A lot of educators tell students, "Think of your principal as your pal." I say, "Think of me as your judge, jury and executioner.
―Principal Snyder[src]

Principal R. Snyder was the conservative, paranoid, and authoritarian Principal of Sunnydale High from 1997 to 1999, following the death of Principal Robert Flutie.

In direct contact with the Mayor of Sunnydale, Principal Snyder spent a good deal of his efforts covering up the otherworldly occurrences that took place in the school through contrived and flimsy explanations. Aside from that, Snyder was also keen on maintaining and improving the school's image without any real concern for the students that went there.

Snyder was also the last principal to head the school before its destruction during the battle at the graduation of the Class of '99 where Snyder himself met his untimely demise at the hands of the Mayor himself.


Early life

Not much is known about Snyder's past, but it can be assumed he wasn't very popular due to his cheerful yet unappealing disposition shown under the influence of the cursed candy bars. During high school, he never dated once, which Snyder himself admitted without shame.

Becoming Principal of Sunnydale High

This place has quite a reputation. Suicide, missing persons, spontaneous cheerleader combustion... You can't put up with that. You've gotta keep an eye on the bad element. Like those three. Kids. I don't like them. From now on you're gonna see a very different Sunnydale High. Tight ship, clean, orderly, and quiet.
―Principal Snyder ushers in a new Sunnydale High School.[src]

Snyder catches Buffy snooping around after school hours.

After Principal Flutie was devoured alive by the Pack in 1997,[1] Snyder replaced him as the principal of Sunnydale High School shortly after. He forced librarian Rupert Giles to host the Sunnydale Talent Show, along with forcing Buffy Summers, Xander Harris, and Willow Rosenberg to participate after hearing their desire to "to watch and mock and laugh" at the performances, allowing them to be treated with the same courtesy as punishment for their disrespect towards school events and authority as well as skipping class.[2] By this time, Snyder was fully aware of the school's reputation of supernatural occurrences (including how his predecessor died) and by extension the fact Sunnydale itself was located on a Hellmouth and was one of the front men the Mayor, Richard Wilkins, had put in place to cover up supernatural activities in Sunnydale.

Following the murder of Emily Djiemanowicz, a contestant in the talent show, Principal Snyder connected the mysterious events to a lack of discipline and claimed that things had to change from now on. After he caught Buffy breaking into Morgan Shay's locker, Snyder immediately became suspicious of her and then on retained an ill-opinion of her and her activities. Unbeknownst to him, Buffy was actually investigating the murder because she was secretly the Slayer, responsible for dealing with supernatural threats along with her friends. Due to her involvement in these events, Snyder became a constant source of conflict for Buffy and her friends.

Activities within the School

When Marcie Ross began taking revenge on popular students for ignoring her which lead to becoming invisible, Snyder was on the scene to tend to the any students that were victimized. This wasn't in any consideration for their safety or wellbeing, but Snyder merely acted on his behalf to prevent any lawsuits against the school from ensuing as a result of their injuries.[3]

At the beginning of Buffy's eleventh year, Snyder forced Buffy and Sheila Martini to work together to organize parent-teacher night, due to both girls having a history of violence. When the vampire Spike and his lackeys attacked the school, Snyder came into a disagreement with Buffy on how to react to the situation when locked in a classroom with her mother and other staff members. After the danger was over, Snyder consulted with Police Chief Bob Munroe, also a proponent in the cover-up of Sunnydale's bizarre events, where it was decided that the official explanation for the event was gang-related PCP. When Munroe questioned the believability of such claims, Snyder told him that it would suffice in face of the truth.[4] During Halloween he forced students to "volunteer" as chaperones for young children trick-or-treating around town as part of a volunteer safety program.[5]

When a poltergeist set upon a plague of snakes in the school cafeteria, Snyder once again had to consult with the police chief and this time blamed the problem on sewer maintenance.[6] After the death of computer teacher Jenny Calendar, Snyder appointed Willow to act as temporary replacement for her class due to her academic preformance. Even though Snyder was impressed with her teaching abilities, he disapproved with her rightfully failing Gage Petronzi as he was an active swim team member during the upcoming state championship and Snyder asked that Willow elevate his results to a passing grade.[7]

Snyder is turned into his teenage self

Snyder later forced the student body to sell candy bars in order to fund the marching band. Unbeknownst to him, the candy bars where cursed to make any adult who ate them regress into their teenage selves. This was so the Mayor could partake in the tribute sacrifice to the demon Lurconis by offering live babies as a food sacrifice; the lack of authority figures preventing any interference. Despite Snyder being associated with Wilkins' schemes, he ate some of the candy and became a teenager himself who accompanied Buffy on her mission to prevent the sacrifice, though was not allowed to join Buffy in the slaying of Lurconis as he proved to be a liability. The following day when the effect of candy wore off, Snyder made the Scoobies clean up the school lockers after they were vandalized by the pubescent-minded adults the night before.[8]

Months later, Snyder, after going through a paranoid search for drugs, intervened during a trade between Buffy and the Mayor, bringing with him armed police. He diverted his interruption when seeing his boss. Then he witnessed the inhabitants of the Box of Gavrok escape and kill one of his policemen, and bemoaned that they couldn't simply be doing a drug deal like "normal people".[9]

Expelling Buffy and Unwillingly Allowing Her Back In

Snyder gleefully expels Buffy from Sunnydale High

When Angelus' minions attacked Buffy's friends at the school library, Snyder alerted the police who arrived right after the death of Kendra Young, and, despite full knowledge of Buffy's innocence, told the police that whenever there was trouble, Buffy was behind it. Buffy then escaped police custody and later returned to the library, which was now a crime scene, to retrieve a mystical sword. Snyder confronted her at the library and - seeing this as an appropriate time - expelled her much to his delight. He also boasted that the police would never discover that she didn't do what she was suspected of because they were "deeply stupid." As Buffy left, Snyder called the Mayor and informed him of what just happened.[10]

Despite his assessment of the police, they did eventually discover that Buffy was not responsible for either Kendra's death or the associated attack on the others; nonetheless, when Buffy returned to regain admission, Principal Snyder refused to allow her back, citing her spotty attendance record, poor grades and a "tingling pleasure" that he received when he finally got rid of her. However, Snyder was forced to allow Buffy back after being overruled by the School Board and being physically and professionally threatened by Giles. Though, he still nonetheless made it difficult for her by adding a number of terms and conditions.[11][12]


During the preparation for the graduation of the class of '99, Principal Snyder was praised for his contributions by the Mayor who was also a guest speaker, promising to reward him. At the event itself, Snyder was shocked to see the Mayor's Ascension into the demon Olvikan. Snyder opposed the disorder he was causing and vocalized his disapproval to the giant demonic snake. In response, Wilkins swallowed him whole before the student body.[13]

One year later, Snyder appeared in Xander's Apocalypse Now-themed nightmare brought about by the First Slayer.[14]


There are things I will not tolerate. Students loitering on campus after school. Horrible murders with hearts being removed. And also smoking.
―Principal Snyder[src]

Principal Snyder was a strict disciplinarian with an avowed hatred towards teenagers. He once compared them to locusts, and when questioned on why he chose to be a high school principal, he claimed he had to keep an eye on them as they were "a bunch of hormonal time bombs" that he aimed to guide, especially when it came to discipline, respect and punctuality - which were, essentially, what he viewed as important in life.[15]

Snyder seemed to value the school's reputation over the welfare of the students. When Mitch Fargo was nearly beaten to death, Xander and Willow distracted Snyder by claiming Mitch's dad was a powerful lawyer, allowing Buffy to investigate the scene of the attack as Snyder was adament on preventing the student's parents from initating civil action. Later on when Harmony Kendall was pushed down a flight of stairs on school grounds by the same attacker, Snyder quickly prompted her not to sue.[3]
Snyder appeared to view supernatural occurrences in the same disapproving vain as undisciplined behavior; putting smoking and loitering in the same sentence with murders as things he didn't tolerate and standing up to ascended Mayor for not acting in a disciplined and orderly manner, not once taking any notice of the fact that he had just turned into a gigantic demon and killed two students in front of him.[13]

He favoured the sustainability of the grades of students involved in athletics solely because of their participation in competitions. He requested that the lazy swimmer Gage be unfairly marked due to his importance to the school's victory of the state championship. He, however, seemed to cared for them for that reason only, as shown when hearing of the apparent deaths of the best swimmers.[7]

When transformed into a teenager, Snyder showed a huge contrast to his adult self. He was a fun-loving dork who treated Buffy and her friends kindly, even positively commenting on Oz's hair.[8]


  • Buffy Summers — Principal Snyder developed an early antagonism towards Buffy because of her history with violence and involvement in strange occurrences. He viewed her as a delinquent and openly expressed an interest in having her not only expelled but also locked in jail.[15] After catching Buffy attack an armed and possessed student, Snyder showed his personal agenda against her: "I'm a truth seeker. I've got a missing gun and two confused kids on my hands—pieces of the puzzle. And I'm gonna look at all the pieces carefully and rationally, and I'm gonna keep looking until I know exactly how this is all your fault".[6] Even though Buffy might have not been guilty of Kendra's murder, Snyder still acted against her, knowing the police would not find out the truth as they were "deeply stupid" (according to him). Expelling her was a moment he wanted to savor and live for over again and again.[10] Keeping her out of school was not only what he thought was his right but gave him physical pleasure, though he was ultimately forced to let her back in.[11] Buffy, likewise, cared little for him, took every opportunity to mock him and showed no signs of remorse at seeing his death at hands of Mayor Wilkins.[13]
  • Xander Harris — Principal Snyder considered Xander to be worth nothing and claimed that whatever came out of his mouth was "a meaningless waste of breath. An airbourne toxic event".[16]
  • Willow Rosenberg — Unlike most students, Willow was actually in good terms with Principal Snyder due to her high academic performance, representing the pinnacle of academic achievement despite her "unsavory" associations.[17] Snyder himself said Willow was a team player when she agreed to continue teaching Jenny Calendar's computer class, something he liked.[7] However, he did bully Willow into doing things that she wouldn't like but would benefit the school's reputation, such as making her unfairly pass a failing Gage Petronzi and tutor the lazy, held back Percy West. Even though Snyder never said anything that could be interpreted as a threat, Willow knew he meant something due to the look of his eyes and nostrils.[17] Even 3 and a half years after his death, Willow says Wood is so much cooler than Snyder, indicating she still dislikes him.[18]
  • Rupert Giles — During his job as librarian in Sunnydale High School, Giles was forced to work under Principal Snyder. He was tolerant of him most of the time, but only because he had to be, but referred to him as the Führer when explaining to the Scooby Gang why he had to run the talent show. Giles harbored a distaste of the principal throughout all his years he worked under him, and Snyder had looked down upon him as well, finding him incompetent. He had mostly disliked Giles, because of his failure to understand why he was so close to Buffy and so much potential in her; all he ever saw was a irresponsible delinquent. However, Giles had, at one point, threatened Snyder with violence when he didn't allow Buffy to be accepted back into his school. Giles, along with the rest of the Scooby Gang, did not show any sign of remorse after the death of Snyder.

Behind the Scenes

  • He was portrayed by Armin Shimerman.
  • In every episode he appears in, Armin Shimerman is always credited with "as Principal Snyder".
  • Principal Snyder is named in honor of George Snyder, Joss Whedon's personal assistant at the time.
  • On several occasions in the series, you can clearly see on the name-tag on his desk that the first letter of his first name is 'R', although his full name is never revealed in the series. The noncanon novel One Thing Or Your Mother, which explores Snyder's abusive childhood at the hands of his mother, reveals his first name to be "Cecil". This contradicts the initial "R" seen in the television show.
  • Armin Shimerman originally auditioned for the role of Principal Flutie, but lost that role to Ken Lerner. He was the longest running principal on the show. When he was hired to play Snyder, Shimerman was told that each principal would get killed after a handful of episodes as a running gag. But it turned out that the creators liked Snyder enough to keep him through the remainder of the high school episodes.
  • Shimerman also played Quark, a main character on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, at the same time he was performing Snyder on Buffy. He noted his dual roles made his accountant very happy. Line producers on Star Trek and Buffy would try to schedule his scenes so he could tape his Deep Space Nine scenes in the morning, then get out of makeup and drive across town to film his Buffy scenes in the afternoon. There were a couple of Deep Space Nine episodes where Quark was heavily featured and it wasn't possible for him to do the Buffy episode that week so Snyder's lines were rewritten as off-camera asides. Shimerman noted that he got fired from both jobs on the same day.
  • In the beginning of "First Date", a large tombstone can be seen bearing the name "SNYDER". While not confirmed, it is likely to be his.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season One:
Welcome to the Hellmouth The Harvest Witch Teacher's Pet Never Kill a Boy on the First Date The Pack Angel I Robot, You Jane The Puppet Show


Nightmares Out of Mind, Out of Sight


Prophecy Girl
Season Two:
When She Was Bad


Some Assembly Required School Hard


Inca Mummy Girl Reptile Boy Halloween


Lie to Me The Dark Age What's My Line, Part One


What's My Line, Part Two


Bad Eggs Surprise Innocence


Phases Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered Passion Killed by Death I Only Have Eyes for You


Go Fish


Becoming, Part One


Becoming, Part Two


Season Three:
Anne Dead Man's Party


Faith, Hope & Trick


Beauty and the Beasts Homecoming


Band Candy


Revelations Lovers Walk The Wish Amends Gingerbread


Helpless The Zeppo Bad Girls Consequences Doppelgängland


Enemies Earshot




The Prom


Graduation Day, Part One


Graduation Day, Part Two

Appears (killed)

Season Four:
The Freshman Living Conditions The Harsh Light of Day Fear, Itself Beer Bad Wild at Heart The Initiative Pangs Something Blue Hush Doomed
A New Man The I in Team Goodbye Iowa This Year's Girl


Who Are You Superstar Where the Wild Things Are New Moon Rising The Yoko Factor Primeval Restless

Appears (in dream)

Season Six:
Bargaining, Part One Bargaining, Part Two After Life Flooded Life Serial All the Way Once More, with Feeling Tabula Rasa Smashed


Wrecked Gone
Doublemeat Palace Dead Things Older and Far Away As You Were Hell's Bells Normal Again Entropy Seeing Red Villains Two to Go Grave
Season Seven:


Beneath You Same Time, Same Place Help Selfless Him


Conversations with Dead People Sleeper Never Leave Me Bring on the Night Showtime
Potential The Killer in Me First Date Get It Done


Storyteller Lies My Parents Told Me Dirty Girls Empty Places Touched End of Days Chosen


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