Buffy Character: Maggie Walsh | Lindsay Crouse

Professor Maggie Walsh is a psychology lecturer at the Sunnydale campus of the University of California. She is also the leader of a military organization known as the Initiative, and the creator of the 314 Project. The character is portrayed by Lindsay Crouse. 

Maggie Walsh appears as one of the ‘Big Bad’ villains of season 4, the other antagonist being her demon/human hybrid creation known as Adam. 

Biography

University of California, Sunnydale Campus: 

Maggie Walsh holds a position as a psychology professor at UC Sunnydale. Riley Finn, one of the Initiative’s soldiers, masquerades at the university as Maggie Walsh’s teaching assistant. 

Buffy, Willow, and Oz enroll in her class and are aware of Maggie’s fearsome reputation. Maggie acknowledges that she expects her students to work hard and keep up with the curriculum, and if they fall into her good graces they will come to know her as Maggie rather than the ‘evil bitch-monster of death’. 

Although Maggie makes it clear that there is to be no coasting in her class, Buffy comes to her after missing some classes. Professor Walsh comments that she can’t see any visible injuries on Buffy so there is no excuse for her to miss the class, and if she misses one more then Maggie will remove Buffy from the course. Maggie wants to remain tough, but Riley reminds Buffy that Professor Walsh is worth her time. 

Maggie is cruel when Willow approaches her about Oz, Willow’s ex-boyfriend, leaving Sunnydale. Maggie makes Willow cry. When Buffy approaches Maggie about this, telling her to show some ‘human behavior’, Maggie replies that it isn’t her job to look after her students. However, she does confess to Riley that she likes Buffy. 

Maggie Walsh

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The Initiative

As the leader of a government organization known as the Initiative, Maggie enlists the help of Riley Finn, and other men she trained to become soldiers, to capture the demons that roam around Sunnydale.

They picked this location because Sunnydale sits right on top of the Hellmouth (the magnet for all things supernatural). After the Initiative captures a demon, the soldiers bring them back to the underground base beneath the university.

There, the scientists (including Maggie) perform experiments on them and analyze their biological make-up. 

Maggie and the Initiative manage to capture Spike, adding to their growing collection of demons. However, when Spike tricks the scientists in the Initiative and escapes, Maggie reports a code red and orders Riley Finn and the other soldiers to collect ‘Hostile 17’ (Spike).

Maggie worries that Spike’s freedom will collapse the Initiative’s operation, and she places her trust in Riley. However, Riley’s growing connection with Buffy ruins Spike’s capture. Maggie is frustrated with Riley and the soldiers, telling them that their report is like a child’s riddle book’. 

Maggie is relieved, however, when she discovers that one of their experiments is successful. This is an implant they placed in Spike’s brain. Its purpose is to stop demons from harming humans.

Every time Spike tries to attack a human or feed from them, he gets a searing pain in his head and he can’t function. This ends up saving Willow’s life when Spike goes to attack her at the university. 

Up until this point, Buffy’s identity as the Slayer has been kept hidden from the Initiative – Maggie believes that she is a myth. However, when both Riley Finn and Buffy go on a hunt for a group of demons called the Gentlemen, their secret identities are revealed to each other.

When they realize that Buffy’s slaying skills and Riley’s military background can be of use to one another, Riley introduces Buffy to Maggie and the Initiative.

Maggie is confused by Buffy’s calling but ultimately admires her strength, speed, and stamina. She agrees that Buffy can be of use with the Initiative’s mission. 

Maggie soon regrets her decision, however, when she sees Buffy in the field. Buffy asks a lot of questions, which is the opposite of what is expected from a soldier.

As well as this, Buffy’s questioning nature rubs off on Riley, and he wonders whether all demons are as evil as Maggie has taught him. Maggie soon develops a hatred for Buffy. 

An Attempted Murder

To regain her control over Riley, Maggie sends him on a scouting mission outside of the Initiative and calls Buffy into the Initiative. Maggie tells Buffy that there is an easy scouting mission for her to do alone and that there will be little threat involved.

She gives Buffy a camera headset and a stun gun to help with the mission. Maggie watches Buffy’s mission on a large screen in the Initiative’s headquarters. 

However, when Buffy goes on this mission, she realizes that it is a set-up. The gun electrocutes Buffy and triggers a set of gates to fall and trap Buffy in a sewer with some demons. Buffy fights them and it looks like she has lost. 

Riley returns from his mission to an upset-looking Maggie Walsh. She tells Riley that Buffy died in a simple mission gone wrong. He is heartbroken until he looks at the screen that Maggie had been watching Buffy’s missionn on.

Buffy is alive and looks directly into the camera. She tells Maggie that her plan to have Buffy killed didn’t work. Riley sees this. Although Maggie gives Riley orders to stay with her, he leaves. 

Project 314

Throughout season 4, it appears that Maggie only has one secret life aside from her job as a psychology professor – the Initiative leader. However, Maggie is working on something else that threatens Buffy, Riley, and the Scooby Gang – an army of human/demon/computer hybrids.

It is revealed that Maggie’s research isn’t only in analyzing different types of demons, but she is using parts of these demons, mixed with human parts and some computer parts to create ‘Adam’. Adam is designed to be part of a super race of demons that can be weaponized and used in the Initiative’s fight against evil.

Maggie views demons as evil and is not willing to understand that they may have some positive traits too aside from their strength. This is why she believes that mixing demons with humans (who have more positive traits) may create a better race for the military. 

After her fight with Riley, Maggie seeks comfort in her creation, Adam. She views him as a son, someone she has molded to follow her orders perfectly. As she is talking to him in a motherly way, he unexpectedly wakes up.

Adam stabs Maggie in the stomach with a needle-like defense mechanism in his arm. This arm had been taken from a Polgara demon they had recently captured. Adam escapes, leaving behind Maggie’s corpse. 

After death

Once Adam has killed Maggie, it appears that we are free of season 4’s Big Bad. However, Adam uses the knowledge that Maggie has placed inside him to reanimate Maggie’s corpse, creating a ‘Monster Maggie’.

She is made up of many demon parts and holds very little brain activity. Her only purpose is to serve Adam’s goal of completing the 314 Project. This is to create an army of hybrid monsters like him. 

Adam captures Riley, using a behavior-modifying chip that Maggie previously installed in Riley to make him compliant. Finding out that Riley has been captured, Buffy goes on a mission to rescue him and take down Adam. However, Buffy is attacked by Monster Maggie.

Maggie attacks Buffy with a bone saw. Riley saves Buffy by, first removing the chip from his chest, and then pulling on a tube connected to Monster Maggie’s body that is currently keeping her awake. This causes Maggie to lose her reanimation and she is defeated. 

Buffy and the Scooby Gang eventually defeat Adam by combining all of their powers in Buffy’s body, giving her more super strength, intelligence, and courage than Maggie gave Adam. 

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Personality/Traits

At the university, Professor Maggie Walsh has a reputation for being strict and, as some of her teaching assistants refer to her, an ‘evil bitch-monster of death’. She is a hard worker and tough with her students because she believes in the psychological theories she is teaching.

We soon learn that she is capable of being secretive, particularly with her second career as the leader of the Initiative and her involvement in Project 314.

She believes in families always supporting each other – no matter what – and her family is the Initiative. When Riley (who is like a son to Maggie) starts to spend more time with Buffy, Maggie believes Buffy is corrupting the work she has put into making Riley the ultimate, compliant soldier.

Buffy encourages Riley to break from protocol, as well as changing his priorities from serving the Initiative to helping Buffy and the Scooby Gang. Maggie’s ruthlessness and sense of duty allow her to arrange a murder attempt on Buffy to limit Buffy’s influence over Riley. 

Appearance

We often see Maggie Walsh in a professional teaching environment, wearing casually smart clothing including a preppy jumper casually tied over another jumper. With her cropped blonde hair, she looks as though she could be one of the university students. 

In her role as the leader of the Initiative, she doesn’t wear an army uniform like the rest of the soldiers. Instead, she wears a white laboratory coat and always has a clipboard in her hands. This distinguishes her from the soldiers she employs. 

After Adam kills Maggie and turns her into one of the demon-human creations, her appearance changes drastically. Her eyes are white, any trace of the pupils or iris now a milky color. Her skin is covered in lots of red marks because it has been peeling off her face.

She has a clear tube resting over her shoulders which transports blood and other bodily liquids that are needed to keep her corpse in this semi-alive state. She is still wearing a white laboratory coat. 

Powers/Abilities

While it is not a supernatural ability, Maggie’s most useful power is her intelligence. As a well-regarded professor at a university and a leader of a government initiative, she has established herself as sharp and intuitive. Her brain is useful when it comes to new scientific advancements – particularly her creation of Adam.

In repurposing demon body parts and attaching them to a dead human body, allowing them all to function as normal, she is an incredibly clever scientist. As well as this, Adam has full sentience (the ability to perceive or feel things) and a large amount of knowledge.

With emotions and computer parts incorporated into his being, he is the first of his kind. Maggie’s ability to create this is one of the most powerful abilities out of all of the villains in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. 

Her intelligence is ultimately her downfall when all of her knowledge is passed on to Adam, and he uses this to turn her into one of the newly created demon-human hybrids. This in turn becomes another of Maggie’s strengths.

Although she has lost most of her brain function, Adam turning Maggie into a super-soldier gives her a new power of super strength. She can battle against Buffy and successfully hurts her, but ultimately Maggie’s strength still isn’t a match for Buffy and Riley. 

Relationships

Family

Adam (Son)

Throughout season 4, Maggie is working on a secret project behind door 314 in the Initiative. This door fills the demon world with fear. Behind it is Adam, the human/demon hybrid she has created from multiple parts of the demons the Initiative have been capturing.

Although Adam is not Maggie’s biological son, she is his creator and he does refer to her as ‘mother’. Adam does kill Maggie and revive her body as a demon creation, but he also makes it his mission to carry on the research that she started. 

Riley Finn (‘Surrogate’ Son) 

Riley Finn is Maggie’s teaching assistant at the University of California and her favored soldier at the Initiative. While she cares for all of the Initiative members, Riley is the one she truly invests in and she monitors him closely.

This includes secretly giving him drugs that enhance his strength and speed, and having cameras in his bedroom where she observes his relationship with Buffy.

Riley is the child Maggie never had, and she wants him to follow in her footsteps. When he gets into a relationship with Buffy, it threatens the plan she had laid out for him. 

It is clear that Maggie viewed Adam and Riley as her children when Adam refers to Riley as his ‘brother’. 

Friends

Dr. Francis Angleman

Shown as the only other person involved in the Initiative who knows about the 314 project, Dr. Francis Angleman is the head of the Initiative’s science team and is Maggie’s closest confidante. He supports all of her medical experiments with Adam. 

Enemies

Rupert Giles 

Maggie initially makes Giles feel overshadowed and irrelevant when she takes Buffy under her wing. Maggie’s interest in the slayer is all-consuming for Buffy, and soon Maggie (and the Initiative) is all Buffy talks about with Gi

les. When Giles finally visits Professor Walsh at the university, she mentions that Buffy’s troubles come from lacking a father figure in her life. Since becoming Buffy’s watcher, Giles has viewed himself as Buffy’s father figure because she doesn’t keep in much contact with her actual dad.

Giles sees Maggie’s comment as an insult to both himself and Buffy and disapproves of her relationship with Buffy. 

Buffy Summers

Maggie Walsh’s relationship with Buffy starts well. Buffy has a lot of respect for Maggie’s role as a psychology lecturer, and this respect only deepens when Buffy finds out that Maggie also runs the Initiative.

Buffy relates to Maggie’s goal of seeking out demons as that is Buffy’s job as a slayer. However, Buffy has a problem accepting Maggie’s objective of capturing the demons alive rather than killing them. 

Their dynamic worsens when Buffy enters the Initiative. Her questioning of orders shows Maggie that she will be difficult to work with, and will be a bad influence on Riley. Maggie arranges to have Buffy killed. However, Buffy foils her plan, exposing Maggie’s true intentions to Riley in the process. 

Appearances

Maggie appears in nine episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 4: 

  • Episode 1 – ‘The Freshman’
  • Episode 4 – ‘Fear Itself’
  • Episode 5 – ‘Beer Bad’
  • Episode 6 – ‘Wild at Heart’
  • Episode 7 – ‘The Initiative’ 
  • Episode 10 – ‘Hush’ 
  • Episode 12 – ‘A New Man’ 
  • Episode 13 – ‘The I in Team’
  • Episode 21 – ‘Primeval’ 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 5: 

There are references to Maggie Walsh in the fifth season of Buffy, particularly with the impact she had on Riley Finn. His ‘upbringing’ under Maggie’s control creates many problems with Buffy and Riley’s relationship, and Riley struggles to lose the soldier mentality that was ingrained into him.

Without the sense of purpose and excitement that Maggie provided him with, he eventually seeks other forms of fulfillment out by letting vampires feed on him. This leads to Buffy and Riley’s eventual break-up, which was what Maggie was after all along.

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