Watcher was the title given to a member of the Watchers Council, devoted to studying, tracking, and combating malevolent supernatural entities, doing so through a Watcher assigned to train and guide the Slayer.
- “As I recall, I was informed at the age of ten that I would become a Watcher, then summarily packed off to study horror and death alongside Latin and Geometry.”
- ―Rupert Giles[src]
Watchers received training from a young age and had to attend the Watchers Academy, where Wesley Wyndam-Pryce was head boy when he attended. Watchers-in-training were often forced to take part in field tests, which required facing and defeating an enemy. These were often set in controlled setting, where the student was placed in a situation without any information given to them or warning before hand, where they had to fight a vampire or demon by means necessary, similar to a Slayer's Tento di Cruciamentum.
A common testing method that lasted for decades involved locking them in a room with a starving vampire. Other tests weren't organized and were merely preexisting threats, in which the students were tasked with dealing with based on their studies. This could lead to an oversight on the Council's part if the information were incorrect, as with the Highgate Vampire incident. When it came to theory, Watchers were known to write theses on famous vampires.
Watchers swore sacred oaths that included an oath to protect the innocent. Associations with vampires were shunned and considered a perversion.
According to Wesley, training procedures have changed to some considerable degree since the 70s, with a greater emphasis on field work rather than books and theory. Watchers tended to be well-versed in ancient, supernatural texts and demonology along with possessing a reasonable degree of skill in hand-to-hand combat and linguistics.
The Slayer's Watcher
Watchers taught Slayers hand-to-hand fighting skills mostly in the form of martial arts as well as teaching them to use traditional slayer weapons, such as crossbows, axes, swords, and quarterstaves.
Rupert Giles often trained Buffy Summers during and after school hours in the Sunnydale High School library. He later built in a training room in the Magic Box filled with gym mats, punching bags, and throwable weapons hung on the walls, such as shuriken and knives. In the first years, he also would sometimes accompanied her on patrol to monitor her slaying and review her technique.
Other than physical capability, Watchers also trained their Slayer's mentality and senses. Giles once required Buffy to hit him with a ball while blind-folded to test her awareness of an enemy and also conducted meditation with stones after Buffy requested he provide her with extra training so that she could become a better Slayer.
The approach to training the Slayer depended on the Watcher; Giles had a lighter manner of treating Buffy, accepting her social life with few conditions. Sam Zabuto employed a stricter attitude towards training his Slayer Kendra Young, barring her from her family and any form of a social life while teaching her according to a handbook which required her to study demon mythology. Buffy on the other hand was not given the handbook as Giles didn't feel she needed it after he met her. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce opted for a more orderly method of planning out strategies and focusing on "three" key concepts: preparation, preparation and preparation. Sometime after Giles was fired, Buffy and Faith Lehane had to receive testing from the Watcher Council's shrink with things like the Rorschach test, physical examinations to assertive logic, and personality tests that asked if they ever wanted to be a florist (which apparently meant crazy).
Watchers would document their Slayer's actions in what was known as the Watchers Diaries. This would include records on demons, vampires, and other foes the Watcher studied, as well as their Slayer's death.
After the destruction of the Watchers Council in 2002 and activation of multiple Potential Slayers in 2003, Slayers were free to join the Slayer Organization, where they were trained alongside each other. Joining Slayers were allocated to a specific area where they would receive their training under a sole Watcher or the leadership of an experienced Slayer. Giles was the only traditionally trained Watcher, recognizing himself as the Council itself "for all intents and purposes." In this organization, Xander, Andrew, and Robin were also de facto Watchers. Still, for the first time Slayers outnumbered their Watchers: 500 Slayers were in the organization from the 1,800 active worldwide.
Watchers assigned to Slayers and Potential Slayers.
- Unidentified man — unidentified Slayer (Dark Ages)
- Unidentified man — unidentified Slayer (1600s)
- Jean — Claudine (1790s)
- Unidentified man — Elizabeth Weston (1813)
- Unidentified man — Naayéé'neizgháni (late 19th century)
- Unidentified man — Anni (1938)
- Bernard Crowley — Nikki Wood (1970–1977)
- Merrick — Buffy Summers (1996)
- Rupert Giles — Buffy (1996–1999, 2001) and Faith Lehane (1999)
- Sam Zabuto — Kendra Young (1997–1998)
- Unidentified woman — Faith (1998)
- Wesley Wyndam-Pryce — Buffy and Faith (1999)
- Unidentified Watcher — Buffy Summers (Wishverse) (1998)
- Robson — Nora (2002)
- Unidentified Watcher — Violet (–2002)
- Unidentified Watcher — Kennedy (–2002)
- Unidentified man — Eve (–2002)
- Unidentified man — Melaka Fray (23rd century)
Members of the Council performing other tasks.
Students who were unable to complete their Watcher trainings.
Individuals who acted as Watchers to Slayers outside the Watchers Council.