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"The Wish" is the ninth episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the forty-third episode in the series. Written by Marti Noxon and directed by David Greenwalt, it was originally broadcast on December 8, 1998, on The WB network.


BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR — Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned — Cordelia, wanting to be rid of all things Xander and his spooky entourage, decides that all of her troubles started when Buffy moved to Sunnydale and wishes that historic event never actually happened. Not knowing that a an evil genie would grant her fateful wish, Cordelia is transported into an altered reality in which the Hellmouth is open and The Master is alive and ruling, with Willow and Xander as his undead minions.[1]


Buffy, Willow, and Xander are in the park, where they were attacked by a demon. After they slay it, they discuss the fallout of Xander and Willow's kiss. Xander says he's left many voicemails on Cordelia's phone, but she has yet to return his calls. Willow admits that she feels terrible about what happened and that the idea of Oz not speaking to her again upsets her more. Xander asks Buffy, who's also feeling low after severing ties with Angel, how she's coping. She responds that she finds comfort in her friends. 

Cordelia is in her bedroom, with the wound from her impaling still fresh. She goes through pictures of Xander, cutting up and burning them, as she listens to his countless messages. 

At school the next morning, Willow hangs around near Oz's locker, hoping to catch him. She tells Buffy that Amy saw Cordelia at the mall, looking "scary." Outside school, Cordelia pulls up in her car. Dressed to impress, and trying to appear as confident as possible, she strides through school until she runs into Harmony and her clique. Cordelia is surprised when Harmony seemingly welcomes her back into the group with open arms. She is then introduced to Anya, a new girl at school. Harmony tells Cordelia that she needs to get back into the dating game, and tells her about a "stallion," who turns out to be Jonathan. The group laughs and walk away from Cordelia, with Anya close behind.

As Oz gets books from his locker, Willow runs up and starts apologizing for everything. Oz tells her she's already said it all, and Willow asks if there's anything she can do. Oz tells her to leave him alone as he needs time to figure out where their relationship stands, and it's not his problem that she's feeling guilty nor is it his responsibility to make her feel better. He walks away.

Cordelia spots Xander walking towards her and asks a random jock named John Lee to come near her. She actually asks if she has anything in her teeth, but she makes it appear that, from Xander's point of view, the two are kissing. As Xander walks away, John Lee tells Cordelia that he can't risk being caught speaking to "Xander Harris' cast-off," but if she'd like to find a dark corner so they could make out he's okay with that. He tells her to think about it and quickly leaves. Cordelia then runs into Anya, who admits that she doesn't like Harmony, dismissing her tendency to say whatever she thinks is "cool" at the moment. The two quickly befriend each other, united in their general disdain for men.

At the Bronze that evening, Cordelia and Anya hang out with a group of people. Xander, sitting with Willow and Buffy, pretends to laugh and begs his two friends to help. Buffy tells Xander that, although she supports him, she won't takes sides against Cordelia, and Willow says she agrees with Buffy, and that Cordelia is in the right since she was one of the aggrieved people. Plus she's still upset about Oz. Xander declares that he's sick of feeling guilty and is ready to pick himself up. Buffy and Willow agree, but their enthusiasm quickly fades. Buffy says it didn't work and asks they want chocolate. When she's gone Xander starts ranting about Cordelia. He grabs Willow's hand and she tells him to remove his hand from her. He apologizes but then asks why he's apologizing saying they've always been friends. Willow explains that she wants to work things out with Oz so they can no longer be like that anymore.

While at the bar grabbing drinks, Buffy sees Cordelia moving toward the door and decides to follow. Outside, Cordy accuses her of being sent by Xander, but Buffy explains that it was her own choice to come. She tells Cordelia that she understands how much Cordelia is hurting, and how she felt better after talking with friends. Suddenly, a vampire attacks and Buffy makes quick work of it, but in the scuffle Cordelia is pushed into a pile of garbage. Harmony and her friends come out of the Bronze and spot Cordelia, covered in garbage, and laugh at her. Cordelia declares that all of her bad luck over the last couple of years is Buffy's fault.

In the next morning, Cordelia tells Anya about the Bronze incident, revealing that her fall into the garbage popped some of the stitches on her torso. Anya gives Cordelia her necklace, which she calls a "good luck charm," and agrees with Cordelia's complaints. As Buffy, Willow and Xander sit nearby, Cordelia tells Anya: "I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale." Anya suddenly turns around in full demon visage and says "Done," with a sudden flash of bright light. When it clears, Anya is gone, and so are the majority of the students. Cordelia, now injury-free, realizes that Anya is a "good fairy" that granted her wish. In the hallway, Cordelia bumps into Harmony and company, who are her friends again as they gossip about the other students. One of the girls comments on Cordelia's "daring" outfit, as the rest are wearing dark clothing. Just then, John Lee approaches Cordelia and asks if she'll go with him to the upcoming Winter Brunch. Cordelia doesn't know what the event is, but sarcastically tells John that she'll get back to him.

In class, which is populated by less than a half of the normal amount of students, the teacher reminds them that there will be no classes the next day due to the monthly memorial, and he bolts for the door. Cordelia asks Harmony, who is also rushing out, what the hurry is. Harmony explains that her mother worries when she's late home, and she wants to get back before curfew starts in an hour. Cordelia is confused and suggests going to the Bronze, which the girls think is a sick joke. Harmony then asks Cordelia if everything is okay, because she's acting strange. Cordelia claims that she's having trouble remembering things, and asks if Xander and Willow are miserable. Harmony confirms, telling Cordelia that they're both dead.

Heading to the parking lot at dusk, Cordelia finds it empty. She asks the janitor what's going on, and he explains that students aren't allowed to drive, suggesting that she get home before sunset. Walking through the main street, she finds all the businesses are closed and the place is almost deserted. She suddenly runs into Xander and Willow, dressed in dark leather clothing. Cordelia is relieved to see them and admits that Sunnydale was much better with Buffy around. Willow, wrapping her arms around Xander, says that she's bored and ready to feed. They kiss, much to Cordelia's dismay, but she gets even more of a shock when she realizes the two are vampires. She runs away, but doesn't get far before Xander knocks her out. However, before he can feed, Giles, Oz, and Larry turn up armed with crosses and weapons. They keep the two vampires at bay as they gather Cordelia and leave in Oz's van. In the library, the three, along with another member named Nancy, notice Cordelia's bright clothing, something known to attract vampires. Giles then sends them out to watch the perimeter.

Xander and Willow head to the Bronze, a vampire hangout with caged humans. In the back area, the two speak to their ruler, the Master. He picks up a girl he had just tried to feed on, telling them he couldn't because she kept looking at him. He tosses her to Willow, who picks up where he left off. The Master asks for a report, and Xander tells him of their near-kill before the "White Hats" stopped them. The Master promises that Giles will soon be dealt with. Xander then mentions that Cordelia mentioned "the slayer." The Master tells him it's especially important to keep Slayers out with the opening of "the plant" less than a day away, and orders the two to kill Cordelia or else, since she spoke of summoning a Slayer.

In the library, Cordelia wakes up telling Giles it was all because she made a stupid wish, but Giles assumes she's hysterical. However, Cordelia then asks him why he is in Sunnydale when Buffy isn't, given that he was her Watcher. Giles is confused because he's never revealed his Watcher status to anyone. A noise outside catches his attention, and he enters the cage to grab weapons as he asks Cordelia to start over. However, the cage shuts behind him, as Xander and Willow arrive. Locking Giles in, the two bite Cordelia and drink of her blood. They depart and leaving Cordelia's corpse fallen on the ground. Finally kicking his way out of the cage, Giles meets up with a battered Oz and Larry who tell him that Willow and Xander surprised them. Nancy is dead. Giles has the two take Cordelia's body to the incinerator. However, he notices Cordelia's necklace and removes it before they take her away.

As the Master pours himself some blood from an espresso machine, Xander and Willow arrive and report their success. Willow tells the Master that she's been good, and he allows her to play with the "puppy." In his apartment, Giles makes a call to the Slayer's Watcher and explains he needs to meet with her. However, he learns that the Slayer doesn't check in with her Watcher often because she's so busy, so Giles leaves a message before going back to research.

Willow heads into an area where a figure is lying in a cage. Willow talks to the prisoner about how much she hates daylight, but now she's allowed to play. The man in the cage doesn't answer, so Willow enters and yanks his head back, revealing the prisoner to be Angel. She opens his shirt to reveal several large open sores. Willow boasts that the people Angel tried to save will die that evening, but it'll be quick, which is more than can be said for Angel. Xander tosses Willow some matches and tells her that he's more than happy to watch. Willow lights a match and prepares to have fun.

With the necklace in hands, Giles finds references to a demon named Anyanka, the patron saint of scorned women. Larry asks what she does, and Giles explains that Anyanka grants wishes. He then remembers Cordelia saying that the world was meant to be different. He sends Oz and Larry home as he prepares to look through more research materials. Driving back to his apartment, Giles spots vampires herding several people into a truck. He attacks and frees the citizens but cannot fight off the vampires. As he lies on the ground, he suddenly hears a scuffle and the vampires are slain. Looking up, he sees a battle-hardened girl, who confirms that she is Buffy Summers and asks him what she's doing there.

Taking Buffy to his house, Giles explains that Anyanka's power lies in her power center and, if it is destroyed, all the wishes she's ever granted will be reversed. Buffy is uninterested and simply asks how to kill her, but Giles explains that it isn't necessary. Giles tells her that the Master is the supreme vampire in the town and is planning something for that evening. The Slayer immediately sets out to kill him. Giles tells her she'll need a plan, but she isn't interested and demands to know where the Master lives. Buffy goes to the Bronze to find it completely deserted. Heading into the basement, she finds Angel cowering in the cage. He recognizes her and tells her that he waited for her but she never came. When the Master rose from the Hellmouth, Angel was imprisoned. He asks to be released so he can help her, and Buffy, tired of being regarded as Sunnydale's savior, moves to free him. However, when Angel recoils from her cross pendant, Buffy realizes he's a vampire. She balks at the idea of releasing him, thinking he's leading her into a trap. Angel shows her his scars, explaining that if nothing else is true: he wants the Master dead.

At the plant, the Master gives a speech in front of an assembled throng of vampires as Willow and Xander stand at his side. In a nearby holding area, human prisoners, including the newly captured Larry and Oz, listen as the Master explains his plans: he is pushing aside the anarchic tradition of hunting and killing, and introducing mass production. He orders one of the prisoners, a member of Harmony's gang, placed on the machine in front of him. She struggles, and the vampires stun her into paralysis. Still live, she is moved along the conveyor as several metal arms are forced into her body, draining her blood.

At his apartment, Giles is in the middle of summoning Anyanka. His ritual is successful, and Anyanka appears, upset that a man summoned her. As the Master finishes his speech, Buffy and Angel arrive. She points a crossbow at the Master and fires, but he spots her and uses Xander as a shield, the arrow hitting him in the shoulder. All hell then breaks loose as Angel releases the prisoners. They all scatter, except for a few, including Larry and Oz, that stay to fight the vampires.

Giles asks what Cordelia wished for, and Anyanka just gloats that she had no idea the wish would create such an exciting world. She advances on him, but Giles isn't afraid as Anyanka's power lies solely in the wishing. Anyanka grabs him by the neck and lifts him off the ground, telling him that she is the wishing. As Buffy fights the numerous vampires, Xander attempts to attack from behind. Angel spots this and saves her, though he is staked in the process. He says Buffy's name just as he turns to dust. Buffy continues the assault.

Anyanka tells Giles that the world they live in now is the only world there is and there's no going back. In the plant, the fight continues. Buffy stakes Xander, as Oz pushes Willow back onto a broken slat of the wooden cage, killing her. The Master moves to fight Buffy personally.

Giles spots Anyanka's necklace, identical to the one Cordelia was wearing, glowing. He rips it off her. Buffy fights the Master, but she is overtaken and he is able to snap her neck.

Giles grabs a blunt object from his desk and prepares to destroy the necklace. Anyanka tells Giles he has no way of knowing if the other world is truly better. Giles, knowing the other world couldn't be any worse than this one, doesn't hesitate and smashes it. Buffy's body drops to the floor as the wish reverses.

Everything reverses to the exact moment Cordelia wishes that Buffy hadn't moved there, though the former doesn't remember anything. Anya attempts to grant the wish, but nothing happens. Cordelia, enjoying the idea of wishing for stuff, starts to wish horrible things on her former friends and men in general. Anya follows, unsuccessful in granting any wishes, as Buffy, Willow, and Xander sit nearby, talking and laughing.


  • After Buffy slays the demon, Willow asks, "Isn't he going to go poof?" She will say a similar line in "Hell's Bells:" "Is anyone else waiting for it to go poof?"
  • Buffy's talk with Cordelia outside the Bronze mirrors the talk they had in the episode "When She Was Bad," only in reverse roles.
  • This is the second time Cordelia is caught outside the Bronze in garbage, the first being in "Some Assembly Required."
  • This episode marks Anya's first appearance. Her first arrival happens to serve revenge on Xander, both eventually falling in love with each other, as they declare in "Primeval" and "Into the Woods."
  • The scene where Cordelia walks through Sunnydale's main street finding it a deserted wasteland with the populace too frightened to venture out at night is repeated shot by shot in "Doppelgängland," when Vampire Willow finds it full of happy people.
  • The Wishverse showcases the difference Buffy coming to Sunnydale makes, that things would be infinitely worse without her. This is especially relevant in "Gingerbread" when Joyce questions whether Buffy really does any good by being the Slayer.
  • This marks the first episode in which an evil form of Willow says her catchphrase: "Bored now." She later repeats this in "Doppelgängland" and "Villains."
  • In the Wishverse, the Master was able to free himself and rise to the surface; his attempt to do so during the Harvest had been prevented by Buffy in the episode "The Harvest."
  • This is the first mention of Cleveland as another Hellmouth and center of demon activity, to be mentioned again in "Chosen."
  • Angel describes Buffy as his destiny; this is confirmed to be literally correct, as Whistler reveals that they were inevitably destined to meet each other and create the Twilight universe for a "greater evolution," in Riley: Commitment Through Distance, Virtue Through Sin and The Hero of His Own Story.
  • Giles reads that destroying Anyanka's necklace will reverse all of the wishes she fulfilled. This seems to only apply in the world where the power center is destroyed, as in the episode "Hell's Bells," one of her former victims is still under her curse.
  • Angel does not appear in the scenes taking place in the main reality, as he is keeping his distance from Buffy after the events of "Lovers Walk."
  • This episode's premise is similar to that of "Birthday": a dissatisfied and disillusioned Cordelia makes a pact to have history rewritten, resulting in a future which Cordelia initially appreciates but soon regrets due to the tragedies that resulted from her decision, and the timeline is eventually returned to normal.



Organizations and titles[]





Rituals and spells[]

Death count[]

  • Unidentified demon, stabbed in the chest by Buffy.
  • A vampire, dusted by Buffy.
  • Unidentified girl, drained by a vampire in front of the Bronze (in alternate reality).
  • Unidentified girl, drained by Willow (in alternate reality).
  • Cordelia, drained by Willow and Xander (in alternate reality).
  • Nancy, killed by vampire (only mentioned, in alternate reality).
  • Three vampires, dusted by Buffy (in alternate reality).
  • Unidentified boy, drained by vampires at the Bronze (in alternate reality).
  • Unidentified Cordette, drained with a machine by the Master (in alternate reality).
  • Angel, staked by Xander (in alternate reality).
  • Xander, staked by Buffy (in alternate reality).
  • Willow, staked by Oz (in alternate reality).
  • Buffy, neck snapped by the Master (in alternate reality).

Behind the scenes[]


  • From this episode on, the vampire dusting effect now features the vampire's skeleton as they turn to dust.


  • "The Wish" had an audience of 4.2 million households upon its original airing.[2]

Deleted scenes[]

  • Two lines were cut from Giles' conversation with Anyanka:[3]
    Giles: "Cordelia Chase, what did she wish for?"
    Anyanka: "I had no idea her wish would be so exciting. Brave new world. I hope she likes it."
    Giles: "She's dead."
    Anyanka: "It happens."

Pop culture references[]

  • Willow misunderstands Buffy's request for "knife" as "Nerf," a brand of foam toys.
  • The luxury fashion brands Prada and Gucci are mentioned, as well as the contrasting discount brand Payless.
  • In the conversation between vampire Xander and Cordelia, Cordelia sarcastically says, "No, Buffy the dog faced girl," a reference to Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy.
  • In the same conversation, Cordelia mentions "Bizarro land." Bizarro World is a fictional world in DC Comics where many things are the opposite or bizarrely different from the way are on Earth.
  • The small vampire hunting cadre is referred to as the "white hats," which refers to a tradition in the Western genre of films of heroes wearing white hats.
  • When the Master sits down at the Bronze and asks for news from Xander, he says: "Now, what news on the Rialto?" This is a quote from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, at least the third time this play has been mentioned on Buffy.
  • Anyanka uses the phrase "brave new world," a quote from the Shakespeare play The Tempest, which also lent its name to a famous novel.


  • After Cordelia asks the Cordettes if they want to go to the Bronze, a microphone is visible above Harmony as she asks: "Is that a joke?"


  • The Spies — "Tired of Being Alone"
  • Music House — "Get Out of My Way"
  • Christophe Beck — "Bizarro Sunnydale"
  • John 5 — "Plastic"
  • Christophe Beck — "Blood Machine"
  • Christophe Beck — "Slayer's Elegy"
  • Gingersol — "Never Noticed"

International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Ցանկություն" (Wish)
  • Czech: "Přání" (Wish)
  • Finnish: "Toivomus" (Wish)
  • French: "Meilleurs Vœux de Cordelia" (Best Wishes from Cordelia)
  • German: "Was wäre wenn..." (What If...)
  • Hungarian: "A kívánság" (The Wish)
  • Italian: "Il Desiderio" (The Wish)
  • Japanese: "ねがい" (Wish)
  • Polish: "Życzenia" (Wishes)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "O Desejo" (The Wish)
  • Romanian: "Dorința" (Wish)
  • Russian: "Желание" (Wish)
  • Spanish (Latin America and Spain): "El Deseo" (The Wish)
  • Swedish: "Önskningen" (The Wish)



Promotional stills[]

Behind the scenes[]



Larry: "Okay, the entire world sucks because some dead ditz made a wish? I just want to be clear."
Buffy: "Why don't I just put a stake through her heart?"
Giles: "She's not a vampire."
Buffy: "Yeah, well, you'd be surprised how many things that'll kill."
Buffy: "You're taking an awful lot on faith here, Jeeves."
Giles: "Giles"
Buffy: "Kill the bad fairy, destroy the bad fairy's power center, whatever, and all the troubles go away?"
Giles: "Well, I'm sure it's not that simple, but..."
Buffy: "World is what it is. We fight. We die. Wishing doesn't change that."
Giles: "I have to believe in a better world."
Buffy: "Go ahead. I have to live in this one."
Anya: "You trusting fool! How do you know the other world is any better than this?!"
Giles: "Because it has to be."
Cordelia: "I wish Buffy Summers had never come to Sunnydale."
Anya: "Done."
Cordelia: "That would be cool. No wait, I wish Buffy Summers had never been born."
Anya: "Done."
Cordelia: "And I wish that Xander Harris never again knows the touch of a woman. And that Willow wakes up tomorrow covered in monkey hair."
Anya: "Done."
Cordelia: "In fact, I wish all men, except maybe the dumb and the really agreeable kind, disappear off the face of the Earth. That would be so cool."


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy.com. Archived from the original on February 15, 2001.
  2. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Third Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.
  3. Marti Noxon et al., The Script Book: Season Three, Volume 2. Simon & Schuster, September 2003.