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"Welcome to the Hellmouth" is the series premiere of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the first episode of the first season of the television show. Written by Joss Whedon and directed by Charles Martin Smith, it was originally broadcast on March 10, 1997, on The WB network.


SPECIAL TWO-HOUR SERIES PREMIERE — Picking up where the feature film left off, Buffy Summers and her mom move to Sunnydale, California, for a fresh start, unaware of the evil lurking in this quiet suburb. Somewhat reluctant in her role as the slayer, Buffy quickly makes friends and enemies at her new school. While also meeting her new "Watcher," Giles, the mercurial school librarian, her newly assembled team encounters the ever-abundant unearthly creatures in Sunnydale.[1]


A boy breaks a window at Sunnydale High School at night and crawls in, followed by a seemingly reluctant girl. The girl hears an unidentified sound and fears something is there. The boy calls out but gets no response. When the girl is satisfied they are alone, her face morphs into that of a vampire, and she bites the boy. The girl, as it'll later be revealed, is Darla.

Buffy has a nightmare on the morning of her first day of school. Her mother drives her to school and encourages her to think positive. Inside the building, Principal Flutie tells her she will start with a clean slate. He reconsiders that after realizing that Buffy burned down her previous school's gym because "it was full of vampi– …asbestos."

Buffy exits the office and bumps into another student, spilling the contents of her purse over the floor. Xander sees that and helps Buffy, introducing himself. She leaves without her stake, which Xander pockets because he called out to her, but she had already walked away. In history class, Buffy is helped by Cordelia, who afterward tests her "coolness factor," allowing Buffy skipping the written as Buffy had just moved to Sunnydale from Los Angeles. To Buffy's horror, Cordelia humiliates an awkward Willow at the water fountain. Inside the library, Mr. Giles places a book titled Vampyr in front of Buffy after realizing who she was. A stunned Buffy makes a hasty exit.

Buffy, Willow, Jesse, and Xander meet during a break, and Xander returns the stake. Buffy claims it's standard self-defense in Los Angeles. Cordelia appeared and told Buffy she won't get to meet Coach Foster because gym class was canceled "due to the extreme dead guy" in Aura's locker. Buffy asks whether there were marks on the body, freaking out Cordelia. Buffy forces her way into the locker room, examines the body, and finds the characteristic puncture wounds of a vampire on the neck.

Buffy returns to the library and confronts Giles, who informs her that he is her Watcher. Buffy refuses to accept her calling as a Slayer since it had gotten her expelled from her previous school and cost her social life. After they leave the library, Xander emerges from behind the shelves, having overheard the strange conversation.

That night, en route to her first visit to the Bronze, the cool hangout in Sunnydale, Buffy is followed by a mysterious man. Feeling threatened, she knocks him down. However, the handsome stranger assures her that he doesn't bite and she releases him. He warns her that she is living on a Hellmouth which is about to open and that the Harvest is coming. He also gives her a silver cross necklace in a box. It won't be revealed until the next day that the stranger's name is Angel.

In the Bronze, Buffy meets Willow and encourages her to seize the moment because tomorrow she "might be dead." She finds Giles and tells him about Angel and his warning. Giles tells her to learn to hone her skills to sense vampires anywhere. Buffy uses her fashion sense to pick out a vampire in the club and is alarmed to see Willow leaves with him. She loses them and is surprised by Cordelia, nearly staking her. Cordelia immediately calls her friends to tell them about it. While Buffy looks for Willow, Jesse chats up Darla at the Bronze. Buffy is stopped by Xander, who doesn't believe in vampires and makes fun of her. In the end, she manages to convince him to help search for Willow.

Meanwhile, under the streets of Sunnydale, the Master is woken by lesser vampires from a long sleep to prepare for the Harvest. He sends Luke to fetch young blood.

Willow's new acquaintance takes her to a crypt in a cemetery, where they are joined by Darla and Jesse, whom she has bitten. Buffy and Xander arrive. Buffy kills Willow's vampire. Xander and Willow help Jesse, who has been weakened, flee. Luke takes Darla's place in the fight so she can help catch the kids. Luke throws Buffy in a stone coffin and is about to move in for the kill.


  • Buffy's prophetic dream features glimpses of several climatic events of the season, including Marc in "The Puppet Show," Carlo and Moloch the Corruptor in "I Robot, You Jane," as well as the Master and the hellmouth spawn in "Prophecy Girl."
  • Joyce drops Buffy off at school and tells her: "Try not to get kicked out." Buffy promises in agreement but eventually does get expelled in "Becoming, Part One."
  • Giles and Principal Flutie mention Buffy's time in Los Angeles, fighting vampires and burning down the school gym; these events are shown in comic miniseries The Origin.
  • Cordelia states she would like to live in Los Angeles; she later moves there after graduation ("City Of").
  • The girl who finds the dead boy in her locker is Cordelia's friend Aura. She recurs in "Rm w/a Vu," talking to Cordelia on the phone.
  • Angel gives a cross necklace to Buffy, and he'll continue to gift her with his coat ("Teacher's Pet") and a Claddagh ring ("Surprise").
  • Buffy expresses that she "really didn't like" Angel, though she later ends up falling in love with him ("Lie to Me") and starting an on and off relationship.
  • Angel will be revealed to be a vampire sired by Darla 200 years ago ("Angel").
  • In relation to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film (non-canon), the episode shares the facts that Buffy is from Los Angeles and has fought vampires there, but contradicts Buffy's high school year and having burned down the school gym.



Organizations and titles





Rituals and spells

Death count

  • Chris Boal, drained by Darla at Sunnydale High School.
  • Thomas, staked by Buffy Summers in a mausoleum.

Behind the scenes


  • The Master's real name was never mentioned on-screen, but, in the shooting script for the episode, he was named Heinrich Joseph Nest and was also said to have been six hundred years old.[2]
  • The Master's look originally featured some hair before actor Mark Metcalf suggested the baldness and the large ears, as a homage to Nosferatu the Vampyre.[3]
  • The Master was originally supposed to rise from a pool of blood and be covered with the blood for the entire episode; this was abandoned after being discovered to be too difficult to create.[2]
  • Certain scenes, such as the argument between Giles and Buffy in the library, and Buffy's first meeting with Angel, were reshot eight months after the first episode was filmed. Joss Whedon decided to make Buffy less angry and more vulnerable, much to Sarah Michelle Gellar's dismay. Whedon jokingly teased her they were going to re-shoot the scenes a third time.[4]
  • According to Whedon, Buffy saying the word "slut" turned out to be a "big issue" for The WB: "They didn't know what timeslot we'd be in, they didn't know what kind of a network they were, and they didn't know how far we could go. They didn't like us using the word 'virgin' in episode 4, and the word 'slut' here was a big controversy. Even though we did imply it's not great to be a slut."[4]
  • The scene where Angel warns Buffy about the Harvest was David Boreanaz's audition scene. According to Boreanaz, it was shot at two in the morning in "some god awful street."[5]
  • The scene where Jesse asks Cordelia to dance is taken directly from Whedon's school days. Unlike Jesse, after the girl's reaction, he said nothing and left.[4]
  • The scene with Buffy and Giles at the Bronze was Anthony Stewart Head's audition scene.[4]
  • Brian Thompson, who plays the vampire Luke, returns to the series in season two as a different character, the Judge, in "Surprise" and "Innocence."
  • Persia White, who plays Aura, also returns as Agnes Bellfleur in the episode "Over the Rainbow."


  • On the original airing of this episode, The WB provided a teaser briefing the history of past Slayers, known as History of the Slayer. It revealed horrific events in towns that were halted when a particular woman arrived. This teaser, however, does not appear in syndication or on DVD.[6]
  • Whedon originally wanted to include actor Eric Balfour in the title credits to "shake people up, and really confuse them if I had someone who appeared to be a regular get killed right in the first episode," but "it seemed too time-consuming and expensive to do two credit sequences."[4] Whedon's wish was granted in season six ("Seeing Red") with Amber Benson's character, Tara Maclay.
  • Each regular character is introduced in the order that they appear in the opening titles.
  • The episode received a Nielsen rating of 3.4 upon its original airing.[7]

Deleted scenes

  • This exchange was cut because of length:[8]
Flutie: "Oh! Buffy! Uh, what do you want?"
Buffy: "Um, is there a guy in there that's dead?"
Flutie: "Where did you hear that? Okay. Yes. But he's not a student! Not currently."
Buffy: "Do you know how he died?"
Flutie: "What?"
Buffy: "I mean - how could this have happened?"
Flutie: "Well, that's for the police to determine when they get here. But this structure is safe, we have inspectors, and I think there's no grounds for a lawsuit."
Buffy: "Was there a lot of blood? Was there any blood?"
Flutie: "I would think you wouldn't want to involve yourself in this kind of thing."
Buffy: "I don't. Could I just take a peek?"
Flutie: "Unless you already are involved…"
Buffy: "Never mind."
Flutie: "Buffy, I understand this is confusing. You're probably feeling a lot right now. You should share those feelings. With someone else."
  • Xander and Buffy had slight different lines outside the Bronze:[2]
Xander: "Why, you know something about Mr. Goodbar that she doesn't? Oh! Hey. I hope he's not a vampire. 'Cause then you'd have to slay him."
Buffy: "Was there a school bulletin? Was it in the news? Is there anybody in this town who doesn't know I'm a Slayer?"
Xander: "I only know you think you're a Slayer, and I only know that 'cause I was in the library today."
  • Principal Flutie had additional lines while taping Buffy's file together:[2]
Flutie: "At Sunnydale we nurture the whole student. The inner student… Other schools might look at the incredible decline in grade point average — we look at the struggling young woman with the incredible decline in grade point average. Other schools might look at the reports of gang fights–"

Pop culture references

  • Cordelia asks Buffy's opinion on the actor James Spader.
  • Buffy answers Cordelia that John Tesh, an American television and radio presenter, is "the devil."
  • Cordelia mocks Willow's outfit saying: "Good to know you've seen the softer side of Sears," in reference to the well-known commercial jingle of the department store.
  • Giles carries the book The Legend of the Seventh Virgin (1965) by Eleanor Alice Burford.
  • Buffy and Giles discuss his purchase of books from the publisher Time Life.
  • When meeting Angel for the first time, Buffy references Turtle Wax, a product commonly given away as a consolation prize on many TV game shows.
  • Giles says he'd rather "be at home with a cup of Bovril," the brand of meat extract paste sold in the UK, made into a drink by diluting with hot water.
  • Buffy compares Thomas's clothing with DeBarge, a 1980s pop group.


  • In the first classroom scene where Buffy shares Cordelia's textbook, the teacher asks them to turn to page 63, but Cordelia turns to somewhere near the beginning of the book.
  • In the scene where Buffy and Willow first talk, Buffy's hair moves back and forth behind and in front of her ear.
  • The spines on the stack of books change from showing to not showing as Buffy and Giles hand them to each other in the library.
  • The region 4 DVD case incorrectly titles this episode as "Welcome to Hellmouth."


  • Dave Aragon — "No Heroes"
  • Sprung Monkey — "Saturated"
  • Sprung Monkey — "Believe"
  • Sprung Monkey — "Swirl"
  • Sprung Monkey — "Things Are Changing"
  • Mindtribe — "Losing Ground"
  • Shake the Faith — "Anti-Heroes"
  • Walter Murphy — original score

International titles

  • Armenian: "Բարի գալուստ դժոխքի երախը" (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
  • Czech: "Vítejte v bráně pekelné" (Welcome to the Gates of Hell)
  • Finnish: "Ystäviä ja paholaisia osa 1" (Friends and Demons Part 1)
  • French: "Bienvenue à Sunnydale, Partie 1" (Welcome to Sunnydale, Part 1)
  • German: "Das Zentrum des Bösen" (The Center of Evil)
  • Hungarian: "Üdvözlet a pokol szájában!" (Greetings from the Hellmouth!)
  • Icelandic: "Velkomin til Vítismunnsins" (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
  • Italian: "Benvenuti al College" (Welcome to School)
  • Japanese: "ヘルマウスへようこそ" (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
  • Polish: "Witajcie u wrót piekieł" (Welcome to the Gates of Hell)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Bem-Vindo à Boca do Inferno" (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
  • Romanian: "Bun venit la Hellmouth" (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
  • Russian: "Добро пожаловать в Адскую Пасть" (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Bienvenidos a la Boca del Infierno" (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
  • Spanish (Spain): "Bienvenidos a la Boca del Infierno" (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
  • Swedish: “Välkommen till Hellmouth” (Welcome to Hellmouth)



Promotional stills


Cordelia: "It's in the bad side of town."
Buffy: "Where's that?"
Cordelia: "It's about half a block from the good side of town. We don't have a whole lot of town here."
Xander: "Well, uh, maybe I'll see you around. Maybe at school… since we… both… go there."
Buffy: "Great! It was nice to meet you."
Xander: "We both go to school. Very suave. Very not pathetic."
Buffy: "Uh, hi! Willow, right?"
Willow: "Why? I mean, hi! Uh, did you want me to move?"
Buffy: "Why don't we start with, 'Hi, I'm Buffy,' and then let's segue directly into me asking you for a favor. It doesn't involve moving, but it does involve hanging out with me for a while."
Willow: "But aren't you hanging out with Cordelia?"
Buffy: "I can't do both?"
Willow: "Not legally."
Giles: "Dig a bit in the history of this place and you'll find a steady stream of fairly odd occurrences. I believe this whole area is the center of mystical energy, that things gravitate towards it that you might not find elsewhere."
Buffy: "Like vampires."
Giles: "Like zombies. Werewolves. Incubi, succubi… Everything you've ever dreaded was under your bed but told yourself couldn't be by the light of day. They're all real."
Buffy: "What? You, like, sent away for the Time Life series?"
Giles: "Uh, well, yes."
Buffy: "D'ya get the free phone?"
Giles: "Um, the calendar."
Buffy: "Now we can do this the hard way or… Well, actually, there's just the hard way."
Darla: "That's fine with me."
Buffy: "Are you sure? Now, this is not gonna be pretty. We're talking violence, strong language, adult content."


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Archived from the original on December 5, 1998.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Welcome to the Hellmouth." BuffyWorld. Archived from the original on July 18, 2019.
  3. Steve Eramo, "Sci-Fi Blast From The Past - Mark Metcalf (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)." SciFiAndTvTalk, February 16, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Joss Whedon, The Complete First Season on DVD; audio commentaries for "Welcome to the Hellmouth." 20th Century Studios, January 15, 2002.
  5. Keith Topping, The Complete Slayer. Virgin Books, December 1, 2004.
  6. Nikki Stafford, Bite Me!: Sarah Michelle Gellar and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. ECW Press, June 8, 1998.
  7. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's First Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.
  8. Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder, The Watcher's Guide, Volume 1. Pocket Books, October 1998.