The first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer originally aired on The WB television network from March 10 to June 2, 1997. It served as a mid-season replacement for the soap opera Savannah and only contained 12 episodes.
After moving to Sunnydale, California, Buffy Anne Summers just wants to be a normal teenager. Back in Los Angeles, her first Watcher had died; she inadvertently burned down the school gymnasium at her old high school; and her parents got a divorce. The move to Sunnydale is supposed to give both her and her mother, Joyce, a clean slate. But then she meets the school librarian, Rupert Giles, and quickly learns there is no escaping her destiny.
With Giles as her new Watcher, she reluctantly steps back into her role as the Slayer. But this time she is not fighting alone. She now has an inner circle of special friends — Willow, Xander, Cordelia, and a mysterious young man named Angel — ready to join the fight and drive in a stake or two if need be.
The first season began several months after the events of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, with Buffy Summers arriving in Sunnydale with her mother, Joyce.
After moving with the hopes of leaving her Slayer duties behind, Buffy inevitably came into contact with her Watcher, the librarian Rupert Giles, and the two friends who would fight demons alongside her through the series. They soon realized that Sunnydale High was located on a Hellmouth, a portal to demon dimensions, which attracted supernatural phenomena to the area.
The first season included mostly standalone episodes, exploring the problems faced by the student population as a result of the centrality of the Hellmouth that it has. Such issues explored include: ignored students turning invisible; witches; demon teachers; and the never-ending supply of vampires.
With the high emphasis on teenage angst and metaphorical nature of the episodes, Buffy's inevitable love interest came in the form of Angel, who frequently turned up with cryptic warnings for Buffy. However, the relationship became complicated when the truth about Angel's past is uncovered. Angel is a vampire with a soul that was restored by the Romani Clan Kalderash many years prior to the series' beginning.
The overarching plot concerned the Master's attempts to reach the surface. He was an ancient and very powerful vampire who was trapped by an earthquake caused by his attempt to open the Hellmouth decades ago. Buffy and her comrades managed to stop each supernatural threat, typically employing a combination of detective work, frequent physical combat, and extensive research of both ancient mystical texts and computer-accessible records.
Ultimately, the Master recruited a prophesied Anointed One who brought Buffy to her death in The Master's underground prison. He used her blood to escape to the roof of Sunnydale High, but she is quickly revived by Xander, who had tracked her with the help of an unfed Angel. She managed to throw the Master onto a shard of wood, and the Hellmouth is closed.
The main antagonist of this season was the Master.
In order of character appearances:
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy (12/12)
- Nicholas Brendon as Xander (12/12)
- Alyson Hannigan as Willow (12/12)
- Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia (10/12) (Does not appear in "The Pack" and "I Robot, You Jane")
- Anthony Stewart Head as Giles (12/12)
In order of character appearances:
- Kristine Sutherland as Joyce (7/12)
- David Boreanaz as Angel (7/12)
- Mark Metcalf as Master (6/12)
- Ken Lerner as Flutie (4/12)
- Andrew J. Ferchland as Collin (4/12)
- Julie Benz as Darla (3/12)
- Eric Balfour as Jesse (2/12)
- Robia LaMorte as Jenny (2/12)
- William Monaghan as Gregory (2/12)
- Mercedes McNab as Harmony (2/12)
- Armin Shimerman as Snyder (2/12)
- Brian Thompson as Luke (2/12)
- Jeffrey Steven Smith as Adam (2/12)
- Elizabeth Anne Allen as Amy (1/12)
- Dean Butler as Hank (1/12)
|01||"Welcome to the Hellmouth"||March 10, 1997|
|Writer: Joss Whedon||Director: Charles Martin Smith|
|Buffy Summers and her mom move to Sunnydale, California, for a fresh start, unaware of the evil lurking in this quiet suburb. Somewhat reluctant in her role as the slayer, Buffy quickly makes friends and enemies at her new school. While also meeting her new "Watcher," Giles, the mercurial school librarian, her newly assembled team encounters the ever-abundant unearthly creatures in Sunnydale.|
|02||"The Harvest"||March 10, 1997|
|Writer: Joss Whedon||Director: John T. Kretchmer|
|Second part of the series premiere.|
|03||"Witch"||March 17, 1997|
|Writer: Dana Reston||Director: Stephen Cragg|
|When students start dropping out of cheerleading tryouts by spontaneously combusting, going blind and losing the power of speech, Buffy and her posse suspect a powerful witch is in their midst. Buffy herself soon becomes the target of a deadly spell as they discover the witch's true identity. Meanwhile, Xander finally musters up the nerve to ask Buffy out on a date but in the throes of a witch's spell, Buffy's response isn't exactly as he'd hoped.|
|04||"Teacher's Pet"||March 25, 1997|
|Writer: David Greenwalt||Director: Bruce Seth Green|
|A substitute teacher's infatuation with Xander is flattering to the lovesick teen, but alarming to Buffy.|
|05||"Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"||March 31, 1997|
|Writers: Rob Des Hotel, Dean Batali||Director: David Semel|
|Buffy tries to maintain some semblance of a normal teenage social life by opting for a hot date instead of helping Giles protect Sunnydale from a violent vampire prophecy. As she's blinded by love, Buffy ignores the signs of the dark forces aligning against her. Meanwhile, while Buffy's being romanced, The Master is plotting her demise by invoking the wrath of the "Anointed One," a great warrior vampire who is The Master's most powerful weapon against the slayer.|
|06||"The Pack"||April 7, 1997|
|Writers: Matt Kiene, Joe Reinkemeyer||Director: Bruce Seth Green|
|When Buffy and the rest of Sunnydale High endure the annual field trip to the zoo, Xander and some other kids sneak into the quarantined hyena exhibit, but leave in an altered state. It's up to Buffy, Giles and Willow to discover the cause behind Xander's bizarre behavior and reverse the transformation before it's too late. Meanwhile, Xander's new aggressive demeanor doesn't play well with his old friends.|
|07||"Angel"||April 14, 1997|
|Writer: David Greenwalt||Director: Scott Brazil|
|While Buffy grows more and more annoyed with Angel's mysterious disappearing act, she can't deny her growing obsession with him. Meanwhile, it's killing Xander that Buffy doesn't have a clue how he feels about her and, as he vents his frustrations to Willow, she knows all too well how he feels. And in the underworld, The Master is incensed that Buffy has taken the lives of so many members of his family, and he summons warrior vampires to annihilate her.|
|08||"I Robot, You Jane"||April 28, 1997|
|Writers: Ashley Gable, Thomas A. Swyden||Director: Stephen Posey|
|Buffy and Giles face a demon spirit who has been trapped since the Dark Ages and is unleashed into cyberspace. Meanwhile, Willow has fallen for a cyber-beau whom she met online and Xander and Buffy are wary of who this anonymous wooer may turn out to be.|
|09||"The Puppet Show"||May 5, 1997|
|Writers: Rob Des Hotel, Dean Batali||Director: Ellen S. Pressman|
|Sunnydale High School's annual talent show serves as a backdrop for murder when Buffy must catch a knife-wielding stealer of human organs. Meanwhile, the new principal is a discipline-loving brute who forces Giles to run the talent show and orders Buffy, Xander, and Willow to perform.|
|10||"Nightmares"||May 12, 1997|
|Writers: Joss Whedon, David Greenwalt||Director: Bruce Seth Green|
|The world of nightmares and reality become one when everyone in Sunnydale is living out their worst fears. While Xander comes to school in his underwear and Giles is unable to read, Buffy must unravel the mystery before reality folds completely into the world of nightmares.|
|11||"Out of Mind, Out of Sight"||May 19, 1997|
|Writers: Joss Whedon, Ashley Gable, Thomas A. Swyden||Director: Reza Badiyi|
|Buffy and Cordelia become unlikely allies to combat an invisible spirit that has targeted Cordelia and everyone around her. Meanwhile, Angel goes to Giles to warn him that Buffy could be in grave danger.|
|12||"Prophecy Girl"||June 2, 1997|
|Writer: Joss Whedon||Director: Joss Whedon|
|Buffy wants to resign from her life of slaying when Giles uncovers an ancient prophesy that spells out her deadly fate, as the Master's ascension from the Hellmouth is at hand. As the earth begins to crack open, Xander, Willow and Cordelia face an army of demons and the prophetic end of the world. Meanwhile, Xander finally asks Buffy to the prom with equally disastrous consequences.|
Behind the scenes
- This is the only seasons of both shows in which there are only 12 episodes as opposed to the normal 22.
- Joss Whedon has stated about this season: "In season one, we found that we had a show that people liked. I really thought people were going to laugh at the Buffy/Angel thing and say, 'Well, he's a vampire. This is so hokey'. But they couldn't get enough of it. It definitely made me realize the soap opera aspect of it; a continuing story of the romance and the people and their emotions was really what was fascinating. The monsters were all very well and good, but in the first season we were, like, 'Let's take our favorite horror movies and turn them into high school stories'."
- ↑ Ed Gross, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Turns 20: Joss Whedon Looks Back". Empire, March 9, 2017.