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"After Life" is the third episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the 103rd episode in the series. Written by Jane Espenson and directed by David Solomon, it was originally broadcast on October 9, 2001, on the UPN network.


Buffy has been resurrected from the grave and although she's a bit shaken from her return trip from a hell dimension, everything would appear to be falling back into place. Or is it? After re-associating Buffy (who we find out has been dead for one-hundred and forty-seven days) with her once familiar surroundings and friends, strange things begin happening.

Did the gang bring back a tortured and evil Buffy from the grave? Or, did something else come with her? Why is Spike suddenly returning to his romantic days? Our two fave mega-witches, Willow and Tara, start hitting the books to find out why several demonic possessions are taking place within the clique. What they find out is almost as shocking as Buffy's death and resurrection. Are you ready for the first real mono-a-mono death duel since her return.

As Spike puts it, "The thing about magic? There’s always consequences. Always."[1]


The Scooby Gang rush to find Buffy and figure she is at her house. The bikers are on the run now that Razor has been killed. At the house, Buffy is confused and acting weird as she surveys the changed scenery of her house and is told by Dawn that Giles has left. Spike arrives, angry and looking for Dawn. When Dawn and Buffy walk downstairs, Spike speaks to Dawn; although he initially thinks Buffy is the repaired Buffybot, he changes his mind when he gets a clear look at Buffy, while also realizing without being told that Buffy is back. He softens and helps clean up her wounded hands, recognizing the injuries from his own experience of digging himself out of a grave. She asks him long she's been gone; Spike has counted the days, all 147 of them. When the Scooby Gang arrives and immediately surround the Slayer, Spike slips out.

Unable to stand all the concern, Buffy goes upstairs while Xander and Anya leave for food. Outside, the two find a hurt Spike, who's mad that he wasn't told about the plan to resurrect Buffy, despite having helped the gang all summer. He then realizes that his love of Buffy would have made him an obstacle if Buffy returned as something that would have had to have been destroyed. He warns Xander of the consequences they'll have to face, because they always exist with magic.

After notifying Giles of Buffy's return, Willow and Tara go to bed and talk about the spell and changes in Buffy. In her room, Buffy looks at the pictures surrounding her and they briefly turn to pictures of skulls. During the night, Willow and Tara are visited in their room by Buffy, who yells at them and hints at Willow killing the fawn. When the girls get up to investigate, Buffy's asleep in her room and neither knows the source of the incident. A moving lump appears in the ceiling and motivates Willow to call Xander. In the background while Xander talks, Anya enters the room with a knife and smokey eyes, slitting her cheek before collapsing as the lump travels across the floor.

The gang gather the next day for brainstorming, but no one is sure what this thing is and Buffy is still very closed off. At the Magic Box, Buffy still seems out of place and leaves to patrol alone. With Buffy gone, the demon has taken over Dawn, who shouts at her friends and breathes fire before collapsing. Buffy finds Spike at his his crypt and the two talk, rather awkwardly at first. Spike opens up to her, expressing his guilt for failing to save Dawn himself at the top of the tower which forced her to jump. He explains that every night afterward, he replayed the events in his head and always managed to save her and Dawn, noting the only time he didn't do it was the only time it counted. The two then sit together in silence.

Led on by Spike's hinting that Willow knew her spell might do something bad, Xander questions whether either of the witches knew the dangers, but is quickly quieted. Willow reveals that this creature was created by the spell that brought Buffy back. The demon currently does not possess a body, which is why it has been possessing members of the gang. A reversal of the spell will cancel out the creation of the demon, but it can't be done without also reversing Buffy's resurrection.

After Dawn freaks out about the concept of losing Buffy again, Willow discovers that the demon can only survive if Buffy is killed. The demon, which had been housed in Xander's body while Willow shared this information, thanks Willow for the information and heads for the Slayer.

Buffy is attacked by the formless demon which she can't hurt, but she can be hurt by it. Willow and Tara cast a solidification spell on the demon. Buffy kills the now solid demon with an axe. Normality is somewhat resumed as Dawn heads to school the next day and Buffy sees her off. Buffy visits her friends at the magic shop and tells them that she was in Hell and she appreciates that they brought her back.

Buffy goes outside behind the shop to be alone, where she finds Spike hiding in a patch of shade. He tries to talk to her and offers to help her if there is any way he can. She admits to him that although she wasn't initially sure, she knows that she wasn't in Hell, but in heaven, and her friends pulled her out. Spike listens silently as she tells him that this reality is her Hell. As Buffy leaves, she stresses that her friends can never know the truth.


  • When Spike sees Buffy's injured hands in this episode, he says that he knows how it feels to claw your way out of your coffin, since he had done it himself. In the episode "Lies My Parents Told Me" it is revealed that his mother did not know that he was dead, so she could not have had him buried; though, in the Angel episode "Reunion," Angel states that Drusilla has a habit of burying newly made vampires, indicating that she may also have buried Spike after she sired him.
  • Spike grabs and briefly manhandles Xander, despite the implanted microchip that prevents him from harming humans ("The Initiative"); on close examination, Spike can be seen to wince from the pain the chip inflicts for his actions.
  • Anya theorizes that the Scoobies could be haunted by a "hitchhiker"; a phenomenon similar to how Angel Investigations will discuss Jasmine possessing Cordelia in the Angel episode "Inside Out."
  • Spike rides the motorcycle he took from the Hellions in "Bargaining, Part Two." He'll be last seen riding it in "Empty Places."
  • Willow expects Giles to return to Sunnydale in "a couple days," which happens in the next episode, "Flooded."
  • Willow tells Tara that Buffy told her Angel was like an animal ("Beauty and the Beasts") when he came back from his hell dimension ("Faith, Hope & Trick").
  • This is the first time thaumogenesis is mentioned by name. However, the consequences of it have been seen previously in "Superstar," when Jonathan did an augmentation spell and accidentally created a demon.
  • Buffy confides to Spike she was in "heaven" and says her friends can never know about this. She'll be forced to reveal to them in "Once More, with Feeling."
  • In the Angel episode "Inside Out," Skip will mention Buffy coming back from heaven, saying: "You don't come back from Paradise... Well, a Slayer, once."



Organizations and titles[]




Rituals and spells[]

Death count[]

  • Child of Words, beheaded by Buffy with an axe.

Behind the scenes[]


  • "After Life" had an audience of 3.7 million households upon its original airing.[2]
  • The scene in which Anya is possessed by the demon ghost and slashes her face several times was trimmed by SkyOne for the UK broadcast to show her laughing and then collapsing, editing out the face-slashing.


  • During the top down view of the table the possessed Dawn sets fire to, the flamethrower used for the stunt can clearly be seen on the lower right hand corner.


International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Կյանքը մահից հետո" (Life After Death)
  • Czech: "Po životě" (After Life)
  • Finnish: "Vaikea paluu" (Difficult Return)
  • French: "Résurrection" (Resurrection)
  • German: "Gruß aus der Hölle" (Greetings from Hell)
  • Hungarian: "Az élet után" (After Life)
  • Italian: "Il Ritorno" (The Return)
  • Japanese: "来世" (Afterlife)
  • Polish: "Życie po śmierci" (Life After Death)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Vida Após a Morte" (Life After Death)
  • Romanian: "Viața de apoi" (Afterlife)
  • Russian: "Жизнь после смерти" (Life After Death)
  • Spain (Latin America): "Vida Después de la Muerte" (Life After Death)
  • Spain (Spain): "Vida Después de la Muerte" (Life After Death)




Anya: "Well, yeah. The jet-lag from hell has gotta be, you know, jet-lag from hell."
Buffy: "How long was I gone?"
Spike: "Hundred and forty-seven days yesterday. Uh... hundred and forty-eight today. 'Cept today doesn't count, does it? How long was it for you... where you were?"
Buffy: "Longer."
Spike: "Uh, I do remember what I said. The promise... to protect her. If I'd have done that... even if I didn't make it... you wouldn't have had to jump. But I want you to know I did save you. Not when it counted, of course, but... after that. Every night after that. I'd see it all again... do something different. Faster or more clever, you know? Dozens of times, lots of different ways... Every night I save you."
Spike: "Well, I haven't been to a hell dimension just of late, but I do know a thing or two about torment."
Buffy: "I was happy. Wherever I was... I was happy... at peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time... didn't mean anything. Nothing had form. But I was still me, you know? And I was warm. And I was loved. And I was finished. Complete. I... I don't understand theology or dimensions, any of it really... but I think I was in heaven. And now I'm not. I was torn out of there. Pulled out, by my friends. Everything here is hard and bright and violent. Everything I feel, everything I touch. This is Hell. Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that. Knowing what I've lost. They can never know. Never."


  1. "The next tale." Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Archived from the original on December 1, 2001.
  2. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Sixth Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008.