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"Dead Man's Party" is the second episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the thirty-sixth episode in the series. Written by Marti Noxon and directed by James Whitmore Jr., it was originally broadcast October 6, 1998, on The WB.


NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD — After months of being away, Buffy finds life back in Sunnydale less than welcoming with Xander and Willow involved in their own romantic twosomes and Principal Snyder sticking to his guns about expelling her from school. Despite the awkward reunion, the gang must try to come together to face a new undead threat.[1]


Joyce is hanging up a Nigerian mask given to her by a friend at the gallery while Buffy finishes unpacking. Joyce reluctantly allows Buffy to go to find her friends, who are coordinating a vampire hunt via walkies-talkies. Buffy stumbles upon them and assists the Scooby Gang in staking the vampire. They're surprised at her sudden and unannounced return. They all head to Giles' apartment, surprising him as well. Later, the group discuss the news that Buffy is no longer wanted for Kendra's murder and speculate on where Buffy went during the summer. Meanwhile, Giles smiles in relief to see Buffy again.

The next day, Joyce takes Buffy to see Principal Snyder, who takes vindictive pleasure in keeping Buffy from re-entering Sunnydale High School, even though she no longer has criminal charges against her. In the car, Joyce discusses the idea of sending Buffy to a private school before dropping her off at the Espresso Pump coffee shop for a scheduled meeting with Willow. Her friend does not show up, and Buffy goes home and meets Pat, a book club member of Joyce's who openly comments Buffy's recent behavior and its impact on Joyce. While fetching fancy "company" plates for a dinner with her friends that Joyce arranged, Buffy finds a dead cat in the basement, which Buffy and Joyce bury. Later that night, the Nigerian mask's eyes glow red, and the dead cat crawls its way out of the grave.

Buffy dreams about Angel. The next morning, she and Joyce discuss her schooling options, and Joyce suggests that Buffy should tell a few people such as Principal Snyder and the police that she is the Slayer. The dead cat then enters the kitchen, surprising them. Giles comes over and remove it in a cage, when he notices the mask on the wall. Giles leaves for the library, and Buffy gets ready to head there with him, but he stops her explaining that she is no longer allowed on school grounds. Later in the library, the gang discuss various "welcome back" dinner scenarios for Buffy, but convince themselves that a big party would be more appropriate. Giles, who is doing research on Buffy's reanimated cat, is distracted by the discussion and overlooks a page in his book showing Joyce's Nigerian mask.

As Buffy prepares for dinner with her friends, the Dingoes Ate My Baby band arrives at Buffy's house without notice and many people from school that she barely knows. Overwhelmed by all of the partygoers, Buffy tries to talk to Willow, but she can't hear her well standing so close to the band. Buffy then tries to talk with Xander and Cordelia, but they are too busy kissing each other. Meanwhile, Joyce is telling Pat in the kitchen how much it means to her to have Buffy back, though it has been harder on her than expected. Overhearing them, Buffy goes upstairs and decides to pack her things again.

At the library, Giles is horrified when he finally finds information on the mask. He tries to phone Buffy's house, but the partygoer who answer the phone fails to properly understand and relay his message with the loud music playing.

Willow finds Buffy in the bedroom and argues with her when she notices that Buffy is trying to leave again. Willow accuses Buffy of just giving up on Sunnydale and for not being there for her during a summer when she needed her help, mentioning big life developments such as dating Oz and dabbling in magic. Willow also accuses Buffy of being so worried about people being angry with her that she didn't bother to ask anyone else how they were doing.

Giles decides to drive to the party, angrily talking to himself about Joyce's decision to hang a cursed mask as decoration. Suddenly, he accidentally hits a man standing in the road. Giles gets out of his car and discovers that the man is a reanimated corpse. Giles barely escapes oncoming zombies as other dead bodies rise all over Sunnydale.

Joyce walks in on Buffy packing to run away again and they go downstairs, where she continues to chastise Buffy regardless of the people watching them. Joyce argues that her daughter is willing to put her through the misery of not knowing where she is again. Xander decides to weigh in the discussion, telling Buffy that running away was selfish. Cordelia attempts to talk about Buffy's perspective, and Oz tries to keep everyone calm. As the tension escalates, the newly reanimated zombies crash through the windows and doors, interrupting the Scoobies' argument and making them band together to combat the threat. Meanwhile, several guests are killed and become zombies themselves. Oz and Cordelia hide in a downstairs closet, while Buffy and others rush upstairs with a gravely-injured Pat.

Giles arrives to tell Oz and Cordelia about the mask containing the powers of the zombie demon Ovu Mobani, which means "evil eye." He explains that whichever zombie puts it on becomes the demon incarnate. At that moment, Pat stands up and wears the mask, making other zombies cower down. Buffy soon realizes that the demon's gaze hypnotizes whoever is looking at it when its eyes flash. Buffy pushes the newly demonized Pat out of the window shortly before it could kill Willow. Oz tries to tell Buffy about how to kill it, when he is hypnotized. Buffy uses this opening to plunge a shovel into Pat demon's eyes, depowering and killing it. It vanishes along with all the other zombies. With the demon's defeat, Joyce and the Scoobies reunite again, and the entire group embraces.

The next day, Giles tries to convince Snyder to let Buffy return. When Snyder refuses, Giles warns him that he will take things up with the state supreme court and make life very difficult for him, "professionally." When Snyder still resists, Giles physically intimidates him and asks if he wants to be convinced.

Meanwhile in the coffee shop, Willow tells Buffy about her dabbling in magic. Buffy apologizes for not being there for her, and Willow forgives her, teasing Buffy about having to be "grownup about it." The two then engage into a playful duel of insults.


  • This is the first episode where we see downtown Sunnydale, a street with several shops, most notably the Espresso Pump. The name of the street, Maple Court, will be only revealed in the episode "Shadow."
  • When Buffy meets Xander patrolling, she jokes that it is all fun and games until someone loses an eye. In five years, Xander will indeed lose an eye ("Dirty Girls").
  • It's revealed that, despite what Snyder believed about the police's competence, they did in fact clear Buffy of Kendra's murder in "Becoming, Part One."
  • Snyder refuses to let Buffy back into school, but Joyce gets the school board to overrule him in the next episode, "Faith, Hope & Trick."
  • Giles's rebellious past, first referenced in "The Dark Age," is brought up again when he hot-wires his car and notes that it's "Like riding a bloody bicycle."
  • After the first hint in "Becoming, Part Two," this episode hints again about Principal Snyder's connections with the Mayor. He will finally appear in the episode "Homecoming" and become the Big Bad of the season.
  • Willow makes references to her dabbling in magic since she restored Angel's soul ("Becoming, Part Two").
  • Snyder recommends that Buffy apply to Hot Dog on a Stick as an alternative to her education after he refuses to readmit her to Sunnydale High. Buffy later works as a fry cook in a local fast food chain ("Doublemeat Palace").
  • The concept of reanimated people being controlled by magic is revisited in the Angel episode "The Thin Dead Line," where the zombies are capable of speech and their bodies' decay is undone.



Organizations and titles[]




Death count[]

  • A vampire, staked by Buffy.
  • Unidentified man, killed in a car accident.
  • Unidentified man, died of extensive burns.
  • At least one partygoer, killed by zombies.
  • Pat, killed by a zombie.
  • Ovu Mobani, killed with a shovel to the eyes by Buffy.
  • All zombies, automatically destroyed with Ovu Mobani.

Behind the scenes[]



  • The episode received a Nielsen rating of 4.3 upon its original airing.[2]

Deleted scenes[]

  • Joyce describing Snyder was cut:[3]
    Joyce: "Have you ever noticed his teeth? They're like tiny rodent teeth — horrible gnashing little teeth. You just want to pull them out with pliers."

Pop culture references[]

  • Snyder suggests that Buffy go to work in the fast-food chain Hot Dog on a Stick.
  • Pat tells Buffy about Joyce reading the novel The Deep End of the Ocean (1996), which aggravated her emotional state without her daughter. The book tells the story of a suburban family that is torn apart when the youngest son vanishes without a trace.
  • Giles is called "Mr. Belvedere," the title of a sitcom and the name of its main character, a British society butler who takes a job with an American family.
  • Xander quote "Man, this sucker wobbles, but he won't fall down" is a reference to the 1970s advertisement that says: "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down."


  • Four Star Mary — "Never Mind"
  • Four Star Mary — "Pain"
  • Four Star Mary — "Sway"
  • Christophe Beck — "The Mask Theme"
  • Christophe Beck — original score

International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Մահացածի խնջույքը" (The Feast of the Dead)
  • Czech: "Noc oživlých mrtvol" (Night of the Living Dead)
  • Finnish: "Kuolleen miehen juhlat" (Feast of the Dead Man)
  • French: "Le masque de Cordolfo" (Cordolfo's Mask)
  • German: "Die Nacht der lebenden Toten" (Night of the Living Dead)
  • Hungarian: "Holtak estje" (Night of the Dead)
  • Italian: "La festa dei morti viventi" (The Party of the Living Dead)
  • Japanese: "死人パーティ" (Dead Man's Party)
  • Polish: "Impreza z zombi" (Party with Zombies)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "A Festa dos Mortos" (The Party of the Dead)
  • Romanian: "Cheful omului mort" (Dead Man's Mood)
  • Russian: "Вечеринка мертвеца" (Dead Man's Party)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "La fiesta del muerto" (The Party of the Dead)
  • Spanish (Spain): "La fiesta del muerto" (The Party of the Dead)
  • Swedish: "Död Mans Fest" (Dead Man's Party)



Behind the scenes[]



Buffy: "Well, if it's okay. I'd like to find Willow and Xander."
Joyce: "Will you be slaying?"
Buffy: "Only if they give me lip."
Buffy: "I got in a few hours ago, but, I went to go see my mom first."
Giles: "Yes. Yes, of course. How did you find her?"
Buffy: "Well, I pretty much remembered the address."
Willow: "Y'know, I'm having all sorts of... I'm dating, I'm having serious dating with a werewolf. And I'm studying witchcraft and killing vampires, and I didn't have anyone to talk to about all this scary life stuff."
Giles: "Unbelievable! 'Do you like my mask? Isn't it pretty? It raises the dead.' Americans!"
Buffy: "Fine. Okay. I'm the bad. I can take my lumps... for a while."
Willow: "Alright. I'll stop giving you a hard time... runaway."
Buffy: "Will!"
Willow: "I'm sorry... quitter."
Buffy: "Whiner."
Willow: "Bailer."
Buffy: "Harpy."
Willow: "Delinquent."
Buffy: "Tramp."
Willow: "Bad seed."
Buffy: "Witch."
Willow: "Freak."


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy.com. Archived from the original on February 15, 2001.
  2. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Third Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.
  3. Nancy Holder, Jeff Mariotte, and Maryelizabeth Hart. The Watcher's Guide, Volume 2. Pocket Books, October 2000.