Buffy The Vampire Slayer recently celebrated its 20th birthday. Yes, it’s been a whole 20 years since Sarah Michelle Gellar and Joss Whedon introduced us all to a little ol’ town named Sunnydale. The fact that BTVS is 20 years old may make some of us (uh, me) feel really old, but let’s not dwell on that. Let’s talk about the huge plot holes that almost ruined this classic show.
Plot holes are a hard thing to escape, especially when you’re creating a supernatural television show. All supernatural shows exist in their own reality, which requires rules. In creating rules for a supernatural world, you make the world a believable place, but you also open that world up to many plot holes. What if one of the rules is broken, or doesn’t make sense or contradicts another rules? Ugh, there’s so many issues. Buffy The Vampire Slayer had very basic vampire rules. A wooden stake in the heart would kill a vampire. Vampires couldn’t be in sunlight. Vampires needed to be invited into a home. All that good traditional vampire stuff. While the show built its supernatural world in a very believable way, it still fell victim to quite a few vampire-related plot holes.
Below are 17 Buffy The Vampire Slayer plot holes that still make us scratch our heads today. We all still love Buffy, but some of these plot holes really got under our skin.
14 Olaf's Hammer
Olaf was known as the troll god, who also just so happened to be Anya’s ex. Before becoming a troll, he was a Viking king who dated Anya and cheated on her. Anya – then Aud – was so angry that she cursed her ex by turning him into a troll.
Being a troll, Olaf has superhuman strength and a trusty hammer. Much like Thor, Olaf had a hammer that no one, but him, could lift, as it was enchanted with powers. Olaf wielded this hammer, destroying property and sending people flying into mid-air. It was even said that the hammer could harm gods due to it's magical powers.
No one, not even Spike, was able to lift the hammer, but - of course - Buffy could because of her slayer powers and stuff. After dealing with Olaf, Buffy kept the hammer as a souvenir and later used it on Glory. However, here’s the confusing part, the hammer was kept on a shelf at the Magic Box. This is obviously a head scratcher because how the hell can a shelf support the weight of this magical hammer? Also, who put the hammer up there? We didn’t see Buffy do it, though she could have done it off screen. While this has the hammer being on a shelf, some resort to the ‘it’s magic’ explanation, in which they claim that Giles or Willow cast a spell to hold the hammer up.
13 Jenny Calendar’s Computer
Jenny Calendar was a teacher at Sunnydale High School and, during her time on the show, was the love interest of Giles. Like many characters on the show, that wasn’t all she was. Jenny was also a member of the gypsy tribe that cursed Angel. She was in Sunnydale to keep an eye on the handsome, brooding vampire. We all know what happened next – Buffy and Angel got frisky, Angel lost his soul, and Angelus killed Jenny Calendar. RIP, Jenny Calendar.
When Jenny was killed, she had the translated ancient curse that would resurrect Angel’s soul on her computer. Angelus, not wanting his lame soul back, destroyed her computer. Here’s where the holes happen. In the next episode, Willow takes over teaching Jenny’s classes, which would never happen in a real high school, but we’ll let that slide. Willow says the she found Jenny’s lesson plans on her computer... ON HER COMPUTER. Excuse me, what? The computer that Angelus destroyed? Uh, did you find the curse too, Willow?
One could reason that Angelus may not have actually destroyed Jenny's computer since he’s, like, 1,000 years old and probably not well-versed in computers. Fans have proposed that Angelus only destroyed the monitor, leaving the hard drive intact so Willow would then be able to access the lesson plans. That’s great, but then why didn’t Willow find the curse translation? You’re telling us that Willow is hunting around on Jenny's computer and doesn’t stumble upon the curse translation?
12 All The Male Vampires
What is up with all the male vampires? It’s like everywhere you look, there’s another male vampire in Sunnydale. There seems to be a real shortage of female vampires in Sunnydale and that can be quite confusing to the fanbase. While there isn’t a logical explanation as to why there are so many more male vampires than female vampires, there is a thematic explanation.
Joss Whedon said the idea for Buffy the Vampire Slayer came to him after he had watched too many blondes die in horror films. He wanted to help the blonde brand. That being said, showing blonde Buffy take down male vampires was kind of the point of the show. But, it did get to the point where Buffy’s strength and ability to slay male vampires was practically fetishized throughout the series.
Of course, female vampires popped up one in a while – Darla, Drusilla, Harmony – but the male vampires certainly outnumber the female vampires.
11 Vampires Can’t Breathe
In the season one finale, Buffy faces off against the Master, who was season one's big bad. In the showdown, the Master kills Buffy and throws her into some water. But, don’t worry because no one actually stays dead on Buffy, least of all Buffy herself.
Both Xander and Angel rush to Buffy’s aid. At this point, Buffy needs CPR, but Angel claims that he can’t perform CPR because he doesn’t breathe. Mind you, while Angel tells Xander this, Angel is panting from running. Angel is out of breath, but claims he doesn’t breathe. Xander is then the one to perform CPR. Buffy rises from the dead, kills the Master, and saved the world. That was a great scene, but Angel can totally breathe. Not only do we see him out of breath in this scene, but you can also see his breath in colder outside scenes. Oh, and there’s also the fact that air passing over your vocal cords is how one speaks. How would vampires even talk without breathing? It’s all so confusing.
Fans have tried to explain that it’s a different kind of breathing or perhaps not as much breath as humans need. Whatever the case, this plot hole could have been avoided had this scene never happened. It opened up a whole can of worms.
10 Torturing Spike Via Drowning
Yes, we’re still talking about the breathing thing, as it’s one of the plot holes that really gets under some fans' skin. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so damn annoying if there weren't constantly plot holes in the series stemming from Angel saying that vampires don't breathe. Damn you, Angel.
Continuing down that breathing path, there is a scene in the series in which Spike strangles Drusilla, which he wouldn’t have done if she couldn’t breathe, because what harm would it do? Some fans have explained this as saying he was stopping the flow of blood to her brain – vampires still have blood – so that was the point of him strangling her. Hmmm, okay. Maybe, we'll buy that explanation. But then in S7, E10, we have our last confusing plot hole regarding vampires breathing. When the First has the Toruk-Han torture Spike, it’s done by holding Spike’s head underwater. Why would this be torture if Spike didn’t breathe?
Our heads hurt from all of this.
9 Vampires Smoking
We promise that this is the last breathing-related plot hole entry. It's just that we’re so confused by it all.
Throughout the series, we see Spike and Angel smoke, mostly because smoking fits the whole bad-boy-vampire bill. They smoke a lot, especially Spike. I mean, try to find an episode in which Spike isn’t sucking on a ciggy. But, how do Angel and Spike smoke if vampires can’t breathe?! It makes absolutely no sense.
The real issue is that the whole I-can’t-give-her-CPR scene shouldn’t have happened. Had that never been a thing, these other plot holes wouldn’t have developed. Or - it's theory time - in that CPR moment, Angelus was having a small breakthrough and trying to kill Buffy via not giving her CPR. Ah, new theories!
8 The Variation In Buffy’s Skills
Some fans take serious issue with the variation in Buffy’s skills, while other fans simply chalk it up to being a mere human. Whatever the case, we all have to admit that Buffy’s skill set was sometimes more powerful than others.
There are times when Buffy can literally leap over a chain link fence and other times when she has to physically climb the fence. Sometimes Buffy does back flips and other times she can’t get out of a seemingly easy situation. This could definitely be thought of as a plot hole. Some fans, however, simply consider this to be her human side. If she is tired or less focused, her powers are not are strong. The explanation does work to some degree. Plus, we all sometimes forget that Buffy Summers is, after all, just a human. Still, it is unusual to see a superhero type character have such fluctuating powers.
7 Vampires Sometimes Enter Homes
In terms of Buffy-verse, the world is pretty good at adhering to the normal vampire tropes – stakes, sunlight, crosses, and vampires needing to be invited in. Public places are a free-for-all, but if it is someone’s home, vampires need to be invited in. While the show tried its best to stick to the vampires-being-invited-in thing, it was sometimes forgotten about.
The first time this rule seems unclear is in season two. In what seemed like a private space, Angelus killed Jenny Calendar’s uncle, who was also in the gypsy tribe that cursed Angel. It’s been argued that the uncle’s room was not a public location, as there is no evidence to suggest that. If that is the case, how did Angelus gain entry? It’s doubtful that the uncle would have invited Angelus in, given that he knew who Angelus was.
This mishap happens again in season five, when Buffy and Willow share a dorm room. Spike freely enters, but episodes later Angel claims that he needs an invitation. While fans claim that Spike had probably been invited in off-screen, we didn't actually see it.
These invitation plot holes seem to occur mostly when there is not a way to write around that rule.
9. The First Touches Spike
The First was the final big bad that Buffy faced, but it’s kind of hard to explain exactly what the First really was. It wasn’t one single thing, but rather could take many forms. At times it appeared as Drusilla, as past foes that Buffy had slain, and even as Buffy herself. By appearing in different forms, the First was able to manipulate characters, specifically Spike, in order to do its bidding. But, there was one major issue with this big bad. The First was not corporeal, so it couldn't actually touch anything itself. Upon finding that out, it’s a big help to the Scoobies, who could then use that to figure out if the First was around. However, the no-touching thing opened up a plot hole.
When we see the First in the form of Drusilla, it touches and moves Spike’s hair, which is something it should not have been able to do. It's probably just a mistake on the producers, but it's still worth mentioning.
8. The Post-Joyce World
Joyce Summers was a particularly well-developed mother character, especially considering the fact that this was show really about the teenagers and not necessarily the parents. Unfortunately, Joyce died in S5, E16, which is one of the most critically acclaimed episodes of the series. While the emotional ramifications of Joyce’s death were dealt with realistically, the financial ramifications were not as realistic.
Following Joyce's death, Buffy was legally allowed to raise Dawn. That already seems a little off, but we'll go with it. So, Buffy takes several odd jobs to support them, though it never seemed too believable that Buffy would be able to support them living in that house by flipping burgers alone. Buffy finally finds a job at Sunnydale High School, despite the fact that she only has a high school degree, which is also not very believable.
To some fans, the absence of Buffy’s father after Joyce's death is even more difficult to understand. Yes, he was absent in much of the show, but he wasn’t a deadbeat. In fact, when we see him in season one, he’s a pretty nice dude. You’d think that he would help out or, at the very least, be concerned for his daughters.
6 The Physics Of The Hellmouth
This is yet another plot hole that can be written off by thinking "oh, it’s just magic," but it’s still worth mentioning.
The space under Sunnydale High School had seen its fair share of evilness, but exactly how was the high school staying above ground? It was seriously built on top of a huge hole in the ground. In this photo, the Scoobies are looking down at the hole that demons are coming out of and this is what the high school was built on top of. How, just how? Furthermore, all of Sunnydale seemed to be built on top of the Hellmouth. How exactly was this physically sound, y’know a town just floating above the mouth of hell?
Fans can causally brush this off as magic. But, going deeper into the whole hell issue, the physics of hell are confusing, especially since two characters go to hell and come back. Both Buffy and Angel go to hell, but come back. This means that there is likely a physical place with a threshold, right? Yes, we’re aware that we're getting nit-picky, but if you’re constantly going to send character to hell and back, you need to explain a few things.
5 Too Much Happening In Sunnydale
How was Sunnydale not under major FBI investigation? People were dying left and right – and not just people, teenagers.
One explanation as to why Sunnydale wasn’t in the international news more is that the mayor had been covering things up. In season three, the mayor becomes the big bad, as he had planned his ascension for graduation day. This, of course, doesn’t work out for him, but it’s likely that he had been covering up quite a bit in the years before.
Most likely the Initiative was covering things up as well. In season five, the Initiative is introduced as a government-funded program that tries to weaponize demons for their own use. If this government was using demons for its own good, it’s likely that the government helped cover up many of the teenage deaths as well.
While there is reasoning as to why Sunnydale could get away with all this insane crime, it’s still a little unbelievable that the citizens of Sunnydale would be coolsies with all the death, especially all the teenage death.
4 What About The Rest Of The World?
Buffy Summers had Sunnydale on lock, but what about the rest of the world? Since there was a Hellmouth under Sunnydale, we can assume that there was more demonic activity going on in Sunnydale. Buffy was always quick to shut that shit down in Sunnydale, but it was revealed that there is also a Hellmouth in Cleveland, Ohio and other locations in the world. If there is more demonic activity in Sunnydale because of the Hellmouth, we could assume the same would be true for Cleveland and the other Hellmouth locations. In which case, who is saving the world over there? Are there rogue demon hunters who are kicking ass? Are there other vampire-turned-good guys like Angel and Spike? Are there witches? Are the slayers in training – who haven’t received their powers yet – able to ward off demons?
With how much happens in Sunnydale, it just seems like once in a while Buffy should have had to beat up a bad guy somewhere else. Like, she totally could have gone to NYC for an episode or something. It's unlikely that the rest of the world is functioning just fine.
3 Angel Would Never Have Had True Happiness
Buffy and Angel’s love story was the ultimate unrequited love. On the surface, a vampire slayer and a vampire-turned-good is already a complicated love story. But, it’s made even more complicated by the fact that sleeping together turned Angel into a soulless demon. This all gets resolved, after which Buffy and Angel then engage in a sexless relationship. There are a few plot holes here, though.
Faith misunderstood the curse and thought that simply sex would turn Angel soulless, but it wasn’t just sex. It was sex with Buffy. Angel was free to have sex with other women, but sex with Buffy was so intense, so passionate, so blissful that it was considered a moment of true happiness. That’s the thing, if Angel feels a moment of true happiness, he goes all soulless. An argument has been made by some fans that the simple fact that Angel knows true happiness would take away his soul will hinder him from ever being truly happy. Think about it, Angel would be worrying all the time about his happiness. One could argue that Angel would have been thinking about his happiness even more around Buffy, thus always contaminating the moment with worry.
In the heat of the moment, a guy’s mind can certainly go blank, but it just seems like Angel would be too worried to ever actually be that happy.
2 When Giles Leaves
This may not be a plot hole per se, but it certainly seemed way out of character.
Giles served as Buffy’s watcher. To fulfill this job, he was a teacher/protector/father figure hybrid. This role became more and more important, especially after Buffy lost her father. Oh, then there was the whole dealing with coming back from the dead thing that Buffy was going through. At this point, as Buffy is struggling with some deep issues, Giles literally just peaces out like it’s no biggie. What the hell, guys?
The argument has been made that Giles knew he needed to leave so that Buffy could grow into the woman she was supposed to be. With Giles present, Buffy depended on him emotionally and she always would. However, Giles had time and time again proven that he was likely to bend the rules because of his close relationship with Buffy. Giles' exit from the show for that short period is something that fans often question, as it doesn’t seem true to his character.
1 The Slayer Lineage
The slayer lineage got very confusing, but that’s mostly because Buffy kept coming back from the goddamn dead. After Buffy died for five minutes in season one, Kendra Young came into her slayer power. That made sense, but then Buffy came back from the dead and, bam, there were two slayers in the world. Buffy coming from the dead muddled the slayer lineage, as there is only supposed to be one slayer at a time.
After Kendra’s death, ol’ Faith appeared, as she was granted her slayer power at this point. So, does this mean that Buffy had completely been taken out of the slayer lineage? If there is only supposed to be one slayer at a time, you’d think that Buffy would just be the solo slayer after Kendra’s death and the lineage would be back to normal. Instead, Faith got her power.
In the end, the muddled slayer lineage actually didn’t matter since Willow went and activated all the slayers in the finale, basically ruining the lineage forever.
1. What Happens To Vampire Clothes
In Buffy-verse, a stake in the heart will turn a vampire into dust. That’s established and makes sense, but what’s up with the clothes turning to dust too? The clothes are just normal clothes that vampires can take off and put on their bodies, so why would the clothes turn to dust? Of course, this helps cover up the tracks of the vampires because, otherwise, Sunnydale would be littered with leftover vampire clothes. But, it doesn't actually make sense. There's a logic issue with the clothes vanishing. Also, where does the dust go? Oh, and sometimes the stakes turn to dust while other times they don’t. Let’s get some continuity here, people. While a stake in the heart was totally easy to grasp, all the tiny details that went along with that opened up some holes.
These plot holes aside, Buffy The Vampire Slayer was still one of the best shows on television. Happy 20th Buffy! Slay on, Scoobies.