- “They're incapable of thinking about what they want beyond the moment. They kill each other, which is clearly insane, and yet, here's the thing. When it's something that really matters, they fight. I mean, they're lame morons for fighting. But they do. They never… They never quit.”
- ―Anya Jenkins[src]
During the Primordium Age, humans were terrorized by various demons even before recorded history. The first Slayer was created by the Shadowmen during this time period to combat and overthrow the demons. After all the pure demons were killed or driven to other dimensions, the demon species remaining on Earth were all hybridized with humans in one way or other — the most notable being vampires, blood-drinking demons who inhabit dead human bodies.
Humans also existed in the dimension of Pylea where they lived as slaves, called "cows", to the dominant demon species. This was the norm until the ruling Covenant of Trombli was overthrown, and the human and demon citizens of Pylea were declared equal.
Reception to the supernatural
- “Legally, until a couple years ago, the supernatural didn't exist. It's not like right to bear stakes is in the constitution.”
- ―Willow Rosenberg[src]
For much of recorded history, the majority of humans lived unaware or in denial of the existence of supernatural forces, with exceptions such as humans magic practitioners and professional demon hunters, who still hid their identities. The remaining demons on Earth lived in secret, many of them preying upon humans and human vices covertly.
The supernatural became public knowledge in the early 21st century, after vampires were unequivocally exposed to the media. The initial reception was overwhelmingly positive; vampires dominated the popular culture in a "vampire craze," and it was established the Reform Vampirism, in which vampires wouldn't harm humans in order to maintain civility between the species. This also created a wave of hate against Slayers, who defended humanity against vampires, also judged as non-humans and a threat to humanity itself. The popularity of vampires came to a halt only with the rise of the threatening zompires during the end of magic.
A notable regressive event in supernatural relations was the American Supernatural Crisis Act, which responded to a national state of fear and violence against demons and magic practitioners, after a supernatural attack on San Francisco orchestrated by the Pandora Project. Despite the responsible for the disaster was finally identified and exposed — a human —, the supernatural returned to the shadows, generally returning to their previous dynamics of predators and prey with humans and Slayers.
Humans were often described as physically and emotionally weak, with strong but contradictory morals. Non-humans had mostly referred to them with disgust, reflecting their mutual hostile political positions overall. Emotions such as remorse and compassion were defining to the sense of humanity, also associated with the presence of a soul, which, in abnormal circumstances, humans were capable of lacking and other creatures like vampires able to have.
The Judge, a demon sent to wipe out the human race, identified humanity as the emotional capacity of a given target. In his separation of "the righteous from the wicked," the vampire couple Spike and Drusilla were vulnerable to his destruction for sharing affection and jealousy for each other, as well as the scholar Dalton, described as "full of feeling."
Variations and enhancements
Though standard humans were bound by natural limits such as mortality, vulnerability to sickness, and lack of innate supernatural powers, they were very capable of being physical empowered through magical or scientific influence, thus resulting in variations of many different beings with human origin.
Some of these conditions didn't alter their human status by themselves, while others were an entirely different species. With specific exceptions, these variations and enhancements also weren't limited to humans.
- “All the demons that walk the Earth are tainted, are human hybrids, like vampires.”
- ―Anya Jenkins[src]
- Vampires originated when the last banished Old One, Maloker, killed and mixed his blood with a human. Then, through this process of siring, vampires had the ability to turn any human into these human/demon undead hybrids.
- Zombies, like vampires, were dead humans reanimated through magical means, becoming mindless foot soldiers that tended to retain their decomposed and deathly appearance.
- Mummies, similar to zombies, were magically reanimated human corpses, but with regenerative powers.
- Zompires were a by-product of the end of magic. If a human was sired in this period, they would rise with basic vampire characteristics, though as single-minded beasts like zombies.
- Werewolves suffered from an infection-like curse which transformed them into wolf-like beasts during the nights of the full moon.
- Vengeance demons became demon hybrids after the recruitment by the demon lord D'Hoffryn. With the loss of their power, they were capable of becoming humans again.
- Witches and warlocks were able to perform magical spells, either through practice or inheritance.
- Slayers were young girls imbued with the physical powers of most demons, such as superhuman strength, speed, endurance, and fighting skills.
- Ghosts and poltergeists could be the spiritual manifestations of deceased humans.
- Half-demons could be born between humans and demons.
- Through a variety of curses and spells, humans could also turn, either temporally or permanently, into demons, animals, and even objects.
- “Disappointed by demon-kind, we turned to humans. Smart, adaptive, but emotional and weak. Blind. There's imperfection everywhere. Something must be done.”
- Bio-mechanical demonoids were a combination of human intellect, demonic strength, and the advance of technology. Their creation required the reanimation of human corpses through scientific procedures along with various demon and robot parts attached to them.
- Gill Monsters were result of DNA experiments, able to turn humans into half-human/half-fish creatures.
- There were also humans who gained paranormal abilities due non-supernatural circumstances. Examples include Marcie Ross who turned invisible due to being socially ignored while in proximity of the Hellmouth; Bethany Chaulk who developed telekinesis because of traumatic abuse, as the blind assassin Vanessa Brewer who obtained her sensitivity abilities due to training.
- A human could be born with their powers, as it was the case of Drusilla and Cassie Newton with precognition abilities, Agnes Bellfleur with empathy, and Gwen Raiden with electrokinesis.
- Pete's formula, a potion of unknown origins, was able to mutate a human into a monster.
- “This body… it's just a rental, Dawnie. Being human? It's like a costume for girls like you and me. Being something else, that's what we are.”
- Through the key embodiment ritual, the Key was turned into human by the Order of Dagon, to be protected by the Slayer as her sister. As Dawn Summers, she maintained some Key abilities, and was eventually considered also a higher being.
- The goddess Glorificus had a human counterpart, Benjamin Wilkinson, created for her banishing into the Earth. As one being, they frequently morphed into each other, but did not share their memories. They eventually died in human form.
- The Old One Illyria possessed the human body of Winifred Burkle. Eventually, they both shared the same vessel with their individual abilities.
- Some non-human creatures were able to manifest human disguises, either magically or artificially, not becoming actual humans; such as the demons She-Mantis, Marc, Hans and Gretta Strauss, Kathy Newman, the Wig Lady, and Lissa, as well as the First Evil. Creatures like vampires and vengeance demons had their original human appearance as one of their faces.
- Some robots were built with human-like appearance, such as Ted Buchanan, April, the Buffybot, and Warren. Despite not humans, they often deceived others as such.
- Demons with human origins could also be turned into humans again with the loss of their mystical powers. It was the case of vengeance demons having their power center destroyed, or simply being fired; and vampires in contact of Mohra demons' blood, through the Shanshu Prophecy, or having their mystic energy absorbed (resulting on their death).
Various organizations were formed in order to protect humans, studying and combating demonic entities, but often not limited to it. Some groups also included non-human individuals, but still dedicated to human protection and the preservation of Earth dimension.
- Watchers Council
- Scooby Gang
- White Hats
- Angel Investigations
- Gunn's crew
- Slayer Organization
- United States Government
- Angel comic issues Auld Lang Syne, Part Three and Auld Lang Syne, Part Four, and the miniseries Illyria: Haunted.
- Spike comic miniseries Asylum and A Dark Place.