"Doppelgängland" is the sixteenth episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show, and is the fiftieth episode in the series. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, it originally broadcast on February 23, 1999 on The WB network.
A VAMPIRE WILLOW PREYS ON SUNNYDALE — Buffy and the real Willow must save the day when from the bleak alternate universe in which vampires rule Sunnydale, Willow's blood-sucking doppelganger is brought forth into this world and wreaks havoc and confusion on Sunnydale. Meanwhile, Buffy goes into full training mode so she can ace out Faith on the Watchers Council tests, while Faith's unholy new alliance is already paying handsome dividends.
In a local crypt, Anya, who is now a mortal human being, begs the demon D'Hoffryn, her former boss, to create a temporal fold to allow her to go back and retrieve the necklace that was her power center. The demon denies her request, and Anya vows to get the amulet back with or without his help. At school, Willow practices floating a pencil while Buffy does sit-ups in preparation for Slayer testing. When Buffy mentions Faith, Willow loses her emotional control and the pencil goes flying into a tree.
Principal Snyder orders Willow to tutor one of the school's basketball players, Percy West, in History, despite her protests. Later, at the library, Giles asks Willow to make another attempt to break into the Mayor's files. Faith and Wesley come in after training on the obstacle field and Faith finds out about Willow searching through the Mayor's files and informs him of it.
The Mayor presents Faith with a brand new, fully-furnished apartment and then tells her that he plans to have some vampires kill Willow and make it look like a random attack. He plans on getting her out of the way so she is unable to access his computer.
Back at school, Oz meets up with Willow and informs her about a gig Dingoes Ate My Baby had the other night. When Willow confronts Percy about tutoring him, he gives his own interpretation of events: That she is to do his work for him. Buffy and Xander pick the wrong moment to ask Willow if she recorded a TV show for them the other night. Willow, offended at being labeled "old reliable", storms away, threatening to do something irresponsible — change her look, cut class, or eat a snack between meals.
Anya finds Willow and asks her to help her with a spell — some dark magic. Willow, eager to do something shocking and unreliable, agrees. The spell involves chicken feet and the ritual pouring of sand over the representation of the object desired to be pulled out of the alternate dimension. The two perform the spell in an empty classroom, and as it's working, several scary images flash before their eyes. Shocked, Willow moves, accidentally spilling some of the ritual sand on herself. In the reality created by Anya's last spell as a vengeance demon, Willow's vampire counterpart disappears from the factory just moments before she was destined to be staked. After the spell is finished, seemingly unsuccessfully, Willow refuses to try the spell again because she is unnerved by what she saw. In an abandoned warehouse, Vampire Willow appears, looking confused.
Vampire Willow walks through Sunnydale, clearly out of sorts in a world in which humans freely walk the streets at night. She enters the Bronze. Percy finds her and warns her to finish his paper. Vampire Willow throws him across the pool table, then tries to strangle him. Xander breaks up the fight and Vampire Willow recognizes him, only to be disappointed that he is actually alive. Buffy is surprised by Willow's new leather look, and even more surprised when Willow snarls at her with vampire face.
As Buffy and Xander watch her, heartbroken, Vampire Willow leaves the Bronze and is attacked by the two minions of the Mayor sent to kill the human Willow. She easily defeats them and tortures them until they agree to work for her. Her plan is to change this Sunnydale into the one she is used to.
Buffy and Xander return to the library and tell Giles the upsetting news that Willow is dead. The three sit mournfully recalling their friendship with her until the actual Willow shows up. Xander tries to chase her away with a cross, and Willow merely looks puzzled; recognizing that this Willow is not a vampire, her friends simultaneously enfold her in a crushing embrace.
Meanwhile, at the Bronze, Anya tries to get a beer at the bar, claiming she's 1120 years old. The bartender, unfazed by her claim, refuses, so she settles for a Coke. Angel shows up looking for Buffy. Vampire Willow and her new minions appear, taking control of the Bronze. Angel leaves to get Buffy and Oz watches as Vampire Willow kills a a girl. Anya, recognizing what has happened, approaches Vampire Willow with the idea of restoring her to her own world (and Anya's amulet to herself).
Angel goes to the library and announces that Willow is dead, before noticing Willow standing there. They all head for the Bronze, but Willow turns back to get something and is caught by Vampire Willow. The two banter back and forth until Willow finally shoots her evil double with Giles' tranquilizer gun and locks her up in the library cage. Willow ponders how weird it is to be with her double, and how completely opposite she is from herself. Buffy reassures her that there's no similarity at all between a person and the demon they become when they've been turned into a vampire. Angel starts to object that that's not true, but quickly silences himself. At Buffy's suggestion, Willow swaps clothes with her sleeping double. Uncomfortable in the tight, leather attire, Willow does her best to pose as Vampire Willow while the rest of the Scooby Gang wait outside the Bronze.
Cordelia arrives at the library and finds Vampire Willow — wearing Willow's fuzzy pink sweater — locked in the cage. Before releasing Willow, Cordelia takes the opportunity to lecture her on "the ethics of boyfriend stealing." She psychoanalyzes her relationship with Xander, saying part of the thrill of their relationship was the constant danger. Bored out of her mind, Vampire Willow humors Cordelia in order to get her to shut up. It works, and Cordelia lets her out. Vampire Willow shows her vampire face and pursues Cordelia, cornering her in a restroom. Wesley, hearing Cordelia scream, intervenes and forces Vampire Willow to depart. Cordelia hugs him and asks what he's doing that night.
Willow tries to get as many vampires as possible to go outside the Bronze, where they can pick them off one by one. She also surreptitiously signals to Oz that she's herself and not a vampire. Unpersuaded by Willow's unconvincing act at the Bronze, Anya points out to the Vampire Willow's vampire minions that their leader is a fake. Willow screams, signaling Buffy, Angel, and Giles to enter. As they fight the vampires, Willow retreats to the stage with Oz. Vampire Willow then returns, throws Oz out of the way and starts choking Willow. Buffy breaks it up, but Willow shouts for her not to stake Vampire Willow. Despite fully knowing what her evil doppelgänger is capable of, Willow cannot bear to have her staked. She convinces the others to send her back, arguing that Vampire Willow should have the chance to survive in her own world, a suggestion which the doppelgänger accepts. With Anya's help, Vampire Willow is returned to her world; she is transported back to the middle of the brawl in the factory. She has just enough time to smile at being returned to her reality before Oz grabs her and shoves her against a protruding piece of wood from the humans' cage, just like before. Vampire Willow has just enough time to snarl "Oh fu—" before she turns to dust.
The next day, Buffy asks Willow if she'd like to go out that night, but her experience with her vampire double has made her "feel like staying in, and doing homework, and flossing, and dying a virgin," in order to make up for the "double guilt coupons" Vampire Willow has accumulated. But then, Percy shows up, and before Willow can apologize for not doing his work, he starts treating her with great respect. He presents her with papers on both President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and President Theodore Roosevelt: he wasn't sure which one the report was supposed to be on, and he didn't feel like risking Willow's wrath again. He's even prepared a bibliography and shyly presents her with an apple. Willow, now seeing that perhaps there's something to be said for a little vice, agrees to go out for the evening.
- This episode marks the first appearance of D'Hoffryn, Anya's boss as a vengeance demon. She will attempt to find D'Hoffryn calling him again in a crypt in "Something Blue".
- Snyder references the events of "Go Fish" where he, similar to this episode, wanted Willow to unfairly pass a lazy jock, Gage Petronzi, because of his importance to the Swim Team, which he claims in this episode was a debacle, which would be true considering four of their best players became monsters.
- Faith moves to an apartment of her own, leaving her bedroom at Sunnydale Motor Inn ("Faith, Hope & Trick").
- Willow and Anya first meet, marking the beginning of their mutual dislike, as it'll be explored in "Triangle".
- Vampire Willow walks down Sunnydale's main street, finding it full of happy people, in a shot-for-shot recreation of Cordelia walking through the same area in "The Wish". However, in Cordelia's experience is the direct opposite of Vampire Willow's, which encapsulates the difference made by Buffy's appearance in Sunnydale. This is especially relevant in "Gingerbread", when Joyce questions whether or not Buffy really does any good by being the Slayer.
- Willow's "dark" persona will repeat Vampire Willow's phrase, "Bored now", before skinning Warren Mears in "Villains".
- Percy will eventually mention the time that Vampire Willow attacked him, still unaware it wasn't his reality's Willow, in "Graduation Day, Part One".
- Vampire Willow is surprised that Xander isn't dead, as he had been staked in her reality just before she left it, as seen in "The Wish". She's then surprised he isn't undead, as his alternative counterpart was a vampire like her.
- Sandy, the woman Vampire Willow bites in the Bronze, will appear again as a vampire in "Family" and then again in "Shadow", where she ultimately meets her end.
- Willow comments that her vampire self seemed "kind of gay". Buffy remarks that vampires and their human counterparts are nothing alike, but Angel began to correct this before letting the matter go. This foreshadows Willow's homosexuality revealed in "New Moon Rising".
- However, Buffy's remark is likely a deduction she made after experiencing the severe difference between Angel's ensouled and soulless personalities.
- Buffy is able to react not staking Vampire Willow as soon as Willow tells her to stop, a contrast to when Faith accidentally killed Allan Finch in "Bad Girls" while Buffy warned her.
- Despite Willow and Anya's interference in the alternative reality, Vampire Willow is killed in the same way she had been originally in "The Wish".
- Xander later suggested that Willow would not handle having an evil twin any better than he did in "The Replacement". This prompted Willow to state "I handled it fine," referring to these events.
- Cordelia Chase
- Eryishon (Only mentioned)
- Rupert Giles
- Rupert Giles (Wishverse) (Only in flashbacks)
- Alexander Harris
- Alexander Harris (Wishverse) (Only in flashbacks)
- Anya Jenkins
- Faith Lehane
- Devon MacLeish
- Master (Wishverse) (Only in flashbacks)
- Daniel Osbourne
- Daniel Osbourne (Wishverse) (Only in flashbacks)
- Willow Rosenberg
- Willow Rosenberg (Wishverse)
- Buffy Summers
- Buffy Summers (Wishverse) (Only in flashbacks)
- Percy West
- Richard Wilkins
- Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
- Unidentified waiter
Organizations and titles
Weapons and objects
- Sandy, bitten and sired by Vampire Willow.
- Two vampires minions, dusted by Buffy.
- One vampire minion, dusted by Giles.
- Alphonse, impaled by Buffy with a pool cue.
- Vampire Willow, dusted by Wishverse Oz.
Behind the scenes
- Joss liked the character of Vampire Willow when she was first introduced in "The Wish" so much that he wrote this episode specifically for her.
- Whedon commented on the episode: "God, some of the funniest stuff we ever did was in that episode, but also the scene where they find out that Willow is alive and everybody, everybody, is so goddamn funny. It's Giles, Xander, Willow, and Buffy, the fearsome foursome."
- Vampire Willow comments that in her world there are "people in chains and we can ride them like ponies". According to Kelly A. Manners, Joss Whedon would occasionally get down on all fours and give Alysson Hannigan and Sarah Michelle Gellar pony rides around the production office.
- Devon offers Angel a different career track in a cut scene:
- Devon: "Hey, man, how'd you like to be our roadie?"
- Angel: "Less than you'd think."
- And Xander takes responsibility in this exchange also cut:
- Xander: "It's all my fault."
- Giles: "What makes you say that?"
- Xander: "I don't know... Statistical probability."
Pop culture references
- Buffy claims one of the tests she and Faith had to do under the Council's instructions was the Rorschach test, a dated psychological test in which patients' interpretations of inkblots are analyzed.
- Buffy says Faith will never be on the cover of "Sanity Fair", a reference to the magazine Vanity Fair.
- Willow thinks Oz finds her boring for thinking that she would rather forego his gig than miss school. Oz calls that a "radical interpretation of the text", which is a reference to philosophers Donald Davidson and W. V. O. Quine.
- K's Choice — "Virgin State of Mind" (Plays as Vampire Willow enters the Bronze)
- Spectator Pump — "Priced 2 Move" (Plays at the Bronze.)
- Christophe Beck — "Alternate Willow"
- Armenian: "Երկվորյակների երկիրը" (Land of Twins)
- Czech: "Dvojník" (Double)
- Finnish: "Kaksoisolento" (Double)
- French: "Les Deux Visages" (The Two Faces)
- German: "Doppelgängerland" (Land of Doppelgängers)
- Hungarian: "A Másik Sunnydale" (The Other Sunnydale)
- Italian: "Il Mondo Parallelo" (The Parallel World)
- Japanese: "ウィローのドッペルゲンガー" (Willow's Doppelgänger)
- Polish: "Demony, Amulety i Inne..." (Demons, Amulets and Other...)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "A Terra dos Clones" (The Land of Clones)
- Romanian: "Copia" (Copy)
- Russian: "Страна двойников" (Land of Doubles)
- Spanish (Latin America): "La Tierra de las Bandas" (The Land of the Gangs)
- Spanish (Spain): "Doble Personalidad" (Double Personality)
- The book "The Willow Files, Volume 2" includes a novelization of this episode.
- The script for this episode is featured in "The Script Book: Season Three, Volume 3".
- A Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figure was produced based on Willow as in this episode.
- A Deluxe action figure was produced based on Vampire Willow as in this episode.
- The "Spike: Shadow Puppets" comic miniseries has the issue Doppelgangbang in parody of the title "Doppelgängland".
- The comic issue Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2019) #5 pays tribute to this episode in a variant cover.
- This episode is included in The Slayer Collection: Willow DVD.
- This episode is Whedon's fifth favorite episode according to "The Last Sundown" featurette on the Season Seven DVD box set.
- This is one of Alyson Hannigan's favorite Buffy episodes, according to an interview with PopWatch.
- Alyson Hannigan loved her vampire make-up so much that she was made up again as "Vampire Willow" to attend a Halloween party that same year.
- Andy Umberger, the actor portraying D'Hoffryn, is one of only five actors to appear in the first three of Joss Whedon's shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly.
- This is the 50th episode of the series. David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter and Alexis Denisof all also appeared in the 50th episode of Angel, "Billy".
- This is not the only time Alyson Hannigan has played her own doppelgänger: in How I Met Your Mother, her character, Lily, has a stripper doppelgänger.
Behind the scenes
|Anya - "For a thousand years I wielded the powers of the wish. I brought ruin to the heads of unfaithful men. I brought forth destruction and chaos for the pleasure of the lower beings. I was feared and worshiped across the mortal globe and now I'm stuck at Sunnydale High! Mortal. Child. And I'm flunking math."|
|Buffy - "I know Faith's not gonna be on the cover of Sanity Fair, but she had it rough. Different circumstances, that could be me."|
|Willow - "Okay, that's a little blacker than I like my arts."|
|Anya - "Oh, don't be such a wimp."|
|Willow - "That, that wasn't just some temporal fold, that was some weird Hell place. I don't think you're telling me everything."|
|Anya - "I swear, I am just trying to find my necklace."|
|Willow - "Well, did you try looking inside the sofa in Hell?"|
|Willow - "It's really nice that you guys missed me. Say, you all didn't happen to do a bunch of drugs, did ya?"|
|Xander - "Will, we saw you at the Bronze. A vampire."|
|Willow - "I'm not a vampire."|
|Buffy - "You are. I mean you were. Giles, planning on jumping in with an explanation any time soon?"|
|Giles - "Well, uh... something... something, um, very strange is happening."|
|Xander - "Can you believe the Watchers Council let this guy go?"|
|Willow - "That's horrible! That's me as a vampire? I'm so evil and... skanky. And I think I'm kinda gay."|
|Buffy - "Willow, just remember, a vampire's personality has nothing to do with the person it was."|
|Angel - "Well, actually... That's a good point."|