Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 1)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 1)
Buffy Season (1).jpg
Region 1 Season 1 DVD cover
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 12
Original network The WB
Original release March 10 (1997-03-10) – June 2, 1997 (1997-06-02)
Season chronology
Next →
Season 2
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

The first season of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on March 10, 1997 as a mid-season replacement on The WB and concluded its 12-episode season on June 2, 1997. The first season aired on Mondays at 9:00 pm ET.


The first season exemplifies the "high school as hell" concept. Buffy Summers has just moved to Sunnydale after burning down her old school's gym and hopes to escape her Slayer duties. Her plans are complicated by Rupert Giles, her new Watcher, who reminds her of the inescapable presence of evil. Sunnydale High is built atop a Hellmouth, a portal to demon dimensions that attracts supernatural phenomena to the area. Buffy meets two schoolmates, Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg, who help her fight evil through the series. She also gets a love interest in the form of Angel, a vampire who has a soul. They soon become known as the "Scoobies". Together they must prevent The Master, an ancient and especially threatening vampire, from opening the Hellmouth and taking over Sunnydale.

While befriending Buffy on her first day, both Willow and Xander have motives to fight. Xander's motive to fight alongside Buffy was the loss of his friend Jesse, who was turned into a vampire by The Master's minions. Xander soon kills Jesse. Willow however was more timid and fiercely scared of monsters. They both soon become Buffy's most loyal sidekicks. There is some romantic tension between them as Xander has a crush on Buffy and is oblivious of Willow's affections for him. The Scoobies distrust Angel but warm up to him as the season progresses.

Buffy and her friends often clash with Cordelia Chase, who attempted to befriend Buffy on her first day, but Buffy didn't like the way she treated Willow. Throughout the season, Cordelia was often at odds with Buffy and her friends but near the end of the season, she becomes aware of the supernatural world around her and helps Buffy.

In the earlier episodes, Buffy and Angel encounter The Master's favorite minion Darla, who was the vampire who sired Angel. Darla is soon killed much to The Master's anger, but The Master gains a new ally in the form of the Anointed One, a child like minion who has a major role in opening the Hellmouth.

In the season finale, Buffy learns of a prophecy involving her death at the hands of The Master. Just as The Master begins his plot, Buffy finally confronts him. The Master bites Buffy and leaves her to drown in a shallow pool. Buffy recovers via CPR by Xander and confronts The Master again on the school roof. After a final stand off, The Master is impaled and killed on a piece of wood after falling through the Sunnydale High skylight. After saving the world, Buffy and her new friends go to a party.


Writer Joss Whedon says that "Rhonda the Immortal Waitress was really the first incarnation of the Buffy concept, just the idea of some woman who seems to be completely insignificant who turns out to be extraordinary."[1] This early, unproduced idea evolved into Buffy, which Whedon developed to invert the Hollywood formula of "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie."[2] Whedon wanted "to subvert that idea and create someone who was a hero."[2] He explained, "The very first mission statement of the show was the joy of female power: having it, using it, sharing it."[3]

The idea was first visited through Whedon's script for the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which featured Kristy Swanson in the title role. The director, Fran Rubel Kuzui, saw it as a "pop culture comedy about what people think about vampires."[4] Whedon disagreed: "I had written this scary film about an empowered woman, and they turned it into a broad comedy. It was crushing."[5] The script was praised within the industry,[6] but the movie was not.[7]

Several years later, Gail Berman, a Fox executive, approached Whedon to develop his Buffy concept into a television series.[8] Whedon explained that "They said, 'Do you want to do a show?' And I thought, 'High school as a horror movie.' And so the metaphor became the central concept behind Buffy, and that's how I sold it."[9] The supernatural elements in the series stood as metaphors for personal anxieties associated with adolescence and young adulthood.[10] Whedon went on to write and partly fund a 25-minute non-broadcast pilot[11] that was shown to networks and eventually sold to The WB Television Network. The latter promoted the premiere with a series of History of the Slayer clips,[12] and the first episode aired on March 10, 1997.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main cast[edit]

Recurring cast[edit]


Series creator Joss Whedon served as executive producer and showrunner. David Greenwalt joined the series as co-executive producer as 20th Century Fox wanted an experienced television producer as Whedon had never run a television series before. Whedon wrote the most episodes, writing three and the original pilot, as well as writing the story for a further two. Greenwalt wrote three episodes, devising two of the stories himself and working his third script for the season from a story by Whedon. Story editors Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali wrote two episodes and the other pair of story editors, Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer wrote one episode. Staff writers Ashley Gable and Thomas A. Swyden wrote one episode and wrote the teleplay for another from a story by Whedon. Dana Reston also wrote a freelance script.[13]

Bruce Seth Green directed the highest amount of episodes in the first season, directing three episodes, followed by Whedon, who directed two, the original unaired pilot and his broadcast directional debut with the season finale "Prophecy Girl".


No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
U.S. viewers
0 0 Unaired pilot Joss Whedon Joss Whedon N/A 4V79 N/A
Buffy Summers arrives in Sunnydale, and must take up vampire hunting. She meets Cordelia, Willow, and Xander, and saves Willow from vampires devoted to the Master.
1 1 "Welcome to the Hellmouth" Charles Martin Smith Joss Whedon March 10, 1997 (1997-03-10) 4V01 4.8[14]
Buffy arrives in Sunnydale and is not happy to meet her new Watcher, Rupert Giles. A mysterious "friend" offers guidance, but Buffy resists her destiny until Willow and Jesse are abducted. Buffy saves Willow from an ordinary vampire, but loses track of Jesse in a confrontation with Luke, the Master's vampire vessel.
2 2 "The Harvest" John T. Kretchmer Joss Whedon March 10, 1997 (1997-03-10) 4V02 4.8[14]
After escaping from Luke, Buffy goes in search of Jesse, with a little help from Giles and Willow, from her mystery friend, Angel, and from Xander, who braves the dank, dark sewers with her. The Master plots the Harvest, a ritual designed to imbue him with enough strength to open the Hellmouth, but Buffy defeats his minions in a showdown at The Bronze.
3 3 "Witch" Stephen Cragg Dana Reston March 17, 1997 (1997-03-17) 4V03 4.6[15]
Buffy tries out for Sunnydale High's cheer leading squad. The Scoobies at first suspect that Amy is causing all the havoc but discover that her mother, also a practicing witch, has swapped bodies with her.
4 4 "Teacher's Pet" Bruce Seth Green David Greenwalt March 24, 1997 (1997-03-24) 4V04 3.0[16]
Xander is smitten by the substitute biology teacher, Ms. French, who turns out to be a giant praying mantis terrifying enough to make vampires run for cover. Angel's warning gives Buffy a vital clue and she rescues the virgin male students—including Xander—chosen to fertilize the creature's eggs.
5 5 "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" David Semel Rob Des Hotel & Dean Batali March 31, 1997 (1997-03-31) 4V05 4.0[17]
Buffy's love life is looking up when she goes on a date with the normal Owen, but when Owen nearly gets killed during Buffy's battle to save Giles and the others from the Master's vampires, she decides that "normal" dating might be too dangerous after all.
6 6 "The Pack" Bruce Seth Green Matt Kiene & Joe Reinkemeyer April 7, 1997 (1997-04-07) 4V06 3.6[18]
At the zoo, Xander and four other students sneak into the off-limits hyena habitat and become infected by an evil demon spirit. Xander and his pack grow more and more feral until Buffy, Giles, and Willow reverse the spell.
7 7 "Angel" Scott Brazil David Greenwalt April 14, 1997 (1997-04-14) 4V07 3.4[19]
Sharing their first kiss, Buffy is horrified to discover that Angel is a vampire. Bent on Slaying him, Buffy learns that Angel's soul was restored by a Gypsy curse, making him unique—and reviled—among his fellow undead. Angel stakes Darla, the vampire who made him, as she attempts to assassinate Buffy for the Master.
8 8 "I, Robot... You, Jane" Stephen Posey Ashley Gable & Thomas A. Swyden April 28, 1997 (1997-04-28) 4V08 2.5[20]
Willow meets a boy on the Internet, but "Malcolm" is really Moloch, an ancient demon released from bondage after Willow scanned his "book" into the school's computer. With help from Ms. Calendar, Sunnydale High's computer teacher, Buffy foils Moloch's plan to upload himself into a giant robot.
9 9 "The Puppet Show" Ellen S. Pressman Rob Des Hotel & Dean Batali May 5, 1997 (1997-05-05) 4V09 2.6[21]
After Principal Flutie's death, the new sheriff in Sunnydale High, Principal Snyder, forces Buffy and her friends to participate in the school talent show. When a girl's heart is harvested, Buffy suspects a fellow student and his strangely talkative dummy.
10 10 "Nightmares" Bruce Seth Green Story by: Joss Whedon
Teleplay by: David Greenwalt
May 12, 1997 (1997-05-12) 4V10 3.5[22]
Sunnydale residents find their worst nightmares coming true and Buffy learns that a little boy in a coma is the cause. To solve the problem, the gang must wake him up and help him confront his fears.
11 11 "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" Reza Badiyi Story by: Joss Whedon
Teleplay by: Ashley Gable & Thomas A. Swyden
May 19, 1997 (1997-05-19) 4V11 3.4[23]
Ignored by students and teachers alike, Marcie literally becomes invisible, then uses her affliction to terrorize Cordelia and her friends. Sympathetic at first, Buffy nevertheless stops Marcie when she goes too far. Men in black come to take Marcie away.
12 12 "Prophecy Girl" Joss Whedon Joss Whedon June 2, 1997 (1997-06-02) 4V12 4.0[24]
Buffy quits Slaying when a prophecy predicts she will die in battle against the Master and the Anointed One, but soon puts aside her fear and enters the fray on her own timetable and terms. In fulfillment of prophecy, the Master indeed kills the Slayer and opens the Hellmouth, but learns too late that Buffy is resilient, unpredictable—and lethal.


On the review aggregator website Metacritic, the first season scored 80 out of 100, based on 15 reviews, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".[25]

The pilot episode, "Welcome to the Hellmouth", was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Makeup for a Series.[26]

DVD release[edit]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete First Season was released on DVD in region 1 on January 15, 2002[27] and in region 2 on November 27, 2000.[28] The DVD includes all 12 episodes on 3 discs presented in full frame 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Special features on the DVD include a commentary track by creator Joss Whedon on "Welcome to Hellmouth" and "The Harvest", along with the original script for the episode. Other features include interviews with Joss Whedon and cast member David Boreanaz, with Whedon discussing the episodes "Witch", "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date", "Angel" and "The Puppet Show". Also included are cast/crew biographies, DVD-ROM content, photo galleries, and series trailers.[29]


  1. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Television with a Bite" Buffy sixth season DVD set, Disc six (2003), at time 02:15.
  2. ^ a b Billson, Anne, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BFI TV Classics). British Film Institute (December 5, 2005), pp. 24–25.
  3. ^ Gottlieb, Allie, "Buffy's Angels", Metroactive.com (September 26, 2002).
  4. ^ Havens, Candace, Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy Benbella Books (May 1, 2003), p. 51. Fran Kuzui also discussed Buffy in Golden, Christopher, & Holder, Nancy, Watcher's Guide Vol. 1. Simon & Schuster (October 1, 1998), pp. 247–248.
  5. ^ Havens, Candace, Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy Benbella Books (May 1, 2003), p. 23.
  6. ^ Brundage, James, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" film review Archived June 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. Filmcritic.com (1999). An example of the praise given to the script and dialogue behind the Buffy movie.
  7. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer at Rottentomatoes.com". 
  8. ^ Golden, Christopher, and Holder, Nancy, Watcher's Guide Vol. 1. Simon & Schuster (October 1, 1998), pp. 249–250
  9. ^ 'Said, SF', "Interview with Joss Whedon by SF Said Archived May 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.", Shebytches.com (2005).
  10. ^ Wilcox, Rhonda V.; David Lavery (April 2002). "Introduction". Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Rowman & Littlefield. xix. ISBN 978-0-7425-1681-6. 
  11. ^ Topping, Keith "Slayer". Virgin Publishing, (December 1, 2004), p. 7
  12. ^ "Television Obscurities - Buffy, The Vampire Slayer: Forgotten Premiere Trailer" Tvobscurities.com (July 16, 2003).
  13. ^ "A Brief History of Mutant Enemy". Whedon.info. May 24, 2004. Retrieved July 30, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). USA Today. Gannett Company. March 10, 1997. p. D3. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). USA Today. Gannett Company. March 17, 1997. p. D3. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). USA Today. Gannett Company. March 24, 1997. p. D3. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). USA Today. Gannett Company. March 31, 1997. p. D3. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). USA Today. Gannett Company. April 7, 1997. p. D3. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). USA Today. Gannett Company. April 14, 1997. p. D3. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). USA Today. Gannett Company. April 28, 1997. p. D3. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). USA Today. Gannett Company. May 5, 1997. p. D3. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). USA Today. Gannett Company. May 12, 1997. p. D3. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Episode List: Buffy the Vampire Slayer". TV Tango. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Nielsen ratings" (PDF). USA Today. Gannett Company. June 6, 1997. p. D3. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Critic Reviews for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  26. ^ ""Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997) - Awards". IMDb. Retrieved August 1, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Buffy The Vampire Slayer - The Complete First Season (1997)". Amazon.com. Retrieved July 29, 2010. 
  28. ^ "Buffy DVD and VHS". BBC. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 1". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 

External links[edit]