"Gone" is the eleventh episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the one hundred eleventh episode altogether. Written and directed by David Fury, it originally broadcast on January 8, 2002 on UPN.
Buffy's efforts to help Willow's recovery are disrupted by a run-in with an intrusive social worker and a spat with Spike. Then, she's mistakenly zapped by an invisibility ray wielded by Jonathan, Warren and Andrew. At least she gets a new hairdo.
Buffy and Dawn remove all possible sources of magical "temptation" they can find from the house, to Dawn's evident annoyance. Buffy finds Spike's Zippo and after holding it a few seconds, tosses it in the collection box. Meanwhile, the Trio use the Illuminata diamond they stole to complete an invisibility ray.
Buffy feels that life is unraveling since Willow's incident involving Dawn, a car, and Willow "high" on magic. Dawn is barely speaking to Willow or Buffy — Willow because of her irresponsibility with Dawn, and Buffy because she let it happen by not being around enough, so she is only talking to Xander. Spike arrives under a blanket looking for his lighter and Buffy denies seeing it. Willow is contrite about her misdeeds, and Buffy apologizes for being too self-involved with her own problems to notice Willow hurting. A social worker named Doris Kroeger comes to the Summers residence to check on how Buffy's doing as Dawn's legal guardian, but Buffy thought it was the next day and hadn't prepared for it. It's the worst possible time: as Buffy opens the door, Dawn makes a comment about the car accident; her arm is in a cast; and Xander is taking her late to school. The living room is scattered with Willow's old spell ingredients and objects, making a mess and also looking like drugs. Buffy tries to explain, saying it's "magic weed." Doris sees Spike and gets the impression that Buffy has a punk boyfriend who is sleeping over with her, since he has a blanket. Doris also appears to disapprove of Buffy living with another woman, one who is sleeping during the daytime. Doris tells Buffy that her case does not look good and she will recommend immediate probation, and Buffy might lose custody of Dawn later on. After she leaves, Spikes gets his lighter back from Buffy who had put it in her pocket and as he leaves he calls Buffy "Goldilocks," a nickname she says she hates, and he tells her how much he likes her hair. In a state of depression, Buffy cuts a lot of her hair off, and then she goes to a hair salon and asks the hairdresser to make her look different.
The Trio are just outside, about to make themselves invisible so they can see naked women. However, when they see Buffy, Andrew and Jonathan panic and start a tug of war over who is going to use it first. They accidentally overload the invisibility ray and the beam hits Buffy, making her waver and vanish (along with a dumpster, traffic cone, and fire hydrant).
Anya and Xander are planning their upcoming wedding at the Magic Box. The door opens but no one enters. Buffy's voice comes out of nowhere — she is having fun being invisible. Xander worries about it, assuming it was probably Willow misusing magic, and he goes to talk to her. Buffy goes out to have invisible fun in Sunnydale. "I'm the ghost of fashion victims past," she moans to a woman, wearing an outdated cap. She then drives off with a parking inspector's van.
Buffy drives to Doris' workplace. Using her invisibility to its full advantage, she tricks the social worker into behaving in a bizarre manner and replaces the Summers report with pages consisting entirely of repetitions of "All work and no play makes Doris a dull girl." Doris tells her supervisor that, "There was a voice. It made my coffee dance." The woman's supervisor believes that she is having a mental break with reality and sends her home, saying that he will send someone else to re-inspect the Summers' home the next day.
Buffy then heads to Spike's and begins touching and grabbing him, until he realizes who she is. "I told you to stop trying to see me," she finally jokes and then she and Spike go underground for sex. In the meantime, Xander confronts Willow, but she knows nothing about the invisibility and is offended that she is automatically being blamed. She leaves in a huff to try to figure out what happened to Buffy. Xander ends up meeting up with Willow at the site of Buffy becoming invisible. Willow keeps being tempted by magic, but uses her brains and deduction instead of magic, and figures out that the perpetrators are the drivers of the black van they've been seeing around Buffy. She gives Xander a traffic cone that was also made invisible, and he takes it back to the Magic Box. Xander and Anya do research, and discover that the invisibility ray is causing the structure of the traffic cone to break down. Anya is too self-involved to realize the implications, but Xander realizes that the same thing will happen to Buffy if the invisibility isn't reversed.
Meanwhile, Warren is trying to fix the invisibility ray but says that Buffy will die from the overload of radiation she is getting while she continues to be invisible. He finds no problem with that, but Andrew and Jonathan are upset and do not want to kill her, and so Warren grudgingly agrees to fix her. Xander then runs to Spike's crypt in search of Buffy, where he finds Spike in bed. He's actually having sex with Buffy, but to Xander's eyes, Spike looks naked and alone, and Spike explains that he's doing push-ups. Xander has a chat with Spike, wanting to know where Buffy is, and Spike honestly says that he hasn't "seen" her. Throughout the conversation, invisible Buffy gropes and physically teases Spike. Spike tries to act normal, somewhat unsuccessfully. Xander finally leaves, disgusted by Spike's odd behavior, telling Spike that he really needs to get a girlfriend.
Buffy wants to continue their physical activities, but Spike tells her that he is tired of being with her and not really having her. He says the only reason she came to see him is that she thinks she's not really there, because she's invisible. He asks her to leave if she isn't really going to be with him. He is frustrated with her carefree attitude and doesn't appreciate the way she seems to be using the invisibility as an excuse to escape her real life. She protests, but eventually leaves. She doesn't do too well at home when she scares Dawn, who has the same frustrations as Spike, combined with extreme worry for her sister. The bad stuff keeps on coming when she gets the message from Xander and Anya on the answering machine about the effects of the invisibility ray. Meanwhile, Willow has looked up the van by hacking into the DMV records, and has figured out who owns it. She goes into their lair in Warren's mother's basement, but is captured by the Trio, who have made themselves invisible. Jonathan then calls Buffy (disguising his voice so she can't identify him) and tells her that The Trio has kidnapped Willow and tells her to meet them at the arcade.
Buffy does so. However, Jonathan, Andrew, and Warren have also made themselves invisible, and Warren is holding Willow hostage. Warren lies to Buffy, telling her that he is going to reverse the mechanism into making her visible. But Willow points out that he's put it on a setting that is going to kill her. Warren knocks her to the ground and aims the gun at Buffy, telling her that she can't see them. However, what he didn't count on was Buffy's Slayer training and experience, providing her with some ability to sense the invisible villains. A scuffle ensues. Warren ends up in the ball-pit, Andrew ends up in the pinball machine, and Buffy ends up holding Jonathan. Willow, who has changed the frequency, aims at Buffy, Jonathan, Andrew, and Warren, making all four visible again.
"So, you three have what? Banded together to be pains in my ass?" Buffy asks. Warren stands firm, proclaiming himself and the others to be Buffy's "archnemesises-ses." After a smoke-bomb goes off and after scuffling to open the door, The Trio escape. Buffy and Willow sit on the curb outside and talk about their struggles today: Willow explains that while she found the Trio without magic, she was tempted to use it while Buffy admits that, while she's still struggling with being alive, when she learned the full effects of the invisibility ray she realized she doesn't want to die. The two friends sit and reflect on their small but significant steps to overcoming their problems.
- Dawn's arm is in a sling after her injuries in "Wrecked."
- While trying to seduce Buffy, Spike admits he likes her hair, contradicting when he told her that she has "stupid hair" in "No Place Like Home." He had also complained about her "bouncing shampoo-commercial hair" in "Out of My Mind."
- Buffy whistles "Going Through the Motions" from "Once More, with Feeling" as she leaves the Social Services building.
- Xander asks Buffy if she has been feeling ignored; this is a reference to Marcie, the invisible girl from "Out of Mind, Out of Sight."
- After confronting Willow about Buffy's invisibility, Xander mentions the "recent forgetting" in reference to Willow's memory purge spell causing the Scoobies to lose their memories in "Tabula Rasa."
- The Trio discuss the invisibility ray killing Buffy, but Andrew and Jonathan are against the idea. Warren later goes behind their backs to use the ray gun to speed up the process of killing Buffy. In "Seeing Red," Warren will once again try to kill Buffy without the other Trio members knowing.
- Willow doesn't recognize Jonathan's voice when he's invisible, having last interacted with him in episode "Superstar."
- The members of the Trio are revealed to the Scooby Gang.
- Buffy and Willow fail to recognize Andrew, beginning a recurring gag in the series ("Never Leave Me," "Two to Go," Turbulence, Own It, Part Five).
- Buffy recognizes Andrew as Tucker's brother, who she met in "The Prom."
- Buffy will learn how to pronounce "nemeses" in "Conversations with Dead People."
- Buffy first recognizes that she does in fact want to live — something that she has been struggling with since her return in "Bargaining, Part Two." This also marks the changing, rehabilitation part of Willow and Buffy's separate problems — Willow's addiction to magic, and Buffy's disdain for being alive.
- In Predators and Prey, when facing imminent death, Andrew makes a series of confessions to Buffy, and he mentions he liked when she cut her hair.
- D'Hoffryn (Only mentioned)
- Drusilla (Only mentioned)
- Anthony Harris (Only mentioned)
- Jessica Harris (Only mentioned)
- Rory Harris (Only mentioned)
- Alexander Harris
- Anya Jenkins
- Harmony Kendall (Only mentioned)
- Jonathan Levinson
- Doris Kroeger
- Tara Maclay (Only mentioned)
- Warren Mears
- Willow Rosenberg
- Marcie Ross (Only mentioned)
- Buffy Summers
- Dawn Summers
- Joyce Summers (Only mentioned)
- Andrew Wells
- Tucker Wells (Only mentioned)
Organizations and titles
Behind the scenes
- Sarah Michelle Gellar had requested to cut her hair, so the writers made her haircut a plot point of this episode and she wore a wig for the first few scenes of the episode.
- The scene where Buffy has her hair styled was filmed in Torrance, California — the names of the various shops and their phone numbers are readily visible. The beauty salon is the real Continental Hair and Nail Design, at 1425 Marcelina Ave.
- This is the first of the two episodes both written and directed by David Fury, the other being "Lies My Parents Told Me."
- Marti Noxon hated the scene where Spike has sex with an invisible Buffy: "The bit when Spike seems to be by himself when, in fact, he was having sex with the invisible Buffy was something that Joss [Whedon] and David Fury got all excited about, whereas I was like "Ewww!" It was disturbing to me; it still is. It just shows you that even I have my limits."
- While Buffy was invisible she stopped a kid from bullying a girl and this line was cut:
- Buffy: "Watch who you bully, kid. She might be the next chosen one."
Pop culture references
- Andrew makes a reference to Industrial Light and Magic, the company founded by Georges Lucas, in opposition to Ed Wood, a filmmaker of low-budget science-fiction movies in the '50s.
- The phrase "All work and no play makes Doris a dull girl." is a reference to the horror film The Shining (1980), in which Jack's manuscript is comprised entirely of endless pages repeating the phrase "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
- Warren references calls Jonathan "Frodo," after the main character in The Lord of the Rings.
- Andrew wears a SpongeBob SquarePants t-shirt.
- Buffy tells Dawn that Xander and Anya are "Muldering it out" which is a reference to a main character, Fox Mulder, on The X-Files known for solving cases that are of the unknown paranormal phenomena.
- The fighting game that Andrew and Jonathan are playing at the arcade is Dead or Alive 3.
- During the scene in the Social Services building, Buffy types on the social worker's computer, and the keys depress as her invisible hands move over them. In the widescreen (DVD) version of this episode, you can clearly see the strings (coming out of the left side of the keyboard) that were used to make this effect. They weren't visible on the 4:3 TV broadcast version. Also, as Buffy searches the folders for Dawn's files, Buffy's hands are clearly seen at the bottom of the screen picking the files up.
- Spike was watching TV right before he stands up to drink some blood when invisible Buffy goes to his crypt. He senses a presence and moves to the center of the room. Invisible Buffy approaches the TV and turns it off, but the TV can be seen in the previous seconds and, clearly, it's already turned off.
- When Willow checks the DMV records, the name "Jonathan Levinson" comes up twice.
- During the scene by the alley when Willow is telling Xander that she's going to find the van that's been stalking Buffy, Willow's hair changes in between shots.
- In the Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime versions of the show, the DMV computer has "encrypted" spelled wrong: "encrytped." Interestingly, this error is not present in all versions of the show.
- Armenian: "Անհայտացածը" (Disappearance)
- Czech: "Neviditelná" (Invisible)
- Finnish: "Näkymättömät" (Invisible)
- French: "La Femme Invisible" (The Invisible Woman)
- German: "Verschwunden" (Vanished)
- Hungarian: "Eltelt" (Elapsed)
- Italian: "Scomparsa" (Disappeared)
- Japanese: "姿なき敵" (Enemy without Form)
- Polish: "Niewidzialny Wróg" (Invisible Enemy)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Sumiço" (Disappearance)
- Romanian: "Plecat" (Gone)
- Russian: "Исчезнувшая" (Vanished)
- Spanish (Latin America and Spain): "Invisible" (Invisible)
|Buffy: "That's Willow. She, uh, she kind of lives here too, actually."|
|Ms. Kroger: "Oh, so you live with another woman."|
|Buffy: "Oh! Oh, it's not a, a gay thing, you know, I mean, well... she's gay, but, but we don't... gay. Not that there's anything— Oh! Wrong with... You know, I know what that looks like, but I, I swear, it's not... what it looks like. It's magic weed. It's not mine."|
|Xander: "Sorry! Her clothes are, uh, invisible, too. Buffy, how did this hap- wait a sec, have you been feeling ignored lately?"|
|Buffy: "Yeah, ignored. I wish. No, this isn't a Marcie deal. I don't know what happened. I left Main Street after getting my hair cut, and was ..."|
|Anya: "You cut your hair?"|
|Buffy: "Oh, yeah!"|
|Anya: "Really? How short?"|
|Buffy: "Um, about up to here. Well-well, if you could see my hand, it's kind of above my shoulders."|
|Anya: "Ahh, that sounds so adorable! I was thinking about getting my hair cut before the wedding ..."|
|Xander: "Can we get back to freaking out about no-show Buffy? This is serious."|
|Spike: "This vanishing act's right liberating for you, innit? Go anywhere you want. Do anything you want. Or anyone."|
|Buffy: "What are you talking ab—"|
|Spike: "The only reason you're here, is that you're not here."|
|Buffy: "Right. Of course, as usual there's something wrong with Buffy. She came back all wrong. You know, I didn't ask for this to happen to me."|
|Spike: "Not too put off by it though, are you?"|
|Buffy: "No! Maybe because for the first time since... I'm free. Free of rules and reports... free of this life."|
|Spike: "Free of life? Got another name for that. Dead."|
|Buffy: "Why do you always have to... I thought we were having fun."|
|Spike: "Yeah, now! But sooner or later your chums are gonna work out a way to bring you back to living color. You need to go. Get dressed if you can find your clothes, and push off. 'Cause if I can't have all of you, I'd rather— Okay, that's cheating."|
|Buffy: "Pretty neat, you finding the van. So, how did you manage to do it exactly? I mean, to locate it?"|
|Willow: "The hard way. The spell-free way. The oh-my-god-my-head's-gonna-fall-off, my-feet-are-killing-me way. I don't know how I got through this day."|
|Buffy: "The whole taking-a-vacation-from-me thing didn't work out so well.|
|Willow: "Tell me about it."|
|Buffy: "Except, when I got Xander's message, you know, that I was fading away, I actually got scared."|
|Willow: "Well, yeah. Who wouldn't?"|
|Buffy: "Me. I wouldn't. Not too long ago I probably would have welcomed it. But I realized... I'm not saying that I'm doing back-flips about my life, but I didn't — I don't — wanna die. That's something, right?"|
|Willow: It's something. So I guess we both made good first steps."|
|Buffy: "I guess."|
|Willow: "Yay for us."|