10 Times Buffy’s Strength Came From Her Words
and how you can use her words to help yourself
by Audrey Brown
In Part Two of “Buffy Summer’s Strength In Her Own Words: A Heroine’s Journey,” I looked at inspiring moments of dialogue. Words that revealed the Initiation Phase of her Hero’s Journey, where she was tested in the Supernatural World and claimed her superpower or Elixir.
In Part Three, I will highlight moments that showcase the third phase, the Return, where she brings the Elixir back to the Ordinary World and shares it with others.
- “Bring On the Night” (Season 7, Episode 10)
In Season 7, the villain is essentially Satan. It goes by the name of The First, and it’s raising an army of vampires. But these vampires are the originals, the Turok-Han. Pure monsters from the beginning of the earth, not the weaker half humans Buffy has been fighting for years during herTests of Initiation phase. In the Return she will share her knowledge with others. In Heroine’s Journeys, this is often represented in the formation of teams.
In her first interaction with a Turok-Han, Buffy is defeated quickly and knocked unconscious. This leaves her friends terrified. When Buffy overhears them having a conversation about the hopeless situation, she speaks her mind.
“I’m beyond tired. I’m beyond scared. I’m standing on the mouth of hell and it is gonna swallow me whole. And it’ll choke on me. We’re not ready? They’re not ready. They think we’re gonna wait for the end to come like we always do. I’m done waiting. They want an apocalypse? Oh, we’ll give ‘em one.
Anyone else who wants to run? Do it now. Cause we just became an army. We just declared war. From now on we won’t just face our worst fears. We will seek them out. We will find them and cut out their hearts one by one until The First shows itself for what it really is, then I’ll kill it myself. There is only one thing on this Earth more powerful than evil, and that’s us. Any questions?”
Sometimes, most times, you have to initiate the changes you need in your life. You must take action. You shouldn’t always wait for external forces to act upon you. Learn to assess your problems or challenges and face them head on using your best judgment. This will not only mitigate the damage done to you by other people, it can prevent you from hurting others.
I’m imagining myself as a teenager, wondering what kind of drama could’ve been prevented if I was willing to walk away from relationships after they ran their natural course. I’m thinking of the months I’ve put into toxic work environments in the past and how long it took me to recover from them. What if I had walked away sooner? I wouldn’t have even needed a recovery.
Everyone has situations like this where they can act instead of react. This is what it means to have an internal locus of control. And if that’s too much psychobabble for you, the next time you face a seemingly insurmountable problem, just ask, “What Buffy would do?”
- “Showtime” (Season 7, Episode 11)
Showtime, oh Showtime. I’ve turned to this episode multiple times when I needed inspiration to gather my strength. I’ve watched the following speech in different cities while facing various challenges. San Francisco, Chicago, Orlando. This one is my top pick. My go-to favorite.
In an attempt to fight The First, Buffy and her newly formed team from the Ordinary World begin training potential slayers. Due to the difficulty, morale quickly hits an all-time low. Buffy realizes her words will be meaningless unless she can create proof through action first.
She stages a showdown with the Turok-Han, and forces the potential slayers to watch. It’s a long, violent fight. Buffy gets injured. Many times it seems like she’s defeated. But she keeps fighting and in the end, she wins. Afterward? She says this to drive her point home…
“See? Dust. Like the rest of ‘em. I don’t know what’s coming next, but I do know it’s gonna be just like this. Hard. Painful. And in the end it’s gonna be us, if we all do our parts. Believe it. We’ll be the ones left standing. Here endeth the lesson.”
And what is the lesson exactly?
The things worth fighting for are often hard-won. Sometimes it won’t be pretty. Sometimes you won’t make it through unscathed. But if you focus on the outcome, keep your wits about you, and maintain confidence in yourself, you will emerge victorious.
- Chosen (Season 7, Episode 22)
In the series finale, Buffy and her army of slayers must face The First and an entire army of Turok-Han to prevent the apocalypse. Two days before the big battle, Buffy faces her literal dark night of the soul. When The First pays her a visit to speak doubt into her mind, Buffy reads the situation differently. If she weren’t strong enough to save the world, The First would have no need to attempt to intimidate her. The conclusion?
“I just realized something. Something that really never occurred to me before, we’re gonna win.”
But she’s not the only one that needs convincing. The morning before the battle, she proposes a new plan. She wants to use a spell to bestow every potential slayer with the same superpowers she possesses, moving them from potentials to actuals. Thus ending the centuries long tradition of there only being one slayer at a time. The team isn’t so sure it will work. The potential slayers are worried about what happens if it doesn’t. Buffy says this to convince them:
“So here’s the part where you make a choice: What if you could have that power…now? In every generation, one slayer is born…because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman (points to Willow) is more powerful than all of them combined.
So I say we change the rule. I say my power…should be our power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a slayer…will be a slayer. Every girl who could have the power…will have the power…can stand up, will stand up. …every one of us.
Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?”
We all have a choice. They’re different choices and they may arrive at different points in our lives. But sooner or later, every human has at least one chance to be brave.
That bravery may mean turning away from an abusive relationship or fighting for a better job or sacrificing something we want in order to help another person. For me, it’s been fighting the urge to hide who I am. It’s been making myself small and quiet for years so I don’t bother other people. Not being fully honest about what I want to write and create, because I don’t believe I’m good enough to do it. Because I’m afraid if I try people will think I’m being egotistical and grandiose. And it is a choice. I’ve chosen to listen to my low self-esteem, just like Buffy first listened to The Master. I’ve made half-hearted efforts so I didn’t rock the boat. But it’s time to make another choice.
Those of us who are lucky to live long enough? We may get several choices. Without knowing how our choice will work out, we have the power to make the decisions anyway. To do the right thing, even when it’s hard. To be brave. To live.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s choice was to not let the Hero’s Journey dictate her life. She rejected the notion of a singular Chosen One. She showed us that anyone can be the heroine of their story so long as she believes it is possible.
I know Buffy is just a TV show. But just like any cultural artifact, we can use it. Let it speak to us. Let it resonate. Maybe it’s not Buffy for you. Maybe it’s film or music or books. Whatever it is, I hope you listen. I hope you find the patterns in what you love and use them as inspirations to make good decisions and be true to yourself.
And okay…this got really dramatic. For a little comedown, here’s a bonus speech by someone else really strong.
BONUS. “Rm w/a Vu”
Buffy wasn’t the only one who could create change with her words. Cordelia was a character well known for truth telling. In fact, she was frequently accused of being rude, to which she replied, “Tact is just not saying true stuff. I’ll pass.”
Cordelia wasn’t immune to self-doubt either. In season one of the Buffy spinoff Angel, she found herself haunted by a ghost that specialized in criticism. Much like many of the big bads in the Whedonverse, this villain was basically gaslighting Cordelia.
The ghost pushed every button until she learned Cordelia’s insecurities. Then she hit them repeatedly until poor Cordy started to believe her. But the ghost pushed too far one day. She tacked on an extra phrase to the end of one of her tirades, “You stupid little bitch.” It was the word “bitch” that snapped Cordelia out of the psychological abuse.
“I’m not a sniveling, whiny little cry Buffy. I’m the nastiest girl in Sunnydale history. I take crap from no one…back off, Poligrip. You think you’re bad? All mean and haunty? Picking on poor, pathetic Cordy?
Well get ready to haul your wrinkly translucent ass out of this place, because lady, the bitch is back…I’ll tell you what I think. I think you’re gonna pack your little ghost bags and get the hell out of my house.”
Moral of the story?
Well, for one thing, to use some of Cordelia’s own words to describe her character, she is “seriously unsung”.
For another, playing nice doesn’t always work. Not when you’re dealing with an emotionally or verbally abusive person. Cordy set a boundary. She decided not to allow that kind of talk in her space and the ghost disappeared.
In certain situations, you can do this in real life.
And of course, if you are feeling assaulted in any way, please try to find the help of a counselor. If that feels like too big of a step to take, you can start by calling the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Audrey (in her super-secret third-person) began writing professionally in 2007. She has her MA in creative writing and has sold two screenplays. Her work has appeared in magazines like Geek Monthly, on-air via public radio, and onscreen at the Los Angeles Comedy Festival. You can find her at AudreyWrites.com, BornForGeekdom.net and Twitter.