- “Well, it is a mixed bag, you know. If she gets to be the Slayer, then her life is short and brutal. And if she doesn't, then it smells of unfulfilled potential.”
- ―Anya Jenkins[src]
Potential Slayer was each human girl born with the potential to become the Slayer, chosen by mystical forces. With the exception of Sineya, the primeval one, by definition all Slayers had been once Potential Slayers. Although, not all Potentials necessarily become a Slayer, either due to their own death or the long survival of the current Slayer.
Originally, only one Slayer would be called at a time, activated after the previous one had died. However, there were many Potentials all over the world, any one of which could be chosen. In most cases, these girls were identified by the Watchers Council and assigned a Watcher to guide and train them, so that they would be prepared if they were called to be the Slayer. As example of this, Kendra Young had been given to her Watcher when she was still an infant.
However, since the Watchers themselves had only a vague understanding of the forces that selected the Slayer, they were unable to identify every Potential in the world. There were many cases in which the girl was completely oblivious to her potential calling, and remained that way unless she was activated as the new Chosen One. Buffy Summers was one such Potential, only becoming aware of her status when her predecessor was killed and her first Watcher, Merrick Jamison-Smythe, found her.
As example of the difficulty in identifying Potential Slayers, in 2003 seers of the Devon Coven were able to locate a Potential already living in Sunnydale, despite Potentials of her age (such as Violet) were already being trained by the Council. To find this girl, Willow performed a Potential Slayer tracking spell, and a coincidence made the Scooby Gang believe that Dawn Summers was the Potential. Only hours later that Dawn noticed it was a misunderstanding, and recognized Amanda as the actual Potential.
Disruptions of the line
Buffy's death and resurrection in late 2001 disrupted the mysterious mystical forces surrounding the Slayer, so in 2002, the First Evil used this as a catalyst to destroy the Slayer line. It dispatched its army of Harbingers of Death to kill as many Potentials as possible, including their Watchers, eventually planning to murder the Slayers Faith Lehane and finally Buffy.
Rupert Giles, one of the only Watchers left, began bringing as many Potentials as he could track down to Buffy's home in Sunnydale. Buffy trained those who didn't die to become an army for her final battle with the First, the Bringers, and his army of Turok-Hans. To defeat them, Willow Rosenberg tapped into the essence of the Slayer mystical scythe Mʔ to perform the Slayer activation spell for every Potential around the world.
Almost a year and a half after the spell was cast, nearly 1800 new Slayers were active around the world, though only a certain amount of them were working with the Slayer Organization. Potential Slayers were continuously called through the years, until the destruction of the Seed of Wonder and the consequential end of magic. In the original timeline, despite the continuous existence of Potentials, only in the 23rd century Melaka Fray was activated as the first and lone Slayer in nearly 200 years. After the Reckoning, though, the Slayer line continued, and those with the potential were able to be called continuously and concomitantly.
List of Potential Slayers
Although all Slayers had been once Potential Slayers by definition, in 2003 some Potentials were notable while such:
Behind the scenes
- Notably, the non-canon novel Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row prominently features Slayers-in-Waiting around the world, as they were being hunted by Spike and Drusilla in the year of 1940. The known Potentials were: Kate Hutchins, Collette Boisvert, Alessandra Cavallaro, Marya Bajdek, an unidentified Libyan girl, Ilse Skovgaard, Rita Gnecco, Eleanor Boudreau (activated), Ariana de la Croix, Valerie Vourtsas, Isabel Cortes (activated), an unidentified Brazilian girl, and Beatrice Lizotte.