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"Sleeper" is the eighth episode of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the 130th episode in the series. Written by David Fury and Jane Espenson and directed by Alan J. Levi, it was originally broadcast on November 19, 2002, on the UPN network.


DON'T DECEIVE ME — Buffy discovers that Spike is feeding off humans again, and siring vampires. She and the gang attempt to find proof of Spike's actions as Spike begins to remember what may or may not have happened. Off in England, another young girl is murdered by the cloaked figures and Giles arrives too late to help her.[1]


Spike digs a grave for and buries a woman's body while he hums the song "Early One Morning." In London, a man arrives in an apartment and calls for Nora, only to find her lying dead. When he approaches her body, a robed figure attacks the man with a dagger, but the man fights back. Another robed figure joins in and soon, the man is stabbed and falls dead next to the young woman. Willow arrives at the Summers' house and finds the house a disaster and Dawn still in shock. Dawn tries to tell her what happened and how she saw Joyce, but Willow explains that it was a big evil messing with their minds.

At Xander's apartment, Buffy and Xander talk about the possibility of Spike turning a human, even in spite of his chip. Buffy doesn't want to believe it because she knows the chip still works, but she and Xander have to wonder if maybe Spike's been acting all this time. Spike returns to Xander's apartment and receives a somewhat cold reception. In attempts to get a reaction from him about Holden Webster, Buffy mentions the encounter to Spike, but he reacts with complete calm and heads off to bed. Both having things to do, but not wanting to leave Spike alone, Xander gets a reluctant Anya to come over and stay with Spike. She doesn't like the idea of being stuck weaponless with Spike when he may be able to bite again. Xander tells her to call if Spike decides to go anywhere and then leaves for work.

Buffy returns to find the downstairs of the house trashed from Dawn's encounter with the unknown, hostile entity from the previous night and freaks out until she finds Willow putting Dawn to sleep. Willow informs her about the "evil" visits she and Dawn had and Buffy tells Willow about her encounter with Holden. Buffy wonders if they've been victim of lies and tricks, or if something else has been going on. Armed with a stake, Anya quietly searches Spike's room and clothes while he sleeps, but he awakes and catches her. She tries to lie about her intentions, claiming to want sex, but Spike isn't interested in her offer and lets her down gently. After the sun sets, Spike leaves the apartment with an apology to Anya for any potentially hurt feelings. She quickly makes a phone call to Buffy about Spike's departure.

Spike walks the streets and passes by a man playing a harmonica, but as the vampire passes, the tune changes to "Early One Morning." The sound seems to have a hypnotic effect on Spike and he begins to hum again. Buffy follows him, keeping out of sight. He finds a woman standing around outside and the two talk and flirt before going off to an alley. Buffy tries to keep tabs on Spike, but she has a hard time following him through the crowd of people out walking the streets. Spike and the woman kiss against a wall and Spike pauses, looking up to see Buffy approach him and the woman. With a smile, she reminds him that she wants him to do it and he vamps and bites the woman, much to Buffy's pleasure. Once the woman is dead, Spike realizes with horror what he just did. He runs off as Buffy morphs into Spike form. The form says, "How could you use a poor maiden so."

Later, Buffy barges in on a sleeping Spike, demanding to know whether he killed the woman she saw him with. He reminds her that he can't kill anyone. She mentions the chip, and he corrects her: it's not the chip that keeps him from killing, it's his soul. Spike suspects the reason Buffy is accusing him is due to her inability to admit her jealousy of seeing him with another girl, but he swears they mean nothing to him. He reminds her of how far he went to prove his love for her — choosing to get his soul, unlike the chip that was forced on him. Buffy remains adamant he is murdering again and reminds him of his recent mental breakdown. Although he can't remember certain moments, he is confident she is wrong about him killing since he can barely live with the guilt of his past transgressions. Buffy replies she will find proof and storms out.

At Buffy's house, the girls do some research in attempts to find proof that Spike is or is not killing again. They discuss the possibility of Spike killing and Willow discovers that although there haven't been a lot of dead bodies found, there are ten missing people in Sunnydale, mostly young women. Buffy is still not convinced that Spike is the culprit. As he gets ready to leave, Spike finds a pack of cigarettes in his pocket and gets flashes of killing the blond woman he met at the Bronze. He tries to leave the apartment, but Xander stands in the way. Spike knocks Xander out, setting off his chip for his efforts and then departs.

Spike arrives at the Bronze, where Aimee Mann is performing. Spike asks around about the young blond woman he was there with the previous night, then moves upstairs to watch over the crowd. Meanwhile, Xander recovers from Spike's blow and calls Buffy to let her know what happened. A woman hits aggressively on an uninterested Spike, eventually revealing herself to be a vampire he'd sired a few nights before. The two break into a fight after he rebuffs her invite to feast together, ending in Spike staking her and throwing her over the railing to her death. As she turns to dust on the dance floor below, the band and the surrounding crowd is briefly distracted.

Meanwhile, Buffy talks to the bouncer at the club she'd followed Spike to the night before, learning that Spike has left there with a different girl every night. At the Bronze, Aimee is heading backstage, telling a bandmate that she "hates playing vampire towns" as Spike phones Buffy cell to tell her he's remembering the bad things he's done recently and asks for her help. She agrees to meet with him at a set location. As Spike tries to leave, the morphing version of Spike shows up and chides the real Spike for deviating from the plan by calling Buffy, but that they can work around it.

Spike leads a hesitant Buffy into a dark basement and tries to show her what he remembers about his victims (several girls he's picked up, plus the owner of the house). Obviously suspicious, Buffy has come wielding a stake. The fake Spike is there as well, but Buffy can't see him. While the real Spike tries to show Buffy where he buried the bodies of those he killed, the fake Spike begins to sing the hypnotizing tune.

Spike vamps and attacks Buffy, cutting into her arm with a broken piece of glass. As the two battle it out, the bodies Spike's recent victims start to rise from the ground beneath them as newly-risen vampires. Buffy struggles with the fledglings while the real Spike gets a pep talk from his morphing version about tasting Buffy's blood. As two vampires hold Buffy still, Spike leans down to taste the cut on her arm, but he suddenly reawakens all of his memories of killing. Horrified, he falls to the ground.

Buffy finishes off the rest of the vampires, including a late elderly vampire, then turns her attention back to Spike. Tearfully, Spike offers his heart for the staking. He's confused, scared, and hurting because of the lives he's taken. Buffy realizes that something has been messing with Spike's head like with Dawn and Willow and that he needs help. Back at her house, Buffy tells the gang about Spike and how she needs to keep Spike close if she intends to get answers they all need.

Meanwhile Giles charges into the room in London and finds the dead girl and the nearly dead man that was with her. The man, Robson, warns Giles that "it" has started and that "they" need to be gathered. From behind, a cloaked figure raises an axe and swings it at Giles's head.


  • This episode starts on the same night as the previous episode, "Conversations with Dead People," showing what happened with Buffy, Willow, Dawn, and Spike moments after the ending of that episode.
  • Anya fools Spike about investigating his bedroom by recalling the time the two had sex, in "Entropy."
  • The female vampire that accosts Spike in the Bronze suggests "I take him, you take her?" while looking at a couple, just as Drusilla did in "Crush."
  • Spike will be used again to fight Buffy outside of his own control in Relationship Status: Complicated, Part Two, as he'll refer to the events from this episode as well: "I'm no one's puppet. Never again."
  • After breaking from the First's influence, Spike pleads to "forget it again." The memory that has been triggering him will be revealed in "Lies My Parents Told Me."
  • It'll be only confirmed in episode "First Date" that Giles survives the attack of the Bringers and his following appearances were not a manifestation of the First.



Organizations and titles[]




Death count[]

  • Nora, stabbed by the Harbingers of Death in London (only mentioned).
  • Linda, blood drained by Spike in an alley.
  • Charlotte, staked by Spike in the Bronze.
  • Three female vampires and four male vampires, staked by Buffy in the basement.

Behind the scenes[]


  • Spike hums the British folk song "Early One Morning," which features the line the First Evil says: "How could you use a poor maiden so."
  • Aimee Mann is the only musical guest on Buffy the Vampire Slayer to have any speaking lines.


  • "Sleeper" had an audience of 3 million households upon its original airing.[2]

Deleted scenes[]

  • Anya would delay a little more to explain why she was in Spike's room:[3]
    Anya: "I... am here, obviously, because of the reason which I am about to tell you, with the following words, and that reason is... uh, clearly and obviously too, um... sex."

Pop culture references[]

  • Xander mentions CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000–2015), the procedural forensics crime drama television series.
  • Buffy describes Spike's supposed acting as worth of an Oscar award.
  • Xander says that Spike is "cool as Cool Whip" after Buffy mentions Holden Webster.
  • Buffy claims that British singer-songwriter Billy Idol copied Spike's look.
  • Spike's bedroom in Xander's apartment has a frame of the picture Lunch atop a Skyscraper (1932) on the wall.


  • In the teaser, when Spike is digging a grave for the dead young woman, her eyes are open. In the next shot, as he is shovelling the dirt over her, her eyes are closed.


International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Քնածը" (Sleep)
  • Czech: "Někdo v pozadí" (Someone in the Background)
  • Finnish: "Kuin unessa" (Like a Dream)
  • French: "Ça a Commencé" (It Started)
  • German: "Unschuldig Schuldig" (Innocently Guilty)
  • Hungarian: "Alvó" (Sleeper)
  • Italian: "Addormentato" (Asleep)
  • Japanese: "眠れる男" (Sleepy Man)
  • Polish: "We śnie" (Asleep)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Adormecido" (Sleeper)
  • Romanian: "Adormitul" (Sleeper)
  • Russian: "Спящий" (Sleeper)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Durmiente" (Sleeper)
  • Spanish (Spain): "Durmiente" (Sleeper)
  • Swedish: "Sovare" (Sleeper)


  • The book Chosen: The One includes a novelization of this episode, along with all season 7.


Promotional stills[]

Behind the scenes[]



Anya: "I used to tell the truth all the time when I was evil."
Aimee Mann: "Man, I hate playing vampire towns."
Buffy: "I need some help. I'm looking for this guy. Bleach-blonde hair, leather jacket, British accent? Kind of sallow, but in a hot way?"
Bouncer: "Yeah, yeah, I know the guy. Billy Idol wannabe?"
Buffy: "Actually, Billy Idol stole his look from... Never mind."


  1. "Season 7." Craig's BuffyVERSE 4ever. Retrieved on September 13, 2021.
  2. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Seventh Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 19, 2008.
  3. "Buffy - Sleeper." BuffyWorld. Archived from the original on August 14, 2018.