"Hush" is the tenth episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show, and is the sixty-sixth in the series. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, it originally broadcast on December 14, 1999 on The WB network.
SILENT NIGHT — A silence falls over Sunnydale when otherwordly beings come to town and steal the power of speech from all the residents. Meanwhile, Riley gets his first clue to Buffy's slayerside when they have a fight with the outside visitor, and Willow attends a Wicca group that's not all she had hoped.
Professor Maggie Walsh talks about communication in class and then asks Buffy to come and lie on her desk for a demonstration. Riley steps forward and kisses Buffy, then the sun goes down. Buffy hears a young girl's voice and walks out of the classroom and into the halls where a girl holding a small box stands chanting a nursery rhyme:
- Can't even shout, can't even cry
- The Gentlemen are coming by.
- Looking in windows, knocking on doors,
- They need to take seven and they might take yours.
- Can't call to mom, can't say a word,
- You're gonna die screaming but you won't be heard.
Buffy wakes up to see she was dreaming in class. As they're leaving, Riley inquires about Buffy's dream and then they talk about their plans for the night. Both make up excuses for their real plans and part ways, unhappy that their courtship does not appear to be going anywhere.
Giles receives a phone call from Buffy and tries to research the information she gained from her dream about the Gentlemen. Spike makes himself very comfortable at Giles' place and complains about there not being any more Weetabix (despite having eaten it all himself — again), claiming he likes to add it to his butcher's blood sometimes for texture. Repulsed by the mental image, Giles tells him to go and get some himself.
Xander and Anya arrive, arguing about whether Xander really loves her or — because Xander can't vocalize the way he feels — is only interested in her for sex. Her open voice on sex with Xander causes Giles to be repulsed and uncomfortable by it and Spike just finds Xander's situation amusing.
Giles informs Xander that he has to keep Spike with him for a few days because an old girlfriend of his will be coming over from England. None of them are particularly pleased about the arrangement: Xander can't trust Spike to be in the same room as him without restraints, and Spike doesn't particularly want to be around Xander or Anya, especially if they intend to be intimate with him while he is tied to a chair in the same room. The three argue back and forth with Giles wearily in the middle.
Willow goes to her Wicca meeting but soon finds the girls are just wannabe Wiccans with no knowledge of real magicks. When Willow mentions the possibility of performing spells, the leader of the group just ridicules her. However, while the rest of wannabe Wiccans laugh one member, a girl called Tara, grows interested when Willow mentions actually performing magic. She tries to agree with Willow's suggestion, however she is very shy and after gathering the courage to speak up is quickly intimidated back into silence by the others. Willow realizes she's never going to learn anything from this group and speaks about it to Buffy, who complains to Willow how slowly her relationship with Riley is progressing, while Riley discusses the same with Forrest; both conclude that the reason they cannot progress their relationship is because of their inability to reveal their true identities to each other.
That night, before going to bed, Xander ties Spike down to a chair in his bedroom, even though Spike claims he wouldn't want to bite him even if he could. Spike begins an exaggerated imitation of Anya to annoy Xander. Olivia shows up at Giles' apartment, and after some brief talking they get right to kissing. At the clock tower, one of the Gentlemen opens a box, and the voices of all the people in Sunnydale float out of their mouths and are drawn into the box.
When Buffy and Willow wake up the next morning and find they have no voices, they panic. Leaving their room, they see that nobody else in the dorms can speak, either. Xander, similarly panicked, blames Spike, whose gestured response is very clear. Riley and Forrest try to enter the underground lab, but without his voice Riley cannot activate the voice-based security system on the elevator door. Professor Walsh opens the elevator and they are cowed when she points out a sign saying they should have used the stairs in the event of emergencies.
Buffy and Willow walk through the town, armed with dry-erase boards to write down their words (purchased from a street vendor at an inflated price). Sunnydale is closed down — except for bars and liquor stores. A doomsayer silently preaches it's the end of the world.
A television news report states that everyone in Sunnydale has come down with a case of laryngitis and the town has been quarantined. The threat of chaos looming that night, Buffy goes out to patrol, and Professor Walsh sends Riley and his team out incognito to maintain order. Riley and Buffy meet while walking out on the streets and as Riley is about to leave, he turns and kisses Buffy for the first time. Later that night, the Gentlemen and their demonic footmen lurk out into the night. Olivia wakes up in the middle of the night, and through the window she spies one of the Gentlemen, who travel by floating a foot in the air with their demon assistants, the Footmen, following on the ground. Two Gentlemen float through the UC Sunnydale dorms, finding a freshman boy. Their demon assistants hold the boy down while they cut out his heart. The next morning, Olivia draws a picture of the creature she saw. Giles sees in the paper that there was another similar murder the previous night and and recognizes what is happening. He puts aside his demonic volumes and pulls out a book of fairy tales.
In a lecture room at the college, Giles tells the story of the Gentlemen through drawings and text on an overhead projector, with musical embellishment. They travel into a town to collect seven human hearts, and they collect all the voices so that no-one can scream as a human voice is the only thing that can kill them. They are immune to weaponry such as swords and stakes… only the sound of a real human voice — not a recorded one, despite Willow's suggestion — can kill them and they have collected at least two of the seven human hearts they need. Unfortunately, Giles does not know how to get everyone's voices back, so has everyone else research while Buffy patrols while Riley suits up and then prepares to do the same.
Tara from the Wicca group tries to get to Willow's dorm when the Gentlemen chase after her. She finally makes it to Willow's dorm, and the two girls make a run for it. Riley is attacked by several of the Gentlemen's footmen in the clock tower, until Buffy shows up and starts fighting alongside him. The two are first shocked to see each other, but have neither time nor the ability to speak about it.
Spike vamps out while drinking a mug of blood at Giles' house; as he bends down by the sofa on which Anya is sleeping, Xander sees blood on Spike's lip and the unconscious Anya and concludes Spike has bitten Anya. Xander punches Spike several times before Anya and Giles stop him. He then kisses her passionately, and, realizing he does indeed love her, Anya suggests, through not very subtle hand signals, that they have sex and the two quickly rush off.
Hiding in a laundry room, Willow and Tara try to push a vending machine against the door to block it, but they're not strong enough. Willow then tries to move it using magic, but she can only shake it a bit. Tara understands what she's trying to do, and clasps Willow's hand so they can combine their power. As soon as they hold hands, the vending machine slams against the door. Buffy gets caught by the Igor-like Footmen and the Gentlemen are about to cut into her when Riley shoots them with bolts of electricity. They fight and one of the demons grabs Buffy as she spots the box of voices on the table and recognizes it from her dream. She points it out to Riley and, after one false try, he smashes the box. Everyone's voice is returned, and Buffy lets out a loud and long scream, which causes the Gentlemen's heads to explode in a shower of green slime.
The next day, Tara tells Willow that she was looking for her as she wanted to try a spell to restore the voices, knowing from the Wicca group that she was the only other person genuinely interested in it. The two talk, and Tara tells Willow that she's powerful, even if she doesn't know it yet. Giles and Olivia talk about how many scary things there really are and her reluctance to be part of Giles' world.
In her dorm room, Buffy is visited by Riley. He tells her that they need to talk, and Buffy agrees. The two find themselves, once again, overcome by silence.
- The first appearance of Tara Maclay. Tara becomes a major recurring character in Seasons Four, Five and Six of Buffy, finally being made a series regular in the episode "Seeing Red". Tara will have a huge effect on Willow's life, bringing Willow to the realization that she is gay, and the two enter a long-term relationship.
- This episode features the first kiss between Buffy and Riley.
- In this episode, viewers get their first glimpse of Giles's use of gore and graphic artistry. His works will make another appearance in episode "First Date", when he frightens Chao-Ahn so badly she locks herself in the bathroom.
- After the Gentlemen are defeated, Giles asks Olivia if she can deal with the dangers in his life, and she replies that she doesn't know. They were first seen together in "The Freshman" and she is not seen again until his funeral (Death and Consequences, Part Two). After his resurrection, she's been working as a supernatural consultant and the two become again close friends (Love Dares You, Part One; Freaky Giles Day).
- Chloe (Only mentioned)
- Riley Finn
- Forrest Gates
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Anya Jenkins
- Jeremy Lovell (Only mentioned)
- Tara Maclay
- Mrs. Maclay (Only mentioned)
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Maggie Walsh
- Olivia Williams
- Unidentified girl (Only in visions)
Organizations and tiles
Weapons and objects
- A freshman student, heart surgically extracted by the Gentlemen.
- An unidentified student, heart surgically extracted by the Gentlemen.
- A fifteen year old girl (as seen in newspaper).
- At least two other civilians (their hearts seen in jars).
- One Footman, neck snapped by Buffy Summers.
- The Gentlemen, heads exploded by Buffy's scream.
Behind the scenes
- Joss Whedon created this episode after hearing repeatedly that the crucial part of his series was the dialogue and because according to fellow writers he enjoys "scaring himself". 
- The silence began exactly 14 minutes and 3 seconds into the episode.
- The actors actually deliver all of their lines as normal, and the dialogue was muted so that the lip reading early on was identifiable. With a high enough volume on a television set Alyson Hannigan can be heard to say the first part of her line "I've gone deaf." when she and Buffy are in the dorm.
- Several scenes in this episode are filmed on the same street used in Desperate Housewives. Many of the characters noticeable homes can be seen. The two shows would share many actors over the years, most noticeably Nathan Fillion and Julie Benz.
- Joss Whedon originally planned to produce the musical episode "Once More, with Feeling" in place of this episode. However, Xena: Warrior Princess had recently shown a musical episode so the idea was put on hold.
- Joss Whedon cites the inspiration for this episode as the Space: Above and Beyond story "Who Monitors the Birds?", which is largely devoid of dialogue. The star of that episode, Rodney Rowland, would later guest star on Angel.
- The original airing of "Hush" received 6.6 million viewers, the highest rated episode of the season.
- This episode was nominated for Emmy Award categories "Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera Series" and "Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series".
- This exchange was cut:
- Cheryl: "Well, you missed last week. We did a healing chant for Chloe's ankle. She said the swelling went right down."
- Nicole: "What's she doing on a mountain bike anyway?"
- Cheryl: "She was trying to impress Justin."
- Willow: "I was actually talking more about real spells."
Pop culture references
- Spike eats breakfast cereal Weetabix.
- The Bible passage written on the chalkboard during the silent church service is Revelations 15:1. The "seven plagues" it refers to may be a reference to the seven hearts taken by the Gentlemen.
- Giles mentions having told Olivia he was an original member of Pink Floyd.
Goofs, bloopers & continuity errors
- In one shot the Gentlemen are hovering by the college garden. A small white cart used to make them appear levitating can be briefly seen.
- In Tara's dormroom just before she leaves to see Willow, a book is left open with a chapter on spells related to speech and sound. If looked at closely, it can be seen that the passage in book is about astrology.
- After Tara climbs the stairs in Stevenson while running from the gentlemen, she approaches the first dorm room on her left (adjacent to the fire exit) and starts knocking. When one of the gentlemen opens the door, the camera pans back to show she is now at the second door on the left. But after a short cut to the gentlemen and then back to Tara, now running, she appears to be at the first door again (though this is difficult to make out). The large "exit" sign also changes from white to green.
- In the scene where Olivia shows Giles her drawing of the Gentlemen and he walks over to his bookcase to pull the Fairy Tales book, you can see the set/missing wall/equipment on the right side as he is walking to the bookcase. Then it cuts to the Scoobies in the classroom, you see Xander closing the blinds. It is very visible to the right of the screen an open EXIT door showing the behind scenes of the set. When they cut to showing Anya, Willow, Buffy, and Xander sitting in the seats-the door is clearly closed with an EXIT sign above it.
- Camille Saint-Saëns — "Danse Macabre"
- Christophe Beck — Suite from "Hush": Silent Night / First Kiss / Enter the Gentlemen / Schism
- Christophe Beck — "Demon Got Your Tongue"
- Christophe Beck — "Golf Claps"
- Christophe Beck — "The Princess Screams"
- Armenian: "Լռություն" (Silence)
- Czech: "Ticho" (Silence)
- Finnish: "Vaiteliasta väkeä" (Silent People)
- French: "Un Silence de Mort" (A Deathly Silence)
- German: "Das große Schweigen" (The Big Silence)
- Hungarian: "Csend" (Silence)
- Italian: "L'Urlo che Uccide" (The Scream that Kills)
- Japanese: "静けさ" (Silence)
- Polish: "Cicho sza!" (Hush!)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Silêncio" (Silence)
- Romanian: "Shh"
- Russian: "Тишина" (Silence)
- Spanish (Latin America and Spain): "Silencio" (Silence)
- Andy Hallett, an actor and former personal assistant to Joss Whedon, appeared as an extra in the opening classroom scene of this episode (he is sitting two seats behind Buffy with a dark haired girl in front of him). He would later go on to play Lorne on Angel.
- The rhyme is sung with a similar melody to "Master of the House" from the musical Les Misérables.
- This episode uses composed music in place of dialogue. By contrast, "The Body" uses no music and puts focus on dialogue.
- This is the last episode to feature Marc Blucas as a guest star. From now on, he will appear as either a regular ("Doomed" until "Into the Woods") or a Special Guest Star ("As You Were").
- Some of the incidental music from this episode is used on the episode's main menu sequence of the Season 4 DVDs.
- This episode is included in The Best of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD.
- The two more prominent Gentlemen are played by Camden Toy, who will play other monsters during the show (e.g. Gnarl, the first Turok-Han etc.), and Doug Jones (as the leader), who would later play the Faun in the Oscar-winning movie Pan's Labyrinth.
- According to Camden Toy, the appearance of Gentlemen was so intimidating the rest of the cast would avoid them between takes. Only Marc Blucas would interact with them, whilst Amber Benson's mother actually asked them to keep away from her daughter. Amber Benson stated that she felt bad because no one else would eat lunch with the actors playing the Gentlemen.
- The electro/shoegaze group The Very Hush Hush has alluded in interviews to receiving inspiration for their name from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- For "Halloween Horror Nights 15", Universal Orlando created a haunted maze based on this episode titled "Body Collectors". The Gentlemen's masks and costumes along with the Footmen (or Workers, as they were titled) were all practical copies of this Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, however the storyline revolved around the men collecting bodies instead of voices and dismembering them.
Behind the scenes
|Anya - "You mean an orgasm friend?"|
|Giles - "Yes, that's exactly the most appalling thing you could have said."|
|Spike - "We're out of Weetabix."|
|Giles - "We are out of Weetabix because you ate it all. Again."|
|Spike - "Get some more."|
|Giles - "I thought vampires were supposed to eat blood."|
|Spike - "Yeah, well sometimes I like to crumble up the Weetabix in the blood. Gives it a little texture."|
|Giles - "Since the picture you just painted means that I will never touch food of any kind again, you'll just have to pick it up yourself."|
|Spike - "Sissy."|
|Buffy - "No actual witches in your witch group?"|
|Willow - "No. Bunch of Wanna-Blessed-Bes. You know, nowadays every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a sister to the dark ones."|
|Olivia - "All the time you used to talk to me about witchcraft and darkness and the like — I just thought you were being pretentious."|
|Giles - "Oh, I was. I was also right."|
|Olivia - "So everything you told me was true?"|
|Giles - "Well, no. Um, I wasn't actually one of the original members of Pink Floyd. But about the monster stuff, yes."|