Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Fear, Itself

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Fear, Itself
Fear, Itself
Season 4, Episode 4
Airdate October 26, 1999
Production Number 4ABB04
Written by David Fury
Directed by Tucker Gates
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Buffy the Vampire SlayerSeason Four

Fear, Itself is the fourth episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the sixtieth episode overall.

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Seth Green (Oz)

and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles)

Guest Starring: Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers), Marc Blucas (Riley Finn), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Adam Kaufman (Parker Abrams)

and Lindsay Crouse (Maggie Walsh)

Co-Starring: Marc Rose (Josh), Sulo Williams (Chaz), Aldis Hodge (Masked Teen), Walter Emanuel Jones (Edward), Adam Bitterman (Gachnar), Michele Nordin (Rachel), Adam Grimes (Lobster Boy), Darris Love (Hallmate), Larissa Reynolds (Present Girl)


Plot Overview

Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Oz visit a haunted house on campus for Halloween. Not only is the house truly haunted, but they soon find themselves trapped inside with each of their own fears manifesting into reality.


Monster of the Week

Oz and the frat brothers unwittingly begin to summon Gachnar, a Gaelic fear demon, in the attic of the frat house. Because the ritual is not completed, the house remains in a state of flux, with Gachnar exerting his influence over everyone inside to generate fear. He's eventually freed when Buffy jumps the gun by smashing the symbol on the floor, but he turns out to only be a couple of inches tall.

Body Count

# Whom By Whom How Where
1 Frat Boy Broken Neck Frat House
2 Gachnar Buffy Stepped On Frat House


  • 28 Days - "LA Tune"
  • Third Grade Teacher - "Ow Ow Ow"
  • Verbena - "Pretty Please"

Arc Advancement




  • 2x11 - Ted: Joyce's last boyfriend, Ted, appeared to be a normal guy with a 50s sensibility about him but actually turned out to be a robot. The robot killed several women trying to continue the original Ted's life, with Joyce meaning to be the next wife in line but Buffy managed to stop him before she could be kidnapped.
It certainly didn't help that my last boyfriend turned out to be a homicidal robot.
  • 2x06 - Halloween: Ethan Rayne used his costume shop to create chaos in Sunnydale two years prior to this episode. Everyone who bought a costume from him wound up taking on the traits of what they were wearing—Willow became a ghost, Buffy a princess and Xander a soldier.
Xander: Insurance, in case we get turned into our costumes again.
  • 3x11 - Gingerbread: Willow, Buffy and Amy Madison were all nearly burnt at the stake for being witches/possessing supernatural power. A demon posing as innocent children riled up a witch hunt in order to feed off their hate and prejudice.
Willow: ...Seeing as how I was almost burned at the stake.


The Show

  • Fears: Each main character, as well as a couple of the more minor characters, expresses a fear which represents the underlying subplot for each character.
    • Buffy is afraid of letting people into her life, especially after the one-night stand she had with Parker and being left by Angel. In the house, her fears are made corporeal by being separated from everyone. Joyce shares the same fears the Buffy has and advises her to simply work through them.
  • Willow fears the next tier of magic that she is starting to breach, which involves conjuring and bringing "something from nothing". This is made evident in the haunted house when her guiding spell multiplies and attacks her. She also worries that Oz will leave her.
  • Xander's fears were articulated by Anya, who deftly pointed out that he has little in common with his friends because he isn't in college and still lives at home. The house turns him invisible, effectively separating him from the others without any say on his part.
  • Oz has a very real fear of the werewolf that lurks inside him. He began to transform in the house, despite the fact that there is no moon outside and he doesn't fully change.
  • Anya is afraid of rabbits, hence her costume when asked to wear something scary.

Behind the Scenes

  • International: Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been dubbed into many different languages and the title translated for each different international version. Some international translations of this episode's title are:
    • French: "Le démon d'Halloween" ("The Halloween Demon")
    • Italian: "Il sapore del terrore" ("The Taste of Terror")
    • German: "Der Dämon der Angst" ("The Demon of Fear")
    • Spanish: "Terror" ("Terror")

Allusions and References

Memorable Moments


  • Buffy: Will, let's be realistic here, okay? Your basic spells are usually only about 50/50.
Willow: Oh, yeah? Well... so's your face!
  • Giles: (reading from the book) "The summoning spell of Gachnar can be shut down in one of two ways. Destroying the mark of Gachnar..."
(Buffy punches through the floor, tearing up boards with the symbol on it)
Giles: "...is not one of them and will, in fact, immediately bring forth the fear demon itself."
  • Buffy: This is Gachnar?
Xander: Big overture. Little show.
Gachnar: I am the dark lord of nightmares. The bringer of terror! Tremble before me. Fear me!
Willow: He... He's so cute!
Gachnar: Tremble!
Xander: Who's the little fear demon? Come on, who's the little fear demon?
Giles: Don't taunt the fear demon.
Xander: Why, can he hurt me?
Giles: No. It's just... tacky.
  • Buffy: There is no problem that cannot be solved by chocolate.
Willow: I think I'm gonna barf.
Buffy: Except that.
  • Giles: Bloody hell! The inscription.
Buffy: What's the matter?
Giles: I should've translated the Gaelic inscription underneath the illustration of Gachnar.
Buffy: What's it say?
Giles: "Actual size."