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Very few vampires are cunning enough to have lived as long as I — which you've now demonstrated.
―The Master[src]

The Master, formerly known as Heinrich Joseph Nest,[1] was a powerful and respected vampire, older than any other on record.[2] He was the leader of the Order of Aurelius, a vampire cult that worshiped the Old Ones and sought to bring about their return to the world.[3] The Master was also the sire to Darla, inadvertently leading to a long legacy of infamous vampires.[4]



At some point, the Master was turned by a descendant of the demon lord Archaeus, giving him a link to the power of this ancient demon that he passed on to other vampires in his bloodline.[5]

Sources would affirm that a powerful vampire had been enslaved by the Seed of Wonder in the 12th century. This vampire turned out to be the Master.[6]

The Old World[]


The Master reveals himself to Darla.

By 1609, the Master had already lived past the "curse" of human features, becoming much more demonic in appearance than other vampires,[4] to the point where he resembled the much older and more powerful Turok-Hans.

At this time, the Master (posing as a priest) came to the Virginia Colony where he visited the deathbed of a prostitute suffering from syphilis. He tested her faith and discovered that she had lost all hope of having her soul saved. Alone with her, the Master revealed himself and that he had been the one that 'sang' to her from her window the previous night. She first believed he was Death, but the Master claimed he was actually her savior. Assuring her that while God had never done anything for her, he would, he sunk his fangs into her neck and made her into a vampire.[4] Darla become one of the Master's disciples and grew into one of his favorites.[7]


The Master meets Angelus.

In a sewer in London, England in 1760, the Master was introduced to Angelus, Darla's progeny after they had returned from Yorkshire, England. Angelus, mocking the Master's appearance and the Order's harsh dogmas, including enforced underground dwelling, was pummeled into the ground after the Master lost his temper during their confrontation.[4]

Darla, despite the Master having made her the vampire who she was, preferred Angelus' offer of pleasure and adventure to remaining with the Master, leaving to Naples with the "stallion" after he offended and was beaten by the Master. Despite Darla choosing to abandon the Master and the Order to pursue her love affair with Angelus, the Master allowed the two to leave and ordered his henchmen to let them pass, but estimated that the couple would last no more than a century before breaking up.[4]

Around 1880, the Master welcomed Darla back to the Order after she and Angelus had a fight.[8] However, she soon returned to the arms of her lover.[4]


There was an earthquake that swallowed about half the town. And him too.
Willow Rosenberg[src]

The Master believed the Seed of Wonder called him from across the sea into Sunnydale.[6] By 1936, he had moved to the New World with the hopes of opening the Hellmouth located in Sunnydale and bringing about the end of the world by releasing the Old Ones. While in Sunnydale, he caused a notable ruckus by murdering a large number of people. However, months later an earthquake hit town in the middle of the ritual to open the Hellmouth, swallowing half the town, including the church in which the Master was performing the ritual. As the ritual had already commenced, the Master was imprisoned within a mystical barrier.[3]

The Master Rising

The Master rises in 1996 after three score years of sleep.

In 1996, after spending 60 years sleeping in a pool of blood, the Master arose again and used the acolytes of his Order of Aurelius, including Darla, to help him escape his prison within the Hellmouth.[9] This involved a ritual called the Harvest. The Harvest occurred on a single night occurring each century where the Master could draw power from one of his minions as his Vessel. Each time the Vessel fed, the power was transferred back to the Master.[3]

Hoping to gather enough power for him to escape. the Master selected an acolyte named Luke as his Vessel and sent him to out to find blood. Luke and many of the Master's other followers attacked the patrons of the Bronze nightclub, draining and killing a few of them until the current Slayer, Buffy Summers, who had just moved to Sunnydale, intervened. Buffy disrupted the ritual by killing the Vessel (and many other Aurelius vampires), thus foiling the Master's plan.[3]

Buffy further upset the Master by killing more of his most cherished minions, such as Zachary. Angered by her meddling, the Master sent the Three to assassinate her but when Buffy and her friends defeated them, he had them killed as penance. The destruction of the Three proved to bring little solace or satisfaction. Darla offered to kill the Slayer her own way and the depressed Master agreed.[7]

Jealous of Buffy, Darla's scheme involved making it appear that Angelus, then an ally of the Slayer and going by the name "Angel," had turned evil, making Buffy duty-bound to kill him; and in turn force Angel to defend himself and kill her. This plan backfired when Angel unhesitatingly killed Darla in order to save Buffy, thereby deepening Master's depression. Visibly distraught and grieving, the Master nearly lost the will to carry out his plans. Only words of encouragement from his right-hand vampire child, the Anointed One, brought comfort, strengthening his resolve to continue making preparations for his release.[7]

The master nightmares

Buffy meets the Master for the first time when her nightmares become real.

Billy Palmer, a human boy in a coma, astral projected from his hospital bed and inadvertently caused the nightmares of Sunnydale citizens' to manifest into a false reality. In a manifestation of Buffy's deepest fears, the Master was briefly released from his prison and set upon the surface. He confronted Buffy at a cemetery before pushing her into an empty coffin and burying her alive. Buffy freed herself, rising as a vampire temporarily. Awakening Billy from his coma ended the realization of nightmares coming true.[10]


You tried. It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don't tell you everything. You're the one that sets me free. If you hadn't come, I couldn't go. Think about that.
―The Master, before killing Buffy[src]
Prophecy Girl Master Buffy 03

The Master fulfills the prophecy.

Even though the Pergamum Codex prophesied that the Master would inevitably rise from his prison and kill the Slayer, Buffy resolved to deal with him after portents of the upcoming apocalypse encouraged the Master's minions to start taking people's lives on school grounds. The first sign that the Pergamum Codex prophecy would not work out as expected happened when the Master sent the Anointed One to bait the Slayer into entering his lair. Contrary to the codex, Buffy recognized the Anointed One instantly and asked him to fulfill his task as guide. The Master welcomed the Slayer but avoided confronting her directly. Instead, he taunted her from the shadows in order to prolong the moment.[2]

Disgusted with his theatrics and eager to get the confrontation over and done with, Buffy told the Master to reveal himself. Appearing behind her, the Master easily disarmed and rendered her helpless through hypnosis. Holding an incapacitated Buffy and just prior to killing her, the Master happily informed her that if it weren't for her attempt to kill him then he wouldn't have been able to leave. The Master bit her, but drank only a small amount of blood, before dropping her and leaving her to drown in a shallow pool, with a sarcastic compliment about her pretty gown. Despite only drinking a small amount, the Slayer's blood imbued the Master with so much power he broke through the mystical barrier that kept him prisoner for so long.[2]


You're really that amped about Hell? Go there.
―Buffy slays the Master[src]
Master death

The Master as he dies.

Fortunately for Buffy, Angel and her friend Xander arrived in time to revive her. Buffy confronted the Master just as he ascended to the roof of Sunnydale High School, above the library where the Hellmouth was located directly below. Though shocked at seeing her alive, the Master made another attempt at her with his hypnosis but she somehow resisted and the two began fighting, hand-to-hand.[2]

As a creature from the Hellmouth rose and attacked Buffy's friends, the Master remarked on if Buffy would still be making jibes while his hell was raining on earth. Buffy grabbed the Master by the neck and said if he was so excited about hell, he should go there. She then ultimately defeated him by throwing him through the skylight and impaling him on a large piece of wood that had formed from a broken table. Unlike most vampires, who turned completely to dust upon their death, the Master left behind a skeleton.[2] His remains were then buried in a cemetery and consecrated with holy water in a special ritual to prevent any vampires from retrieving him.[11]


Then let the soul who kills [the Slayer] wear [the Master's] mantle.
―"Big Ugly"[src]

Following the Master's death, the Anointed One assumed leadership of the Order. Working with Absalom, the Anointed One concocted a plan to resurrect the Master via a revivification ritual. He forced his minions to dig up the Master's bones (despite the holy water burning their hands) and kidnapped Rupert Giles, Jennifer Calendar, Willow Rosenberg and Cordelia Chase, all of whom where in the vicinity of the Master when he died as the ritual required.[11]

The masters bones smash

Buffy smashes the Master's remains.

Buffy returned to Sunnydale from Los Angeles around the same time as the Anointed One initiated his scheme and was suffering as result of her death at the Master's hands. Along with Angel and Xander, she intervened and killed all of the remaining minions present, before crushing the Master's bones to dust with a sledgehammer, ending his threat permanently and allowing herself to move on with her life.[11]

Weeks after the event, the Order decided that whoever would be successful in killing the Slayer would take the Master's place as leader of the Order. Spike, a member of the Master's bloodline, elected to prove himself by killing the Slayer his way on the Night of Saint Vigeous. His plan wasn't successful, however. Spike launched his attack at Sunnydale High during parent-teacher night which Buffy organized, several nights before the Night of Saint of Vigeous out of impatience, but failed due to the Slayer's efforts.[12]

The Anointed One demanded that Spike give penance for ruining the Night of Saint Vigeous and costing the Order several minions from the attack, but Spike instead killed the Anointed One and took over the abandoned Bric & Broc factory the Order had inhabited following the Master's death. It was then that Spike announced that there would be a little less ritual and a little more fun in Sunnydale,[12] contrasting to the Master's traditionalist world view.

The Master and the First

The First appears in the form of the Master.

In late 1998, Cordelia inadvertently made a wish to Anyanka that Buffy had never moved to Sunnydale, so the vengeance demon transported her to a reality in which the absence of the Slayer had allowed the Master from this reality to survive, rise, and dominate the town. He had his throne room moved to the Bronze and used use the town's humans not as prey, but as cattle. This Master eventually faced the hardened and solitary Buffy, killing her by snapping her neck just before Giles managed to restore the original timeline.[13]

Six years later, the First Evil taunted a then-ensouled Spike by taking the shape of the major enemies faced by the Scooby Gang. This included the Master, along with Drusilla, Richard Wilkins, Adam, Glorificus and Warren Mears.[14]


Kids. They only visit when they need something.

The Master returns to torment Buffy once more.

When Angel became imbued with the power of Twilight, the Seed of Wonder restored the Master to return to his position as protector, inside the ruins of the same church where he used to be imprisoned.[6] Buffy and Angel eventually rejected their roles as the creators of a new universe, but Twilight still needed to capture it so that it would become the new universe's soul, destroying the Old One.[15]

Meanwhile, the interdimensional placenturians poured from countless portals to reclaim the obsolete Earth,[15] while its inhabitants — both demons and humans — battled to defend it on the ruins of Sunnydale.[16] As a result of the battle, Willow overtook the power of the Seed, abandoning the Master in the Seed's chamber. When Buffy and a Twilight-possessed Angel arrived, Angel shattered the Master's head with a single punch, dusting him once again.[17]


Physical appearance[]

The Master has grown past the curse of human features.
B1 Master 02

The Master's advanced age gave him a more demonic and permanent visage.

The Master possessed a more ghoulish appearance than regular vampires which was apparently permanent, preventing him from assuming a human visage.[4] His features somewhat resembled that of a Turok-Han. He had white pale skin, a bald head with pointed ears and yellowish, talon-like nails. His face had the basic vampire brow ridge, wrinkles and fangs, except with red eyes instead of yellow ones; and a snub, bat-like nose. The Master also had a distinctive bloody red stain on his nose down to his mouth, something Buffy referred to as "fruit punch mouth."[2]


At least since the late 20th century, the Master was always seen wearing a black leather Nehru jacket with a belt and matching pants and boots. In the 17th century when he sired Darla, the Master disguised himself as a priest, using a dark robe with its hood covering his face. Later in the 18th century while meeting Angelus, the Master wore a black leathery vest with long, quilted sleeves.[4]


Nobody died...what's the fun in burying someone if they're already dead?
―The Master[src]
Master throne episode 1

The Master sitting on his throne.

The Master was a ruthless overlord who expected total devotion from his followers and expected them to risk their very own lives for his cause.[3]

Minions who failed to carry out their objectives were brutalized by the Master himself or called upon to mutilate themselves in an act of penance. An example of this was Claw, who cut off his own arm after displeasing the Master, but still had to depart from the Order.[18] The Master was also personally offended when Darla offered him Jesse McNally as food, a human she fed off, beforehand, which the Master considered to be scraps.[3]

However, the Master did consider the taking of a life (obviously not a human one) to be a serious matter and not to be taken for personal joy. He also believed the Order of Aurelius was more a family than a religious order, viewing his minions as his own children and that providing them with the responsibility to perform executions was for their own learning, even initially denying Darla the chance to kill Buffy because her desire to do so was based mainly for her own self-interest rather than for the good of the Order.[7]

Despite this family-orientated attitude, the Master was prone to favoritism. His most treasured disciple was Darla, whom he viewed as a daughter, and nearly lost the will to continue his plans, after she was staked by Angel.[7]

The Master was a strong traditionalist who viewed human culture and life above ground as "pestilence," forbidding his minions from living on the surface, only allowing them to leave when hunting,[4] however, he seemed to change this view when rising from the church after being freed, admiring the surface after decades of isolation where he apparently forgot what it was like.[2] His Wishverse counterpart furthered this; after having spent so long trapped underground, he openly defied the Order's old-established views and conquered Sunnydale.[13]

The Master was deeply religious, believing unquestioningly in the prophecies of his old mentor, Aurelius, to the point that it became a flaw. When Buffy is resuscitated after her initial fight with him, The Master's disbelief at her survival in spite of what the prophecy stated leaves him so shaken that some of his powers fail him, causing Buffy to finally defeat him.[2]

The Master also held a belief in demonic superiority, living in tribute to the Old Ones and claiming that vampires were undeniably the superior race in the Wishverse (which would be consistent in the original timeline considering the Wishverse Master's more laid-back demeanor).[13] Interestingly, the Master himself claimed that his objectives were for the "common good."[7]

Despite his cold-hearted nature, the Master was fairly charismatic and had a sardonic sense of humor, asking the Anointed One if the earthquake that preceded the oncoming apocalypse was "5.1" on the Richter scale after making an overzealous performance to accompany it, blatantly remarking that Buffy's sarcastic comment about his lair's water leakage as "the feeble banter portion of the fight" (which seemed to be an on-going feature in her slaying) and even taking the time to compliment Buffy's dress as he finally escaped his lair, remarking: "And by the way, I like your dress."[2]

Powers and abilities[]

You're way out of your league, kid. The Master'll kill you before you can breathe — if you're lucky.

Enhanced vampire abilities — Because of his advanced age as the oldest vampire of his era, the Master possessed superhuman strength, speed, reflexes and endurance far beyond those of any other vampires. He demonstrated this by initially defeating Buffy Summers.[2] Additionally, the Master was seen surviving a powerful punch from Buffy and knocking her down when her powers where massively amplified by Twilight and practically invulnerable. The Master also made use of his fingernails in combat, which were capable of slicing flesh and cloth with ease.

The Master also demonstrated a higher resistance to crosses, when he was able to look at a large cross (though with disgust and anguish) and touch it, the cross emitting visible smoke as it burned his hand but not harming him. The Master explained that this was because fear, like pain, was in the mind, which could be controlled. Because he conquered his fear he could not feel any pain.[10] Additionally, the Master also dreaded the very church he was imprisoned in, though could live in it for over 60 years.[3]



Hypnosis — The Master had adept hypnotic abilities, which allowed him to control people's motor functions with the wave of his hand (not even requiring their gaze), and thus taking control of their bodies and rendering them unable to move, but still conscious of what was being done to them. Not even the Slayer was capable of resisting it. He used this on Buffy and the hypnosis was powerful enough that she remained immobile even when he threw her into a pool after biting her, leaving her to drown. The Master later tried to hypnotize her a second time, when he managed to draw her towards him, only to find out she was then immune to his hypnotic power.[2]

The Master Book

Occult aptitude.

Occult aptitude — Numerous times, the Master has demonstrated intimate knowledge of dark rituals and prophesies — such as the Harvest,[3] the rise of the Anointed One,[19] and the Pergamum Codex's prediction of Buffy's death and his rise despite the text being lost for over five hundred years.[2] It's also likely the Master would've had at least some knowledge of sorcery and magic, since he tried to open the Hellmouth.[3]

Power detection — The Master appeared to at least possess some psychic ability when he could sense a powerful psychic force caused by the astral projection of Billy Palmer.[10]

The Master Skeleton

Skeletal preservation.

Skeletal preservation — The Master had the distinction of being the only known vampire in existence powerful enough to leave his skeleton intact while his flesh and clothing disintegrated into dust upon death. This gave way for him to resurrected by a certain revivification ritual until his bones were destroyed, preventing the ritual from being conducted.[11] However, despite the Master leaving skeletal remains during his death in 1997 by being staked,[2] this apparently wasn't so after his second death by having a hole punched in his head.[17]


The Master and Darla

The Master rarely scolds Darla but favors her over his other minions.

  • Darla — Darla was the Master's most cherished minion out of the whole Order. The Master himself referred to her as his favorite.[7] It was apparent that he didn't just sire her randomly, having allegedly 'sang' to her the night before. As Darla laid hopeless, the Master seemed to see some potential in her and the two cultivated a close bond during the next two centuries. The Master was shocked that Darla abandoned her own sire for a younger vampire, but respected her decision, knowing that their relationship wouldn't last.[4] The Master was once, though, harsh to Darla when she gave him an unacceptable offering before the Harvest, openly threatening her.[3] He also allowed her more liberty than his other minions, shown when he allowed her to execute the Three, knowing she would take much joy in the act while believing a little was enough. When Darla died, the Master became openly aggressive, smashing one of his candle holders in anger until the Anointed comforted him.[7]
The Master You're sitting on my chair!

Angel offends the Master.

  • Angelus — The Master was shown to have mixed feelings regarding Angel and his soulless counterpart. He was impressed at Darla for bringing Angelus to him, even admiring the name she chose for him, thinking it was marvelous. His good mood then changed when Angelus mocked his appearance and the Order's views, beating him for not showing the 'proper respect'.[4] However, by 1997, the Master's opinion of Angel seemed to have changed, though apparently aware of his ensoulment and name change, the Master claimed Angel was "the most vicious creature" he ever met and even admitted to missing him. The Master was even shocked that it was Angel that killed Darla, wanting Angel to be at his right hand come his ascension.[7]
  • Zachary — Like Darla, the Master seemed to value his minion Zachary and was upset when hearing that he didn't come back from his hunt the previous night because of the Slayer, considering Zachary to be one of his children. The extent of their relationship was never shown.[7]
The Master and the Anointed

The Master and the Anointed share a mentor/student bond.

  • Collin — The Master quickly developed a close bond with the young vampire, acting as the Anointed's mentor, teaching him how to successfully run the Order in terms of punishing failure[7] and also the power fear has and how a vampire could conquer anything if they conquered their fear.[10] The Master even held stones in his hand that the Anointed would use to throw onto the pools of water in the church and derived solace from the young vampire's hopeful words after Darla's death.[7] The Anointed also seemed to appreciate the Master and his rulings, working to resurrect him despite having inherited the Master's rule[11] and maintaining the Order's traditions until he was usurped by the rebel Spike.[12]


Buffyverse The Master article has a Photo Gallery.

Behind the scenes[]

  • He was portrayed by Mark Metcalf. He was also played by David Boreanaz in a dream sequence in "When She Was Bad" and voiced by D.C. Douglas in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Xbox) video game.
  • Joss Whedon's notes for "Welcome to the Hellmouth" indicated that the Master's real name was Heinrich Joseph Nest and his age was around 600 years in 1996.[1]
  • According to Metcalf, the Master's makeup took "five-and-a-half hours" to put on. "I had envisioned the Master not wearing heavy makeup and I tried to lobby for none. I did want to shave my head and try to do Murnau's Nosferatu as much as I could to pay homage to that image. [...] The original concept of the makeup was long, greasy hair or long, romantic kind of hair. I talked them into keeping a bald head, but I couldn't talk them out of the full-face makeup. It's a little more monsterish than Nosferatu is, but it's there. The image is definitely connectable."[20]
  • A Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figure and an issue of the Buffy and Angel Figurine Collection Magazine were produced based on the Master.
  • The Master was featured in the Buffyverse parody Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror #13 (2007), in which Lisa Simpson is mixed up as the Slayer and stakes him.



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