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- “Protect us! Kill the bad girls!”
- ―"Hans and Gretta"[src]
Hans and Gretta Strauss were the names of a pair of dead siblings found in 17th century Germany. They were the disguise of a powerful demon.
The demon's disguise, which manifested every 50 years to create strife and tear communities apart, was speculated to be the basis of the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. The first record of their appearance was in the Black Forest of 17th century Germany. According to Giles, a similar scenario also occurred in the Salem witch trials. On every account, the two children were murdered brutally and won the sympathy of the community. The demon used the emotions of the people, specifically hatred and persecution, to feed. As such, it would often appear to humans and goad them to bring justice by persecuting witches or females who appeared to have connection to the supernatural. Such is the power of the demon that it convinces its targets completely, regardless of the bond or relationship between a mother and her daughter.
The pair appeared as murdered children to Joyce Summers in Sunnydale, the children apparently killed in a playground as part of an occult sacrifice. The children then haunted her in visions, encouraging her to "punish the bad girls". Given the mayor's appearance at the vigil it is possible this demon was his ally, but this remains un-verified.
Joyce formed Mothers Opposed to the Occult and roused the adults of Sunnydale into an angry mob, taking most of Rupert Giles' occult books away, Sheila Rosenberg ordering Willow confined to her room, and even Cordelia's parents taking away her black clothes and candles. The Scooby Gang initially attempted to investigate the deaths themselves until Willow identified the symbol at the site of the 'sacrifice' as a protection sigil while a conversation with Angel prompted Buffy Summers to realize that nobody knew a thing about the children themselves, such as their names or families, leading the gang to carry out further research on the children until they found prior records of their 'deaths', going back to their first appearance as Hans and Greta. As the mob tried to burn Buffy, Willow, and Amy Madison at the stake, Giles and Cordelia assembled the necessary ingredients to cast a spell to reveal the demon's true corporeal form, negating its thrall over the Sunnydale population. The demon charged at Buffy as she attempted to use her strength to free herself from her restraints, only to snap the stake she was tied to. She lowered her body with the stake still tied to her which impaled the demon through his throat, killing him.
The demon in its true form appeared as a towering humanoid with red eyes, bat-like ears and tusks. The demon could be forced to revert to its true form with a revealing spell. Even in its true form, it would still attempt to convince humans that it needed to receive justice. However, it did not have the power to convince people as it did when it was disguising itself as human.
Behind the scenes
- The demon was portrayed by three actors: Roger Morrisey (demon), Lindsay Taylor (little girl), and Shawn Pyfrom (little boy). The only characters that have been portrayed by a larger number of actors have been the First Evil (20 actors), and Buffy Summers (5 actresses).
- Shawn Pyfrom later starred with Kathryn Joosten (Genevieve Holt), Pat Crawford Brown (Wig Lady), John Rubinstein (Linwood Murrow), Ridge Canipe (Tommy), Nick Chinlund (Ellis), Nathan Fillion (Caleb), Justina Machado (Jo) and Julie Benz (Darla) on Desperate Housewives. Additionally, Dagney Kerr (Kathy Newman), Patricia Bethune (Mrs. Kalish) and Ron Melendez (James) appeared in an episode.