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"Forever" is the seventeenth episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the ninety-fifth episode in the series. Written and directed by Marti Noxon, it was originally broadcast on April 7, 2001 on The WB network.


ANGEL COMES BACK TO BUFFY — A grieving and confused Buffy falls into the loving arms of Angel who comes back to Sunnydale after he gets word about the death of her mother. Meanwhile, a distraught Dawn takes it upon herself to perform a magic spell to bring her mom back to life.[1]


In a 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. Xander accuses Spike of trying to take advantage of the situation to get closer to Buffy, while Spike argues that he was actually trying to pay his respects to Joyce, as she was the only one among them that ever treated him with decency. When it becomes clear that Xander won't be convinced otherwise, Spike throws the bouquet down and storms off. While Xander continues to berate him, Willow notices Spike didn't even leave a card with the flowers. 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 funeral, Dawn leaves with Willow and Tara to their dorm, 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 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.

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. In Xander's apartment, Anya talks with him post-coitus 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 in his apartment, drinking and listening to a record he once listened with Joyce.

Outside Sunnydale Memorial, Ben is approached by Jinx. 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's mansion 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 the book Bynum's History of Witchcraft for Dawn. When she inspects it, she finds it contains a section about resurrection spells. She goes to the Magic Box to gather some ingredients and 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 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."

Spike takes Dawn to visit a magic expert named Doc. After giving her the rest of the information needed to complete the spell, he informs her that to break the enchantment all she needs to do is rip the picture of Joyce. The two then leave to collect the final ingredient for the spell — a Ghora demon egg. Confronting the demon, Spike distracts it while Dawn successfully steals one of its eggs; in the process, he is injured by the Ghora demon, though he kills it in turn. Dawn returns home to perform the spell alone.

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, and the two begin arguing. Dawn believes that Buffy doesn't 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 accusing Buffy of just cleaning up Joyce's "mess," Buffy slaps her, then starts to break down. As tears roll, and footsteps approach the Summers home, Buffy 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 heads towards the door. Dawn realizes that some things just aren't meant to be, and, just before Buffy whips the door open, she 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, and both sisters break down crying, united in their grief.


  • 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."
  • Willow tries to console Dawn by secretly providing her with a book on magic. Willow using magic to solve all problems is a major theme in the following season, leading to Willow and Tara breaking up in "Tabula Rasa" and her admitting her addiction in "Wrecked."
  • Buffy reveals that before Joyce went into surgery, in "Listening to Fear," they had a talk about funeral choices.
  • Spike says that Joyce didn't treat him like a freak and always had a nice "cuppa" for him, as they have bonded in episodes "Lovers Walk" and "Crush."
  • This is Angel's first appearance in Sunnydale since "The Yoko Factor."
  • Angel's visit to comfort Buffy occurs after his reunion with his Los Angeles associates in the Angel episode "Epiphany."
  • Ben has hurt Jinx once before. He beat him up as a message to Glory in "Checkpoint."
  • This is the first episode in which Willow's bookcase is on a different wall from its original placement.
  • This is the first episode to show Dawn shoplifting; this will develop into kleptomania and discovered by the Scoobies in "Older and Far Away."
  • After the funeral, Giles listens to the same song ("Tales of Brave Ulysses" by Cream) that he and Joyce listened together in his apartment, in the episode "Band Candy."
  • This is the last appearance of Giles' apartment; he will move out in "Bargaining, Part One."
  • Spike assists Dawn in her attempt to resurrect Joyce; years earlier, he had attempted as well to overcome his own mother's mortality by siring her ("Lies My Parents Told Me").
  • Chicken feet are a staple ingredient in witchcraft. It is mentioned by Willow in "Doppelgängland" and by Anya in "Into the Woods."
  • 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."



Organizations and titles




Rituals and spells

Death count

  • Ghora demon, killed with an axe by Spike.
  • Joyce, 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 adds that 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." She also describes that the inspiration for this episode came from the story The Monkey's Paw.[2]
  • Annie Talbot, the actress who portrays the woman holding a child during the funeral, returns in the episode "Loyalty" to portray Gracie's mother.
  • The actor Alan Henry Brown, here portraying the funeral director, also portrays the demon bartender in "Villains."

Pop culture references

  • Ben calls Glory's lumpy minions "Jawa rejects," in reference to the Star Wars characters.
  • 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," a phrase based on 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.


  • 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, and it is shown clearly that Willow's room is a set.


International titles

  • Armenian: "Հավերժ" (Eternal)
  • Czech: "Navždy" (Forever)
  • Finnish: "Ajasta iäisyyteen" (From Time into Eternity)
  • French: "Pour Toujours" (Forever)
  • German: "Gefährlicher Zauber" (Dangerous Magic)
  • Hungarian: "Mindörökké" (Forever)
  • Italian: "Per Sempre" (Forever)
  • Japanese: "永遠の声" (Eternal Voice)
  • Polish: "Na zawsze" (Forever)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Para Sempre" (Forever)
  • Romanian: "Pentru totdeauna" (Forever)
  • Russian: "Навсегда" (Forever)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Por Siempre" (Forever)
  • Spanish (Spain): "Para Siempre" (Forever)



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."


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Archived from the original on June 9, 2001.
  2. "Episode Guide - Forever." BBC, July 2001. Retrieved June 8, 2019.