- "Into every generation, there is a chosen one. One girl in all the world. She alone will wield the strength and skill to stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness; To stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer."
- ―The prophecy of the Slayer[src]
Slayers were young female humans bestowed with mystical powers that originate from the heart of a demon, which gave her superhuman senses, strength, speed, endurance, agility, and healing in the fight against forces of evil.
While known primarily as the "Vampire Slayer," the Slayer also acted as a hunter of evil mystical forces in general (demons, bad witches, etc.). She also received occasional prophetic dreams during her sleep.
The Chosen One
The First Slayer
In ancient Africa, a group of tribal elders known as the Shadow Men use powerful magic to infuse a captive native girl with the heart and soul of a pure demon. This process grants the girl incredible strength, speed, agility, endurance, a predator instinct, and superior healing factor: she becomes the First Slayer, called to fight the vampires, the demons and other forces of evil that populate Earth and threaten the innocent. Unfortunately, being fully infused with the essence of a powerful demon resulted in The First Slayer - sometimes known as the "Primitive" - becoming little more than an animal, separated from civilization, determined to slay and led completely by an insatiable blood thirst. Despite her having lost her original human nature, however, it must never be forgotten that the First Slayer was a formidable force of good who hunted and killed monsters that preyed on the innocent, and it was said that she also slayed the very last pure demon (Old One) that walked the Earth.
The Slayer Line
Throughout time, the Shadow Men's descendants go on to form the Watchers Council, an organization dedicated to finding, training, and supporting Slayers, and shifting the scales from evil to good, in the never ending battle between the two. Whether the ways they go about doing this are entirely ethical or not, the Council is determined to stop the spread of evil.
However, because of the violent nature of the life of a Slayer, their average lifespan is quite short after being called. Consequently, the Shadow Men's spell also created a large number of Potential Slayers - normal girls around the world who may one day be called.
The Slayer line is not genetic in nature. Slayers do not inherit the calling from their parents and do not pass it on to their children. Dawn Summers was also not a Slayer despite being made from Buffy.
"When one dies, another is called."
When a Slayer dies, one of the "Potentials"—seemingly chosen at random—gains the powers and abilities of the Slayer. The Watcher's Council tries to identify and train these "Potentials" before they are called, locating some as babies, but are not always able to do so, with some girls only being found after they have been "activated" as the Slayer, titular character Buffy Summers being one of those girls.
Each girl that is given the power of the Slayer is seemingly randomly chosen by the "unknown forces that surround the Slayer line." The forces that choose the Potentials, and that activate the one girl in almost two thousand around the world, are a mystery.
This process continues through the generations until 1997, when the current Slayer—Buffy Summers—is killed in battle, only to be revived via CPR, a few moments later. Buffy retains her Slayer powers, but her momentary clinical death is enough for the next Slayer to be called. For the first time in history, two Slayers exist at one time; the other being Kendra Young.
For the next several years, two Slayers co-exist: first Buffy and Kendra, who was called on Buffy's death, and then Buffy and Faith Lehane, who was called when Kendra died, approximately one year later. Nonetheless, Buffy is still referred to as the Slayer and not just a Slayer. Though it is made clear that the Slayer line no longer runs through Buffy, but rather runs through Kendra who passed it to Faith.
While Buffy and Kendra immediately were determined to be polar opposites, Buffy and Faith were two sides of the same coin, mirror images of each other, with one being what the other would have become if put under different circumstances in their respective lives. Faith, temporarily became homicidal and joined the other side, though reformed with the help of ensouled champion vampire, Angel, and began to seek redemption. When discussing why "they could never seem to get along," Faith states that it's because there was only supposed to be one.
For some reason, Buffy's second resurrection caused an imbalance in the forces that surround the Slayer which allowed the First Evil to set in motion a plan to end the Slayer line. Her second death did not call a new Slayer, though various references have been made to the possibility of a Slayer being activated if Buffy dies. Following her first death, Mayor Wilkins said that he didn't want Buffy killed too quickly, because he didn't want a replacement showing up. Following her second death, Buffy herself, addressing a group of Potential Slayers, said, "My death could make you the next Slayer." and "It's true none of you has the power Faith and I have. I think both of us would have to die for a new Slayer to be called, and we can't even be sure that girl is in this room. That's the rule."
The mystical "rules" governing the calling of Slayers changed again in 2003, when Buffy discovered the Scythe, forged by the hidden Guardians, for the Slayer to wield. In order to defeat the forces of the First Evil, which would have hunted down and murdered all the Potential Slayers and caused an apocalypse without interference from the Slayer, Buffy had her best friend, Willow Rosenberg, use magic to tap into the Scythe's essence and perform a spell that called every living Potential Slayer at once, thus ending the legacy of "one girl in all the world." Buffy declared, "From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer will be a Slayer."
After taking the time to find and count them, Buffy states that there are at least 1800 Slayers in the world, 500 of which have joined the Slayer organization. Potentials are now activated as Slayers when they reach suitable maturation; Soledad for instance, was activated on her sixteenth birthday some time after Willow's spell.
For centuries, the Watchers Council knew of a myth that tells of a Slayer who will change the world and the balance for the Greater Good resulting in the Universe rewarding that Slayer with incredible power and the chance to bring about a new reality, a new world, Twilight. Buffy's Watcher and long-time father-figure, Rupert Giles, knew of this myth and believed that the Slayer destined to reach Twilight was Buffy, and secretly traveled the world searching for the only item that could kill Buffy if she reached this "God-hood."
During the Twilight crisis, Giles was murdered, giving Buffy the incentive to use the Scythe to destroy the Seed of Wonder, the heart of the world and source of the supernatural. This act banished magic from Earth's dimension, along with many demons, though all pre-existing supernatural beings with inherent powers, such as vampires and pre-activated Slayers, remained.
By the 23rd century, magic had begun to return to Earth, along with the demons, at which point Melaka Fray was called to be the next Slayer. However, the powers of the Slayer were split between her and her twin brother Harth Fray, who had become a vampire. Harth possessed the mental aspects of the Slayer such as the dreams and premonitions, while Mel only had the physical attributes.
Powers and Abilities
The powers that are bestowed upon the Slayer are mostly physical enhancements. It should be said that while Slayers are stronger than most vampires it is their skill and training that mostly gives them the bigger advantage.
Slayers are endowed with strength greater than that of humans, some demons and most, if not all, vampires. Buffy Summers, for instance, has been known to lift, with great effort, a metal portcullis which an entire group of men were unable to budge. She is also capable of bending a steel rifle barrel with little apparent effort and bending open prison cell bars, both with her bare hands. Buffy has been recorded throwing human-sized subjects sizable distances and effortlessly bench-pressing steel girders used in construction. Buffy once kicked Riley clear across a room whilst 'holding back a little'.
Faith Lehane is able to pick up the vampire Angel with one hand and easily throw him short distances, lift him over her head, and slam him into the ceiling. Once, while fighting Buffy, she punched into a concrete wall to no ill effect. She is also seen picking up a bar bell with one hand and hitting a woman in the face with it (the woman was trying to kill Faith at the time).
Much like vampires, the Slayer's strength seems to be largely metaphysical, as it does not add to their body mass and they remain buoyant enough to swim. Buffy and Faith, who are of relatively slender build, have performed great feats of physical strength without any apparent added muscle mass.
One example of a Slayer being stronger than most vampires was when Buffy easily lifts Olaf's hammer with one hand when Spike was barely able to do so with both hands. Also, when she defeats the demon Doc effortlessly whereas Spike was defeated by him with minimal effort though Spike was trying to save Dawn and most likely underestimated Doc due to his human appearance. Angel remarked that Buffy is "a little bit stronger" than he was,though the humorous tenor of the exchange suggests he may have been understating the difference, indicating that a slayer was stronger than vampires of 200 plus years.
Melaka Fray is able to pick up an overweight vampire several times her own size and body mass, lift him up over her head with both hands and throw him over a distance of presumably over 20-25 feet, with no downward arc to his trajectory (which was only interrupted due to his hitting a metal grate, which was extensively deformed on impact).
It appeared that Slayers were able to access even greater levels of strength when upset or angry; for example, during her first battle with Angelus, Buffy was initially outmatched until Angelus went too far with his taunts and insults, after which she snapped and beat him into submission. Additionally, Faith was able to quickly overpower the more experienced Buffy and nearly drown her in a swimming pool during a fit of rage.
Speed, Agility, and Reflexes
Slayers are able to move faster and react more quickly than humans and most vampires. Buffy has snatched a crossbow bolt in mid-flight, dodged gunfire from multiple ranges, and set off a bear trap without getting caught in it. At one point Buffy was fast enough to outrun a raiding motorcyclist on his bike shortly after her resurrection. Faith has dodged shotgun blasts at point-blank range and Dana was able to dodge a tranquilizer dart also fired at point-blank range.
A Slayer is capable of superhuman feats of agility. She can leap to great heights; though the maximum is unknown (vampires seem to be able to jump much higher), Buffy was capable of reaching the roof of the original Sunnydale High School in a very short period of time, after running up a sloping wall, and then flipping onto the roof.
The Slayer's running speed is also quite impressive. Buffy, for example, was able to run fast enough to keep up with a school bus going at full speed and was able to reach the police station to save Andrew Wells and Jonathan Levinson on foot shortly after Willow Rosenberg reached there via a variation of teleportation.
Resilience and Healing
A Slayer's body is substantially more durable and resistant to blunt force trauma than an ordinary human's. Slayers also have ten times the endurance of a common human, so it is difficult, though not impossible, to bruise them, break their bones or strain their joints. Buffy has suffered from a sprained arm as a consequence of fighting vampires. Melaka Fray is hit with a steel girder thrown at her from a demon and recovers within minutes; she also fell from a height of over five stories to land face-first on a cement sidewalk and be only dazed before fully recovering in moments, and at a later time, to fall four stories down, crash through the cement roof of an adjacent building and fall down the height of one more story, and recover instantly. Buffy can leap from a two-story window with a man in her arms, landing on the ground and letting her body take the brunt of the fall. Buffy has been hit by a moving truck, got up and run off. Faith has fallen from a height of three stories on top of a closed dumpster, rolled off it to hit the ground and got up immediately with no signs of damage; she also was able to hold her own in a fight with Buffy less than 24 hours after waking from a nine-month coma - a coma which she entered after surviving a deep stab wound to the abdomen immediately followed by a fall from the top of a multi-story building into a moving truck. Also, in an attempt by the Watcher's Council to capture Faith without killing her, they prepare a tranquilizer that is capable of knocking out a man twice her size which is more than enough to subdue an ordinary young woman her size. They also seem to recover quickly from blood loss: Buffy was almost completely drained of blood by Angel, but recovered in time to be able to lead the fight against the Mayor.
Despite these feats, the Slayer is far from invulnerable. For instance, Buffy has been knocked out by blunt force trauma, such as being hit over the head with a lead pipe by a possessed Cordelia Chase and with a detached mannequin arm by Ethan Rayne, and rendered unconscious when Drusilla jabbed her with a cattle prod, though it should be noted that it took two jolts from the cattle prod to knock her out. In addition, the Slayer can be injured by conventional bullets, bladed weapons, and more advanced weaponry (such as the energy weapons commonly used by the Initiative) just as easily as an ordinary human can, but they can recover from even very severe injuries in remarkably short periods of time. Usually, Buffy is completely healed within 24 hours of being injured, though more serious injuries have taken at least a few days; Buffy suffered from a severe stab wound to the belly that required at least a few days to heal, and, according to Vi, was heavily bruised for several days after her second encounter with the Turok-Han. Also, the Slayer can receive scars; Buffy has a scar left from the Master's bite on her neck, though Angel and Dracula have also bitten her in the exact same spot. Buffy has survived contact with a live electrical wire; the normally lethal jolt simply melts her shoe soles.
Buffy is noted as almost never getting sick, but did contract the flu during a period of great emotional stress. This indicates that the Slayer also has a heightened immune system. While a regular person may require eight to ten hours sleep, a Slayer seems to require considerably less, but needs some rest to function. Buffy herself has been seen staying awake for days although she will usually "crash" and sleep for half a day with no lingering handicaps.
Slayers possess a heightened awareness of their surroundings. This heightened awareness can, with experience, allow the Slayer to know the position of an attacker and fight them blindfolded or in the dark. This is not a constant ability, however. This skill must be honed through practice and the Slayer usually must focus to achieve the full benefit.
A Slayer also has the limited ability to detect the presence of vampires (and presumably other demons). This power must be honed as with the heightened awareness, and the Slayer must focus to achieve the full effect. This does not prevent Buffy (and other Slayers) from being ambushed by vampires. Buffy and Faith have never managed to perfect this "vampire sense," and thus rely on their wits to distinguish humans from non-humans.
In the 1992 film, the ability to detect vampires manifested itself in the form of feminine cramps. (Merrick describes this as a "natural reaction to their unnatural presence.") This ability was inconsistent, as Buffy was unaware that a vampire was hiding in a photo booth right next to her. The movie, however, is not considered canon, and this aspect of her powers was not carried over to the series.
All Slayers through the ages share a psychic link, manifested in dreams. A Slayer will frequently dream of herself as a Slayer in another time and place, even before being called. They can also experience prophetic dreams related to upcoming crises. Dreams exist in their own mystic plane or "dream space" where, for a Slayer, precognitive sense and the inherited memories of other Slayers can manifest themselves. One consequence of this power is that a Slayer has essentially fought all the battles of the Slayers before her. Also, Slayers have appeared in each other's dreams, as Buffy and Faith shared several dreams while Faith was in a coma. Faith provided the first cryptic reference to Dawn Summers' arrival.
Melaka Fray, a Slayer of the 23rd century, lacks these abilities. Her twin brother, Harth, received these visions instead. To the best of her temporary mentor Urkonn's knowledge, it was unheard of for a Slayer to have a twin before.
A Slayer naturally has formidable fighting skills. Buffy easily fended off multiple vampires at the same time while under a memory loss spell, with no memory of her combat training - relying entirely on her natural Slayer instincts. (Although this could be attributed to muscle memory. The body will often remember things that the mind does not.) Dana is seen holding her own against Spike without having any previous combat training. Potential Slayers have innate skills in combat, even before being called, as Amanda was able to defeat a vampire without any previous combat training. The Slayer's Watcher trains her to hone these talents, and to teach her specific fighting skills, such as various martial arts. The training helps her to battle the occasional demon whose physical strength outclasses her own. For most situations, however, her strength suffices. To test a Slayer's natural ingenuity and capability, the Watcher's Council administers a test known as "the Cruciamentum" if/when they turn eighteen, which strips the Slayer of her powers and forces her to fight a powerful vampire without them. It should be noted that the compound used to weaken the Slayer makes her typically weaker than most normal humans. This renders a Slayer who would still normally be physically fit without her powers remarkably feeble even for a human. This forces the Slayer to rely solely on her intellect and wit.
Overall, the Slayer's abilities seem to be enhancements of normal human attributes, rather than extra abilities garnered from a magical source; Buffy trains constantly and works out to enhance and maintain her abilities, suggesting that they would atrophy otherwise. A "normal" workout routine that would enhance a regular human's strength and speed increases her abilities much faster and at greater magnitude. Also, Giles said muscle relaxants and adrenal inhibitors would have the same effects on a normal human as they did on Buffy; the effects are simply more pronounced. Also, regular illnesses such as the flu affected the Slayer not greatly different from its effects on humans; once again the handicap is more noticeable given the Slayer's usually enhanced abilities, though this nearly cost Buffy her life while fighting Angelus.
In 2005, Buffy gained a multitude of new powers: her strength, speed, agility, and reflexes were greatly enhanced, and she developed telescopic vision, superhuman hearing, flight, and a level of invulnerability. Willow initially theorized that these powers were a result of Buffy unwittingly absorbing the collective powers of all of the Slayers who had died since they began the Slayer Organization, but it was later discovered that these abilities were granted to her by the Universe as a reward for changing the world and the balance of the grand design. However, Buffy lost these new powers when she destroyed the Seed of Wonder.
"...One girl in all the world. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness..."
Beginning with the Primitive, the Slayer was always meant to act alone. According to the "Slayer Handbook," as stated by Kendra, the Slayer is supposed to separate herself from civilization. Even Spike says, in School Hard, "A Slayer with family and friends. That sure wasn't on the brochure."
Buffy, is known to be unique as she has a support system stemming from the Scooby Gang and her mom and later sister, though, she still constantly feels alone, even after the activation of all of the New Slayers. Buffy states that the feeling of being alone comes with the package of being The Slayer. Robin Wood, the only known child of a Slayer, Nikki Wood, once referred to this as "isolationist Slayer crap."
Buffy and the core Scoobies, Willow, Xander, and Giles, channeled the spirit of the First Slayer by performing the enjoining spell, infusing mind (Giles), heart (Xander), and spirit (Willow) with Buffy's strength, to become omnipotent and have enough power to kill Adam. The spirit of The First Slayer was not pleased with this, and attempted to kill the Scoobies in their dreams demanding that the Slayer act alone, though she was defeated by Buffy.
Weapons and Equipment
Slayers typically use weapons to fight vampires and other demons. Simple wooden stakes, crucifixes, and holy water are commonly used due to their effectiveness against vampires. Swords, axes, and knives are the most common implements used for dispatching demons, though other melee weapons (generally of medieval European design) are also used. Ranged weaponry is usually confined to crossbows. On occasion, more sophisticated weaponry is used; Buffy Summers has used a military-issue rocket launcher to defeat a particularly tough demon. Buffy has a strong distaste for guns, and one of the rules of her Slayer organization is that no Slayer uses them. Rogue Slayer Simone Doffler and her group, on the other hand, are enamored of guns.
The Slayer Melaka Fray uses weaponry native to her time period, such as ray-guns, as well as traditional Slayer weapons.
Main article: Scythe
"Slayer Emergency Kit"
Main article: Slayer Emergency Kit
- Arabella Gish
- Melaka Fray
- Faith Lehane
- Yuki Makimura
- Naayee Neizghani
- Xin Rong
- Buffy Summers
- Nikki Wood
- Kendra Young
Behind the Scenes
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel often shows inconsistencies in their characters' physical strength; for example, Buffy was unable to kick in a bomb shelter door despite repeated tries, but has shown to be able to casually kick down solid steel doors. This has been acknowledged frequently in commentaries and interviews by writers and creators of the shows. According to Riley, Buffy gets stronger every day.
- The First Slayer
- Slayer timeline
- History of the Slayer
- Tales of the Slayer
- Tales of the Slayers
- Potential Slayers.
- ↑ "Get It Done"
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 "End of Days"
- ↑ "Prophecy Girl"
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Chosen"
- ↑ "Enemies"
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 "Potential"
- ↑ "Chosen" shooting script
- ↑ The Long Way Home, Part One
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 "Anne"
- ↑ "Phases"
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 "Two to Go"
- ↑ "Where the Wild Things Are"
- ↑ "Life Serial"
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 "Five by Five"
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 "This Year's Girl"
- ↑ "The Gift"
- ↑ "Blood Ties"
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 "Sanctuary"
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 The Calling
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 "Damage"
- ↑ "Innocence"
- ↑ "No Future for You"
- ↑ "Help"
- ↑ "Homecoming"
- ↑ "Bargaining, Part Two"
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 "Buffy vs. Dracula"
- ↑ "The Freshman"
- ↑ Ready, Steady ...
- ↑ Big City Girl
- ↑ "No Place Like Home"
- ↑ Graduation Day, Part One
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 "Graduation Day, Part Two"
- ↑ "Bad Eggs"
- ↑ "The Dark Age"
- ↑ 35.0 35.1 "Crush"
- ↑ "Showtime"
- ↑ "I Robot, You Jane"
- ↑ 38.0 38.1 "Killed by Death"
- ↑ "Welcome to the Hellmouth"
- ↑ The Long Way Home, Part Three
- ↑ Time of Your Life, Part Four
- ↑ "Tabula Rasa"
- ↑ 43.0 43.1 "Helpless"
- ↑ "Out of My Mind"
- ↑ "Primeval"
- ↑ "Restless"
- ↑ "Innocence"
- ↑ "Lie to Me"
- ↑ "Once More, with Feeling"