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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]


Buffy trains and works on her strength with the help of Giles and some crystals. She practices a handstand on a block of wood but falls when her sister, Dawn, knocks over the crystals. In the morning, Dawn continues annoying Buffy by 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. He seems to recognize her, saying: “You don't belong here.” She is upset until Tara comes to keep her company.

The gang realizes that a pack of vampires raided the shop for books on how to defeat the Slayer, under Harmony's leadership. Giles admires the shop and its profit potential.

That night, Dawn is happy to have Xander as her babysitter, until she discovers Anya is coming too. Harmony arrives to challenge Buffy 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. After Harmony puts up a fight, Xander literally kicks her out of the house. Harmony later encounters Spike in the graveyard, and the two talk about Harmony's plans to kill the Slayer. While unpacking in their new place, Tara and Willow discuss how Dawn is having a hard time as an outsider of the Scooby Gang. Tara reveals that she has similar feelings as an outsider. On patrol, Buffy is fuming about the lecture she received from her mother about allowing Dawn to see a dead body. Riley tries to talk some sense into her, pointing out she and Dawn resent each other for similar reasons.

When they return home, Xander tells Buffy about Harmony and — after the Slayer stops laughing — she gets angry that Dawn invited Harmony inside, even though it was purely unintentional. Buffy complains to Riley and Xander 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. Before Anya can bring Dawn back inside, Harmony's vampire minions capture Dawn and attack Anya. Buffy then 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. Buffy — who had threatened Spike until he revealed Harmony's location — arrives and easily kills most of the minions as Harmony escapes. Buffy has trouble with one, Mort, but eventually manages to stake him with a hideous wooden unicorn of Harmony's. The Slayer frees her sister and when they get home, they agree not to tell their mother. The next day, Buffy and Giles talk about his decision to take over the magic shop, while 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."
  • Mr. Bogarty is the third owner of the magic shop to be killed in the series. The shop, to be named the Magic Box, will become the Scoobies' third base of operations until its destruction in "Grave."
  • The man who scares Dawn outside the magic shop says, "I know you. Curds and whey." This is a reference to the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet, which Faith quotes from in "Graduation Day, Part Two" when she is 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.
  • Tara visibly bristles when Willow calls her "one of the good guys," foreshadowing the events in "Family," when it is revealed that her family has convinced her that she is part demon.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Pop culture references

  • 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.
  • Dawn states that she doesn't need to go school shopping at the magic shop since she's not going to Hogwarts, which is the school that Harry Potter attends. As indicated by Dawn's admonishing Buffy to "crack a book," this Harry Potter reference is based entirely on the book series, as this episode aired more than a year before the first Potter film.
  • 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.
  • Xander greets Dawn with the phrase "dawn patrol," which was the name of a 1930 film about World War I as well as the debut album by the band Night Ranger.
  • Peaches mentions that Harmony's gang has a census taker back at their lair. This is likely a reference to The Silence of the Lambs, in which Hannibal Lecter describes a meal he cooked using a census taker's liver.
  • 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.
  • 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 The Vampire Slayer. Archived from the original June 9, 2001. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  2. David Fury. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fifth Season on DVD; DVD commentaries for the episode "Real Me." [DVD]. 20th Century Studios, December 9, 2003.
  3. "David Fury - Real Me." BBC. Retrieved on March 9, 2021.