- "You think you can fight me? I'm not a demon, little girl. I am something that you can't even conceive. The First Evil. Beyond sin, beyond death. I am the thing the darkness fears. You'll never see me, but I am everywhere. Every being, every thought, every drop of hate--"
- ―The First Evil[src]
The First Evil was a unique entity that predated man and demon, apparently the personification of the concept of evil itself, manifested from all evil in existence. The First was an incorporeal presence that could assume the form of any person who had died, including vampires and persons who had been resurrected. Because of this it appeared in various forms depending who it sought to manipulate. Its true appearance, or the one it used to portray its true appearance, was seemingly in the form of a large robed bestial demon.
- "You're everywhere. You're in the hearts of little children, in the souls of the rich, you're the fire that makes people kill and hate, the cleansing fire that will cure the world of weakness. They're just sinners. You are Sin."
- ―Caleb about the First[src]
The First Evil was the absolute embodiment of all evil. Older than demons, including the Old Ones, and even older than the Powers That Be and deities who were themselves older than humans; it was older than written word and transcended all realities and dimensions, although it was once said to be younger than the Seed of Wonder. Few had heard of it and even fewer believed in its existence. According to Beljoxa's Eye, who could see only the past and present, The First had existed long before even the birth of the Universe itself, and will continue to exist even after there is nothing left of reality itself.
Toying with AngelDuring Christmas 1998, The First appeared in Sunnydale. It tried to drive the ensouled vampire Angel into killing his lover, Buffy, the Slayer, by appearing to him as Daniel, Margaret, Travis, and Jenny Calendar, people he had murdered during his time as Angelus. The First told Angel that it was responsible for his return from Hell (a claim that remains unconfirmed, though not altogether unlikely) and that he could end his sufferings by giving in to his inner demon. It did not mind when Angel chose to die in a sunrise instead; either plan would have been a massive blow to the forces of good, eliminating either the Slayer or the candidate for the Shanshu Prophecy. After Buffy's confrontation with the First, Buffy attempted to stop Angel from committing suicide. While Buffy was attempting to talk Angel into leaving the Kingman's Bluff, a rare snowfall occurred, with the sun remaining unseen for the entire day, thus saving Angel's life and restoring his will to live.
Trying to end the Slayer line
Buffy's second resurrection caused an irregularity in the Slayer line. The First tried to use this glitch to eliminate the Slayers forever and gain corporeal form.
The First Evil recruited Caleb, a preacher turned serial killer, who took command of the Harbingers of Death, the First's priests, who then hunted down the chosen line and murdered young girls with the potential to become Slayers, while Caleb blew up the main headquarters of the Watchers' Council in London and later persuaded Debbie, an inmate at the Northern California Women's Facility, to attempt to kill Faith Lehane with a Bringers' knife, only for Faith to easily fight her off.
The First also appeared to Andrew Wells in Mexico as Warren Mears, instructing him to buy an ancient knife connected to the Seal of Danzalthar, the gateway to the Sunnydale Hellmouth. The nightmares it brought to Andrew and his friend Jonathan Levinson drove them back to Sunnydale. The First, in its guise as Warren, fooled Andrew into believing that by opening the Seal of Danzalthar, "the Trio" would live as gods and drove him into murdering Jonathan on the Seal as a sacrifice of blood. However, the sacrifice yielded too little blood because it turned out Jonathan was anemic, as well as small-statured.
Meanwhile, the First took to tormenting the vampire Spike after he had returned from Africa with his soul restored by the demon shaman Lloyd. The First used Spike's obsessive love for his mother from during his life to trigger a more feral, bloodthirsty mindset in him, using him as a tool. However, later its hold on Spike was severed when the vampire was able to eliminate the trigger. Beforehand, however, The First took an evening to manifest itself to members of Buffy's Scooby Gang in order to either break their morale or get them out of the picture, besides using Spike to sire innocents. It masqueraded as Joyce Summers in an attempt to drive a wedge between Buffy and her sister Dawn and also appeared to Willow Rosenberg as Cassie Newton, claiming to be a messenger sent by Willow's dead lover Tara Maclay, but went too far as it asked Willow to commit suicide.
The First then launched a full fledged campaign against Buffy and her Scoobies. The First ordered the Bringers to kidnap Spike, whom it bled over the Seal of Danzalthar to open the Hellmouth and release the precursor vampire, the Turok-Han, which seemed invincible until Buffy was able to finally slay it. Later, the First's minion, Caleb blew up the Watchers Council as they were in session discussing the First's campaign.
The First, being a master of psychological warfare, made a habit of attempting to shake Buffy and her allies emotionally and mentally. For example, when Willow would attempt to do even a minor spell, the First would take control of her, further goading her fear of her great power.
The First even masqueraded as a potential Slayer named Eve, who was previously murdered by the Bringers, and lived in Buffy's home for days in order to destroy the morality of the Potential Slayers and make them question Buffy's leadership. A while later, The First appeared to a potential named Chloe, and talked her into committing suicide and then taunted the Scoobies and the other girls in Chloe's guise. It also continued to try and use Andrew as a pawn and later unsuccessfully tried to goad him into murdering the Potential Slayers with a gun (the one that Willow bought when she was temporarily transformed into Warren) that began taking up residence in Buffy's home.
- "I want to feel. I want to put my hands around an innocent neck and feel it crack. I want to bite off a young girl's face and feel the skin and gristle slither down my throat."
- ―The First[src]
The First later summoned Caleb to Sunnydale where they set up base at the Shadow Valley Vineyards, where Buffy and the potentials were dealt a brutal defeat at Caleb's hands. Using the Bringers, the First had them excavate the mystical Slayer Scythe from a rock while at the same time tricking slayer Faith into a trap. When Buffy later went to the Vineyards and stole the Scythe, The First instructed Caleb to let her go and informed Buffy that Faith and the potential slayers had just been in an explosion. Buffy then rushed to their rescue.
After Buffy split Caleb in half with the Scythe, the First taunted her for being alone, stating that she would die as she lived; alone. This ultimately gave Buffy an idea and she determined that she was going to win after all. Buffy asked Willow to use the essence of the Scythe to turn every potential slayer in the world a full Slayer, and led a proactive strike on the Turok-Han army within the Hellmouth itself. The First taunted Buffy after she was stabbed through the abdomen, but she quickly recovered and told it to "get out of my [Buffy] face". An amulet, given to Buffy by Angel, that Spike was wearing, created beams of sunlight which wiped out every Turok-Han and destroyed the Sunnydale Hellmouth.
The First was never seen after its last encounter with Buffy and is mentioned by Willow to be "scrunched", as destroying its army effectively rendered it powerless.
Powers and Abilities
- "You can't fight the First, Buffy. It's not a physical being."
- ―Rupert Giles to Buffy Summers[src]
Being non-corporeal, the First was unable to interact with the physical world. Instead, it was an expert in psychological manipulation and relies on its servants to act. It could take the form of any person who had died, including those who died temporarily (Buffy and Warren) and vampires who are still "alive" (Drusilla and Spike). The First also had a great deal of knowledge which it used to manipulate people. For example, it relentlessly taunted Angel with his past crimes and his love for Buffy in an attempt to force him to kill her or himself, and referenced past conversations Willow had with Tara to convince her it was in communication with Tara.
Although non-corporeal, the First had demonstrated numerous abilities such as possession or merging with other beings, which was employed on Willow to prevent a spell that she was trying to cast and with Caleb in order to grant him superhuman strength. Seemingly omnipresent, it was capable of visual and audio manifestations in any place or object like a radio at will, even in different locations simultaneously, and choosing to remain invisible and inaudible to certain beings while communicating with others.
The being which harassed Dawn Summers, which Willow believed was the First, also displayed abilities similar to a Poltergeist's: activating violent winds, provoking earthquakes, disrupting the electric objects (switched radio / television even if faded / disconnect, microwaves which turn endlessly), breaking the windows, making blood appear on the wall, reveal grazes and push violently with telekinesis.
As the Eternal embodiment of the concept of Evil, the First is also genuinely immortal, far beyond any other immortal entity. It cannot die or be destroyed, though - as demonstrated by how Buffy and her friends foiled its plans - it can be rendered powerless to the extent where it is unable to act.
The First's goal of becoming corporeal had been held back by the balance between good and evil. Once this balance was altered by the resurrection of Buffy, the First hoped to overrun this dimension, which would've allowed It to become flesh and/or to possess every single human being.
- Buffy Summers
- Jenny Calendar
- Warren Mears
- The Mayor
- The Master
- Jonathan Levinson
- Joyce Summers
- Cassie Newton
- Nikki Wood
Behind the Scenes
- Anthony Stewart Head was not allowed to touch anything on-screen for part of the seventh season, beginning with the episode "Bring on the Night" and concluding in "The Killer in Me" in order to set up suspicion that he may actually be the First. Joss Whedon explains he did this "to make people wonder. Just to have a little fun in the sense of pulling a mystery... an exercise, something to spice things up." Whedon wanted to play off the "creepy" idea that "we don't know where the bad guy is, we don't know where he's coming from. Our trusted mentor could be the bad guy."
- The First has appeared as 20 different characters over the course of the series: Buffy Summers (10 times), Warren Mears (4 times), Spike (3 times), Drusilla, Jonathan Levinson, Mayor Richard Wilkins (2 times), Jenny Calendar, Daniel, Margaret, Travis, Glory, Adam, The Master, Cassie Newton, Joyce Summers, Eve, Nikki Wood, Chloe, Betty, and Caleb (1 time).
- Likewise, the First is the character that has been portrayed by the largest number of actors.
- The First is one of the few Big Bads to appear in the opening of its respective season, along with the Master, Wolfram & Hart, Holtz and Simone Doffler. The Master is the only other one from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and not Angel.
- The First appeared as the main villain of the non-canon video game Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds. Centuries before it had defeated Champion Cassandra Rayne when she tried to defeat it with Hope's Dagger and unable to kill her, dismembered her and spread her parts through its home dimension, hiding Hope's Dagger in its own fortress. After Sid the Dummy was freed from his curse, the First trapped his soul in a duplicate dummy body in revenge for him royally pissing it off. It eventually made a deal with Cassandra's descendant Ethan Rayne: if his five champions could defeat the First's, he would get incredible power and if he lost, he would be a slave to the lowest beings in the First's dimension. Buffy and her friends won the challenge and defeated the First with Hope's Dagger, dispersing it across the dimensions as it could not be killed. However, this let Cassandra and Sid go free to their respective afterlives.
|Beneath You||Same Time, Same Place||Help||Selfless
|Him||Conversations with Dead People
|Never Leave Me
|Bring on the Night
|The Killer in Me
|Get It Done
|Lies My Parents Told Me
|End of Days
- Retreat, Part One (Only mentioned)
- Retreat, Part Five (Only mentioned)
- Last Gleaming, Part Two (Only mentioned)
- Spike and Faith (Only mentioned)
- What You Want, Not What You Need, Part One (Only mentioned)
- Love Dares You, Part Three (Only mentioned)