- “Okay... Let’s deal with this. Jesse was an excruciating loser who couldn’t get a date with anyone in the sighted community! Look at me. I’m a new man!”
Jesse McNally was a Sunnydale High student and close friend of Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg. In 1997, Jesse was sired by a vampire and became a member of the Order of Aurelius, but was dusted shortly afterward by Xander, who accidentally staked him.
Jesse had a crush on Cordelia Chase about the time that Buffy Summers transferred to Sunnydale High from Hemery High. While at times summoning enough confidence to talk to Cordelia, she constantly dismissed him due to his nervous "puppy attitude" around her, which caused him to temporarily back off. During a visit to the Bronze, Jesse was lured by the vampire Darla of the Order of Aurelius and taken to the Order's lair in order to be offered as food for the Master, stating his blood was "pure". The Master instead was offended that they would offer him a human they had already fed off, describing him as "scraps".
As a Vampire
The newly sired Jesse went alongside Darla, Luke and other vampires to the Bronze to celebrate the Harvest, a ritual which would release the Master from his mystical prison. Jesse, however, was only concerned with making Cordelia like him, and when he saw her, he took her to dance without even asking. Somewhat mesmerized by Jesse's new attitude and look, Cordelia accepted, oblivious to the danger she was in. Jesse was then annoyed when Darla took Cordelia away from Jesse to be sacrificed to the Master's vessel.
Death and Legacy
Eventually, Jesse was confronted by Xander, and was accidentally killed when a unnamed individual accidentally knocked him onto the stake Xander was holding.
Years later, Xander revisited the painful experience of having to stake Jesse when talking to SFPD detective Robert Dowling, who was reluctant to stake his newly sired partner. Xander remarked that, even to this day, when he thought back to it he could only see the face of his friend.
Powers and Abilities
- “I feel good, Xander! I feel strong! I'm connected, man, to everything! I can hear the worms in the earth!”
- ―The Harvest
Jesse possessed the common powers and weaknesses of a vampire. He also showed the typical attitude of newly-sired vampires, astonished by his newfound powers and immortality.
Behind the Scenes
- He was portrayed by Eric Balfour.
- Joss Whedon planned to include Balfour in the opening credit sequence of the pilot, to make it even more shocking when this supposed main character was immediately killed off. There was not enough money to do this at the time, but Whedon later used the trick in the sixth season, putting Amber Benson in the credits for the first time in the episode where her character Tara was killed.
- An original plotline for "Conversations with Dead People" would have involved the First Evil taking Jesse's form to taunt Xander, but these scenes were scrapped at the last minute because Balfour was not available. As a result, "Conversations with Dead People" is the only episode of Buffy in which Xander does not appear.