In order of character appearances:
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers (22/22)
- Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris (22/22)
- Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg (22/22)
- Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase (22/22)
- Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles (22/22)
- David Boreanaz as Angel (21/22) (Does not appear in "Inca Mummy Girl")
In order of character appearances:
- Juliet Landau as Drusilla (12/22)
- James Marsters as Spike (12/22)
- Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers (12/22)
- Robia LaMorte as Jenny Calendar (11/22)
- Seth Green as Oz (10/22)
- Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder (8/22)
- Danny Strong as Jonathan Levinson (7/22)
- Bianca Lawson as Kendra (3/22)
- Andrew J. Ferchland as The Anointed One (2/22)
- Jason Hall as Devon MacLeish (2/22)
- Robin Sachs as Ethan Rayne (2/22)
- Larry Bagby III as Larry Blaisdell (2/22)
- Saverio Guerra as Willy (2/22)
- Brian Thompson as The Judge (2/22)
- Max Perlich as Whistler (2/22)
- Mercedes McNab as Harmony Kendall (2/22)
- Julie Benz as Darla (1/22)
- Dean Butler as Hank Summers (1/22)
- Jeremy Ratchford as Lyle Gorch (1/22)
- James Parks as Tector Gorch (1/22)
- Elizabeth Anne Allen as Amy Madison (1/22)
Buffy returns to the town, after leaving her friends bored in Sunnydale to spend the summer with her dad in L.A., and interrupts a moment of tenderness between Xander and Willow. She works to overcome her feelings regarding her temporary death when she fought the Master. Season Two continues with many standalone episodes, but the tone soon turns serious along with the relationship between Buffy and her vampire lover.
The Anointed One is soon placed in sunlight by Spike, who with his mad lover Drusilla became Buffy’s adversaries. Halfway through the season, Buffy loses her virginity to Angel. Unbeknownst to the major characters, Angel’s moment of happiness took away his soul and he once again became Angelus – a vicious killer. This is perhaps the most potent example of the show’s metaphoric exploration of adolescent fears, as an allegory for the girl who sleeps with a man and discovers that he changes completely afterwards. Angelus joins with Spike and Drusilla as they torment Buffy and her friends.
New characters this season include Oz, a guitar player and werewolf who becomes Willow’s boyfriend; Kendra, a Slayer called when Buffy died; and Ethan Rayne, an evil but weak Warlock who knows Giles from his rebellious youth.
Angelus’ torments become more sinister as he kills Jenny, just as she discovers a way to restore his soul, and leaves her body in Giles’ bed, as he knew the two were about to become romantically involved. Ultimately, Angelus discovers an ancient demon he can revive to destroy the world by sucking it into hell. The particulars of the ritual dictate that, once Angelus opens the portal, the only way to close it is by killing him. The gang hopes to either kill Angelus or restore his soul before he can perform the ritual. However, in a classically tragic conclusion, they succeed in restoring his soul only after he has performed the ritual.
Even though Buffy’s love has been restored and made “good” again, she still must kill Angel to save the world. In the end, having been expelled from school, revealed her demon-fighting life to her mother, and killed her true love, Buffy leaves Sunnydale with the intention of never coming back.
- Joss Whedon has stated that this season “exceeded his expectations”: “I think the Angelus arc really let the audience know that we were interested in change. That we were interested in shaking things up as much as possible and interested in just making things as grown up and complex as we could get away with. As it grew and the more we thought about it, the bigger it got until it became a really complex, adult kind of show.”