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Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy 3x16.jpg
Vampire Willow (from "The Wish") captures Willow
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 16
Directed by Joss Whedon
Written by Joss Whedon
Production code 3ABB16
Original air date February 23, 1999 (1999-02-23)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Doppelgangland" is the sixteenth episode of the third season of the fantasy television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003). It was written and directed by the show's creator, Joss Whedon, and originally aired on The WB Television Network in the United States on February 23, 1999. The episode's title is derived from the term "Doppelgänger", a German word for a lookalike or double of a living person.

"Doppelgangland" revisits the alternate reality portrayed in "The Wish", in which Buffy never arrived in Sunnydale and vampires ruled the city. Anya, a vengeance demon who previously granted the wish, attempts a spell to regain her powers.


This episode marked the second appearance of Anya, who was portrayed by Emma Caulfield.[1]

In the show, Buffy Summers is a teenager who, at the age of fifteen, was chosen by mystical forces to be a slayer, a girl endowed with superhuman powers to fight and defeat vampires, demons, and other evil forces. After moving to the fictional town of Sunnydale, she befriends Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), who join her in the struggle against evil. They are guided by Buffy's watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), who is well versed in demonology and is responsible for Buffy's training as a slayer. During season two, Willow begins to experiment with magic, eventually becoming a formidable witch.

In the third season, Buffy returns to Sunnydale after attempting a new start in Los Angeles. However, she struggles to regain her old life. Willow and Xander address and act on their mutual attraction. After a vampire named Spike captures the two, Willow and Xander share a kiss that Oz (Seth Green) and Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), their respective significant others, witness. Upon the arrival of a vengeance demon named "Anya", Cordelia makes the wish that Buffy had never arrived in Sunnydale, creating an alternate reality in which vampires rule the city. After Giles destroys her amulet, Anya loses her powers and the previous state of Sunnydale is restored.

According to Buffy scholar Roz Kaveney, episodes in the third season address various forms of betrayal.[2]


Anya unsuccessfully entreats D'Hoffryn to restore her demonic powers.

Principal Snyder browbeats Willow into tutoring basketball star Percy West. At Giles's request, Willow hacks into Mayor Wilkins's files; when Faith finds out, she alerts him of the intrusion. Wilkins presents Faith with a fully furnished apartment and then tells her he plans to have Willow killed.

Percy makes it clear that his idea of tutoring is that Willow should do his homework, and Willow does not correct him. Frustrated and unhappy, Willow then quarrels with Buffy and Xander and storms off. Willow assists Anya with a spell, but their conjuration goes awry, summoning "Willow" from "The Wish" rather than retrieving the magic amulet Anya sought. Neither Anya nor Willow realizes the consequences of their spell.

Vampire Willow goes to the Bronze, where she fights with Percy, throwing him across the pool table, and shows her vampire face to Xander and Buffy. Two vampires sent by the mayor attack her, but she turns them to her side. Buffy and Xander tell Giles that Willow has been killed and turned vampiric, but the genuine Willow arrives to demonstrate their error.

Angel and Anya drop into the Bronze. Vampire Willow and her new minions arrive and capture the crowd. Angel escapes to find Buffy. Anya recognizes what has happened, offers to restore Vampire Willow to her own world in return for help in retrieving her amulet, and suggests capturing the other Willow to assist in the spell. Angel, Buffy and Xander head for the Bronze, but Willow, turning back to get the tranquilizer gun, is captured by her doppelganger. Willow shoots the vampire; the others arrive back in the library. They lock the unconscious vampire in the library cage, and Willow exchanges clothes with her in an attempt to pass herself off as Vampire Willow. They return to the Bronze.

Cordelia arrives at the library and unwittingly releases Vampire Willow, who immediately attacks her, but Wesley intervenes and drives the vampire away. At the Bronze, although Anya exposes Willow's disguise, Buffy defeats the other vampires, then captures the returning doppelganger. Anya returns vampiric Willow to her own timeline, where the alternate Oz immediately kills her. The next day, Percy, thoroughly intimidated by Willow's doppelganger (and believing she was the real Willow), shows up for tutoring with all his work completed and makes it clear he intends to please her from now on.


When the episode was originally broadcast in the United States on February 23, 1999, it received a Nielsen rating of 4.1.[3] It was the second most watched program of the week on The WB Television Network.

Noel Murray from The A.V. Club commented that the episode "is terrific on myriad levels, from the dialogue to the plot twists to the multiple spot-on character moments. But mostly it's a top-drawer episode for the way it binds the Buffyverse together, by demonstrating how adept the writing staff is at remembering everything they've done on the show before, and re-using the elements that still have plenty of juice in them."[1]

"Doppelgangland" primarily focuses on the character Willow.[1] Series creator Joss Whedon has placed it fifth in his list of favorite episodes from the show, stating "one Willow is certainly not enough."[4] Malinda Lo from included the episode in her top ten as well.[5] Alyson Hannigan, who portrays the character Willow, also considers the episode to be one of her favorites in the series.[6] According to, the episode holds an average score of 9.5/10, based on 658 compiled ratings.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Murray, Noel (July 3, 2009). "Doppelgangland". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ Kaveney, pp. 19-20.
  3. ^ "Doppelgängland". Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Show's creator takes a stab at 10 favorite episodes". USA Today. April 28, 2003. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  5. ^ Lo, Malinda (April 12, 2007). "My Top 10 Buffy Episodes". Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  6. ^ Susman, Gary (October 19, 2005). "Alyson Hannigan's favorite 'Buffy' episodes". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Doppelgangland". Retrieved November 23, 2011. 


  • Kaveney, Roz (ed.) (2004). Reading the Vampire Slayer: The New, Updated, Unofficial Guide to Buffy and Angel, Tauris Parke Paperbacks. ISBN 1-4175-2192-9

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