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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 1, Episode 10
Nightmares Main
Air date May 12, 1997 (USA)
Written by Joss Whedon (story)
David Greenwalt (teleplay)
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
Episode Guide
"The Puppet Show"
"Out of Mind, Out of Sight"
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Mark Metcalf The Master
Kristine Sutherland Joyce
Jeremy Foley Billy
Andrew J. Ferchland Collin
Co Starring
Dean Butler Hank
Justin Urich Wendell
J. Robin Miller Laura
Terry Cain Mrs. Tishler
Scott Harlan Aldo Gianfranco
Brian Pietro Coach
Johnny Green Way Cool Guy
Patti Ross Cool Guy's Mom
Dom Magwili Doctor
Sean Moran Stage Manager

"Nightmares" is the tenth episode of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is the tenth episode overall. It was directed by Bruce Seth Green and written by Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. The episode originally broadcasted on May 12, 1997.

The residents of Sunnydale are in a dilemma when their nightmares start to come to life.


Buffy has a nightmare about going to The Master's lair and being choked by him. Her mother shakes Buffy awake, and, as Buffy wakes up, she is excited to be spending the coming weekend with her father. Buffy confides to Willow that she thinks she might have something to do with her parents' divorce. In a class, when the teacher asks Wendell to read from the text book, he opens it. However, tarantulas crawl out of it. Buffy then sees Billy standing in the doorway, saying he is sorry.

The next day, as the Master explains to Collin, the Anointed One, how wonderful he finds fear, Buffy is nervous about being picked up by her father after school, and her mother calms her down. At school, Willow and Xander are worried about the spiders, and want to talk to Giles about it. Giles mutters that he "got lost", seemingly in the stacks of books, and we assume that something that he fears happened to him. Giles has no information on the spiders, and suggests talking to Wendell. Wendell explains that he loves spiders, but says that the spiders hate Wendell because Wendell's brother killed his pet spiders when he was off at camp. He explains that the spiders crawling out is a recurring nightmare for him, but this is the first time it happened. In the meantime, Cordelia lets Buffy know about a history test that Buffy has not studied for. Buffy has a hard time even finding the class, and the test is over in what feels like little time, and Buffy has not even filled in her name. She once again sees Billy, outside the class. As break-time begins, Laura takes a smoking break in the basement, where she is assaulted by an ugly man saying "Lucky nineteen".


Buffy's nightmare of being turned into a vampire.

Xander in his boxers nightmare

Xander's nightmare of wearing only his boxers in school.

Buffy and Giles interview Laura in the hospital, where they hear about "lucky nineteen". Outside, they are shocked by the doctor saying that she got off easy, until the doctor explains about Billy, who has been in a coma from assault with the same M.O.. Back at school the Scoobies are trying to come up with an explanation while a greaser kid's mother embarrasses him in front of his friends. As they are talking, Xander finds out he is in his underwear. As Buffy goes into the library to consult with Giles, he says that he has forgotten how to read. He has, however, managed to find a newspaper with a picture of Billy in an article. The article says that Billy has been in a coma for a week, which contradicts Buffy having seen him. Giles theorizes she might have been seeing Billy's astral projection.

Buffy's father shows up, and asks to talk to her. Outside school, he tells Buffy that her parents' divorce is indeed her fault. Furthermore, he claims to be bored by their weekends together and decides to call the whole thing off. As Buffy is crying, he scolds her. Xander and Willow show up in the library, and they realize Wendell's, Giles's and Xander's mishaps were all based on their nightmares, which seem to be coming true for everyone. Buffy finds Billy's astral body, and the ugly man who assaulted Laura finds both of them.

As Buffy and Billy run away, the Scoobies decide to find Buffy and explain the situation to her. As Buffy and Billy run away from the ugly man, Billy explains to her that he was responsible for his baseball team losing, and that it is a bad thing to lose at games. As Buffy and Billy find themselves in the cemetery at night-time, Willow finds herself starring in the Madame Butterfly opera. Willow is overcome by stage fright, and runs away. Xander is chasing one chocolate bar after another, until he finds one he has not had since his sixth birthday. However, he is soon assaulted by a knife-wielding clown. Back at the cemetery, the Master buries Buffy alive.

Still chased by the clown, Xander teams up with Willow and Giles. He decides to confront the clown, punching him and feeling liberated. As Willow, Xander and Giles find Buffy's grave, Giles claims it is his nightmare, letting Buffy die. Buffy crawls out of the grave — a vampire. They all decide to wake up Billy from his coma to stop the nightmares. In the hospital, they find Billy's astral body near Billy's comatose body. As the ugly man finds him, Buffy confronts him. After knocking him out, she forces Billy to face him. Billy wakes up and everything is back to normal.

As Billy's Little League coach shows up, it is obvious he is the inspiration for the ugly man, and that it was he who put Billy into a coma after they lost the game. He tries to run after Buffy confronts him, but is stopped by Giles and Xander and put into jail. Buffy and her father leave for their weekend together. Willow then asks Xander if he was still attracted to "Vamp Buffy" and he at first nervously denies it, but then admits he was, calling himself "sick" and need help"; Willow agrees.


  • Buffy's father, Hank Summers, makes his first appearance on the show. He would later be seen in only a handful of episodes.
  • Willow's fears of appearing on-stage return later.[1]
  • In this episode are confirmed some fears discussed in "The Puppet Show": Willow Rosenberg afraid of the audience and Xander Harris' fear of clowns. However, no reference is made to the fear of Buffy Summers with dummies. On the other hand, Buffy has other fears, such as the fear of not seeing her father more, having been responsible for her parents' separation, the fear of not being able to solve a proof, fear of being buried alive, being weaker than the demon she faces, and being transformed into a vampire.
  • Giles' fear was revealed to be Buffy dying, causing him to consequently fail in his duty of being a Watcher. Giles would later be forced to deal with this fear when Buffy died more permanently in "The Gift". ("Bargaining, Part One").
  • It is revealed that Willow doesn't like spiders and she says of them: "What do they need all those legs for anyway?" Anya will sing something similar about bunnies, which frighten her - "What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?" - in "Once More, With Feeling".
  • Buffy's fear of being buried alive comes to pass when she is resurrected and awakens in her coffin which she then has to claw herself out of.[2]
  • The Master burying Buffy alive also foreshadows her death at his hands in the Season Finale "Prophecy Girl".
  • Although they were only dreams, this is the first time The Master and Buffy actually meet face to face.
  • This is the first time we see one of the Scoobies transformed into a vampire, if counting Angel yet (or ever) as a member of the gang.
  • This marks the first occurrence of Astral Projection.



Organizations and Titles



Body Count

Behind the Scenes


Episode promo.


  • This episode features the only time in the series Buffy appears in vamp makeup.


  • "Nightmares" pulled in an audience of 2.4 million households.[3]

Deleted Scenes

  • A line of Xander's was cut from the original script due to length:[4]
Xander - Okay, despite the rat-like chill that just crawled up my spine, I'm going to say this very calmly: Helllppp ...
  • An exchange between Giles and Buffy was also cut from the original script due to length:[4]
Giles - Are you all right? You look a bit piqued.
Buffy - Hospital lighting. It does nothing for my fabulous complexion.
Giles - Are you... sleeping all right?
Buffy - I'll sleep better when we find this guy. Nothing like kicking the crap out of a bad guy to perk up my day.

Pop Culture References

  • Billy's statement "I had the strangest dream, and you were in it, and you" is a reference to Dorothy Gale's awakening in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
  • Speaking of Cordelia Chase, Willow Rosenberg asks "Why is she so Evita like?" a reference to Eva Peron, whose life the musical and later film Evita is based on; in "Expecting" Cordelia threatens to play the film on repeat to punish Dennis' annoyances.
  • Nerf Herder can be seen briefly written inside Willow's locker. Nerf Herder is the band that composed the theme song for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


  • Orquesta y Coros del Teatro Nacional - "Madame Butterfly 'Bimba Dagli Occhi Pieni Di Malia' - Puccini" (Sung during Willow's nightmare.)
  • Walter Murphy - original score

International Titles

  • French: Billy
  • Portuguese: Pesadelos (Nightmares)
  • Finnish: Painajaisia (Nightmares)
  • German: Die Macht der Träume (The Power of Dreams)


  • Sarah Michelle Gellar has revealed in interviews that she shares the same phobia as her character, fear of being buried alive, and that it made filming in graveyards and mausoleums especially difficult during her time on Buffy.


Cordelia - (while being dragged by two nerds into the chess club with frizzy hair and a bad outfit) "No! What are you doing! Hey, no! You don't understand! I don't wanna go! I'm not even on the chess team! I swear, I'm not!" (They drag her into the room, while Willow smiles at the sight)
Kiddy League Coach - (comes in as Giles and Xander are about to go get a doctor) "Oh! Huh. Billy's got company. (takes off his cap) I-I-I'm his kiddy league coach. I come by here every day, just hoping against hope that he's gonna wake up soon. He's, uh, my lucky nineteen. (Giles and Buffy exchange a look) So, um, how is he?"
Buffy - (steps aside to show him that Billy has woken up) "He's awake."
Kiddy League Coach - (walks over to Buffy, puzzled) "What?"
Buffy - "You blamed him for losing the game. So you caught up with him afterwards, didn't you?"
Kiddy League Coach - (acting innocent) "What are you talking about?"
Billy - (sits up) "You said that it was my fault that we lost." (The coach realizes he's been found out and tries to get away. Xander grabs him by the jacket and stops him) "It wasn't my fault. There's eight other players on the team. You know that." (lies down)
Buffy - (smiles at Billy) "Nice going." (Billy smiles back)


  1. "Restless"
  2. "Bargaining, Part Two"
  3. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's First Season." <>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Golden, Christopher, and Nancy Holder. The Watcher's Guide, Vol. 1. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.

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