Buffy: The Vampire Slayer is one of the most influential shows of all time. It gave us an awesome and strong female lead, serialized storytelling, and groundbreaking drama mixed with side splitting humor. Ultimately, Buffy was a show that did a little bit of everything. That ended up being true of Buffy herself as well. There was an ongoing tension where our hero was caught between two worlds. One was the world of youth and fun that she was plucked from and one was the world of sacred duty and ancient obligation that she was called into.
Along the way, she received a lot of rules and special instructions for Slayers to follow. Like all good heroes, Buffy ended up breaking many of these rules when they suited her. And as time went on, she started to realize just how out of touch the Watchers Council was...and how bizarre their rules for Slayers really were! Some of these rules made people waste their entire lives. Others tried to make Buffy isolated and miserable. And some of these rules came damn close to getting our hero killed! You don’t need to grab an Orb of Thesulah to figure out these rules...just keep scrolling!
15 TRAIN FOR NO REASON
We all know that training is a major part of the Slayer’s life. It helps to keep her in tip-top shape when she fights the vampires, demons, and other forces of darkness. However, what if she had to train for no reason at all? This is a reality for almost all of the potential Slayers out there. When we are introduced to Kendra, we get an interesting new wrinkle in Slayer mythology.
The Watchers are able to identify women who have the potential to become Slayers and then train them for their entire lives.
However, the actual mystical selection of the Slayer is still random, which is how Buffy got chosen despite having no special training or preparation. Her own training would later pay off, but imagine those women spending a lifetime training for a calling that may never happen!
14 THE CRUCIAMENTUM TEST
In the third season of Buffy, we find out exactly out cruel the Watchers’ Council can be. Under coercion by his boss, Giles injects Buffy with a special chemical that makes her weak. Not just “weak for a slayer,” but weak compared to many humans. And in her weakened state, she is forced to take on a powerful vampire using only her wits.
This is known as the “Cruciamentum test,” and it’s something that Watchers expect all Slayers to simply go along with. It is, of course, very brutal, and has the potential to kill the Slayer. Considering how many times Buffy managed to save the world, it’s truly insane to imagine that the Council expected her to go along with a test that could have killed her. It’s no wonder that after this test, both Buffy and Giles had an antagonistic relationship with the Council.
13 FORSAKE HER FRIENDS
Throughout the series, Buffy herself was something of a paradox. On paper, she led a very lonely life: as the narration tells us, “she alone” can fight these assorted demons, implying she will have a very solitary life. However, she quickly surrounds herself with a support team made up of friends such as Xander and Willow. So what’s going on here? This ends up being just another Slayer rule that Buffy is all about breaking.
Going back to the very First Slayer, the expectation was that Slayers must forsake their friends and live their lives as lonely warriors.
We even see the First Slayer explain this when she confronts Buffy in a dream state after Buffy magically joined with her friends to defeat Adam. It seems like Buffy is the first Slayer in history to figure out that teamwork...well...works!
12 NEVER TAKE A REAL JOB
There were many reasons that season six pissed off fans of Buffy. One of the reasons was that it was a depressing season, which was punctuated by Buffy taking on menial jobs as she struggled to pay the bills. Fans all over the world practically screamed in unison: why wasn’t Buffy getting paid by the wealthy Watchers Council?
The Buffy subreddit got to the bottom of this, and the answer isn’t that surprising. Slayers were originally meant to simply live with their Watchers (part of that “isolated life” thing), which is why Giles got paid separately by the Council on top of his pay as a librarian. Buffy choosing to live with her mother and apart from her Watcher was an anomaly. Basically, she broke the rules, and the Council refused to pay any extra.
11 AVOID RELATIONSHIPS
This one isn’t really a shocker. In fact, it’s a pretty logical extension of the rule about living a lonely life. However, Slayers are also explicitly meant to avoid romantic relationships. There are several good reasons for this rule...and, of course, several slayers who manage to break the rule.
Any romantic partners that a Slayer has would be people that vampires and other enemies could take advantage of.
And pursuing any romantic life at all would be both a distraction for the Slayer and generally pointless, as Slayers typically lived for less than a year. Buffy broke this rule with Angel, Spike, and many other boyfriends, and we see via Principal Wood (whose mother was a Slayer) that some Slayers even had children, despite all of the dangers involved !
10 NEVER KILL HUMANS
One of the big rules for Slayers is that they don’t kill humans. Our biggest example of this comes when Faith accidentally kills a human aid to Mayor Wilkinson and goes rogue after the Watchers attempt to capture her. This is another example of a rule that sounds good in theory but is pretty absurd in practice. Buffy and other Slayers often have to deal with humans that are just as evil as any vampire.
And these humans often try to kill our heroes. It’s absurd to think that Buffy is expected to pull her punches when it comes to taking out people trying to use lethal force against her. Of course, close watchers of season five know that Buffy breaks this rule when fighting the Knights of Byzantium (and encouraging her allies to drive their RV into “the horsies” they're riding).
9 NO GUNS
Mostly avoiding the use of guns was a conscious decision on the part of Joss Whedon and the rest of the show’s creative team. Buffy and her friends favor using stakes and crossbows over firearms (minus the occasional rocket launcher), and whenever we see bad guys using guns, it doesn’t work out for them. Later on, avoiding guns became standard Slayer policy! In the canonical Buffy comics that continue her story in “seasons,” we see that Buffy is now in charge of a small army of Slayers.
This means that she gets to institute her own official rules, and “no guns” is near the top of the list.
In typical Buffy fashion, a rogue Slayer breaks away and breaks the “no guns” rule quite often. Breaking these rules is pretty much par for the Slayer course!
8 ABANDON FAMILY
Of all the Slayer rules Buffy breaks, the one about family is probably the biggest. The Watchers Council fully expects Slayers to abandon their families and devote themselves to their calling full time. At that point, the Watcher is meant to be the closest thing they then have to family.
Our best example of this is the character of Kendra Young. Once she was identified by the Council as being a Potential Slayer, the Watchers made her parents give Kendra up to begin training. This lifetime of training ended up benefiting the character nicely when she became activated as a Slayer, but expecting her to abandon her family is still brutal. And most Potential Slayers abandon family and never become activated, meaning a life of isolation for no reason!
7 LIVE WITH HER WATCHER
Because Slayers are expected to forgo all family, friends, and romances, it’s no real surprise that the Watchers Council expected them to live with their Watcher. And there are many practical aspects to this, including making training much easier and allowing the two to have a combined defense against any attack.
Buffy and Giles obviously do not live together, and it looks like this is for the best.
Seeing how different Buffy and Giles are shows us how weird this would have been. Giles enjoys a quiet life that mostly involves reading ancient texts, sipping scotch, playing guitar, and entertaining the occasional lady friend. Buffy enjoys hanging with friends, chatting on the phone, and ice skating. Any given day of them living together would be like The Odd Couple on steroids...imagine them living together constantly!
6 HIDE HER POWERS
When it comes to Slayer rules, Buffy is known as a rule breaker. However, there is one rule that she makes a decent effort to follow. The show highly implies that Watchers want Slayers to hide their enhanced powers from the general population. After all, it wouldn’t do good to advertise to the whole world who the Slayer was and where she lived.
To her credit, Buffy tries to maintain a “secret identity.” She is very careful who she shares her secret with, and goes to lengths to hide or lie about the evidence. Even when they don’t know the specifics of what she can do, though, the people around Buffy eventually figure out she is trying to keep them alive. This is most evident when she is presented with a “Class Protector Award” at the high school prom.
5 FIGHT ALL EVIL
One of the weirdest things expected of the Slayer is right there in the narration of the show. We are told that “she alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness.” This is a pretty heavy burden because it reinforces that almost everything rests on Buffy’s shoulders! As the Buffy mythology expanded, we got to see that it was a world filled with magical beings, powerful creatures, and quite a few champions for the forces of good.
However, their lives are still in their own hands, and they can choose to stop being champions at any time.
Buffy, however, is literally called upon against her will to fight all evil and expected to do so until she dies...hardly fair for the girl who “saved the world a lot.”
4 CANCEL THE APOCALYPSE
We get to see Buffy save the world plenty of times throughout the series. This is often presented as an extension of her responsibility...and, after all, it often seems like no one else has the strength to do what needs to be done. However, would you believe Buffy has been expected to save the world for centuries?
In the final season of the show, we are introduced to the Scythe. This was a powerful weapon created by The Guardians, a kind of all-female counterpart to the Watchers. They made the Scythe for the Slayer to kill the last Old One on the Earth, and then they hid the weapon so that future slayers could find it and use it. Because the Old Ones are pure demons that once dominated the Earth, putting this responsibility in the Slayer’s hands meant expecting her to cancel the end of the world.
3 NEVER HELP VAMPIRES
A good reason why Buffy has remained such a popular show is that it constantly examined its own rules. For instance, the idea that humans are good and vampires are bad is baked into the show’s very premise, but we get a good vampire in the form of Angel and bad humans in the form of many of the Watchers.
And we get to see why there must be an exception to every rule.
Near the end of season three, Angel has been infected by Faith and will most certainly die. Buffy turns to the Watchers for help, and they make the policy clear: she is forbidden from helping a vampire, even one who has done as much good as Angel has. Buffy breaks the rules heals him with a dose of Slayer blood, but this incident shows why even vampire Slayers should be allowed to help the occasional vampire.
2 SPEAK IN DEAD LANGUAGES
As a show, Buffy was always filled with lots of weird comedy. Much of it involved Xander, who liked to crack jokes as a comedian and also managed to stumble into a lot of funny situations. One of these incidents involved the Scooby Crew explaining how magic works to an incredulous Riley.
Riley is having a hard time believing magic is real, and Willow explains how it takes concentration and magical attunement. Xander jokes that you can’t just say “"librum incendere” and expect something to happen...and then his book bursts into flames! Giles chides him to not speak Latin in front of the books and the audience laughs, but a later Buffy comic clarified that Slayers and their allies were supposed to use dead languages for magical spells (a rule that was eventually changed).
1 WORSHIP DRACULA
It seemed that a vampire slayer like Buffy was always destined to have a showdown with the most famous vampire, Dracula. This finally happened in the first episode of the fifth season, and while Buffy defeated her foe, he still managed to escape. He popped up again in a few of the canonical Buffy comics and ended up giving us the weirdest Slayer rule of all! The plot revolved around the idea that writing new rules in the Slayer Handbook could actually alter reality. A selfish Dracula used this to restore himself to his youth and vigor.
And he made it where all living beings had to recognize him as the Lord of the Vampires.
This idea sounded good in theory, but it resulted in legions of vampires that would have previously ignored Dracula now trying to kill him so they could take his title and fame.