Buffy Character: Nikki Wood | K. D. Aubert

Years before Buffy Summers was the Slayer, Nikki Wood was tasked with this role. Alive during the 1970s, Nikki protected the world from Vampires and the forces of evil.

Like Buffy, she is one of the few Slayers to have a life outside of their calling. Nikki was the mother of Robin Wood.

She remained a Slayer until 1977 when she was killed by the Vampire known as Spike. Before this, Spike had already successfully murdered a Chinese Slayer, called Xin Rong, in 1900.

After killing Nikki, Spike stole her black leather duster jacket. This jacket would become an iconic part of his wardrobe. Robin Wood, Nikki’s son, would later pursue revenge against Spike.

Biography

Becoming The Slayer

Born in 1955, Nikki was activated as the Slayer in the year 1970 at the age of 15.

During this time, she was trained to be a Slayer by her Watcher, Bernard Crawley. Presumably, he trained Nikki to develop the standard fighting skills of a Slayer.

Le Banc

During the start of the 1970s, accompanied her lover, Li, on a police stakeout. Li was not aware that Nikki was the Slayer and did not know of the existence of Vampires.

Nikki discovered that the crime boss, Le Banc, was a Vampire. The villain was transporting Vampires into New York City via crates. During the stakeout, Li was killed by Le Banc.

Nikki was able to track down Le Banc to his Manhattan apartment. There, the Vampire was holding a part where he showed off his prized import. This import was an ancient bat-like creature.

Nikki boarded the bat, even though she was afraid of heights. She was able to kill this evil creature by ramming it into a subway train. Le Banc fled to the Bahamas, where he continued his nefarious plans. Unbeknownst to him, Nikki followed Le Banc.

Tento di Cruciamentum

Later in 1973, Nikki was forced to participate in the Slayer ritual known as Tento di Cruciamentum. This was a test implemented by the Watcher’s Council, which the slayer had to take part in during their 18th birthday.

During this test, the Slayer is unknowingly weakened by their Watcher and forced into a battle against an incredibly deadly Vampire. Years later, Buffy was forced to do this trial in the episode “Helpless.”

As this year marked Nikki turning 18, she had to complete the Tento di Cruciamentum. Though many Watchers, including Rupert Giles, have disapproved of this archaic test, Nikki’s Watcher Crowley was particularly disgusted by it.

This was because Nikki was pregnant at the time, making her especially vulnerable. Despite this, Nikki was forced to do the test and managed to complete it.

Afterward, she gave birth to a son, who she named Robin. Nikki did not know who was the father of her son, so she raised him as a single mother.

Wanting her to be able to raise Robin, Crowley organized a plan for Nikki to go into hiding. This led Nikki and Robin around the world, spending time in South America and Mexico.

This would not last for long, as Nikki eventually returned to New York. Consequently, she resumed her Slayer duties despite also raising a son.

Spike

In 1977, Nikki was confronted by the infamous Vampire called Spike. After killing Xin Rong in 1900, Spike developed a passion for taking out Slayers. As a result, he hunted Nikki down intending to kill her.

This led to a confrontation in Central Park, whereby Spike and Nikki battled. Robin watched the fight from afar, having hidden behind a bench in the park. The fight proved fruitless, as neither was able to win.

Before leaving, Spike told Nikki that he liked her leather jacket. After this fight, Nikki left Robin with Crowley. She reminded her son that the “mission is what matters”, a quote that would have a profound impact on Robin.

Death

This was not Nikki’s only meeting with Spike in 1977. They met for a second time on a subway train in New York. They had a fight, in which Nikki was originally able to get the upper hand by pinning him to the ground.

However, when the train passed through a darkened tunnel, Spike managed to gain the advantage. This may be due to his heightened vampiric senses.

Pinned to the floor, Nikki asked that she be able to see her son again. Mercilessly, Spike strangled Nikki and snapped her neck. Spike then stole her leather jacket, which became an essential part of his aesthetic for the next few decades.

Impact

Made an orphan after his mother’s death, Robin was raised by Bernard Crowley. He moved the boy to Beverly Hills.

During Robin’s upbringing, Crowley also trained him to fight vampires. Crowley presumably did not tell Robin all about his mother’s death.

The First Evil

As an adult, Robin became the headmaster of the newly rebuilt Sunnydale High School. In 2003, Robin met the current Slayer, Buffy Summers. At the time, potential slayers were being killed on the orders of the First Evil.

Buffy was working with a redeemed and ensouled Spike. Robin began working with Buffy. He did not seem to realize that Spike killed his mother until the First Evil told him while posing as his mother, Nikki. This led to Robin pursuing revenge.

Robin enacted his plan by using a song from Spike’s past that the First Evil had been using to traumatize him and make him go feral. This allowed Robin to fight the demon that resides within Spike as opposed to the more heroic identity that he had adopted since reclaiming his soul.

Though Robin was prepared for the fight, it did not go well. Spike was able to overcome his trauma and control himself. Spike overpowered Robin and let him live. However, Spike did warn Robin that if he tried to get revenge again, Spike would kill him.

Buffy later found the injured Robin, telling him that his plan for revenge was stupid.

She also said that she would allow Spike to kill him if he tried to get revenge again. Unknowingly echoing Nikki, Buffy said that the mission was more important than their vendettas.

Dana

After Buffy and her friends defeated the First Evil by activating all the Potential Slayers across the world, a young girl called Dana became a slayer. Dana had a deeply traumatic past.

When she was activated, she adopted the personalities of previous slayers. This included Nikki Wood. Because Spike murdered both Nikki and Xi Rong, Dana saw him as a villain.

In her mind, Dana merged Spike with Walter Kindel. Kindel killed all of Dana’s family and kidnapped her, abusively keeping her caged until she escaped. Dana attacked Spike, believing him to be Kindel.

During this attack, Dana referred to Nikki and her son, Robin. Spike survived the incident and Dana was taken in by the Slayer Organization.

Buffy’s Pregnancy Scare

Nikki would again be mentioned in the Buffyverse when Buffy thought that she may be pregnant after attending a house party. Worried about how this would affect her Slayer duties, Buffy sought out Robin Wood.

Robin reassures Buffy, telling her that she has already managed to balance being a Slayer and having a life.

Few other slayers, including Nikki, were capable of doing this. It would later be discovered that this was not the real Buffy, but merely a Buffybot.

Personality / Traits

Nikki is shown to take the responsibility of being the Slayer seriously. Though she also wants to live a standard life, she is unable to run away from her duties. Her deviation can also be seen through her skillful fights.

During these fights, Nikki was shown to be quite passionate.

Appearance

Nikki was a young black woman, with black hair that is styled in an afro. She often wore a black leather duster coat, which was liberated by Spike upon her death.

Powers / Abilities

As a Vampire Slayer, Nikki possessed all of the powers and abilities that come with this responsibility.

This includes:

  • Enhanced strength
  • Prophetic dreams and visions
  • Agility and stamina
  • Increased speed
  • Heightened reflexes and senses
  • Quickened healing
  • Enhanced sturdiness and endurance
  • Amazing combat skills

Nikki was said to be a particularly skilled fighter, sharing similarities with Buffy in terms of her style.

Relationships

Familial Relationships

Nikki is one of the only Slayers who attempted to lead a normal lifestyle alongside her supernatural responsibilities.

Robin Wood

Nikki is the mother of Robin. The identity of Robin’s father is unknown, both by Nikki herself and by the show’s audience. Nikki gave birth to Robin in 1973 after completing her Slayer test.

To keep her newborn son safe, Nikki originally left New York with the help of her Watcher. However, she would later return because she was unable to resist her true calling.

Nikki continued to raise Robin, despite continuing with her Slayer duties. Clearly, she cared for Robin, but she also prioritized her responsibilities as the Slayer.

She even took him out on patrol, as evidenced by the episode “Lies My Parents Told Me.” It was after her battle with Spike that Nikki told Robin that the “mission is what matters.”

Unfortunately, this attitude led to Nikki’s death in 1977. The young Robin was consequently raised by Crowley in Beverly Hills, where he was similarly trained.

Robin was motivated by his mother’s death. He became allied with Buffy Summers in 2003, the Slayer at the time. However, The First Evil used Nikki’s image to manipulate Robin into killing Spike.

Revealing that this was the Vampire who murdered her mother, Robin sought revenge. Ultimately, he was unsuccessful and ended up joining forces with Buffy and Spike to face the First Evil.

Bernard Crowley

Crowley was Nikki’s Watcher. This means that he trained her and guided her through the process of becoming the Slayer. However, Crowley went above and beyond his duties as Nikki’s Watcher.

He helped her to escape the control of the Watcher’s Council when she gave birth to Robin in 1973. When she was killed in 1977, Crowley raised Robin. He assured that the boy was well-trained and safe, taking him to Beverly Hills.

It is likely that Crowley cared greatly for Nikki since he seems to have her best interests and those of her son in mind.

Li

Little is known about the relationship between Li and Nikki, aside from the fact that they were lovers.

Li was an NYPD cop who was tragically killed by Le Banc. He dies in Nikki’s arms, leading to other police officers assuming that she committed the crime. Nikki avenges Li’s death by foiling Le Banc’s wicked plan.

It is unknown who Robin’s father is. Potentially, Li could be the father, as the exact date of the story “Nikki Goes Down!” is unknown. Of course, this is merely speculation and should not be taken as fact.

Antagonistic Relationships

As a Vampire Slayer, Nikki developed some powerful enemies.

Spike

After murdering Xi Rong, Spike developed a taste for killing Slayers. This would lead him to seek out Nikki. The two would meet in 1977, where they had a brief battle in Central Park.

Spike almost manages to kill Nikki during this confrontation, but he is diverted by the young Robin. The two go their separate ways, with Spike briefly complementing Nikki’s coat.

The two would meet again that year, though this would be their final interaction. They fought on a subway train, a fight that ended with Spike murdering Nikki without remorse. After killing her, Spike stole Nikki’s black leather jacket. He wore this for the next two decades, resulting in it becoming synonymous with him.

Robin and Dana both separately confronted Spike for his actions. By these times, Spike had redeemed himself and had reclaimed his soul.

Le Banc

Le Banc was a vampiric crime boss in New York during the 1970s. Consequently, he soon crossed paths with Nikki Wood. When the NYPD held a stakeout, Le Banc murdered Li, Nikki’s lover.

Consequently, Nikki ruined his plan to unleash an evil creature by killing it. When Le Banc escaped to the Bahamas, Nikki followed him. It is unknown what happened next, as the graphic novel ends with Nikki firing her weapons at the Vampire.

The First Evil

This villain used Nikki’s form to goad Robin into attacking Spike. The plan worked, with the First managing to persuade Robin to kill the Vampire.

Fortunately, Spike was able to see through his trauma and prevent Robin from killing him. The two maintained an antagonist relationship, but they agreed to work together to face the First Evil.

Slayer Relationships

Though Nikki never met any other slayers, since they would have been activated before or after she was the Slayer, she nonetheless has important connections to many of them.

Buffy Summers

Buffy and Nikki are quite similar. Like many other Slayers, they were both activated at quite young ages. They both had close relationships with their Watchers.

Nikki’s son was raised by her Watcher after her death, while Buffy saw her Watcher, Rupert Giles, as a father figure.

Both slayers were also made to participate in the Tento di Cruciamentum test when they turned 18. Both Slayers also died at young ages, though Buffy would later be resurrected.

The similarities between them would be noted on separate occasions by Robin Wood and Spike. Buffy also echoes the sentiment Nikki told Robin about the mission being important in the episode “Lies My Parents Told Me.”

Aside from these quite superficial similarities, perhaps what is most similar between the two Slayers is the fact that they lived human lives outside of their slaying duties.

While many Slayers merely perform their duties, both Buffy and Nikki juggled their roles with normal lives. For instance, Buffy still attended school, had friends, and pursued romantic relationships.

Similarly, Nikki had romantic relationships and gave birth to a son, whom she raised single-handedly.

Though they both had lives outside of their slaying, Robin argued that Buffy was more successful than his mother.

Dana

Dana was a slayer who was activated several decades after Nikki. The abused Dana was cursed with the personalities of previous Slayers, resulting in her reliving her trauma and confusing it with her own past. Dana sought revenge for Nikki, attacking Spike.

Xi Rong

Though they never met, Nikki Wood and Xi Rong are often paired together. This is because they are Slayers who were both killed by Spike.

Their deaths are documented in the same episode, namely “Fool For Love.” Xi’s murder during the Boxer Rebellion would lead to Spike developing a passion for murdering Vampire Slayers.

Both Slayers would also be evoked by Dana when she was determined to kill Spike.

Photos

Appearances

Despite being mentioned in several episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her prominence to the show’s lore, Nikki Wood only appears in three episodes.

She first appears in the Season 5 episode “Fool for Love”, which documents her death via flashbacks.

In this episode, she was played by April Weeden. Nikki was not named in this episode and was instead dubbed the “Subway Slayer” in the credits.

Nikki would then go on to appear in 2 episodes in Season 7, namely “First Date” and “Lies My Parents Told Me.” In these two episodes, Nikki is played by K. D. Aubert because Weeden did not return to the show.

Interestingly, Weeden also worked as a stunt double in the Buffyverse. In “First Date” the First Evil appears as Nikki and tells Robin that Spike was responsible for her death. In “Lies My Parents Told Me”, Robin attempts to get revenge. In this episode, Nikki only appears through flashbacks.

Nikki is also mentioned in a few episodes of Angel. The most notable of these is the Season 5 episode “Damage”, in which Dana appears.

Nikki is also referenced in several of the comic book and graphic novel continuations of the Buffyverse.

Her most notable appearance is in the graphic novel Tales of the Slayers. The story of Nikki’s antagonistic relationship with Le Banc is depicted in the short story “Nikki Goes Down!”

Marianne LeBlanc
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