The A to Z of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

As SyFy counts down the best ever Buffy episodes, Paul Jones lays down the letters of the lore

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The A to Z of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Written By
Paul Jones

Can you believe it? It's (almost) the eight-year-nine-and-a-half-month anniversary of the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And SyFy is marking the occasion with a countdown of the best ever episodes of the seminal teen supernatural drama.

This Sunday (4 March) from 11am, Anthony Head - aka Buffy's mentor Giles - introduces the top ten episodes as voted for by SyFy viewers. A tenuous opportunity to take an alphabetical look back at the series? Maybe. But with a show this kick-ass, who needs a reason?

A is for Angel/Angelus – Buffy’s first demon lover (you have to start somewhere). Angel (David Boreanaz), is the brooding vampire with a soul. Formerly a sadistic killer known as Angelus, he has his soul restored to him by a gypsy curse, leaving him to suffer the guilt of hundreds of murders – until he sleeps with Buffy, that is. In that “moment of perfect happiness” (a euphemism if ever I heard one) Angel loses his soul and once again becomes Angelus. 

Angel is also the name of the Buffy spin-off in which the vampire moves to Los Angeles to become a supernatural private detective (only in LA, right?)

B is for The Bronzethe nightclub in Sunnydale. A place to meet, hang out and - if you’re that way inclined - find teenage victims to sink your fangs into. Also, apparently, the dream place to gig for a whole host of musicians and bands, ranging from Blink-182 to Aimee Mann, The Dandy Warhols to Coldplay

C is for Cordelia Chase – chief cheerleader, popularity queen, materialist and all-round high school mean girl, Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) underwent a gradual redemption via her supernatural experiences with Buffy and co and an unlikely romance with Xander (see X). After series three she moved to LA for Buffy spin-off Angel

D is for Death – of course there’s plenty of it in Sunnydale, mostly that of vamps getting dusted or demons sent back to hell by Buffy. But there have been a fair few human fatalities too. Buffy herself died twice - once briefly in the first series (causing a new Slayer to be activated) and once at the end of season five, when she sacrificed herself in order to close a portal to hell. Meanwhile, a moving episode, featuring a superb performance from Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, sees her mum die of a brain aneurysm. And at the end of series six, Willow's (see W) girlfriend Tara is shot dead by Warren Mears (see T), unleashing the witch's raging dark side, which threatens to consume the world

E is for Evil – it’s everywhere you look in Sunnydale, as you’d expect from a town located on a Hellmouth (see H) but in particular there’s The First Evil, the ancient “big bad” to end all big bads, which can appear in the form of any dead person it chooses

F is for Faith – a loose cannon of a Slayer, the yin to Buffy’s yang, whose dark side goes into overdrive when she accidentally kills a human. After being rehabilitated by Angel, Faith (Eliza Dushku) returns to Sunnydale to help Buffy lead her band of Potential Slayers (see P) against the Turok-Han hordes (see U)

G is for Giles – Buffy’s Watcher Rupert Giles (rarely referred to by his first name but known to pals from his native England as “Ripper”), the father figure of the “Scooby Gang”. Giles (Anthony Head) is the librarian at Sunnydale High, an expert in ancient magical tomes and Buffy’s mentor and trainer, who first reveals her Slayer destiny and teaches her to kick demon ass

H is for Hellmouth – as in “Don’t open the Hellmouth!” Sunnydale High School is built on one, which explains all the weird supernatural stuff that goes on around town. It’s a gateway to demon dimensions and a nexus of supernatural energy - and not the good kind

I is for The Initiative - a top-secret government organisation located beneath the Sunnydale college campus which captures and studies vampires and demons for military purposes. The Initiative implanted a microchip in Spike’s (see S) head which prevented him from harming humans and unleashed half-demon creation Adam on the world. Buffy’s one-time (non-vamp!) boyfriend Riley Finn is a member of The Initiative

J is for Jinx – obsequious, scabby demon servant of exiled god Glory (aka “the great and wonderful Glorificus”) who aims to help her return to her hell dimension and, you know, unleash hell on earth

K is for The Key – when Buffy returned for season five, some fans had to go back and check they hadn’t missed something. Out of nowhere, the Slayer had a 12-year-old sister, Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) , and Buffy and all her friends were acting as if she’d been there all along. In fact, Dawn was The Key to the hell dimension once ruled over by Glory (see K) hidden in human form. False memories of her had been implanted in the minds of all those who knew her (apart from the viewers). In the end, of course, she became as dear to Buffy as any little sister – so much so that Buffy sacrificed herself for Dawn at the end of the season

L is for Lucy Hanover - a former Slayer active during the 1860s who first appeared in ads for the series and again as a ghostly ally to Buffy and co in spin-off comic books and novels

M is for Musical – Once More with Feeling, the awesome musical episode of Buffy, in which the characters are compelled to sing their secrets by a groovy Devil-like figure who calls himself Sweet. The cast all sang their own parts on tracks ranging from strings-led musical numbers to all out rock songs, touching on subjects from death to bunnies


N is for Nerf Herder – the band that wrote and performed the frenetic theme to Buffy the Vampire. A tune to kick vampire ass to if ever there was one...


O is for Oz – skater dude, musician, one-time boyfriend of Willow – oh, and werewolf

P is for Potential – Potential Slayers, that is. A new Slayer is activated each time the existing one dies (Faith – see F – is the result of Buffy’s brief death at the end of series one - see D). All over the world, young girls with the potential to be the next Slayer wait to be called. They are unusually fast and strong but lack the power of a true Slayer. As the endgame approaches, The First's acolytes, the Bringers, are tracking down and killing all the Potentials they can, while the Watchers Council sends the survivors to Sunnydale to be trained by Buffy for the final showdown...

Q is for Quentin Travers - a member of the Watchers Council and not a fan of Buffy and Giles's close relationship or their unorthodox training methods. Rather than support Buffy, Quentin tries to make life difficult for her - until Buffy realises she is the one with the power and that the Watchers Council should be working for her

R is for Rhonda the Immortal Waitress - Joss Whedon's original concept from which Buffy evolved: “The idea of some woman who seems to be completely insignificant but turns out to be extraordinary," a chance to subvert the cliche of “the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie”. "Wouldn’t it be fun if the girl fought back?", thought Whedon. It is...

S is for Spike - aka William the Bloody, slayer of Slayers. In life, a sensitive soul with a penchant for poetry and no luck with the ladies. In death, a ruthless bloodsucker with the dress sense and attitude of Billy Idol. Spike's hate-hate relationship with Buffy became love-hate on his part and finally love-lust/begrudging respect. Spike (James Marsters) sacrificed himself to help destroy the Turok-Han (see U) in the series finale (but ended up being resurrected via a magical amulet in Angel)

T is for The Trio - three teen nerds - and self-styled supervillains - Warren Mears, Andrew Wells and Jonathan Levinson, experts in technology, demon summoning and magic, respectively, who join forces in numerous attempts to thwart Buffy. Mostly hapless but - in Warren's case (see D) - occasionally deadly

U is for Uber-vamps - aka the Turok-Han. The First's (see E) impossibly hard vampire henchmen waiting beneath the Hellmouth (see H) for the final showdown. After Buffy barely survives her first encounter with a Turok-Han, the battle ahead seems impossible to win. But, in one of the most goose-bump-inducing scenes of the entire series, she lures it into the open, organises an audience of frightened Potential Slayers, and shows them that the fight isn't quite over yet…

V is for Veruca - the female werewolf Oz mates with while in wolf form and who subsequently tries to kill his girlfriend Willow (see W). Oz stops Veruca by ripping her throat out. Relationships can be messy sometimes

W is for Willow - a nerdy genius, late blooming lesbian and increasingly powerful witch, Buffy's best friend Willow (Alyson Hannigan) is always upbeat. Oh, except when someone shoots her girlfriend and she becomes possessed by dark magic and tries to destroy the world (see D). Other than that, she's lovely

X is for Xander - Willow's oldest and closest friend and the third core member of the "Scooby Gang". Not quite as geeky as Willow - but up there. An everyman surrounded by powerful women (he almost married a demon), Xander (Nicholas Brendon) often provides the comic relief but he's also the human heart of the Scooby Gang. So when Willow tries to destroy the world, it's Xander who stops her - with love (aaaaah)

Y is for Yellow Crayon Moment - when Xander talks Willow down from her magic-pumped mission to end everything (see X) it's using a story from their childhood, about her breaking the yellow crayon in kindergarten. "Yellow crayon moment" has since become a shorthand among fanboys and girls for any similar scenario

Z is for Zombies - remember that time a demon called Ovu Mobani raised all the dead in Sunnydale? They killed everything in their path until Buffy destroyed him. She saved the world. A lot

Watch the top ten Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes from 11am, Sunday 4 March, on SyFy

Follow Paul on Twitter @Jonesvision

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