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Post-mortem, Joyce appeared in Buffy's dreams on several occasions. The [[First Evil]] also took her form to contact Dawn and tried to drive a wedge between the Summers sisters.
Post-mortem, Joyce appeared in Buffy's dreams on several occasions. The [[First Evil]] also took her form to contact Dawn and tried to drive a wedge between the Summers sisters.
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<ref>''[[Own It, Part Five]]''</ref>.

Revision as of 02:31, January 24, 2018

You get the hell away from my daughter!
―Joyce Summers, protecting Buffy from Spike[src]

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


Early life

Joyce had two sisters, Arlene (who lives in Illinois along with her unspecified family) and Lolly (who made the curtains hanging in their Sunnydale house). Her niece, Celia, whom Buffy was very close to, died at a young age. 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.


Joyce confronting Buffy after her first slay.

In Los Angeles, Hank and Joyce's relationship eventually deteriorated and Hank had an affair with his secretary. Hank and Joyce's arguments included those about Buffy when she came home after her first slay. While Hank was more authoritarian about Buffy's behavior, Joyce was the more lenient, albeit disappointed, parent. Hank and Joyce placed Buffy in an asylum after she was expelled for burning down the Hemery High School gym and had returned home from Las Vegas. Neither Hank or Joyce believed that Buffy was a vampire Slayer.


Images (32)

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 owned an art gallery and maintained a close relationship with Buffy, although she was disappointed by some of Buffy's behavior. Joyce was a protective and loving parent. She also became a maternal presence in the lives of Buffy's friends, Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris. 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. Unlike the abusive, bitter parents of Xander and the distant, uninvolved parents of Willow, Joyce was a constant loving presence, always there with advice and a warm hug. She was warm and loving to all, even Spike, with whom she eventually formed a friendship.

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. 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, which she clearly regretted immediately. Taking her at her word, Buffy departed Sunnydale for Los Angeles.

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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. 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. 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.

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Joyce's only biological child was Buffy. However, a new daughter, Dawn, mystically appeared in her home. Her existence was interwoven into the everyone's memories. Joyce's health deteriorated and she was diagnosed with a brain tumor (clinically called oligodendroglioma). 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. She loved and accepted Dawn as a member of the family and urged Buffy to do everything in her power to protect Dawn.


Later Years and Death

Joyce's health improved after a successful surgery, although her life was soon in danger again. Glory, 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 a soap opera, Passions, together. Soon afterward, Joyce suddenly died from a brain aneurysm which left all of the Scoobies, including Spike, devastated and completely heartbroken.[2]


Dawn, devastated by Joyce's death to the point of irrationality and feeling abandoned by Buffy, resorted to necromancy despite Willow and Tara Maclay's warnings and, with help from Spike and Doc, reanimated 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.[3]

After her own resurrection, Buffy was poisoned by a demon, which caused her to have visions where she was incarcerated in a Los Angeles mental institution, and being the Slayer was merely her delusion.[4] Joyce appeared, still happily married to Hank and attempted to convince her daughter to get over her apparent insanity. However, her attempts ultimately led to Buffy returning to Sunnydale in full force to slay the demon that poisoned her. The episode ends with the image of asylum Buffy becoming catatonic, much to the dismay of Joyce and Hank. It is left deliberately ambiguous as to whether this was simply a hallucination or whether Buffy being the Slayer is, in fact, a seven-year long delusion from when she 'meets' Merrick to when Asylum Buffy regains her sanity again at the end of Chosen. 

Post-mortem, Joyce appeared in Buffy's dreams on several occasions. The First Evil also took her form to contact Dawn and tried to drive a wedge between the Summers sisters.

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[5].


Joyce was a stereotypical "Californian" mother, distant and reliant on "pop-psychology" techniques in raising her daughter, but well-meaning. She became more of a central figure, however, as she became more competent and sympathetic, as exemplified when she attacked Spike with an axe in order to protect her daughter. 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, Joyce was a constant and maternal presence, acting as a mother and friend to all the gang. Although she would occasionally bring up her work as a gallerist, her vocation was clearly secondary to her parenting role: the most we see of it is the haunted mask she brings home in "Dead Man's Party."

Joyce often bantered with Buffy and even held her own with 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. She was a fan of the soap opera Passions, which she watched with Spike, the movie Thelma and Louise (starring Kristine Sutherland lookalike Susan Sarandon), and art (particularly African). She was also a competent seamstress. Her favourite tipples were Schnapps and Kahula and she was a fan of actor Burt Reynolds, the singer Juice Newton and the band 'Seals and Croft'. She likes waffles and may ski judging by the poles Oz finds in her closet in 'Dead Man's Party'. She is a member of a book club and learns to cook Mexican food in season 3.

Joyce 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. She had a friendly and motherly relationship with Spike, who claimed she was the only one he could stand. Spike paid his respects by anonymously leaving flowers.

When Joyce reverted to her teenager years under the effects of the band candy (made by Ethan Rayne), she demonstrated an attraction towards the mysterious and bad boys like Ripper (which was almost similar to her daughters — Buffy with Angel and Spike, and Dawn with Justin). Since the spell gave adults a regression to their teenager times (though enhancing their misbehaving), it's implicit that when Joyce was in her youth, before marrying Hank and then being a mother, she had a lively sexual life.



  • Hank Summers — Joyce and Hank's relationship ended around the time Buffy began slaying because of 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 still retained a mutual respect for each other when unpacking her suitcases.[6] In Buffy's hallucinations, Joyce and Hank were still married, presumably for Buffy's sake.
  • Ted Buchanan — Joyce began dating the seemingly perfect software salesmen Ted after he revamped her computer system at the gallery. Although catching 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 unmapped 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.[7]
  • Xander 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.[8] Xander also once dreamed of Joyce wearing a red silk nightgown.[9]
  • Rupert Giles — Joyce shared a temporary fling with Giles when reverted to their teenage selves,[10] regretting it when returning adult but apparently likened his sexual performance to a stevedore when Buffy read her mind.[11]
  • 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 whilst under his thrall.[12] It is unknown whether anything else happened between them.   
  • 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.[13]


  • Buffy Summers — Joyce's relationship with her eldest daughter was fairly distant before learning that she was the Slayer. Buffy was met with constant disappointment from Joyce who disapproved of some of her choices and activities such as joining the cheerleading squad, dating Angel and especially leaving her for LA. Sometime after Buffy's return to Sunnydale, Joyce became more supportive and more involved in her life, including her Slayer duties and her future beyond school.
  • Dawn Summers — Being her youngest, Joyce tended to baby Dawn, nicknaming Dawn as her "little pumpkin belly"[14] and being over-protective to her, often putting the responsibility on Buffy, to her distress.[15] Even after finding out Dawn wasn't actually her daughter, Joyce still loved her deeply and insisted Buffy look after Dawn in case anything happened to her.[16]
  • The Scooby Gang — Joyce provided a surrogate mother figure to Buffy's friends, happily making them Christmas dinner and showing equal concern to their problems. One example includes when Willow received the call about Jenny Calender's death, Joyce holding her as she cried over Buffy who was less affected.[17] Her death strongly affected the gang including Spike because he was treated affably by her and Anya Jenkins who Joyce could stand without being offended by her strange honesty.[18] Anya, differently from the other Scoobies who just weep, try to comfort each other and showing anger, is the one to pronounce a very passionate and moving eulogy of Joyce in "The Body".
  • Faith Lehane — Faith thought highly of Joyce because of her motherly kindness in contrast to her mother's alcoholism. Joyce in turn liked her positive stance on slaying as she potentially could of take over for Buffy when she went to college.[19] Faith spent Christmas Eve at the Summers' home at Joyce's request and even brought her a present.[20] 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 will be given help after her apparent arrest.[21]

Behind the Scenes

  • She was portrayed by Kristine Sutherland.
  • In her youth, Joyce was fan of Seals and Croft's music.[22]
  • Joyce has the most appearances of a recurring character on Buffy or Angel, appearing in 58 episodes total, beating out Lilah Morgan (35), Jonathan Levinson (30) and Andrew Wells (28).
  • Joyce is the first of two characters (the other being Cassie Newton) to die of natural causes.
  • Joyce, similar to Darla on Angel, is the only non-regular character to appear in every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Kristine Sutherland knew she was going to die on the show since Season 3.
  • In the commentary for "Grave", writer/producer Drew Goddard observes that when Buffy was dead she was 'in heaven with her mother'.
  • Joyce has the first line in the show, calling to a sleeping Buffy to wake up in 'Welcome to the Hellmouth'.

Writing and acting

  • 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."
  • 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."
  • 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 recognise 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."


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