Buffy Character: Principal Snyder | Armin Shimerman

Synder was the principal of Sunnydale High School from 1997 to 1999. His leadership style was authoritarian and was always paranoid because of the supernatural ongoing in his school.

His main goals while principal of the school was to keep up and always improve the standards of the students that went there.

Alongside improving standards, he had to cover up anything freaky or supernatural that was going on within the school, with the approval of the town’s mayor, he used unconvincing stories and reasons as to why strange things happened within the school.

His leadership style was controversial and corrupt, and negatively impacted those around him.

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Biography

Snyder became the principal of Sunnydale High when former Principal Flutie was killed in 1997 by the pack. When becoming principal he made sure that he came in ruling with an iron fist and displayed tough discipline when forcing students to be punished when he found out the plan to mock people in the talent show.

He knew there was something supernatural going on within the town and high school, especially finding out Principal Flutie’s death was a supernatural occurrence.

Being in charge of the high school he was appointed by the mayor to be one of the main men to cover up anything supernatural that the people heard about or what they thought happened.

Whilst enforcing his discipline in the school he began to but heads with Buffy, unknowing that she was a slayer he became very suspicious of her, and they would begin to run into each other and have problems.

This was because their roles crossed paths a lot as she was trying to slay and figure out the supernatural whilst he was trying to cover it up and prevent people finding out about it.

Death

Despite devoting his life to protecting the supernatural occurrences and the reputation of the school to please the mayor, even getting Buffy into all kinds of trouble, and causing all sorts of problems for her he eventually got her expelled from the school, which he took loads of pleasure in.

He did meet the end he deserved, eventually. This was at the graduation of the class of ’99, after being praised and rewarded by the mayor for his contributions to helping cover up.

When he found out the mayor finally found the form of the demon Olvikan, Snyder finally saw through what he was doing and realized it was wrong.

Realizing it was wrong he stood up to the mayor and confessed he didn’t approve of this, doing so got him eaten and swallowed whole in front of all those who attended the graduation.

Personality

Snyder was massive on discipline as he tried to rule very strictly, he also admitted, or showed several times that he didn’t like teenagers one bit.

He often wondered why he chose the career path of teacher and eventually principal and constantly had to remind himself of the reason, to guide them to becoming decent adults.

His hatred for teenagers went as far as comparing them to locusts and claimed he needed to guide them to know respect and said punctuality was important in life.

His belief on how important his principles in the school were reflected on what he thought of the real world, he would often compare breaking the rules inside the school to real world crimes.

He cared far too much about the reputation of the school and would do so much to cover up the supernatural things that were happening that he would often get distracted.

Buffy and her friends took advantage of this by Buffy’s friends distracting him with a lawsuit so Buffy could go and investigate, he cared so much about the reputation of the school he let one of his enemies that he conspired against go and investigate the supernatural happenings.

His stance on the school’s reputation even caused him to corrupt student’s grades. He took a shine on the school swimming team, as they were a representative of the school, he needed them to all be a good reflection of how the school operates.

When one of the best swimmers needed good grades but wasn’t getting them, he saw to this and made sure that they were bumped up, making both principal Snyder and the school look better.

Traits

  • Disciplined
  • Immoral
  • Egocentric (About the school and his position with the mayor)
  • Vindictive
  • Unforgiving

As far as a character goes, he’s relatively one dimensional and doesn’t really show much other traits than negative ones. His whole personality revolves around being a ruthless principal. He always shows or says how much he dislikes teens.

Despite knowing supernatural things happen around the school he chooses to be ignorant to them and then try and blame them on Buffy to get her expelled showing how negative he really is.

Appearance & Photos

His bitter, sour, and angry personality suits the way he appears on screen. He’s the typical short bald man always dressed in a bad work suit and looks like the type to get angry very quickly, he’s made out to be a well-fitting stereotype of someone who hates teenagers.

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Powers And Abilities

In terms of supernatural powers, the principal doesn’t have any. He does, however, have the associated powers that come with being principal, and any powers the mayor grants him in his quest to contain the supernatural ongoings.

Relationships

Richard Wilkins

His relationship to the mayor of the town is pretty one sided, he pretty much does as he’s told. This could be because of his ethics when it comes to authoritarian figures. He does his absolute best to please the mayor, but then we see how one-sided it is, as when he finally disagrees with the mayor, he just gets swallowed in one.

Buffy Summers

Despising anything that goes against his beliefs on presentation and discipline Snyder immediately had it out for Buffy as he quickly caught wind of her history of getting involved with all of the supernatural happenings and violence.

He openly disliked her and mentioned it and was more than happy expressing his feelings about wanting to expel her and have her thrown in jail believing that she was heading that way anyways.

Even when Buffy would try and protect the school and its students he would come after her and try and twist it so that whatever she did to try and help was just an act of violence and would use this to frame her.

He would even mention that no matter what would happen he would keep looking for any tiny shred of evidence to make it fit her being bad.

Finding things to blame her for and get her into deeper trouble was something he said gave him genuine pleasure, so when he wanted to expel her this was a big moment for him, he wanted it to be a big deal for him and memorable as this is something he believed was necessary for the reputation of the school and demonstrated his power and authority, even if it was overwritten and he had to let her back in later on.

This wasn’t a one-sided relationship Buffy also didn’t like Snyder either, as from her standpoint all he did was get in her way of stopping and preventing supernatural occurrences and this led her to ridicule him and when he eventually passed it was more of a weight off of her shoulders rather than a sad loss.

Willow Rosenburg

Despite actually being liked by Snyder, Willow didn’t particularly like him mutually, it was more of a tolerance.

She was on the more favorable side of Snyder as she had a very decent academic performance, and this looked good for Snyder as this would help elevate the reputation of the school (especially if all the students behaved like her).

He also forced Willow into doing things, this could be because she was a bit softer and wouldn’t really argue back with Snyder, one example was teaching a class that he forced her to take on.

When she had students failing the class (she was forced to do), he made her give them a pass even though they didn’t deserve it, and also made her give out extra tutoring to students who were lazy in her class.

Despite him having a more favorable look towards Willow, he never said anything directly that forced her or threatened her into doing things for her, but with the intimidating glare he had, she knew that if she didn’t do it this would cause problems for her.

It’s fair to say this was an odd relationship as he didn’t like her for her, he only like her because of what she could do for his school’s reputation, and she didn’t really like him, in fact it would be honest to say she had an active dislike towards him, even three years after he died.

Rupert Giles

A recurring theme in Snyder’s relationships is people tend to dislike him. Rupert put up with Snyder as he worked for him, this was only for the sake of it and to make his life easier, there was no other reason like owing favors or anything like that.

He also called Snyder “Fuhrer”; this should give reference to what he really thought of Snyder. Being forced to work for Snyder and being made to run the school talent show we can see why Rupert was only tolerant of him and why he would refer to him as the “Fuhrer”.

Working under Snyder had an effect on their relationship, and this was shown in the dynamic they had going on. Snyder looked down on Rupert and because of this Rupert was happy to express his dislike about the principal.

Despite his tolerance for the principal, he did express his physical dislike for Snyder when he got in the way of letting Buffy back into school, Rupert had a close relationship with Buffy, and we see this as one of the reasons why Snyder didn’t really like Rupert.

Appearances

Definitely to be considered as one of the more insignificant characters due to his time on the show, but whilst there still had a big impact on what happened at the school.

Throughout the seasons of Buffy, we only get to see Snyder appear in 18 different episodes, and this all happens in the first 3 seasons. His first appearance is made in the first season in the episode “The Puppet show” and he makes his final appearance in the final episode of the third season titled “Graduation Day. Part Two” where he dies to the mayor after he becomes the demon Olvikan.

Outside of the series we also get appearances in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Classic” comic book series in the issues “Wu-Tang Fang” and “Halloween”.

He also gets to make appearances in the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Novels” where he makes plenty of appearances in Blooded, Power of Persuasion, The Willow Files, Volume 1, The Angel Chronicles, Volume 2, The Xander Years, Volume 2, Paleo, Ghoul Trouble, The Willow Files, Volume 2, The Book of Fours, The Faith Trails, The Cordelia Collection, The Suicide King, Keep Me in Mind, Colony, Night Terrors, Afterimage, Carnival of Souls, The Deathless, and One Thing or Your Mother. One other mention he gets is in the Xbox game Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Final Thoughts

Even though he only appeared sporadically in the first 3 seasons of the show he definitely had an impact, mostly negative. He ruled with an iron fist and did everything in his power to lead with authority and promote the school’s reputation at all costs, even if this meant being rude and short tempered with everyone.

He showed his love for rules and reputation by sucking up to the mayor which ultimately caused his own death and he intervened with anything Buffy tried to do. Buffy was only trying to help and protect her peers by stopping or preventing the supernatural but Snyder did his best to pin it all on her or cover it up just to protect the school reputation under the mayor’s instructions.

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Marianne LeBlanc
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