Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1 (1997)

SEASON:

Season 1
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Critics Consensus

Buffy slays her way into the pop-culture lexicon in a debut season that lays the groundwork for one of TV's greatest supernatural teen dramas.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 26

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 320

Rate And Review

User image

Verified

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Rate this season

    Oof, that was Rotten.

    Meh, it passed the time.

    It’s good – I’d recommend it.

    Awesome!

    So Fresh: Absolute Must See!

    What did you think of this tv season? (optional)



  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Step 2 of 2

    How did you buy your ticket?

    Let's get your review verified.

    You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket.

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Rate this season

    Oof, that was Rotten.

    Meh, it passed the time.

    It’s good – I’d recommend it.

    Awesome!

    So Fresh: Absolute Must See!

    What did you think of this tv season? (optional)

  • How did you buy your ticket?

Episodes

Air date: Mar 10, 1997

Ostensibly picking up where the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer left off, episode one finds the vampire-stiffing Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her mother, Joyce (Kristine Sutherland), recently moved from Los Angeles to the ironically named suburb of Sunnydale, CA. During her first day at Sunnydale High School, Buffy meets a group of people who will define the course of her new life. Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), a popular girl at school, proffers her friendship by testing Buffy's "coolness factor." "James Spader?" Cordelia inquires. "He needs to call me," replies Buffy, without missing a beat. But Cordelia is soon dismayed when Buffy begins hanging out with the shy computer nerd Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), her friend Xander Harris ( Nicholas Brendon), and his buddy Jesse (Eric Balfour). Also among her new acquaintances is the school librarian, the very British Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), who just happens to be Buffy's Watcher, a sort of guidance counselor for vampire slayers. Giles informs Buffy that the earth is much older than commonly accepted and was once populated by demons and vampires; only vestiges of the great evil still exist. Through Giles, we also learn that after every slayer dies, another is born to take her place, and 17-year-old Buffy is the Chosen One. That night, Buffy meets the enigmatic and mysterious Angel (David Boreanaz), who warns her that Sunnydale is located on the Hellmouth -- a kind of mecca for demons and vampires of all sorts -- and the accompanying "Harvest," when vampires will attempt to take over the earth, is soon approaching. Buffy is resistant to donning her mantle as the Slayer, unaware that in catacombs beneath Sunnydale, the Master (Mark Metcalf) -- a very old and powerful vampire, trapped for 60 years underground -- is now being awakened by his minion Luke (Brian Thompson) to be set free by the Harvest. Originally aired on March 10, 1996, "Welcome to the Hellmouth" is part one of the show's two-part pilot episode.

View Details
Air date: Mar 10, 1997

In the second episode of the series, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and friends Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), and Watcher Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) band together to stop a group of vampires from fulfilling an ancient prophecy called "The Harvest." The Harvest will allow Luke (Brian Thompson), a vampire supernaturally connected to The Master (Mark Metcalf) -- a very old, powerful, and angry vampire -- to feed on humans and thereby give him strength. The Master, viewers learn, was imprisoned in catacombs underneath Sunnydale 60 years earlier by an earthquake while attempting to open the Hellmouth, and is trapped underground until The Harvest is complete. When Luke sends some vampires out for food, they subsequently capture Xander's buddy Jesse and use him as bait to lure Buffy into a trap. Buffy, who now understands her destiny to be the Slayer, dutifully chases after Jesse. Buffy and Xander find Jesse in the catacombs only to realize that he has already been turned into a vampire. Meanwhile, Luke and his vampires are attacking all the club-going teens at The Bronze to fulfill The Harvest prophecy. Buffy and her cohorts come to the rescue just in time to stop them, during which Xander accidentally kills Jesse. Most of the vampires (including Luke) are killed, but Darla (Julie Benz), a vampire who figures heavily in future episodes, gets away. Originally aired on March 10, 1996, "The Harvest" is the second half of the two-part pilot episode.

View Details
Air date: Mar 17, 1997

Competition at the Sunnydale High cheerleading tryouts literally heats up when the star cheerleader catches on fire during her routine. As if the pressure of the tryouts isn't enough, Amy Madison (Elizabeth Anne Allen) is failing miserably to get on the team and live up to her mother Catherine's (Robin Riker) legacy as the cheerleading champion of Sunnydale High. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) also wants to get on the team, but she and Amy end up first and third alternates, respectively. Then, serendipitously, Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) becomes blind, another cheerleader's mouth is sealed with a flap of skin, and Buffy is turned into a dangerously peppy pom-pom girl through a Bloodstone Vengeance spell. It's no surprise when Amy makes the team. Buffy, weakened by the spell, goes with Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) to Amy's house, only to find that it is Amy's mother, Catherine, a witch who has inhabited her daughter's body, who is casting the spells. This leads to a showdown with the witch at the high school, in which Giles reverses all of her spells. In a final twist, Buffy repels Catherine's final spell, trapping her in the cheerleading trophy she won as a teenager. Originally aired on March 17, 1996, "The Witch" was the first episode in the series not to deal directly with vampires. Also, Buffy's cheerleading interest is the first direct reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer the movie, in which she was a pom-pom queen.

View Details
Air date: Mar 25, 1997

In keeping with Buffy creator Joss Whedon's directive to deal with a wide array of monsters -- not just vampires -- episode four finds Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) bug hunting. After imparting some much-needed encouragement to Buffy, biology teacher Dr. Gregory (William Monaghan) is found the next day -- minus his head! Jumping to obvious conclusions, Buffy assumes that the gruesome murder fits the m.o. of "Claw" (Jean Speegle Howard), a real Captain Hook of a vampire, whose hand has been supplanted with various sharp objects. But, when Claw flees at the sight of Dr. Gregory's substitute, a sultry woman named Natalie French (Musetta Vander), Buffy begins to focus on her. French gives lectures on her love of praying mantises and quickly has all the boys at Sunnydale High "hot for teacher." Bugged by the monstrous possibilities of who or what the killer could be, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) seeks the help of his friend Dr. Carlyle Ferris, an entomology/mythology expert, who has recently gone mad after hunting a "She-Mantis" at Oxford. As it turns out, French is the She-Mantis in question, and has meanwhile imprisoned Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and another student in hopes of mating with them and then killing them, in classic She-Mantis style. Buffy fortunately comes to the rescue in time to save the boys from decapitation. This episode marks the first in a long series of running jokes directed toward Xander about falling for a She-Mantis. Other equally heartfelt ribbings pop up throughout the series.

View Details
Air date: Mar 31, 1997

Episode five of the series finds the Master (Mark Metcalf) attempting to fulfill another prophecy. This time, an Anointed One will be turned into a vampire and become the Master's frontline weapon against the Slayer. In the meantime, the Master sends the Order of Aurelius -- special warrior vampires -- to kill Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar). She subsequently kills one them, and in reporting the incident to Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), learns of the prophecy. While Giles attempts to determine the identity of the Anointed One, Buffy attempts to have a date with Owen Thurman (Christopher Wiehl), a sensitive, good-looking student who likes the poetry of Emily Dickinson -- because it's so morbid. The date is interrupted halfway due to the pressing issue of having to save Giles from some vampires at a funeral home, where he went in search of the Anointed One. In coming to Giles' rescue, Buffy fights a large vampire spouting prophecy-like rhetoric, and she assumes that he's the Anointed One. The upside is that Owen, jazzed by their violent date, can't get enough of Buffy. The downside is that Buffy, realizing the danger she put him in, has to break up with him. Unbeknownst to Buffy and Giles, the Master has actually anointed a young boy and taken him into the catacombs below Sunnydale.

View Details
Air date: Apr 7, 1997

In episode six, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and friends attend a school field trip to the zoo. Also on the trip are Kyle (Eion Bailey), Tor (Brian Gross), and Heidi (Jennifer Sky), Sunnydale High's resident bullies. In attempting to protect the nerdy Lance (Jeff Maynard), Xander (Nicholas Brendon) follows them into the ominously closed hyena exhibit. Upon exiting the exhibit, everyone except Lance has seemingly taken on the predatory characteristics of the hyena. Xander begins hanging out with the four bullies and acting belligerent and nasty -- even verbally humiliating Willow (Alyson Hannigan). Among other things, the group eats the school's pig mascot. When questioned about the pig, Kyle, Rhonda, and Tor eat the principal -- alive! At first Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) does not believe Buffy's view that something is supernaturally wrong with Xander and comically states, "It's devastating -- he's turned into a 16-year-old boy. Of course, you'll have to kill him." But after researching Primals -- animal worshipers who imbue themselves with the spirits of animals -- Giles and Buffy go to the keeper of the hyena exhibit for help. The keeper turns out to be a Primal, and he attempts to draw the hyena spirit from Xander and the bullies into himself. After succeeding, Buffy throws him to the hyenas.

View Details
Air date: Apr 14, 1997

Episode seven of the series is a landmark for Buffy-philes in that it is the first episode where Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Angel (David Boreanaz) kiss. An enigmatic, if peripheral character up until this point, Angel stakes his claim as a full-time cast member by revealing his secret: He is a vampire, the ultimate outsider, a James Dean with fangs -- and Buffy wants him. That is, until she catches him putting a Dracula-hold on her mom -- bite marks and all. It becomes clear that Buffy's mom was actually bitten by the evil Darla (Julie Benz) and saved by Angel. After confronting him, Buffy learns Angel's story: Darla "sired" him (turned him into a vampire) some 240 years earlier, becoming his lover. Later, after killing a gypsy woman, Angel had a curse put on him by the woman's family, restoring his soul. Since then, he's walked the earth, trying to amend his evil vampiric ways. As if he hadn't already proven his undying love to Buffy, Angel puts a fine point on it by staking Darla. This seminal Buffy episode ends at a Sunnydale High dance where Buffy and Angel -- all too aware that theirs is a forbidden and doomed love -- share a slow dance and another kiss. Buffy's crucifix leaves a cross burned into Angel's neck, and a lump in the audience's throats.

View Details
Air date: Apr 28, 1997

Episode eight begins in the 15th century where a monk named Thelonious -- a humorous reference to the great jazz pianist -- transforms the demon Moloch the Corruptor into the actual text of a book, thereby imprisoning him. Moloch may only escape when the text is read aloud. 500 years later, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) acquires the book for his library; subsequently, it is scanned into the library computer system under the direction of Jenny Calendar (Robia La Morte), Sunnydale High's hip and beautiful new computer science teacher. The scanning releases Moloch into the computer system as a kind of cyber-demon. Taking on the name Malcolm, he lures Willow (Alyson Hannigan) into an Internet romance and consequently uses an old electronics company to make himself into a robot-demon. Jenny -- a techno-pagan actually familiar with Moloch -- assists Giles with magically trapping Moloch inside his robot body. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) then blows up the robot-demon with an electronic device. By introducing the character of Jenny, this episode gives Giles both competition at school and the possibility for romance -- however doomed -- in later episodes.

View Details
Air date: May 5, 1997

Episode nine is a standout for its comic twist on the familiar "evil puppet" story line. Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) takes on the monstrous task of coordinating the annual talent show at Sunnydale High. The sadistic Principal Snyder (Armin Shimerman) forces Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Willow (Alyson Hannigan), and Xander (Nicholas Brendon) to also participate in the program. It doesn't take long for one of the talent show performers to be found dead with her heart cut out. In researching the possible culprits, Giles uncovers a text about a clan of organ-stealing demons known as the Brotherhood of Seven. They need the organs of a young human every seven years to remain in the visage of human teenagers. Morgan (Richard Werner), a ventriloquist a little too attached to his dummy, Sid, falls under Buffy's suspicion. Her instincts are correct, but not precisely: Sid the dummy is alive, but he is not the demon. He's a demon hunter who was imprisoned in a dummy's body by the Brotherhood of Seven during the 1930s. Buffy and Sid team up to find the demon after realizing that Morgan, now murdered, had brain cancer and was useless to the demon.

View Details
Air date: May 12, 1997

Episode ten showcases the writers' ingenious talent to marry each character's personality to a horror-comedy plot twist. Nightmares are coming true in Sunnydale: the self-conscious Xander (Nicholas Brendon) goes to school in his underwear; shy Willow (Alyson Hannigan) has to sing in public; bookish Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) forgets how to read; superficial Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) has a really bad hair day; and sensitive slayer Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) finds that her parents blame her for their divorce. Buffy also has a nightmare that the Master is freed and kills her, making her a vampire. It is finally made clear that the nightmares stem from a boy in a coma. Beaten into that state by his violent baseball coach, the boy's constant dreaming of the horrible incident is being made real through the evil powers of the Hellmouth. It is interesting to note that Buffy has had nightmares from the pilot episode on -- a side effect of her slayer powers -- and this episode seems to build upon that subplot. By having of all the characters face their fears, the seeds are sown for future growth and budding relationships, such as Cordelia's eventual friendship with Buffy.

View Details
Show More Episodes

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1 Photos

Tv Season Info

Series 1 of the sci-fi series where a cheerleader is chosen to battle the forces of evil as she weathers the storms of young adulthood.

News & Interviews for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (14)

For fans of youth shows, occult shows and action shows, this new, weekly "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is the right program at the right time.

Nov 17, 2017 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

But a little Valley-speak goes a long way. The dialogue is riddled with phrases like ''totally dead,'' ''morbid much'' and ''way extracurricular.'' Someone should take a stake to the script.

Nov 17, 2017 | Full Review…

But damn did it take chances with its storytelling, and more importantly it became the gold standard for how to make a supernatural show so deeply connect with what it means to be human.

Nov 22, 2017 | Full Review…

Buffy's life is more intense than her predecessors'. She is, after all, struggling to survive on a splinter network in a multichannel world full of restless, remote-clicking viewers.

Nov 17, 2017 | Full Review…

Nobody is likely to take this oddball camp exercise seriously, though the violence can get decidedly creepy.

Nov 17, 2017 | Full Review…

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is "Clueless" with teeth.

Nov 17, 2017 | Full Review…

It's never easy starting a TV show, let alone when audiences still have a pretty terrible movie of the same name fresh in their minds. Yet Whedon made it look effortless with Welcome to the Hellmouth.

Nov 17, 2017 | Full Review…

Clever writing and an appealing cast make this cult series eminently watchable.

Nov 17, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

This fundamental, incontrovertible deferral to feminist ideals is the backbone of every scene, every exchange in "Welcome to the Hellmouth," and it's what sets Buffy the Vampire Slayer apart from nearly every other show of its time.

Nov 17, 2017 | Full Review…

"Buffy" takes itself just seriously enough to ladle moderate suspense between chuckles. Only younger children are likely to be bothered by the mostly bloodless noshing.

Nov 17, 2017 | Full Review…

The vampires, presided over by a king bloodsucker who looks like an albino rat in a leather bar, are the only disappointment. Because of his fangs, Metcalf slurps his lines. But, all in all, this looks like one of the brightest new shows of the season.

Nov 17, 2017 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Sarah Michelle Gellar literally carries the entire first season, announcing the arrival of a great new television talent.

Nov 17, 2017 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1

  • Dec 13, 2020
    Might seem cringey at first, but give it some time, it grows on you. Overall an epic series, that I loved.
  • Jul 23, 2020
    Whilst it's undeniable that Buffy the Vampire Slayer formed the blueprint for many current vampire shows, it uses a barrage of fight scenes to distract from its one dimensional characters. The protagonist is constantly dealing out a series of quippy one liners, leaving me wanting for more authentic moments. That being said, it deserves respect for its place in vampire tv history.
  • Jun 21, 2020
    A solid first season of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. I can't say I'm overly enjoying it, yet here I am after watching S1 so I must've liked it enough; admittedly I watched practically an episode a day, no way I could sit through a binge-watch to be honest. Sarah Michelle Gellar is probably the reason I stuck with it - she's excellent as Buffy, definitely producing the best acting. Anthony Head (Giles) and Alyson Hannigan (Willow) are decent, too. The special effects haven't aged incredibly, but I've certainly seen worse from around this era of television; looking at you, 'Doctor Who'. The overall acting is alright, while the writing is decent. As of now, I'm still at the meh stage with this show. Hopefully my interest perks up from season two!
  • Jan 06, 2020
    Really great def to watch
  • Dec 22, 2019
    An okay start to a great show, but the show hadn't found its footing yet
  • Oct 12, 2019
    Sarah Michelle Gellar starring in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the best possible casting choice. Gellar's chemistry with fellow castmates Anthony Head, Nicholas Brendon, and Alyson Hannigan allowed this teen drama to thrive. Season 1 is quirky, fun, and dramatically 90s. While this is not the best season of the series, its nostalgic elements keep this season afloat and allow for an enjoyable experience. While this season may be a bit hard to watch for the casual viewer, the payoff in the season finale and the episodes in the following season is worth sticking around.
  • Oct 11, 2019
    It was a good introduction and had a lot of great stuff but this season is a bit overrated in my mind, the ending definitely hypes up the score but you can fully appreciate it until the next season.
  • Oct 03, 2019
    A good start to one of THE BEST series's out there
  • Oct 02, 2019
    A great first season with some of Buffy's best episodes. Even when it's cheesy, Buffy season 1 is very entertaining.
  • Sep 11, 2019
    Still to date my favorite show of all time!

News & Features