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Buffyverse Wiki

"Life Serial" is the fifth episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the 105th episode in the series. It was written by David Fury with Jane Espenson and directed by Nick Marck. It was originally broadcast on October 23, 2001, on the UPN network.


Jonathan, Warren and Andrew test Buffy's abilities — and patience — with a secret campaign of harassment. The Slayer struggles to readjust to life in Sunnydale by attending classes with Willow and working with Xander.[1]


Buffy returns from her meeting with Angel, implying that it didn't go well but refuses to reveal any details. Instead, the Scoobies discuss Buffy's future plans. Not knowing what she wants to do in life, Buffy agrees to audit the classes Willow and Tara are taking until the next semester starts.

The Trio prepare for their competition to test Buffy, setting up their van with high-tech monitoring equipment. However the three get into an argument when Andrew paints a decal of the second Death Star on the side, since they're supposed to keep low-key.

At UC Sunnydale, Buffy finds herself overwhelmed by a class she takes with Willow. Buffy later meets up with Tara for her art appreciation class, but before it begins, Warren tags her with a tiny device that causes her to move very slowly in time so everyone else seems to be moving in fast-forward. Buffy misses class and is dazed as the world whizzes around her; when she finally notices the device planted on her, it self-destructs, putting Buffy back in normal time.

Later, Buffy decides to get a job and Xander pulls some strings to get her a job as part of his construction team, telling him about the time situation at university before she's introduced to Tony, the boss. Although stronger than the other workers, she makes a bad impression when she starts to power through the work since the crew is being paid by the hour. From the Trio's van, Andrew summons three demons, which thrash the construction site before Buffy kills them. Xander complains to Buffy that she brought her Slayer work to his job and that he's now have to find a way to explain the mess to his clients, so he fires her.

Buffy learns about working at the Magic Box from Giles and Anya as Jonathan begins casting a time loop spell. Buffy assists a man with a candle sale and then goes downstairs to fetch an Ancient Mummy Hand for a second customer. The hand attacks Buffy and she is forced to kill it, which also kills the sale. The events start to repeat themselves as Buffy must satisfy the customer while dealing with the mummy hand. If she fails, the events reset to when the customer walks into the store. Buffy becomes increasingly agitated, even breaking Giles' glasses and crying in another. After several loops, Buffy finally manages to end the spell by promising the customer they'll deliver the mummy hand directly to her instead. Although Giles congratulates Buffy on making her first sale, Anya reminds her that she didn't charge extra for the item's delivery and decides to take the money out of Buffy's pay. Buffy quits and leaves the store as the Trio keep score.

That night, Buffy gets drunk with Spike at his crypt. To get more alcohol and investigate her attacks, Buffy goes with Spike to a bar where he plays kitten poker with a group of demons. The poker game ends badly and Buffy leaves the bar. Outside, Buffy rants to Spike about the new low her life has reached with her inability to understand school or get a decent job. Meanwhile, the Trio get into an argument over who was the best James Bond and accidentally trip the horn (which plays the theme tune to Star Wars). Buffy and Spike notice the black van that she realizes has been at all the events of the day.

The Trio notice Buffy approaching with alarm. A demonic creature then appears from behind the van and threatens Buffy, but it's beaten down by a staggering drunken kick from the Slayer while the van drives away. With the use of smoke to confuse Buffy and Spike, the creature runs away, transforming back into Jonathan when he catches up with the van.

At home, Buffy begins to recover from her drunken state and complains to Giles about her life. He consoles her and offers her a check to help pay for all the expenses. Buffy is glad and says that knowing he's always gonna be there for her makes her feel safe. As she leaves the bedroom, Giles' smile fades into a worried expression.


  • A meeting between Buffy and Angel takes place immediately before this episode, between the corresponding Angel episodes "Carpe Noctem" and "Fredless."
  • The Scooby Gang will speculate Buffy and Angel's meeting in the dubious canon comic Reunion.
  • Buffy mentions leaving school when her mom got sick ("Family") and says she missed the deadline to re-enroll due to her death in "The Gift." She shows interest in trying to reenroll next semester, although she will once again miss the deadline ("As You Were").
  • The demon Clement appears for the first time playing kitten poker. Although he is noticeably more hostile toward Buffy and Spike, Clem befriends them and the Scoobies in "Older and Far Away."
  • Jonathan's phrase "Let the spell be ended" was used by Willow in "The Replacement."
  • Cats being used as food for evil beings is first introduced in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, as Lothos picks one up while mentioning that he was off to have a snack.
  • The game of kitten poker is shown for the first time. Spike will have problems owing kittens in "Tabula Rasa" and will eventually rescue seven cats from a game in Love Dares You, Part One.
  • Warren suggests that Andrew might be gay after showing homophobic tendencies when refusing to hold hands. Andrew will eventually come out as gay in Love Dares You, Part One.



Organizations and titles[]




Rituals and spells[]

Death count[]

  • Three unidentified demons, killed by Buffy at the construction site.

Behind the scenes[]

  • The title of the episode is a pun on the breakfast cereal Life.
  • Danny Strong has revealed that, when Jonathan drops his magic bone, he made a rattlesnake gesture that Lily Tomlin did to him on Big Business. Tom Lenk would make the gesture to him and Adam Busch onset as an inside joke, so Strong decided to use it.[2]
  • James C. Leary talked about the kittens: "Actually having to deal with about twelve kittens on a table, when for some of the scene we were raised above the floor to get proper eye lines so the table was about two feet off the ground and the kittens kept trying to crawl off the table, [was difficult]. You don't want to let them fall, so you're in the middle of this dialogue scene trying to remember your lines and not look at the camera and you're like: 'Oh, there goes a kitten, there we go.' So it was an effort trying to wrangle the kittens and keep them on the table. It was so crazy because there were twelve to fourteen of them that they would just keep interchanging all day long on the set. 'Meow, meow, meow... Cut, we have kittens mewing.' They were from the SPCA (Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals), so everybody on set wanted to take one home. I can't — my wife's allergic to cats — so that solved that problem."[3]
  • Mark Ginther, who portrays Jonathan's demon form in this episode, also portrayed the dealer head demon in "The Prodigal" and Lasovic in "The Ring."


  • "Life Serial" had an audience of 3.5 million households upon its original airing.[4]

Pop culture references[]


  • In the widescreen version of the episode, a crew member is visible to the left behind Xander and Buffy as they talk at the construction site.
  • When Warren takes out Jonathan's magic bone, he's holding it only with his left hand. When Jonathan demands "Stop touching my magic bone" right after, the bone is being held by both his right and left hands.
  • During the scene with Buffy and Xander when are walking up to the foremen, talking about the exploding lint, you can see a crew member carrying a light diffuser off behind Xander.
  • When the Trio is in the van, you can see the reflections of the camera crew in the binoculars lens and the vans windows.


International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Կյանքը ըստ ծրագրավորածի" (Life as Planned)
  • Czech: "Seriálový život" (Serial Life)
  • Finnish: "Elämä jatkuu" (Life Goes On)
  • French: "Tous contre Buffy" (Everyone Against Buffy)
  • German: "Die Zeitschleife" (The Time Loop)
  • Hungarian: "Folytatásos élet" (Continuing Life)
  • Italian: "Sotto esame" (Under Examination)
  • Japanese: "人生は続く" (Life Goes On)
  • Polish: "Szara codzienność" (Gray Daily Life)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Vida em Série" (Serial Life)
  • Romanian: "Life Serial"
  • Russian: "Жизнь по расписанию" (Life on Schedule)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "La vida en serio" (Life in Earnest)
  • Spanish (Spain): "El serial de la vida" (The Serial of Life)


Promotional stills[]

Behind the scenes[]



Jonathan: "Stop touching my magic bone!"
Giles: "Buffy, a word in your ear. Um, if you, uh, think of the store as as a library, it'll help you to concentrate on service rather than selling."
Buffy: "Yes. And then I'm going to marry Bob Dole and raise penguins in Guam."
Giles: "Yes, uh, quite right, yes."
Buffy: "You like slug, go with slug. She's not gonna sleep with you anyway."
Buffy: "Tonight sucks. And look at me. Look at— look at stupid Buffy. Too dumb for college, and freak Buffy, too strong for construction work. And my job at the Magic Shop? I was bored to tears even before the hour that wouldn't end. And the only person that I can even stand to be around is a... neutered vampire who cheats at kitten poker."
Spike: "You saw that huh?"
Warren: "Connery is Bond. He had style."
Jonathan: "Yeah, but Roger Moore was funny."
Warren: "Moonraker? The gondola turns into a hovercraft? It's retarded. And besides, the guy had, like, no edge."
Andrew: "Dalton had edge. In Licence to Kill he was a rogue agent. That's edgy. And he was amazing in The Living Daylights."
Jonathan: "Yeah, which was written for Roger Moore, not Timothy Dalton."
Warren: "This is stupid! We're wasting time. End of discussion. I mean, there's a shot of, like, pigeons doing double-takes when the gondola blasted by! Moonraker is inexcusable!"