Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 3)

The third season of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on September 29, 1998 on The WB and episode 22, the second of the two part season finale, aired on July 13, 1999. However, episode 18 "Earshot" did not air until September 21, 1999, shortly before the season 4 premiere. The show maintained its previous time slot, airing Tuesdays at 8:00 pm ET. "Earshot" and "Graduation Day, Part Two", were delayed in the wake of the Columbine High School massacre because of their content.[1]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 3
Buffy Season (3).jpg
Region 1 Season 3 DVD cover
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes22
Original networkThe WB
Original releaseSeptember 29, 1998 (1998-09-29) –
September 21, 1999 (1999-09-21)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 2
Next →
Season 4
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes


After attempting to start a new life in Los Angeles, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) returns to Sunnydale in season three, and is reunited with her friends and her mother. She is no longer a criminal suspect, but Principal Snyder, who took vindictive pleasure in expelling Buffy, refuses to reinstate her until he is told down by Giles. Angel (David Boreanaz) is resurrected mysteriously by the unseen Powers That Be.[2] While Buffy is happy to have Angel back, he seems to have lost much of his sanity in Hell. Buffy helps Angel recover but, having seen Angel's demonic side, Buffy's friends distrust him until he saves them from a monster.

Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) is fired from the Watchers' Council because he has developed a "father's love" for Buffy, and towards the end of the season Buffy announces that she will also no longer work for the Council. Early in the season she is confronted with an unstable Slayer, Faith (Eliza Dushku), who was activated after Kendra's death near the end of season two.

Angel, after getting his soul back, is once again tormented by his guilt and personally by an entity called the First Evil, who takes credits of bringing Angel back for wicked intents and goads him into attempting suicide. Though Buffy is unable to prevent Angel from killing himself, the Powers That Be intervene and convince Angel that he has a greater purpose.

Although the First is still out there, the antagonist of the season is shown to be the affable Mayor Richard Wilkins (Harry Groener), who is near completion of his plan to "ascend" to become a giant snake-like demon – having already gained immortality through a Faustian bargain with demons when he founded Sunnydale a century ago. The final step is to be a massacre of students on Sunnydale High's graduation day.

Although Faith works with Buffy at first, after accidentally killing a human, Faith becomes irrational and sides with Mayor Wilkins, whose charismatic behavior influences Faith's dark side. She helps Wilkins in his plan, and eventually she poisons Angel. The only antidote for the poison is the blood of a Slayer, so Buffy tries to grab Faith to feed her to Angel. Faith, though severely wounded, jumps from her roof onto a passing truck, out of Buffy's reach. Buffy is forced to let Angel drink from her, putting her in a brief coma. Wilkins, who had a fatherly affection for Faith, gets angry and attempts to suffocate her, but is stopped by Angel. During her time in a coma, Buffy shares a dream with Faith where they make peace.

At the climax of the season, Wilkins speaks at the graduation ceremony, as the time for his transformation has come and he finally morphs into the demon Olvikan. He eats Principal Snyder and kills several others; but Buffy and her friends have organized the graduating students to fight back against Wilkins and his vampires. (A solar eclipse allows Angel and other vampires to be out in daytime.) Buffy confronts the demon, taunting him about Faith. She lures the provoked Mayor into the library which has many explosives. The explosion destroys Wilkins in his Olvikan form, as well as the school.

Meanwhile, Angel becomes convinced that Buffy's love for him will be bad for her in the long run. After the battle with the Mayor, he leaves Sunnydale, leading to the spin-off series in Los Angeles. Cordelia also leaves Sunnydale at the end of the season in order to attempt an acting career in L.A., though later becomes a major character on the spin-off.

Cast and charactersEdit

Main castEdit

Recurring castEdit

Guest castEdit


Series creator Joss Whedon served as executive producer and showrunner, and wrote and directed five episodes of the season including the season premiere and the two-part finale. David Greenwalt was promoted to executive producer, and wrote two episodes (including directing one of them) and directed another. Marti Noxon was promoted to co-producer and wrote five episodes. New additions in the third season included Jane Espenson, who served as executive story editor and wrote three episodes, including an episode originally pitched from Thania St. John (who receives story credit). Douglas Petrie joined as a story editor, later promoted to executive story editor midseason and wrote three episodes. Dan Vebber joined as a staff writer and wrote two episodes. David Fury returned and freelanced two episodes. This was the last season for Greenwalt as a writer/director on the series, as he departed to be the showrunner for the spin off series Angel. He would serve as consulting producer until the end of the sixth season.[3]

Joss Whedon directed the highest number of episodes in the third season, directing five episodes. James A. Contner and James Whitmore, Jr. each directed four.


No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
U.S. viewers
351"Anne"Joss WhedonJoss WhedonSeptember 29, 1998 (1998-09-29)3ABB017.1[4]
Grieving over Angel, Buffy moves to a seedy neighborhood of Los Angeles in exile. Back in Sunnydale, the Scoobies attempt to cover her Slayer responsibilities over the summer, to mixed results. Working at a diner under the name "Anne", Buffy meets Lily – a member of ‘the Lonely Ones’, a group who romanticized vampires and were saved by Buffy. After Lily’s boyfriend goes missing, Buffy reluctantly agrees to help. An old man walks into traffic and soon after dies, and Buffy realizes that he is Lily’s boyfriend, decades older than the previous day. Lily meets the owner of a homeless shelter who convinces her that her boyfriend is at the shelter. Buffy discovers that a blood bank has been providing names of homeless people to the shelter, and goes to investigate, only to be thrown through a portal into a demonic factory where the missing people are slaves. As time passes faster in the factory, the slaves are returned to their own world when they are no longer useful, where only a single day has passed. Accepting her responsibilities as the Slayer, Buffy frees the slaves and kills the masters, allows Lily to assume her identity as "Anne", and returns to Sunnydale.
362"Dead Man's Party"James Whitmore, Jr.Marti NoxonOctober 6, 1998 (1998-10-06)3ABB02N/A
Joyce and the Scoobies find it difficult to welcome Buffy back to Sunnydale. Although exonerated of Kendra’s murder, Snyder refuses to allow Buffy’s return to Sunnydale High. Buffy spurns the Scoobies’ entreaties to reach out to them about her time in L.A. Joyce brings home a Nigerian mask an art collector gave her, which she hangs in her bedroom, and invites the Scoobies over for a dinner party to celebrate Buffy’s return. The Scoobies, avoiding talking to Buffy about their feelings of abandonment, invite Oz’s band. A dead cat returns to life and, investigating it, Giles discovers that Joyce’s mask carries the spirit of a demon. Racing to warn Buffy, Giles witnesses an army of the dead heading for the Summers house. Buffy overhears her mother admitting it is difficult to deal with Buffy’s return. Feeling betrayed, Buffy makes plans to leave again. Joyce and the Scoobies confront Buffy over her abandonment, but Buffy insists that none of them understand her grief. The zombies arrive and attempt to claim the mask, but Buffy destroys it. Giles threatens Snyder to allow Buffy to return to school, and Buffy makes up with Willow, who tells Buffy she has begun to study witchcraft.
373"Faith, Hope & Trick"James A. ContnerDavid GreenwaltOctober 13, 1998 (1998-10-13)3ABB03N/A
Another Slayer, Faith (Eliza Dushku), arrives in Sunnydale, closely tracked by two vampires, thoroughly modern Mr. Trick (K. Todd Freeman) and incredibly ancient Kakistos (Jeremy Roberts). Buffy and Faith set out to put an end to Kakistos. Buffy finally accepts Scott Hope's (Fab Filippo) invitation to date.
384"Beauty and the Beasts"James Whitmore, Jr.Marti NoxonOctober 20, 1998 (1998-10-20)3ABB04N/A
After Oz escapes from his cage, everyone suspects that he committed last night's brutal murders. Only Buffy knows that Angel is a suspect as well.
395"Homecoming"David GreenwaltDavid GreenwaltNovember 3, 1998 (1998-11-03)3ABB05N/A
Buffy and Cordelia compete for Homecoming Queen while Mr. Trick organizes SlayerFest '98. Willow and Xander kiss, although each is seeing someone else. Unknown to SlayerFest personnel, Cordelia changes places with Faith. Buffy and Cordy reconcile while trying to defeat Mr. Trick's contestants.
406"Band Candy"Michael LangeJane EspensonNovember 10, 1998 (1998-11-10)3ABB06N/A
A candy created by Ethan Rayne (Robin Sachs) causes Sunnydale's adults to behave like teenagers. Buffy confronts Rayne and makes him tell her about a plan to sacrifice Sunnydale newborns to a monster in the sewers.
417"Revelations"James A. ContnerDouglas PetrieNovember 17, 1998 (1998-11-17)3ABB07N/A
Faith's new Watcher, Gwendolyn Post (Serena Scott Thomas), arrives in Sunnydale. Xander discovers Buffy's secret and manipulates Faith into attempting to slay Angel, while Ms. Post is revealed to be more than meets the eye.
428"Lovers Walk"David SemelDan VebberNovember 24, 1998 (1998-11-24)3ABB08N/A
A lovelorn Spike (James Marsters) returns and kidnaps Willow to cast a love spell on Drusilla. Stashing Willow and a wounded Xander at the factory, Spike soon concocts a new plan while Buffy, Oz, Giles and Cordelia hunt their friends down.
439"The Wish"David GreenwaltMarti NoxonDecember 8, 1998 (1998-12-08)3ABB09N/A
Cordelia's pain over Xander's betrayal summons Anyanka (Emma Caulfield), a vengeance demon who grants wishes to scorned women. Cordelia wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, and constructs an alternate reality where the Master (Mark Metcalf) rose from the dead and the Harvest took over Sunnydale. Giles discovers this in the alternate reality and realizes he is able to reverse the events.
4410"Amends"Joss WhedonJoss WhedonDecember 15, 1998 (1998-12-15)3ABB10N/A
The First Evil is driving Angel insane, appearing as victims of his past crimes, priming him to kill Buffy. Instead, he tries to kill himself.
4511"Gingerbread"James Whitmore, Jr.Story by : Thania St. John & Jane Espenson
Teleplay by : Jane Espenson
January 12, 1999 (1999-01-12)3ABB11N/A
After two children are mysteriously killed, apparently as part of a cult sacrifice, Joyce (Kristine Sutherland) leads the town in a witch hunt but all is not quite as it seems. Buffy, Willow and Amy Madison (Elizabeth Anne Allen) are tied to stakes, Giles and Cordelia must rescue them, while Amy turns herself into a rat to escape the angry mob.
4612"Helpless"James A. ContnerDavid FuryJanuary 19, 1999 (1999-01-19)3ABB12N/A
Giles secretly prepares Buffy for the Cruciamentum, an ordeal the Watchers' Council requires every Slayer endure on her eighteenth birthday. Giles helps Buffy, thereby affecting his job as a watcher.
4713"The Zeppo"James Whitmore, Jr.Dan VebberJanuary 26, 1999 (1999-01-26)3ABB13N/A
Xander tries to be cool and hangs out with Jack O'Toole (Channon Roe), who resurrects three of his former buddies. Xander soon realizes they are up to something deadly and attempts to hide. Meanwhile, the others need to prevent the Sisterhood of Jhe from reopening the Hellmouth.
4814"Bad Girls"Michael LangeDouglas PetrieFebruary 9, 1999 (1999-02-09)3ABB14N/A
The Slayers get a new Watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof). The girls are having a wild night at The Bronze, where Angel brings info on the whereabouts of the demon, Balthazar (Christian Clemenson).
4915"Consequences"Michael GershmanMarti NoxonFebruary 16, 1999 (1999-02-16)3ABB15N/A
Faith tells Giles that Buffy is the one who slayed the Deputy Mayor (Jack Plotnick). Angel apprehends Faith but Wesley thwarts his intervention and allows Faith to escape. She plans to leave town on the next freighter.
5016"Doppelgangland"Joss WhedonJoss WhedonFebruary 23, 1999 (1999-02-23)3ABB16N/A
Wanting to be a vengeance demon again, Anya tricks Willow into helping with a spell to retrieve her power center, the amulet Giles destroyed in an alternate reality ("The Wish"). Instead of the amulet, however, the spell transports Willow's vampire version to an unsuspecting Sunnydale.
5117"Enemies"David GrossmanDouglas PetrieMarch 16, 1999 (1999-03-16)3ABB17N/A
The Mayor (Harry Groener) and Faith plot to use a demon to steal Angel's soul and let Angelus remove Buffy from the picture.
5218"Earshot"Regis KimbleJane EspensonSeptember 21, 1999 (1999-09-21)3ABB18N/A

Buffy is infected by a demon's blood and gains the ability to read minds. At Sunnydale High, Buffy overhears someone through mind reading making a violent death threat to the whole school. As she goes insane hearing everyone's thoughts all at once, Angel, Giles and Wesley struggle to save her.

This episode was originally scheduled to be broadcast on April 27 but was postponed following the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999.
5319"Choices"James A. ContnerDavid FuryMay 4, 1999 (1999-05-04)3ABB19N/A
When Wesley tells her she cannot leave Sunnydale to go to a fine college, Buffy launches an offensive to shut down the Mayor's plans for Ascension. Willow chooses among colleges while Xander plans a road trip.
5420"The Prom"David SolomonMarti NoxonMay 11, 1999 (1999-05-11)3ABB20N/A
Angel decides to do the right thing and break up with Buffy. Meanwhile, Buffy has to save the prom from Hellhounds with a fetish for formal wear. Angel shows up for the last dance.
5521"Graduation Day (Part 1)"Joss WhedonJoss WhedonMay 18, 1999 (1999-05-18)3ABB21N/A
While the Mayor prepares for his Ascension, Faith goes around "tying up" loose ends, one of those being Angel. Faith shoots Angel with a poisoned arrow and Buffy must battle Faith to save Angel's life, needing her Slayer blood as antidote.
5622"Graduation Day (Part 2)"Joss WhedonJoss WhedonMay 24, 1999 (1999-05-24) (Canada) July 13, 1999 (1999-07-13) (USA)3ABB22N/A
Buffy forces Angel to feed on her to save his life and he must rush her to the hospital to save hers. The Mayor, as a guest speaker at Sunnydale, Ascends and becomes the demon Olvikan. Meanwhile, Faith remains in a coma, from which the doctors expect her never to wake.


Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 100% with an average score of 8.75/10, based on 12 reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "Season three perfects the show's winning formula to create an addictive and satisfying viewing experience, episode after episode."[5]

The series received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations, for Outstanding Makeup for a Series for "The Zeppo" and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series for "Lovers Walk".[6]

The third season averaged 5.3 million viewers, which was its highest rated season.[7]

DVD releaseEdit

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Third Season was released on DVD in region 1 on January 7, 2003[8] and in region 2 on October 29, 2001.[9] The DVD includes all 22 episodes on 6 discs presented in full frame 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Special features on the DVD include four commentary tracks—"Helpless" by writer David Fury, "Bad Girls" by writer Doug Petrie, "Consequences" by director Michael Gershman and "Earshot" by writer Jane Espenson. Writers Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson, and Doug Petrie discuss the episodes "Bad Girls", "Consequences", "Enemies", "Earshot", and "Graduation Day, Part One" in interviews. Scripts for "Faith, Hope & Trick", "Band Candy", "Lovers Walk", and "The Wish" are included. Featurettes include, "Special Effects", "Wardrobe", "Weapons", which all detail the title subjects; "Buffy Speak", which details the language and dialogue used on the show; and "Season 3 Overview", a 20-minute featurette where cast and crew members discuss the season. Also included are cast biographies and photo galleries.[10]


  1. ^ "School Daze". Entertainment Weekly. May 25, 1999. Retrieved August 3, 2010.
  2. ^ Ruditis, Paul and Gallagher, Diana G. Angel: The Casefiles Vol. 2. p. 4.
  3. ^ "A Brief History of Mutant Enemy". Whedon.info. May 24, 2004. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  4. ^ "Nielsen ratings". USA Today. Gannett Company. September 29, 1998. p. D3.
  5. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 3 (1998-1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  6. ^ ""Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997) - Awards". IMDb. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  7. ^ "Final ratings for the 1998-1999 TV season". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 29, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  8. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Third Season (1997)". Amazon.com. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  9. ^ "Buffy DVD and VHS". BBC. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  10. ^ "Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 3". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on October 9, 2008. Retrieved July 31, 2010.

External linksEdit