Elated with having Buffy back from the dead, her friends never wonder if she may have been in a better place. Only Spike knows the truth and as Buffy struggles to readjust to life she begins a relationship with Spike that torments her as much as it brings her fleeting comfort. Yet even as Buffy fears that the magic that brought her back has somehow changed her, Willow's growing reliance on magic is an addiction she can barely control — and one that threatens everyone.
Giles decides to return to England months after Buffy's death, but on the same day, her friends resurrect her through a powerful spell, believing that her mystical (as opposed to a natural) death in Glory's portal meant that she might have been sent to hell. The season deals largely with her sorrow at being in fact torn from heaven. Struggling with money, taking care of a house, and her sister Dawn, Buffy finds a job at the Doublemeat Palace as she finds herself again in the daily grind. Buffy eventually begins a violent relationship with Spike, which brings momentary relief from her hardships.
She is consistently tormented by the Trio, three nerds from Sunnydale High who have joined to take over the town in an effort that goes from being inane to truly evil. Jonathan, who was featured in earlier seasons mostly as a victim, joins Warren, the architect of a robot girlfriend in Season Five, and Andrew, whose brother Tucker sent hellhounds to the Prom in Season Three.
A persistent subplot involves Willow and her growing abuse of magic. After she is forced to face with the consequences of her addiction, she attempts a difficult withdrawal when her girlfriend Tara is accidentally killed by Warren. Willow descends into darkness and begins a destructive rampage, at first to avenge, but later to relieve her own suffering by bringing on an apocalypse. Xander's unconditional love brings her back and saves the world.
Spike eventually insists that Buffy admit she loves him. When she refuses, Spike attempts to rape her as a way to resume their no-means-yes sexual affair. He then leaves Sunnydale seemingly in search of vengeance, but is awarded his soul after painful trials instead. Rupert Giles departs as a regular character; he would now return only as a special guest.
The main antagonists of this season were the Trio and Willow Rosenberg.
In order of character appearances:
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy (22/22)
- Nicholas Brendon as Xander (22/22)
- Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn (22/22)
- James Marsters as Spike (22/22)
- Alyson Hannigan as Willow (22/22)
- Emma Caulfield as Anya (21/22) (Does not appear in "Normal Again")
- Amber Benson as Tara (17/22) (Does not appear in "Gone", "Doublemeat Palace", "As You Were", "Two to Go" and "Grave")
In order of character appearances:
- Danny Strong as Jonathan (11/22)
- Tom Lenk as Andrew (11/22)
- Adam Busch as Warren (9/22)
- Anthony Stewart Head as Giles (8/22)
- James C. Leary as Clem (6/22)
- Kali Rocha as Halfrek (4/22)
- Elizabeth Anne Allen as Amy (3/22)
- Jeff Kober as Rack (3/22)
- Amelinda Embry as Katrina (2/22)
- Marc Blucas as Riley (1/22)
- Andy Umberger as D'Hoffryn (1/22)
- Dean Butler as Hank (1/22)
- Kristine Sutherland as Joyce (1/22)
|01||"Bargaining, Part One"||October 2, 2001|
|Writer: Marti Noxon||Director: David Grossman|
|Buffy's friends try to cope with Buffy's death and are left to defend Sunnydale without her. Meanwhile a gang of marauding demons threaten to jeopardize their plan to bring the slayer back from the dead. To complicate matters, Giles contemplates leaving Sunnydale to come to terms with the loss.|
|02||"Bargaining, Part Two"||October 2, 2001|
|Writer: David Fury||Director: David Grossman|
|Second part of the season premiere.|
|03||"After Life"||October 9, 2001|
|Writer: Jane Espenson||Director: David Solomon|
|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 click. What they find out is almost as shocking as Buffy's death and resurrection.|
|04||"Flooded"||October 16, 2001|
|Writer: Jane Espenson, Douglas Petrie||Director: Douglas Petrie|
|Buffy's readjustment to the land of the living is not going so hot. Her basement is flooded, she's bankrupt and — oh yes — the M'Fashnik Demon is hellbent on killing her. Also: Giles returns; a trio of slackers plots the takeover of Sunnydale.|
|05||"Life Serial"||October 23, 2001|
|Writers: David Fury, Jane Espenson||Director: Nick Marck|
|Jonathan, Warren and Andrew test Buffy's abilities — and patience — with a secret campaign of harassment. The Slayer struggles to readjust to life in Sunnydale by attending classes with Willow and working with Xander.|
|06||"All the Way"||October 30, 2001|
|Writer: Steven S. DeKnight||Director: David Solomon|
|In a quirky and erudite episode, a sudden announcement sends the Scooby Gang into celebration mode on Halloween, but plenty of frights come to light when Dawn disappears. Anya, who has been bugging Xander to announce their engagement for months, finally gets her wish. After Xander drops his bombshell, Buffy and company throw a party for the couple. Only then do they realize that Dawn has sneaked out with a friend. Out on the town, the younger Summers winds up meeting a teen who craves more than just mischief.|
|07||"Once More, with Feeling"||November 6, 2001|
|Writer: Joss Whedon||Director: Joss Whedon|
|Series creator Joss Whedon wrote, directed and composed the music for this episode in which a mysterious force impels the Scooby Gang to burst into song. Even Buffy devotees may be hard-pressed to find an episode as off-the-wall as this, as Sunnydale denizens become players in production numbers in which cast members do their own vocals. Hear Tara sing about her love for Willow! See Xander and Anya perform a duet! Listen to Buffy croon about her lack of life direction! Who's behind the music? Dawn provides the key.|
|08||"Tabula Rasa"||November 13, 2001|
|Writer: Rebecca Rand Kirshner||Director: David Grossman|
|Despite Tara's misgivings about her overindulgence in witchcraft, Willow tries to cheer Buffy up by making the Slayer forget the idyllic afterlife she left behind. Alas, the spell goes awry and affects the minds of all the Scoobies.|
|09||"Smashed"||November 20, 2001|
|Writer: Drew Z. Greenberg||Director: Turi Meyer|
|Buffy's rejection of his amorous advances gives Spike a headache that renews his primal impulses; Willow reverts a former classmate to her old self; Jonathan, Warren and Andrew pull a heist with the help of supercool new weapon.|
|10||"Wrecked"||November 27, 2001|
|Writer: Marti Noxon||Director: David Solomon|
|Buffy's tryst with Spike leaves the Slayer shaken to the core; Willow falls victim to a warlock who stimulates her craving for magic.|
|11||"Gone"||January 8, 2002|
|Writer: David Fury||Director: David Fury|
|Buffy's efforts to help Willow's recovery are disrupted by a run-in with an intrusive social worker and a spat with Spike. Then, she's mistakenly zapped by an invisibility ray wielded by Jonathan, Warren and Andrew. At least she gets a new hairdo.|
|12||"Doublemeat Palace"||January 29, 2002|
|Writer: Jane Espenson||Director: Nick Marck|
|Buffy thinks she smells something rotten after she takes a job at a fast-food restaurant that soon has her wondering about the "secret ingredient" in the burgers. Hurting for cash, the Slayer takes a job at Doublemeat Palace, where her fellow employees don't respond well to her sense of humor. "Levity is a time thief that picks the pocket of the company," explains one co-worker. But it's Buffy's growing concern that something demonic might be going on that really turns her stomach. Also, Anya's old friend Halfrek pays an unexpected visit and questions whether Xander is the right man for her; and Willow tries her best to stay away from magic.|
|13||"Dead Things"||February 5, 2002|
|Writer: Steven S. DeKnight||Director: James A. Contner|
|Spike attacks Buffy — despite the chip in his head that is supposed to defuse his violence. Then, the Slayer's framed for murder by nerdy nemeses Andrew, Warren and Jonathan.|
|14||"Older and Far Away"||February 12, 2002|
|Writer: Drew Z. Greenberg||Director: Michael Gershman|
|Lonely Dawn feels like the odd-girl out when the Scooby Gang throws a party in honor of Buffy's birthday, leading to a fateful wish that leaves the Slayer and her friends in a fix.|
|15||"As You Were"||February 26, 2002|
|Writer: Douglas Petrie||Director: Douglas Petrie|
|Consumed by professional and personal disappointment, Buffy is jolted from ennui by the reappearance of her old beau Riley, who needs her Slayer skills to track down a demon called the Doctor. He also has some startling news to share about his private life. Meanwhile, Anya and Xander struggle to finalize their wedding arrangements.|
|16||"Hell's Bells"||March 5, 2002|
|Writer: Rebecca Rand Kirshner||Director: David Solomon|
|On the day of his wedding to Anya, Xander gets cold feet about their prospective life together when an odd stranger offers him a glimpse into the future.|
|17||"Normal Again"||March 12, 2002|
|Writer: Diego Gutierrez||Director: Rick Rosenthal|
|A demon doses Buffy with a powerful chemical that causes her to hallucinate, convincing the Slayer her parents are alive and Dawn never existed.|
|18||"Entropy"||April 30, 2002|
|Writer: Drew Z. Greenberg||Director: James A. Contner|
|Still smarting from being jilted at the altar by Xander, Anya seeks advice from Halfrek; Buffy tries to bond with Dawn while avoiding Spike; Andrew, Jonathan and Warren experiment with a talisman; Willow asks Tara out for coffee.|
|19||"Seeing Red"||May 7, 2002|
|Writer: Steven DeKnight||Director: Michael Gershman|
|Buffy's ongoing tussle with a trio of would-be supervillains intensifies in an episode packed with imaginative plot twists. Buffy goes looking for trouble in the lair of Warren, Andrew and Jonathan, the three nerds obsessed with her destruction, and she nearly falls victim to a booby trap of buzz saws. But that's the least of the Slayer's worries. With a little help from his friends, Warren acquires the Orbs of Nezzla'khan, a pair of demonic talismans that he says imbue him with "strength, invulnerability... the deluxe package," thus setting the stage for a fateful showdown.|
|20||"Villains"||May 14, 2002|
|Writer: Marti Noxon||Director: David Solomon|
|Buffy tries to recover from an assassination attempt; Jonathan and Andrew share a jail cell; Warren seeks allies at a demon bar; Anya is confronted by a distraught Willow.|
|21||"Two to Go"||May 21, 2002|
|Writer: Douglas Petrie||Director: Bill L. Norton|
|In the first of a two-part sixth-season finale, Buffy, Anya and Xander race to the Sunnydale police station to try to save Jonathan and Andrew from a sorceress; Dawn persuades Clem to take her to Rack; Spike's stamina and courage are put to the test by a mysterious demon.|
|22||"Grave"||May 21, 2002|
|Writer: David Fury||Director: James A. Contner|
|In the second part of the sixth-season finale, a magical friend helps the Scooby Gang try to stop a sorceress. But the witch still has a few tricks up her sleeve — and an unwilling assistant. Also: Spike's African sojourn comes to a climax.|
Behind the scenes
- This was the first of two seasons in which Buffy aired not on the WB Television Network, but on the United Paramount Network (UPN).
- Season 6 had a series of promotional clips in advertisement for the season's debut and campaign for the series' move to UPN.
- This season earned the series Emmy Award "outstanding hairstyling", "outstanding makeup (non-prosthetic)", and "outstanding makeup (prosthetic)" nominations for episode "Hell's Bells"; as well as a "outstanding music direction" nomination for "Once More, with Feeling". The musical episode won the Hugo Awards category "best dramatic presentation."
- This is the only season of either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel that does not feature an appearance by Angel. However, Buffy and Angel had an off-screen meeting, between episodes "Flooded" and "Life Serial".
- This is the only season not to feature Sunnydale High School, not the original, the rebuilt nor the destroyed remains.
- Joss Whedon has stated about this season: "Okay, Buffy's come back from the dead, so you have to deal with that in a big way. Season six was basically about, 'Okay, we're grownups. We have no mentor, we have no mother, we have no parental figures. We're dealing with marriage and alcoholism and a really abusive relationship. We're dealing with someone who is practically suicidally depressed'. It's weird, but people didn't respond to that so much. Also, the metaphor of sex has become very graphic and real. What were mystical demons have become three nerds with guns. Very real death, very mundane. The idea was to break down the mythic feeling of the show, because there is a moment at childhood when you no longer get that. Everything isn't bigger than life; it's actual size. It's real loss. At the same time, there's the darker side of power and Buffy's guilt about her power and her feeling about coming back to the world. And her getting into a genuinely unhealthy relationship with Spike that was all about dominance, control and, ultimately, deep misogyny. How lost did we get? Well, our villain turned out to be Willow."
- ↑ Buffy the Vampire Slayer awards and nominations
- ↑ Ed Gross, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Turns 20: Joss Whedon Looks Back". Empire, March 9, 2017.