Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Welcome to the Hellmouth (1)

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Welcome to the Hellmouth (1)
Welcome to the Hellmouth (1)
Season 1, Episode 1
Airdate March 10, 1997
Production Number 4V01
Writer(s) Joss Whedon
Director(s) Charles Martin Smith
Original Pilot
1x02 →
The Harvest (2)
Buffy the Vampire SlayerSeason One

Welcome to the Hellmouth (1) is the first episode of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hoping for a new start after being kicked out of her old school, Buffy Summers arrives at Sunnydale where her troubles begin anew with a new evil. "The Master," a centuries old demon is preparing to rise and sack the world.

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: Mark Metcalf (The Master), Brian Thompson (Luke), David Boreanaz (Angel), Ken Lerner (Principal Flutie), Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers), Julie Benz (Darla), J. Patrick Lawlor (Thomas)

And: Eric Balfour (Jesse)

Co-Starring: Natalie Strauss (Teacher), Carmine D. Giovinazzo (Boy), Amy Chance (Girl #1), Tupelo Jereme (Girl #2), Persia White (Girl #3)


Plot Overview

Sophomore Buffy Summers transfers to Sunnydale High after being kicked out of her previous school (due to the events that happened in the movie by the same name). Though she clearly wants to make a fresh start and lead a normal life, both her Watcher, Giles, and a mysterious dark stranger warn her that she has to embrace her destiny as Slayer - she was drawn to Sunnydale for a reason: it just happens to be at the Mouth of Hell.


Monster of the Week

  • The Master: The Master, the major villain for the season, makes his first appearance in this episode.
  • Luke and Darla: The Master's minions, they have recurring appearances throughout the season. During their first battle, it's clear that Luke is stronger than the Slayer, at least at this point.

Body Count

# Whom By Whom How Where
1 High School Student Darla Drained of blood School hallway
2 Anonymous Vampire Buffy Staked Mausoleum

Arc Advancement



  • Willow and Xander: It's revealed that Willow and Xander have been friends since they were at least five, and she implies she has a crush on him. Though the attraction is mutual in later episodes, there is no indication in the first season that Xander likes Willow as anything more than a friend.
  • Buffy and Xander: It's clear that Xander is attracted to Buffy and has a hard time talking to her without sounding like an idiot. However, Buffy does not reciprocate the attraction, and this sets up the two love triangles (Willow/Xander/Buffy and Xander/Buffy/Angel) that underly the first season.
  • Buffy and Angel: Buffy and Angel meet in this episode, and she claims not to like him but describes him as being "dark, gorgeous...in an annoying sort of way."
  • Buffy and Giles: Giles is Buffy's Watcher, and it is his responsibility to make sure the Slayer is prepared to do her duty. Buffy, however, has no intention of letting her job as Slayer get in the way of having a normal life, and this puts them in conflict.
  • Buffy and Cordelia: Though they seem likely to become friends upon first meeting, Buffy's strange behavior and decision to hang out with Willow and Xander put her firmly in the "Loser" crowd. When Buffy almost stakes Cordelia by mistake, Cordelia makes it clear she will spread news of Buffy's strange behavior throughout school, thus firmly cementing Buffy's role as a social outcast.


  • A few references are made to the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was written by Joss Whedon, but starred Kristy Swanson as Buffy, and had no other regular characters from the eventual TV show. Whedon was unhappy with the final product, but this episode references the fact that Buffy's previous Watcher died (as seen in the film), and that Buffy burned down her previous school (which was in Whedon's original script for the film but never made it to the screen).


The Show

  • First Appearances: Many of the characters that will drive the plot of the series for the following seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as the spinoff series Angel are introduced in this episode. The Big Bad of the season, The Master, is also introduced.
  • Skateboarder: While sometimes seen carrying the skateboard, Xander never rides it again apart from in his introductory scene. On the commentary, Whedon explains that Xander's introduction was one of his "I don't know how to make a television show" moments because he learned that skateboarding scenes are complicated because they require lighting a larger area, setting up a long tracking shot and maybe even a stuntman.
  • The Bronze Band: The first band that we see perform at The Bronze is Sprung Monkey. The band performs three songs in all, "Believe," followed by "Swirl" and "Things Are Changing." When Buffy is deciding what to wear before heading out, "Saturated" by the band can also be heard in the background.

Behind the Scenes

  • High School Set: For the entire first season, only one school hallway had been constructed. As such, it is used over and over. Any high school shot outside of the built hallway set was filmed at Torrance High, where Beverly Hills, 90210 was also shot. This includes exteriors and some interiors.
  • Credit Fake-Out: Initially, Joss Whedon wanted to include Eric Balfour in the opening credits so that it would be a shock when he was bitten by Darla and, in the second episode, killed outright. However, budget constraints wouldn't allow a second opening credits sequence to be edited together and the idea was dropped. He later pulled off his idea with the character of Tara in Season Six.
  • Opening Teaser: When this episode first debuted, The WB preceded it with a brief history of Slayers. Essentially, it explained that the horrors a town was succumbing to were halted upon the arrival of a particular woman—the Slayer. This teaser was not rebroadcast on any of the reruns and was not included on any of the DVD releases.
  • Change in Direction: In the original script, Buffy was to walk into the library and get somewhat lost in the very spooky labyrinth-like stacks. This was turned into a far more mundane scene because they didn't have time to build the stacks and because a labyrinth is difficult to light.
  • International Titles: Because Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an international phenomenon, the title of this episode has been translated into several different episodes to go along with the redubbed show. Some of these names are listed below:
    • Dutch: "Welkom op de Hellmouth" ("Welcome to the Hellmouth")
    • French: "Bienvenue à Sunnydale - 1ère partie" ("Welcome to Sunnydale - Part 1")
    • German: "Das Zentrum des Bösen" ("The Center of Evil")
    • Italian: "Benvenuti al college" ("Welcome to the college")
    • Japanese: "ヘルマウスへようこそ" ("Herumausu e Yōkoso" - "Welcome to the Hellmouth")
    • Portuguese: "Bem-vinda À Boca-do-inferno" ("Welcome to the Hellmouth)
    • Turkish: "Cehennem Agzi'na hos geldin" ("Welcome to the Hellmouth")

Allusions and References

  • DeBarge: An American R&B group from the 1980s.

Memorable Moments


  • Joyce Summers: Have a good time. I know you're going to make friends right away; just think positive. And, honey? Try not to get kicked out.
  • Principal Flutie: (Rips up Buffy's transcript) Welcome to Sunnydale! A clean slate, Buffy. That's what you get here! What's past is past. We're not interested in what it says on a piece of paper, even if it says... (Looks at a piece of her ripped up transcript) woah. (Begins to tape it back together)
  • Buffy Summers: I know my transcripts are a bit... colorful.
    Principal Flutie: Hey, we're not caring about... do you think 'colorful' is word? Not 'dismal'.
    Buffy Summers: It wasn't that bad!
    Principal Flutie: You burned down the gym!
    Buffy Summers: I did. I really did. But you're not seeing the big picture here. I mean, that gym was full of vampi-asbestos.
  • Cordelia Chase: Don't you have an elsewhere to be?
  • Angel: I know what you're thinking, but don't worry. I don't bite.
  • Buffy Summers: Who are you?
    Angel: Let's just say... I'm a friend.
    Buffy Summers: Yeah, well, maybe I don't want a friend.
    Angel: I didn't say I was yours.
  • Cordelia Chase: Excuse me, I have to call everyone I have ever met. Right now.
  • Rupert Giles: The vampire is not dead?
    Buffy Summers: No. But my social life is on the critical list.
  • Buffy Summers: Now, we can do this the hard way, or...well, actually, there's just the hard way.
    Darla: That's fine with me.
    Buffy Summers: Are you sure? Now this is not gonna be pretty. We're talking violence, strong language, adult content...
  • Luke: And like a plague of boils, the race of man covered the Earth. But on the third day of the newest light will come the Harvest, when the blood of men will flow as whine, when the Master will walk among them once more. The Earth will belong to the Old Ones, and hell itself will come to town.