Buffy the Vampire Slayer/The Witch

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The Witch
Season 1, Episode 3
Airdate March 17, 1997
Production Number 4V03
Written by Dana Reston
Directed by Stephen Cragg
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Buffy the Vampire SlayerSeason One

The Witch is the third episode of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase)

and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles)

Guest Starring: Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers), Elizabeth Anne Allen (Amy Madison)

and Robin Riker (Catherine)

Co-Starring: Jim Doughan (Mr. Pole), Nicole Prescott (Lishanne), Amanda Wilmshurst (Senior Cheerleader), William Monaghan (Dr. Gregory)


Plot Overview

School spirit gets ugly when cheerleader tryouts take a supernatural turn, and Buffy gets bewitched as she tries to make the squad.


Monster of the Week

  • Catherine Madison: The first witch we encounter in the series. In an effort to relive her youthful days of being a cheerleader, she casts a spell to switch bodies with her daughter Amy.


  • 2 Unlimited - "Twilight Zone"
  • Humbucker - "Count the Time"

Arc Advancement



  • Giles: Giles claims that the reversal spell that he casts in this episode is his first attempt at magic. In a later episode, "The Dark Age", this proves to be a lie. A large part of Giles' backstory involves youthful rebellion through dark magic and occultism.



The Show

  • First Appearance: Amy Madison is introduced in this episode as the daughter of a witch and high school hero. She will continue to appear though out the entire series and into the season eight comics.

Behind the Scenes

  • German Censoring: The German language version of this episode has been censored in order to remove the Nazi reference in a conversation between Buffy and Willow. The original exchange involved Buffy calling Amy Madison's mom "Nazi-like" and Willow responding with "Heil." Nazism is considered harmful to the constitution and to German youth and references to it is routinely restricted in the media. The German version, with translation in parenthesis, was changed to:
Willow: Ihre Mom ist eine echte... (Her mom is a real...)
Buffy: Superfrau? (Superwoman?)
Willow: So in der Art. (Something like that.)

Allusions and References

  • Human Torch: After seeing a girl burst into flames, Giles postulates that she may have some subconscious ability to spontaneously combust. Xander suggests that Amber is like the Human Torch, a member of the Fantastic Four who can burst into flames. The character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, along with much of Marvel Comics' popular characters.
Xander: It's like the Human Torch, except it hurts.
  • Mommie Dearest: Mommie Dearest is an exposé written by Christina Crawford and published in 1978. It is generally thought to be the first "tell-all" book to be released. In it, she chronicles the abuse she suffered throughout her childhood at the hands of her adoptive mother, Joan Crawford. Though several of Joan Crawford's friends came out against the book after its initial release, her name has been irrevocably linked with parental abuse.
  • Farrah Hair: Farrah Fawcett was an actress and sex symbol of the 1970s and 1980s, who starred as Jill Munroe in the '70s series Charlie's Angels. She made the hairdo she sported for the role famous, and it was widely emulated at the time of the show's popularity.
  • Gidget: Buffy briefly references Gidget, a 1965 American sitcom, starring Sally Field, based on a series of books by Frederick Kohner.
  • Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: When the spell-casting residue check comes out positive, Buffy refers to Amy as "Sabrina." Sabrina, the Teenage Witch is a comic book series published by Archie Comics. It was also adapted into a television series starring Melissa Joan Hart, as well as a movie and an animated series.
Buffy: She's our Sabrina.

Memorable Moments

  • Willow has her introduction to witchcraft and creates a potion that will determine if a person's been casting spells.


  • During the tryouts, Cordelia is seen putting a headband on. She's clearly not wearing it while she is cheering, but is again in the immediate shot after Amy knocks her down.
  • Cordelia gets out of the Driver's Ed car and shuts the door, but is closed in the very next shot.
  • The amount of potion Willow pours into the test tube when she hands it to Buffy decreases noticeably in the very next shot.


  • Buffy: And you'll be stopping me how?
Giles: By appealing to your common sense. If such a creature exists.
  • Xander: So, we have no idea what caused this. That's a comfort.
Giles: But that's the thrill of living on the Hellmouth! There's a veritable cornucopia of - of fiends and devils and - and ghouls to engage. (seeing everyone's faces) Well, pardon me for finding the glass half full.
  • Willow: You're the Slayer, and we're, like, the Slayerettes!
Buffy: I just don't like putting you guys in danger.
Xander: Oh, hah, I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.
  • Xander: (about Buffy) Was she wearing it? The bracelet - she was wearing it, right? Pretty much like we're going out.
Willow: Except without the hugging or kissing or her knowing about it.
  • Buffy: Mom, I've accepted that you've had sex. I am not ready to know that you had Farrah hair.
Joyce: This is Gidget hair. Don't they teach you anything in history?
  • Giles: Witchcraft. Blinding your enemy to disorient and disable them is - it's classic!
Xander: First vampires, now witches. No wonder you can still afford a house in Sunnydale.
  • Giles: Why should someone want to harm Cordelia?
Willow: Maybe because they met her? Did I say that?
  • Xander: It's not what you think.
Willow: You like to look at the semi-nude engravings?
Xander: Oh, well, uh... I guess it is what you think.