Welcome To The Hellmouth S1 E1

Buffy and the Art of Story Podcast CoverBuffy and the Art of Story starts with Season 1, Episode 1, Welcome to the Hellmouth. 

For writers and other story creators who want to learn more about plot, characterization, and other story elements by watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Every discussion is spoiler-free, except at the end (with plenty of warning).

Story Elements in Welcome to the Hellmouth:

In this podcast episode we'll look at how Welcome to the Hellmouth handles:

  • Prologue
  • Exposition
  • Opening Conflict
  • Story Spark (a/k/a Inciting Incident)
  • The first major plot turn
  • A strong story Mid-point

We'll also talk about some highlights from the Buffy Season 1 DVD commentaries by Joss Whedon.

Next Up: The Harvest

The 7 Season Plan

After Welcome to the Hellmouth, Buffy and the Art of Story plans to cover every episode of Buffy in order and spoiler-free — except at the end so I can talk about foreshadowing, but I'll give you plenty of warning.

Down the road there'll be a Patreon page where patrons can download a free story structure template. As a patron, you'll also get access to bonus episodes.

Those episodes will include Buffy-adjacent stories (such as key Angel episodes). Also films or TV episodes that are intriguing from a story, theme, or character perspective.

Requests will be welcome.

Episode Transcript of Welcome to the Hellmouth

Welcome To The Hellmouth S1 E1

Hello and welcome to Buffy and the Art of Story. If you love Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you love creating stories—or just taking them apart to see how they work—you're in the right place.

I am Lisa M. Lilly. author of suspense, mysteries, and supernatural thrillers and founder of WritingAsASecondCareer.com.

Each week I'll talk about one episode of Buffy in order, covering plot turns and other story elements. The discussion will be spoiler-free except at the very end, and I'll give you plenty of warning.

Today we'll start with Welcome To The Hellmouth, the first half of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot. We’ll cover the opening conflict, the plot point at the one-quarter mark of the story as a whole and the Midpoint which is where the story breaks until the next episode.

I'll also talk about prologues because we have one here, and exposition because Buffy as a whole does exposition so wonderfully well.

Okay, let's dive into the Hellmouth.


We start with what looks like two high school students breaking into a high school. Neither of these two characters are our protagonist. And the events here come before the story starts, which is what makes this a prologue.

The young man and young woman break in.

The girl seems nervous, and the boy is reassuring her and kind of luring her further into the high school where it's deserted. She keeps saying “I think I hear something” or “are you sure there's no one here?”

Subverting Tropes

He's the one who seems so confident about being here and wanting to get her alone. And then it turns on its head and the girl goes into vamp face and attacks him. So immediately we have this subverting of the horror movie trope. Even though we don't see Buffy we do see that this is going to be part of what this show is—or the heart of what the show is.

This pretty blond who we traditionally had thought of as the victim becomes the one who others fear. And then we cut.

There is a lot of controversy among authors and readers about the use of prologues. Because by definition they come before our story starts. As a reader I sometimes have to push past a book with a prologue.

By that I mean I've got to push myself to read it. That's because I know if I become really engaged with these characters and this story it's going to end shortly and yank me into probably a different time. Maybe a different place. Very likely totally different characters. Although often, as here, one of our antagonists is who we see in the prologue. And here Darla will come back in our pilot episode and be I would say part of the antagonistic force here.

The Antagonist of Welcome to the Hellmouth

The Master is our overall antagonist.

One author at a writing conference that I went to said he does use prologues in his books, but he always calls them Chapter One. Probably to avoid people like me who look at prologue and say “Oh, I don't I don't know.”

All that being said, here I think the prologue is very nicely done.

It serves a purpose of telling us the tone of the series. Because it is that mix of horror and it is a little bit funny because it is so what we're not expecting.

Dramatic Irony

It also creates dramatic irony, which is where the audience or reader knows something that our protagonist doesn't. Because we will see Darla later, and we as the audience will know she's a vampire. But the character talking to her does not know that. So it creates a tension there as well because we're aware that Darla is a threat.

On the side of those who might say you don't need this prologue, you truly could, other than that dramatic irony, you could lift this prologue right out. It would not make any difference to the plot. We would certainly figure out that there are vampires. We see this boy’s dead body fall out of a locker later. And, you know, we would infer what happened, though we wouldn't know it was Darla.

Opening Conflict and Exposition

To our opening conflict, which is the first point that I look at when I'm starting a story or if I'm examining someone else's to see how well it works for me.

First we see Buffy having these nightmares. This is an example of exposition—the one place where I find it just a little bit clunky because we have these vampires, the crosses, this imagery that doesn't move our plot forward. That being said because it's the beginning of the series, I think this works very well.

And in the DVD commentaries, I don't think it's in the scene-by-scene, I think it's in an interview with Joss, he talks about how he did this because it was a way to sum up the events of the movie for those people who had not seen the movie.

I had seen it. I thought it was kind of fun.

It wouldn't necessarily have drawn me back into the show except that a friend who is a screenwriter. He knows what kind of things I liked and worked at Warner Brothers at the time. He kept saying to me, “I think you would really like this show.”

And I loved it obviously or I wouldn't be doing this podcast.

So we get these nightmares that kind of fill us in on the background. And one thing I really love about that sequence is that Buffy wakes up and we as a viewer are expecting her to be afraid about the nightmares.

And in fact, we find out almost immediately what she's afraid about is the first day of high school.

Joyce, Buffy, And Exposition Through Conflict

We then get some wonderful exposition with her and Joyce (Buffy's mom). Joyce drops Buffy off at school and she is mostly reassuring Buffy: “I think you're going to do great and this is going to be a good school.”

But as Buffy gets out she says, “Honey, try not to get kicked out.” And Buffy says, “I promise.”

This so nicely gives us that back story of Buffy having been kicked out. It also tells us a lot about the relationship between these two. Joyce is being supportive, and yet she is worried about Buffy. And she does throw in this this this comment, which is something of a criticism, obviously pointing out to Buffy something that Buffy knows.

But she does it in a playful way.

So I don't get the sense that this is ongoing—Joyce angry at Buffy or expecting her to fail. She's just saying you know, “hey, be careful” and Buffy's response tells us that she takes it that way because she says “I promise.”

It tells us she really wants to do well at this new school. She does not want to have confrontation with her mom. She wants her mom to be happy with her.

So it tells us a lot about both of them.

More Exposition Through Strong Conflict

We then move to Buffy and Principal Flutie. Another great example of working in exposition while moving the story forward. And Principal Flutie, I love him as a character because we see that he wants to be this great principal who is on the student’s side.

He wants to be on Buffy’s side, and he's telling her, you know, “This is a clean slate and you know, you got kicked out of your old school, but you have a fresh start here and we want to serve you.” Yet.

We get this internal conflict. That is shown by his actions when he actually looks at why she got kicked out sees that she burned down the gym.

He is still saying these kinds of supportive things but his tone changes. And while he previously was ripping up her paper record about her old school to demonstrate how she has this fresh start now, he's taping it back together.

Buffy in response is trying to explain what happened. We get her internal conflict as well with being the Slayer but having to cover that up. And we see how much she wants to get along and do well in this school and how hard it is for her.

She says, “You know, that gym was filled with vampires,” and switches to “asbestos”.

And this tells us how much Buffy really wants to be seen as that girl that she was before this happened. She wants to be able to explain to the principal. But she knows that she can't so she is stuck with being in this spot where people see her as a potential danger.

Principal Flutie wants to support her, but he also has a responsibility to his other students. And this student coming in who burnt down her gym is a danger.

So we've got the conflict between the two of them.

Internal Conflict

And we have each of their internal conflicts. So even though Principal Flutie is talking about things that Buffy knows — that she got kicked out that she burned down the gym — there is a narrative purpose for that to come out.

And that's the difference between a compelling scene where we learn about these characters and we move the story forward because we see Buffy trying to fit in, and a scene that screeches to a halt and just tells us stuff we need to know. And that would be something like, “As you know Buffy, you burnt down the gym at your old school.” “Yes, Principal Flutie. I know that and I'm very sorry.”

That would do the same thing. But it would not be very interesting. We probably wouldn't be engaged with it.

The next few scenes continue to move us up to our one quarter point in the story. So the opening conflict needs to be enough that it propels the character forward to that plot turn at the one quarter point.

Obstacles for Buffy

Before we get there, we're going to see Buffy encountering more obstacles.

Mainly with school. We see her meet Cordelia. And Cordelia initially being very nice to Buffy but mean to Willow at the water fountain. She criticizes her clothes and Willow basically runs away. And we see this conflict for Buffy here because she's been enjoying talking to Cordelia.

She's been feeling like she's fitting in. We see that she seems happy. And then she sees Cordelia be mean to Willow, and we can see in Buffy's face that she's uncomfortable with that.

Now Buffy goes to the library pursuing her goal of fitting in at school. She is going to get textbooks. Giles instead gives her the vampire book, and her interactions with Giles show that she is the reluctant hero.

The story structure of the hero's journey involves our hero getting a call to action and rejecting the call. And we see Buffy do that here. Because initially she is just walking out on the vampire book and saying “no that is not what I came here for” and leaving.

Story Spark/Inciting Incident

Next we have what I call the Story Spark. Which is also known as the Inciting Incident.

It's what sets the main plot in motion. It typically happens about 10 percent into the story, which is what we see here. We see this boy’s dead body fall out of a locker. And who tells Buffy about it Cordelia.

This is a wonderful choice for tension. Because it goes right to the heart of what Buffy is struggling with.

She wants to be friends with Cordelia. And yet when Cordelia tells her about the extreme dead guy in the locker, despite having insisted to Giles that she does not want to be the Slayer, she immediately asks all these questions about the death and Cordelia finds her morbid.

And this is the beginning of that process of alienating Cordelia from Buffy.

So this is the Inciting Incident where the vampire world intrudes into Buffy's normal life. And she now has to face a specific threat, not just the abstract idea of taking up her vampire slayer duties.

The One-Quarter Turn in Welcome to the Hellmouth

The one quarter point in a well-structured story usually is something from outside of the protagonist that comes in and spins the story in a new direction.

And here, though, Buffy is unaware of what is being put it in motion. It is the Master’s plan. He is this very powerful vampire. And he is trapped underground and wants to get out. And there is this moment this mystical upheaval. This is the one time that the Master can get out if he does certain things. And we don't know specifically what they are yet. But right around the one quarter point of our two-episode arc, so 20 to 22 minutes in of an 84 minute or so story, we see a few things happening.

We see the Master in his lair and how powerful he is. We see Luke. This powerful vampire who is going to try to raise the Master. We have Giles talking about a mystical upheaval.

And we have Angel, who comes in and talks about the Harvest.

Buffy's Progress

Even before that, though, we get more events that are pushing Buffy towards accepting her duties as a Slayer. The main one being this dead body falling out of the locker. And we see immediately a slight change in Buffy. Or maybe it's more than slight.

She's been trying so hard to fit in, but now when she hears about this dead guy, she starts asking: “Well, how did he die?” All these details that make Cordelia think that Buffy is really strange. And Buffy just ignores that goes to the gym and looks at the body. She sees that he has been bitten and knows that yes, there are vampires here. It's not just the creepy new librarian.

She goes back to the library to tell Giles what happened.

And he says to her, “Well, I thought you didn't care.” She says, “I don't and I have now come to tell you that I don't care.” And it’s much better dialogue than that because it's Joss Whedon, but that is the push and pull there.

So again, we have Giles pushing her to accept her duties. And she is pushing back and saying, “No I am not going to do this.”

A Personal One-Quarter Turn

Around that one quarter point we also see a personal spin the story in the new direction for Buffy. Up to that point it has been all about school — doing well her first day, talking to Principal Flutie, trying to make friends.

But at the one quarter point we see her struggling with what to wear to go to the Bronze.

This is a new social setting and we get her saying to herself, “I used to be so good at this.”

So we know that she also personally feels maybe that she has lost some of her social skills. She heads for the Bronze.. That's where Angel intercepts her on the way and talks about the Harvest. She doesn't know what this is yet, but it is another part of that turn that is going to spin the story.

So now it is not going to be about just one vampire being killed. It is about Luke's and the Master’s plan to bring about the Harvest. Buffy from this point to the Midpoint will be reacting to that plan despite that she doesn't know exactly what it is. Everything she is doing is in response to what has been set in motion.

We see Buffy at the Bronze.

She's talking to Willow. I love this about Buffy because she really wants to be Willow's friend and hang out with her even though initially she came to Willow for help with homework. She wants to hang out with Willow. That is despite that Cordelia clearly is not, Cordelia and Willow are not in the same social circle. But Buffy doesn't care. She and Willow have his conversation about seizing the day. Buffy encourages Willow to get out and talk to boys and says, “What's the point of being so shy because tomorrow you might die.”

And she means that literally. Willow of course doesn't know that.

Buffy sees Giles and leaves Willow to talk to him. And he is again pushing her to take up her Slayer duties.

She's rejecting that until she looks down and she sees Willow dancing with a vampire. And Buffy has to react to that.

Pressure on Buffy in Welcome to the Hellmouth

There are two things going on here that propel Buffy forward. One is the Master’s and Luke's plan. They have sent vampires in to gather people so that the Master can feed and become stronger.

So it is directly the Master’s plan to get Willow.

Obviously, he doesn't know who Willow is. But she is one of the people swept up in the net. We also have this amazing internal pressure on Buffy. Because she is the one who encouraged Willow to go out there and talk to boys, and this is why Willow is out there dancing. Giles says something like “What she doing?” and she says, “seizing the moment” or “seizing the day.” So we know that Buffy feels this personal responsibility.

And this is part of what I mean by the protagonist still reacting. Because it's not that Buffy changes her mind and says, “Okay, I'm going to go forward and be the Slayer.” But she reacts because she's a decent person.

We have to think any even somewhat decent person, having even accidentally put someone else in peril, would try to save that person. Particularly when, like Buffy, she has the power to do that. And at this point Buffy is still thinking she's dealing with one vampire. In fact, she says, “One vampire I can handle.”

So she is going to go and save Willow.

Putting Characters in Peril

This is also something that Joss Whedon talks about in the DVD scene-by-scene commentary. He says they have to put Buffy's friends in peril because Buffy is so strong and she's the hero. It's hard to put her in peril all the time. We certainly do it to some extent. But the audience is not for the most part going to believe that Buffy is going to lose big time or die because it's her show.

So they have to put Buffy's friends in peril.

He also commented they have to put Buffy in peril emotionally because it's hard to put her in physical peril. And there will be more of that in the future. And I'll talk about it at the time. Sometimes I have some trouble with how that's done.

Also, Joss Whedon commented that putting Willow in peril, they learned early on was a surefire way to engage the audience. Not just putting Willow and physical peril. But when Willow is hurt emotionally, partly because Alyson Hannigan is so good at expressing that. She's — you probably all know because you're listening and you love Buffy — the actress who plays Willow. She is just so good at showing that.

So we have Buffy still essentially in reaction mode going after Willow. And she encounters Xander. And I'm going to talk more about the characterization of Xander and Willow and Cordelia in the next episode because there's just so much to cover here. But I promise I will get to that next week.

As Buffy goes forward, she follows the trail. Xander comes along with her and gets to the crypt. And she is encountering these vampires.

Commitment and Reversal on the Hellmouth

And we finally have, as she is fighting, we have that Midpoint where the protagonist commits to her quest. That typically happens in a strong Midpoint. We have the protagonist making a vow, throwing caution to the wind, going all-in after her quest for the Holy Grail or whatever it is. Or we see the character suffer a reversal.

Or we can see both happen. A commitment and a reversal for the protagonist. We're going to see both here.

So Buffy commits in a couple ways. One is by her words. Because throughout this episode, which is the first half of the story, she has been pushing her Slayer identity away.

She's hiding it.

She's saying “I don't want that” to Giles. “I don't want to do this.” She only is drawn in reluctantly. She goes into help Willow, but she has not embraced it.

And finally here she even expresses frustration that people know about her identity. That Giles knows her. This is very distressing to her that he knows she's a Slayer. When Xander says, “Oh because you might have to slay the vampires,” she says something like, “What, did they put out an APB?”

She is very upset that she can't come in and just be a normal girl. That people know she's the Slayer.

The Midpoint of Welcome to the Hellmouth

But now when she's facing these vampires and she’s saving her new friend, the vampires are surprised. I believe it's Darla is surprised by Buffy being strong compared with her. And Buffy says, “Don’t you know who I am?”

I love this moment because it is her saying “Yes, I am the Slayer, Don’t you know who I am?”

Also, it's the first time we actually see her fighting vampires. I picked up on that when I watched. What I didn't notice until I listened to the scene-by-scene commentary is it is also the first time we see her dust a vampire.

And I guess that's obvious because it's the first time we see her fight. But because I've seen the series and rewatched it so many times, that didn't really have the same impact that it probably did on first viewing. But Joss comments that this is the first time we see her dust a vampire.

So this is Buffy embracing who she is. Becoming the Slayer again.

And then immediately we get a reversal. Because she says, “Don't you know who I am?” And from behind her: Luke. She doesn't hear him. So those Slayer senses that we've already heard a little bit about, she doesn't hear him. She doesn't pick up on him being there. And he says, “I don't care.”

They fight. He throws her into the coffin, lunges on top of her, is about to bite her.

We don't see a way she's going to get out and cut. Cliffhanger. To Be Continued.

And Buffy has suffered this major reversal.

She has been overpowered by this vampire. When up to this point she has been almost casual and cocky about it. So I think this is just amazing storytelling and such a strong Midpoint. And part of why I love that is because the Midpoint in a novel or a screenplay is something that I certainly struggled with when I was a new writer. And not just as a new writer, I think.

Many writers struggle with it.

The Middle of Your Story

You hear people talk about the saggy middle or the soggy middle. And here you see this example of this strong Midpoint commitment and reversal and it's so dramatic. It definitely grabs us and keeps us engaged, which is really good because back when this series aired you had to wait another, I'm pretty sure you had to wait a whole other week.

The first time it aired when they replayed it, Buffy I think was maybe a mid-season replacement. Or at any rate it only got that 13 episodes and at that point usually series were 22 episodes. So at some point in the year they started over, and they may have played the first two on a Monday night Tuesday night.

But even then you had to wait ‘til the next night, so that was such a great way to end that.

More DVD Commentary for Welcome to the Hellmouth

Before I conclude the spoiler-free discussion of the episode, I want to talk about a couple other things from the commentary.

If you're watching streaming, I don't think there's any way to access these commentaries. As a writer, I find them so valuable, particularly for Buffy. I have listened to some DVD, or watched DVD features, for other shows. And the scene-by-scene commentary and it is not always that insightful.

But the Buffy ones I feel like I always learn so much because it will be the writer, the director, Joss Whedon, talking about how he created the show. And you really get insight into how they put together the show. Why they made the choices that they did. Sometimes production issues that I would not have guessed at not knowing that much about how TV shows are produced.

So I love these features and that's why I'm including them. If you want to get the DVDs. I'll have a link in the show notes. But I will try to tell you what I think is most useful from them. Or just fun and interesting.

So this kind of falls into that category. Which is Joss commented why they have the Hellmouth, why Sunnydale is on the Hellmouth. That was his answer to, you know, “Why does everything happen in Sunnydale?”

And the reason I like that is I feel like a lot of horror or mysteries don't really have an explanation for that. Some will kind of make a joke about it. Like the small town where there are so many murders per capita because that's where our amateur sleuth happens to live.

And it's somewhat of a convention the genre. You just have to go with it.

If you like reading a particular series or watching that, that’s okay. Yeah, it's not realistic but we're going to go with it because we love this character and the setting. So we're going to imagine that this many murders would happen in this one place.

I love that they gave a reason for it, that we’re on a Hellmouth. And that's also why you're going to get all kinds of monsters, not just vampires.

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Another fun thing:

He talked about that, I think most people know now but in case you didn't, was that Sarah Michelle Gellar initially got the part of Cordelia. And the network said, “Let's see if she can be Buffy.” I would love to know exactly why that was.

I had seen Sarah Michelle Gellar on All My Children.

It's the one soap opera that I used to watch on and off. I would not have imagined her in the role of Buffy. It was part of why I might not have watched this show had my friend not encouraged me to do it. I had her character on All My Children in mind, and it didn't make me want to watch Buffy.

So I find that kind of fascinating that somebody said, let's see if she can be Buffy.

And maybe it was just because she was a known quantity. She had been acting I think since she was three and she probably had a fan base from All My Children. And it's not that I didn't like her on that. I did but she was just a very different type of character.

The other thing from a writing perspective that Joss said: He thought people over high school age still respond to Buffy because, in his words, he says, “I don't think you ever get over high school.”

And I think that's a really interesting observation. Because there are so many people who love the show. I was in law school when I was watching Buffy. And I found it just as engaging and fun, even though high school was obviously far behind me. And I'm sure many people who were, you know older than that really liked Buffy.

There’s also in the DVD, if you are going to get them, there is an interview with Joss Whedon and David Boreanaz about Angel and Buffy. But it's an overview of Season One, so there are spoilers in there. So just proceed with caution. They must have assumed that everyone who bought the DVD set had already watched the show. And probably that was a safe assumption at the time. But I was a little surprised when watching that they had spoilers.

Next Time On Buffy and the Art of Story

All right, so our next episode will be The Harvest, the second half of our pilot.

So we'll talk a little more on the Midpoint. Also the turn at the three-quarter point in the story, which generally grows out of the Midpoint and turns the story yet again in another direction. But it comes from the protagonist’s actions.

And we'll go to the climax.

And talk about falling action.

We’ll also go into character development with some of our favorite characters: Xander, Willow, Cordelia. A little bit more on Buffy, though we have talked about her character. And a little bit on story questions that keep us going through the story and coming back to this season or the series.

So this is your spoiler warning.

I am going to talk just a little bit about spoilers and foreshadowing. So if you have seen the whole season, I hope you'll stick around.

If you don't want to hear spoilers, thank you so much for listening. You can find me at WritingAsASecond Career.com for writing and nonfiction and at LisaLilly.com for fiction and on Twitter @lisamlilly.

Hope to see you next time.

Spoilers and Welcome to the Hellmouth

And here we are with our spoilers.

Very minor point on Angel. Well, it's a major spoiler but a minor hint at it. When he and Buffy first meet, she pins him and he says “I don't bite.” and apparently some people started already thinking he might be a vampire.

I have to say that did not occur to me. I wondered who he was. But I think that's the point.

He's this mysterious stranger. We want to know what his deal is. But I did not think he was a vampire then. I did think when he was kind of stalking Buffy and following her that he might be a vampire. But when she pinned him and he didn't go into vamp face, and he at least seemed to be perhaps trying to help her, I didn't think he was a vampire.

So I was very surprised in the episode where that's revealed. I was completely drawn in by that.

Buffy, Giles, and Foreshadowing

I love the Buffy and Giles scene. Well, I love all the Buffy and Giles scenes. But one in particular where he says to her, you know, “I don't understand why you won't take up your Slayer duties again. You've done it before.”

And he's talking about his role as the Watcher. “I'm there to prepare you.” And she says, “Prepare me for what? To get kicked out of school? To lose all my friends?” And she goes through this list of what she has lost. It's another example of great exposition coming out through conflict because this is a genuine and real conflict between her and Giles.

It is also a foreshadowing.

Of their conversation in the season finale where he tells her, or she overhears him, telling Angel about the prophecy. That she'll face the Master and she will die. And she says something to him like “Read me my fortune.” And she's basically saying the same thing, like “What good are you? How can you help me? I'm 16. I have to face this, and I don't want to die.”

So it's the same kind of conversation, the same dynamic. But it is ratcheted up times a hundred in the finale. And I love the season arc we have with the two of them, how she comes to trust him and rely on him.

They have this great relationship.

And yet there is still this dynamic that they in a way cannot ever get around. Because she is always the one in the forefront fighting. He is always the one in the background helping, and while he becomes more active in that role, he can't step into her shoes. And they will always have that despite a great respect and love for one another.

It's something that cannot be fixed. Because she will always be in danger of dying. And it will always be his role to try to prepare her as best he can. Yet it is not within his power to completely protect her. He is the protector and yet there is this limit.

So I love that we get that in the very first episode. And then we see its most extreme form in that season finale.

Everyone's at Risk in Buffy

Also we have this signal of what the show will be in that Jesse gets killed. Initially we think that he will be one of the gang. He seems like maybe he's going to be this ongoing character, and he gets killed.

Which tells us that everyone is at risk.

In the commentaries Joss said he had wanted to have a credit sequence with Jesse in it to further emphasize that. And then a second sequence after the pilot where there is no Jesse. But there weren't the funds to do two credit sequences. But he wanted to do that to re-emphasize.

And he also commented on how the idea that no one is safe is done in an even stronger way when Principal Flutie is killed several episodes in. Because we really think he's going to be an ongoing character right from the start.

He has that back and forth with Buffy. We like him. We see him a few more times and Wham, he's gone. And so we know that there is this great tension here that people can die. And remember that wasn't something that Joss Whedon was known for at that point.

So now we might expect that going into a show by him or a movie by him.

But at that time this was new. And I think it was fairly new in television at the time as well, generally speaking. The network wasn't going to allow a core character to be killed off. This is particularly important in a show where you have a protagonist who the show is named for. The show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

You're not going to have the main character die because the show goes away then. So that lowers that tension and fear on the part of the audience.

So killing off who we think is a core character ratchets that fear up again. And of course Josh will subvert even that trope of you can't kill the main character.

But I think we do see that this is even in this opening episode. We get that clue that, hey, this is a writer who is going to undermine those expectations. And there are times when viewers are going to be very unhappy about that.

Okay, that is it for our spoiler and foreshadowing section. Thank you for staying with me.

Hope to see you next time!

P.S. For more on story structure you can check out Super Simple Story Structure: A Quick Guide To Plotting And Writing Your Novel.

FYI, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made through this site, but that doesn’t change the purchase price to you as the buyer or influence my love for the Buffy DVDs and all things Buffy.