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Tabula Rasa

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 6, Episode 8
Air date November 13, 2001
Written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Directed by David Grossman
Episode Guide
"Once More, with Feeling"
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Emma Caulfield Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg Dawn
James Marsters Spike
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Special Guest Starring
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Raymond O'Connor Teeth
Amber Benson Tara
Co Starring
Geordie White Vamp #1
Stephen Triplett Vamp #2
David Franco Vamp #3
Erik Betts Vamp #4
Band (Michelle Branch)
Michelle Branch Singer

"Tabula Rasa" is the eighth episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the one hundred eighth episode altogether. It was written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner and directed by David Grossman. It originally broadcast on November 13, 2001.

In the aftermath of the discovery that they had pulled Buffy Summers out of Heaven, Rupert Giles finally resolves to leave Sunnydale and return to England to allow Buffy to gain independence. Meanwhile, Willow Rosenberg agrees to go a week without using magic when Tara Maclay confronts her with her decision to leave her, but almost immediately goes back on her word and casts another memory spell with the intent of making Tara and Buffy forget the damages of the spells she used on them. The spell goes awry and gives the entire Scooby Gang, including herself, complete amnesia, which puts everyone in danger when a demonic loan shark, Teeth, and his vampire enforcers attack the Magic Box to collect Spike's gambling debt.


608 TabulaRasa1

Buffy dismisses her kiss with Spike.

Buffy patrols and runs into Spike who wants to talk about their kiss. Teeth, a demon loan shark (with a shark's head), confronts Spike about his kitten debt, but Buffy steps in and takes care of the thugs looking to beat 40 Siamese out of Spike. Willow, Xander, Anya, and Tara talk about calling Buffy back from Heaven and their feelings in the aftermath of the revelation. While the other three agree they need to stop thinking about their past actions and just try to make things better for Buffy, Willow (feeling very guilty over destroying Buffy's peaceful afterlife) isn't receptive to this and suggests fixing the mess with a spell. Sensing the tension, Xander and Anya leave as Tara confronts Willow about her excessive and damaging use of magic. Willow suggests making Buffy forget about being in heaven, but Tara reveals she knows a memory-spell was used on her and lets Willow know how furious and violated she feels. Tara then decides that things aren't working between them at the moment and starts to break up with her girlfriend, however Willow is desperate not to lose her and offers to go a month without magic to prove that she is not dependent. Tara asks her to try for a week, but doesn't promise that this will save the relationship.

Giles informs Buffy that he is returning to England for good and Buffy takes the news very badly. He knows she is too dependent on him and he must leave if she's ever going to learn to survive on her own. She begs him to stay, telling him she can learn to stand on her own with him around. Giles stands firm, assuring her he's doing the right thing but Buffy, deeply hurt and angry that her Watcher is seemingly abandoning her when she needs him most, tells him he's wrong.

Without her magic, Willow is late getting ready to leave the house so Tara and Dawn Summers leave for the Magic Box without her. As soon as they're gone, Willow uses magic to get dressed quickly and starts another spell by the fireplace that will make Tara and Buffy forget the damages of the spells Willow used on them. In her rush, she accidentally leaves a bag of the Lethe's Bramble by the fireplace.

The whole gang, including a disguised Spike on the run from the loan shark, gather at the Magic Box during the day. Giles confesses that he is leaving and Buffy begins to have an emotional breakdown, unable to cope with her painful memories and the feeling that everyone is abandoning her. Willow has a crystal in her pocket that was used with her forgetting spell and it glows brightly in her hand. However, back at the Summers' house, a spark from the fireplace ignites the entire bag of Lethe's Bramble. Instead of just Buffy and Tara forgetting their recent upsets, the entire gang falls unconscious. They wake up later that evening with absolutely no knowledge of who or where they are. Spike suspects Giles is his father (because they're both English) and Anya assumes she's getting married to Giles (because they jointly own the magic shop). Alexander, Willow, Anya, Giles, and Tara get their names from their IDs, and Dawn gets hers from her necklace. Buffy names herself Joan, and Spike mistakenly assumes the name Randy from the inside of his stolen coat is his name.


Buffy slaying a vampire as Joan. (click for animation)

A couple of vampires outside the shop scare the entire gang and they hide in fear. Looking for Spike to repay his debt, the vampires attack the shop. Joan discovers she's a superhero of some sort when she stakes one of the vampires and saves Randy. Anya and Giles stay at the magic shop while Joan and Randy run outside to fight off the vampires. Randy unknowingly assumes his vampire visage to fight off the vampire thugs, which sends Joan running away in fear.

608 TabulaRasa3

Willow grieves

The rest of the Scoobies retreat to the sewers but they encounter vampires down there too. Anya turns to a random page in a book and reads the incantation there, which causes a bunny to appear and frighten her. Joan attacks Randy when he catches up with her and informs him that he's a vampire. He's confused by it, but assumes that he's a good, noble vampire—a vampire with a soul—because he doesn't want to bite her (Joan thinks the idea of a vampire with a soul is incredibly lame). The loan shark and his minions attack the two and a fight ensues.

Anya continues to try random spells, which makes many more bunnies, a dark green cloud to form inside the shop, and a skeletal beast to appear. Giles and Anya fight while hiding behind the counter and Giles reveals that he found a one-way plane ticket in his pocket for London, assuming he must be abandoning Anya. Anya begs him not to leave her and they kiss passionately. Eventually, Giles casts a banishing spell to remove the bunnies, the skeletal beast and the green fog. Xander (or Alex, as Dawn calls him) fights with the vampire chasing them in the sewers, finally staking it, and then accidentally steps on the crystal that fell from Willow's pocket. The breaking of the spell finds Giles and Anya kissing, Willow atop Tara after a fall, and Spike and Buffy deep in mid-action conversation.

Tara and the others realize that Willow used magic, despite her promise. The spell broken, Buffy is momentarily too stunned to duck a few painful hits. Spike finishes off the rest of the vampires and promises to make up his debt to the intimidated Teeth. While Willow cries in the bathroom, Tara packs all of her things into boxes; then, receiving a hurt cold shoulder from Dawn, she leaves. Full of grief, Giles takes his plane back to England. Spike finds Buffy at The Bronze, but she turns her face away and he stalks off. She doesn't let him get far though, and they kiss passionately beneath the stairs of The Bronze.


  • Even with the characters' memories gone, certain elements of their personalities crop up:
    • Tara and Willow are attracted to each other.
    • Xander is immediately attracted to Willow.
    • Anya tells Giles that she feels compelled to take out vengeance against him. She also retained her fear of rabbits and felt an overwhelming compulsion to protect the cash register and her engagement ring.
    • Giles and Spike feel animosity and hatred for one another. But again in a troubled father-son relationship.
    • Xander and Anya fail to sense any mutual connection, foreshadowing their doomed engagement.
    • Although Buffy retains many of her Slayer instincts, she and Spike feel no instinctive animosity towards each other, foreshadowing the significant change in direction of the relationship between the two in that season.
    • Buffy and Dawn feel a sisterly connection.
    • Giles remains the voice of reason, approaches the situation logically and effectively (he told Anya to look for books on mind-control and memory loss), and is still a skilled swordsman and problem-solver.
  • When Willow tells Dawn about her attraction to women, she uses the exact same words she did in the season 3 episode "Doppelgängland" to describe her evil vampire self: "I think I'm kind of gay".
  • Tara finally leaves Willow, who continues her downward spiral into magic addiction.
  • The tweed suit worn by Spike in his guise as Giles' son "Randy Giles" is the same one used in "Restless" for Xander's dream, where he also described Giles as "Like a father to me".
  • Teeth, the loan shark demon that hassles Spike to pay his debt, reappears in Angel: After the Fall as one of the Demon Lords of Los Angeles that Angel must defeat to return the city back to Earth.
  • In the season 4 episode "Goodbye Iowa", Giles and Anya argue in Xander's basement. Buffy tells them to stop reenacting scenes from her parents' marriage.
  • When Spike finds out he is a vampire, he adopts Angel's persona by declaring, "I'm a vampire with a soul! I fight evil! I help the helpless!", which was the Angel Investigations slogan.

Body Count

  • Two vampires, dusted by Buffy.
  • Three vampires, dusted by Spike.
  • One vampire, dusted by Xander.

Behind the Scenes


  • Tabula Rasa is Latin for "blank slate."
  • Michelle Branch makes a special guest appearance singing "Goodbye to you".

Pop Culture References

  • Anya referred to Allen Funt, the host of Candid Camera, when they were trying to figure out what happened.

International titles

  • German: Tabula Rasa



  • The demonic loan shark has a literal shark's head—an indicator that this was to be a mostly humorous episode (despite the lasting consequences of the ending scenes).
  • Anya mispronounces her name using the flat a, /'ænjə/, instead of with the usual broad a, /'ɑːnjə/.
  • The episode "Tabula Rasa" does not translate well into other languages. A sizable part of the humor is the interplay between Giles and Spike, laced with British idiom and Americans' stereotyped views of England; the puns based on "Randy" are meaningless in other languages. In French, "Randy" is translated to "Candide", possibly a reference to the Voltaire novel. Buffy's assumed name "Joan" is left as "Joan" in French, and the reference to Joan of Arc ("Jeanne d'Arc" in French) is mostly lost. Dawn's reference to Xander as "Alex", a more common shortened form of "Alexander", lacks significance in the French translation because he has been named Alex in France since "Welcome to the Hellmouth".
  • "Tabula Rasa" is also a phrase used frequently in Dollhouse, another television show created by Joss Whedon. It is also one of several episode titles shared by Buffy and the series 'Criminal Minds' which features Nic Brendon and numerous other Buffy guest stars.   
  • Just as the 5th season episode "The Replacement" mimics the plot of the Star Trek episode "The Enemy Within", this episode bears a striking resemblance to the plot of the Star Trek: Next Generation episode "Conundrum".
  • As Spike walks away from Buffy at The Bronze, a fake severed hand can be seen under a glass lid on the counter.
  • Spike postulates that he "...must be a noble vampire. A good guy on a mission of redemption. I help the helpless. I'm a vampire with soul." to which Buffy retorts, "A vampire with a soul? Oh my god, how lame is that?" This is a good-natured jab at the character Angel.
  • Dawn says "Feature Creature" in this episode. Previously, Xander says "Creature Feature" in the episode "Ted".
  • It's interesting that "Randy" felt the compulsion to do good despite still being a soulless vampire. Even though he was technically Spike, he didn't have Spike's memories; and memories would probably be the only reason a vampire would care about anyone else at all—especially at the expense of its own welfare. Another reason may be that Spike, unlike other vampires (like Angelus) who like to psychologically torture their victims, liked more the direct, violent fighting (two Slayers killed in fair duels).
  • "Joan's" reaction to "Randy's" vampire face is very similar to Buffy's reaction when she first sees Angel's vampire face.
  • This episode addresses the correlation between memory and identity, which is an oft-touched-upon theme in many of Whedon's works.


Giles - "We'll get our memory back, and it'll all be right as rain."
Spike - "Oh, listen to Mary Poppins. He's got his crust all stiff and upper with that nancy-boy accent. You Englishmen are always so... bloody hell... sodding, blimey, shagging, knickers, bollocks... oh, god. I'm English!"
Giles - "Welcome to the nancy tribe."
Teeth - "Time is what turns kittens into cats."
Spike - "You don't suppose you and I... we're not related, are we?"
Anya - "There is a ruggedly handsome resemblance."
Giles - "A-And you do inspire a, um, particular feeling of familiarity and... disappointment.... Older brother?"
Spike - "Father! Oh, God, how I must hate you."
Giles - "What did I do?"
Spike - "I must be a noble vampire. A good guy. On a mission of redemption. I help the helpless. I'm a vampire with a soul."
Buffy - "A vampire with a soul? Oh my God... how lame is that?"
Spike - "Randy Giles? Why not just call me Horny Giles or Desperate for a Shag Giles? I knew there was a reason I hated you."
Spike - "Dad can drive. He's bound to have some classic mid-life crisis transport. Something red, shiny, shaped like a penis."

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