- "The Council fights evil. The Slayer is the instrument with which we fight. The Council remains. The Slayers... change. It's been that way from the beginning."
- ―Quentin Travers[src]
The Watchers Council, colloquially known simply as The Council and sometimes referred as the Watcher Council of Britain, were the governing institution of the Watchers and, up until 1999, Slayers as well. The Council maintains operatives throughout the world in their fight against vampires and demons.
Following the destruction of the Council's headquarters at the hands of Caleb, some of its members remained active on their own. However, some of the Council's resources were absorbed by the Slayer Organization, while other items and information fell into the hands of Wolfram & Hart, as well as a mysterious organization employing cyborgs. Some of the surviving Watchers also became mercenaries or employees of private interests, as was the case of Laura Kay Weathermill.
Following the destruction of Sunnydale, the Scooby Gang reformed the Council, subsequently merging with it to become a global organization dedicated to the training of Slayers; however, when he asked Faith to assassinate Genevieve Savidge for him, Giles claimed that, for all intents and purposes, he was the Watchers' Council. However, following the destruction of the Seed of Wonder, the Slayer Organization disbanded.
By the 23rd century, whatever remnants of the Council that had survived had reduced into a few insane zealots, one of whom set himself on fire in front of the new Slayer, Melaka Fray, to inform her of her calling.
Despite their status as assisting the Slayer, over the years the Council had become increasingly arrogant and egocentric, believing themselves to be the supreme authority while the Slayers were just their tools.
The Watchers' Council has been known to use ethically questionable methods to accomplish its goals. The Council employs a trio of operatives known as the Special Operations Team . This team is responsible for some of the more unsavory aspects of the Council's work, such as interrogations, smuggling, and, if necessary, assassinations. When Faith Lehane stakes and kills a human, the Special Ops Team was dispatched to retrieve the rogue Slayer, circumventing local and international authorities.
The Council is also known for placing its principles and perceived goals ahead of the well-being of the Slayer. A test known as the Cruciamentum involves suppressing the Slayer's natural abilities with a drug and pitting her against a particularly dangerous vampire on the Slayer's eighteenth birthday. When one particular Watcher, Rupert Giles, defies the rules of the test and interferes in the Cruciamentum of his Slayer – Buffy Summers – he is dismissed from his position immediately. Later, when Angel is poisoned and Buffy turns to the Council for help, they refuse to do so despite Angel's unique condition simply because he is a vampire, which results in Buffy severing all ties with the Council for over a year.
In 2001, representatives of the Council visit Sunnydale, California to deliver vital information on the seemingly unstoppable Glory to the Slayer, Buffy Summers. However, the Council refuses to turn over the information until an extensive review of Buffy's abilities is completed. This assessment includes a review of Buffy's combat skills, as well as interviews with her associates. Eventually, the Slayer turns the tables on the Watchers, declaring that they need her to validate their existence more than she needs their help. She defends the frequent assistance of her friends (Slayers typically operate alone) and demands that Rupert Giles be reinstated as her Watcher, with retroactive pay to the time of his dismissal. The Council agrees to this, changing the nature of the Council/Slayer relationship until the Council's destruction two years later. Prior to their destruction, the members of the Council finally realize that their duty is to provide the Slayer with support rather than to tell her what to do from afar with no regard for her personal safety, though they are destroyed by Caleb before they can travel to Sunnydale to do so.
Known members and former members of the Council and their Slayers
- Crowley, Bernard: Nikki Wood
- Dormer, Diana: Faith Lehane
- Fillworthe, Duncan
- Giles, Edna
- Giles, Rupert: Buffy Summers
- Post, Gwendolyn: Faith Lehane
- Merrick: Buffy Summers
- Sirk, Rutherford
- Travers, Quentin
- Weathermill, Laura Kay
- Wyndam-Pryce, Roger
- Wyndam-Pryce, Wesley: Faith Lehane
- Wells, Andrew
- Zabuto, Roger "Sam": Kendra Young
Others The following have featured with no significant details known about them. Not all of these are true Watchers, some of them are merely operatives on payroll.
- Mr. Giles
- Collins, Weatherby and Smith - Watchers Council Special Operations Team
- Faith's nurse
- Wesley's thugs
Watchers in novels and comics
The numerous novels and comics, specially those focusing on previous Slayers, show or mention many other Watchers:
- Michaela Tomassi
- Archibald Lassiter
- Harold Travers
- John Travers
- Yanna Narvik
- Marie-Christine Fontaine
- Trevor Kensington
- Geoffrey Wyndam-Pryce
- Frederich Lichtermann
- Mr. Whiskers