- “I know what you're thinking: 'Crazy Preacher Man, spoutin' off about the Whore of Babylon' or some such. That ain't me. I'm not here to lecture you. What's the point? My words just curdle in your ears, you don't take in a thing. So much filth inside your head, ain't no room for the words of truth.”
- The First: “All these girls...they followed you willingly. You tricked them.”
- Caleb: “I only told them the truth.”
- — The First and Caleb[src]
Prior to becoming the right-hand man of the First Evil, Caleb was a defrocked priest and serial killer responsible for the deaths of at least two girls, whom he lured with his stirring sermons and masculine charm. One of these was Betty; the second girl was apparently a choir girl in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Caleb was responsible for organizing the Harbingers of Death's systematic attacks on the Potential Slayers, as well as their respective Watchers. Caleb was also responsible the bombing of the Watchers Council Headquarters in London, causing the deaths of Quentin Travers and many other Watchers, such as Phillip, Lydia and Nigel. However, while the Council was indeed crippled, a few Watchers, such as Roger Wyndam-Pryce and Duncan Fillworthe, survived the First's onslaught.
After the destruction of the Council, Caleb traveled to the United States. He presented himself at a Catholic mission in the town of Gilroy. He was welcomed and given food, though he disturbed the mission's members because of his rantings about destiny. Caleb uncovered a secret room which bore an inscription that translated to "It is not for thee. It is for her alone to wield". Afterward, Caleb turned on his benefactors, burning his mark into one of them and killing the rest. Later he seemingly traveled to the women's prison in Stockton, where he tried to have Faith Lehane eliminated by her fellow inmate Debbie, though the would-be-assassin failed in her task.
- “You girls are just burning with righteousness, aren't you? Problem is, you think they're blazing like suns, when really you're matchsticks in the face of the darkness.”
- ―Caleb to Buffy[src]
Afterward, Caleb made his way to Sunnydale, running into a Potential Slayer named Shannon on a highway. Shannon had been on the way to Sunnydale as well, but was targeted by a group of Bringers who drove her right to Caleb's truck. Believing herself to be safe, Shannon told Caleb she was on her way to Revello Drive. Caleb quickly turned on Shannon, burning his mark on the side of her neck, stabbing her in the stomach and throwing her to the highway, knowing she would be found by Willow Rosenberg and Faith. Before injuring her, Caleb gave Shannon a message for Buffy Summers: "I have something of yours".
After arriving in Sunnydale, Caleb set up camp at the Shadow Valley Vineyards, where the Bringers began to dig in order to find the artifact Caleb had been seeking in the Gilroy Mission. Due to Caleb's challenge, the Scooby Gang attacked the Vineyard. In the ensuing fight, Caleb murdered two potential Slayers and effortlessly defeated Buffy, Faith, and Spike. The murders enraged Buffy enough that she was able to knock him down temporarily to allow the group to escape. However, before the Scooby Gang retreated, he also managed to violently gouge out Xander Harris's left eye with his bare hands. Before he could do more, Spike knocked him down and Caleb allowed the group to escape.
- Caleb: “You can't stop me, you don't have the ba-”
- Buffy: “Who does these days?”
- — Buffy kills Caleb in a way that poetically defeats his misogyny. [src]
Caleb confronted Buffy in the Guardian's tomb empowered by a new transfusion of power from the First. Buffy, who had started to be able to fight Caleb better, was no match for him even with the Scythe. As Caleb prepared to kill Buffy with the Scythe, Angel suddenly arrived and knocked Caleb out for a moment, allowing Buffy to recover, although she refused further help from Angel, wanting to finish the job herself. The two fought again and this time Buffy managed to slice Caleb across the stomach with the Scythe, apparently killing him. However, Caleb's recent transfusion of power apparently granted him great endurance and he rose again and knocked Angel out for a final confrontation with Buffy. While still incredibly powerful, his wound apparently weakened him a bit, as Buffy was able to fight more evenly with Caleb. Finally, Buffy killed Caleb by using the Scythe to cut him vertically from the groin up. As Angel regained conscious, aware Buffy had killed Caleb and ready for another round, Buffy jokingly confirmed that Caleb 'split'. The First later confirmed that Buffy did in fact kill him that time.
Some time later, the First Evil appeared to Buffy, manifesting under the guise of the slain Caleb. The First lectured Buffy on the futility of her campaign against it, and it is this meeting that encourages Buffy to come up with her plan to activate the remaining Potentials to full Slayer status using the essence of the Scythe.
Buffy later dreamed that Caleb was again alive, in the home of The Seed of Wonder, with her claiming "I left you in a smoking crater." After he lectures Buffy while she's devastated by her two vampire lovers, Angel and Spike, kissing each other, the dream changes to Caleb heading the wedding ceremony of Buffy and a skinless Warren Mears.
Caleb was also one of the red herrings thought to be behind the mask of Twilight. When Buffy attempted to cut Twilight in half by the crotch, he retorted with, "I know that move, Slayer." Twilight was eventually revealed to be Angel, who was present when Buffy defeated Caleb.
Powers and abilities
- “You're in me. Gave me strength no man can have.”
- ―Caleb to The First[src]
Caleb's body served as a vessel for the power of the noncorporeal First Evil. With the exception of Glory, and possibly Adam, Caleb's strength dwarfed that of Buffy's previous adversaries, able to shatter solid concrete with his bare hands and send an opponent flying for dozens of feet with a single blow. The merger also temporarily turned Caleb's eyes solid black and mutated his blood into a thick oily substance.
In their first encounter, he effortlessly defeated the entire Scooby Gang and their large numbers of Potentials, even managing to outmatch the combined might of Buffy, Faith, and Spike, however, neither of these knew what they were up against and were unprepared. With more experience against him and Caleb's powers starting to wane, this diminished over time in Buffy's case with the two fighting nearly evenly before he is empowered again. Caleb's empowerment also allowed him to survive lethal injuries, as demonstrated when he revived after being severely wounded with the Scythe. However, this may have weakened him some as Buffy had a somewhat easier time defeating him afterward though he still possessed incredible power. Because of how powerful he was, it took cutting him in half to kill him completely, something that the First confirmed did work.
Caleb also possessed a degree of psychic abilities, able to detect the aura and powers of his opponents, track them, and read their minds.
- “Your strength is waning. It's been a while since we've... merged.”
- ―The First[src]
However, Caleb's powers were only temporary, requiring periodical mergers with the First's manifestation in order to sustain it.
Personality and traits
- “You were born dirty. Born without a soul, born with that gaping maw that wants to open up and suck out a man's marrow. Makes me puke to think too hard on it.”
- ―Caleb's view of women[src]
Behind his priest's collar, Caleb was a sadistic misogynist. Impressed by his body's fortitude as well as his single-minded nature, the First Evil made him the commander of its campaign of carnage and mayhem. He liked to reenact his killings by asking the First to take on the form of the girls he killed, so that he may "kill them again." Caleb was also quite likely insane. Given that The First chose Caleb of all humans, and presumably demons, as its general, it can be assumed that Caleb was one of the most evil living beings on the planet.
- “She didn't know the good news, the glory that was coming. That'd be you. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.”
- ―Caleb to the First[src]
Caleb often delivered quasi-biblical quotes, frequently even making allusions to his belief that the First was actually God. Caleb seemed to quote the Old Testament in order to support his own twisted beliefs. For example, his views on women being evil related to his views on Eve, the biblical first female (in the Jewish and Christian book of Genesis), and how she gave Adam, the first created man and first created human, the forbidden fruit. When the First asked Caleb if he thought the First was God, Caleb replied that he believed the First is beyond such definition.
Caleb also commented further on his admiration of the First, when it (under the guise of Buffy) vocalized its envy of humans' ability to feel lust and engage in primal sexual acts and/or violence. Caleb dismissed them all as "sinners," commenting enthusiastically that the First is miles beyond that, for it is "Sin" itself.
Behind the scenes
- He was portrayed by Nathan Fillion.
- Nathan Fillion is one of four actors who had appeared on Whedon's Firefly series who later played a villain on one of Whedon's other shows, along with Gina Torres and Adam Baldwin, who respectively portrayed Jasmine and Marcus Hamilton. Jasmine and Caleb played big bads simultaneously in Buffy Season 7, and Angel Season 4. All of them were also some of the most physically powerful villains in terms of strength on the respective shows. The fourth was Alan Tudyk, who played "Alpha" in Dollhouse.
- Nathan Fillion later starred with Kathryn Joosten (Genevieve Holt), Shawn Pyfrom (Hans Strauss), Pat Crawford Brown (Wig Lady), John Rubinstein (Linwood Murrow), Ridge Canipe (Tommy), Nick Chinlund (Ellis), Justina Machado (Jo) and Julie Benz (Darla) on Desperate Housewives. Additionally, Dagney Kerr (Kathy Newman), Patricia Bethune (Mrs. Kalish) and Ron Melendez (James) appeared in an episode.
- When asked about Caleb's religious connections, Joss Whedon said "I'm not coming down against priests. This guy clearly is not one."
- Caleb was introduced, according to Joss Whedon, because the mutable, non-corporeal nature of the First Evil "meant that we didn't really have anything to push against. We needed... a sidekick. Somebody physical that we can see from episode to episode." Whedon describes him as "the creepiest priest", adding "he is the most bold-faced misogynist we've had since, well, since last year, with Warren."
- Caleb could be considered a true polar opposite to Nathan Fillion's previous Joss Whedon created character (Malcom Reynolds) in many ways. While Caleb is a villain, Mal was the hero of the story, and while Caleb is a defrocked priest, Mal lost his faith during the war several year before the Firefly series. Perhaps the most ironic, however, is their respective views on women, Caleb being an extreme misogynist, while Mal seemed to have a deep respect for women in general.
- Nathan Fillion later starred the principal role on Castle. This show include also many actors of Buffyverse like Randall Batinkoff (Jeffrey Kramer), Ken Lerner (Robert Flutie), Christopher Doyle (Colin), Chad Lindberg (David Kirby), Tamara Braun (Tara (vampire)), Gil Birmingham (Peru Man), Carlease Burke (Winslow), Mary-Pat Green (Joan), Nicole Bilderback (Asiatic Cordette), Channon Roe (Jack O'Toole), Alex Skuby (Vincent/Harlan), Ethan Erickson (Percy West), Marc Blucas (Riley Finn), Aldis Hodge (Unidentified Masked Teen), Leonard Roberts (Forrest Gates), Josh Randall (Bartender), Colby French (Tay), Chet Grissom (Clark), Conor O'Farrell (McNamara), John Kapelos (Ronald Meeks), Brett Rickaby (young Denver), Angel Parker (Veronica), Erik Betts (Brown), Nick Chinlund (Ellis), Jim Piddock (The Valet), Oliver Muirhead (Phillip), Matt Champagne (Gene Rainey), Darby Stanchfield (Denise), Thomas Kopache (old Denver), Stephanie Nash (Mrs. Kramer), Sam Ayers (Baby Killer Demon), Christopher May (Male Customer), David J. Miller (Rat-faced demon, Jordan Belfi (Ryan (Smashed)), Susan Ruttan (Doris Kroeger), Brett Wagner (Nahdrah Prince/Bohg'dar demon), Bernard K. Addison (Root Monster), Jeff Denton (Stevie/Pelletti), Patrick St. Esprit (Jenoff), Amy Hathaway (Christine), Anthony Starke (Tyke), Ed F. Martin (Mr. Lonegrin), Rick Gonzalez (Tomas), Tom Irwin (Elliot), Brandon Keener (Lance Brooks), Rob Naglle (Robson), Josh Braaten (Torg), Caroline Lagerfelt (Anne Pratt), Carrie Southworth (Betty), Gina Torres (Jasmine), Jim Abele (Laurence Reilly), Braeden Marcott (Jacob Crane), Michael Maize (Artode), Brendan Hines (Eli), Nick Jaine (Sahrvin Clan Leader), Navi Rawat (Dana), Joel Polis (Captain Franklin) .
- Despite Buffy's aversion to killing humans, she killed Caleb with no hesitation, something previously unseen in her character.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy Season Eight
- Caleb at the Internet Movie Database