In 1997, the same year some British kid under the stairs was learning he was a wizard and being whisked off to magic school in a castle, Buffy Summers moved to Sunnydale, California.
Already having tackled her first major vampire incident, she’s initially looking to put the whole Slayer thing behind her. Two things are worth noting about that. Number 1 – being the Slayer is the very definition of a Job For Life; it’s not something you get to resign. And number 2 – Sunnydale, California just happens to be one of the Hellmouths.
Yes, that’s as bad as it sounds – it’s one of the central places where the day-world and the world of vampires and demons intersect. Like an all-you-can-eat buffet for those of the soulless, long-fanged persuasion.
So it should be great news for the regular inhabitants of Sunnydale that the Vampire Slayer for our generation has moved to Vamp Central, LA. But more than most of the previous Slayers, Buffy is determined to have a life of her own, rather than to be the next in line in a job that will inevitably end only when she dies, probably in some horrible, vampire-related way.
But with a never-ending stream of not only your basic neck-biters, but also arch-demons, master-fiends, and oh yeah – even an actual smite-happy god, the chances for Buffy to get her schoolgirl chill on are pretty limited.
Whether she wants her grand Slayer destiny or not, when the Slayer comes to live in Fang City, as Buffy might say, things are about to get major stakey.
“Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.”
This one comes with occasional pom-poms as well as a stake.
Having been thrown out of her previous school for burning down the gymnasium, and following the divorce of her parents, Buffy Summers arrives at Sunnydale with her mother, but not her dad. Aiming to put the events of that whole…Slayer…business behind her (as outlined in Buffy The Vampire Slayer – The Movie), she’s aiming to be as normal as possible in her new school.
Unfortunately, what no-one has told her is that Sunnydale is a Hellmouth – vampire and demon central, Los Angeles. And the vampires are planning big things for her town.
When she meets the school Librarian, Mr (Rupert) Giles (Anthony Head) reveals that he’s actually way more than a school librarian – he’s her new Watcher, and he’s taken aback with how little she knows. There must be training, and book-reading, and above all, there must be vampire-slaying. Whatever her thoughts on the matter might be, it’s the destiny of the Slayer.
Buffy is a Slayer who initially wants to have a destiny as unSlayery as possible and just be the teenager she is. But as time in Sunnydale goes on, Buffy will come to accept not only that she has the Slayer destiny on her back, but also that she has a Scooby Gang to help her out – people she can trust to have her back when the slayage goes down.
Balancing the worlds of self-appointed hot girls, led by Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) and her natural nerdy or geeky friends, like Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) is one thing. Balancing schoolwork, boys, partying, having a regular teenage life, and that whole ‘graveyard shift, vampire-slaying, save the world’ gig is a whole other deal.
Taking on vampire lords like the Master, the Chosen One, Dracula, Spike (William The Bloody, Slayer-Killer), as well as more esoteric enemies like Adam the composite creature, Glory (totally a god), dancing demons, creepy silent creatures called The Gentlemen, three local dweebs called The Trio, and one shape-shifting fundamental first principle of evil, known, understandably, as The First becomes the stuff of Buffy Summers’ life once she fully accepts that she is the fabled Vampire Slayer for her generation.
Along her way, she saves the world a lot, experiences grief at the death of her mother, gains a sister (complete with retroactive memories) when a god needs a key and some monks are too clever by half, dies at least twice, creating two more Slayers in the process, gets yanked out of Heaven by her friends, kills her vampire boyfriend and gets grief-busy with another creature of the night.
Eventually, realizing that neither she nor a cadre of potential replacement Slayers is enough to defeat The First, Buffy does the thing unthinkable for Slayers since the dawn of humanity – she shares her power, making every potential Slayer a full Slayer, creating a worldwide network of protectors, and finally giving herself a break.
Buffy Summers is, if not a whole barrel load of perky, then at least most of the time, extremely perk-adjacent. She has an intuitive nose for people, immediately preferring to hang out with Willow and Xander at least over people who would sneer at people like Willow and Xander. But her intuition lets her feel the good in people who put up fronts and walls, too – she befriends the likes of Cordelia and Anya despite both of them trying to do her harm.
Despite at first struggling against her Slayer destiny, once she embraces it, Buffy is efficient, and becomes a natural leader, not only concerned with getting the job done, but keeping those around her as safe as she can.
Especially when she retroactively gains Dawn as her sister, she is fiercely protective, and steps up to be a replacement mom for Dawn after the death of Joyce, whether that means packing her young sister a lunch every day or dealing with Dawn’s attention-seeking kleptomaniac tendencies. Buffy, faced with tough times, will always knuckle down and get it done.
Occasionally overwhelmed with the responsibility of the Slayer and the responsibility of the average American teenager to please a host of different people in different ways, Buffy needs her down-time to chill at the Bronze, and will fight for her me-time if it
Math-whizz? Notsomuch, but Buffy knows the importance of hitting the books now and then, both in her schoolwork and her Slayer career.
Despite dealing with all the dark-intentioned things that crawl out of the ground in Sunnydale, Buffy is for the most part able to sing a happy song, and rejoice in the happiness of her friends. In fact, often, the happiness of her friends gives her a window to the lighter side of life, and a safe place to be her human self, relieved of Slayer duties.
In her relationships though, she can be guarded, using the Slayer’s destiny as a wall to keep people out. That’s among the reasons why two of her main relationships have been with vampires, who already get the double-life thing and with whom she never has to hold back. When she tried dating a human vampire-killer, she was constrained by fear of hurting him, and he, unable to deal, went to commercially interested vamps to boost up his strength. Bad boyfriend move.
- Buffy Summers is 5 feet 4 inches tall, with blonde hair that usually reaches just a little lower than her shoulders.
- She has an athletic physique, though this rarely makes its presence felt other than in combat.
- Her eyes are green, in a face that grows more oval over the course of her time in Sunnydale.
- Her style tends towards simple, monochrome tops and dark trousers or jeans, or monochrome dresses. For a brief period, she also wore the orange and white striped uniform of a happy member of the Doublemeat Palace family. Orange and slaying – not a good combo, but hey – teenage wage-slaves of America for the win!
- If it’s Halloween, you might potentially find her in a full-skirted deep crimson dress and dark curly locks, because wigs rule. Annnd just occasionally, when there’s been a bad case of body-swapping going around, she may grow an inch in height, have dark brown hair and change her eye color to light brown. That may still be Buffy, but she may be trapped inside the body of Faith, a Slayer called when Buffy died. The first time.
- If there’s a rumble going down and people disappearing into puffs of dust, Buffy’s the one that’s still standing.
- We’re not telling you about her weight.
- Because it’s the 21st century, that’s why not.
- And also, she’s the Slayer, and nobody wants to end up on the wrong side of Mr Pointy.
The Slayer was gifted a range of abilities by the demon that began the line of Vampire Slayers. They are for the most part wholly focused on increasing the likelihood of the Slayer staying alive against the supernaturally powerful and agile breed of vampires.
So, Buffy Summers has:
Her strength is far in excess of a normal human of her size and weight.
Speed and reflexes
Likewise, the Slayer as an apex vampire-predator has speed and reflexes many times those of a normal human.
Vampires are frequently tricksy, and peculiarly keen on martial arts. The Slayer has enhanced agility to help her in her fights.
Most normal humans hit by a vampire or demon stay down. Buffy, as the Slayer, can get up and keep fighting. It takes a lot more punishment to put a Slayer down than any human.
Likewise, she heals from injuries in rapid time, so as to go immediately back to the fight.
As with durability, the Slayer has the power to keep running, fighting, and getting back up until the job is done – more or less in the same way vampires do.
While these are always better when honed with training, the Slayer, when focused, is a supreme fighting machine, making good combat decisions and moves almost by instinct.
Senses and instincts
Like those of any apex predator, the senses of the Slayer are finely tuned to the presence of prey – or potential threats.
The Slayer can sometimes receive semi-prophetic dreams of trouble that lie ahead, as her instincts are connected to those of her predecessors in the Slayer chain.
While usually requiring the aid of a Watcher, the Slayer can in certain circumstances perform guided meditations to connect her to the First Slayer, and seek guidance from her. The difference in the world between the time of the First Slayer and the modern world often makes the advice feel cryptic and in need of further interpretation.
Not a Slayer power, but certainly a Buffy power. By virtue of her personality, she gathers a crowd around her of people with – for the most part – extraordinary abilities, including witches, vengeance demons, demons, a couple of vampires, Watchers, the occasional werewolf, and a construction worker. Hey, don’t diss the construction worker – Xander Harris saves the world once, when Dark Willow is rampant and no-one else can make her stop.
That combination saves Buffy’s life (or, at least, brings her back from the dead, which is almost the same) many times, when previous Slayers without a Scooby Gang would have been properly, permanently dead.
Buffy Summers has relationships of all kinds with a wide variety of people, but if we’re talking all the smoochies, there are three main relationships we need to take into consideration.
Buffy and Angel
It’s a classic story. Slayer walks down the alley. Vampire stalks Slayer, Slayer tries to beat up vampire. Vampire warns Slayer. Slayer gets all “Wow, a dreamy broody vampire from like forever ago, and he has a soul, so that’s totally not taking my work home with me.”
Broody vampire broods, skulks, occasionally goes to the Bronze because he totally doesn’t care about Slayer.
Slayer and Vampire hook up in a totally platonic way till she gets legal bodily autonomy because THAT’s the important age-related issue here.
Vampire and Slayer make advanced smoochies. Vampire loses soul again, turns evil, puts the blame on the girl. Because vampire patriarchy, right?
On-again, off-again relationship continues, depending on whether the vampire has a soul this week or not. Slayer eventually sticks vampire with big, powerful sword, and sends him to hell.
He comes back, rehabilitates, and disappears to set up a paranormal detective agency many, many miles from Slayer.
How many times has that old story been told?
Buffy and Riley Finn
You know how it is with Rebound Guys. You’ve just sent your moody, broody, kill-you, kiss-you lover straight to hell on the edge of a very big Mr Pointy, your emotions are all over the place, and there’s this dreamy assistant teacher with a name more Irish than Patty O’Furniture.
And sure, you’re the Slayer, latest in a long line of vampire-killing superhumans, but gosh darn he really is dreamy. And – gulp! – normal!
And then you discover he’s not really teacher guy, he’s GI Joe guy, and his boss has a labyrinth under the college and is building the ultimate Frankensteinian composite creature. Sure, a little bit freaky, but hey, on the upside, now you can tell him all about your night shift and not have to keep that whole side of yourself secret anymore!
Except he’s human. And male. And can’t cope with you being so much more powerful than he can ever hope to be, so he goes crashing off the rails and injecting vampire blood into his veins to try and be the strong man he thinks you need, and then eventually flies off on a top secret mission because somehow, he feels like the rejected one, because if it’s not the vampire patriarchy, it’s the military patriarchy. Ugh, men. Maybe Willow has the right idea…
Buffy And Spike
So there’s this guy. English. Hair like Bart Simpson, but he wears a good coat. You’ve tried to kill him a few times, he’s tried to kill you a few times, no harm, no foul. He’s hit on your bestie, but couldn’t get a fang-on. He’s been helpful here and there, and he’s sort of become your pet vamp.
Sure, there’s the whole robot-sex-doll-of-you thing – everybody says that should be a red flag, and they’re probably right. He’s just always so very… there.
Then you die.
And then you don’t-die, ripped out of Heaven by your friends, because they miss you. Sure, sweet, but now you can’t feel anything, and nothing matters anymore. And suddenly, all you can think about is getting with Captain Pointy-Head. Because getting busy with the vampire lets you feel something again, even as buildings fall down around you. This is not Friends With Benefits, this is just… well, Benefits – including the benefit of being able to feel again, for at least a little while.
But then… well, you deal. You get over it. But then there are all the feels, and when a vampire catches feelings for you, he goes off on wild quests to get his soul back, just to white knight guilt you into loving him too, and oh zoinks, the pressure and the guilt and the major ick of the whole thing.
And sure, ultimately, he kiiiiind of saves the world for you. But you’re owed that one, aren’t you, and just because a guy saves the world for you, it doesn’t mean you have to put out.
So you don’t. You catch a bus out of Dodge and start again somewhere new, because wow – intense. Sometimes, you just need some You-Time after a relationship like that.
All of them. All the appearances. Though Season 6, Part 1 (Bargaining, Part 1) is pretty much a last-minute appearance, due to being previously dead. Apart from that, Buffy Summers is in every single episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
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