It’s not all vampires and romance – Buffy has some incredibly sweet and lovely family-focused moments in the series too.
By Rose Graceling-Moore
Published 7 days ago
There are surprisingly few family storylines in Buffy The Vampire Slayer – and other than Joyce Summers, who is a major (and beloved) character, the families of the other members of the Scooby Gang barely show up. Willow references her mother here and there (and?she does appear, but only when under a spell), Xander’s family shows up to his wedding and he talks about how his parents fight, and of course, Anya, Angel, and Spike don’t have living family.
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Despite this, the show manages to create some truly wholesome family-centric moments over the years, and not just involving Buffy, Joyce, and (eventually) Dawn. In fact, some of the best family moments are those where the show proves that family isn’t just about blood.
In ‘Band Candy’ the adults of the town end up under a spell that has them acting like teenagers again – which is particularly hilarious when it comes to Joyce and Giles, who end up having a bit of a flirtation (as well as committing various petty crimes). What makes this so amazing for the show, though, is seeing Buffy’s reactions to them, and how she attempts to make them behave – for once, Buffy swaps places to take on the parental role, and it is surprisingly sweet to see.
A lot of Joyce and Buffy’s relationship deals with the issues of Buffy as the Slayer, and they don’t often get the chance to take part in the kind of mother/daughter activities that they would have if Buffy hadn’t been Called. However, they do get one chance in the first season, when Buffy’s mother buys her a beautiful white prom dress, and they share a sweet moment and the story of Joyce and Buffy’s father. The dress becomes iconic when Buffy dies in it (the first time), but the scene where she gets it is just as important.
Joyce has a lot to contend with, being the mother of a Slayer. Before she understands, she just believes that her daughter is a troublemaker, and after she finds out, she then has all kinds of new worries to deal with! However, through it all, she stands up for Buffy.
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When Buffy’s grades are dropping, but Joyce sees her fight off vampires, she shows Buffy that she is proud of having a daughter who can take care of herself and protect others at the same time – it’s just one of many moments where it’s clear that Joyce will always have Buffy’s back.
Joyce is also an incredible mother to Dawn, and even after she finds out that Dawn isn’t ‘really’ her daughter, she loves her anyway. After finding out that she is dying, she tells Buffy to take care of Dawn, and says that “No matter what she is, she still feels like my daughter. I have to know that you’ll take care of her, that you’ll keep her safe. That you’ll love her like I love you”. Fans may not have embraced Dawn as a character, but this scene showed that the Summers family would always love her.
After her mother’s death, and then after her own, Buffy was left to try and take care of Dawn, still do her duties as a Slayer, and somehow pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads – and she struggled. Child services didn’t think highly of her, but seeing her do everything she could to help Dawn was amazing.
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She took a terrible job, she fought to get bills paid, and thanks to an invisibility spell, she managed to deal with the child services issue in her own delightful way. Much as Buffy often struggles with Dawn as a sister and responsibility, it’s scenes like this that show just how much she really does love her.
Spike first appears on the show as a pure villain, so it surprised fans to see his backstory come to light – where he was a poet, named William, who was a total mama’s boy! His relationship with his mother was often portrayed as cloying and a bit unhealthy, but there were some wholesome moments in there too – including his willingness to sire her so that she could go on living forever when she was ill and going to die. Of course, this backfired completely, as Vamp-Mama was not a great parent, but it’s the thought that counts.
Tara’s family appears for one very important episode, where Tara confesses that she has ‘demon blood’ from her family, and then they all learn that this is a ridiculous lie that the family is told in order to keep the women submissive.
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Appalling as that is, the family still demands that Tara come ‘home’ with them, even though they have never treated her well – and in a rousingly emotional moment, the Scooby Gang comes to stand behind her, and tells the people who raised her that they cannot take Tara against her will. They stand up as her family, and it’s enough to make any fan well up.
While Buffy’s?biological father does make the occasional appearance on the show, it’s recognized that Giles is really her father figure – and he is an excellent one. In one scene, the Mayor also recognizes that Giles is Buffy’s ‘Dad’, saying that “That’s one spunky little girl you’ve raised… I’m going to eat her”. Giles responds to this by stabbing the mayor with a sword – an amazing (if futile) moment that warms the heart.
Buffy is a sister, a parental figure, and a protector of Dawn, and in no episode is this clearer than when she sacrifices her own life to save her little sister. The episode is a deeply emotional one, and centers around Buffy’s realization that Dawn’s blood is hers – because they are truly family, and that when the monks made Dawn human, they really did make her a sister. It’s a great episode for cementing Dawn as a permanent character and family member, and one that is heartbreaking as it sees Buffy die. Again.
One of the most gut-wrenching and wholesome moments between Giles and Buffy comes in ‘Innocence’ when Buffy’s night with Angel has turned him back into Angelus. Buffy and Giles are in the car, and she tells him that he must be disappointed, leading to one of his best speeches in the show. He tells her that while she acted rashly, he will not guilt her, and that “All you will get from me is my support. And my respect.” Giles telling her that he loves her, unconditionally, is something that will remain true for the rest of the show, and this is a perfect moment to set that up early on, and establish him as her real “father”.
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About The Author
(1464 Articles Published)
Rose Graceling-Moore has been writing about film, TV and comics since 2013, when she began writing for a local print magazine in Vancouver, BC. Since then, Rose has written for Horror Honeys, Moviepilot and Quirkbooks as well as Screenrant, increasingly focusing on comic books and live-action comic adaptations, as well as diversity and representation on screen. Rose also co-hosted the DC Movies Podcast, and has guested on other nerd and entertainment podcasts over the past five years.
Rose’s love of comics began all the way back in the early ‘90s, when she discovered the X-Men while living in Africa (where there wasn’t a whole lot to do but read!), and since then has had an on-again, off-again love affair with not just Marvel, but DC and indie comics as well. You can follow her on Twitter: RoseMooreWrites for tweets about comics, movies, and more.
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