The Metaphysics of the Buffyverse

| Demons | Dimensions | Altered Realities |
Prophecy and Destiny | Souls and Ghosts |

| Energy | Rituals and Spells | Witches |
Mental Powers |

| Monsters and other non-demons | Werewolves |
Gods and Goddesses | Watchers | The Initiative |

| Slayers | Vampires |

"The universe has rules... rules and theorems, formulas" -Fred

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.


| Origins | Physiology and (un)natural history (Demon evolution, reproduction, hybrids, non-corporeal demons, demon death) |
| Psychology
(Evil nature, Anti-human attitude, Not-so-evil demons) |
| Clan social structure | Demon culture |
| Demons we've known | Demons we've heard about |

Non-vampire demons physiology and (un)natural history

Demons are like a species of creatures, ...they can die of old age (very old age), have little demon ninos, etc. Vampires...actually had to die before they became [demons] (menkhare, Nov 17 11:55 1999).

There are thousands of species of demons (The Prom). Despite the use of the word "species", demons are probably not part of the same evolutionary chain as Earth creatures. In contradiction to this, however:

There has been some evidence that demons can interbreed with humans (and humans can become demons), so it may be possible that demons are some not-too-distant cousins to our race (DeMoriel, Jan 19 12:27 2000).

Are demons "indigenous" to the Earth?

Demon reproduction

Demon Hybrids

Non-corporeal Demons

Several species of demons we've seen are able to take both physical and incorporeal (non-physical, spiritual) form. Typically, the incorporeal form is their natural state. They take physical form only to regenerate (eat), to perform actions on the Earthly plane, or when called forth by a spell. In their physical form they are vulnerable to death. Examples of incorporeal demons:

Demon death: Why are some demons immortal, like Whistler claimed to be, and others very mortal, like Doyle? One possible answer is that the closer a demon species is to being like human beings, the more mortal it is. But Whistler seemed very human, and vampires, who are also pretty human as far as demons go, can live forever if not killed by certain means. The only answer for now is that some demon species are immortal, some aren't. Those that can die often require very specific physical or mystical means to kill them.

Demon culture

Demons and magic: In Primeval, Adam complains that demons "cling to the old ways" and are "hopeless with technology". He finds this unworthy, but in fact, demons who aren't simply the "crush, kill, destroy" sort often rely on magic to get what they want. Being outside of the dominant human culture, they are more in touch with its power, and it is part of the cultural heritage of various demon species.

Demons and religion: Some demons have their own gods, e.g., the demon dimension ruled over by Glory and her two fellow demi-gods. Demons also have a variety of religious beliefs about nature and fate. For example, many demons, according to the Host (HA) believe that demons are destined to take back the Earth from humans.

Demon law: Demon cultures have laws of their own, laws that govern particular demon clans and/or demon dimensions. All contracts made in the demon dimensions (and possibly their laws as well) can be found in the "Library of Demonic Congress". A handy resource.

Demons, Demons, Demons (AKA the demon database)

Demons we've known:

Demons in the Buffyverse are sometimes depicted in "clans", or family groups. Other times, they band together for common purposes, most often war against human beings.

| Ano-movic (The Straley Family) | Anyanka, Halfrek, and the vengeance demons | The bitey green demon (Redefinition) | Boretz | The Box of Gavrok's demonic spiders | Brachen, Doyle's paternal line (some who live in the woods of Oregon) | The brotherhood of seven demons | Carnyss | Chaos | Yeska the Davric | Krevlornswath and Landokmar of the Deathwok Clan | Dreg, Jinx and other Glory-minions | Drokken | Durslar beasts | The Egg demons | Ethros | The Fell Brethren | Fyarl | Ghora | Glarghk Guhl Kashma'nik | Goran | Granok | Grappler | Grimslaw | Grox'lar Beasts | Hacksaw Beasts | Harbingers | Hell-hounds | The Hellions | Howlers | Insect demons | The Sisterhood of Jhe | Kailiff (Griff, the loan-shark's hired muscle) | Ken and his cronies | Kith'harn | Kleynach | Kungai | Kwaini | Lei Achs | Lilliad | Lister benevolent human hybrids | Lizard demons (Cribb and Liz) | Lubber | The melting demons | Miquot Clan (Kulak) | M'Fashnik | Mohra | Mok'Togar | Nahdrahs | Nezzla | Oden Tal | parasite? | Pockla | Polgara and another unnamed species (TIIT) | The Praying Mantids | A Preggothian guards the Wolfram and Hart vault | Prio Motu (Kamal) | Rwasundi | Sahrvin | Sathari | The Scourge | Senih'D | Serparvo demons are all teeth and fangs and only die by drowning | Shur-hod | Skench | Skilosh | Slod | Sluggoth | The Spiny Demon's people | Suvolte | Some members of the Order of Taraka | The telepathic demons (Earshot) | Thesulacs | Tortos and their parasites | Tothic Clan | Vahrall | Vinji | Voynok | Wainakay | Wraithers |

Other demons are rogues, as far as we know:

| Acathla | Arnie the contractor | The assassin demon (Sanctuary) | Avilas | Balthazar | Barney the empath | Beljoxa's Eye | Boone | Clem | Deevak | D'Hoffyrn, Anyanka's mentor | Doc | The Drug-Lord Demon (The Prodigal) | Eyghon, the Sleepwalker | The "Executive" demon | Dr. Fetvanovich | Gachnar | Gnarl | The graveyard demon (Enemies) | The Hansel-and-Gretel Demon | The Hellmouth Beast | The Judge | The loan shark demon | Logos | Lurconis | Machida | Moloch the Corruptor | Olvikan | Ovu Mobani (the Zombie Demon) | Proserpexa | The Queller | Rahmon | Skip | Sweet | The sword demon | Tahlmer | Tezcatcatl | The thaumogenic demon| Tor | The Tree Demon | Torg | Val Trepkos | Turfog | Vocah, warrior of the underworld | The welt-faced demon | Whistler | Willow's hallucination demon |

Demons we've heard about:

| The beast of Amalfie, a razor toothed six-eyed harbinger of death, due to arise in 2003 in Reseda (mentioned in TSILA) | Azorath, a candidate for the demon the Mayor will be transformed into | The demon Barvain | The Bleaucha nest in The Scum Pits Of Ur and resemble Senih'D demons | Pylean Burbeasts | Corsheth and Gilail? | Demons who eat the flesh of the dead to absorb their souls (SAR) | Eligor, master of decay (Spike, WML) may be a demon | Eryishon, the endless one, probably a demon, can presumably control time | Fungus demons | Gar-wahk | Gnarals (Hell's Bells) travel by teleportation and flay and incinerate people who piss them off. | Jenny Calendar mentions Kelkor the mischief demon in IRYJ | Haklar | hombja'moleev | Jaarvlen flesh-eaters | The extinct Kek demons | Kovitch demons from the Caucuses | Lohesh, a four-winged soul-killer (G1) | Lur-ite/Mur-ite | The flying monkey-demons | Morgog | Nester | Piasca | roving bands of Prekian demons engage in ritualistic slayings | Slime demons | Sloth demons and Vartite monsters are candidates for who was raised in the Raising | Sobek | Sorialus the Ravager | the Tahval hatchling hatcheted by Angel and Wesley in Expecting | Master Tarfall | Thraxis |



| Earth 
| Inner Earth
| Hell (the Demon Dimensions) 
| The Ether 
| Purgatory 
| Heaven 
| The Higher Dimensions
| Realm of the Oracles, the Trials, the Conduit, Beljoxa's Eye
| The Nether Realm
| The Troll Dimension
| Dimensional Portals 
| Hellmouth 
| The alternative (bizarro) history in The Wish and Doppelgängland is NOT another dimension.
| Season 5 does not take place in an alternate universe. It's the same universe with altered memories.
  Dimension: A unique, self-contained region of mass, length, and time. More than one dimension can exist simultaneously in the same "place" at the same "time" but not interfere with each other in any way.

Think of it this way: Imagine you are a two-dimensional creature living on a single piece of paper in a big stack of papers. You are stuck on one sheet only--that is your universe. You hear about other "dimensions"--other pieces of paper, but you can't see them. Each piece of paper shares the same "X" and "Y" axis (remember your geometry!), but they all have different points on the "Z" axis (the third dimension). Since you have lived in two dimensions all your life, you cannot conceive how you could be at point X1, Y1 on your sheet of paper and not "see" someone at point X1, Y1 on a different sheet--the third dimension just isn't part of your thinking.

Now pop back to normal 3D reality. Other dimensions share our three spatial axis, but a different 4th spatial axis. Through mystical (but not physical) means, creatures can move in the Buffyverse from one to the other (a "portal").

Alternate universes vs. the demon dimensions


"Earth" in the Buffyverse is more or less like our Earth, with all the same geographical places, historical events, and physical laws. The main differences: 

  • there is a town called Sunnydale, California, Sunnydale is in fact near Santa Barbara (joss, Nov 22 20:10 1998).
  • Sunnydale has a Hellmouth,
  • various interesting events happen that don't happen in our Earthverse
  • demons and monsters exist,
  • mystical powers exist that can break normal physical laws (assuming these last two are differences)
  • It is not clear whether uses of the term "Earth" on BtVS are meant to stand for our planet, or the whole physical universe itself. Most references appear to use a pre-space-exploration cosmology which basically ignores the fact of other planets and solar systems. So, for example, when Giles says in Becoming, Part 1 that the "entire world will be sucked into hell", he implies that our physical plane will become part of the demon dimension. This of course would be quite a feat if he meant the whole physical universe. Presumably, he just meant the planet Earth. Angelus, on the other hand, says everything on "this planet" will go to Hell.

    Hell/Demon dimension(s)

    Joss's vision of Hell.'s more the Greek substantial hell (Kaboo, May 25 22:06 1998).

    The demon dimensions are other physical realms collectively and colloquially known as "Hell." According to Anya in Blood Ties, "There are thousands of demon dimensions. All different." Giles adds that they are "all pushing at the edges of this reality, trying to find a way in." Time moves at a different rate in each.

    Physical vs. spiritual "hell"

    In Beauty and the Beasts, Giles tells Buffy what little the Watchers know about the demon dimensions: a world of brutal torment for those with human souls. In Anne, the torture was physical labor and "the total absence of hope... the tactile proof of despair."

    Hell is just a place where the demons rule, and humans, animals, or anything that belongs in our reality would suffer - partly because sentient beings from our reality would be like fish out of water, in a reality they are not compatible with, and partly because demons are just big ol' nasty buggers and like to torture for fun (Closet Buffyholic, Jun 10 10:11 1998).

       Demon dimensions we've known:

    Heavenly dimension(s): According to Tara, there are "zillion(s)" of heavenly dimensions. What are they like?

    Dimensional portal: A door or passageway between one realm/reality and another.  In the Buffyverse, this refers specifically to a passageway from a demon dimension to our Earth. 

    How portals work

    Examples of portals:

    • Although the Hellmouth is not itself a portal, portals have been created in this "area of mystical convergence".
    • The mouth of Acathla (Becoming 1&2), opened by Angelus using a ritual, was a temporary gateway.
    • The "pool" in the Family Home in Anne was a more stable opening between Ken's demon dimension and ours.

    Sometimes there are no portals to other dimensions. In that case, you have to just rip a whole in reality itself


    Altered Realities

    There have been several cases in which the flow of events in time and/or space has been altered significantly in the Buffyverse:

    Reality altered

    Alternate histories

    Alternate dimensions

    Prophecy and Destiny

    | Portents |
    | Written prophecy transpired |
    Destiny |

    Portents: Omens or signs which when properly interpreted foretell future events. Examples:

    Prophecy transpired

    "Don't believe everything you're foretold" --Angel, To Shanshu in LA

    It is hard to tell if people's lives are pre-destined in the Buffyverse, because prophecies are tricky creatures. They're dodgy and mutable. Buffy has appeared to thwart them time and time again. In other words, we don't have many indisputable examples of when people's lives have transpired as prophecy said that they would. But let's take these as the clearest:

    Less clear examples:

    Destiny: Is the fate of a person's life pre-determined?

    Different philosophical theories about destiny and free will

     Souls and Ghosts

    | Soul | Animal Spirit | Ghosts | Manifest spirits | Possession | Transmigration | Astral Travel | Dualism |

    Soul: The Buffyverse lexicon has been a bit ambiguous about what is meant by "the soul". The term has been used to refer to (1) the moral conscience of a person, their (2) consciousness, intelligence, memory, and personality , and their (3) life-force, the energy that keeps a person alive. The most persistent use on BtVS and AtS is the soul as the (1) moral conscience. Everything else within a person (i.e., their consciousness, intelligence, memory, and personality) is something else, what I will refer to as their "spirit", Both humans and demons have spirits (more evidence for this difference).

    Demon spirit: Buffyverse demons do have "spirits", although the dialogue implies that they don't have souls (e.g., Buffy's "someone with a soul did this?" meaning a human committed the murder, or "Angel lost his soul" during Angelus' liberation in Season 2). These comments refer to the fact that most demons lack a human moral sense (conscience). But demons do have a unique, contained intelligent conscious awareness that can sometimes travel into other bodies (e.g., when Eyghon possessed Jenny while her human soul was present). Other examples of demon spirits: Moloch, Ovu Mobani's mask, the Ethros demon.

    There are exceptions to the all-demons-are-evil generalization, however:

    "...Essentially, souls are by their nature amorphous but to me it's really about what star you are guided by. Most people, we hope, are guided by, 'you should be good, you're good, you feel good.' And most demons are guided simply by the opposite star. They believe in evil, they believe in causing it, they like it. They believe it in the way that people believe in good. ...I believe it's kind of like a spectrum, but they are setting their course by opposite directions. But they're all sort of somewhere in the middle." (Joss Whedon, 3/30/01 The 18th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival)

    More Joss Whedon on the soul/no soul distinction

    Unanswered soulage questions:


    Since the conscious awareness of a being is a separate thing from the body in the Buffyverse, it can leave the body and still exist. Once it leaves the body permanently, however, it has limited physical capabilities. For more information on the phenomena of ghosts and haunting in BtVS, see IOHEFY. For more information on the metaphysical properties of ghosts, see Just Rewards.

    Examples of ghosts in BtVS episodes:

  • Willow the Halloween ghost
  • James the poltergeist had a limited ability to effect objects.
  • The Spirit Guides are spirit beings and the souls of those who have passed.
  • Maude Pearson was a poltergeist, and now her son has taken up the job.
  • The binding of ghosts (RWAV, CWDP)
  • Phantom Dennis
  • The Reaper and his after-life victims
  • Spirits who aren't ghosts: the hauntings in Amends, the Chumash vengeance spirits, the Lowell House apparitions, limbo Spike.
  • A spirit's thrall: Some ghosts have the ability to put living human beings into a state of heightened suggestibility. Examples: Buffy in IOHEFY, and Cordelia in RWAV.

    Possession: When the spirit of a human, demon or animal inhabits a foreign body or inanimate object. Use of the word "possession" implies that the possessing spirit is not the original inhabitant of the body (possible exceptions to this: Angel's "possession" of his own vamped body, the dead guys in the Zeppo possessing their dead bodies). "Inhabits" means:

    for possession of objects: to "animate" or have control of the object and use it as a body within the physical limits of the object itself.

  • A book and a robot are possessed by a demon spirit (Moloch).
  • A ventriloquist's dummy is possessed by a human soul (Sid).
  • A mask holds the power of a zombie demon, Ovu Mobani
  • Enspirited sexual energy occupies a wall.
  • The orb of Thessela temporarily houses Angel's soul before it is restored to his body in 1898 and 1998. This is not "possession" in the usual sense, since Angel's soul cannot control the ball in any way (most likely because it has no consciousness in this state).

    for possession of people: to have control of the body in the same sense as the normally inhabiting soul or spirit would. Examples of possession of people:

    Memories after possession

    Transmigration: Possession involving human or animal spirits moving from one body to another.


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    This page last modified 2/10/05

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