The Initiative, formerly known as the Demon Research Initiative, was a secret United States Government agency tasked with the capture and research of demons for military purposes.



The Initiative program was initially established during World War II as the Demon Research Initiative, meant to monitor demon activity and study demon physiology to aid the United States war effort.

In 1943, Mr. Fury, an agent of the DRI, forcibly recruited Angel to recapture a T-Class prototype U-boat which housed the results of the Third Reich's own research on vampires. Angel's mission was a partial success, as the submarine reached U.S. waters but the documents containing the research were destroyed by Spike. As a result, Angel quickly jumped ship and went underground until the end of the war[1].

In the following decades, the Demon Research Initiative evolved into the Initiative, led by Maggie Walsh and stationed in an elaborate facility underneath the UC Sunnydale campus. Though on the surface they appeared to be simply containing "Hostile Subterrestrials", they were secretly working on the 314 Project, meant to create cybernetically-enhanced human-demon hybrids as super-soldiers. Additionally, many soldiers, most notably Riley Finn, were secretly fed special performance-enhancing drugs, which would threaten Riley's life later[2]. After the Initiative's dissolution, Riley mentioned that he had been living in Sunnydale for a few years, indicating that the Initiative had been active in Sunnydale for some time[3].

Sunnydale and Downfall

In late 1999, Buffy Summers and the Scooby Gang first came into contact with Initiative commandos, though, as it was Halloween at the time, they initially dismissed them as people in Halloween costumes[4]. However, when Buffy later came into contact with another commando while on patrol, she began to suspect more was going on[5].

Buffy's old enemy, Spike, was among the vampires and demons captured by the Initiative, who implanted him with a cerebral microchip that rendered him unable to willingly harm or attempt to harm humans without causing him debilitating pain. When Spike escaped the Initiative and attempted to attack Willow Rosenberg, the Initiative went after him and nearly captured both Spike and Willow before Buffy arrived and engaged them in combat, forcing them to retreat and allowing Spike to escape[6]. As he was still being targeted by the Initiative and unable to hunt for blood due to the chip, Spike turned to the Scooby Gang out of desperation, bartering his knowledge of the Initiative in exchange for their protection[7].

Eventually, Buffy discovered that Riley, whom she had developed mutual romantic feelings for, was a member of the Initiative himself, and the other Scoobies soon found out as well while dealing with an encroaching apocalypse[8][9].

Buffy eventually joined the Initiative herself, but her excessive questioning of the organization's plans and motives, as well as her influence over Riley, began to unsettle Professor Walsh, who attempted to have her killed in action, only to fail. Afterwards, Walsh was murdered by Adam, the first bio-mechanical demonoid created in the 314 Project, who subsequently escaped the facility and set about making an army of similar super-soldiers[10][11].

When Willow's werewolf ex-boyfriend Oz returned to town and was captured by the Initiative, Riley, having been torn between the Initiative and the Scooby Gang since Walsh's failed attempt on Buffy's life, finally realized the full extent of the Initiative's corruption. Witnessing the Initiative willingly conducting brutal experiments on Oz simply because he wasn't completely human despite Riley vouching for the fact that he wasn't dangerous, Riley turned his back on them and helped the Scoobies break Oz out of the complex[12].


The fall of the Initiative.

Adam quickly began the final stages of his plan, convincing the vampires and demons of Sunnydale to work together, with many of them allowing the Initiative to capture them. Adam's plan was simple: he intended to fill the Initiative facilities with demons and then unleash them on the soldiers by unlocking their cells from Professor Walsh's secret laboratory. Afterward, he and his minions would recover body parts from the slaughter and fashion a new race formed from man, demon, and machine. Knowing that Buffy would be able to even the casualties before being killed herself, Adam recruited Spike to isolate her from her friends, planning to trap her in the facility as well; though Spike briefly succeeded[13], he soon let too much information about the plot slip during a subsequent encounter with Buffy, and the group reconciled and set about stopping Adam.

To assist him in his plan, Adam created a second biomechanical demonoid from the corpse of the recently slain Forrest Gates and reanimated Professor Walsh and Dr. Angleman as mindless zombies to do so. However, the Scoobies used the powerful enjoining spell to combine their essences and powers within Buffy's body, allowing her to overpower and destroy Adam. Subsequently, the Scoobies, assisted by Spike, who had been double-crossed by Adam, joined with the Initiative's soldiers to stop the demon attacks, saving most of them with only 40% casualties amongst the Initiative.

With this, the government decided to shut down the Initiative for good, and remove any paper trail of its existence, deeming it and its operations a failure[14].


Following the Initiative's closure, the Army maintained operations in hunting demons, incorporating many of the trained Initiative soldiers, including Riley Finn. They hunted down demon nests in the United States, as well as foreign countries. The goals of the Army now aligned closely with those of the Slayer: protecting people from demons and preventing demon threats from spreading[15].

Searching for way to retire Spike's chip, the ensouled vampire and Buffy visit the remains of the secret base, where they find burned bodies before to be attacked by a feral surviving demon. The Military make a surprising apparition and extract the chip[16]

Years later, the Scoobies would compare the Twilight Group to the Initiative[17][18].


  • In 'Out of Mind, Out of Sight' we see invisible schoolgirl Marcie Ross recruited by two government agents and trained to be an assassin. Whilst we are never informed that they are definitely part of the Initiative it would substantiate Riley's assertion in Buffy vs. Dracula that they have been active on Sunnydale for several years prior to the Scoobies encountering them at UCSD.
    • In the comic storyline Haunted- which reveals that the Mayor's spirit managed to survive his death for a time by possessing vampires and other deceased bodies- the Mayor's current vampire body was briefly captured by the Initiative shortly after graduation, with Wilkins musing that he had no idea a facility like this existed in his town.
  • The existence of a secret government/corporate organisation dealing with the bizarre/supernatural is a recurring theme in Joss Whedon's works and can be seen with SHIELD in 'Agents of SHIELD', The Conspiracy in 'Cabin in the Woods', the Blue Gloves in 'Firefly', Rossum in 'Dollhouse' and the successors to The Company in 'Alien Resurrection'. Fans theorize that they may all be different branches of the same organisation.

Known Members

Commanders and leaders

Agents and soldiers


Facility locations



  1. "Why We Fight"
  2. "Out of My Mind"
  3. "Buffy vs. Dracula"
  4. "Fear Itself"
  5. "Wild at Heart"
  6. "The Initiative"
  7. "Pangs"
  8. "Hush"
  9. "Doomed"
  10. "The I in Team"
  11. "Goodbye Iowa"
  12. "New Moon Rising"
  13. "The Yoko Factor"
  14. "Primeval"
  15. "Into the Woods"
  16. "The Killer in Me"
  17. The Long Way Home, Part Three
  18. The Long Way Home, Part Four