"Welcome to the Hellmouth" is the season premiere of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show, and the first episode in the series. Written by Joss Whedon and directed by Charles Martin Smith, it 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.
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 the morning of her first day of school. Her mother drives her to the 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. It won't 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. 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.
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 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, 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 ended up falling in love with him and starting an on and off relationship.
- Angel will be revealed to be a vampire sired by Darla 200 years ago ("Angel").
- Blue (Only mentioned)
- Carlo (Only in visions)
- Chris Boal
- Cordelia Chase
- Mrs. Chase (Only mentioned)
- Chomsky (Only mentioned)
- Robert Flutie
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Marc (Only in visions)
- Moloch the Corruptor (Only in visions)
- Jesse McNally
- Sheila Rosenberg (Only mentioned)
- Willow Rosenberg
- Steve (Only mentioned)
- Buffy Summers
- Joyce Summers
- Hellmouth spawn (Only in visions)
- Unidentified teacher (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
Organizations and titles
- Demon (Only mentioned)
- Werewolf (Only mentioned)
- Zombie (Only mentioned)
- Los Angeles (Only mentioned)
Weapons and objects
Rituals and spells
- Chris Boal, drained by Darla at Sunnydale High School.
- Thomas, staked by Buffy Summers in a mausoleum.
Behind the scenes
- The script for the episode was written on August 26, 1996. Six revisions were made following this, with the last being January 17, 1997.
- The scene with Buffy and Giles at the Bronze was Anthony Stewart Head's audition scene.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Certain scenes, such as the argument between Giles and Buffy in the library, and Buffy's first meeting with Angel, were re-shot 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- Creator Joss Whedon hoped to include actor Eric Balfour in the title credits to shock viewers when his character dies. Unfortunately, the show could not afford the extra set of title credits at the time. However, Whedon's wish was granted in season six ("Seeing Red") with Amber Benson's character, Tara Maclay.
- The episode received a Nielsen rating of 3.4 upon its original airing.
- This exchange was cut because of length:
- Mr. Flutie: "Oh! Buffy! Uh, what do you want?"
- Buffy: "Um, is there a guy in there that's dead?"
- Mr. Flutie: "Where did you hear that? Okay. Yes. But he's not a student! Not currently."
- Buffy: "Do you know how he died?"
- Mr. Flutie: "What?"
- Buffy: "I mean - how could this have happened?"
- Mr. 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?"
- Mr. 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?"
- Mr. Flutie: "Unless you already are involved…"
- Buffy: "Never mind."
- Mr. Flutie: "Buffy, I understand this is confusing. You're probably feeling a lot right now. You should share those feelings. With someone else."
Pop culture references
- Cordelia mentions the American actor James Spader.
- 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.
- John Tesh, an American television and radio presenter, and now a lifestyle guru, is also mentioned.
- Buffy speaks of DeBarge, a 1980s pop group.
- Buffy and Giles discuss his purchase of books from Time Life publisher.
- When storming the Bronze, Buffy references The Wild Bunch, a 1969 Western where all the remaining characters are killed in the final shootout.
- 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.
Goofs, bloopers & continuity errors
- 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.
- Dave Aragon — "No Heroes" (when Joyce drives Buffy to school)
- Sprung Monkey — "Saturated" (as Buffy tries to decide what to wear to the Bronze)
- Sprung Monkey — "Believe" (as Buffy arrives at the Bronze)
- Sprung Monkey — "Swirl" (while Jesse talks to Cordelia and then Darla at the Bronze)
- Sprung Monkey — "Things Are Changing" (while Buffy talks to Xander outside the Bronze while looking for Willow)
- Mindtribe — "Losing Ground"
- Shake The Faith — "Anti-Heroes"
- Walter Murphy — original score
- 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 (Spain): "La Cosecha, Parte 1" (The Harvest, Part 1)
- Spanish (Latin American): "Bienvenidos a la Boca del Infierno" (Welcome to the Hellmouth)
- The book The Harvest includes a novelization of this episode.
- The episode script was included in The Script Book: Season One, Volume 1.
- A Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figure was produced based on Buffy in this episode.
- The comic series Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2019 revamp debuts with the issue Welcome Back to the Hellmouth, Part One, which homages this episode both in the title and in an episode variant cover.
- Joss Whedon provided the DVD commentaries for this episode.
- The episode was included in VHS collection The Slayer Pack.
- Each regular character is introduced in the order that they appear in the opening titles.
- In relation to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film (non-canon), the episode shares the facts that Buffy is from Los Angeles and have fought vampires there, but contradicts Buffy's high school year and having burned down the school gym.
- 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 episode "Over the Rainbow".
- The region 4 DVD case incorrectly titles this episode as "Welcome to Hellmouth".
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."
- ↑ "The Mortuary". Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Archived from the original December 5, 1998.
- ↑ "Buffy and Angel: The Ultimate DVD Collection Magazine," 2008.
- ↑ Steve Eramo, "Sci-Fi Blast From The Past - Mark Metcalf (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)". SciFiAndTvTalk, February 16, 2011.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Joss Whedon's audio commentary for the episode "Welcome to the Hellmouth", The Complete First Season Region 1 DVD.
- ↑ Keith Topping, The Complete Slayer. Virgin Books, December 1, 2004.
- ↑ Nikki Stafford, Bite me!: Sarah Michelle Gellar and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. ECW Press, June 8, 1998.
- ↑ "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's First Season".Archived from the original July 5, 2008.
- ↑ Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder, The Watcher's Guide, Volume One. Pocket Books, October 1, 1998.