Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 5, Episode 17
Air date April 17, 2001
Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by Marti Noxon
Episode Guide
"The Body"
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Emma Caulfield Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg Dawn
James Marsters Spike
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
David Boreanaz Angel
Clare Kramer Glory
Charlie Weber Ben
Troy T. Blendell Jinx
Amber Benson Tara
Joel Grey Doc
Co Starring
Todd Duffey Murk
Andrea Gall Customer
Alan Henry Brown Funeral Director
Darius Dudley Minister
Annie Talbot Lady with Baby
Noor Shic Lady with Rosary

"Forever" is the seventeenth episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the ninety-fifth episode altogether. It was written and directed by series executive producer Marti Noxon. It originally broadcast on April 7, 2001.

Following Joyce's death, Buffy questions her ability to cope now that her mother is dead, while Dawn attempts to bring her mother back to life through the power of magic.



Buffy picks a casket

At the Sunnydale Funeral Home, Buffy picks out a casket for her recently deceased mother. Dawn is concerned whether Joyce would be satisfied with the chosen casket, since she's the one who'll be in it forever. Later, the Scooby Gang gather for dinner at the Summers' house to discuss funeral plans. Buffy mentions that ever since her mother's demise, their father has not yet come in contact with them. Dawn feels left out when she discovers that before her mother went into surgery, she and Buffy spoke about funeral choices just in case.

As Willow and Xander leave Buffy's house, they run into Spike, who's trying to deliver a bouquet of flowers. A brief argument takes place when Xander misinterprets this as means of Spike trying to take advantage of the situation to get closer to Buffy, while Spike swears that he was actually trying to pay his respects to Joyce, as she was the only one of Buffy's "lot" that ever treated him with some decency. When it becomes clear that Xander won't be convinced otherwise, an irate Spike throws the bouquet down and storms off while Xander continues to berate him. Afterward, Willow discovers that Spike didn't leave a card with the flowers, and the two, though surprised, recognize the sincerity of the gesture. Later that night, the remaining Summers women sit in their room, trying to cope with and contemplate the situation.

Joyce is buried the next day. After the sorrowful funeral, Dawn leaves with Willow and Tara, finding it hard to return to her own home. Buffy, though, stays at the cemetery, until nighttime comes. Angel arrives at that time and apologizes for not being able to come sooner. Both rest under a tree, while Buffy expresses her regrets that she wasn't more useful and her worries that she doesn't know what to do now she can't focus on the funeral. Angel gently tries to reassure her, telling her that she isn't to blame for what happened and that even though she doesn't feel like it now, she is a strong person and will work out how to continue from this point. After admitting that it's not such a good idea for Angel to stay longer since she might end up taking comfort in him, Buffy kisses him. The kiss quickly got out of hand and they soon break apart. Buffy points out that she was right and that it would be better if he leaves. Angel apologizes for this, though Buffy assures him that she is grateful that he came, and he remains with her for the last few minutes before sunrise.


Buffy and Angel kiss

Meanwhile, Willow and Tara try unsuccessfully to cheer up the dreary Dawn, or at least get her mind off things, but they recoil in shock when Dawn expresses her wish to perform a resurrection spell for her mother. The two witches refuse to help her, explaining that it is wrong to use witchcraft to meddle in the matters of life and death. Post-coitus, Anya and Xander discuss about her ability to create life. When she thinks about it that way, it makes sex a little more meaningful and death a little less sad. In the meantime, Giles lingers sadly in his apartment, listening to a record he once played for Joyce.

Meanwhile, Ben is approached by Jinx outside the hospital. Ben swears that he will not help Glory and he is tired of her games, but accidentally makes a comment that leads Jinx to conclude that the Key is human. Not wanting Glory to learn this fact, Ben stabs the minion with his own knife. However, Jinx survives and manages to make it to Glory and inform her as such, much to Glory's happiness as it narrows her search down greatly.

The next day, Willow and Tara leave for class, but not before Willow magically pulls out a specific book for Dawn. When she inspects it, she finds it contains a section about resurrection spells. Later that day, Dawn goes to The Magic Box to gather some ingredients. She sneaks up into a restricted area to steal a few books and potions. That night, she collects dirt from her mother's grave, but Spike catches her in the act. He knows what Dawn is doing and subsequently offers to help. Though Dawn initially regards it as an attempt to get in good with Buffy, Spike makes it very clear that Buffy is not to know of his involvement and he is helping her because he doesn't like seeing the Summers women "take it so hard on the chin."


Dawn and Spike gather ingredients


Spike faces a Ghora demon.

At the same time, Dawn and Spike go to a mysterious, amiable magic expert named Doc. After giving her the rest of the information needed to complete the spell and informing her that to break the enchantment all she needs to do is rip the picture of Joyce that she is going to use the two leave to collect the final ingredient for the spell - a Ghora's egg. The two then subsequently go on a mission to collect the egg. Confronting the Ghora, Spike distracts it while Dawn successfully steals one of its eggs; in the process, he is badly injured by the Ghora, though he kills it in turn. Later that night, Dawn returns home to perform the spell.

Buffy and Dawn argue

Concurrently, in their dorm room, Willow tells Tara that she wants to start a journal, ever since Joyce's death, after receiving the sudden epiphany that life is short. Tara then realizes that a witchcraft book is missing, and Dawn might have taken it. Realizing what Dawn is about to do, they then call Buffy to alert her.

Buffy finds Dawn, just as she finishes the spell. The two then get into a vicious argument. Dawn believes that Buffy does not even care about their mother's death, as she is just running around as if the whole thing is a chore. Dawn states that Buffy hasn't even cried - and kept pushing Dawn away, inadvertently or not. After harshly accusing Buffy of just cleaning up Joyce's 'mess', Buffy slaps her in a burst of anger but quickly regrets it and starts to break down. As tears roll, and footsteps approach the Summers home, Buffy states her case, and explains that she's just been keeping herself busy so that she does not have to deal with the situation; she runs around and works because if she stops, then Joyce is really gone.

Suddenly, a shadowy figure passes the window, and the girls hear a knock on the door. Buffy hopefully whispers "Mom..." and heads towards the door. Just then, Dawn realizes that some things just aren't meant to be, and a split second before Buffy whips the door open, Dawn rips apart the picture of her mom. At that moment, opening the door to nothing, Buffy breaks down, finally facing the reality of her mother's death. Buffy falls into Dawn's arms, holding her for the first time since Joyce's died and both sisters break down uncontrollably, united in their grief.


  • The events of the second Buffy game, Chaos Bleeds, occur sometime after this episode.
  • This is one of the only episodes in the series where Buffy does not have an action scene.
  • This is the last appearance of Giles' apartment, as The Scoobies do not go there for the rest of season five, and he has moved out by season six.
  • Angel's visit to comfort Buffy occurs after his reunion with his Los Angeles associates in the Angel episode "Epiphany". It is unclear whether Wesley or Cordelia attend Joyce's funeral.
  • Buffy's father, Hank, is mentioned in this episode. He was last seen in "When She Was Bad".
  • In the episode "Band Candy," Giles and Joyce regress to teenagers and are seen hanging out while listening to "Tales of Brave Ulysses" by Cream before they have sex on the hood of a police car. Giles is seen in his apartment after her funeral drinking a glass of scotch and listening to the same song. Buffy refused to hold a wake, so this could be Giles' way of reminiscing about his fondest memory of Joyce and also point to some unacknowledged affection he was harboring for her.
  • Spike says that Joyce didn't treat him like a freak and always had a nice "cuppa" for him. We see them bonding in the episodes "Lovers Walk" and "Crush", among others.
  • Buffy mentions that before Joyce went into surgery, they had a talk about funeral choices.
  • Ben has hurt Jinx once before. He beat him up as a message to Glory in "Checkpoint".
  • This episode focuses on the aftermath of Joyce's death. She died in "I Was Made to Love You" while the confirmation and reactions took place in "The Body".
  • During her resurrection spell, Dawn calls on Osiris. In "Bargaining, Part One", Willow summons Osiris to resurrect Buffy, and she attempts to save Tara by calling on Osiris again in "Villains".
  • This is the third episode to feature Willow misusing magic (to encourage Dawn to investigate resurrection), which will become a running theme throughout Season Six. The first time was her "I will it so" spell in "Something Blue" and the second time was in "Triangle", which featured her blithe use of ingredients from The Magic Box without asking Giles first, followed by her heedless use of spells on several occasions in that episode.
  • This is the first episode to show Dawn shoplifting.
  • This is the first episode in which Willow's bookcase is on a different wall from its original placement.
  • Buffy does not hug Dawn or even look her in the face until the final scene.

Body Count

  • Two Ghora's eggs, broken by Dawn (one accidentally, another for Joyce's resurrection)
  • Ghora Demon killed with an axe by Spike.
  • Joyce (in zombie form), dispelled by Dawn

Behind the Scenes


  • Writer and director Marti Noxon says "To me, the idea of wanting to defy death is just an inherent, almost mythological, iconic notion. It's something we can relate to...a universal longing." She says the idea for this episode arose from the idea that Dawn would be in the bargaining stage of mourning, and "if you were in Sunnydale and someone you loved died, you would absolutely call on the forces of darkness to resurrect them."
  • According to writer and director Marti Noxon, the inspiration for this episode came from W.W. Jacob's short story "The Monkey's Paw". In interviews at conventions Joss Whedon has referred to this story as an inspiration for his work but also coined its' use as a term for resurrected TV shows and how they never match up to the original.
  • Kristine Sutherland did not play Joyce's shadowy figure outside of the window in the final scene.

Pop Culture References

  • Ben calls Glory's lumpy minions "Jawa rejects". Jawas are Star Wars characters described as "hooded scavengers of the Tatooine Deserts".
  • During Joyce's funeral, the minister says "We commend to almighty God... Ashes to ashes and dust to dust... And give her peace". He is reading from the burial service found in the Book of Common Prayer, which includes the commonly heard phrase "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" (that phrase is based on the The Bible, Genesis 3:19: "...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return"). This part of the speech is normally read while earth is cast upon the coffin.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • About 7 1/2 minutes into the episode, as the camera pans by pictures and passes Buffy's room, it is clearly visible that Buffy's room is a set piece without a real ceiling. The studio is visible above the top of her room.
  • In the scene where Willow uses magic to bring attention to a book so Dawn would see it, a crew member is seen in the background, also, it is shown clearly that Willow's room is a set.

International titles

  • French : Pour toujours (Forever)
  • German : Gefährlicher Zauber (Dangerous Magic)



  • This episode is Dawn-centric.


Willow - "I'm gonna stop by my mom's first. Been doing that a lot lately."
Xander - "Yeah, I thought maybe I'd stop by your mom's too... Well, I'm not going to my house. Those people are scary."
Spike - "I liked the lady! Understand, monkey boy? She was decent. She didn't put on airs. She always had a nice cuppa for me. And she never treated me like a freak!"
Spike - "Hey, Ghora! Heads up! (the Ghora raises three heads) Oh, guess heads up it is."
Dawn - "I'm not like you, Buffy. I don't have anybody!"
Buffy - "What?! Of course you do. You have me!"
Dawn - "No, I don't. You won't even look at me. It's so obvious you don't want me around."
Buffy - "That's not true!"
Dawn - "Yes, it is! Mom died, and it's like you don't even care.
Buffy - "Of course I care! How can you even think that?"
Dawn - "How can I not? You haven't even cried. You've just been running around like it's been some big chore or something. Cleaning up after Mom's mess."
Buffy - "Dawn... I've been... Working. I've been busy, because I have to..."
Dawn - "No! You've been avoiding me."
Buffy - "I'm not! I have to do these things, 'cause... 'Cause when I stop, then she's really gone."