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"Graduation Day, Part One" is the twenty-first episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the fifty-fifth episode in the series. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, it was originally broadcast on May 18, 1999, on The WB network.


AN ELECTRIFYING TWO-PART SEASON FINALE — As Buffy, Willow, Xander, Oz and Cordelia ready for their long-awaited graduation day, the Mayor makes preparations for his Ascension and transformation into pure demon at the climax of his commencement address to the Class of 1999. With the fate of the world in true peril, Buffy is distracted from her purpose when Angel is weakened with a lethal poison, and it's slayer against slayer when Buffy faces Faith for what may be the last time.[1]


As Graduation Day approaches, Sunnydale High School enjoys a mellow love-fest as former enemies exchange pleasantries. Buffy has not caught the spirit, however, and others have their own concerns, too. Cordelia is worried about the color of the gown, while Xander fears for his life. The Scooby Gang then learns that the Mayor will be the Commencement speaker, meaning that he is not only going to ascend on Graduation Day, but at the ceremony itself. Meanwhile, Faith visits Professor Worth and he thinks she's there to discuss his work, however it emerges she has been sent by the Mayor to kill him. When he asks why, Faith simply tells him she never asked before murdering the professor.

Buffy, Giles and Wesley read about Professor Worth's murder in the Sunnydale Press newspaper and realize Faith was behind it. Given the fact that he ordered a murder when he was planning to destroy the town anyway, the gang conclude that the Mayor seems to be cleaning up loose ends, meaning Worth must have something the Mayor doesn't want them to find. In class, Anya tries to entice Xander into another date, but is stunned when she finds out about the upcoming Ascension. Xander brings her to the library, where she tells of an Ascension she witnessed 800 years before in the Koskov Valley above the Urals. A sorcerer became the embodiment of the demon Lohesh a four-winged soul killer, and decimated an entire village within hours; only a few people escaped. Anya explains that an Ascension means that a human being becomes pure demon. She tells them that all the demons that walk the earth are tainted — human hybrids like vampires, but that a pure demon is different. She doesn't think this sounds like Lohesh, though, because the rituals are all different.

Just as she says this, the Mayor strolls into the library, putting everyone on edge. He taunts the gang, and threatens to eat Buffy. Giles plunges a fencing saber into his chest. Wilkins, unharmed, chides him for showing violence in front of children before departing, promising "one heck of a speech."

Anya, who has seen what an Ascension is like, plans to skip town, though Xander tries to get her to stay and help. She proposes to him that he could leave with her, and tries to persuade him to come, but he's committed to staying to help his friends, and declines. Buffy is also anxious, and tries to convince her mom to leave town, saying she won't be able to concentrate on stopping the Mayor if she has to worry about her mom. She doesn't want to leave, but Buffy tells her that she can't worry about her mother while fighting the Mayor at the same time. Convinced that remaining in Sunnydale could get Buffy killed, Joyce agrees to leave.

Willow, who is researching in the hopes of finding a spell to stop the Ascension, is nervous too. Oz kisses on her and the two make love for the first time. As they lie together afterward, they both agree that everything feels different now.

Searching Worth's apartment, Buffy runs into Angel. They gather a box of documents, and prepare to take it to Giles. Outside the apartment, Buffy and Angel talk about their relationship and end up arguing. Faith shoots Angel in the back with an arrow, deliberately missing the heart. Angel tries to get up, but collapses into Buffy's arms.

Wesley tells Giles that the professor found a large demon carcass buried in a lava bed. Worth believed that the carcass might be some heretofore-undiscovered dinosaur. Giles thinks that perhaps it could have actually been a demon, which would explain why the Mayor would want to keep this kind of information secret since this means that the Mayor is only impervious to harm until the Ascension; once he's in demon form, he can be killed.

Buffy brings Angel to the library, where Giles helps remove the arrow. Despite the fact that such an injury shouldn't cause much harm to a vampire, Angel starts to get weaker. Everyone realizes that the arrow was poisoned, and Wesley offers to ask the Watchers Council for help.

Buffy thanks him, and Willow's afterglow is cut short by Buffy's call for help. Later, Wesley returns and tells Buffy that there's no help coming from the Council; however, it's not that they can't help but won't, as they refuse to help a vampire. He explains that the laws are older than civilization, and the Council's orders are to concentrate on the Ascension, but now Buffy has had enough of the Council and tells Wesley that she won't be taking any more orders from him or them. Wesley tells her that this is mutiny, she responds that she thinks of it as graduating and tells her now-former Watcher to "get a job."

The Mayor sends Faith home and prepares for the Ascension by performing the Ritual of Gavrok, which requires eating the giant spiders in the Box of Gavrok. Willow, meanwhile, has figured out what the poison is — its Latin name translates to "killer of the dead." Oz tells the gang that vampires can only survive the poison by draining the blood of a Slayer. Buffy is fine with that, and intends to allow Angel to drain Faith. When Willow points out that doing so would kill her, Buffy tells her that it won't, "if she's already dead." Later, in the library, Xander tries to talk Buffy out of it, but she takes Faith's knife from the weapons cabinet.

Willow and Oz, still reveling in the new stage of their relationship, locate Faith's apartment. Buffy arrives at the apartment, where Faith gloats over the poisoning of Angel, happily admitting it was her idea. Buffy then tells her that he can be cured by her blood. Faith isn't scared, warning Buffy she'll never take her alive, but Buffy tells her that won't be a problem. Faith is impressed that Buffy is stepping up, and asks her if she's ready to cut loose.

While the Mayor is finishing his ritual by eating the Gavrok spiders, a vampire bursts in the room. The Mayor is upset asking why he didn't knock during dark rituals, until the vampire tells the Mayor that there's trouble at Faith's place.

Buffy punches Faith. Faith spins and punches her back. They assume their fighting stances and a knockdown-drag out battle to the death ensues. The fight takes the Slayers all over Faith's apartment and crashing out of her window and onto the rooftop. As Faith recovers, Buffy slaps a handcuff onto her wrist with the other cuff attached to her own. The battle continues between the two handcuffed Slayers, who throw each other around until Faith breaks the chain on the handcuffs and grabs a long steel pole while Buffy pulls out Faith's dagger.

Faith sees her blade and says: "That's mine" to which Buffy responds: "You're about to get it back." Enraged, Faith strikes at Buffy with the pole, but Buffy dodges the attack. Buffy then slashes at Faith twice. Faith dodges the first slash and catches Buffy's arm in the second attempt, grabbing her nemesis and throwing her on top of the building's central cooling unit at the roof's edge. Holding each other, the two stare at the street below and at one another. Before Faith can make another move, Buffy rips free from her grip and plunges Faith's own knife into her abdomen.

Both Slayers are more than a little shocked. "You did it," says Faith to a horrified Buffy, before delivering a backhanded punch to Buffy's face — knocking her backwards to land on her back, caught off guard. "You killed me," Faith goes on. Then, noticing an approaching flatbed semi-truck, Faith steps onto the ledge and continues, "Still won't help your boy, though. You should've been there, B. Quite a ride." Faith then falls back off the roof and into the passing truck, crashing roughly into the debris.

Buffy rushes to the ledge and watches as her fellow Slayer's limp body, along with the blood she needs to cure Angel, is carried away on the truck.


  • Buffy vows that Angel will be her "last office romance," but, instead, she will go on to establish relationships with fellow demon hunters Riley ("Doomed") and Spike ("Once More, with Feeling").
  • When Anya returns to the school to ask Xander to run away with her, she tells him that her car is just outside and they can take turns driving. In the episode "Triangle," Anya will declare that she's uncertain about driving, despite demonstrating an ability to do so.
  • Buffy tries to convince Wesley to help her by telling him, "I'm talking about watching my lover die." Wesley will watch his own lover die in his arms in "A Hole in the World."
  • Willow becomes the last member of the current Scooby Gang to lose their virginity. While Oz is said to have had sex before, Cordelia mentioned it in "Bad Eggs," Buffy did so in "Surprise," and Xander in "The Zeppo."
  • Buffy intends to kill Faith; among Buffy's kill count, she has caused the death of two other humans before: Octarus in "What's My Line? Part One" and Gwendolyn Post in "Revelations." Later, she'll kill five Knights of Byzantium in "Spiral" and Caleb (albeit empowered with evil) in "Chosen."
  • Buffy handcuffs Faith during their fight. These are likely the handcuffs they broke out of in "Bad Girls" when they were arrested. Alternatively, they could be the handcuffs that Buffy took from Joyce in "Band Candy" to hold Ethan.



Organizations and titles[]





Rituals and spells[]

Death count[]

  • Lester Worth, stabbed by Faith.
  • At least two Gavrok spiders, eaten by Mayor Wilkins.

Behind the scenes[]


  • Cordelia complains that she wanted the graduation robes to be teal and not maroon in color. In the original script, she wanted the red, but the school went with dark blue.[2]
  • Faith, like Eliza Dushku,[3] reveals that when she was a kid, she lived just outside Boston. This is notable by her use of the word "wicked," a slang word for "very" or "extremely" most commonly used by people from Massachusetts.


  • "Graduation Day, Part One" had an audience of 3.6 million households upon its original airing.[4]

Pop culture references[]

  • On seeing an illustration of the Mayor's eventual demon form, Xander quotes the famous line from the 1975 film Jaws, "We're going to need a bigger boat." He also quoted the movie in the episode "Go Fish."
  • Xander also paraphrases Private Hudson from the 1986 film Aliens saying that he was "getting short. Four more weeks and out."
  • Faith's line "Look at you, all dressed up in big sister's clothes" is a reference to the Elvis Costello song "Big Sister's Clothes."


  • When Buffy and Faith are fighting in Faith's apartment, we see Faith kick Buffy into the big screen television. At that point there is nothing on the floor. In the next shot, there is debris scattered on the floor in front of the television. In the subsequent shot, the debris is gone, and later on, the debris is back.


International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Դպրոցի ավարտումը (Մաս 1-ին)" (Graduation (Part 1))
  • Czech: "Maturita (1. část)" (Graduation (1st Part))
  • Finnish: "Päättäjäiset, osa yksi" (Closing Ceremony, Part One)
  • French: "La cérémonie, partie 1" (The Ceremony, Part 1)
  • German: "Das Blut der Jägerin" (The Blood of the Slayer)
  • Hungarian: "Az érettségi ünnepség, 1. rész" (The Graduation Ceremony, Part 1)
  • Italian: "La sfida (1ª parte)" (The Challenge (1st Part))
  • Japanese: "卒業の日 パート1" (Graduation Day Part 1)
  • Polish: "Rozdanie świadectw (Część 1)" (Graduation (Part 2))
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "O Dia da Graduação, 1.ª Parte" (The Graduation Day, 1st Part)
  • Romanian: "Ziua absolvirii (Part 1)" (Graduation Day (Part 1))
  • Russian: "Окончание школы (Часть 1)" (Finishing School (Part 1))
  • Spanish (Latin America): "El día de Graduación (parte 1)" (The Graduation Day (Part 1))
  • Spanish (Spain): "La gradución (1ª parte)" (The Graduation (1st Part))





Willow: "I'm going to miss her."
Buffy: "Don't you hate her?"
Willow: "Yes, with a fiery vengeance. She picked on me for ten years. Vacuous tramp... It's like a sickness, Buffy. I'm missing everything. I miss P.E.!"
Xander: "Guess who our commencement speaker is?"
Willow: "Siegfried?"
Xander: "No."
Willow: "Roy?"
Xander: "No."
Willow: "One of the tigers?"
Xander: "Come out of the fantasy, Will."
Anya: "Men like sports. I'm sure of it."
Xander: "Yes. Men like sports. Men watch the action movie, they eat of the beef, and they enjoy to look at the bosoms. A thousand years of avenging our wrongs, and that's all you've learned?"
Wesley: "I'm sorry, uh, Lohesh was a four-winged soul killer, am I right? I was given to understand that they're not that fierce. Of all the demons we've faced..."
Anya: "You've never seen a demon."
Buffy: "Uh, excuse me, killing them professionally four years running."
Anya: "All the demons that walk the Earth, are tainted, are human hybrids, like vampires. The Ascension means that a human becomes pure demon. They're different."
Giles: "Different?"
Buffy: "How?"
Anya: "Well, for one thing, they're bigger."
Anya: "When I think that something could happen to you, it feels bad inside, like I might vomit."
Xander: "Welcome to the world of romance."
Anya: "It's horrible. No wonder I used to get so much work."
Xander: "Well, I'm sorry I give you barfy feelings."
Anya: "Come with me."
Xander: "I can't."
Anya: "Why not?"
Xander: "I got friends on the line."
Anya: "So?"
Xander: "That humanity thing's still a work in progress, isn't it?"


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy.com. Archived from the original on February 15, 2001.
  2. "Graduation Day Part One Script." BuffyWorld. Archived from the original on July 16, 2019.
  3. Eliza Dushku, "Born&raised in #Watertown. My beautiful fam is there, 20 search blocks/CNN in exact neighborhood I grew up in, Ma's house-can't believe this." Twitter, April 19, 2013.
  4. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Third Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.