- "I wouldn't ever hurt anybody. I came up here to kill myself."
- ―Jonathan Levinson[src]
Jonathan was born in 1981 and raised in Sunnydale, California. He attended Sunnydale High School, where he was often bullied, ridiculed, and ignored by his more popular peers, and had low self-esteem.
In 1997, while attending the World Culture Dance, Jonathan was singled out by Ampata (a resurrected Incan princess pretending to be an exchange student), who wanted to transfer his life-force to herself via kissing him, which would be fatal. Not knowing her true nature, he does not resist, believing his luck in love has changed; he was only saved when Xander showed up and, feeling weirded out by Xander's attitude towards Ampata, Jonathan left them alone. A week later, Jonathan was picked by Cordelia to accompany her to The Bronze after she had had a bad dating experience with Crestwood College student Richard Anderson who had tried to sacrifice her to the demon Machida. The relationship did not last, though, and Cordelia soon moved on to Xander. Soon after this, he was used momentarily as a hostage by Patrice of the Order of Taraka but was quickly let go.
The following year, Jonathan became possessed by a Bezoar that had been given to the class by Mr. Whitmore (as did many others at the school). As soon as Buffy Summers killed the mother Bezoar, he was freed from the Bezoar's control and believed himself to have been caught in a gas leak, as did the rest of the school. Jonathan's self-esteem was dealt another crushing blow later that year when he tried out for the school swim team and did not make it because of being asthmatic. Following that, he was picked on by members of the swim team, such as Dodd McAlvy, who repeatedly dunked his head in a bucket of ice cold water to see how long he would be able to hold his breath. Buffy saved him, further bashing his esteem, and he went on to relieve himself in the swimming pool, which he later confessed to Willow Rosenberg under duress.The following academic year, Jonathan became a senior and he was invited to a "welcome back" party for Buffy at her house. Zombies raised by Ovu Mobani crashed the party but Jonathan made it out alive. Prior to the Homecoming Dance, both Cordelia and Buffy campaigned to become Homecoming Queen, allowing Jonathan to show his mercenary side by trying to get as much out of both of them as he could in exchange for his vote. Towards the end of that year, Harmony and the Cordettes picked him as a possible boyfriend for Cordelia, who had just broke up with Xander, as a way of ridiculing Cordelia—the idea being that Jonathan was a loser. The incident was humiliating for Jonathan and was yet another incident that contributed to his spiral into depression.
Having had enough of being ridiculed and picked on, Jonathan took steps to commit suicide atop the bell tower at the high school, leaving a suicide note for Freddy Iverson to publish in the Sunnydale High Sentinel, the school newspaper. Buffy soon tracked Jonathan down, mistakenly believing that he planned to kill other students with his rifle. But after learning the truth, she then talked Jonathan out of suicide, informing him that everyone in the school was dealing with just as much pain as he was. For bringing a gun into the school, Jonathan was suspended for a couple of weeks and ordered to attend counseling.
Upon returning to the school, Jonathan's confidence had marginally increased, and, at the senior prom, he had a date with a girl much taller than he was. At the prom, he also found the confidence to present Buffy with a Class Protector award. Come graduation day, Jonathan joined the rest of the Class of 1999 in fighting against Mayor Richard Wilkins III who had completed his Ascension to become the demon Olvikan. During the battle, he aggressively pounced on many vampires, and survived to see the school be blown up to and catch a jumpy Cordelia in his arms.
After trying to kill himself, Jonathan entered into counseling, where he met another suicidal person, who introduced him to an augmentation spell, which Jonathan cast. As a result of the spell, Jonathan became the paragon of everyone's ideal qualities, and fame, fortune, and universal admiration followed. He was a doctor, created the Internet, starred in The Matrix, had a best-selling autobiography, a swimsuit calendar, a mansion, and was a deadly fighter. Buffy, however, grew suspicious of one person accomplishing so much. The spell had also created a monster (metaphorically and literally) to embody all of the negative qualities that were needed to balance all of the positive qualities he possessed. Jonathan reluctantly assisted Buffy in killing the monster and thus breaking the spell; he apologizes to Buffy the following day. Soon after, the Swedish twins Ilsa and Inga leave him at his mansion, and he loses his job as tactical consultant at the Initiative.
Below is a list of some of the many stunning achievements that Jonathan supposedly made according to the illusion he created in the episode "Superstar".
- Invented the Internet (actually DARPA and Tim Berners-Lee)
- In 1999, Starred in The Matrix (actually Keanu Reeves)
- Crushed the bones of The Master (actually Buffy Summers)
- Received "Class Protector Award" (actually Buffy Summers)
- Blew up Richard Wilkins after his Ascension (actually Buffy Summers and Rupert Giles)
- Graduated Medical School
- Coached the U.S. national women's soccer team to a World Cup victory in 1999 (actually Tony DiCicco)
- Released a swimsuit calendar
- Had a movie based on his life called "Being Jonathan Levinson" (possibly a reference to "Being John Malkovich")
- Fronted an ad campaign for a pair of sneakers using the slogan "Light As A Feather"
- Wrote an autobiography - "Oh Jonathan"
- Tactical consultant to The Initiative and find the weak point of Adam:his heart, Uranium 235 core.
- Very skilled at chess
- Skilled Marksman
- Ability to sing, and play the trumpet, he released at least one album and performed at The Bronze
- Lived in a large mansion in Sunnydale along with a pair of attractive Swedish twins
- Ran the website Jonathan.com
- Had his own cereal called Johnny O's
Over a year later, Jonathan, in a moment of boredom, joins Warren Mears and Andrew Wells, and they agree to become "supervillains" and take over Sunnydale, with Jonathan using his expertise in magic to help them; though taking over Sunnydale is their ultimate goal, most of their schemes revolve around neutralizing Buffy, who, as the Slayer, is their main threat. A month later, Andrew summons a M'Fashnik Demon to cause a distraction in the Sunnydale Securities Bank while they rob it. Buffy interferes and almost ruins the plan. Over Jonathan's objections, Warren steers the demon into a fight with Buffy, who kills it. Soon afterward, the Trio spend some time harassing Buffy with mystical and technological tests of her abilities, making it a competition among themselves for ingenuity; Jonathan uses a magic bone to put Buffy in a time loop which can only be broken if she performs a seemingly impossible task for a customer at the Magic Box. On escaping the loop, Buffy suspects that she was being tested and nearly succeeds in tracking down the Trio; to shake her, Jonathan uses magic to impersonate a horned demon. It doesn't give Jonathan any increased abilities and he is forced to take a blow from the Slayer, a difficult thing to do. Jonathan serves somewhat as the Trio's conscience, often providing non-violent solutions to their schemes against Buffy, whom he has a soft spot for because of his past history with her.
A few weeks later, Jonathan aids the other two in stealing the Illuminata diamond from the Sunnydale Museum of Natural History. A security guard is hit with their freeze ray during the incident. The three are later confronted by Spike, who wants Warren to examine his defective behavior modification chip that forbids him from harming humans. Warren agrees only after Spike threatens to break their Boba Fett action figure.
In 2002, after accidentally making Buffy invisible with another of Warren's gadgets, Jonathan agrees with Andrew that they should return her to normal before she disintegrates, while Warren would be happy to see her dead. A confrontation between the two sides leads to the Trio's identities being discovered. With the Scooby Gang now knowing who the Trio are and where they are based, the Trio flee Warren's booby-trapped basement.
Jonathan suggests turning themselves in to the police when Warren accidentally kills his ex-girlfriend Katrina Silber. Warren decides to frame Buffy for the murder. Although Warren's plan fails, Katrina's death is ruled as a suicide. As neither Warren nor Andrew show remorse, Jonathan feels increasingly alienated from them, and soon finds that they are keeping some of Warren's plans from him. He finally betrays Warren by telling Buffy how to defeat an altered, magically enhanced Warren. Ultimately, Warren escapes, betraying the other two.
In jail, Jonathan makes sure that Andrew knows Warren will not be coming to save them, insisting they will be forced to spend time in prison. To make matters worse, while the pair have been in jail, Warren has killed Tara Maclay in an attempt to kill Buffy, causing Willow to go on a homicidal rampage. With Warren dead, Jonathan and Andrew are her next targets. Anya teleports to warn them and Buffy helps them escape, driving them to the Magic Box for protection. Willow eventually tracks them down and the pair accompany Xander and Dawn to safety as Buffy fights Willow. Andrew becomes nervous though and threatens Xander with a sword. Jonathan draws a sword on Andrew, telling him that after Willow is defeated, they will be going back to jail to do their time.
On the way to another hiding spot, an attack by Willow leaves the two able to flee. Jonathan's resolve disappears in the face of Willow's ground-shattering magic fireball. They hitch a ride and head for Mexico.
Redemption and Death
While in Mexico, both Jonathan and Andrew begin having dreams that lead them back to Sunnydale where they know a great power is rising. The two return on November 12, with Jonathan having the intention of finding the Seal of Danzalthar and alerting Buffy to it so she can stop the coming evil and allow Jonathan to join the Scooby Gang. They make their way into the newly rebuilt high school basement to uncover the seal, with Jonathan unaware that Andrew is being guided by an ethereal image of Warren (actually the First Evil). While digging, the two engage in a conversation, and Jonathan reveals that he has reached a redemption of sorts: all the pain and hurt associated with his high school years, the pain that shaped his life, has faded away. He wishes the people he spent six years with well, even if they don't care about him (echoing back to "Earshot"). Andrew is not impressed and with a glance at Warren, stabs Jonathan, letting his blood flow on the seal. Jonathan dies, but his blood isn't sufficient to open the seal because of anemia. Robin Wood, the principal of the new Sunnydale High, discovers and subsequently buries Jonathan. In later episodes, Jonathan's form occasionally appears as an avatar of the First Evil. Buffy and the others learn Andrew murdered Jonathan, and have him face the consequences later on.
After magic was returned to the world and rules of magic wiped, Andrew returned to the remains of Sunnydale, where he recovered Jonathan's DNA sample and personality saved on a USB flash drive. Andrew revealed to the "holo-Jonathan" that he intended to resurrect him, but had been uncomfortable with simply making a test tube baby or a robot body.
Andrew was prevented from actually carrying through with any magical resurrections, but he continued to converse with holo-Jonathan in his Oakland home. He offered this Jonathan the option to be given a robot body, which holo-Jonathan enthusiastically agreed to, requesting to be made taller in the process.
Later, Andrew went to a witch coven party in Oakland in search of a potion that could make a new body, ostensibly for use in his resurrection of Jonathan. However, the potion was not intended to create a new body from nothing, but alter an existing one.
Andrew continued to search for a new body for the holographic Jonathan, but Jonathan felt Andrew was taking his time and was too interested in looking for dates on Grindr. When demon known as The Sculptor approached Andrew with a deal to create a body for Jonathan in exchange for Andrew stealing Buffy's scythe, Jonathan pressured Andrew to take the deal, claiming it would make up for Andrew's past sins. Believing Andrew had carried through on his part of the bargain, the Sculptor provided Jonathan with a body (which was more tanned, muscular, and taller than his original body), but Andrew had in fact double-crossed the Sculptor and informed Buffy of the deal. Upon realizing that the Sculptor's defeat meant the eventual death of his new body, Jonathan accused Andrew of betrayal and fled.
Eventually, Jonathan allied himself with D'Hoffryn, their mutual vendetta against the Scoobies making them ideal allies, as D'Hoffryn restored Jonathan's physical form while Jonathan gave the demon actual wishes to grant to refine his assault on his enemies.
- "I really miss it. Time goes by and everything drops away. All the cruelty, all the pain, all the humiliation, it all washes away. I miss my friends. I miss my enemies. I miss the people I talked to every day. I miss the people who never knew I existed. I miss ’em all. I wanna talk to them, you know? I wanna find out how they’re doing. I-I wanna know what’s going on in their lives."
He was bullied early in the series, and was probably a victim of his classmates. Even as a member of The Trio, he was still the "loser" in the group because Andrew and Warren were willing to leave him willing to flee himself, as seen in "Flooded". Probably he wanted to have the recognition of other people for this reason. And this goal he partly pursued very excessively, as one sees in "Superstar". Most likely, his alliance with Warren and Andrew was to take over Sunnydale, an attempt from him to gain some respect.
Even in his time as a villain, Jonathan was far from being really nasty; at most, he was shown to be a nuisance. He was never as bad as Andrew and Warren; he was shown to have turned against their particularly cruel and violent ideas. Although he had declared himself as Buffy’s opponent, he probably had no interest in actually hurting or killing her.
He was visibly shaken and horrified by Warren’s cold-heartedness and sadism. When Katrina said that Warren’s using the Cerebral Dampener in order to make her a ‘sex slave’ was nothing more than rape, Jonathan was very frightened, as he did not seem to have realized that before. (Also, since Katrina threatened Warren with prison and implied that he would be raped there, it is possible that Jonathan and Andrew would have experienced such an act during their time in prison.) And when Warren and Andrew were happy with the fact that they killed Katrina and could get away with it, Jonathan felt differently; he was all the more horrified. It’s also possible that he remained a member of the Trio in order to continue thwarting their dangerous plans.
Finally, he is shown to have helped Buffy defeat Warren in their last confrontation, and later returns to Sunnydale from Mexico in order to warn Buffy of the The First Evil.
Powers and Abilities
Though he had no innate powers, Jonathan became an accomplished sorcerer, capable of performing reality alterations, time loops and glamours. Additionally, he could speak Latin and Klingon and construct a sniper rifle in a matter of seconds. During his Superstar phase, Jonathan had many talents such as fighting skills superior to Buffy's, effectiveness with weapons such as crossbows, master strategy, singing ability and other assorted talents he lost when he reverted to normal.
Behind the Scenes
- He was portrayed by Danny Strong.
- Jonathan has appeared in five television seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a total of 30 episodes in some form or another.
- Jonathan is second only to Joyce Summers in appearing in the most episodes of Buffy without being part of the main cast. Other characters such as Spike, Anya, Oz, and Riley were eventually elevated to main characters after intitially recurring. Tara Maclay appeared in 46 episodes before being made a main cast member in her final episode.
- Jonathan's singing voice in "Superstar" was provided by Brad Kane, who incidentally played Andrew's brother Tucker in "The Prom".
- Danny Strong later guest-starred on How I Met Your Mother with Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg). This show include also many guest-stars of Buffyverse like Seth Green (Oz), Harry Groener (Richard Wilkins), Alexis Denisof (Wesley Wyndam-Pryce), Kal Penn (Hunt/Brain man), Tom Lenk (Cyrus/Andrew Wells) and Amy Acker (Winifred Burkle/Illyria).
- Perhaps by coincidence, his name is similar to that of Jonathan Levin, a consulting producer for the similar TV series Charmed.
- Originally, he was an unnamed student. But he became more and more important until he became one of the main villains in Season 6.
- At the closing ball at Sunnydale High School, Faith had agreed to be his date. Apparently, they had a great time together because Faith later made a remark that she Jonathan took the virginity in that night.
- He is the only known male human being who became a Vengeance demon.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Danny Strong also appeared as an unnamed student assumed to be Jonathan in the unaired Buffy pilot.
|Anne||Dead Man's Party
|Faith, Hope & Trick||Beauty and the Beasts||Homecoming
|Band Candy||Revelations||Lovers Walk||The Wish
|Helpless||The Zeppo||Bad Girls||Consequences||Doppelgängland||Enemies||Earshot
|Graduation Day, Part One||Graduation Day, Part Two
|Bargaining, Part One||Bargaining, Part Two||After Life||Flooded
|All the Way||Once More, with Feeling||Tabula Rasa||Smashed
|Older and Far Away
|As You Were||Hell's Bells||Normal Again
|Two to Go
|Lessons||Beneath You||Same Time, Same Place||Help||Selfless||Him||Conversations with Dead People
|Sleeper||Never Leave Me
Appears (Only the First Evil)
|Bring on the Night
|Potential||The Killer in Me||First Date
Appears (Only the First Evil)
|Get It Done||Storyteller
Appears (Only in flashbacks)
|Lies My Parents Told Me||Dirty Girls||Empty Places||Touched||End of Days||Chosen|
Buffy Season Eight
- Retreat (Only in visions)
Buffy Season Nine
- Apart (of Me), Part One (Only mentioned)
Buffy Season Ten
- Return to Sunnydale, Part One (as a hologram)
- Return to Sunnydale, Part Two (as a hologram)
- In Pieces on the Ground, Part Three (as a hologram)