Graham Miller is a close associate and friend of both Riley Finn and Forrest Gates in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Just like Riley and Finn, Graham is an undercover military agent with ties to both the United States Army and the secret agency known as The Initiative.
The Initiative was an organization and specialized agency set up by the United States government intended to discover more about the supernatural entities and use them for military gain by capturing, studying, researching, and testing on demons.
Graham was part of this institution alongside Riley and Forrest, though he leads a double life within the Buffyverse, being a college student at UC Sunnydale and residing at Lowell House with his teammates whilst also working as a special operative for the government.
Welcome To UC Sunnydale
Graham first makes an appearance in “The Initiative”, episode seven of the fourth season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. He makes his debut at the same time that Forrest makes his, though Riley was introduced at the beginning of season four.
The three Initiative operatives are shown to be close friends as well as workmates but their differing personalities become apparent once the three of them are shown together for the first time in the seventh episode.
The three men are observing Buffy in the college cafeteria as she struggles to use the soda and yogurt machines, making a mess as she does so. They start up with some banter about Buffy, with both Graham and Forrest making comments about how they find her attractive.
Riley is unwilling to partake in the banter due to his developing feelings for Buffy but Graham is more than willing to make fun at Buffy’s expense. Despite this being his introduction, Graham displays a more respectful and mature attitude towards Buffy later on in the series.
Buffy And Riley
Riley and Buffy eventually become a couple and whilst Forrest does not approve of the relationship, Graham proves himself to be supportive and understanding of Riley and Buffy and their developing feelings.
Forrest on the other hand seems to display some jealousy towards Buffy, particularly when Riley chooses her as his second in command when out on the prowl for hostiles. This attitude shows that Graham does not let his personal feelings affect his work- especially when he is on a mission- but it also shows that he has a good deal of understanding towards his friends and their emotions.
He may not have had a huge amount of screentime during the show but he certainly demonstrates a level-headed nature that is commendable for someone so young and with so much responsibility due to his role as an operative of The Initiative.
A Soldier And A Friend
When Riley finds himself in the military hospital in episode fifteen of season four of the show- called “This Year’s Girl”- both Forrest and Graham try to encourage him to heal and to stay with them. Their attempts fall on deaf ears but their camaraderie and care for their fellow soldier and friend are clear at this moment.
The Possession Of Graham Miller
One of the most memorable moments for Graham in the show is in episode eighteen of season four, “Where the Wild Things Are.”
During a house party at Lowell House- where Graham, Riley, and Forrest reside during their double lives as college students and Initiative operatives-, a poltergeist begins causing havoc.
As the behavior of the poltergeist starts to become less mischievous and more menacing, Forrest attempts to get the partygoers to safety and asks Graham to help him to do so. However, Graham responds oddly and starts to speak in a ghoulish, unnatural voice. He speaks strange words to Forrest, “Touch not the impure thing…Find salvation in the cross of our Lord and Savior.”
He also starts to join in with the chants that the poltergeist starts to sing. It becomes clear that Graham is well and truly possessed but luckily it doesn’t last too long. Forrest takes Graham and leads him to the elevator that leads to the secret Initiative facilities base underneath Lowell House.
Once they reach the facility, the Initiative goes into a state of lockdown and Graham seems to snap back to reality, reclaiming control of himself from the ghost. Graham’s ghoulish experience is more than a little creepy.
Graham is injured whilst out on patrol with his team in episode nineteen of season four- “New Moon Rising”. He and his team are attacked by a creature that seems to resemble a werewolf of some kind, a hairy being with four legs. When Forrest informs Riley about the news, Riley leaves immediately.
Graham has a strong bond with Riley as suggested by this reaction to the news of his injuries. However, this episode marks Riley’s final departure from The Initiative for good after helping break out Oz- a character from the show who is a werewolf but is unable to fully control his powers.
When Oz loses control and turns into a wolf, chasing down another character, Riley and the other Initiative members capture him but Oz’s relationship with the Scooby Gang leads Riley to choose them over Graham, Forrest, and the rest of the Initiative.
The End Of The Initiative
Episode twenty-one of season four- titled “Primeval”- sees the Initiative shut down permanently by the government. A battle between demons and the Initiative soldiers ensues- although it is largely unseen- and despite their less than stellar relationship, the Scooby Gang joins the fight to help the Initiative and their aid helps to save most of the soldiers.
Although the Colonel is killed in the battle- and at this point in the show, Forrest has been turned into a bio-mechanical Demonoid and has been taken down by the group- Graham survives the battle. This is the last time that Graham is seen in season four.
The first episode of season five of the show- “Out of my Mind”- shows that Graham is still working for the government, clearly not fazed by his experiences in the previous season.
Graham shows a great deal of concern for Riley when his heart is found to be racing at a pace that would suggest he could have a heart attack at any moment. Graham attempts to get Riley medical attention but Riley overpowers him and escapes from him and his fellow agents.
Graham then speaks with Buffy, who decides to get Riley to see a doctor. Graham still cares a lot for both Riley and Buffy, maintaining a good relationship and friendship with them after everything that happened in season four with Forrest and The Initiative.
However, Graham’s behavior towards Riley becomes somewhat manipulative towards the end of the same episode. Once Riley has successfully been operated on- correcting the harmful medical procedures that were conducted on him by The Initiative that caused him to be so ill- Graham talks to him and tries to get him to leave Sunnydale.
To do this, he tries to convince Riley that there is nothing left in Sunnydale for him. This is not the case as both Riley and Buffy are in a meaningful relationship at the time of Graham trying to break them apart. Riley tries to argue that he has Buffy whilst in Sunnydale but Graham merely retorts that she and the town will never be enough for him.
Despite his previous understanding of their relationship, Graham now seems certain that Buffy is merely a one-off partner for Riley who doesn’t mean enough to him to keep him there in the long term.
Graham also argues that without The Initiative, Riley is nothing. This is a particularly manipulative and harsh move, playing on Riley’s self-worth for Graham to get Riley back as his colleague. It is clear that Graham cares a lot for his friend and colleague, but the lengths he is willing to go to get him to abandon Buffy and Sunnydale show that he can be ruthless if necessary.
This isn’t the first time that Graham tries to get Riley away from Buffy and Sunnydale and back into the military.
In episode ten of season five- “Into the Woods”- Graham confronts Riley alongside Major Ellis, a United States Army major. The two of them offer him a position in a brand new anti-demon organization that is being set up by the American government. Graham makes it clear that this is not an organization that intends to study demons like The Initiative was.
Although he initially declines, Riley eventually takes the offer when he realizes that whilst he has given Buffy everything, she has not done the same for him in return. Graham gets his wish and Riley rejoins him as a government operative.
Season Ten Comic Book Series
The final appearance of Graham comes in the form of the twenty-first issue of the season ten Buffy The Vampire Slayer comic book. In the comic, demon invasions begin happening all over the world and Graham is shown to still be working within the government, having been promoted to a supernatural analyst since his time in the show.
Although his first appearance shows a guy that is a bit disrespectful in the way that he talks about Buffy, this banter with Riley and Forrest is not indicative of his character during the rest of his time on the show.
Graham seems cool, calm, and collected most of the time, particularly in comparison to the hot-headed and argumentative Forrest. Whilst Forrest develops resentment towards Buffy for her relationship with Riley, Graham does not intervene and seems to actually support the couple.
This support doesn’t last forever but he offers more understanding for his friend and for Buffy than Forrest does.
This calm nature becomes even more clear when he is able to survive several traumatic events during his time in Sunnydale. He gets possessed by an angry poltergeist whilst posing as a college student and he manages to survive a battle with demons when The Initiative is attacked.
Even though he goes through these experiences, this does not deter him from wanting to be part of the military and for wanting to protect the general populace from the threat of demons.
Graham has a somewhat stalwart and stoic nature that is often associated with those in the military due to them having to cope with a lot of trauma and keep a level head nonetheless. Graham certainly has these traits but he also has a warm nature when it comes to his friends, particularly Riley. He clearly cares for him- and Forrest too- and wants to help him.
Despite this friendship with Riley, Graham also displays a manipulative nature when it comes to getting Riley to come back to the military and to leave Sunnydale- and Buffy- behind. Riley is a genuinely nice guy who cares about his old friends, his new friends in the Scooby Gang, and his romantic relationship with Buffy.
It seems that Graham purposely uses the things that he knows will get to Riley the most in order to make him feel distant from Buffy. He manipulates him by telling him he is nothing without the military and without The Initiative, that there is nothing in Sunnydale for him and that Buffy will never be enough for him.
He does this again alongside Major Ellis when they offer Riley a place in a new anti-demon government organization, giving him a deadline to make his decision. Ultimately, Graham succeeds in bringing Riley back and getting him to leave Buffy and Sunnydale.
This is not entirely down to Graham as Buffy took Riley for granted and often treated him as a rebound from her relationship with Angel. However, Graham took the doubts that Riley had and made them ten times more prominent with his manipulation. There is no doubt that Graham played a part in removing Riley from Buffy’s life.
Graham is clearly a government man through and through but with a special fascination in the supernatural, as shown in the season ten comic book when he is shown to have risen through the ranks to become a supernatural analyst for the government.
Graham may not have had much time to shine during the show but he is clearly well versed in the supernatural, so much so that he earned himself a promotion in the years following his time in Sunnydale.
Graham is played by actor Bailey Chase and when it comes to his appearance, Graham has a somewhat stereotypical soldier look. He is well built and athletic with short dark blonde hair.
He often wears military attire but when in his civilian outfits, he looks like a regular, everyday college boy who opts for the jeans and sweater combo more often than not. Graham is very much an ordinary guy despite his incredibly extraordinary job.
Graham is human and has no superhuman abilities but his military training and special operative status are likely to have given him the following skills:
- Weapons Combat Training
- Special Weapons Training (Weapons to fend off demons etc)
- Hand to Hand Combat Training
- Knowledge of the Supernatural
- Enhanced Physical Fitness
- Military Discipline
- Knowledge of Government Matters
Graham cares a lot for his colleague and friend Riley, doing everything that he can to help him and working closely alongside both Forrest and Riley. He is understanding of Riley’s relationship with Buffy at first despite Forrest’s protests.
His closeness with Riley does lead to Graham manipulating him to get him to leave Sunnydale and abandon his relationship with Buffy. Riley eventually joins Graham and the two are reunited in their anti-demon government work.
Much like Riley, Graham is good friends with Forrest. Graham seems irritated by Forrest’s behavior when he gets frustrated by Riley and Buffy’s relationship. Both Graham and Riley are distressed by the changes that happen to Forrest (when he is killed and his body taken, being turned into a monstrous biomechanical Demonoid) and his ultimate death.
Graham is initially fond of Buffy and- just like Riley and Forrest- he states that he considers her attractive. He is then supportive of her and Riley being in a relationship.
The Scooby Gang and Buffy help out when The Initiative is attacked by demons, with Graham surviving the battle thanks to their input. However, as time passes and Riley remains in Sunnydale with Buffy, Graham begins to get frustrated with his allegiance to her and ultimately ends up convincing him to leave Buffy and return to a life in the military.
- Episode Seven, “The Initiative”
- Episode Eight, “ Pangs”
- Episode Eleven, “Doomed”
- Episode Thirteen, “The I in Team”
- Episode Fourteen, “Goodbye Iowa”
- Episode Fifteen, “This Year’s Girl”
- Episode Seventeen, “Superstar”
- Episode Eighteen, “ Where The Wild Things Are”
- Episode Nineteen, “New Moon Rising”
- Episode Twenty One, “ Primeval”
- Episode Four, “ Out of My Mind”
- Episode Six, “Family” (Only Mentioned)
- Episode Nine, “Listening to Fear”
- Episode Ten, “Into the Wood”
Season Ten Comic Book
- Issue Twenty One, “In Pieces on the Ground, Part One”
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