Buffy Character: Robin Wood | D. B. Woodside

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a program packed with action, a strong female lead, and multiple love plots.

Although this combination proved to be a massive hit with viewers across the globe, one of the main reasons this program proved to be a hit with viewers was its relatable characters. 

Robin Wood was a recurring character on series 7 of Buffy, and viewers up and down the country took an immediate liking to him.

Let’s take a closer look at just who Robin Wood was and what made him such a loveable character and a firm fan favorite. 

Who Is Robin Wood?

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The character of Robin Wood was introduced in series 7 as principal of the newly rebuilt Sunnydale High School. As well as being a principal, Wood was also the son of Nikki, who viewers were later told had been killed by a vampire. 

Appearing in most of season seven, viewers were left wondering if Wood was a good character or not.

After finding and burying Jonathan Levinson’s body, we are still left wondering if this character is up to no good, or if he is on the side of Buffy and her gang.

Dropping hints that he was aware of the mystical situation in Sunnydale, it was a while before we discovered which side he was actually fighting for.

In the episode ‘First Date,’ Wood reveals that his mother had been a slayer in New York City and that he considers himself to be a ‘freelance’ demon fighter.

He was taught his skills by his mother’s Watcher, not in New York, but in Beverly Hills where he was raised.

It is during his date with Buffy that Robin mentions how his mother was killed, and later in the series, during the episode ‘First Evil’, it is revealed that the murdering vampire in question is actually Spike. 

As revenge for his mother’s death, Robin plans to kill Spike. After conspiring with Giles to distract Buffy, he attempts to make his move, however, his plan fails.

Once Buffy realizes what has happened, she decides to temporarily leave Robin out of her close-knit group. It is only after the character of Faith returns that Robin is allowed back in and viewers are treated to a possible romance between the two characters. 

During the episode ‘Touched’, Robin and Faith become physically intimate and seal their relationship. However, in the episode ‘Chosen’, before the battle, Robin is shown having doubts about how Faith views men and makes a promise to show his dedication to her if they survive. 

Robin, Nikki, And Spike

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As mentioned, it is revealed in the program that Spike is the vampire in question who causes the death of Robin’s mother. This takes place in 1977 when Robin is just four years old.

Spike, aware of Nikki’s killings in New York, tracks her down intending to kill his second-ever slayer. Meeting in Central Park, the pair fight for the first time with Robin watching from behind a park bench.

Although the fight came to a standstill, it wouldn’t be the last time the two characters would see each other. Before feeling the scene, Spike compliments Nikki on her long leather jacket – something that would play a huge role in his future image. 

During the same year, Spike and Nikki meet again and their final interaction takes place inside a New York City subway train. During the final fight, Nikki is shown pinning Spike to the subway floor and repeatedly punching him.

This led viewers to believe that good would prevail. However, as the train went through a dark tunnel, Spike takes advantage and switches positions leaving Nikki facing uncertainty.

With Spike having the upper hand, Nikki is seen begging him to let her return home to her son. Spike being Spike takes no notice of Nikki’s pleas and strangles her before breaking her neck.

Having killed her, Spike decides to remove her leather jacket and keep it for himself. He is shown wearing it for the next 26 years until it is eventually destroyed. 

Robin vows to get revenge on Spike and uses the First’s trigger to try and bring Spike’s feral nature to the forefront of his feelings and face the demon who killed his mother. It is during this fight that Spike can recover from the trauma he has suffered and eventually defeat his demon.

He can be seen regaining his soul and Spike decides to let Robin live saying that he owed him for the killing of his mother. However, he would not let Robin live next time. 

During this episode, Buffy is seen following up on the situation and warns Robin that should the situation occur again, she would let Spike kill him. She also tells him, just like his mother once did, that the mission is what mattered. 

No matter where she went. No matter how much she wanted to be with me. She wasn’t strong enough to ignore it. She had to be a Slayer.”―Robin Wood[src]

The episode ‘Lies My Parents Told Me’ was a favorite with viewers and fans of the characters Spike and Robin.

Their interwoven story comes to a climax during this episode , and it was widely acclaimed to be a standout episode in the final season.

During the episode, we take a deep look into both characters and their backgrounds, and Robin is shown as being a pivotal character in Spike’s journey. 

What Was The Character Like?

The character is shown as having a great sense of humor and being very easygoing.

He is seen communicating well with the students of Sunnydale High School and the confidence he has in his role as the principal is a direct contrast to the previous high school principals who were portrayed as being nervous and extremely strict.

As his attitude is so relaxed, he very quickly became a well-liked educator with his students and colleagues. 

His past, however, does include some violence. It is mentioned that he was once suspended for threatening to attack a fellow student who bullied him during his time in school.

This nod to his upbringing and possible hidden skill-set is overlooked thanks in large to his charming personality and good nature. 

In the episode ‘Him’, viewers were introduced to a troubled student who is shown developing resentment towards Robin which eventually leads to an attempt on Robin’s life.

The student, RJ Brooks, uses his family’s love spell on Buffy, and it is actually her who attempts to kill Robin. She tries to do this with her rocket launcher, however, Robin is saved thanks to Xander, Willow,  and Spike who all come to his rescue and break Buffy from the student’s spell. 

Robin And Romance

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When it comes to Robin and love, this character is largely linked to Faith Lehane. There are a lot of things that make these two a great couple, including their past traumas of being a vampire slayer as well as simply being two very likable characters – once Faith had grown from being an antagonist to a hero.

However, from an audience’s point of view, there wasn’t enough time to see the outcome of the relationship their characters were building towards. 

In the show’s final season, before the two characters faced the First Evil, Faith and Robin found solace in each other’s company and viewers eagerly anticipated that they may be treated to a genuine love story.

This was not meant to be, however, and viewers were left guessing the outcome of their relationship. Although they would have made an interesting couple, sadly we’ll never know what that looked like.

Robin’s Skills And Abilities

Although Robin’s mother was a slayer in New York City, Robin, unfortunately, didn’t inherit any of her powers. His mother’s former Watcher raised Robin and trained him in the martial arts and various vampire killing tactics. The powers this character held were:

  • Agility
  • Gadgets
  • Marksmanship
  • Stamina
  • Swordsmanship
  • Unarmed Combat
  • Weapon Master

As Robin was trained from a very young age in martial arts, his fighting technique is near perfect, making him a great companion for Buffy.

Thanks to his mother’s Watcher, he also has extensive knowledge of vampires, demons, and slayers, making him one of the most knowledgeable characters on the show. He also had at his disposal:

  • Outstanding condition

He was trained to have exceptional strength and endurance and as seen during his fight scenes, he would rarely get overpowered by vampires he was fighting, despite their superhuman strength. 

  • Supernatural Knowledge

His knowledge of demonology and vampirism was greater than most on the show, and he was able to know their weaknesses and how to outsmart every time he came into contact with one. 

  • Hand-to-hand combatant

He was exceptionally strong and had impeccable reflexes. This meant that he could easily take on vampires alone.

Character Traits

Joss Whedon has a particular idea of what he wanted Robin Wood to look like, and we think that D.B.Woodside matched that pretty well! 

Height

  •  6’2

Eye color

  •  Black

Hair color

  • Black but this character would also work with a bald head. 

You couldn’t get a more perfect fit for this character! 

Post Sunnydale

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After his role as principal of Sunnydale High School, the character of Robin appears in ‘No Future for You’, which is the second arc of the comic book series Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season Eight.

In this comic book, Robin is the head of a squad of slayers and works at the Hellmouth in Cleveland. This takes place after thousands of potential slayers across the globe are activated as full-fledged slayers. 

For fans who are wondering if Faith and Robin managed to stay together, sadly it doesn’t look promising. During his one-panel appearance, Robin calls Faith to inform her of a family that had recently been attacked by vampires.

During the phone call, Faith refers to Robin as ‘the ex’, suggesting that the couple ended their relationship after the episode ‘Chosen’. 

Robin can also be seen advising a pregnant Buffy after the destruction of the Seed of Wonder and the End of Magic. He discusses how he handled his mother being a slayer and is seen insisting that Buffy would be able to be both.

He goes on to say that as she has managed to hold down a normal life while all other slayers haven’t or weren’t able to, he had faith in Buffy being a good mom.

Buffy remains unsure, even after Robin’s speech, however, she mentions that if she was to keep the baby she would not raise it on her own. 

It was later discovered that Buffy was in fact in a robotic body and her pregnancy was the result of incorrect programming and maintenance. 

Episode Appearances

Robin Wood appeared in 20 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes including:

Season 7

  • Lessons
  • Beneath You
  • Help
  • Him
  • Conversations with Dead People
  • Sleeper
  • Never Leave Me
  • Bring on the Night
  • Showtime
  • Potential
  • The Killer in Me
  • First Date
  • Get it Done
  • Storyteller
  • Lies My Parents Told Me
  • Dirty Girls
  • Empty Places
  • Touched
  • Chosen

Season 8

  • No Future For You, Part 1

Behind The Scenes Knowledge

  • The character of Robin was mainly played by D.B.Woodside, however, he was also played by Damani Roberts in the episode ‘Lies My Parents Told Me’, as well as Michael Anthony in the Season eight Motion Comic. 
  • Joss Whedon has stated that the character of Robin was initially given a gender-ambiguous name as it was unsure whether the character would be a woman or a man. Through auditions, they decided that Woodside would be the perfect person to play this role, and so the male character Robin was born.
  • When creating the character, Whedon and the team wanted Robin to resemble Daniel Holtz from season three of Angel. Both of these characters have family members who sadly have been murdered by notorious vampires, and both aim to seek revenge for these killings.

    Just like Holtz, Robin didn’t receive any comfort or solace in Spike’s ensoulment or remorse and continued to focus his energy on the revenge he had always planned.

    However, whereas Robin is set on killing the vampire that killed his mother by using the First’s hypnotic trigger to turn Spike into a bloodthirsty beast, Holtz seeks out Angelus by kidnapping and brainwashing Angel’s son Connor to get his revenge.

    Holtz’s surname also translates to ‘wood’. The only major difference between the two characters is that Robin became an ally of the Scooby Gang whereas Holtz’s hatred eventually led to his undoing.

D.B.Woodside Career

D.B.Woodside hails from Jamaica, Queens, New York, and graduated from Yale School of Drama where he studied the M.F.A program. However, he says that he fell into the acting world by mistake. 

His first job in the industry came in the second season of Murder One which he filmed in 1996 and where he played the character of Aaron Mosley. Although the series was canceled, Woodside went on to guest star on programs such as The Practice, Snoops, and The Division, as well as Once and Again

He also made a guest appearance on JAG while it was in its final season and played the role of FBI Agent Rod Benton. After this, from 2002-2003, Woodside took up the role of Robin Wood in 14 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s final season and was a massive hit with fans of the show. 

Following on from his success on Buffy, Woodside went on to play the pragmatic Wayne Palmer in the third season of 24, where his character was the Chief of Staff and brother to President David Palmer.

He returned in the fifth season to reprise the role in episodes 1-2 and 14-18 and was welcomed by fans of the successful show. He later went on to return as a series regular during its sixth season which saw his character take on the position of President of the United States. 

After his time on 24, Woodside had a guest role on the popular CSI series and starred as Marlon Waylord in their 2004 episode ‘Harvest’. Three years later, his career would take him to the hugely popular hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy.

He played the character of Marcus in the show’s fourth season episode of ‘Forever Young’. Continuing down the medical route, Woodside also guest-starred as a doctor in the USA Network series Monk during its series finale.

Woodside was also given a recurring role on the CW series Hellcats and in 2009, he was part of the first series of the US drama ‘Lie to Me‘.

With his career showing no sign of slowing down, Woodside also starred in the VH1 series Single Ladies as Malcolm Franks.

During his time on the show, he worked opposite Lisa Raye McCoy who played the role of Keisha Greene. 

In what could be considered his biggest role since leaving Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Woodside was cast as Amenadiel, the oldest of all of God’s angels, in the massively popular Lucifer.

Having worked on the show from 2016 to 2021, Woodside has proved that his place on the American dramas is still thriving, and having played multiple different characters across several TV programs, his ability and skill-set are as sharp and in-demand as ever.

Not a bad career for someone who accidentally fell into the acting world.

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Marianne LeBlanc
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