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"When She Was Bad" is the season premiere of the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the thirteenth episode in the series. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, it was originally broadcast on September 15, 1997, on The WB network.


BACK TO SCHOOL — When Buffy returns home to Sunnydale after spending the summer away, Xander and Willow become concerned with her disturbingly cold and distant behavior. Meanwhile, Cordelia and Sunnydale High teacher Ms. Calendar are kidnapped and Buffy is convinced that the fight to protect them and the world from the undead is hers alone. Still reluctant to risk getting close to Angel, Buffy turns him away before either one can express his or her true feelings.[1]


Xander and Willow are quizzing each other on film quotes on the outskirts of a cemetery. The pair comment on the quiet summer in Sunnydale since they buried the Master in the graveyard, and Xander remarks that he is actually looking forward to school starting up again. A tender moment ensues when Xander playfully puts ice cream on Willow's nose, but just as it looks as if the two are going to kiss, a vampire appears behind Willow.

Xander intervenes, and is barely holding out when Buffy shows up. She dusts the vampire, and then turns to her friends and asks: "Miss me?" She then informs her friends about spending the summer in Los Angeles with her father. They tell her about their summer, and how this is the first vampire they've seen since the Master was killed. They also tell her about how they buried the Master's bones in consecrated earth, and Buffy feels uneasy. She is also in no hurry to see Giles, telling the others she'll just wait until she returns to school. At home, her mother, Joyce, is a bit uneasy about Buffy's shopping spree. Her father, Hank, explains that Buffy seemed distant the whole summer, and they never really established a connection (hence him overcompensating by letting her shop).

At school, Principal Snyder expresses his disgust with students while talking to Giles, who spots Jenny and slips away; an oblivious Snyder babbles on. Giles finds the gang, and Buffy tries to hide the fact she's not really that happy to see him, and explains that although they have closed the Hellmouth, the mystical energy still attracts evil forces to the town. He asks Buffy to resume her training after school, but is unnerved at how eager she is to get started.

Whilst practicing, Buffy has a vision of the Master and begins wailing on a dummy. She declares that she's prepared for whatever comes next. At night in her bedroom, she dreams of being killed by the Master. Angel appears in her window to warn her that the Anointed One has been gathering forces. Buffy brushes him off. He tells her he missed her and leaves before her reply.

The next day, the Scoobies run into Cordelia, who is oblivious to the idea of keeping Buffy's Slayer identity a secret. Buffy heaps a harsh insult on Cordy that her friends find "too good." Meanwhile, the Anointed One and a vampire named Absalom are forcing other vampires to dig up the Master's bones barehanded through consecrated earth.

At the Bronze, Xander and Willow wonder about Buffy's behavior. Willow tries in vain to recreate the ice cream moment, but Xander does not do what she had hoped, saying instead: "You've got something on your nose." Buffy then arrives and mocks Angel. She begins a slow, sensual dance with Xander that bothers Angel, Willow, and even Xander himself. Buffy leaves Xander hanging mid-dance after asking if he'd like her to thank him for resurrecting her. Outside, Cordelia confronts Buffy and tells her to get over her problems. As Buffy leaves, Cordy is kidnapped by two dark figures. They throw her into a basement with an unconscious Ms. Calendar. Meanwhile, Buffy walks to the grave that holds the bones of the Master, and finds it dug up.

At lunch the next day, Giles shares Xander and Willow's concerns about Buffy, who shows up to tell them about her discovery. Giles remembers some revivification rituals and Buffy is angered that he never told her. Snyder shoos away the students, and tells Giles he would like to expel Buffy, as he "smells" numerous bad things about her. Giles tells him to give her a chance, and Snyder thinks his faith in her is "weird." That night, the Scoobies learn that a revivification ritual needs the blood of the "closest" person to the deceased. Buffy assumes that would be her, since she and Master killed each other. Suddenly, Cordelia's watch, wrapped around a large rock, sails through the library window. It includes a message calling Buffy to the Bronze or they'll kill Cordelia. Buffy leaves for the obvious trap alone, saying she cannot look out for them while slaying.

Outside the Bronze, Buffy tries to pick a fight with Angel, who ignores her. Inside, they find just one vampire, trying to pass for Cordelia. Buffy realizes that the ruse wasn't a trap, but a distraction. At the same time, Giles realizes that the foreign text actually said that the ritual requires the blood of those physically nearest to the Master when he died — in other words, Giles, Willow, Cordelia, and Ms. Calendar. As everyone becomes aware that they're the ones in danger, several vampires emerge from the shadows

Buffy returns to the library to find a bloody Xander, who warns that, if anything happens to Willow, he will kill Buffy. They go back to the vampire at the Bronze, whom Buffy tortures into confession of where the ritual will take place. Arriving at an abandoned factory, Buffy interrupts the ritual staking all vampires involved as the Anointed One is whisked away, while Angel and Xander rescue the others. With the Master's skeleton laid over a table, Buffy utterly destroys it with a sledgehammer while her friends watch. She begins crying and Angel hugs her.

The next day, Buffy talks with Giles about her fear of facing her friends again after treating them so badly and putting them in danger. He tells her she can't hide from them forever, and assures that this was hardly the worst mistake she'll ever make. Buffy then reluctantly enters class, where Willow and Xander have saved her a seat. Together, they joke and make plans for the night.

Meanwhile, at the factory, the Anointed One gazes at the scene of destruction and declares: "I hate that girl."


  • This episode marks the start of the tradition in the show of all Buffy season premiers beginning with a scene in a cemetery ("Anne," "The Freshman," "Buffy vs. Dracula," "Bargaining, Part One," "Lessons"). 
  • The non-canon short story "Absalom Rising" identifies Shady Hill Cemetery as the location of the Master's bones. 
  • Principal Snyder calls girls "hormonal time bombs." In the episode "Blood Ties," Spike will describe Dawn the same way. 
  • Joyce says she hopes Buffy can make it through the school year without getting kicked out, as she had expressed in "Welcome to the Hellmouth." Although, as Principal Snyder "smells" expulsion about Buffy, this will turn out to be true in "Becoming, Part Two."
  • This is the second and final "real" appearance of Buffy's father Hank in the series. All subsequent appearances would be in the form of flashbacks, dreams, or hallucinations, until his solo return in Freaky Giles Day.
  • Joyce and Hank make references to the shoes of Los Angeles while unpacking Buffy's bags. The L.A. shoes were also the subject of conversations between Cordelia and Buffy in "Welcome to the Hellmouth."
  • This marks the first appearance of the high school lounge room, which will make more appearances in the second and third seasons.
  • Cordelia tells Buffy to "get over it" in response to Buffy's appalling behavior in this episode. Cordelia would again use this line to Angel, in the Angel episode "I Fall to Pieces."
  • This is the first attempt to raise a vampire from the dead during the series; the first time it actually happens is in the Angel episode "To Shanshu in L.A." when Wolfram & Hart bring back Darla.
  • Buffy challenges Angel to a fight and asks if he is interested in how it would be. They will actually fight after he loses his soul ("Innocence," "Becoming, Part One," and "Becoming, Part Two").
  • Buffy calls Angel an "undead American"; Angel actually originates from Ireland ("Becoming, Part One"). Lilah Morgan will use the same term in reference to a vampire in the Angel episode "Benediction."
  • Since the Master's death, the Order of Aurelius has left the sunken church and moved to the abandoned Bric & Broc factory, keeping it as their lair until the episode "Passion."
  • Xander suggests that he, Willow, and Buffy play miniature golf. Five years later, when making plans for the next day, Xander will declare: "Mini-golf is always the first thing that comes to mind." ("Chosen").
  • Willow says that there is no golf course there. Eventually, Ted will take them to play miniature golf on a drive in "Ted."



Organizations and titles[]




Rituals and spells[]

Death count[]

  • Unidentified vampire, staked by Buffy with a tree branch at the graveyard.
  • Walt, staked by Buffy at the factory.
  • Jane, staked by Buffy at the factory.
  • Ned, staked by Angel at the factory.
  • Bob, staked by Buffy at the factory.
  • Absalom, set on fire with a flaming torch by Buffy at the factory.

Behind the scenes[]



  • "When She Was Bad" pulled in an audience of 2.9 million households. When the episode was aired as a repeat in November 1997, it exceptionally scored a higher 3.1 million household rating.[2]

Deleted scenes[]

  • The following exchange was cut because of length:[3]
    Hank: "Oh, I'm spoiling her. Did I forget to mention that?"
    Joyce: "What you forgot is that I'm gonna have to deal with another year of 'Daddy would let me buy that'."

Pop culture references[]

  • When Willow and Xander play a cinema quiz, they reference the films The Terminator (1984), Planet of the Apes (1968), Star Wars (1977), and Witness (1985).
  • Jenny mentions having attended the Burning Man festival over the summer, an annual event held since 1986.
  • Cordelia calls Buffy, Willow, and Xander "The Three Musketeers," in reference to the title trio of characters from the 1844 adventure novel by Alexandre Dumas, with multiple adaptations over the years.
  • Xander suggests that a better insult would be being called "The Three Stooges," a trio of slapstick comedy.
  • Cordelia tells Buffy to get over her Joan Collins attitude, whose character Alexis Colby in the television show Dynasty was often regarded as vengeful and ruthless.


  • Jenny mentions having attended the Burning Man festival in Black Rock over the summer. However, in 1997, Burning Man was held in Hualapai Desert, not Black Rock Desert.


International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Երբ նա չար էր" (When She Was Evil)
  • Czech: "Když byla zlá" (When She Was Bad) / "Když zlobila" (When She Misbehaved)
  • Finnish: "Pahan Kosketus" (The Touch of Evil)
  • French: "La Métamorphose de Buffy" (The Metamorphosis of Buffy)
  • German: "Im Banne des Bösen" (Under the Spell of Evil)
  • Hungarian: "Megigézve" (Mesmerized)
  • Italian: "L'ombra del Maestro" (The Shadow of the Master)
  • Japanese: "バフィーはイヤなヤツ!?" (Buffy Is a Bad Guy!?)
  • Polish: "Kiedy ona była zła" (When She Was Back)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "A Volta" (The Comeback)
  • Romanian: "Când era rea" (When It Was Bad)
  • Russian: "Когда она была плохой" (When She Was Bad)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Cuando Ella Fue Mala" (When She Was Bad)
  • Spanish (Spain): "Buffy Se Vuelve Mala" (Buffy Turns Bad)
  • Swedish: "När Hon Var Ond" (When She Was Evil)



Promotional stills[]

Behind the scenes[]



Cordelia: "It was a nightmare, a total nightmare. I mean, they promised me they'd take me to St. Croix, and then they just decide to go to Tuscany. Art and buildings? I was totally beach-less for a month and a half. No one has suffered like I have. Of course I think that that kind of adversity builds character. Well, then I thought, I already have a lot of character. Is it possible to have too much character?"
Cordelia: "You're really campaigning for bitch of the year, aren't you?"
Buffy: "As defending champion, are you nervous?"
Cordelia: "I can hold my own."
Snyder: "There are some things I can just smell. It's like a sixth sense."
Giles: "No, actually, that would be one of the five."
Buffy: "'Come to the Bronze before it opens or we make her a meal.'"
Xander: "They're gonna cook her dinner? ...Oh, pretend I didn't just say that."
Giles: "Punishing yourself like this is pointless."
Buffy: "It's entirely pointy. I was a moron. I put my best friends in mortal danger on the second day of school."
Giles: "What are you gonna do? Crawl inside a cave for the rest of your life?"
Buffy: "Would it have cable?"
Giles: "Buffy, you acted wrongly, I admit that. But believe me, that was hardly the, the worst mistake you'll ever make. Uh, that wasn't quite as comforting as it was meant to be."
Buffy: "Well, points for effort."


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy.com. Archived from the original on June 9, 2001.
  2. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Second Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on April 13, 2008.
  3. Christopher Golden, Nancy Holder. The Watcher's Guide, Volume 1. Pocket Books, October 1998.