List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters

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This article lists the major and recurring fictional characters created by Joss Whedon for the television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For detailed descriptions, see individual character pages.

Main characters[edit]

The following characters were featured in the opening credits of the program.

Actor Character Seasons Comic
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy Summers Main
Nicholas Brendon Xander Harris Main
Alyson Hannigan Willow Rosenberg Main
Anthony Stewart Head Rupert Giles Main Recurring
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia Chase Main
David Boreanaz Angel Recurring Main Guest Star Guest Star
Seth Green Daniel "Oz" Osbourne Recurring Main
James Marsters Spike Recurring Guest Star Main
Marc Blucas Riley Finn Main Guest Star
Emma Caulfield Anya Jenkins Recurring Main
Amber Benson Tara Maclay Recurring Main
Michelle Trachtenberg Dawn Summers Main

The show's titular protagonist, Buffy is "The Slayer", one in a long line of young girls chosen by fate to battle evil forces in the form of vampires and demons. The Slayer has no jurisdiction over human crime. This calling mystically endows her with a limited degree of clairvoyance, usually in the form of prophetic dreams, as well as dramatically increased physical strength, endurance, agility, intuition, and speed and ease of healing. There traditionally has been only one Slayer alive at any given moment, with a new one called upon the event of her death.

Possessing no supernatural skills, Xander provides comic relief as well as a grounded, everyman perspective in the supernatural Buffyverse. In another departure from the usual conventions of television, Xander is notable for being an insecure and subordinate male in a world dominated by powerful females.

Willow was originally a nerdy girl who contrasted Buffy's cheerleader personality but also shared the social isolation Buffy suffered after becoming a Slayer. As the series progressed, Willow became a more assertive and even sensual character; in particular, she became a lesbian and a powerful Wiccan. Willow is Buffy's best friend through everything that happens and maintains her humanity and kindness to others throughout.

Giles, rarely referred to by his first name, is a Watcher and a member of the Watchers' Council, whose job is to train Slayers. In the earlier seasons, Giles researched the supernatural creatures that Buffy must face, offered insights into their origins and advice on how to kill them. Throughout the series, he became a father-figure to Buffy, Willow, Xander, and the others, giving them advice not only on the supernatural world, but on life issues as well.

Tom Lenk, Emma Caulfield, Alexis Denisof, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Stewart Head, Joss Whedon, Michelle Trachtenberg

Cordelia is originally an archetypal popular, shallow, mean-spirited cheerleader. She is tactless, but direct and honest, and she becomes a reluctant ally of the Scooby Gang, even after her relationship with Xander disintegrates. After season 3, she joins Angel in L.A., where she abandons her attempts at acting to fight evil at his side.

Angel, a vampire, formerly known as Angelus, was a cruel killer until he was re-ensouled by a Romani curse. After decades of guilt over his past atrocities, he allies himself with Buffy and they fall in love. The consummation of their relationship brings him a moment of true happiness, breaking the curse and releasing Angelus upon Sunnydale. Buffy is forced to send him to a hell dimension to save the world. After his release from hell, Buffy and Angel continue to struggle with their ongoing love. Angel breaks off their relationship and moves to L.A. (after season 3) to give her a chance at a more normal life. There, he gathers new allies in his own fight against evil in the five-season spin-off, Angel.

Oz is a brilliant (yet generally unmotivated) student, and part-time rock guitarist. He is Willow's first and only boyfriend, and an active member of Buffy's inner circle, despite the fact that he has recently become a werewolf. Portrayed as taciturn and unflappable, the contrast between his outward coolness and his violent animal episodes is an example of the show's efforts to subvert usual character expectations, as well as to display double-personalities (like Angel/Angelus). As an unusual side-note, the actor Seth Green went on to co-design and supervise the creation of the acclaimed line of Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figures.

Spike is a vampire character whose role varies dramatically through the course of the series, ranging from a major villain to "love's bitch", to the sarcastic comic relief, to Buffy's romantic interest in a relationship that grows from miserable lust to a friendship, and eventually to a self-sacrificing hero, dying as a Champion at the Hellmouth. His path to redemption subsequently resumes in L.A. (in season five of Angel), where his resurrected character continues to develop into a selfless hero and reconciles with his former nemesis and love rival, Angel, and occasionally works with him. Spike is known for his Billy Idol platinum hair, his catch-phrase "bloody hell", and his black leather duster, which he acquired after killing his second Slayer.

Anya is a 1,120-year-old former vengeance demon (Anyanka) who specialized in avenging scorned women. After being forcibly stripped of her demonic powers by Giles, the character is forced to re-learn how to be an ordinary human, a journey which is portrayed as both comical (e.g., her fear of rabbits and her love of money) and poignant (e.g. her grief over Joyce's death). Her story is largely focused on her romantic relationship with Xander, and like many characters on the show, she is portrayed as morally ambivalent.

Riley is Buffy's first serious boyfriend after Angel. He is initially an operative in a military organization called "The Initiative" that uses science and military technology to hunt down HSTs or "hostile sub-terrestrials" (demons). Riley is Angel's opposite, an Iowa-born-and-raised man whose strength lies in his military secret identity. Buffy's superior physical strength causes him insecurity, particularly after his medically enhanced powers were removed. This, combined with Buffy's inability to truly emotionally connect with him, eventually causes him to leave in the middle of Season 5.

Dawn is introduced in Season 5 as Buffy's fourteen-year-old younger sister, sent to Buffy in human form as a disguise for the Key, a dangerous magical artifact sought by a hellgod. Although Dawn's genesis is magical, she functions as a complete and normal teenage girl, and, after her true nature has been revealed, she is accepted and loved as a sister, daughter, and friend. Although Buffy initially tries to shelter Dawn from her work as Slayer, Dawn later becomes a useful member of the Scooby Gang.

Tara is introduced first as a fellow member of a Wicca group during Willow's first year of college. Their close friendship evolves into an ongoing romantic relationship; their relationship attracted significant attention as one of few featured same-sex relationships on television at that time. Tara uses her magical skills to assist the Scooby Gang in their fight against evil, and she struggles with how to deal with Willow's growing addiction to magic. Tara is killed by a bullet intended for Buffy, her death triggering Willow's transformation into "Dark Willow".

Recurring characters by type[edit]

Villains[edit]

  • The Master (Mark Metcalf): The Master is one of the oldest living vampires, and the first Big Bad that Buffy faces in Sunnydale. The Master was trapped in a church which collapsed in an earthquake and he became trapped in the Hellmouth when he tried to open it. Prophecy foretells that he will kill Buffy; he bites her and she drowns, but is revived by Xander. She kills him, and he turns to dust, leaving only his bones. When she is faced with the threat of his resurrection, Buffy later smashes them with a sledgehammer. The Master appears again in the season 3 episode "The Wish", which is set in an alternative reality where Buffy never came to Sunnydale.
  • Drusilla (Juliet Landau): Drusilla is a beautiful young seer who was driven insane by Angelus, her sire and later her lover. Her insanity continued after she became a vampire, and she wreaked havoc on Europe and Asia for years. After a debilitating beating from an angry mob in Prague, Drusilla is healed in a ritual that nearly sacrifices Angel; when he reverts to Angelus, she embraces his plot to destroy the world. Drusilla is the long-time paramour and sire of Spike, although she becomes disillusioned with him after their year in Sunnydale (Season 2). She has clairvoyance and hypnotic powers in addition to her vampire abilities. She frequently speaks in riddles (relating what the pixies in her head tell her) and watches the stars through the ceiling. She reappears in various guises throughout the series. She is still at large.
  • Angelus (David Boreanaz): Angelus is possibly the most infamously cruel vampire in history. He is the soul-less alter ego of Angel, Buffy's friend and lover. After years of terrorizing Europe and Asia, he is cursed by Roma Gypsies. They restore his soul, but the curse ensures that the threat of Angelus remains; a moment of perfect happiness costs Angel his soul, and Angelus re-emerges to terrorize Sunnydale (season 2). Angelus kills Jenny Calendar, terrorizes the Scooby Gang, and plots with Drusilla to destroy the world by opening a mystical vortex. Buffy and Spike ally against Angelus while Willow works to re-ensoul him with a translation of the original gypsy curse. Angelus opens the vortex before Angel's soul is restored, and Buffy is forced to drive a sword through his chest, sending him to a hell dimension before he can even remember Angelus' siege against Sunnydale. Angelus continues to be a periodic threat to Angel's new allies in L.A. in the spinoff Angel.
  • Mayor Richard Wilkins III (Harry Groener): The affable yet sinister Mayor Wilkins originally founded the city of Sunnydale on the Hellmouth as a haven for demons to feed. He sold his soul in the 19th century so that he could eventually ascend to pure demon form. Buffy and the Scoobies face the threat of his impending Ascension in Season 3.
  • Professor Maggie Walsh (Lindsay Crouse): Walsh is Buffy's psychology professor and the leader of The Initiative. She deceives Riley and tries to kill Buffy when Buffy asks too many questions about her secret project. She is stabbed and killed by her own creation, Adam, and her body is later re-animated.
  • Adam (George Hertzberg): Adam is a part-cyborg, part-demon, part-human creation of The Initiative (under Maggie Walsh). He has no conscience, and he is violently curious in how things work. He is nearly unstoppable, and he tries to create the perfect race of Human/Demon/Android hybrids.
  • Glory (Clare Kramer): Glory, also known as "the great and wonderful Glorificus", is an evil hellgod who has been exiled from her dimension by other hellgods. She is forced to occupy the body of a human named Ben, which reduces her powers. She regularly becomes disoriented and unstable and must drain the minds of humans in order to maintain her cognitive processes, leaving her human victims insane. She seeks the Key to return to her home dimension, not caring that her actions threaten to destroy the fabric of reality separating all dimensions.
  • Warren Mears (Adam Busch): The leader of "the Trio", the main villains in the 6th season before Dark Willow becomes the actual "Big Bad". He first appears to be a fairly normal nerd, but becomes a violent, power-driven timebomb who tries to gain respect by instilling fear in others. He commits evil deeds such as killing his girlfriend Katrina after his unsuccessful rape attempt. He also shoots Buffy and kills Tara in Buffy's own backyard. Warren is tortured, skinned alive and killed by Dark Willow ("Villains"). He later appears in Season 8 to take on the role of the big bad in the first arc trying to seek revenge on Buffy and Willow.
  • Caleb (Nathan Fillion): An arrogant, misogynistic preacher who served as a vessel and evil-doer for the First Evil. He is emasculated and sliced in two by Buffy in the series' finale "Chosen".
  • The First Evil (various): The source and embodiment of all that is evil. It can appear in the form of anyone who has died.

Allies[edit]

  • Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland) (Seasons 1–5): Buffy's mother is an anchor of normality in the Scoobies' lives, even after she learns of Buffy's role in the supernatural world ("Becoming, Part Two"). In "Lovers Walk", she lends a sympathetic ear to Spike's heartbreak, a gesture that he never forgot. In season 5, she dies of an aneurysm after a tumor is removed from her brain in "I Was Made to Love You". (In the first episode of season 4, Buffy jokes "Can't wait till mom gets the bill for these books; I hope it's a funny aneurysm.") Joyce is one of the only two Buffyverse deaths from non-magical or non-violent causes. She returns for one Season 6 episode, "Normal Again", as an hallucination (or possibly as herself in an alternate reality). She also returns in some Season 7 episodes as either a manifestation of The First Evil or as a ghost.
  • Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte) (Seasons 1–2): High school computer teacher, and member of the gypsy tribe who cursed Angel. She becomes Giles' love interest and a mentor to Willow. In the episodes "Surprise" and "Innocence", it is revealed that she is a descendent of the Romani tribe who cursed Angelus by restoring his soul, and is in Sunnydale to watch and try to prevent the development of the relationship between Angel and Buffy so that Angel continues to suffer. After Angel loses his soul, she tries to find a way to restore it, but is killed by Angelus in "Passion" just as she's figured out how to do it.
Jenny Calendar was the first prominent character to be killed in the series, and Joss Whedon noted the significance of this as a sign of his seriousness about emphasizing the genuine danger his characters are in. She returns in season 3, but as the First Evil, who has assumed her form.
  • Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof) (Season 3): A second Watcher originally sent to replace Giles. Fired as a watcher, he appears in Los Angeles as a "rogue demon hunter", and becomes Angel Investigations' expert in occult lore.
  • Principal Robin Wood (D. B. Woodside) (Season 7): The son of a past Slayer, Nikki Wood (killed by Spike), who becomes a Buffy ally in the final season. He becomes the love interest of Faith.

Others[edit]

  • Jonathan Levinson (Danny Strong) (Seasons 2–4, 6–7): A hapless high school nobody, introduced in the second season and frequently included in brief comic appearances in seasons 2-3; featured heavily in the noteworthy episodes "Earshot" and "Superstar" and as a major character in season 6. He is killed by his friend Andrew early in season seven as a sacrifice to open the Hellmouth.
  • Harmony Kendall (Mercedes McNab) (Seasons 1–5): A vapid high school companion to Cordelia Chase, who becomes a humorously inept vampire in later seasons, and goes on to be a regular character on Angel. Harmony is the only character other than Angel to appear in both the first episode of Buffy and the final episode of Angel. Additionally, she appears in the unaired Buffy pilot. She returns again in Season 8, where she informs everyone that vampires exist on her reality show.
  • Amy Madison (Elizabeth Anne Allen) (Seasons 1–4, 6-7): A student and witch who encounters the gang. Later Amy turns herself into a rat to save herself from being burned at the stake and is stuck in this form for a few seasons until season six (with the exception of a few seconds in season four when Willow unknowingly turns Amy from rat to human then back to rat). She ultimately resents the Scoobies for how they treat and handle Willow after she goes "bad", yet cannot seem to have the same sympathy for her. She ultimately betrays Willow in Season 7. In the Dark Horse comic book series "Season 8", she takes on the role as a big bad in the first arc, partnered up with her "boyfriend" (Warren Mears) to seek revenge on Willow and Buffy.
  • Graham Miller (Bailey Chase) (Seasons 4–5) and Forrest Gates (Leonard Roberts) (Season 4): Riley's peers in the Initiative.
  • Faith Lehane (Eliza Dushku) (Seasons 3–4, 7): Faith, a Slayer, is called when Kendra is killed by the vampire Drusilla. When she arrives in Sunnydale, she fights alongside Buffy and the Scooby Gang. After accidentally committing murder, she indulges her violent tendencies and joins forces with the Mayor. Buffy stabs Faith, who falls into a coma; eight months later she wakes up and swaps bodies with Buffy. After being defeated, she flees to Los Angeles and accepts a contract to kill Angel. Angel is able to rehabilitate her, and she confesses to her crimes and goes to prison. Three years later, she breaks out to capture Angelus when Wesley Wyndam-Pryce informs her that he has been released. After Angel is re-ensouled, Faith reluctantly returns to Sunnydale to stand with Buffy against the First Evil. She temporarily leads both the Scoobies and the Potentials when the general faith in Buffy dissolves. Throughout the series, Faith displays a much darker, dangerously fun-seeking approach to both slaying and murder; she is the dark side of a Slayer's personality.
  • Andrew Wells (Tom Lenk) (Seasons 6–7): A nerd who becomes a foe of Buffy, mainly through peer pressure, bad judgment, and a secret love for Warren Mears. After he's captured and held by the Scooby Gang, he eventually starts helping. He does try to redeem himself throughout season seven. There are several humorous hints that he is gay. His character continues to grow and develop after the end of Buffy season seven, as evidenced by his guest appearances on Angel. During Season 8, he resides in Italy being the Watcher of many vampire slayers. Buffy calls Andrew part of the family in Predators and Prey, Part 3.

Recurring characters by season[edit]

Notable recurring characters, credited as guest stars, are listed by the season in which they first appeared.

Season 1 (1997)[edit]

Season 2 (1997–1998)[edit]

Season 3 (1998–1999)[edit]

Season 4 (1999–2000)[edit]

Season 5 (2000–2001)[edit]

Season 6 (2001–2002)[edit]

Season 7 (2002–2003)[edit]

Minor characters[edit]

Notable villains[edit]

The following characters are commonly referred to within the show as Big Bads. There are, on occasion, multiple Big Bads in a season. The season 6 documentaries often refer to not only Dark Willow as the season's Big Bad, but life itself.

See also[edit]