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"Grave" is the sixth-season finale of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This episode is the second highest rated Buffy episode ever to air in the U.K. Sky One aired the episode, which reached 1.22 million viewers on its original airing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
After Xander stops Willow from destroying the world, he comforts her as the dark magic drains from her
Episode no.Season 6
Episode 22
Directed byJames A. Contner
Written byDavid Fury
Featured music"Prayer of St. Francis" by Sarah McLachlan
Production code6ABB22
Original air dateMay 21, 2002
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Two to Go"
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 6)
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

This is the only Buffy season finale not written and directed by Joss Whedon.


Plot synopsisEdit

Dark Willow tries to resist Giles' attack, rebuffing his attempts to help her. He is forced to bind her physically and magically. He informs Buffy and Anya that he has been endowed with power from a powerful coven in England, which sent him to combat Willow. As Buffy and Giles talk, Willow subordinates Anya telepathically, so that Anya breaks Giles's binding spells. She throws down Buffy and resumes her magical duel with Giles.

Xander and Dawn continue to protect Jonathan and Andrew. Xander is becoming overwhelmed by guilt over his failure to act when Warren shot Buffy and murdered Tara. In Africa, Spike continues to complete stages of his ordeal.

Willow and Giles continue to duel. As she begins to overpower him, Willow also directs a magical attack at Xander, Dawn, and the others, forcing Buffy to leave to protect them. Willow then defeats Giles and drains his magical strength; the power breaks down her emotional shields. Overwhelmed by her pain and all the pain she senses, she announces she will end it by ending the world.

Buffy manages to partially block Willow's attack, but she and Dawn are thrown underground while Xander is knocked unconscious. Andrew and Jonathan flee, planning an escape to Mexico.

At the Magic Box, Anya comes to and finds a weakened Giles on the ground. He can feel Dark Willow's presence and knows that she's going to end the world. Buffy tries to climb out of the hole by pulling coffins out of the surrounding dirt walls to stack and try to escape on. After Xander comes to, Buffy sends him to find some rope to help them get out.

Buffy and Dawn quarrel over Buffy's protective behavior. Anya appears, telling Buffy that Willow is raising a satanic temple of dark magic from underground, and intends to use its artifacts to end the world by draining its life energies. She declares that Willow cannot be stopped by any magical or supernatural powers, and that Giles is likely dying, then teleports away. Xander hears the conversation, and leaves to confront Willow. Willow speaks to Buffy telepathically, telling her she deserves the right to die as a warrior, and raises earth-creatures to battle Buffy and Dawn.

Willow begins her final ritual of destruction. Xander confronts her and physically tries to stop her from completing the ritual. She repels him with magic force, but, wounded, he renews his efforts. He reminds Willow of their friendship and that he loves her no matter what. He tells her that if she destroys the world, she kills him as well and that he will stay with her until she does. Willow's emotional barriers collapse, her dark powers drain away, and her physical transformation is undone. She collapses in tears.

Giles revives and tells Anya that the magic Willow stole from him overpowered her emotional shields and gave Xander the chance to reach her. Anya is shocked to find that Xander saved the world. Buffy and Dawn reconcile as they clamber out of the pit.

In Africa, a severely bruised and bloodied Spike successfully completes his ordeal and demands his promised reward, his greatest desire. Accordingly, his soul is returned to him.

Production detailsEdit



In the DVD commentary for this episode, director James Contner says that while filming the scenes with Willow and Xander on the cliff, the wind churned up dust, which blew into Alyson Hannigan's eyes. Because of the dust, Hannigan removed her black contacts and her eyes were blackened digitally in post-production.

Series continuityEdit

  • The hill where Willow attempts to invoke Proserpexa is the same hill where Angel attempted to commit suicide by sunlight in "Amends", though it is first named here as "Kingman's Bluff".

Arc significanceEdit

  • The Magic Box is destroyed.
  • The "Big Bad Willow" story arc ends with Xander, the show's everyman, saving the world through love and friendship rather than violence or supernatural power.
  • This episode once again establishes Xander as the "heart" of the group, the one that can always grant emotional support to the others in the hard times, a role that was previously established in the Season 1 finale "Prophecy Girl" when Xander, who at the time had a crush on Buffy, revives her through CPR and in the Season 4 episode "Primeval" when Buffy, Willow, Giles and Xander all merge their psyches in a spell with Xander representing "Animus", the heart.
  • Buffy's own grief, which started in the middle of Season Five with her mother Joyce's death and was aggravated by Tara's, is finally resolved as she completes the process of accepting life that she began in "Normal Again".
  • Dawn proves herself to be a capable fighter and Buffy agrees to stop being overprotective of her, which will become important in Season Seven.
  • Andrew and Jonathan leave town and head to Mexico.
  • Spike receives his soul, with important consequences in Season Seven of Buffy and Season Five of Angel.
  • Willow once again responds to Xander when he says "I love you" previously done in "Becoming, Part Two" where Willow awoke from a coma.


  1. ^ McLachlan, Sarah. "Prayer of St. Francis" on YouTube (official link). Retrieved 20 March 2017.

External linksEdit