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"Fool for Love" is the seventh episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the eighty-fifth episode of the series. Written by Douglas Petrie and directed by Nick Marck, it was originally broadcast on November 14, 2000, on The WB network.


ANGEL, DRUSILLA AND DARLA HAUNT SPIKE'S MEMORY — In an effort to learn about slayers' final battles, Buffy forces Spike to recount how he was able to kill two slayers. His flashbacks reveal his first meeting with his one true love, Drusilla, and how lovers Angel and Darla joined them.[1]


In a routine patrol at the cemetery, Buffy fights with a vampire. Buffy has the upper hand, but when she attempts her killing blow, the vampire turns her stake around on her, and she is stabbed in the abdomen. She attempts to flee, but is cornered, and the vampire, wielding her stake, is about to finish her off, but Riley appears at that moment and fights him off before going to see to Buffy.

The next morning, Riley patches up Buffy's stab wound; the embarrassing circumstance of nearly being killed by a lesser vamp with her own stake is not lost on her and leads Buffy to fear that she may be losing her edge despite Riley's reassurance. While Riley suggests she go to the hospital, Buffy feels it would only upset her mother, and her enhanced healing abilities will kick in soon enough. Dawn comes in to tell them Joyce is coming up, prompting Riley and Buffy to hide the gauze and medical supplies they were using. Joyce notices a bottle of rubbing alcohol and asks if they are disinfecting something, prompting Dawn to say it was hers. Buffy asks Riley to take the rest of the gang to sweep the cemetery that night.

Meanwhile, Buffy, rattled after nearly being killed despite having increased her training, does research with Giles to find out how previous Slayers died and what it was that made their last battles special, but they are unable to find any useful information, mostly because past Watchers either found the subject too painful or were killed along with their Slayers. Giles notes that unfortunately it seems there's no one left who has witnessed a Slayer's last battle, but then Buffy realizes she knows someone who can help. She then confronts Spike in his crypt. When he demands to know what he did, she tells him that she wants to know how he managed to kill two Slayers.

Later, at the Bronze, she lays down ground rules: if he tells her what she wants to know, Spike gets a wad of money. Though initially resistant to giving her anything useful, Spike barters with her for a plate of spicy Buffalo wings, as he refuses to talk on an empty stomach. In doing so, Buffy inadvertently reveals her stab wound, leading Spike to annoy her further. Asked if he's always been this annoying, Spike says: "I've always been bad."

London, 1880 — That assertion is belied, however, by the quiet, shy, rather foppish gentleman Spike used to be — a young poet named William. While at a society ball, he works on a love poem, looking for another word for "gleaming," but his unfinished work is snatched from his hands and read out loud, to the rude amusement of the boorish crowd. William is dubbed "William the Bloody" because of his "bloody awful poetry." One listener declares that he would rather have a railroad spike through his head than hear more of William's poetry.

The poem reveals his feelings of love and adoration for a woman. He speaks with the object of his affection, Cecily, whom he has loved from afar. She does not care for him and when he admits the poem is about her, she rejects him, telling him that she feels nothing for him and that he is "beneath" her. William, devastated, leaves the house in tears, bumping into a group of strangers in the street. In a hay barn, he sits ripping up his love poems, when Drusilla appears before him. She asks what brought him to tears and comforts him by telling him that she sees his greatness and worth. She promises him a better future by her side, siring him after only minimal persuasion.

Back in the present, Riley and the gang find several vampires loudly and drunkenly reveling in a crypt, including the one who staked Buffy. They decide to return in the morning when all the vampires are asleep, rather than take on the entire nest awake. Spike plays pool while continuing his tale. After his siring, Spike was completely different. Tired of being left out by the world, he became empowered and destructive and decided he needed to get himself a gang.

Yorkshire, 1880 — Angelus throttles William at the bottom of a coal mine, asking why they haven't killed him yet. William, now having adopted his distinctive accent and swagger, notes that he goes by the name "Spike" now. Spike's strong tendency to incite mob riots simply for the joy of the fray is causing trouble for his new vampire family; his most recent hijinks resulted in their having to hide in an abandoned mineshaft which angers Angelus as he likes to treat himself and his women to luxury. Angelus feels that Spike's uncouth behavior is putting them increasingly in danger from being hunted by angry mobs. Spike feels Angelus only engages in fights that he knows he will win, rather than fighting with zeal and veracity. Angelus prefers the artistry of killing, seeing it as separating them from being mere animals. Spike's insults finally cause Angelus to lash out viciously, and he very nearly stakes Spike before Spike notes that he has proved his point. The elder vampire notes that if he cannot teach Spike the error of his ways, someday an angry mob would; that or the Slayer. Spike sits up, suddenly interested, and asks: "What's a Slayer?"

Spike explains to Buffy that thereafter, he became obsessed with finding and defeating the Slayer of that era. He notes, as the first lesson, that a Slayer must always reach for her weapon, but a vampire already has all the weapons he needs (he vamps out to demonstrate this). To illustrate this point further, he tells her of the first Slayer he killed.

China during the Boxer Rebellion, 1900 — Spike fights with a Chinese Slayer. She cuts his left eyebrow, but she loses her sword, and Spike kills her before she reaches for her stake on the floor. Drusilla arrives and the two revel in the kill of the Slayer and the taste of her blood before having sex. Outside, Spike and Dru tell Angelus and Darla of the Slayer's death. Angelus offers halfhearted congratulations before suggesting they leave soon, as the rebellion is boring him.

Spike claims that it was the best night of his life. Buffy is disgusted at how he got off on it, but he counters that even if Buffy kills tens of thousands of vampires in her lifetime, all it takes to kill a Slayer is for one vampire to have "one good day," and that Buffy simply got complacent at the moment of truth. Meanwhile, Riley returns to the vampire nest alone, despite agreeing to wait. After staking the vampire that hurt Buffy, Riley blows up the rest of the vampires in the crypt with a grenade.

New York, 1977 — Spike tells Buffy how he killed the second Slayer. Spike and Buffy fight out a play-by-play of the battle, which took place on a subway train. Spike notes that this second Slayer was not all business like the first — she had an improvisational style more closely resembling Buffy's. After he snapped the Slayer's neck, he took her black leather coat for himself. Spike then explains that the key to his victories was not in the particular moves or blows; the key was that each Slayer has a death wish, a desire to experience death, after causing so much of it, additionally claiming that Buffy also has this wish, but has ties to the world that keep her anchored. They want to know what comes next because they wish for a final peace after a lifetime of being solely responsible for protecting the world from demons. Spike explains that the second that that desire takes over, the Slayer will die because there are countless vampires just waiting to take advantage of this, a conclusion that Buffy immediately rejects.

Spike and Buffy are standing almost nose to nose by this point, and Buffy quickly becomes shocked and confused when Spike comes on to her, trying to kiss her before grabbing her by the arms and challenging her to prove him wrong, claiming that he knows she wants to "dance." In response, Buffy pushes Spike to the ground and says it wouldn't be him; he's "beneath" her. Buffy throws the money at Spike and walks away.

Crying, Spike begins to gather up the scattered bills, then he turns his face expressing anger. Spike returns to his crypt and arms himself with a double-barreled shotgun, intent on killing Buffy for her final insult. Harmony begs him to reconsider his plan because he has tried and failed so many times before. She reminds him that the chip in his head will not let him hurt a human, and the Slayer will only beat him up again, if not stake him outright. Spike retorts that his pain will last for a couple of hours, and Buffy will be dead much longer than that.

South America, 1998 — Drusilla turns away from Spike's devoted love because she cannot look at him without seeing and feeling the Slayer, after Spike and Buffy's original alliance against Angelus. Behind them is a chaos demon, with huge slimy antlers, with whom Drusilla had been flirting. She recognizes, long before Spike does, his feelings for Buffy, and rejects him because he is no longer the same creature that had satisfied her for so many years. He insists that he did it all for her, to protect her because he loved her, but she cannot be convinced.

Buffy returns home, still shaken from the combined experiences of the last 24 hours, and finds her mother packing clothes and toiletries into a suitcase. She inquires where Joyce was going, and her mother explains that her health condition has worsened to the point that she is going to stay in the hospital for observation and a CAT scan. This final revelation is too much for Buffy, who retreats to her back porch in tears. At that moment, Spike approaches with his shotgun; however, he slows his pace when he sees that she is crying. He asks her what is wrong, and she says she doesn't want to talk about it. He sets the gun down and takes a seat next to her on the porch. Spike lays his hand on Buffy's back to comforts her.


  • This is the second time Buffy is nearly killed by her own stake in her own hand – the first instance was in "Helpless."
  • This episode contains two flashbacks which are repeated in "Darla," the companion episode of Angel which was originally shown immediately afterwards:
    • The first one is the scene in the street where the tearful William leaves the party and bumps into Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla (only shown from their backs), before being sired by Dru in an alleyway. In "Darla," it is revealed that Drusilla was jealous of Angelus's and Darla's relationship, to which they – immediately before this happens – suggest she sire herself a companion. 
    • The second flashback takes place during the Boxer Rebellion, when Angel — who has yet to reveal he has regained his soul to anyone but Darla — learns that Spike killed a Slayer, although it initially looks like Angelus is envious or even praising him. When Drusilla states she "smells fear" and Angel demands they leave, it is seen in "Darla" that he knew there was a family hiding away in that direction.
  • In "School Hard," Spike had indeed mentioned he first killed a Slayer during the Boxer Rebellion.
  • Spike says in "School Hard" that the last Slayer he killed (Nikki Wood) begged for her life. Here, she is not shown begging, although the episode is structured as a flashback, with 1977 Spike addressing Buffy during the time she would have been begging. In the Angel episode "Damage," the Slayer Dana recalls the words of past Slayers and speaks with Nikki's voice, begging Spike to spare her and let her go home to her son.
  • Spike states that Buffy would eventually want herself to die just like the other slayers he killed — to end the fear and uncertainty of every day possibly being her last. Spike's words would later prove correct about Buffy's "death wish" when she had fallen into the early stages of her depression. Part of her had wanted to die in "The Gift," and she would also try to kill herself in "Once More, with Feeling" before Spike stops her.
  • The same could be said about how Buffy's previous death in "Prophecy Girl" only happened due to her willingness to die that day.
  • As a vampire, William adopted the name Spike from his practice of torturing people with railroad spikes ("School Hard"). This episode reveals the true origin of his nicknames: one listener to William's poem in the flashback comments that he would rather have a railroad spike driven through his head than listen to any of William's poetry, and another one notes that William is referred to as "William the Bloody" because of his "bloody awful poetry."
  • It is learned that Spike has been in love with Buffy since they teamed up to save the world during the "Becoming, Part Two," but he only realizes his feelings for her in "Out of My Mind."
  • The poem snatched from William's hands is the first draft of the poem that Spike later reads in its complete form at the open-mike event in "Not Fade Away," this time received with enthusiastic applause from the audience.
  • Spike and Cecily/Halfrek cross paths in "Older and Far Away," on which occasion she calls him William, and he appears to recognize her, but both promptly act as if nothing had happened.
  • Spike takes the leather coat from Nikki after he kills her. This is the jacket that Spike wears in almost every appearance from the start of season two until "The Girl in Question" (when it gets destroyed in an explosion).
  • This episode shows Drusilla siring Spike, a fact first revealed in Spike and Dru: Paint the Town Red.
  • In "School Hard," Giles says that Spike was "barely 200," while in "The Initiative," Spike said that he was 126 years old. This episode definitively establishes that he was sired 120 years before.
  • The second Slayer Spike kills, Nikki Wood, has a son named Robin, who later appears as Sunnydale High School's new principal in the seventh season. In "Lies My Parents Told Me," Robin appears as a child witnessing an earlier fight between Spike and his mother, as well as trying to get his revenge on Spike as an adult for his mother's death.
  • In the Angel episode "Damage," Spike repeats the line "Sorry, love, I don't speak Chinese" when the Slayer Dana begins channeling other slayers, including the one Spike killed in China.
  • It is revealed that Spike got the scar over his left eye, visible since "School Hard," in the sword-fight with the Chinese Slayer.
  • The scene in South America is in reference to "Lovers Walk": When Spike is drunkenly confiding in Willow, he mentions he caught Drusilla making out with a chaos demon. The chaos demon, matching Spike's description as "slime and antlers," is in the middle of the argument between Spike and Dru.
  • In the graveyard scene, Xander does not comprehend Riley's military hand signals, suggesting that his knowledge from being transformed into a soldier in "Halloween" has completely faded.
  • Scenes from this episode of Spike's past also appear in his memories in Relationship Status: Complicated, Part One and Part Two, as well as in the Slayer memories in Finale.
  • The non-canon novel These Our Actors elaborates on Spike's actions immediately after being turned, which include him seeking out one of the men who insulted his poem and asking if he would prefer the railroad spike or the poem while holding a spike by his ear, with 'William' allowing the man to say that he would prefer the poem before saying that he doesn't have one, subsequently ramming the spike into the man's ear.
  • According to the non-canonical comic Spike: Old Times, Cecily was already the vengeance demon Halfrek at the time of her meeting with William, and subsequently massacred the room of people who had laughed at his poetic efforts.



Organizations and titles[]




Death count[]

  • William (Spike), sired by Drusilla (in flashback).
  • Xin Rong, blood drained by Spike (in flashback).
  • Nikki Wood, neck snapped by Spike (in flashback).
  • One vampire, staked by Riley.
  • Vampire nest, killed in a grenade explosion by Riley.

Behind the scenes[]


  • The episode is named after a play of the same title by Sam Shepard. The play's two protagonists, Eddie and May, struggle with an intense attraction to each other that disgusts them because they are brother and sister. They hate each other, yet cannot stay apart. As a result, they are doomed to be together and therefore damned.
  • Riley's hand signal, in fact, means "increase speed/double-time/rush."
  • Drusilla siring Spike is a fact that had been first revealed in the Buffy one shot comic Spike and Dru: Paint the Town Red, co-written by James Marsters with Christopher Golden and released a year before this episode's airing.
  • Episode writer Doug Petrie says that the scene in which Spike and Angelus are fighting and trying to stake each other, while Darla and Drusilla look on with glee, is a not-very-subtle allegory for female enjoyment of male homoeroticism.[2]
  • It is revealed how Spike got the scar over his left eye, which actor James Marsters actually got when he was mugged in New York.[3]
  • The intercutting when Spike is telling Buffy about his fight with Nikki was inspired by a scene from the film Reservoir Dogs (1992).[2]
  • Spike taking Nikki's coat was a homage to Sin City comics, in which the character Marv gets increasingly better trench coats by taking them from his victims.[2]
  • The denim jumpsuit Harmony is wearing in this episode would later be worn by Cordelia in the Angel episodes "Belonging" and "Over the Rainbow."
  • The first draft for this episode had a monologue for Joyce about how great her life had been, but it was discarded. Petrie explains: "It was absolutely awful. It was just this giant neon sign saying 'I'm going to die!'"[2]
  • Ming Qiu, the actress who plays the Chinese Slayer, came back to Buffy in the final episode "Chosen," playing one of the new Slayers.


  • "Fool for Love" had an audience of 3.6 million households upon its original airing.[4]

Deleted scenes[]

  • More content from the party attenders discussion:[5]
    Male Partygoer: "…I've heard on good authority they're not human at all. Animals of some sort. Escaped from a traveling sideshow."
    Female Partygoer: "But wild animals would leave a trace of some kind. Tracks...
    2nd Male Partygoer: "Mangled bodies…"
    Female Partygoer: "Charles! Don't be ghastly."
  • The Scoobies talk while patrolling with Riley:[5]
    Willow: "Wow. So they really work for you?
    Xander: "Well technically, they work for the construction company. But they are my crew. I tell them what to do, and they very often do it.
    Anya: "Except sometimes they do it wrong and he gets to be all stern, but fair. It's so damn cute."
  • Spike talks while battling Xin Rong:[5]
    Spike: "Just like I pictured. This good for you?"
  • Spike and Drusilla discuss more about Buffy:[5]
    Drusilla: "…and you couldn't ever do it. She brought blackness upon us."
    Spike: "So, Sunnyhell was not our finest hour. And yes, I made a deal with the Slayer. But you were shagging Angel and bringing about an Apocalypse to end all life as we know it. So? Every couple's got their ups and downs, Love. Point being, we got through all that, it's behind us now. Isn't it?"
    Drusilla: "I hate it here. Furry little animals peering at us from out of the trees, and the people all taste funny."
    Spike: "Right. We'll pick up and move again, and we'll keep moving 'til we've found the perfect spot, and there I'll make you my queen. Just tell me what you want.
    Drusilla: "I want the Slayer dead, Spike."
    Spike: "You're the one who keeps bringing her up! I haven't said a word about the bloody Slayer since we left California! She's on the other side of the planet, Dru! Gone from our lives forever!"

Pop culture references[]

  • The vampire at the start of the episode is wearing a t-shirt for the band The Clash.
  • Buffy mentions the snack food Cheetos when talking about expiration dates.
  • Spike mentions the Discovery Channel, known for documentaries.
  • As Angelus and Spike begin sparring, Drusilla refers to the card King of Cups, a card from the tarot.


  • Spike reflects off of the subway car's windows several times during his fight with Nikki.
  • As Buffy goes running off through the graveyard, the mast of the mobile lighting tower that is illuminating the scene is visible several times against the dark sky beyond the cemetery wall.
  • As Giles says the "D-word," the glass front of the display case beyond his left shoulder reflects something moving off-camera, likely the boom operator maneuvering the boom microphone.
  • At 28:02, when the camera circles around Spike to pick up Buffy, the tip of the boom microphone comes into frame above her head.
  • At 31:51, Spike throws a punch with his left hand. However, in the next frame, the follow through is clearly with his right hand.
  • At 36:08, for several seconds, the transmitter clipped to Spike's belt is visible.



  • The episode was nominated for the Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards in the category Best Period Hair Styling in a Series.[6]

International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Սիրո ժամանակվա հիմարությունները" (The Foolishness of Love Time)
  • Czech: "Šíleně zamilován" (Madly in Love)
  • Finnish: "Höynähtänyt" (Soft in the Head)
  • French: "La Faille" (The Flaw)
  • German: "Eine Lektion fürs Leben" (A Lesson for Life)
  • Hungarian: "A szerelem elkábít" (Love Stupefy)
  • Italian: "Pazzi d'amore" (Crazy with Love)
  • Japanese: "過去" (Past)
  • Polish: "Chora miłość" (Sick Love)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Louco de Amor" (Crazy in Love)
  • Romanian: "Nebun după iubire" (Crazy for Love)
  • Russian: "Глупости во время любви" (Stupidity During Love)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Amores que Matan" (Loves that Kill)
  • Spanish (Spain): Ansias de Amor (Love Cravings)



Promotional stills[]

Behind the scenes[]



Buffy: "Look, I realize that every Slayer comes with an expiration mark on the package. But I want mine to be a long time from now. Like a Cheeto."
Xander: "You know what he's like? He's like a cat. You know, a big jungle cat. How come I'm not like that? It's just so cool."
Willow: "I think you're cool."
Spike: "I know I'm a bad poet, but I'm a good man. All I ask is that... that you try to see me..."
Cecily: "I do see you. That's the problem. You're nothing to me, William. You're beneath me."
Angelus: "You can't keep this up forever. If I can't teach you, maybe someday an angry crowd will. That... or the Slayer."
Spike: "What's a Slayer?"
Spike: "The only thing about the dance is, you never get to stop. Everyday you wake up, it's the same bloody question that haunts you. Is today the day I die? Death is on your heels, baby, and sooner or later it's gonna catch you. And part of you wants it... not only to stop the fear and uncertainty, but because you're just a little bit in love with it. Death is your art. You make it with your hands, day after day. That final gasp. That look of peace. Part of you is desperate to know, what's it like? Where does it lead you? And now you see, that's the secret. Not the punch you didn't throw or the kicks you didn't land. She merely wanted it. Every Slayer... has a death wish. Even you. The only reason you've lasted as long as you have is you've got ties to the world. Your mum, brat kid sister, Scoobies. They all tie you here but you're just putting off the inevitable. Sooner or later, you're gonna want it. And the second — the second that happens, you know I'll be there. I'll slip in. Have myself a real good day. Here endeth the lesson. I just wonder if you'll like it as much as she did."


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy.com. Archived from the original on June 9, 2001.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Doug Petrie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fifth Season on DVD; audio commentaries for the episode "Fool for Love." [DVD]. 20th Century Studios, December 9, 2003.
  3. "Frequently Asked Questions." JamesMarsters.com. Retrieved on January 6, 2020.
  4. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Fifth Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Fool For Love Script." BuffyWorld. Archived from the original on August 14, 2018.
  6. Rob Francis, "News - 19th February." BBC, February 19, 2001.