Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 1, Episode 10
1463419 orig
Air date May 12, 1997 (USA)
Written by Joss Whedon (story)
David Greenwalt (teleplay)
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
Episode Guide
"The Puppet Show"
"Out of Mind, Out of Sight"
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Mark Metcalf The Master
Kristine Sutherland Joyce
Jeremy Foley Billy
Andrew J. Ferchland Collin
Co Starring
Dean Butler Hank
Justin Urich Wendell
J. Robin Miller Laura
Terry Cain Mrs. Tishler
Scott Harlan Aldo Gianfranco
Brian Pietro Coach
Johnny Green Way Cool Guy
Patti Ross Cool Guy's Mom
Dom Magwili Doctor
Sean Moran Stage Manager

"Nightmares" is the tenth episode of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, television show, and the tenth episode in the series. It was written by Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt, and directed by Bruce Seth Green. It was originally broadcast on May 12, 1997.

The residents of Sunnydale are in a dilemma when their nightmares start to come to life.


Buffy has a nightmare about going to the Master's lair and being choked by him. Her mother shakes Buffy awake, and, as Buffy wakes up, she is excited to be spending the coming weekend with her father. Buffy confides to Willow that she thinks she might have something to do with her parents' divorce. In a class, when the teacher asks Wendell to read from the text book, he opens it. However, tarantulas crawl out of it. Buffy then sees Billy standing in the doorway, saying he is sorry.

The next day, as the Master explains to Collin how wonderful he finds fear, Buffy is nervous about being picked up by her father after school, and her mother calms her down. At school, Willow and Xander are worried about the spiders and want to talk to Giles about it. Giles mutters that he "got lost," seemingly in the stacks of books, and we assume that something that he fears happened to him. Giles has no information on the spiders and suggests talking to Wendell. Wendell explains that he loves spiders, but says that the spiders hate Wendell because Wendell's brother killed his pet spiders when he was off at camp. He explains that the spiders crawling out is a recurring nightmare for him, but this is the first time it happened. In the meantime, Cordelia lets Buffy know about a history test that Buffy has not studied for. Buffy has a hard time even finding the class, and the test is over in what feels like little time, and Buffy has not even filled in her name. She once again sees Billy, outside the class. As break-time begins, Laura takes a smoking break in the basement, where she is assaulted by an ugly man saying "Lucky nineteen."

Buffy and Giles interview Laura in the hospital, where they hear about "lucky nineteen." Outside, they are shocked by the doctor saying that she got off easy until the doctor explains about Billy, who has been in a coma from assault with the same M.O.. Back at school, the Scoobies are trying to come up with an explanation while a greaser kid's mother embarrasses him in front of his friends. As they are talking, Xander finds out he is in his underwear. As Buffy goes into the library to consult with Giles, he says that he has forgotten how to read. He has, however, managed to find a newspaper with a picture of Billy in an article. The article says that Billy has been in a coma for a week, which contradicts Buffy having seen him. Giles theorizes she might have been seeing Billy's astral projection.

Buffy's father shows up, and asks to talk to her. Outside school, he tells Buffy that her parents' divorce is indeed her fault. Furthermore, he claims to be bored by their weekends together and decides to call the whole thing off. As Buffy is crying, he scolds her. Xander and Willow show up in the library, and they realize Wendell's, Giles's and Xander's mishaps were all based on their nightmares, which seem to be coming true for everyone. Buffy finds Billy's astral body and the ugly man who assaulted Laura finds both of them.

As Buffy and Billy run away, the Scoobies decide to find Buffy and explain the situation to her. As Buffy and Billy run away from the ugly man, Billy explains to her that he was responsible for his baseball team losing and that it is a bad thing to lose at games. As Buffy and Billy find themselves in the cemetery at night-time, Willow finds herself starring in the Madame Butterfly opera. Willow is overcome by stage fright and runs away. Xander is chasing one chocolate bar after another until he finds one he has not had since his sixth birthday. However, he is soon assaulted by a knife-wielding clown. Back at the cemetery, the Master buries Buffy alive.

Still chased by the clown, Xander teams up with Willow and Giles. He decides to confront the clown, punching him and feeling liberated. As Willow, Xander and Giles find Buffy's grave, Giles claims it is his nightmare, letting Buffy die. Buffy crawls out of the grave – a vampire. They all decide to wake up Billy from his coma to stop the nightmares. In the hospital, they find Billy's astral body near Billy's comatose body. As the ugly man finds him, Buffy confronts him. After knocking him out, she forces Billy to face him. Billy wakes up and everything is back to normal.

As Billy's Little League coach shows up, it is obvious he is the inspiration for the ugly man, and that he beat Billy into a coma after they lost the game. He tries to run after Buffy confronts him, but is stopped by Giles and Xander and put into jail. Buffy and her father leave for their weekend together. Willow then asks Xander if he was still attracted to "Vamp Buffy." Although he initially and nervously denies it, Xander then admits: "I'm sick. I need help." Willow agrees.


  • Buffy's father, Hank Summers, makes his first appearance on the show. He would later be seen in only a handful of episodes.
  • Willow's fears of appearing on-stage return once more in a dream in episode "Restless".
  • In this episode are confirmed some fears discussed in "The Puppet Show": Willow afraid of the audience and Xander's fear of clowns. However, no reference is made to Buffy's fear of dummies. On the other hand, Buffy has other fears, such as the fear of not seeing her father more, having been responsible for her parents' separation, not being able to solve a proof, being buried alive, being weaker than the demon she faces, and being transformed into a vampire.
  • Giles' fear was revealed to be Buffy dying, causing him to consequently fail in his duty of being a Watcher. Giles would later be forced to deal with this fear when Buffy died more permanently in "The Gift" ("Bargaining, Part One").
  • It is revealed that Willow doesn't like spiders and she says of them: "What do they need all those legs for anyway?". Anya will sing something similar about bunnies, which frighten her — "What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?" —, in "Once More, with Feeling."
  • Buffy's fear of being buried alive comes to pass in "Bargaining, Part Two", when she is resurrected and awakens in her coffin, having to claw herself out of.
  • The Master burying Buffy alive also foreshadows her death at his hands in the Season Finale "Prophecy Girl."
  • Although they were only dreams, this is the first time The Master and Buffy actually meet face to face.
  • The Master comments that Buffy, as the Slayer, is "prettier than the last one". This might hint at a previous encounter with Buffy's predecessor, although given the Master's sense of humour he may have simply been being sardonic.
  • This is the first time we see one of the Scoobies transformed into a vampire if counting Angel yet (or ever) as a member of the gang.
  • It's also the first appearance of a slaypire, a slayer who was turned into a vampire, even if this term wasn't used in the episode. But a hint at the superior abilities of a creature, that combines the strength of a vampire and a slayer, was given when Buffy faced the Ugly Man as a slayer and became overpowered while as a slaypire she was capable to defeat the creature.
  • This marks the first occurrence of Astral Projection.
  • Willow's eventual fate of becoming a witch is alluded to during her nightmare; the aria that is sung to her can be read in English as "Child, from whose eyes the witchery is shining."



Organizations and titles



Weapons and objects

Death count

  • Buffy Summers, twice "sired" by the Master during the dreams.

Behind the scenes


  • This episode features the only time in the series Buffy appears in vamp makeup.
  • Nerf Herder can be seen briefly written inside Willow's locker. Nerf Herder is the band that composed theme song for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


  • "Nightmares" pulled in an audience of 2.4 million households.[1]

Deleted scenes

  • A line of Xander's was cut from the original script due to length:[2]
Xander - Okay, despite the rat-like chill that just crawled up my spine, I'm going to say this very calmly: Helllppp...
  • An exchange between Giles and Buffy was also cut from the original script due to length:[2]
Giles - Are you all right? You look a bit piqued.
Buffy - Hospital lighting. It does nothing for my fabulous complexion.
Giles - Are you... sleeping all right?
Buffy - I'll sleep better when we find this guy. Nothing like kicking the crap out of a bad guy to perk up my day.

Pop culture references

  • Before burying Buffy alive, the Master quotes Walt Disney's Cinderella by saying "a dream is a wish your heart makes."
  • Billy's statement "I had the strangest dream, and you were in it, and you" is a reference to Dorothy Gale's awakening in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
  • Speaking of Cordelia, Willow asks "Why is she so Evita-like?" a reference to Eva Peron, whose life the musical and later film Evita is based on; in "Expecting" Cordelia threatens to play the film on repeat to punish Dennis' annoyances.


  • Orquesta y Coros del Teatro Nacional — "Madame Butterfly 'Bimba Dagli Occhi Pieni Di Malia' - Puccini" (Sung during Willow's nightmare)
  • Walter Murphy — original score

International titles

  • Finnish: "Painajaisia" (Nightmares)
  • French: "Billy"
  • German: "Die Macht der Träume" (The Power of Dreams)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Pesadelos" (Nightmares)
  • Spanish (Latin America and Spain): "Pesadillas" (Nightmares)


  • Sarah Michelle Gellar has revealed in interviews that she shares the same phobia as her character, fear of being buried alive and that it made filming in graveyards and mausoleums especially difficult during her time on Buffy.


Promotional pictures


Punk - "Listen, I’m not afraid of him." (Cut to the hall) "Hey, if he wants to fight, then I’m takin’ him down. I’m not backin’ off on this. This is about honor. I’ll break his neck!" (Cut to Willow and Xander coming down the hall to her locker)
Willow - "I’m just saying, Wendell had a dream and then that exact thing happened."
Xander - "Which is a fair wiggins, I admit, but do you think that ties in with Laura?"
Willow - "I dunno. Maybe she dreamed about getting beat up. We should ask Buffy when she gets back from the hospital." (The punk’s mother suddenly appears in the hall; Xander sees the encounter and grins)
Mother - "Oh, there’s my little baby!"
Punk - "Mom, what are you doing here? Mom..."
Mother - (laughs and kisses) "How’s my little pookie?"
Punk - "Mom, mom, please don’t kiss me in front of the guys! It’s embarrassing, mom! Please!"
Mother - (laughs) "You cute little rascal, you!"
Punk - "Mom... Thanks, but mom, please, my friends are right here..."
Hank - "You’re old enough now to know the truth."
Buffy - "Is there someone else?"
Hank - "No. No, it was nothing like that."
Buffy - "Then what was it?"
Hank - "It was you."
Buffy - "Me?"
Hank - "Having you. Raising you. Seeing you everyday. I mean, do you have any idea what that's like?"
Buffy - "What?"
Hank - "Gosh, you don’t even see what’s right in front of your face, do you? Well, big surprise there. All you ever think about is yourself. You get in trouble. You embarrass us with all the crazy stunts you pull, and do I have to go on?"
Buffy - "No. Please don’t."
Hank - "You’re sullen and... rude and... you’re not nearly as bright as I thought you were going to be... Hey, Buffy, let’s be honest. Could you stand to live in the same house with a daughter like that?"
Buffy - "Why are you saying all these things?" (A tear rolls down her cheek)
Hank - "Because they’re true. I think that’s the least we owe one another." (Buffy begins to sniff and cry) "You know, I don’t think it’s very mature, getting blubbery when I’m just trying to be honest. Speaking of which, I don’t really get anything out of these weekends with you. So, what do you say we just don’t do them anymore?" (She stares at him in shock. He pats her on the leg) "I sure thought you’d turn out differently." (He gets up and leaves, and Buffy can’t do anything but watch him go for a moment and then look down)
Kiddy League Coach - (comes in as Giles and Xander are about to go get a doctor) "Oh! Huh. Billy’s got company." (takes off his cap) "I-I-I’m his kiddy league coach. I come by here every day, just hoping against hope that he’s gonna wake up soon. He’s, uh, my lucky nineteen." (Giles and Buffy exchange a look, and Buffy realizes something) "So, um, how is he?"
Buffy - (steps aside to show him that Billy has woken up) "He’s awake."
Kiddy League Coach - (walks over to Buffy, puzzled) "What?"
Buffy - "You blamed him for losing the game. So you caught up with him afterwards, didn’t you?"
Kiddy League Coach - (acting innocent) "What are you talking about?"
Billy - (sits up) "You said it was my fault that we lost." (Realizing he’s been found out, the coach tries to get away, only to be stopped by Xander, who grabs him by the jacket) "It wasn’t my fault. There’s eight other players on the team. You know that." (lies down)
Buffy - (smiles at Billy) "Nice going." (Billy returns the smile as his way of thanking Buffy and telling her ‘You did a great job yourself, and I couldn’t be more proud’)
Buffy - "I just can’t believe a kiddy league coach would do something like that."
Xander - "Well, you obviously haven’t played kiddy league. I’m surprised it wasn’t one of the parents."
Willow - "I’m just glad he’s behind bars where he belongs."
Buffy - "But that was kinda heroic, Xander, grabbing him and all."
Xander - " Well, I just did what anyone else would’ve. I mean, if you wanna label it heroic..."
Willow - (to Xander) "Personal question?"
Xander - "Yeah, shoot!"
Willow - "When Buffy was a vampire, you weren’t still, like, attracted to her, were you?"
Xander - "Willow, how can you... I mean, that’s really bent! She was... grotesque!"
Willow - "Still dug her, huh?"
Xander - "I’m sick. I need help."
Willow - "Don’t I know it."


  1. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's First Season"
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Watcher's Guide, Volume One"