The fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer originally aired from September 26, 2000 to May 22, 2001, concurrently with the second season of Angel. It was the final season of the show to be broadcast on The WB television network
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)
- Emma Caulfield as Anya Jenkins (22/22)
- Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers (22/22)
- Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles (22/22)
- James Marsters as Spike (21/22) (Does not appear in "The Body")
- Marc Blucas as Riley Finn (10/22) (Does not appear in "Triangle" to "The Gift")
In order of character appearances:
- Amber Benson as Tara Maclay (18/22)
- Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers (17/22)
- Charlie Weber as Ben (14/22)
- Clare Kramer as Glory (12/22)
- Troy T. Blendell as Jinx (6/22)
- Mercedes McNab as Harmony Kendall (5/22)
- Randy Thompson as Dr. Aaron Kriegel (3/22)
- Kevin Weisman as Dreg (3/22)
- Justin Gorence as Orlando (3/22)
- Joel Grey as Doc (3/22)
- Bailey Chase as Graham Miller (3/22)
- David Boreanaz as Angel (2/22)
- Juliet Landau as Drusilla (2/22)
- Adam Busch as Warren Mears (2/22)
- Julie Benz as Darla (1/22)
- Kali Rocha as Cecily Addams (1/22)
- April Wheedon-Washington as Nikki Wood (1/22)
- Abraham Benrubi as Olaf (1/22)
- Harris Yulin as Quentin Travers (1/22)
- Sharon Ferguson as Primitive (1/22)
- Dean Butler as Hank Summers (1/22)
Dawn appears in Sunnydale as Buffy’s younger sister. No one finds this strange, but it is soon revealed that the teenager is a mystical energy called The Key, transformed into human form by the Order of Dagon using Buffy’s essence. False memories were implanted for this new reality in all those concerned, to protect the fourteen-year-old from Glorificus, an exiled Goddess who wants to leave the human body in which she is trapped – Ben, the hospital intern – for her home dimension.
While she worked to locate the Key, she creates an army of mental patients as she fed off their brains. Buffy and her friends struggle to discover her plan while protecting the innocent Dawn, who struggled to accept who she is while Spike fell in love with Buffy. Joyce Summers dies after a struggle with brain tumor in an episode which won the series its widest critical acclaim.
Glory eventually discovers the Key’s new form and kidnaps her for a ritual that would bring down the walls separating different dimensions. This would bring total chaos on Earth. While Glory cannot be killed in her Deity form, Ben was murdered by Giles to protect Buffy and the world. Once the ritual began thanks to a demon who came to help Glory, Buffy finally understood a cryptic message from the First Slayer. As she shares the same essence with Dawn, Buffy throws herself into the vortex and sacrifices her own life for the world. She leaves Dawn with the message, “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”
The main antagonist of this season was Glory.
- This is the only season in which Anya Jenkins appears in every episode.
- This is the only season to have eight members of the principal cast, the highest number of cast members, from episode "Real Me" to "Into the Woods".
- Joss Whedon has stated about this season: “Our mission statement for season five was family. When you think you’ve moved on and grown up and moved out of the house and are living your life, family comes back. You realize that they’re always a part of your life. Also a very strong message with me is you make your own family, or sometimes it’s made for you by monks. So the introduction of Dawn, the death of Buffy’s mom, the meeting of Tara’s family – all of that stuff was very deliberate. We knew year one of college was freedom and not a lot of mom. But Kristine, luckily, was spending a year in Italy, so it was perfect. And we said, ‘Perfect, then you’ll come back and you’ll be very heavy in season five and then I’ll kill you’.”