ego ("The Slayer"), and has a magical mentor who aids her. Really the only difference is that Buffy doesn't have a Transformation Trinket and dresses in casual clothing.
  • MAD: Their parody was called "Busty the Vampire Spayer".
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Walsh, who blends together science with demons to build horrifying the Frankenstein's monster Expy Adam—who ultimately murders her and takes her place as the season Big Bad.
    • Warren, a talented roboticist who uses his skills to build all sorts of contraptions, which he uses to cause mischief, torment the Scoobies and turn his ex into a mind-controlled sex-slave.
  • Magical Sensory Effect: The novel Blood And Fog reveals that a magic user can eventually gain a scent that accompanies their spells over time. The Big Bad Jack the Ripper, for example, smells like strawberries and cream.
  • Magnetic Plot Device: The only reason the Hellmouth existed was to be a perpetual handwave to explain the large numbers of supernatural beings that come to Sunnydale. Only a few villains are directly connected to it—The Master, Dru and Spike (because Spike is hoping the demonic energy would heal Dru), and The First Evil, who's particular hell realm is directly connected to it.
  • Mama Bear: Joyce goes after Spike with an axe early in Season 2. Seems Buffy didn't get all her Badassness from magic Slayer powers.
    • Buffy becomes this to Dawn after Joyce's death, becoming fiercely protective.
  • Matricide: Spike turned his mother in order to save her from severe late-term Tuberculosis, but losing her soul made her become a vile monster. After she tells Spike how much she hates him and tries to seduce him, the horrified Spike stakes her to kill her for good.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Done twice, first with the episode that leaves us unsure if Buffy is actually in a mental institution and the whole show has been dreamed up by her, and also with the blizzard that prevents Angel from killing himself. Word of God is that second one's a miracle.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Xander's name references the original Buffy movie, in which Buffy had a friend named Pike - zander and pike are closely related species of fish. Xander is also short for Alexander, which means "defender of mankind".
    • Wesley is likely named after the original Creator's Pet from Star Trek: The Next Generation considering that he was intended to be hated by the audience and killed off. Ironically, he became a well-liked, long-running character, particularly on Angel. In-Universe
    • Buffy's last name is Summers referencing vampires' vulnerability to sunlight. Her sister's name is Dawn.
    • "Willow" is a type of tree. Wood is one of the vampires' main weaknesses.
    • "Snyder" is Danish for "cheater".
    • Oz's band, Dingoes Ate My Baby: a dingo is a type of wild dog, and the lead for said band just happens to be a werewolf.
    • Cordelia Chase would most probably have her name from the heroine of King Lear, but it is actually more probable that she is Connected to the Object of desire in Kierkegaard´s Diary of a seducer in his work Either/Or. The type of girl described here, fits nicely with the kind of girl Cordelia is during the first Three Seasons.
    • Spike and Angel's human names are "William" and "Liam", the English and Irish forms of the same name, possibly alluding to them being Not So Different.
  • Medicate the Medium: Buffy spent some time in a mental institution after telling her parents about the things she's been seeing.
  • Medication Tampering: A de-powered Buffy manages to kill a powerful but ill vampire by replacing his medication with holy water.
  • Meet Cute:
    • Buffy and Angel didn't hit it off at first. Though there was hitting involved.
    • Season 2 has a running gag of Oz admiring Willow from afar, but the pair keep missing each other. They finally meet at the school's career fair, after their genius IQs land them in a VIP room with waiters and classical music.
    • Buffy meets Riley by accidentally dumping a pile of textbooks on his head.
    • Willow being shushed by her Wicca group for perpetuating "stereotypes". A shy girl in the back raises her hand to support Willow's opinion. Oh hi, Tara.
    • Anya and Xander's meet cute consists of Anya bluntly stating her crush on Xander and asking him to prom.
    • Buffy and Spike's first meeting was not originally written to be a meet cute, but in hindsight, comes across as one: a tense exchange of threats between the current Slayer and an infamous Hero Killer... who will then spend the coming years never actually following up on those threats and cuddling in the finale.
  • Melancholy Musical Number: Once More With Feeling:
    • "Dawn's Lament" is about her lamenting about her sadness because nobody is noticing her and the things she has been doing (Shoplifting), but the song is cut short as she is kidnapped by the Demon Sweet's henchmen.
    • In "Under Your Spell/Standing", Tara is singing about Willow using a spell to erase the memory about the fight they had about Willow using too much magic, and Giles is singing about having to leave Buffy, but he wants to still be her watcher, and the two don't want to leave but have to, and are both upset about it.
  • Mercy Lead:
    • Angelus toys with Ms. Calender for a bit, letting her scramble out of her classroom. "Oh, good. I need to work up an appetite first." ("Passion")
    • A video recording of Mr. Trick welcoming Buffy and Cordelia to Slayerfest '98. He explains that they have "exactly 30 seconds—'(checks his watch)'' no, that's 17 now—to run for [their] lives." ("Homecoming")
    • In "The Wish", Vamp Xander and Vamp Willow snuggle a bit, prompting Cordy to screech that she can't win, since Xander and Willow are an item even in the Wishverse. Xander agrees with the "can't win" sentiment, and vamps out. "But I'll give you a head start."
  • Mid-Season Twist:
    • Season 1: the revelation that Angel is a) a vampire and b) a vampire with a soul. Hits on exactly episode 7.
    • Season 2: Angel and Buffy sleep together, causing Angelus to come out to play.
    • Season 3: Faith loses her trust in people, and offers herself as The Dragon to The Mayor.
    • Season 4: Riley works for the Initiative. Spike becomes a series regular.
    • Season 5: "Every Slayer has a death wish".
    • Season 6: Buffy and Spike kiss.
    • Season 7: The Big Bad confronts the Scoobies. Spike has been feeding again.
  • Mirror Reveal: Giles realizes Ethan Rayne turned him into a Fyarl demon when he sees his reflection in the mirror. And then he breaks some household items during his reaction.
  • Missing Reflection:
    • Vampires don't show up in mirrors (prompting Willow to ask Angel at one time, "How do you shave?"), although they can be captured in photos and video.
    • One vampire actually makes sure to keep all mirrors out of their surroundings to avoid this. Unfortunately for him, this, along with the heavy curtains and slightly suspicious behavior, causes Cordelia, who has encountered vampires before, to figure out exactly what he is.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Larry mistakes Xander for gay in "Phases". Over a season later in "Earshot", he still hasn't been corrected.
  • The Mole: Shows up a few times.
    • After Buffy joins the Initiative, she considers herself still to be investigating them and not really a member.
    • Spike is a mole inside the Scoobies, for Adam.
  • Monochrome Casting: None of the series regulars are anything but white, and the background actors are largely white as well. This is especially noticeable at the scenes set in "UC: Sunnydale," as the average UC campus is 40% Asian. In the total of the series and comics there are only four non-Causasian main characters: Rona, Wood, Chao Ann, Satsu, with the occasional bit part for villains of the week and/or their victims.
  • Monster Munch: A young Carmine Giovinazzo in the very first episode, who pretty much is only there to be killed by the vampire and is credited only as "Boy".
  • Monster/Slayer Romance: Buffy the vampire slayer ends up dating vampires. Two of them. Twice. note  Her affinity for this trope becomes a Running Gag in the series, with strangers, friends and even Buffy herself directly lampshading it.
  • Monster of the Week: Every season has these as one-off conflicts, in between developing the main conflict. Most notably, Anya and Spike started off this way—the former getting a second episode before joining the cast, and the latter being bumped up to seasonal Big Bad, to reoccurring villain, then finally to member of the main cast.
  • Mooks: Vampires started off as the main villains and quickly became Buffy's most mundane foes, quickly and easily dispatched of on a daily basis. By the time Spike joined the cast, they had completely lost their threat-factor enough that it was plausible for one of them to straight up become a good guy.
  • Moral Luck: Willow's Roaring Rampage of Revenge is forgiven fairly easily, even though (in-universe) it was really just luck and timing which prevented her from bringing about the apocalypse.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: There's a reason Slayers are always women. Dudes have traditionally stayed on the sidelines, from the Shadow Men all the way down to their descendants, the Watcher's council.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Zigzagged. Buffy blows up the Judge with an RPG, and later the ascended Mayor with some TNT. However, later seasons begin playing this completely straight. Discussed by Warren Mears, who comes closer to killing Buffy with a simple pistol than the great majority of her adversaries with a vast arsenal of supernatural warfare.
  • Mundane Solution: How does Warren finally manage to both kill Tara and almost kill Buffy herself? He takes a gun, walks to Buffy's house, and fires as many times as he can. Buffy would've died right then and there if it weren't for Willow.
  • Murder by Mistake: The Mayor's Assistant, who Faith accidentally stabbed believing him to be a vampire. Tara dies from a stay bullet intended for Buffy.
  • Must Be Invited: You need one if you're a vampire. There exist loopholes though; a hotel is a public accommodation, for instance. For some reason, vampires are never savvy enough to just burn down the house from the outside.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast :
    • The First Evil.
    • As a young rebel Giles was known as Ripper.
    • Vampires really love this. Angelus is Ominous Latin Chanting in name form, The Master has a name that screams evil and Spike, well, if a name makes you think of sharp things, it's not likely to be a nice person. Kakistos also just sounds evil (it means worst of the worst in Greek, so yeah, evil). Averted with Darla
    • Spike's original nickname is a subversion: William The Bloody. Before he was a vampire, he earned that nickname for his bloody awful poetry. His current nickname, however, comes from his habit of sticking railroad spikes into his (still-living) victims.
      • And said habit was also inspired by one critic of his poetry, who stated that "[they] would rather have a rail spike driven through [their] head than listen to his bloody awful poetry!" note 
    • The Initiative. Nondescript name that starts with "The" and is an organization? The logical analytical circuits find that highly unlikely and the bullshit meter agrees.
    • The name "Glory" doesn't strike fear into the hearts of the common person, but the name she's known by among the Monks? The Beast.
  • National Stereotypes: Englishmen hate showing their emotions, drink gallons of tea, and love tweed.
  • Nerds Speak Klingon: In "Seeing Red", Buffy finds a bunch of documents in the lair of the nerdy Trio. Willow and Tara are not able to decipher all the documents, but Xander recognises it on sight.
    Xander: It's Klingon. They're love poems. Which has nothing to do with the insidious scheme you're about to describe.
  • Never-Forgotten Skill: Xander got magically transformed into an army soldier. After the transformation wears off, he still has the skills he "learned" even though he rarely uses them. Eventually he confesses that the skills he had have worn off.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: There were a lot of ads for Dracula's appearance and a lot of effort to make it look like he was going to be a major villain for Season 5. His actual time in the show? A single episode where he shows up, gets beaten by Buffy, turns to mist and leaves.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: A justified trope with Willow. A natural consequence of being a witch whose powers grew over time was that Willow was often shown displaying some plot relevant power which she'd never been shown to use before (either not having had the power previously or just never having to use it among all her other witchly powers). Particularly notable in the finale when she was able to activate all the Slayers at once, an ability never even alluded to being possible within the series' lore previously.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Okay, you have the hots for this guy you know is a vampire. So you do the deed, which ends up causing him to lose his soul and become the mind raping Big Bad. Yeah, nice job bringing in Angelus, Buffy. Of course, Angel gets equal blame for not keeping it in his pants although he didn't know the details of his curse.
    • Thanks so much for wishing hell on earth where everybody dies Cordelia.
    • Nice job bringing Buffy back to life, and allowing The First to enact his Evil Plan.
    • While we're at it, nice work imitating Twilight, becoming possessed and killing Giles, Angel.
    • Nice job having Faith arrested just as Angel was getting through to her, Wesley.
    • Toyed with in "Fear, Itself": Nice job breaking the seal and instantly bringing the Fear Demon into his corporeal form Buffy....wait a minute, he's just 4 inches tall?! SQUISH!
    • By the way, well done Buffy, your bitchiness did half The First Evil's job and fractured the team to the point it nearly won. In fairness she realizes she had a narcissist complex after being kicked out of the team.
    • Hey Robin and Giles, maybe killing Spike exactly as the Big Bad wanted you to was not such a hot idea?
  • No Communities Were Harmed: "Sunnydale" is a made-up town, standing in for real-life Santa Barbara.
  • No Body Left Behind: Vampires immediately turn to dust and dissolve when staked, along with their clothes.
  • No Dress Code: Buffy herself, at least during the first three seasons. To the point where it was more note-worthy when she didn't wear an outfit that was either painted on, cropped, strapless, cleavage-bearing, midriff-baring, too short, spaghetti-strapped or some combination of all of the above. She was usually the only one who dressed this way, or at least the only one who did so on a regular basis, but was only called out for this once (and not by one of the Scooby Gang, or even Giles, who had good reason to ask her to wear more practical slaying outfits). This was seemingly done for little more than Fanservice, despite the character of Buffy generally shown to be the only Scooby who wasn't obsessed with popularity, fashion and/or sex. However, it could be a little bit justified, in a meta sense, as Buffy is supposed to look like your typical California bubble-headed blonde monster target, while actually being the monster's worst nightmare.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Mayor Willikins lampshades an exposed gas main crossing an elaborate sewer set in Band Candy; also towers built by crazy people don't hold up very well.
  • No Periods, Period:
    • Flat-out averted in the movie, as Buffy gets menstrual cramps whenever a vampire is around. This is explained as her body's reaction to something perceived as unnatural (it also underscores the connection between slayer-ness and femininity).
    • Xander going through Buffy's purse in search of a stake and being horrified to discover a tampon.
    • Willow telling Oz, in response to discovering he's a werewolf, that "for a few days a month, I'm not so fun to be around, either."
    • When Harmony (under the effects of a love spell) seethes that Cordy never loved Xander, Cordy deadpans, "... Okay, Harmony, if you need to borrow my Midol, just ask."
    • Lampshaded in Season 7:
    Andrew: [Being the Slayer] is like... well, it's almost like this metaphor for womanhood, isn't it? The sort of flowering that happens when a girl realizes that she's part of a fertile heritage stretching back to Eve, and—
    Xander: I will pay you to talk about Star Wars again.
  • No Smoking: The show has a clear bias against smoking, as every character in the show who has smoked has been either evil (Spike and the evil Angel) or doomed (Laura in Nightmares; the prostitute who was Angel’s first kill after re-losing his soul; and Sheila in School Hard). Subverted with Faith, she starts smoking after her Heel–Face Turn.
  • No Bisexuals: Willow, from Season 4 onwards. In some episodes suggest she still has feelings for Oz (and a continuing attraction to Xander and Giles, among other male characters), whereas in some she'll chirp "gay now!" at the very idea that she could be attracted to a boy, or react to a Love Potion-induced crush by trying to turn her target into a girl (though she only did so when someone else claimed that she couldn't be attracted to him if she's gay). This could be the character's own assumption that she's gay rather than bisexual, as one of Willow's defining traits is jumping headlong into her current role (of which magic and lesbianism are both big parts) in an effort to overcome her original Shrinking Violet background.
    • Also, a lot of those instances were when she was with her first girlfriend, who for a lot of that time was very insecure. This may have started as having to constantly reassuring Tara about her sexuality (as well as feelings) and become a habit.
    • This is true of Buffy, too. There's her relationship with Faith, which contains enough subtext to fill at least two books, and then in Season 8 she outright sleeps with lovelorn Lipstick Lesbian Satsu, not once but twice. THEN in Season 9 she has a comical misunderstanding with Willow, thinking that the two of them had drunken sex, but they didn't really. Yet she continues to identify as straight.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Buffy burning down the gym at her previous school. It was eventually depicted in the graphic novel The Origin.
    • In "Angel", Darla reminiscences with Angel about their fling in Budapest.
    • "Zeppo" is one big lampooning of this trope. The Scoobies face the deadliest threat ever, and we never see it.
    • In their debut episode, Dru complains to Spike that she's hungry, and that she misses Prague. Spike points out that she nearly died in Prague; "Idiot mob." This was expanded on in the comics, where a flashback shows Drusilla being captured by an "Inquisitor" and thrown into a Prague jail. Spike didn't fare much better, as he got tossed into a lake by an angry mob.
  • Not So Different:
    • This comes up often between Buffy and Faith (and Buffy and Angelus, and Buffy and Dracula for that matter)...
    • And, one that's sadly never pointed out, Willow and Faith. Both had pretty shitty lives (although Faith's is implied to be far worse), gained new, amazing abilities which they began to abuse, causing problems. After a great trauma they turned evil, trying to kill Buffy and end the world (or, in Faith's case, do whatever the Mayor was trying to do). They were both brought down by someone showing compassion when they really didn't deserve it, leaving everyone they knew for a while and then returning in Season 7 with more control over themselves, but distrusted. One wonders what they talked about during that car ride.
    • Spike is constantly telling Buffy this in Season 6, and while Buffy always angrily denies the idea it's clear she also secretly believes him, fueling her decision to have a torrid affair with Spike. Of course, it was there way back in Season 2, when the two teamed up in order to stop Angelus from destroying the world and ended up working off each other fairly well. There's also something to be said about their devotion to their respective love interests (Buffy to Angel, Spike to Drusilla, later to each other when they're not destroying themselves...).
    • As much as they'd hate to admit it, Spike and Angel. Both ensouled vampires who still carry a torch for the Slayer.
    • Faith and Spike. Though they've redeemed themselves and done many heroic things, they're still Always Second Best to Buffy and Angel, something which pisses both of them off in that no matter how much good they do, they will always be compared to their respective rivals.
    • When Giles / Ripper and his friend from his bad days "Ethan" go for a drink together. Giles falls back into his London East End-accent with him (like you do with old friends), getting totally sloshed and bonding over old times.
    • There are also fairly interesting similarities between Willow and Warren. For instance, they both started off as nerdy teens, but were driven towards dark pragmatism by the desire for power. Also, none of them were above using magic to make a girl stay with them.
    • When a spell went off showing an individual's worst fears, Amy's was shown to be her mother.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: The Trio. Their schemes in "Flooded" and "Life Serial" were at most a source of annoyance, but they get their first moment of this in "Gone", when their invisible ray could have flat-out killed Buffy. It doesn't stop there, with Warren murdering his ex-girlfriend Katrina, then they make Buffy think she was responsible, and get away with it. "Normal Again" is quite possibly the greatest amount of damage to Buffy's already-fragile mentality they ever do, leading her to believe she is insane, and almost causing her to kill Willow, Xander, and Dawn. "Seeing Red" ups the ante with Warren's Accidental Murder of Tara during an intended murder of Buffy, which sets off Dark!Willow, who would've ended the world had it not been for Xander talking her down. Yeah... The Trio really did a lot of damage. Especially Warren.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering:
    • The Watcher's Council. By the time of Angel, even Wesley shrugs off their violent demise without much grief.
    • In Fray, whatever remnants of the Council that survived to the 23rd century have been reduced to a few insane zealots.


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