Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 3, Episode 22
Air date July 13, 1999
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
Episode Guide
"Graduation Day, Part One"
"The Freshman"
"City of"
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
David Boreanaz Angel
Seth Green Oz
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Harry Groener Mayor Wilkins
Alexis Denisof Wesley
Danny Strong Jonathan
Larry Bagby III Larry
Mercedes McNab Harmony
Ethan Erickson Percy
Eliza Dushku Faith
Armin Shimerman Principal Snyder
Co Starring
Paulo Andrés Dr. Powell
Susan Chuang Nurse
Tom Bellin Dr. Gold
Samuel Bliss Cooper Vamp-Lackey

"Graduation Day, Part Two" is the season finale of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the fifty-sixth episode in the series. It was written and directed by Joss Whedon. It was originally broadcast on July 13, 1999.

Buffy forces Angel to feed on her to save his life and he must rush her to the hospital to save her. The Mayor Ascends, and the Class of '99 blows him and the school up.


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After stabbing Faith, Buffy stands stunned for a few moments, then drops the knife and escapes from the rooftop just before the Mayor enters Faith's empty apartment with a group of vampires. The Mayor, devastated by the thought of losing Faith, orders the vampires to find her.

At the library that night, Xander and Giles search for information on Olvikan, knowing the Mayor will transform into it. Cordelia arrives and demands to know what happened between Buffy and Wesley. Giles explains that Buffy has severed ties with the Watcher's Council and no longer needs a watcher, so Wesley will be leaving. Cordelia is unhappy, but Xander reminds her that they're busy trying to avert a massacre, so she agrees to help with research. At the mansion, Willow watches over Angel; delirious, he mistakes her for Buffy and confesses how much he needs and loves her. When Buffy finally returns, she sends Willow and Oz away, then demands Angel drink her blood so that he will be cured. She reasons that if he doesn't completely drain her blood, she could still survive. He weakly refuses, but she strikes him repeatedly to bring out his vampiric side, then pulls his head to her throat. He drinks deeply and cures himself, pulling away when Buffy loses consciousness from loss of blood.

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Angel rushes Buffy to hospital, explaining that she's lost a lot of blood. In another room, a doctor tells the Mayor that Faith's head trauma coupled with massive blood loss means she is unlikely to regain consciousness. The Mayor notices Buffy in bed, and tries to smother her until Angel tears him away. The Mayor leaves with a message not to miss the second act, "with all kinds of excitement." The Scoobies arrive, and Angel explains to them what happened to Buffy. They are angry with him and blame him for what happened. Xander notes to Angel, "That's good to know. That when the chips are down and things look grim, you'll feed off the girl you love to save your own ass." Giles persuades Angel to leave the hospital before sunrise.

Dreaming, Buffy visits Faith, who is packing up her apartment. Faith says human weakness never fades, "Not even his." Faith tells Buffy that it's time to go and then Buffy wakes up in the hospital bed. She walks over to Faith and kisses her forehead, then strides into the waiting room, telling her friends to get ready for war.

At school, Buffy outlines a plan which relies heavily upon Xander's past mystical military knowledge and discusses what the Mayor's human weakness is. Eventually Angel realizes what it is - it's Faith, given the Mayor's grief at the hospital. Wesley arrives and Buffy tells him the Watcher's Council is not welcome. However, he tells her that he isn't there on behalf of the Council, but just wants to help. Grateful, Buffy allows him to remain and everyone starts to set up. Meanwhile, the Mayor explains to his group of vampires that when the eclipse takes place, he wants the vampires to keep the people from running, as he must feed within the first few minutes to sustain the change. Angel and Xander get to work creating a bomb, which Giles is assigned to detonate. While putting away books, Cordelia and Wesley discuss their feelings and finally kiss, and discover they have no sexual chemistry at all. Oz reassures Willow that they'll make it through this and they share a passionate kiss. In the library, Angel tells Buffy he'll simply disappear when the battle is over, because to say goodbye would be too painful. Buffy is upset, but doesn't lose focus as she pulls out the most important weapon of the upcoming battle... Faith's knife, still covered with her blood from when Buffy stabbed her.

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The students fight back against The Mayor.

At graduation, the Mayor starts the commencement address and goes into the meaning of graduation, making Buffy worry he's going to read the whole speech. The Mayor then mentions that there's been losses, and people who should be there, aren't (referring to Faith). Just then the eclipse begins, vampires arrive to catch anyone who tries to escape and the Mayor starts to feel pain as the Ascension begins. He regretfully drops his cue cards, and begins to transform in front of everyone... eventually becoming a giantic 60-foot snake demon. The parents and teachers scatter, and the students gather together in one large group as the monster towers over them.

At Buffy's signal, everyone rips off their robes, revealing weapons and crosses. Under Xander's guidance, the students attack the demon with flame throwers and flaming arrows. Principal Snyder is eaten by the snake-demon in mid-lecture. Some students break from the group and run in fear - right into the mayor's vampires.

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Students in the rear, including Oz, mount a ranged counterattack with flaming arrows, driving the vampires back into another group at the rear led by Angel. They fight the vampires and are able to stop them from attacking the students, however Wesley, who accompanied Angel's squad, is downed with a single punch and spends the rest of the fight lying on his back asking for help.

The attack on the Mayor continues, however Larry is killed when the snake swipes him with its tail. Buffy tells everyone to fall back, and Xander leads them down while telling them to prepare for hand-to-hand combat. Willow wishes Buffy luck before leaving.  The vampires attempt to attack the students, only to be astounded when almost the entire graduation class plow down the stairs, more than ready to fight. Cordelia manages to stake one, Jonathan throws himself on a vamp, however Harmony is grabbed and bitten.


Suddenly, Buffy calls up the demon-mayor, still holding the knife:

"Hey! You remember this? I took it from Faith. Stuck it in her gut. Just slid in her like she was butter. You want to get it back from me, ... Dick?"

Buffy then starts to make a run for it as the now enraged monster gives chase, determined to kill her. She leads him through the school as he smashes the place apart following her. Buffy reaches the library, then dives through a window to the outside where Giles is waiting. The demon smashes through the doors to find the room filled with explosives. He says, in the Mayor's voice, "Well, gosh." Giles then hits the detonator, killing the Mayor, obliterating the library and completely destroying Sunnydale High School.
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The Scooby Gang in their graduation robes.

As Wesley is taken away in an ambulance, Giles congratulates Buffy on a job well done, presenting her with her diploma, which he pulled from the rubble. After he leaves, Buffy sees Angel at a distance. The two stand and look at one another for a brief time before Angel turns and walks off into the night, headed for a new life in Los Angeles.

Buffy meets up with her friends and they preapre to head for home. Before they do, Oz tells them they should take a moment to reflect on the fact that they survived. Buffy comments that it was a hell of a battle, but Oz tells her he doesn't mean the battle but the fact they survived high school. After taking the moment, the friends walk away from the remains of the school, ready to face a new chapter in their lives. A charred yearbook lies nearby bearing the legend: "The Future is Ours".


  • Willow suggested to Buffy in the Season One episode "The Harvest" that one way they could get kicked out of school would be to "blow up the school", which she finally does.
  • This episode sees the destruction of Sunnydale High, the scene of a great deal of paranormal activities thus far in the series. As the Mayor said, "Nothing will ever be the same. Nothing."
  • The ruins of Sunnydale High will be revisited in "Doomed", but the school itself won't be rebuilt until Season Seven.
  • The death of recurring character Larry in this episode, a subject of significant debate amongst fans, was established at the shooting script but not confirmed on-screen until Season Six ("Smashed"). Harmony, seen in this episode being bitten by a vampire, will be confirmed dead - and arisen as a vampire - just three episodes later in "The Harsh Light of Day".
  • Cordelia dusts a vampire for the first time. It announces her future heroine status in "Angel".
  • In the Buffy/Faith dream, we encounter the first foreshadowing of Buffy's death at the end of Season 5. Faith's comment, "Little Miss Muffet counting down from 7-3-0", comes (roughly) 2 years (730 days) before Buffy dies. The term "Little Miss Muffet" is a reference to Buffy's little sister Dawn's arrival. A crazy man also refers to "curds and whey" when he accosts Dawn in "Real Me". Glory also makes references to "sitting on a tuffet" when she goes looking for the Key during Season 5. Also, exactly one year from this episode, Buffy sees a clock in her room during her dream reading 7:30, which Tara tells her is completely wrong, as one whole year has passed ("Restless").
  • This episode is the last in which David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter are series regulars, and in which Alexis Denisof is a recurring character. The three will return to the Buffyverse the following season on the spin-off show, Angel. But while this episode marks the final appearance of both Cordelia and Wesley on Buffy, Angel will appear on Buffy at least once (either in person or in flashbacks) in every season with the exception of Season Six.
  • This marks the second time in a row that the principal of Sunnydale High has been eaten alive. The first, Mr. Flutie, was eaten alive when a group of kids possessed by hyenas. Of his predecessor being eaten, Principal Snyder says that that's what happens when you're soft on students. He is the 9th member of the faculty to be killed.
  • This is also the second season finale in which Buffy is bitten by a vampire. The first being "Prophecy Girl" when she is bitten by The Master.
  • This is the first season finale not to feature Joyce Summers.
  • The way in which the Scooby Gang plan their attack will be similarly done in their battle against the First Evil and its Turok-Han army in "Chosen". Buffy comes up with an idea at the end of the second act, which will not be fully explained until it is revealed during the battle itself.
  • Its later revealed that Wesley was fired from the Council once Buffy quit. He becomes a "rogue demon hunter" but is so incompetent at it that Cordelia has to save him from the demon he's hunting. He later joins Angel Investigations and becomes an integral part of the team, maturing and becoming much better at fighting over the course of that show.

Body Count

  • Unidentified female student, eaten by Olvikan
  • Three students, killed by vampires
  • Three vampires, burned by Oz and two students with flaming arrows
  • Larry Blaisdell, killed by the tail of Olvikan
  • Snyder, eaten by Olvikan
  • Harmony Kendall, drained and sired by a vampire
  • One vampire, dusted by Cordelia
  • Olvikan and Mayor Richard Wilkins, killed in the explosion of Sunnydale High School


Behind the Scenes


  • According to Marti Noxon in a DVD commentary, the explosion scene was filmed at 5 a.m. in Torrance, California, where the outdoor scenes had been filmed for the previous three years. The explosion was so huge it woke up many of the residents, broke windows and set off car alarms. As a result, the town refused to allow Buffy to film there again.
  • During the time of its airing, the episode caused a great deal of controversy in the media. The Columbine High School massacre, only four weeks before the airing of Part One, was widely blamed on violence in entertainment. The WB had already pulled the plug on an earlier episode, "Earshot"[1] (which itself was not aired until September), and feared that several scenes in Part Two would provoke high school students to do the same thing, especially those depicting the entire graduating class handling weapons against the Mayor. On May 25, 1999, only two hours before Part Two was due to air, The WB suddenly decided to replace it with a re-run from earlier in the season.[2] This sudden move received huge attention in the media and thousands of letters were sent to the network demanding that the season finale be shown. Sarah Michelle Gellar publicly spoke out against the decision, although Seth Green agreed that the episode would seem "callous and inappropriate" after the Columbine shootings.[3] The WB did not air the episode until July 13, 1999, almost two months after it was originally scheduled; since nearly all US schools end their term in May or June, it was then felt safe. The episode attracted 6.5 million viewers, atypically high for the WB during summer, and comparable to what the other episodes of the season had received.
  • As the episode was not delayed in Canada, many bootleg digital downloads were available.[4] Joss Whedon stated, "Bootleg the puppy."[5]
  • The Buffy novel The Evil That Men Do was also delayed due to the Columbine incident; it was published one year later than planned.
  • This episode contains one of Joss Whedon's trademark extended shots, with the scene in the hospital from when Angel enters with Buffy to just after Angel stops Mayor Wilkins from suffocating her lasting just over two minutes and fifty seconds without a cut.

Deleted Scenes

  • This line was cut:
Xander: "Guys, we blew up the school! It's the best day ever!"

Pop-Culture References

  • When Angel punched Mayor Wilkins, he said, "Looks like somebody has been eating his spinach," referring to Popeye, who gained his super strength when he ate spinach.

International Titles

  • French: La cérémonie - partie 2 (The ceremony - part 2)
  • German: Der Tag der Vergeltung (The Day of Retribution)


  • Christophe Beck - "Aftermath"
  • Christophe Beck - "Drink Me"
  • Christophe Beck - "Little Miss Muffet"
  • Christophe Beck - "One Last Moment"
  • Christophe Beck - "War"
  • Edward Elgar - "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1"


  • This episode portrays the first time Cordelia ever "dusts" a vampire, as well as the first time Angel and Wesley fight side by side.
  • The Mutant Enemy zombie that always appears at the end of each episode is wearing a black graduation cap.
  • This is the first episode of the series to feature the last appearance of a main character (in this case, Cordelia). Later episodes to do this are "Restless" (Oz), "As You Were" (Riley), "Villains" (Tara), and, of course, the series finale "Chosen".
  • The background music when Angel is draining Buffy is the same as used on the episode main menu's sequence of the Season 3 DVDs.
  • In classic Buffyverse style, writers and producers retire the Sunnydale High School sets by utterly destroying them.


Xander: "Here's your coffee, brewed from the finest Columbian lighter fluid."
Giles: "Thank you. (takes it and drinks it before recoiling) Horrible."
Xander: "Aren't you supposed to be drinking tea anyway?"
Giles: "Tea is soothing. I wish to be tense."
Xander: "Okay, but you're destroying a perfectly good cultural stereotype here."
Angel: (pulls the Mayor away from Buffy) "Don't do that!"
Mayor: "I will. I do that and worse. Murderous little fiend! Did you see what she did to my Faith?"
Angel: "Hadn't any plans to weep over that one."
Mayor: "Well, I'd get set for some weeping if I were you. I'd get set for a *world* of pain! Misery loves company, young man, and I'm looking to share that with you and your *whore*!" (Angel shoves the Mayor hard)
Giles: "Buffy no longer needs a Watcher."
Cordelia: "Well, does he have to leave the country? I mean, you got fired and you still hang around like a big loser, why can't he?"
Xander: "Well, it's just good to know that when the chips are down and things look grim, you'll feed off the girl who loves you to save your own ass!"
Cordelia: "I personally don't think it's possible to come up with a crazier plan."
Oz: "We attack the Mayor with hummus."
Cordelia: "I stand corrected."
Oz: "Just keeping things in perspective."
Cordelia: "Thank you."
Angel: "Well, he's not crazy about germs."
Cordelia: "Of course, that's it. We'll attack him with germs."
Buffy: "Great. We'll get him cornered and then you can sneeze on him."
Cordelia: "No! No, we'll get a container of Ebola virus and, and, um... Or, it doesn't even have to be real. We could just get a box that says Ebola on it and, um, chase him. [long pause] With the box."
Xander: "I'm starting to lean towards the hummus offensive."
Oz: "He'll never see it comin'."
Snyder: "Congratulations to the class of 1999. You all proved more or less adequate. This is a time of celebration, so sit still and be quiet."
Giles: "There's a certain, um, dramatic irony attached to all this. A synchronicity that borders on-on predestination, one might say."
Buffy: "Fire bad. Tree pretty."
Oz: "Guys, take a moment to deal with this. We survived."
Buffy: "It was a hell of a battle!"
Oz: "Not the battle. High school."


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