Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been going strong for over 20 years on TV and in comics (let's forget about the Kristy Swanson movie for now). The franchise has gathered such a large, dedicated fan base that a new Buffy series is currently in the works for TV with Joss Whedon attached as an Executive Producer with showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen. One of the biggest breakout characters from the series that crossed over to the Angel spin-off, nearly had his own spin-off movie in the mid-2000s and had his own comic book adventures at both IDW Publishing and Dark Horse Comics is the villain turned hero (well, most of the time), Spike!
Spike is a powerful vampire and one of the very few that has slain multiple Slayers over the years. During that time, Spike has gone through some changes. He's been scarred, had a mind/body-controlling device implanted in him by a secret government organization, found a soul, and magically transformed into... well, multiple things. Needless to say, Spike has a strange body, even for a vampire. We're going to explore what makes Spike so strange to better understand why this character has been a fan favorite for the past two decades.
15 HIS Y-SHAPED SCAR
Spike was turned into a vampire back in 1880 by Drusilla in London. Twenty years into being a vampire gave him enough time to master his vampiric abilities to successfully take on a Slayer. During the Boxer Rebellion in China, Spike confronted the Slayer at the time for a fight to the death.
Wielding a sword, the Slayer fought a prolonged battle with Spike and got some good licks in; including a blow to Spike's brow leaving a scar lasting at least a century in the shape of a Y in his brow. Coincidentally, actor James Marsters had the same scar!
14 IT TAKES A LOT TO GET SPIKE "MERRY"
Just like Captain America, it takes a lot to get Spike tipsy! Captain America has this ability because his super soldier serum-enhanced body is able to repair itself more quickly than the average person; preventing him from being susceptible to most poison. Spike has a very similar ability as a vampire, but for a different reason.
Being undead, Spike does not require ingesting food or water to survive; just blood. And because his body and its organs don't quite operate how a living person does anymore, ingesting things doesn't have the same effect. However, he's still susceptible to the effects of poison if he really overdoes it; it's just not lethal.
13 THAT BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION CHIP IN HIS BRAIN
During the fourth season (a divisive one among fans), Buffy and the gang had to deal with a secret government organization set up to research demons and the paranormal, The Initiative. After having been gone for Season 3, Spike shows back up, only to be taken in by The Initiative shortly after.
While in their custody, they implant a behavior modification chip into his brain that prevents Spike from being able to harm humans without receiving an excruciating jolt through his body. Spike is still violent in nature, and makes the best of this body modification to fight other vampires and demons instead; at least for a time.
12 HE WAS A GHOST
A powerful amulet was used at the end of Buffy Season 7 to seal the Hellmouth in Sunnydale (SPOILERS!) and Spike was the one to wield it. In doing so, the amulet ended up destroying Spike's physical body. That wouldn't be the end of him, however! The amulet would appear in Angel Season 5 and bring Spike back in a non-corporeal form.
Spike would stay like this for a big chunk of the season, and his new non-corporeal body was tied both to the amulet and Los Angeles. This meant that if the amulet was destroyed, he would be too. He also couldn't leave the city limits. There were strange restrictions on Spike's body for sure.
11 SPIKE HAS ALSO BEEN TURNED INTO A PUPPET
One of the most memorable episodes from the later seasons of Angel was the Hugo Award-nominated "Smile Time," wherein we see Angel getting turned into a puppet as he tries to stop an evil children's show. Fans of the expanded universe may know that Spike, too, has been turned into a puppet.
Spike: Shadow Puppets was a four issue miniseries where Spike had to travel halfway around the world to Japan in order to take on Smile Time once again! The miniseries concludes with a battle between Spike and puppet versions of a slew of other characters. Don't worry, Spike wins, felt and all!
10 HIGH SUNLIGHT RESISTANCE
Everyone knows that vampires are weak to sunlight. In fact, it's lethal to them. For Spike, however, it's a little different. Throughout the run of the series, we constantly see examples of Spike treating sunlight more as an inconvenience than anything else. He's willing to drive in sunlight as long as the car windows are tinted or blacked out, for example.
Multiple times throughout the show we even see Spike run through the sunlight quickly with just a jacket or blanket thrown over himself and only getting some burns from it. It's attributed to him being an older vampire, having been around for well over a century, but it's probably at least in part because he's just awesome. It makes for some fun lighthearted moments too.
9 HE CAN HOLD A CROSS
Okay, just to be clear, Spike doesn't actually enjoy holding a cross in his hand. It's still a holy symbol he would much rather avoid altogether. However, there have been times throughout the series where Spike managed to hold a cross and still keep his composure, more or less.
The most impressive example of this is in the Season 7 episode "Beneath You," where Spike is seen wrapping his body around a large cross and letting it burn him. You'd be hard pressed to find too many other vampires in Buffy that could do that. You could say this ability is his... cross... to bear?
8 HE'S UNUSUALLY STRONG (FOR A VAMPIRE)
Similar to Angel and and some of the other more powerful vampires that pop up throughout Buffy, Spike is well versed in different forms of combat. Spike, however, really stands out in his strength. One of the best examples of this is in Season 2 where he's severely injured and confined to a wheelchair for some time.
Despite being in close proximity to Angel, who knows Spike better than almost anyone, he's able to discretely heal from his injuries and get back to full power under his nose. Spike went on to get Buffy to do the heavy lifting in taking on Angel, however. He's strong, but not stupid!
7 HE CAN SURVIVE IN SPACE
No, you didn't miss a Buffy/Firefly crossover event! Spike going into space was something that happened in the comic miniseries, Spike: A Dark Place. If the final frontier a bridge too far for you, keep in mind this is a franchise about vampires, demons, and chosen ones, so please exercise some perspective.
The point is, Spike took a steampunk style starship into space with some giant cockroach creatures to get to the dark side of the moon. The fact that Spike was able to survive being launched into space and walking around the ship without wearing a spacesuit or worrying about the even harder to avoid sunlight is really impressive for a vampire!
6 HIS BODY CONTAINS ANOTHER SOUL
You may be thinking to yourself, "Isn't Spike Drusilla's lover?" Well, yes, but this is some more stuff that we find out in the comics. Well... sort of. You see, in the IDW Comics run of Spike collected in Spike: Alone Together Now, the story follows Spike going to Las Vegas and getting involved in all of Drusilla's drama again.
This time, however, she's paired up with a human that's missing his soul and claims that Spike has it. It's a really interesting concept and creates some moral conflicts regarding Spike acquiring a soul, and if doing so really does make him a better person. They don't play with this concept enough in the comics, but it's nice to see it brought up here.
5 HE WAS CAPABLE OF COMPASSION BEFORE GETTING A SOUL
While early in the series, we see Spike do some really terrible, violent things, he still does have some compassion. Right from his earliest appearances, he shows great care for Drusilla. We later see Spike showing those levels of caring and compassion towards Buffy and even the rest of the Scooby gang.
Okay, it may not be as often for the rest of the gang, but he's always there to tell Buffy she's getting in over her head and making bad decisions. When you consider how Spike acts without a soul versus how Angel acts without a soul, it becomes clear how Spike really does stand out.
4 BLEACHED HAIR, BURNED SCALP
Many fans may know that James Marsters' hair isn't naturally bleach blonde. He does keep his hair that way for nearly every single appearance as Spike, though, save for some flashbacks. In order to keep his hair that way, Marsters needed to bleach his hair often. Too often.
As a result, he would end up bleaching his hair more often than the recommended amount. This led to instances where his scalp would bleed as a result of the damage to his skin. While it does sound painful, it's hard to imagine present day Spike without his iconic blonde hair!
3 HE COULD STILL TOUCH THINGS AS A GHOST
There were few stranger times for Spike's body than when he was non-corporeal in the aftermath of the Buffy series finale into first third of Angel Season 5. While he was unable to touch anything solid at first, over time Spike was able to focus his energy enough to touch people and objects in our reality.
He wasn't exactly strong enough to fight a demon, let alone pick up a moderate sized object, and he couldn't short circuit computers going through them like Kitty Pryde can in X-Men, but it was a really strange ability all things considered. Spike's physical form eventually manifested again, but it was fun while it lasted!
2 SPIKE CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT FEEDING
We all know how vampires need blood to stay alive. They are compelled to drink the blood of the living, which is why there really aren't a lot of heroic vampires. Plus, there's the whole not having a soul thing. Anyway, Spike won't actually die due to lack of blood.
The way his body works makes it so he'll get weaker and weaker, but he can survive without drinking blood. Obviously it would be a bad idea for him to go along with without blood as he would be easier to stake in the heart, but we still think it's interesting!
1 SPIKE CAN HANDLE A GREAT DEAL OF PUNISHMENT
Over the course of this list, we've gone over a few examples of Spike really taking a great deal of punishment. He's survived everything from torture from Angel, holding onto a giant cross, even having his body destroyed and brought back from an amulet.
One of the best examples of Spike's ability to handle punishment is definitely the Season 5 episode of Buffy "Intervention" where Glory puts Spike through a great deal to get information out of him about Dawn. Spike not only survives this, but manages to escape from Glory on his own, too. Okay, he needed some help at the end to get out of Glory's hideout, but it's still really impressive!