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"Real Me" is the second episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the eightieth episode in the series. Written by David Fury and directed by David Grossman, it was originally broadcast on October 3, 2000, on The WB network.


SLAY, SISTER, SLAY — While Buffy and Giles heat up the training, Buffy and Dawn's sibling rivalry gets them into trouble when a new gang of vampires target the slayer.[1]


Giles guides Buffy into a meditative state. She does handstand on a block of wood and remove one hand from the pedestal. The sound of a crystal falling startles Buffy, and she crashes on the floor. Her sister, who had been playing with the crystals, asks if they can leave now.

While preparing breakfast at home, Dawn annoys Buffy by taking her bowl and emptying the milk carton. Joyce asks Buffy to take Dawn shopping for school supplies, but Riley reminds her they had already made plans. Buffy has to cancel so she can go work with Giles. Giles drives the sisters on their errands, having trouble with the automatic transmission in his new BMW convertible. They spot Willow and Tara heading for the Magic Box shop, and Buffy tells Willow that she's dropping Drama in favor of more Slayer training.

At the shop, the gang finds the owner dead, killed by vampires. Buffy sends Dawn outside, where she encounters a deranged man who tells her: "You don't belong here." She is upset until Tara comes out to keep her company.

Giles admires the shop and its profit potential. Willow sees that the vampires took for books on the Slayer and a cheap unicorn figurine. Elsewhere, Harmony congratulates her vampire minions on their successful raid and informs them she now has information to attack the Slayer tonight.

That night, Dawn is happy to have Xander as her babysitter until she discovers Anya is accompanying him. Tara and Willow unpack in their shared dorm room, and they discuss how Dawn is having a hard time as an outsider of the Scooby Gang. Tara says that she has similar feelings as an outsider.

On patrol, Buffy vents to Riley about the lecture she received from her mother about allowing Dawn to see a dead body. Riley tries to make her see Dawn's perspective, pointing out she and Dawn resent each other for similar reasons.

Harmony and her minions arrive at Buffy's house to challenge her but is disappointed when she's not there. Xander taunts Harmony and her minions from the safety of the house until Dawn mistakenly invites the vampire inside. Harmony puts up a fight, but Xander kicks her out of the house. Buffy and Riley return home, and Xander tells them about Harmony. The Slayer stops laughing when she learns that Dawn invited Harmony inside.

Harmony encounters Spike in the graveyard, and he teases his ex about her plans to kill the Slayer. Harmony forms a new plan of attack. Buffy complains about the trouble Dawn causes and how she can't always be there to protect her; Dawn listens from the hall and runs outside in tears. Anya tries to bring Dawn back inside, but Harmony's minions attack Anya and capture Dawn. Buffy runs out to find her sister, leaving Xander and Riley to take care of Anya, who requires hospitalization.

Harmony explains to her minions that Dawn is bait, meaning they can't eat her. Harmony complains to Dawn about her problems until her mutinous minions attempt to kill them both. After threatening Spike to reveal Harmony's location, Buffy arrives and quickly slays most of the minions as Harmony escapes. Buffy has trouble with the last one, Mort, but she eventually stakes him with the horn of a wooden unicorn. The Slayer frees her sister and, when they get home, the two act in front of their mother like nothing happened.

The next day, Buffy and Giles talk about his decision to take over the magic shop. Dawn writes in her journal that Buffy still thinks she's a nobody, but she's going to be in for a surprise.


  • This is the first appearance of Giles's red BMW, replacing his Citröen, which Spike wrecked in "A New Man."
  • Dawn's description of Willow and Tara's relationship implies that Joyce knows about its romantic/sexual nature; she was oblivious to their sexual orientation in the previous episode, "Buffy vs. Dracula."
  • The man who scares Dawn outside the magic shop says, "I know you. Curds and whey." This is a reference to the nursery rhyme Faith quoted from in "Graduation Day, Part Two" when foreshadowing Dawn's arrival: "Little Ms. Muffet counting down from 7-3-0."
  • Dawn's crush on Xander is first mentioned in this episode. About four years later, the two eventually kiss and begin a steady relationship (Retreat, Part Three).
  • Dawn describes Xander being Dracula's hypnotized servant as acting undercover ("Buffy vs. Dracula").
  • As Xander teaches Anya the table game's rule of "cash equals good," she develops a passion for money and capitalism, a contrast to her past self ("Selfless").
  • Xander mentions "another hair-pulling contest" with Harmony, in reference to their fight in "The Initiative."
  • Tara mentions still feeling like an outsider in the Scooby Gang. That will change in episode "Family" when the Scoobies stand up for her.
  • Xander recalls Joyce inviting Dracula in ("Buffy vs. Dracula"), to which Buffy attributed to loneliness.
  • Buffy mentions having seen her first vampire when she was just a kid, which happened in flashbacks of "Becoming, Part One."
  • Giles buys the magic shop, which becomes the Scoobies' base of operations until its destruction in "Grave."
  • Giles says he was a librarian for years, referring to his three years in the Sunnydale High School library ("Welcome to the Hellmouth" to "Graduation Day, Part Two").
  • Giles tells Buffy about watching the soap opera Passions with Spike, the same one the vampire had complained about wanting to watch in his apartment in "Something Blue."
  • Dawn's last statement, where she says that Buffy thinks of her as "just her dumb little sister... Boy, is she in for a surprise" is proven true when Buffy learns of Dawn's true nature ("No Place Like Home"). However, Dawn herself is unaware that she is anything more than a normal human girl.



Organizations and titles[]




Rituals and spells[]

Death count[]

  • Bogarty, killed by Harmony's gang (only mentioned).
  • Cyrus, staked by Buffy.
  • Peaches, staked by Buffy.
  • Brad, beheaded by Buffy.
  • Mort, staked by Buffy with a wooden unicorn.

Behind the scenes[]


  • Prior to the role of Dawn being cast, Sarah Michelle Gellar suggested they take a look at Michelle Trachtenberg. Dawn was originally conceived to be 12 years old, but after Trachtenberg was cast, the writers raised the character's age to 14. However, the first few scripts were still written with the voice of a 12-year-old in mind.[2]
  • Writer David Fury says he was "given a lot of freedom to develop Dawn" as her background was completely unknown. He set up her relationships with the other characters, such as Willow's status as Dawn's "favorite aunt," and provided additional backstory that — although not necessarily appearing in the finished script — "infused her character in future episodes."[3]
  • Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn) has been added to the opening credits, marking the shortest period in which an actor goes from a guest credit to a main character (only one episode, with Dawn's debut appearance being at the very end of "Buffy vs. Dracula").
  • This is the second episode in a row to promote a guest star to main cast status (the first was Emma Caulfield's promotion in "Buffy vs. Dracula"). The number of main characters on the show now stands at eight, the record for both Buffy and Angel. This will remain the case until the tenth episode of the season, "Into the Woods," when Marc Blucas leaves the main cast.
  • The role of Cyrus, one of Harmony's gang, is played by Tom Lenk. This is Lenk's first appearance on the show; he will later portray Andrew Wells.


  • "Real Me" had an audience of 3.9 million households upon its original airing.[4]

Pop culture references[]

  • Dawn states that she doesn't need to go school shopping at the magic shop since she's not going to Hogwarts, a fictional school of magic in the Harry Potter book series.
  • Riley compares his plans with Buffy with the invasion of Normandy during World War II.
  • Buffy hopes one of the listed books is available as an audiobook read by the actor George Clooney.
  • The man who scares Dawn outside the magic shop says, "I know you. Curds and whey," a reference to the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet."
  • Buffy says that patrolling with Riley isn't like going to a sock hop, which was a term for mid-20th century teenage dance parties where the participants would literally take their shoes off and dance in their socks.
  • Anya brings table games Monopoly, Clue, and The Game of Life.
  • Spike jokes that one of the books Harmony claims to have read is called Evil for Dummies, a nod to the For Dummies reference book series.
  • Xander makes the comment that "Ruffles have ridges," which is the tagline for the snack food Ruffles.
  • Xander refers to Buffy's home as the Fortress of Solitude, a headquarters for Superman.
  • Buffy states that "most magic shop owners in Sunnydale have the life expectancy of a Spinal Tap drummer," a fictional band whose drummers tend to die of various, often strange reasons.
  • Giles mentions watching the soap opera Passions with Spike.


  • In the scene where Tara and Willow are discussing Tara's feelings as an outsider, a microphone can briefly be seen.
  • At the end of the scene where Buffy and Dawn are riding in Giles's car, a man's hand can be seen on the right side of the screen on the car.
  • When Giles is going through the magic shop ledger, his left hand keeps jumping around; nearly every time the shot changes, it suddenly is in a different position.


International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Իմ իրական Ես-ը" (My Real Me)
  • Czech: "Mé skutečné já" (My Real Self)
  • Finnish: "Todellinen minä" (Real Me)
  • French: "Jalousies" (Jealousies)
  • German: "Lieb Schwesterlein mein" (Dear Little Sister of Mine)
  • Hungarian: "Az igazi én" (The Real Me)
  • Italian: "Un Invito Pericoloso" (A Dangerous Invitation)
  • Japanese: "本当の自分" (Real Me)
  • Polish: "Prawdziwa ja" (Real Me)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Meu Verdadeiro Eu" (My Real Me)
  • Romanian: "Adevăratul eu" (Real Me)
  • Russian: "Моё истинное «Я»" (My True "I")
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Mi Verdadero Yo" (My Real Me)
  • Spanish (Spain): "Mi Verdadero Yo" (My Real Me)



Promotional stills[]

Behind the scenes[]



Riley: "'I'm here to violate your firstborn'... never really goes over that well with parents. I don't know why..."
Giles: "I'm just not used to this automatic transmission. I loathe this sitting here, not contributing. No, no, no. It's not working out."
Buffy: "Giles, are you breaking up with your car?"
Giles: "Well, it did seduce me, all red and sporty."
Buffy: "Little two-door tramp."
Dawn: "She and Willow are both witches. They do spells and stuff, which is so much cooler than slaying. I told mom one time I wish they'd teach me some of the things they do together. And then she got really quiet and made me go upstairs."
Giles: "I was a librarian for years. This is the same, except this time people pay for the things they never return."
Anya: "Crap, look at this. I'm burdened with a husband and several tiny pink children, and more money than I can reasonably manage."
Xander: "That means you're winning."
Anya: "Really?"
Xander: "Yes, cash equals good."
Anya: "Ohh, I'm so pleased. Can I trade in the children for more cash?"


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy.com. Archived from the original on June 9, 2001.
  2. David Fury. The Complete Fifth Season on DVD; audio commentaries for the episode "Real Me." [DVD]. 20th Century Studios, December 9, 2003.
  3. "David Fury - Real Me." BBC. Retrieved on March 9, 2021.
  4. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Fifth Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008.