|The Nature of Evil in the Buffyverse||Warning: this page contains info about episodes up through season 7 BtVS/season 5 AtS. If you're in danger of being spoiled, proceed with caution.|
Evil: A hostility towards or willfulness to negate what is valuable or good, or the effects of such negation (DP).
A villain is one who will pursue his ends by any means, without regard to who is hurt in the process. ...Your average vampire is a villain, because he is really only interested in feeding. He doesn't care that he's killing people in the process. He may even enjoy the pain he inflicts. Angel, on the other hand, is not a villain ...because he has been unwilling to harm the innocent in his quest to thwart W&H (Humanitas, 26-Jan-01 17:09).
Trends in the evil characters across the seasons:
AtS seems to have a lot more villains who are evil because they choose evil: Faith, Lindsey, Darla, Lilah, the rip-apart doctor, etc. But there are just as many demons and vampires who are good, like the Karoake Demon and the PregnantLadyProtector demon. While on BtVS people are evil simply because they were born that way - it's not obvious that they could have made another choice (M. Costello, 3:56 pm Oct 25, 2000).
Fan thoughts on evil in BtVS:
Kinds of Evil in the Buffyverse
||Cunning and often deceptive, predators--whether demon, monster, or human--hunt the weak and unwary in order to feed on their lives, their youth, or their beauty. Hunters kill out of need, natural or unnatural, healthy or pathological.|
Willow: I don't know if I feel like killing anymore. I'm so bored. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel. Where's the fun?
Vampire Minion: With all due respect, boss, the fun would be the eating.
Examples of predatory evil on BtVS
| Darla | Natalie French | The Pack | Ampata | Machida | The Gorch Brothers | Oz-wolf | der Kindestod | The Go Fish sea monsters | Mr. Trick | Lurconis | VampWillow and VampXander | Sunday | Tahlmer | Veruca and the morality of the predator | Vlad the Impaler (AKA Dracula) | The Thesulac | The Lei Achs | Yeska | The Queller | The Skilosh | The Lilliad | The Lamprey monster | The Tree Demon | Gnarl | Caleb | Jasmine | The Boretz |
Predatory Evil/mixed with insanity: Andrew Borba | Drusilla | Zachary Kralik
Although modern chaos theory sees chaos as an organizing force that leads to greater complexity, rather than a disorganizing force, In the Buffyverse, the term "chaos" is used in the traditional sense--"a loss of order." This definition still works well on the small scale. Specifically, chaos in the Buffyverse is a tool in the hands of an individual or small disempowered group (demon or human) to create mayhem and disorder. Ethan Rayne, for example, tries to create chaos in Sunnydale from time to time. His goal is not some great evil consequence, but simply confusion and trouble for his victims.
Evil-as-chaos comes out of the resentment evil has for good. This is Satan's sort of evil--after being cast out of heaven, the fallen angel becomes dedicated to ruining what the good have going for them. This is the evil of the weak; complete destruction is not possible against the stronger forces of good, and Satan is forced into terrorism.
Examples of Evil as Chaos: the Order of Taraka, Ovu Mobani, the dead boys in The Zeppo, Anyanka, Spike Gachnar, the Gentlemen, Rahmon, Olaf the troll, Glory and her Key, The Hellions, the M'Fashnik, Billy Blim, Sweet, Granoks, The Beast.
Corruption is not so much about being corrupt as wanting to corrupt other people (making them evil) or environments (making a place in which evil can thrive). Evil-as-corruption comes out of the disdain that evil has for good. Unlike Evil-as-Chaos, it delights in the methodical and calculated destruction of what is good. Evil-as-corruption takes four forms in the Buffyverse: temptation, the perversion of good, warriors of evil, and destruction.
The corruption of good people often requires disarming them with the delights of evil. Examples: Darla, Moloch the corrupter, Eyghon, The Mayor, The First Evil, The Hansel-and-Gretel Demon, VampWillow, Lilah Morgan, Dracula and his vamp minions, de-ratted Amy, Jenoff. If they succeed, we move on to
The perversion of good
Warriors of evil
Temptation does not always get the job done. Sometimes more aggressive measures are required. Warriors of evil are sent on (or pick themselves) individual battles to fight against the forces of good. Examples:
The Three and El Eliminati are "warrior vampires"
the Order of Taraka, Mohra Demons, and Toth are assassins of the Warriors of Good
the Wolfram and Hart law firm defends evil's ability to corrupt. Helping them are assassin Vanessa Brewer and Vocah, warrior of the underworld.
People? ...kind of a planetary epidemic.
Several times on the show demons have been depicted attempting to "end the world" (an event also called "the apocalypse" or "Armageddon"). The ingredients for apocalypsy-fun are well established by now. Get some really mean demons (The Master, the Sisterhood of Jhe, the Vahrall), a ritual to force open the Hellmouth, an earthquake to portent the event, put them together, and let wackiness ensue. Unless Buffy can stop it, the demons will emerge from Hell and reclaim the Earthly plane for themselves and the demon "life-style." They will obliterate humans and/or the present human way of life (not obliterating our world completely). But Buffy does always stop it. At least she has so far. The Apocolypses:
Evil-as-Order is closely related to evil-as-corruption. But while corruption seeks
to create a world or environment in which evil can thrive,
evil-as-order is the realization of this world or environment,
at least on the small scale. Evil-as-order attempts to impose
a controlled way of life on human beings (or other sentient
beings) that is in contradiction to the way we prefer to live
Examples of Evil as Order: The Master, the Anointed One, Absalom, Ted, the Bezoars, Ken and his demon cohorts, Ronald Meltzer, the Hacksaw Beast, The Vigories of Oden Tal, Superstar Jonathan, Genevieve Holt, Tara's family, The Queller, Gene the physicist, Warren Mears and the Trio, The Covenant of Trombli, Count Kurskov, Anthony Harris, Jenoff, the Sluks, Willow (ATW, Villains), Wolfram and Hart, The Beast's Master.
Pathological sadism is a condition in which a person (or demon) derives pleasure from inflicting pain, discomfort, or humiliation on an unwilling person (or demon). Not all demons are by nature sadistic. Feeling no qualms about causing pain to get what one wants is not sadism. For the sadist, causing pain is an end in itself, not just a means to another end.
Examples of Sadistic evil on BtVS:
[Angelus'] delight in torture isn't taken in the infliction of terror or pain per se but in the power that it gives him over his victim. The reason why he is so slow, even unwilling, to kill in non-sustenance situations, is because death releases his victim from his control. His desire for control was evident during the unholy triumvirate where he delighted in displays of Drusilla's affection, largely because it infuriated Spike, the opposing dominant male. It established his power over Spike by being able to evoke such strong emotion so easily from him. His mind-games with Buffy, similarly, were power plays abusing her emotional ties to him to establish a dominant position (Vox, Nov 3, 1999).
Deception is more a tool of evil than a kind of evil. It is the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing, the evil that finds it must fool its victim in order to destroy them or take what is theirs. Examples: Catherine Madison, Darla, Natalie French, Marc the talent show ghoul, Ampata, the Frat Boys in Reptile Boy, Billy Fordham, Ted, Ken, Mrs. Post, Anya(nka), The Hansel-and-Gretel Demon, The Mayor, Faith, Russell Winters, Parker Abrams, the surrogate fathers in Expecting, stool pigeon Merle, Deevak, Doc, The Nahdrahs, Sam Ryan, The Lamprey monster, The Tree Demon, Aubrey, Stewart Burns, The Trio, Connor/Steven, the First Evil, Caleb, Evan Royce, the puppet demons.
| Sociopathy | Greed and selfishness | Arrogance and pride | Weakness/impressionability | Codependency | Repression | Lust | Anger | Unprincipled Vengeance |
Many human beings in the Buffyverse do evil things. Is there a difference between the evil of human beings and the evil of demons and monsters? In Surprise, Giles says (referring to the Judge's touch) "A true creature of evil can survive the process, no human ever has." This implies that no human in the Buffyverse is totally evil.
However, some humans have hurt others without any apparent remorse. In its extreme form, this sort of behavior is called sociopathy, which basically amounts to having no conscience, due to either genetics ("the bad seed") or an amoral early childhood environment. Examples:
| Eric (SAR) | The human members of the Order to Taraka | The Mayor | Ryan Anderson | The Macnamara brothers | Vanessa Brewer | Warren Mears | Lilah Morgan | Corbin Fries |
Human moral weakness
However, human evil on the show is often really moral weakness--people who let desire, fear, or anger get the best of them.
Greed and selfishness are weaknesses that often make humans in the Buffyverse susceptible to corruption and collaboration with the forces of evil.
The Zoo Keeper | Daryl Epps (SAR) | Cain the werewolf hunter | Coach Marin | The blood bank nurse | The slayer-hunters | Gwendolyn Post Watcher-gone-wrong | The Shroud of Rahmon thieves | The Trio | Marcus Roscoe | witchy Willow | Lee DeMarco | Professor Seidel | The Brooks men.
Dealing with the devil: Tom and Richard the Frat boys, the Mayor, Faith, Ethan Rayne, the gun-club guys, Wolfram and Hart, Magnus Bryce, the parole officer, Ben, The Avilas cult boys, The Lucien Drake cult, Gregor Framkin, Charles Gunn, Knox.
Arrogance and pride:
Pride comes before a fall.
Cordelia | Harmony | Catherine Madison | Coach Marin | Pete (B&tB) | Jack O'Toole and the dead boys | Ethan Rayne | The Initiative | Rebecca Lowell | Colonel Haviland | The Angel Investigations team during summer 2000 | Buffy in FFL | The Wolfram and Hart Special Projects Division | Willow and Magic | Nazi scientists.
Weakness/impressionability: Moloch's teen-aged minions Fritz and Dave | Harmony | The vampire wanna-be cult (LTM) | Debbie (B&tB) | Lily in Anne | Rachel | Andrew Tucker.
Fan thoughts on BtVS/AtS depiction of victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse.
Codependency: Chris Epps (SAR) | Debbie (B&tB) | Faith | Ben the intern.
Repression, AKA "the selective memory thing" (or just the refusal to deal):
People have a tendency to rationalize what they can and forget what they can't --Giles, The Harvest Most people, they don't even acknowledge the evil, let alone try to fight it. --Virginia Bryce
Repression is turning one's back on evil and ignoring it, hoping it will go away. Examples: The deeply stupid Sunnydale police | Billy in Nightmares | The adults of Sunnydale (Joyce and Principal Snyder among them) | Buffy in WSWB | Maude Pearson | Seth and Paige Anderson | Kate Lockley | Genevieve Holt | Riley | The Sharps |
Lust: Xander in Teacher's Pet | Buffy and Angel in Surprise | Liam of Galway (mortal Angel) in B1 | Xander and Willow's "clothes fluke" | Angel and Buffy in Revelations | Oz in WAH | Parker Abrams | David Nabbit (War Zone).
Everyone is entitled to get angry over injustices committed on themselves or others, however, some anger is simply unjustified and some anger is counter-productive, even to the person's own ends.
The Kiddie League coach in Nightmares | Marcie Ross the Invisible Girl | Buffy in Ted and Homecoming | Giles in Passion | James in IOHEFY | Tucker Wells in The Prom | Faith | Bethany Chaulk | The police chief (TTDL) | Willow (TL).
Unprincipled Vengeance "Every mal-adjust has his reasons!" --Buffy, The Prom
Unprincipled vengeance is revenge
- committed against people who did not, strictly speaking, do anything wrong or illegal against the person seeking revenge, or
- out of proportion to the wrong committed.
It is not the same thing as Retributivism, (the "eye for an eye" philosophy) but arises out of an emotional desire to make oneself feel better: Catherine Madison | Marcie Ross the Invisible Girl | Xander in BBB | Cordelia in The Wish | Tucker Wells (The Prom) | Lenny | Willow in WAH | Little Tony | Daniel Holtz | Willow in Villains/TTG/Grave | Fred in Supersymmetry |
All the recurring human characters have had moments of moral weakness: Buffy | Giles | Xander | Willow | Cordelia | Joyce | Oz | Faith | Wesley | Jenny Calendar | Jonathan | The Watcher's Council | Doyle | Riley | Kate | Forrest | Tara | Lindsey | Gunn | Lilah | Dawn | Fred | Connor |
Undefeated evil in BtVS episodes
Buffy can fight the monsters and beat them, but she can never entirely win against evil. Often her solutions aren't necessarily permanent (Marcie, Catherine), or the monster has had time to reproduce, thus evil keeps one step ahead of the Slayer, held in check but never defeated (Chrissy, Jun 16 07:15 1998).
Other bad guys who could still return:
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This page last modified 7/14/08