|This article is about the mystical title. For the novel, see Slayer (novel).|
- “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 original prophecy of the Slayer[src]
Slayer was the title given to a human female chosen by fate in the Slayer line, bestowed with mystical powers from an ancient demon. While known primarily as Vampire Slayer, the Slayer did not act only against vampires, but was a hunter of evil mystical forces in general.
Slayers were often referred to as the Chosen One, as originally there was only one Slayer in existence at a time, the death of a Slayer being what allowed her powers to be inherited by the Potential Slayer next in line. This process continued for thousands of years, until the intervention of Buffy Summers in 2003 caused all Potentials to be activated, which continuously happened until the end of magic.
The First Slayer
- Buffy: “You think I came all this way to get knocked up by some demon dust? I can’t fight this. I know that now. But you guys? You’re just men. Just the men who did this… to her. Whoever that girl was before she was the first Slayer.”
- Shadow Man: “You don’t understand.”
- Buffy: “No, you don’t understand! You violated that girl, made her kill for you because you’re weak, you’re pathetic, and you obviously have nothing to show me.”
- — Buffy Summers[src]
In ancient Africa, a group of tribal elders known as the Shadow Men used powerful magic to infuse a captive native girl with the heart, soul, and spirit of a pure ancient demon. This process granted the girl incredible strength, speed, agility, endurance, a predatory instinct, and superior healing factor: she became the First Slayer, closest to unite with the Shadow demon, making her the first to also be the most powerful Slayer, called to fight the vampires, the demons and other forces of evil that populated Earth and threatened the innocent.
Unfortunately, being fully infused with the essence of a powerful demon resulted in the first Slayer, becoming determined to slay and to be 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 with the Scythe on Sunnydale grounds before it was officially named.
Her power was later borrowed and used with the Enjoining spell by Buffy, Giles, Willow, and Xander to battle Adam. With the success of the spell, and in the middle of the fight with Adam, they were able to speak through Buffy’s body; this caused them to sound like Buffy mixed with Sineya’s voice echoing after. Unhappy that Buffy didn’t do things all on her own, and had the help of her friends, Sineya tried to kill them all in their sleep for doing so. From there, she went back to informing the Slayer line as a spirit guide, through rituals and Slayer dreams.
The Slayer Line
- “You’re all gonna die. But you knew that already. ‘Cause that’s the cool reward for being human. Big dessert at the end of the meal. Don’t kid yourselves, you guys. This whole thing is all about death. You think you’re different ‘cause you might be the next Slayer? Death is what a Slayer breathes, what a Slayer dreams about when she sleeps. Death is what a Slayer lives. My death could make you the next Slayer.”
- ―Buffy Summers[src]
The Shadow Men’s descendants went 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 went about doing this were entirely ethical or not, the Council was determined to stop the spread of evil.
However, because of the violent nature of the life of a Slayer, their average lifespan was quite short after being called, under a year at most. Consequently, the Shadow Men’s spell also created a large number of Potential Slayers — common girls around the world who may one day be called.
Notably, the Slayer line was not genetic in nature. Slayers did not inherit the calling from their parents and did not pass it on to their children. Dawn Summers was also not a Slayer despite being made into human form from Buffy.
When a Slayer died, one of the Potentials gained the powers and abilities of the Slayer. The Watcher’s Council tried to identify and train these Potentials before they are called, locating some as babies, but were not always able to do so, with some girls only being found after they have been activated as the Slayer; Buffy Summers was one of those girls.
Each girl that was given the power of the Slayer was seemingly randomly chosen by the unknown forces that surround the Slayer line. The forces that chose the Potentials, and that activate the one girl in almost two thousand around the world, were a mystery.
- “We’re Slayers, girlfriend. The Chosen Two.”
- ―Faith Lehane[src]
This process continued through the generations until 1997, when the current Slayer, Buffy Summers, was killed in battle, only to be revived via CPR, a few moments later. Buffy retained her Slayer powers, but her momentary clinical death was enough for the next Slayer to be called. For the first time in history, two full-fledged Slayers existed at one time, the other being Kendra Young.
For the next several years, two Slayers coexisted: first Buffy and Kendra, who was called upon Buffy’s death, and then Buffy and Faith Lehane, who was called when Kendra died, approximately one year later. Nonetheless, Buffy was still referred to as the Slayer and not just a Slayer, though it was made clear that the Slayer line no longer ran through Buffy, but rather ran through Kendra who passed it to Faith.
While Buffy and Kendra were immediately 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 vampire, Angel, and began to seek redemption. When discussing why they could never seem to get along, Buffy and Faith concluded that it’s because there was only supposed to be one, a burden one couldn’t share.
Attack Against the Slayer Line
- Giles: “We all feared this day would come. When there’d be an attack, not just against an individual Slayer, but against the whole line…”
- Buffy: “The First — that’s what it wants.”
- Giles: “Yes. To erase all the Slayers-in-training and their Watchers, along with their methods…”
- Buffy: “And then Faith. Then me. And with all the Potentials gone, and no way of making another… It’s the end. There’s no more Slayer. Ever.”
- — Buffy and Giles on the First’s plans[src]
Buffy’s death and resurrection in late 2001 disrupted the mysterious mystical forces surrounding the Slayer, so in 2002. the First Evil began his attempt to use this as a catalyst to destroy the Slayer line, which would allow the primordial entity to take over the world and gain corporal form. This involved assigning the Harbingers of Death to track down and eliminate all Potential Slayers, before turning their attention towards Buffy and Faith, thus destroying the line completely.
Rupert Giles, one of the few Watchers left, began bringing as many potentials as he could track down to Buffy’s home in Sunnydale. Those who didn’t die, Buffy trained to become an army for her final battle with The First, the Bringers, and the Turok-Han. To defeat its army, Willow Rosenberg tapped into the essence of the Slayer Scythe to perform the Slayer Activation spell for every Potential around the world.
Buffy’s 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.”
Breaking the Chain
- “So here’s the part where you make a choice. What if you could have that power, now? In every generation, one Slayer is born, because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule. I say my power, should be our power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of this scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer, will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?”
- ―Buffy Summers[src]
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, the witch Willow Rosenberg, use magic to tap into the Scythe’s essence and perform the Slayer Activation spell, that called all Potential Slayer at once, thus ending the legacy of "one girl in all the world."
After taking the time to find and count them, Buffy stated that there were at least 1800 Slayers in the world, 500 of which have joined the Slayer Organization. Potentials were now activated as Slayers when they reached 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, came to believe that the myth was true and that this Slayer was Buffy. Giles secretly traveled the world searching for the only item that could kill Buffy if she reached this higher state.
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 caused the end of 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.
- “No longer is but one chosen. The power itself becomes the chosen one… and the one who chooses.”
- ―The new prophecy of the Slayer[src]
After the new Seed of Wonder was formed, the Slayer Handbook’s pages were discovered completely blank, being gradually rewritten with the sudden return of magic to the Earth. A handful of pages were eventually filled again chronicling the same Slayer history the book once did, but with new additions: “No longer is but one chosen. The power itself becomes the chosen one… and the one who chooses.” This implicated that the combined spiritual force of all past Slayers had then more agency than before. Notably, men still couldn’t be Slayers outright, as the vampire hunter Billy Lane didn’t share the Slayer strength or speed, but the essence of the Slayers accepted him as an ally when he had a vision of Sineya.
To defeat the Pandora Project’s leader, Joanna Wise, who had turned herself into a magic-infused cyborg much stronger than a Slayer, Buffy performed with Willow a reverse spell of the activation of the Potential Slayers they had done years later. Willow explained that Buffy had shared what made her special with all Potentials, and the power had grown in each of them. Using the Scythe once again, Willow was able to put the grown powers of thousands of Slayers back in Buffy, giving her the ability to even cut magic with its blade and resist an attack of Rain of Death. After defeating Wise and eventually healing herself, Buffy and Willow used the Scythe to return all the power back.
By the 23rd century, 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. He possessed the mental aspects of the Slayer such as the dreams and premonitions, while Mel only had the physical attributes.
- “So it's different, I guess for different people. Some, it’s a tickle. They don’t even know. Or a rush. Fun. But for me, becoming a Slayer was like Mike Tyson in your face… and not the punching you Mike Tyson, ripping your ear off with his teeth Mike Tyson.”
- ―Buffy Summers (underground decoy)[src]
Activation was a powerful experience. Slayers tended to experience slight disorientation but seemingly felt a burst of power, though this momentary experience would vary from Slayer to Slayer. Sometimes the Slayer would experience nothing but a "tickle" and sometimes there would be a sudden rush of energy so powerful that it could knock the Slayer backwards. Their powers appeared to manifest at the exact moment of activation as well as the urge to fight and protect. For instance, the newly-activated Slayers during the Battle at the Hellmouth immediately broke out in battle with an army of Turok-Han despite their apprehension seconds before, and an unidentified Slayer, seconds after activation, instinctively pushed her friends out of the way of an oncoming semi-truck before being hit by it (and surviving).
Powers and Abilities
- “She’s like a woman fighting for more than life. She fights like fighting is her life. It’s like the air she breathes, and she knows she will win because there is no alternative.”
- ―Andrew Wells[src]
The powers that were bestowed upon the Slayer were mostly physical enhancements beyond what any normal human could do, rather than extra abilities garnered from a magical source. It should be noted that while Slayers were physically stronger than most vampires, it was their skill and training that mostly gave them the bigger advantage.
Buffy trained regularly and worked out to enhance and maintain her abilities, suggesting that they would atrophy otherwise. Giles himself claimed that Buffy should hone her skills day and night. A "normal" workout routine that would enhance a regular human’s strength and speed increased 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 were simply more pronounced (though it’s not specified exactly what was the "organic compound" used in them). Also, regular illnesses such as the flu affected the Slayer not greatly different from its effects on humans; once again the handicap was more noticeable given the Slayer’s usually enhanced abilities (Xander commented that Buffy was "half the Slayer"), though this nearly cost Buffy her life while fighting Angelus.
It appeared that Slayers — much like normal humans — occasionally experienced "off-days" where their powers and fighting ability were not up to its peak. Buffy has fallen victim to this from time to time, mostly due to her emotions affecting her. When Buffy started college, she was easily beaten by a vampire, Sunday, not much stronger or older than her typical share. It was implied that this was due to Buffy struggling with the transition to college and loneliness. When she reunited with her friends and started to perk up, Buffy’s powers seemed to improve as her arm that was badly injured the previous night completely recovered by mid-battle.
It is possible that a Slayer’s strength, healing, and endurance improved the longer she’d been called. Faith was severely injured and put into a coma from being stabbed in the stomach when she was only a Slayer for one year at that point, whereas Buffy could quickly recover from a similar wound without any need for medical attention after being a Slayer for seven years. In another instance, Buffy was plunged into a stone coffin and hit by a conical roof and still continued to fight. Buffy ended up with only minor cuts and bruises later that day, yet Satsu (a younger Slayer) was hospitalized for a lesser injury. Faith, along with a group of new Slayers, were struck with a magical attack from a demon. While the younger Slayers’ faces started melting off, Faith resisted the attack with lesser injuries and even fought back.
- “You know, not to be rampantly sexist in the workplace, but you’ve got some serious muscles for a girl.”
- ―Ben Wilkinson, commenting on Buffy's strength[src]
Slayers were endowed with increased physical strength greater than that of any humans, some demons and most, if not all, vampires.
Slayers were capable of lifting and throwing human-sized subjects sizable distances, propelling enemies into the air with a single blow, bending solid metal with their bare hands, breaking human bones with ease, and punching into concrete walls to no ill effect.
Buffy herself has heaved up a metal portcullis which a group of people were unable to budge, snapped a metal blade in half over her knee, punched through a demon’s chest, hurled a piece of glass with enough force that it severed a person’s arm, effortlessly lifted steel girders weighing several hundred pounds, demolished the interior of an abandoned building from having rough sex, and accidentally kicked Riley clear across a room even though she "held back a little".
Much like vampires, the Slayer’s strength seemed to be largely metaphysical, as it did not add to their body mass and they remained buoyant enough to swim. Buffy and Faith, who were 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 lifted Enchanted Hammer of the Troll Gods with one hand when Spike was barely able to do so with both hands. Angel remarked that Buffy was "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 aged 200 plus years.
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 quickly overpowered the more-experienced Buffy and nearly drown her in a swimming pool during a fit of rage.
Speed and Reflexes
Slayers had the ability to move at great speeds and possessed incredible reflexes. For instance, Buffy prevented a crowbar hurled forcefully by the goddess Glorificus from killing Dawn by leaping in her way and catching the crowbar, resulting in only a shallow wound from being pierced by the implement.
In addition to this, Buffy has snatched a crossbow bolt in mid-flight, blocked a sword with her hands (her eyes were closed at the time) just as it was thrust towards her face, caught/deflected/dodged knives thrown at her from varying distances, dodged gunfire from multiple ranges, and set off a bear trap without getting caught in it. Faith has dodged shotgun blasts at point-blank range, while Dana could dodge a tranquilizer dart also fired at point-blank range.
The Slayer’s running speed was also quite impressive. Buffy, for example, was able to run fast enough to keep up with a school bus going at full speed. The bus had already taken off before she caught up to it and she was still recovering from a deep abdominal stab wound she got only minutes before. She also could outrun a raiding motorcyclist on his bike shortly after her resurrection, outrun a fireball, and was able to reach the police station to save Andrew Wells and Jonathan Levinson on foot shortly after Willow Rosenberg reached there via flight.
A Slayer was capable of superhuman feats of agility. She could leap to great heights and distances; though the maximum is unknown. 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 rail, and then flipping onto the roof.
Buffy once utilized her agility and speed to avoid Caleb’s attacks which caused him a noticeable amount of frustration. She has also made standing jumps over the heads of foes much larger than her; including the Master and a troll, and performed improbable mid-air kicks.
Melaka was seen reaching a roof top by leaping across multiple flying cars, something Buffy claimed she couldn’t do herself. However, Buffy was seen leaping from building to building months later. A Slayer’s agility could work unconsciously. An amnesiac Buffy was flipped over by a vampire and landed perfectly on her feet much to her own surprise.
- Detective Stein: “It doesn’t look like he hit you very hard.”
- Buffy: “I don’t bruise easily.”
- — on Buffy being hurt by Ted[src]
A Slayer’s body was substantially more durable and resistant to blunt force trauma than an ordinary human’s. Slayers also had several times the endurance of a common human, so it was difficult, though not impossible, to bruise them, break their bones or strain their joints.
- Buffy could 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 was already tanking powerful blows from Glory minutes before.
- Buffy looked relatively unfazed after she had a vase smashed over her head by Tucker Wells.
- Buffy has been hit by a moving car, got up and walked off, ignoring the several bystanders who offered to help.
- Buffy appeared only to sustain some minor damage after being shot by a high-voltage blast from the Initiative’s taser blasters. While normal human beings and even demons were shown to become incapacitated, and require time to recuperate afterward, Buffy was fit enough to escape.
- Buffy has survived contact with a live electrical wire; the normally lethal jolt simply melted her shoe soles.
- 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 could hold her own in a fight with Buffy less than 24 hours after waking from a nine-month coma without suffering any muscle atrophy — 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 prepared a tranquilizer that was capable of knocking out a man twice her size which is more than enough to subdue an ordinary young woman of her size.
- Faith crashed through a window with Wesley in hand and landed on a car. The car’s roof was severely damaged, yet Faith was unharmed.
Despite these feats, the Slayer was 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 could be injured by conventional bullets, bladed weapons, and more advanced weaponry just as easily as an ordinary human can. Slayers were also susceptible to drugs, mystical or otherwise; Buffy has fallen unconscious to chloroform and rohypnol (though the latter appeared to take longer as Cordelia was already long out by the time Buffy succumbed to its effects). Slayers could also be inebriated which affected their fighting technique or their ability to control their strength. Faith was able to inject herself with a drug and fight long enough to fool Angelus into biting her.
Slayers could recover from even very severe injuries in remarkably short periods of time.
- Buffy has suffered from a sprained arm as a consequence of fighting vampires, but seemingly healed mid-fight. Despite the injury taking a toll on her fighting and her injured arm being twisted once more, Buffy still could punch a vampire in the face, sending it flying, without any problems later.
- Melaka Fray was hit with a steel girder thrown at her from a demon and recovered 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 was hospitalized with a high-grade fever, some bone fractures and an injured arm. She was completely healed of her injuries the next morning with no signs of swelling (to the doctor’s surprise) and was relieved of her fever the morning after that.
- Despite being closest to the bomb, Faith survived an explosion that caused an entire sewer tunnel to cave-in, killing several potential slayers in the process. Although she was severely wounded and weakened, Faith was ready to fight Turok-Han vampires after about a day of rest.
- Slayers 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 Richard Wilkins in the same day. Usually, Buffy was 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 could receive scars; Buffy had a scar left from the Master’s bite on her neck, though Angel and Dracula have also bitten her in the exact same spot.
Slayers possessed great stamina. Buffy claimed she had the endurance of ten men and that it took a lot to wear her out when Riley propositioned her for sex immediately after the two already finished having sweating-inducing intercourse.
Faith underwent an intense physical evaluation that involved a lot of running and reflex training. She showed no signs of tiredness or exhaustion following a training session at the obstacle field while her Watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, was still winded and even claimed he was going to need defibrillators to recover. Since Faith was the one being evaluated, she would have had to do more physical activity than he did.
Buffy managed to stay at pace with an airborne Willow on foot while Xander (a physically fit male of the same age) could hardly keep up and was seen heavily panting and sweating at the end. Buffy was totally fine.
- “The point is, a Slayer should be able to see them anyway. Without looking, without thinking.”
- ―Rupert Giles[src]
Slayers possessed a heightened awareness of their surroundings. This heightened awareness could, with experience, allow the Slayer to know the position of an attacker and fight them blindfolded or in the dark.
- Buffy pinpointed the position of invisible Marcie Ross by standing silently for a few seconds to hear her movements before landing a perfect punch.
- Buffy sensed a trio of invisible demons quietly entering the room before hearing a faint growl that alerted her to the presence of the demon standing behind her just in time to turn around and block it’s attack. The demons were silent enough to sneak past Buffy’s friends inches away from them unnoticed. She later ordered her fellow Scoobies to be quiet in order for her to sense the position of the other demons during the ambush.
- Giles once required Buffy to throw a ball at him after being spun around in order to test her awareness of her opponent’s location during fights in total darkness. Despite initially missing him when throwing the ball, the ball bounced off the wall she threw it at and landed on him.
- Buffy dispatched an axe-wielding Watcher while blind-folded, relying entirely on instinct when she found the orders given to her in Japanese too complicated.
- Faith turned around in time to prevent a hired assassin from striking her from behind as she was doing chin-ups.
According to Giles, the Slayer had the potential to sense a vampire’s presence within the area. This skill must be honed through practice and the Slayer usually must focus to achieve the full benefit. This was not a constant ability, however. Buffy has never appeared to really hone in on this ability as she confused a couple of human thugs as vampires one time. Buffy also didn’t know Angel was a vampire until he revealed his demonic visage after a number of encounters with him (the same with vampire Willow), but did sense his presence when he was secretly following her. Additionally, Buffy briefly paused to scan the area around her with a look of uncertainty as Angel watched her from behind the bushes, possibly sensing him but unsure of what it was. She also sensed the presence of the Three when they stalked her.
- See Prophetic dream
All Slayers through the ages shares a psychic link, manifested in dreams.
A Slayer would frequently dream of herself as a Slayer in another time and place, even before being called, which would hint if they were Potential Slayers. They could also experience prophetic dreams related to upcoming crises.
Dreams existed in their own mystic plane or "dream space" where, for a Slayer, precognitive sense and the inherited memories of other Slayers could manifest themselves. One consequence of this power was that a Slayer has essentially fought all the battles of the Slayers before her. These experiences helped hone their skills and aid them in future battles. Also, activated Slayers have appeared in each other’s dreams, as Buffy and Faith shared several dreams when Faith was in a coma. Faith provided the first cryptic reference to Dawn Summers’ arrival.
Melaka Fray, a Slayer of the 23rd century, lacked these abilities, which caused her to be unaware of her status, as well as have a different fighting style than most Slayers. 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.
- “Agility, clarity, stamina and strength. These are the qualities that the Slayer must possess to do her job.”
- ―Quentine Travers[src]
A Slayer naturally had 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 (this could be attributed to muscle memory though). Dana was also seen holding her own against Spike without having any previous combat training.
The Slayer’s Watcher trained her to hone these talents, and to teach her specific combat practices, such as various martial arts. This training helped her to battle the occasional demon whose physical strength outclassed her own. For most situations, however, her strength sufficed.
Her fighting prowess also appeared to extend to her weapon proficiency. When Giles trained Buffy to spar with a quarter staff for the first time, she easily outmaneuverd him. Despite his initial insistence that he would teach her how to use a crossbow in steady time after mastering the quarter staff which needed "countless hours of vigorous training", he quickly decided that Buffy was now ready after she bested him. The same principle appeared to also apply to accuracy with firearms. Faith was able to head-shoot vampires after only recently learning how to shoot.
The Slayer’s fighting talent can likely be attributed to their dreams of past Slayers. When Buffy fought Melaka who had currently the advantage, Buffy managed to overcome this because she had "dreamed every battle a Slayer’s ever fought" and Melaka hadn’t because she lacked the Slayer’s psychic abilities.
Sometime after establishing the Slayer Organization, 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.
- “Oh, God… the power!”
- ―The Master after biting Buffy[src]
The blood of the Slayer could be consumed by vampires to either strengthen themselves or to cure affliction. For instance, the Master used Buffy’s blood to break himself free from his mystical prison. Buffy also used her blood to cure Angel from the Killer of the Dead — Slayer’s blood being the only cure. Slayer’s blood was also considered a powerful aphrodisiac.
- “No… friends… just the kill… we are… alone.”
Beginning with the Primeval One, the Slayer was always meant to act alone, traditionally accompanied only by her Watcher’s guidance. Sineya herself was isolated from the villagers she protected, as they were in fear of her power. According to the "Slayer Handbook", the Slayer was supposed to separate herself from civilization for security. As Spike, the Slayer hunter, himself remarked: “A Slayer with family and friends. That sure wasn’t on the brochure.”
Buffy and her friends 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.
Buffy was known to be unique, as she had a support system stemming from the Scooby Gang, her mother, and later her sister. According to Spike, Slayers die quickly because their self isolation cuts them off from family and friends, therefore making them lose their will to live. Buffy, unlike most, had multiple friends and allies to aid her and subsequently, helped her reinforce what she is fighting for. As she had argued with Kendra, “my emotions give me power. They’re total assets!”
Notably, while her love for the people around her made Buffy sacrifice herself for saving the world, directly resulting in both her deaths, these allies were the responsible for saving her from death, resurrecting her twice. As the First Slayer spirit guide told her, “Love is pain, and the Slayer forges strength from pain. Love… give… forgive. Risk the pain, it is your nature. Love will bring you to your gift.”
Still, Buffy constantly felt alone in her position of the Slayer, even while living with hundreds of Slayers, as she was only their leader. After Faith observed the loneliness in being looked up and trusted in Buffy’s shoes, Buffy stated that this was the price of being the Slayer, a burden one couldn’t share.
Robin Wood, the only known child of a Slayer — Nikki Wood —, once referred to this as “isolationist Slayer crap.” About his mother, he concluded: “No matter where she went. No matter how much she wanted to be with me. She wasn't strong enough to ignore it. She had to be a Slayer,” in reference to her frequent patrols and eventual death, even though she was allowed to leave from her Slayer duties. Although, Nikki had observed during the pregnancy: “You saw what I did today when that vamp threatened my baby. I dug down deep and fought back. The baby could be my reason to fight.”
Human Awareness of Slayers
Throughout most of history, the majority of humans remained ignorant or in denial of the existence of Slayers, which notable exceptions including the Order of Dagon, the Knights of Byzantium, the law firm Wolfram & Hart and demon/vampire hunters like Sid and Daniel Holtz.
By 1999, all the graduating class of Sunnydale High School were aware of the role Buffy Summers played in their continued survival, though many of them remained unaware of the institution of the Slayer.
Members of the U.S. Governmental Military Initiative, such as Forrest, believed that the Slayer was only a boogeyman-like myth meant to frighten demons. It was not until they actually met Buffy that they realized they had been mistaken. After this disclosure, it seemed that any governmental military outfit with some understanding of the supernatural was aware of her existence.
In the early 21st century, the existence of vampires became public knowledge. Harmony Kendall, the exposed vampire, gained her own reality show, Harmony Bites, which got to film the lone Slayer Soledad attempt to slay Harmony. The vampire, though, killed her and sucked her blood, and the scene was a success of audience, and Slayers became the show’s villains. Due to the popularity of vampires, known as vampire craze, an anti-Slayer sentiment became common, reinforcing the Twilight Group’s efforts in destroying the Slayer Organization. Buffy Summers and her organization were classified as terrorists by the military and general public.
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 stripped the Slayer of her powers and forced her to fight a powerful vampire without them. It should be noted that the compound used to weaken the Slayer made her typically weaker than most normal humans. This rendered a Slayer who would still normally be physically fit without her powers remarkably feeble even for a human. This forced the Slayer to rely solely on her intellect and wit.
Weapons and Equipment
- “Lesson the first: A Slayer must always reach for her weapon. I’ve already got mine.”
Slayers typically used weapons to fight vampires and other demons. Simple wooden stakes, crosses, and holy water were common components to a Slayer’s inventory due to their effectiveness against vampires, though Buffy would usually only be seen armed with nothing but a stake during patrols because her physical power was enough to subdue them. Swords, axes, and knives were also the most common implements used for dispatching demons, though other melee weapons (generally of medieval European design) were also used. Ranged weaponry was usually confined to crossbows.
On occasion, more sophisticated weaponry was used; Buffy Summers used a military-issue rocket launcher to defeat the Judge. Buffy had a strong distaste for guns, and one of the rules of her Slayer Organization was that no Slayer used them. Rogue Slayer Simone Doffler and her group, on the other hand, were enamored of guns.
The Slayer Melaka Fray used weaponry native to her time period, such as rayguns, as well as traditional Slayer weapons.
The Scythe was a magical weapon forged by the Guardians to help the First Slayer kill the last of the Old Ones, on the site of what would eventually become Sunnydale. The Last Guardian passed the Scythe on to Buffy Summers in 2003. She used it to activate every Potential Slayer in the world, and it became a prominent weapon in her arsenal ever since. In the 23rd century, the Scythe was passed onto Melaka Fray.
Slayer Emergency Kit
The "Slayer Emergency Kit" was, according to Robin Wood, a "Slayer heirloom" which should have been passed on to the next Slayer, but he kept it, probably because he didn’t have much to remember his mother by. At the time Buffy received it, the brown leather bag contained several things including the following:
- what appeared to be a boomerang;
- a vase or urn of some kind;
- a locked box containing metal shadow casters;
- the shadow caster manual.
These objects, when used, recreated the story of the first Slayer, and opened a portal that allowed the current Slayer to speak directly to the Shadow Men.
The Slayer Handbook, also known as Vampyr, was a manual given to Slayers by their Watchers to instruct them on how to operate as the Slayer. The book was the very first and most complete attempt by man to record and codify the laws of magic. Initially a study of vampires — the most pressing threat — its scope grew over time, as did the book’s power. It became, by common acceptance, the definitive guide to magic on Earth.
Giles had presented it to Buffy Summers when she first arrived in Sunnydale, but then decided she wasn’t one to follow rules and put the book away. Sam Zabuto, Kendra Young’s watcher, owned himself a copy. According to Kendra, the handbook insisted that Slayers study demonology. After Giles’ death, despite Faith Lehane was his main heiress, he left the book for Buffy. With this gesture, Faith said Giles meant that Buffy was the one true Slayer and he believed in her strength.
After the new Seed of Wonder was formed, the Slayer Handbook’s pages had turned completely blank. With the sudden return of magic to the Earth, the book was being gradually rewritten, both following common sense and rules written by anyone in its pages. Despite the interest of many creatures in taking the book to themselves, Buffy was the book’s owner, eventually accepted and learned the responsibility of understand, negotiate, develop, protect, and control the rules of magic.
Slayers were capable of being sired into vampires just as ordinary humans were. The resulting "Slaypire" would have the combined strengths of both vampires and Slayers, but retain vampiric weaknesses.
Because the creation of a Slaypire involves a Slayer’s death, it also called a new Slayer. This means that there has been at least one incident — Yuki Makimura — where there were two Slayers before Buffy and Kendra’s time. However, as one was a vampire and no longer a true Slayer, Buffy and Kendra arguably maintain their status as the first two contemporaneous Slayers.
Behind the Scenes
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel often shows inconsistencies in their characters’ physical strength; for example, Buffy was unable to kick down reinforced doors on multiple occasions, but has shown to be able to casually kick down a solid steel door. At one point, Buffy couldn’t budge a metal chandelier, but can lift a portcullis with all her might (which would weigh around 1–2 tons). This has been acknowledged frequently in commentaries and interviews by writers and creators of the shows. According to Riley, Buffy gets stronger every day.
- 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. Additionally, the Slayer possessed a birthmark as a sign of her legacy (a large mole) which Buffy had removed before she was called.
- In the original script for "Two to Go", Buffy is described as running close to 40 miles an hour.
- The Slayer could possibly have a heightened immune system: Buffy is never seen getting sick and Joyce commented that she "never gets sick" when she contracted the flu during a period of great emotional stress. Though, this could be simply attributed to a healthy lifestyle. Giles also says that death and disease are possibly the only things Buffy cannot fight.
- Writer Doug Petrie mentions in his DVD commentary for "The Initiative" that he wanted there to be a scene where Buffy is seen eating about three times the usual amount of food for her normal lunch, suggesting that Slayers have a faster metabolism than regular humans. Faith also mentions that slaying always makes her "hunger and horny" in "Faith, Hope & Trick" and Dawn claims the fridge is the first place Buffy goes to after patrolling and that she’s "such a pig after killing things" in "Wrecked". However, this is contradicted when Buffy says her idea of a binge is a low fat yogurt in response to Faith’s statement and Joyce comments that Buffy’s eating habits save money in "Prophecy Girl". It’s entirely within reason that a Slayer’s physically-demanding life involving regular training and hunting would yield a faster metabolism.
- According to creator Joss Whedon, Buffy is not immune to poisons, but could take out fictional superhero Black Widow without much physical effort.
- In "A New Man" Riley compared Buffy’s strength to the superhero Spider-Man. According to artist Georges Jeanty, “when I talked to Joss [Whedon], because I was doing the comic book… I sort of need details. You need your stage in order to perform. You need to know what’s on that stage so you know what you can use. And with Buffy, I told Joss, ‘Well she’s strong. Ok. I get that, but how strong? Is she Superman strong?’ And he’s like, ‘Well, it’s funny. We’ve never really tested her limit, but in all honesty, think maybe Spider-Man strong, not Superman strong. But definitely more than Batman strong.’ So that sort of put things in place to me where as an artist I knew how far I could go. She could probably turn over a car, but she would have a lot of trouble lifting it over her head. Those little details, which obviously never came to play in the book, but I knew what she could do.”
- At the beginning of "Tabula Rasa", Buffy turns around to arm herself against Spike who was quietly approaching her. The original script for the episode describes this as her "Spider senses", a reference to the comic hero’s Spiderman’s ability to anticipate danger at the right time. Slayers have demonstrated similar abilities from time to time.
- Even Buffy demonstrates inhuman running speed in "Chosen", there have been occasions of normal humans out-running Slayers (such as "The Dark Age" and "What's My Line, Part Two"). It’s possible that Slayers can pick up greater levels of speed by running long enough (such as in Shadow" when Buffy initially couldn’t catch up to a very fast snake demon until some time later), unlike vampires which have been shown flashing across sizeable distances in an instant.
- During the first two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a short prologue would be used infrequently throughout each season at the start of each episode. It went: "In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer." In the second season it was narrated by Anthony Stewart Head. It was featured in the episodes "Angel", "I Robot, You Jane", "The Puppet Show", "Nightmares" and "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" in season one and in episodes "Some Assembly Required", "School Hard", "Inca Mummy Girl", "Reptile Boy", "The Dark Age", "Ted", "Bad Eggs", "Phases", "Go Fish" in season two.
- Slayers have appeared, at least once, in all seasons of Angel television series, with the exception of Angel season 3.