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"Shadow" is the eighth episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the eighty-sixth episode in the series. Written by David Fury and directed by Daniel Attias, it was originally broadcast on November 21, 2000, on The WB network.


BUFFY MAY HAVE MET HER MATCH — In order to protect her sister Dawn, Buffy must face a horrible beast that has been conjured by the powerful Glory to help seek out "The Key."[1]


Joyce gets a CAT scan at the hospital while Buffy and Dawn wait for news.

At the Magic Box, Giles and Tara admire the new phone book advertisement for the magic shop while Anya is disappointed that she is not personally mentioned. Xander complains about Riley destroying the vampire crypt alone, and then the entire gang continues their search for information regarding the Beast. Giles agrees that it was reckless on Riley's part while Anya expresses relief that the task was already completed, because she really hadn't wanted to start her day off with a slaughter.

In some luxurious headquarters, a demon named Dreg offers a spell to the Beast, referring to her as Glorificus, although she prefers Glory. Dreg grovels before her as she tries on elegant shoes. Dreg promises that this spell will allow Glory to find the Key. She just needs some supplies, and she finds the advertisement for the Magic Box in the new phone book.

Riley finds the front door to Buffy's house open, a blanket on the steps, and Spike in Buffy's room, sniffing her clothes. Spike declares that Buffy wouldn't care that he was in her room and that the clothes-sniffing was just normal predator activity. Spike taunts Riley with his knowledge about Buffy's mother going to the hospital — which Buffy had failed to mention to Riley —, as well as the time he and Buffy had spent together the previous evening eating, drinking, and talking. Spike insinuates Riley cannot keep Buffy satisfied, and Riley tells him to stay away from Buffy and throws him out into the sunlight, with his blanket.

Riley shows up at the hospital to comfort Buffy, who seems relieved to see him. She directs him to sit with Dawn in the waiting room while she talks to their mother. Joyce confesses to Buffy that the doctors have found a "shadow" in her CAT scan, and they need to do an initial operation to evaluate her condition, and to discover whether surgery is an option.

At the Magic Box, the Scoobies continue to search for information that might indicate the origins, purpose, or weaknesses of their new enemy. Tara suggests that maybe Glory is something that is too old for the books, which Giles believes may explain the presence of the Dagon Sphere, which is to ward against that "which cannot be named." They discuss the possibility that she may predate language itself when Glory herself shows up there and buys several items for a spell. The gang is oblivious to her true identity, and she leaves the store without incident.

At the hospital, Dr. Isaacs tells Buffy her mother has a brain tumor and presents her with her mother's options. Ben, an intern, gets the doctor away from Buffy, giving her a break from the doctor's incessant questions.

At the Magic Box, Anya goes through the receipts and finds the items that Giles sold to Glory earlier and panics, saying that the items should not have been sold together due to them being the ingredients for a Sobekian transmogrification spell. Giles points out that the spell has been lost for centuries and starts to mention that the young woman he sold them to would need to have enormous power. It finally dawns on the gang that the woman they sold the items to was their new enemy.

Riley takes Dawn to the park, where he tries to comfort her about her mother. Dawn tries to make Riley feel good by comparing him to Buffy's former boyfriend Angel, but unintentionally makes him feel worse: she relates that she thinks Riley is good for Buffy because Buffy was always in tears over her tumultuous relationship with Angel, but that she never "gets that worked up" over him.

At the Magic Box, Buffy talks with the gang about the possibility of helping her mother through the use of magics. However, while Willow expresses willingness to help if she can, Tara and Giles both insist that the magical and the medical are not meant to mix, and any attempts they made to help Joyce would likely only make things worse. They encourage her to put her faith in the doctors. Anya then reveals that Giles sold to Glory the ingredients she needs to make a monster. Buffy takes off in search of Glory, despite the concerns of her friends that Glory will merely overpower Buffy again.

At the Sunnydale Zoo, Glory steals a cobra and performs the spell with Dreg. Buffy arrives to stop her, temporarily interrupting the spell, but instead gets beaten up badly again. The cobra is transformed into a large demon, and Glory sends it on a mission to locate the Key.

Riley arrives at the Magic Box in search of Buffy, but Xander confronts him about destroying the vampire crypt. The gang tells Riley that Buffy went after Glory, and he demands to know why they would let her do something so dangerous. Giles reminds Riley that "let" is not an issue when Buffy sets her mind to something. Xander tells Riley that Buffy is so upset about the situation with her mom that she needs something tangible to fight, and he asks Riley what his excuse is for his own reckless actions.

Buffy calls Giles from the hospital and tells him to take care of Dawn while she stays with her mother. She stays with her mother as the doctor tells her more bad news about Joyce's condition — she has a brain tumor, and they don't know yet if it is operable or not. Riley returns to Willy's Place to drink away his worries and again encounters Sandy. He allows her to bite him in the alley and stakes her afterward.

The cobra-like demon arrives at the Magic Box and goes after Dawn. Dawn screams in fear and the demon, having found its target, leaves to report to Glory. Giles and Buffy, knowing what will happen if the snake reaches its destination, go after it and corner it near the luxury apartments where Glory resides. With the help of a chain, Buffy beats it to death for a long time. Nearby, Glory looks out from her window, frustrated as the demon fails to return.

In the hospital, Joyce tells Dawn the truth about her health. Riley, wearing a turtleneck, arrives to comfort Buffy, but she insists that she needs to stay strong for her family and refuses to cry. Joyce calls for Buffy, and she goes after her mother, oblivious to his attempt to caress her face. Riley is left standing alone in the hallway.


  • This episode introduces the tumor that leads to Joyce's surgery, complications of which lead to her death in "I Was Made to Love You" and "The Body."
  • Riley's "addiction" to having vampires feed on him will ultimately lead up to break up with Buffy in "Into the Woods."
  • This episode marks the death of Sandy — a vampire sired by Vamp Willow in "Doppelgängland."
  • This episode cements Tara's usefulness to the Scooby Gang. After a while with no real contribution to any of theorems and plans, she even describes herself (along with Dawn) as a "non-Scooby" in "Real Me," she makes a breakthrough by suggesting that research is useless because the "demon woman" predates the written word.
  • Anya's fear of bunnies is referred again when Xander mentions that he would like to come across a cult that worships bunnies. She first mentioned it in "Fear, Itself."
  • Buffy refers to the spawn of Sobek as "big but not Mayor Big," referring to Richard Wilkins becoming the Olvikan in "Graduation Day, Part Two."
  • Xander mentions that he, Willow, and Anya went to meet Riley at the cemetery to confront the vampire nest, as per their plan the night before in "Fool for Love," however they discover that Riley has already blown up the tomb.
  • Buffy punches an enemy so hard she perforates its innards, causing her fist to be covered in its guts. She first did it under the enjoining spell in "Primeval" and will do this again in "Normal Again."



Organizations and titles[]




Rituals and spells[]

Death count[]

  • Sandy, dusted by Riley.
  • Spawn of Sobek, beaten to death by Buffy.

Behind the scenes[]


  • When asked his opinion on the computer-generated demon used in this episode, writer David Fury says he was originally envisioning it as something "amorphous, bug-like, something non-human looking"; it was Marti Noxon who came up with the idea of using a reptile. From that idea, Noxon proposed that Buffy find it hiding in a reptile house.[citation needed]
  • The scene when Buffy catches up with the Sobek snake demon and uses a chain to try to strangle it is apparently a reference to Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi in which Princess Leia uses a chain to strangle Jabba the Hutt. Although Buffy doesn't fully defeat the snake until pummeling it on the ground, Buffy's position relative to the demon during the strangulation, the similarities of the "look" of its flesh, and a few cuts showing the twitching tale very closely mirror the scene in the film.


  • "Shadow" had an audience of 3.2 million households upon its original airing.[2]

Pop culture references[]

  • Xander refers to Riley as the fictional superhero Captain America.
  • In the magic shop, Xander references the song "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo," sung by the magical fairy godmother in Cinderella.
  • A patron in the magic shop asks for a recording of Aleister Crowley, a famous English occultist.
  • In Glory's room there can be seen boxes of Aldo shoes.


  • A CAT scan is a form of medical imaging that actually takes a very short amount of time, as with a scan of the head, and is often done as an outpatient procedure; such a scan is not itself a reason for an overnight stay at a hospital, as the "previously" dialogue suggests it is. This is moot, however, as the scan we see Joyce undergoing in the cold open is in an open MRI machine (possibly for an MRI of the brain), not a CAT scan machine. While either would be appropriate to suss out the causes of the symptoms Joyce suffered, the dialogue doesn't match the machinery seen in the episode.
    • While Joyce and Dawn both reference a CAT scan, the doctor later asks Buffy if Joyce's insurance requires them to send them the MRI results directly; indicating that Joyce is in fact undergoing an MRI scan when we see her going in an MRI machine. It's possible Joyce conflated the terms and Dawn repeated the mistaken identification of the scan being done being a CAT scan. Alternatively, Joyce may have had a CAT scan first and for whatever reason an MRI was ordered; which may also explain the extended time required at the hospital.
  • When Buffy fights Glory at the zoo, and later when she returns to the Magic Box, she is wearing heeled boots, but in between, at the hospital, she is wearing jogging shoes.
  • When the snake finds Dawn we see it moving in front of her while Dawn, filmed from behind, is in freeze frame.
  • When Buffy takes off after the big snake she chases it east on Main Street from the Magic Box, but when Giles picks her up in his car she is suddenly west of the Magic Box, running west on Main Street. They turn south at the end of the street, then the view cuts to them again heading west up Main Street from the Magic Box past the exact spot where Giles picked Buffy up moments ago.


  • Thomas Wanker — "Love Montage"
  • Thomas Wanker — original score

International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Ստվեր" (Shadow)
  • Czech: "Stín" (Shadow)
  • Finnish: "Varjo" (Shadow)
  • French: "Incantation" (Incantation)
  • German: "Schatten" (Shadow)
  • Hungarian: "Árnyak" (Shadow)
  • Italian: "L'Ombra" (The Shadow)
  • Japanese: "影" (Shadow)
  • Polish: "Cień" (Shadow)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "A Sombra" (The Shadow)
  • Romanian: "Umbra" (Shadow)
  • Russian: "Тень" (Shadow)
  • Spanish (Latin American): "Sombra" (Shadow)
  • Spanish (Spain): "Sombra" (Shadow)


Behind the scenes[]



Xander: "Just once I would like to run into a cult of bunny-worshipers."
Anya: "Great. Thank you very much for those nightmares."
Xander: "I'm just saying, I think it's rude."
Willow: "I wouldn't call it rude."
Xander: "Rude-ish, rude-esque, whatever you want to call it. When a person makes a 'destroy all vampires' date, it's simple courtesy to wait for your co-destroyers. Am I right, Giles?"
Giles: "I'm almost certain you're not, but to be fair, I wasn't listening."
Anya: "Are you stupid or something?"
Giles: "Allow me to answer that question with a firing."
Xander: "She's kidding. An, we talked about the employee/employer vocabulary no-nos. That was number five."


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy.com. Archived from the original on June 9, 2001.
  2. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Fifth Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008.