This article is about the mother to Buffy and Dawn. For other uses, see Joyce.

You get the hell away from my daughter!
―Joyce Summers[src]

Joyce Summers was the mother of Buffy and Dawn Summers and an art gallery manager.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Joyce was born in 1958[1] and had two sisters, Darlene (who would later live in Illinois along with her own family)[5] and Lolly (who made the curtains hanging in their Sunnydale house).[6] Her niece, Celia, whom Buffy was very close to, died at a young age.[7]

In high school, Joyce had a Gidget haircut and was on the yearbook staff. Joyce met Hank Summers at the prom during her freshman year of college. Joyce did not have a date, but Hank did.[8] The two married and had one daughter, Buffy Summers, who would become the Slayer.

Joyce confronting Buffy after her first slay.

In Los Angeles, Hank and Joyce's relationship eventually deteriorated. Their arguments included those about Buffy when she came home after her first slay.[9]

Hank and Joyce placed Buffy in an asylum after she was expelled for burning down the Hemery High School gym. Neither Hank nor Joyce believed that Buffy was a vampire Slayer.[10]

Sunnydale[edit | edit source]

Mother to the Slayer[edit | edit source]

Joyce seeing Buffy off to school on her first day at Sunnydale High School.

When did you die? You never told me you died?
―Joyce discovering that Buffy had died[src]

In Sunnydale, Joyce managed an art gallery and maintained a close relationship with Buffy. Although, sometimes she was disappointed by some of Buffy's behavior and saw her as a rebellious teenager, unaware that her daughter was a Slayer. Joyce was overall a protective and loving parent, also becoming a maternal presence in the lives of Buffy's friends, Willow Rosenberg and Alexander Harris.

For Buffy's prom, Joyce bought Buffy with a white prom dress she noticed Buffy had her eye on, and recounted the story of how she met her father, unknowingly encouraging her to fight fate and the Master.[8]

When vampires attacked Sunnydale High School on Parent-Teacher Night, Joyce protected her daughter by attacking Spike with an axe after others fled the school. She was concerned about Buffy's poor academic performance, but she was proud to discover that Buffy was a strong leader who took care of herself.[11]

Joyce was disturbed when Angel turned into a stalker after losing his soul and returning to Angelus. She was even more upset when she learned that Buffy had lost her virginity to him. Joyce became increasingly frustrated with the distance between herself and her daughter.[12] When police officers visited the house and informed her that Buffy was a murder suspect, Joyce feared the worst. She met Buffy, who was accompanied by Spike, outside their house. Buffy initially tried to convince her mom that she and Spike were in a band, but when the three were attacked by a vampire, Buffy staked him in front of her mom before leaving to save the world. Joyce reacted badly to this revelation and demanded that Buffy take the time to explain herself, going so far as to warn her not to come back to the house if she left. Taking her at her word, Buffy departed Sunnydale for Los Angeles.[9]

Joyce founds MOO.

While Buffy was gone, Joyce worked with Rupert Giles and the Scooby Gang to locate her. She developed a close friendship with Pat, a woman from her book club who was later killed by zombies. Joyce was relieved when Buffy returned and wanted things to go back to normal.[13] She tried to support Buffy's extracurricular activities while also encouraging her to think about her future. After accompanying Buffy on patrol, Joyce fell under a demon's spell, which drove her to lead Sunnydale on a witch hunt. She and others attempted to burn Buffy, Willow, and Amy Madison at the stake and was later horrified at her actions.[14]

Spike stopped by the Summers' home when he returned to Sunnydale where Joyce lent a sympathetic ear as he related the details of his recent break-up, which earned his perpetual gratitude.[15]

For Buffy's Tento di Cruciamentum, a rite of passage practiced by the Watchers Council to test the Slayer, they pitted her against Zachary Kralik, a psychotic vampire who, in life, had been a serial killer who tortured and murdered young women. However, he escaped captivity and abducted Joyce, taking her to Sunnydale Arms so Buffy would come to him to fight. With this, her Watcher Giles finally revealed to Buffy about the test with the intention of canceling it, and Buffy, even powerless, was able to save her mother and defeat the vampire.[16]

Mother to the Key[edit | edit source]

No matter what she is, she still feels like my daughter. I have to know that you'll take care of her. That you'll keep her safe. That you'll love her like I love you.

Buffy had been Joyce's only child. However, in 2000, a mystical source of energy known as the Key was transformed into her new daughter, Dawn, in order for the Slayer to protect her. The spell used to transform Dawn and keep her safe rewrote everyone's memories.[17]

Later on, Joyce's health deteriorated and she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.[18] Pressure from the tumor interfered with her mind and she temporarily lost mental clarity. At that time, Joyce recognized Dawn's anomalous nature and confirmed with Buffy that Dawn was not her daughter by birth. Despite that, she loved and accepted Dawn as a member of the family and urged Buffy to do everything in her power to protect Dawn.[19]

Joyce's health improved after successful surgery, although her life was soon in danger again. Glorificus, a hell-goddess, sought a mystical key that could open inter-dimensional portals. Although Glory did not realize that the Key was, in fact, Dawn, she knew that Buffy protected it. She threatened Buffy's family, which forced Joyce and Dawn to temporarily stay with Spike for protection. She continued her friendly relationship with Spike and they watched the soap opera Passions together.[20]

Joyce met a publisher named Brian who took her out for dinner and a movie. They had one date that went well, and he left her flowers the next day. Soon, Joyce suddenly died from a brain aneurysm.[2]

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The First Evil takes on Joyce's form to appear before Dawn.

Dawn, devastated by Joyce's death and feeling abandoned by Buffy, who was picking up greater responsibilities and trying to avoid emotional breakdown, resorted to necromancy, despite Willow and Tara Maclay's warnings. With help from Spike and Doc, she performed a resurrection spell for Joyce. However, Dawn realized the inherent dangers of what she has done and that her mother may return as a zombie and broke the spell before Joyce could enter the house.[21]

After her own resurrection, Buffy was poisoned by a Glarghk Guhl Kashmas'nik demon, which caused her to have visions of a version of herself incarcerated in a Los Angeles mental institution, and nearly became convinced she wasn't a Slayer. Joyce appeared, still married to Hank, and attempted to convince her daughter to get over her apparent insanity. However, her message of strength ultimately led Buffy to fight against the poison and return to save her friends in Sunnydale.[10] 

The First Evil also took her form to contact Dawn and tried to drive a wedge between the Summers sisters.[22]

Years later, when cornered by the Scoobies, D'Hoffryn offered to grant them all one wish if they let him go; in Buffy and Dawn's case, he offered to resurrect Joyce and make her healthy again. While they were tempted, they ultimately refused, knowing there would always be a catch.[23]

In the quiet year between the Supernatural Crisis Act and the Reckoning, Xander and Dawn gave birth to a baby daughter named after Joyce.[24]

Personality[edit | edit source]

Joyce was a stereotypical Californian mother, distant and reliant on "pop psychology" techniques in raising her daughter, but well-meaning, such as listening to tapes that taught her to be used to say no.[25] She was a warm, loving mother with a deep reserve of inner strength and a highly cynical and sarcastic streak, clearly inherited by her daughters. In stark contrast to Willow's religious, absent-minded parents and Xander's angry, bitter parents,[citation needed] Joyce was a constant maternal presence, acting as a mother and friend to all the gang. Due to the frequent danger encountered by her daughter, Joyce at times was in the cross hairs of supernatural threats, but was able to hold her own, such as when she struck Spike with an axe[11] or defended her home against zombies.[13] Similar to Buffy, she came to deeply dislike Principal Snyder.

Joyce's sarcasm was a prime aspect of her personality and rivaled even Buffy, bantering with her with ease. Similar to Buffy, she used sarcasm in the face of danger, such as when she held her own against Faith when the rogue Slayer held her hostage, sneering "Are you planning on slitting my throat any time soon?" in the middle of Faith's monologue.[26] She was a fan of the soap opera Passions (which she watched with Spike),[20] the movie Thelma and Louise,[27] and art (particularly African art).[13] She was also a competent seamstress. Her favorite tipples were Schnapps and Kahlua and she was a fan of actor Burt Reynolds,[citation needed] the singer Juice Newton,[28] and the band Seals and Croft. She liked waffles,[citation needed] was a member of a book club, and learned to cook Mexican food.[13]

She hated potlucks, which she gave as a reason for not wanting a wake, and Jell-O, which, she confessed while in the hospital, "creeps her out". She often cared more about others than herself, being more concerned about Riley Finn than her medical condition.[citation needed] She had a friendly and motherly relationship with Spike, who claimed she was the only one he could stand.[21]

When Joyce reverted to her teenage years under the effects of the cursed candy Milkbar, she demonstrated an attraction toward mysterious bad boys like Ripper.[28]

Relationships[edit | edit source]

Romantic[edit | edit source]

  • Hank Summers — Joyce and Hank's relationship ended around the time Buffy began slaying, due to disagreements about raising her and his affair with his secretary. After the divorce, Hank was allowed to spend weekends with his daughters where he and Joyce retained mutual respect for each other when unpacking her suitcases.[29]
  • Ted Buchanan — Joyce began dating the seemingly perfect software salesmen Ted after he revamped her computer system at the gallery. Although he gained the trust of her mother and her friends, Buffy became suspicious of Ted who threatened her over cheating at mini-golf. Joyce, drugged by Ted's cookies, dismissed Buffy's claim and was rendered passively uncertain about what to do after Buffy seemingly killed him. After an encounter with the reawakened Ted and what the police discovered in Ted's house along with what he did to his other wives, Joyce became apprehensive, still believing he would still jump out at her while not knowing his true nature as a robot. Since she was cautious of her daughter's Slayer status, Joyce had presumably learned his real nature at some point.[27]
  • Alexander Harris — Along with the entire female population, Joyce fell under Xander's love spell and attempted to seduce him at the Summers' home, even employing a kitchen knife to break the door that kept her away from him.[30] Xander also once dreamed of Joyce wearing a red silk nightgown inviting him to her bedroom.[31]
  • Rupert Giles — Joyce shared a temporary fling with Giles under the influence of the Milkbar, when they reverted to their teenage selves. Both regretted it when returning to adulthood.[28] She apparently likened his sexual performance to a stevedore when Buffy read her mind,[32] having sex twice on a police car.[33]
  • Dracula — Joyce met Dracula when he came to Sunnydale in 2000, going out on a date for coffee together. She invited him back to her house, presumably while under his thrall.[34]
  • Brian — Before her death, she met a publisher named Brian who took her out for dinner and a movie. They had one date that went well, leading Joyce to tease Buffy by jokingly claiming to have left her bra at his car, then further tormenting her by saying it was actually left at the restaurant and then a dessert cart.[2]

Familial[edit | edit source]

  • Buffy Summers — Joyce's relationship with her eldest daughter was fairly distant before learning that she was the Slayer.[citation needed] The two slowly became closer over time, as Joyce became a single mother to Buffy. Most of their disagreements came from Joyce's early beliefs that Buffy was troubled.[35] She disapproved of some of her choices and activities, such as joining the cheerleading squad,[36] dating Angel,[37] and being a Slayer, a concept she struggled to understand and led to Buffy's departure to L.A.[9] Sometime after Buffy's return to Sunnydale, Joyce became more supportive and more involved in her life, respecting her Slayer status, but encouraging her to find her own path in life independent of Slaying.[38]
  • Dawn Summers — Being her youngest, Joyce tended to baby Dawn, nicknaming Dawn as her "little pumpkin belly"[17] and being over-protective of her, often putting the responsibility on Buffy, to her distress.[39] Even after finding out Dawn wasn't actually her daughter, Joyce's love never wavered and insisted Buffy look after Dawn in case anything happened to her.[19]
  • Faith Lehane — Faith thought highly of Joyce because of her motherly kindness in contrast to her own mother's alcoholism and lack of care for her. Joyce, in turn, liked her positive stance on slaying as she potentially could of taken over for Buffy when she went to college.[40] Faith spent Christmas Eve at the Summers' home at Joyce's request and even brought her a present.[41] When Faith held her hostage at her house, Joyce put on a strong face and stood up to the psychotic slayer. However, after Buffy came to the rescue, Joyce still felt sorry for Faith's situation, knowing she was unhappy and wondering if she would be given help after her apparent arrest.[32]
  • Scooby Gang — Joyce provided a surrogate mother figure to Buffy's friends, happily making them Christmas dinner and showing equal concern for their problems. One example is when Willow received the call about Jennifer Calendar's death, Joyce held her as she cried over Buffy who was less affected.[12] Her death strongly affected the group, including Spike because she treated him affably, and Anya Jenkins who Joyce could stand without being offended by her strange honesty.[42]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Buffyverse.png The Joyce Summers article has a Photo Gallery.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

  • She was portrayed by Candy Clark in the film and Kristine Sutherland in the series.
  • Joyce has the most appearances of a recurring character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel, appearing in 58 episodes total, beating out Lilah Morgan (35), Jonathan Levinson (30) and Andrew Wells (28).
  • Joyce, similarly to Darla on Angel series, is the only non-regular character to appear in every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Joyce has the first line in the show, calling to a sleeping Buffy to wake up in "Welcome to the Hellmouth".
  • Kristine Sutherland knew she was going to die on the show since season 3.[citation needed]
  • Joyce is the first of two characters (the other being Cassie Newton) to die of natural causes.
  • In the DVD commentaries for "Grave", writer/producer Drew Goddard observes that when Buffy was dead she was “in heaven with her mother”.
  • Kristine Sutherland said that she drew from her experiences to play Joyce: "My mother was a single mother and struggled with a lot of those same issues that I struggle with as Joyce. For the sense of deep love and connection, I draw on my own feelings for my own daughter. In terms of trying to parent an adolescent and my relationship with my mother. I try to figure out those struggles, and try to get into that from her point of view."[citation needed]
  • Sutherland has explained how "People said to me before I knew she was the slayer, 'how can you not know that she's a vampire slayer'. I did all kinds of things that my mother had no idea about. It didn't seem strange at all to me that she didn't know, because I think there's a healthy amount of denial at a certain point. That's important to have as a parent."[citation needed]
  • Sutherland commented on the character's role in season 3: "Now that I know she's a vampire slayer, there's so much to process. I think Joyce is struggling to find her place in Buffy's life. There was a comfort level in the second season, that whatever Buffy was doing, she was on the right track. Finding out she was the vampire slayer just threw things right open, so I really struggled to find out what in her life I can share, and how to manage my sense of fear… It's strange to recognize that your daughter is so different from you, that she's this thing that you don't really understand and in many ways is so powerful, yet is still a kid, Joyce still has to figure out when to look out for her, when she needs it and when she doesn't."[citation needed]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Canonical[edit | edit source]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Other[edit | edit source]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Classic
Buffy: The High School Years
Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels

References[edit | edit source]

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