Demon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
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|First appearance||"Welcome to the Hellmouth"|
The definition raises complex issues. Roughly speaking, the series uses demon to describe any creature that is not a god, robot, unmodified human, or standard terrestrial animal. Thus, the category ''demon'' includes independent self-reproducing species, former humans that have been parasitically possessed via mystical or pseudo-biological processes, non-sentient species from adjacent dimensions, life forms that have been created or modified to serve some specific purpose, self-modifying individuals of indeterminate origin, and the hybrid offspring of any or all of the above.
Many demon species are native to Earth. Many more had their origin in other dimensions. Long before mankind made its appearance, Earth was dominated by purebred demons, the most powerful of whom are known as Old Ones. Though individual Old Ones constantly made war with one another, rising and falling in power within the group, the overall dominance of the Old Ones was absolute. Over time, however, they gradually lost their hold on this reality. Some individuals, such as Illyria, were ''killed'', but did not "die" in the human sense; many such demons were confined in the Deeper Well, a hole running through the center of the world. They continued to be feared for their ability to cheat death. Others escaped to other dimensions, and became unable or unwilling to return to Earth in their true forms. Among these were the cabal known as the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart. Demons are not affected by Sunlight or other ways of killing Vampires. Many Demons have a distinct method of killing and are only killed in a certain way.
Though Earth was now under the rule of humanity, the Old Ones had left behind many descendants and former servitors. These demons, far smaller and less powerful than the Old Ones, were usually the product of crossbreeding with humans and other mortal animals. Many of these hybrid species retained some ability to crossbreed with humans and each other.
Demonic reproduction is thus a diverse and complex subject. Some species, including vampires, Wraithers, and Werewolves, reproduce by infecting humans and then inhabiting and using their bodies. Others, such as Haxil Beasts and Skilosh demons, infect humans in order to use their bodies to gestate their young. Some demon species reproduce via sexual intercourse. Some indeterminate number of these species, for instance, Brachen and Ano-Movic demons, are cross-fertile with humans. Some demon species reproduce via asexual methods, such as budding. Still, other sorts appear to have been created or manufactured by some other entity (magician, Old One, Power), and do not reproduce on their own.
Little is known about the origin and evolution of demon populations in other dimensions. Some dimensions appear to be home to large populations of entirely non-human demonic species. Others, such as Pylea, have significant indigenous human populations.
Despite the obviously humanoid appearance of many demon species, some demon groups, most notably the Scourge, deny that they share any biological heritage with humans. This view may have more to do with ideology than biology, although they were unaffected by a machine designed to eliminate anyone with human blood.
The number of demon species is evidently vast. More than 200 of them have appeared on screen or in canonical comics, and many other species and individuals have been referenced in dialogue. Their forms are likewise variable. While the majority have been humanoid, others more resemble various animal species, and still, others are almost amorphous. Some have mammalian, reptilian or insectoid features, or combinations thereof.
It also should be noted that there's an entire roster of demons who aren't identified as belonging to any specific species.
The vast majority of demons in Buffy are shown to be inherently evil and interested in bringing chaos, suffering and death to humans. The Judge, for example, derives pleasure and sustenance from burning all humanity out of a creature, and numerous demons are shown to attempt to bring about the end of the world. Others show a strong predisposition to violence coupled with a lack of empathy that leads to their performing evil acts, or are biologically required to kill humans in order to survive or reproduce. In addition, there are a large number of demons such as hellhounds which are simply nonsentient, man-eating predators with unsavory dietary requirements. However, this generalization of "demon equals evil" is challenged constantly in both series. Angel is the first example of this; vampires, demonic spirits possessing and animating the corpse of a human, are considered to be inherently evil, but Angel has had his human soul forcibly returned to him. Many demons have human characteristics and personalities.
The next example of a good demon is in the second season Buffy episode "Becoming, Part One", which introduces Whistler, a demon who tells Angel that not all demons are bad and helps set Angel on his heroic path. At the end of season three, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce informs Buffy that the Council of Watchers will not help her save Angel from a deadly poison on the grounds that he is, in fact, a vampire; this leads to Buffy breaking ties with the Council for over a year. One of the strains on the relationship between Buffy and Riley Finn is that he automatically assumes that all supernatural creatures are bad until, in the episode "New Moon Rising", he encounters the werewolf Oz and realizes that not only are some unworldly creatures good, but that evil is also found in humans. Spike begins as a major villain, is restrained by The Initiative to be unable to harm humans (by means of a chip in his brain), then later becomes heroic in his own right, to the point of successfully undertaking a trial to return his soul and sacrificing himself to save the world. Another popular demon character, Clem, actually aids Buffy in training potential slayers.
Angel has several characters who are demon or part demon but not inherently evil. During the first eight episodes of season one, the character of Allen Francis Doyle is portrayed as a good half-demon sent by the Powers that Be to Angel for helping him to 'Help the helpless', until his death in the episode "Hero". The third season episode "That Old Gang of Mine" centers around stopping a gang that kills all demons, bad and good, indiscriminately. By the end of the series, more of Angel's team are some form of demon (Angel, Spike, Lorne, Illyria) than human (Gunn and Wesley). In the canonical continuation, in fact, none are human.