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A Slayer, in the fictional Buffyverse established by Buffy and Angel, is a young female bestowed with mystical powers that originate from the essence of a pure-demon, which gives her superhuman senses, strength, speed, endurance, agility, and healing in the fight against forces of darkness. She also receives prophetic dreams in the few hours that she sleeps.

The Prophecy of the slayer states, "Into each generation a girl is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer."

While they are commonly referred to as "Vampire Slayers", even by Watchers and vampires themselves, the Slayer may operate as a defender against any and all supernatural threats.

The Chosen One Edit

"In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer."

- The opening narration in seasons 1 and 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The First SlayerEdit

In ancient Africa, a group of tribal elders known as the Shadow Men use powerful magic to infuse a captive girl with the heart, soul and spirit of a demon.[1] This process grants the girl great strength, agility, and endurance: she becomes the First Slayer, called to fight the vampires and other demons that populate the earth. The Shadow Men's descendants go on to form the Watchers' Council, an organization dedicated to finding, training, and supporting Slayers.[2]

The Slayer lineEdit

Due to the violent nature of the life of a Slayer, their average lifespan is quite short after being called. Consequently, the Shadow Men's spell also created a large number of Potential Slayers - normal girls around the world who may one day be called. When a Slayer dies, one of the Potentials - seemingly chosen at random - gains the powers and abilities of a Slayer. The Watcher's Council tries to identify and train these "Potentials" before they are called, locating some as babies, but are not always able to do so, with some girls only being found after they have been activated as the Slayer.

This process continues through the generations until 1997, when one Slayer - Buffy Summers - is killed in battle, only to be revived via CPR.[3] Buffy retains her Slayer powers, but her clinical death is enough for the next Slayer to be called. For the next several years, there are two Slayers in the world: first Kendra, who was called on Buffy's death, and then Faith, who was called when Kendra died, approximately one year later.

Whether or not Buffy's second death[4] called another Slayer is not known, but what is clear is that her second resurrection for some reason caused an imbalance in the Slayer line. Following her first death, Mayor Wilkins says that he doesn't want Buffy killed,[5] because that will cause a new Slayer to be called. Following her second death, Buffy herself, addressing a group of Potential Slayers, says: "My death could make you the next Slayer."[6] However, the shooting script for the final episode on the show originally included a much longer speech by Buffy to the potential Slayers, including the line "It's true none of you has the power Faith and I have. I think both of us would have to die for a new Slayer to be called, and we can't even be sure that girl is in this room. That's the rule. So here's the part where you make a choice."[1]

The mystical "rules" governing the Calling of Slayers change again in 2003, when Buffy discovers a Scythe forged for the Slayer to wield.[2] Willow Rosenberg uses magic to tap into the Scythe's essence at Buffy's request, and performs a spell that calls every living Potential Slayer at once, thus ending the legacy of "one girl in all the world".[7]

After taking the time to find and count them, Buffy states that there are at least 1800 Slayers in the world.[8] Exactly how the Slayer line continues after this is currently unclear, though from Buffy's speech ("From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer will be a Slayer"), it's possible to presume that every future girl who would normally be born a Potential Slayer will instead be born an actual Slayer.

At some point in the 21st century, a Slayer faces an army of demons. As a result of this battle, all demons and magicks are banished from Earth's dimension. At this point, the Slayer line becomes dormant - while Potential Slayers still exist, none are called for two hundred years.[9]

In the far future, demons eventually find a way to return to Earth's dimension, and the next Slayer is finally called - a girl named Melaka Fray. The continuity of the Slayer line is still unclear since Melaka had a twin brother who was given the dreams and visions typically possessed by the Slayer, while Melaka received the physical attributes (strength, reflexes, stamina, accelerated healing). On top of that, Melaka's brother has died and become a vampire.[10]

Powers and abilities Edit

The powers that are bestowed upon the Slayer are mostly physical enhancements.

Strength Edit

Slayers are endowed with strength greater than that of humans (barring mystically or genetically enhanced), some demons and the majority of vampires. Buffy Summers, for instance, has been shown to lift, with great effort, a metal portcullis which an entire group of men were unable to budge.[11] She is also capable of bending a steel rifle barrel with little apparent effort.[12] Buffy has been recorded throwing human-sized subjects sizable distances[13] and casually kicking down metal doors.

Faith Lehane is able to pick up the vampire Angel with one hand and easily throw him short distances, lift him over her head, and slam him into the ceiling.[14] Once, while fighting Buffy, she punched her fist into a wall.[15] She is also seen picking up a bar bell with one hand and hitting a woman in the face with it (the woman was trying to kill Faith at the time).

One example of a Slayer being stronger than most vampires is in "The Gift", when Buffy easily lifts Olaf's hammer with one hand when Spike was barely able to do so with both hands in "Blood Ties".

Melaka Fray is able to pick up an overweight vampire several times her own size and body mass, lift him up over her head with both hands and throw him over a distance of presumably over 20-25 feet, with no downward arc to his trajectory (which was only interrupted due to his hitting a metal grate, which was extensively deformed on impact).[16]

The psychotic Slayer Dana is able to, through several violent shoves, knock down a metal door as well as deform the edges of a metal gate as she tore it from its hinges.[17]

Buffy and Angel often shows inconsistencies in their characters' physical strength. This has been acknowledged frequently in commentaries and interviews by writers and creators of the shows.

Agility and reflexesEdit

Slayers are able to move faster and react more quickly than normal human beings. Buffy has been shown snatching a crossbow bolt in mid-flight[18], dodging gunfire from multiple ranges and setting off a bear trap, but not getting caught in it.[19] At one point Buffy was fast enough to outrun a raiding motorcyclist on his bike shortly after her resurrection.[20] Faith has been shown to dodge shotgun blasts at point-blank range and Dana was able to dodge a tranquilizer dart also fired at point-blank range. A Slayer is capable of superhuman feats of agility. She can leap to great heights, the maximum being unknown. [21]

Resilience and healingEdit

A Slayer's body is substantially more durable and resistant to blunt force trauma than an ordinary human's. It is difficult, though not impossible, to bruise them, break their bones or strain their joints. Buffy has suffered from a sprained arm as a consequence of fighting vampires.[22] Melaka Fray is hit with a steel girder thrown at her from a demon and recovers within minutes[9]; she is also shown to fall from a height of over five stories to land face-first on a cement sidewalk and be only dazed before fully recovering in moments[23], and at a later time, to fall four stories down, crash through the cement roof of an adjacent building and fall down the height of one more story, and recover instantly[24]. Buffy can leap from a window with a man in her arms, landing on the ground and letting her body take the brunt of the fall.[25] Buffy has been hit by a moving truck, got up and run off.[11] Faith has fallen from a height of three stories on top of a closed dumpster, rolled off it to hit the ground and got up immediately with no signs of damage;[14] she also was able to hold her own in a fight with Buffy less than 24 hours after waking from a nine-month coma[15] - a coma which she entered after surviving a deep stab wound to the abdomen immediately followed by a fall from the top of a multi-story building into a moving truck.[26] Also, in an attempt from the Watcher's Council to capture Faith without killing her in "Sanctuary", they prepare a tranquilizer that is capable of knocking out a man twice her size, which is more than enough to subdue an ordinary young woman her size.

Despite these feats, the Slayer is far from invulnerable. For instance, Buffy has been knocked out by blunt force trauma, such as being hit over the head with a lead pipe by a possessed Cordelia Chase in "Bad Eggs" and with a detached mannequin arm by Ethan Rayne in "The Dark Age". In addition, the Slayer can be injured by conventional bullets, bladed weapons, and more advanced weaponry (such as the energy weapons commonly used by the Initiative) just as easily as an ordinary human can, but they can recover from even very severe injuries in remarkably short periods of time. Usually, Buffy is completely healed within 24 hours of being injured, though more serious injuries have been shown to take at least a few days.[27] Buffy has survived contact with a live electrical wire; the normally lethal jolt simply renders her unconscious.[28]

SensesEdit

Slayers possess a heightened awareness of their surroundings. This heightened awareness can, with experience, allow the Slayer to know the position of an attacker and fight them blindfolded or in the dark. This is not a constant ability, however. This skill must be honed through practice and the Slayer usually must focus to achieve the full benefit.

A Slayer also has the limited ability to detect the presence of vampires (and presumably other demons). This power must be honed as with the heightened awareness, and the Slayer must focus to achieve the full effect. This does not prevent Buffy (and other Slayers) from being ambushed by vampires. Buffy is unusually deficient in this sense: Although she initially distrusts Angel when first meeting him and seems to sense that he is following her for a period of time, she doesn't realize until he shows her his vampiric face for the first time that he is a vampire. Kendra also displays this ability in inconsistent terms; she knows Angel is a vampire after seeing his vampiric face at the skating rink but she does not know that Buffy isn't, she merely assumes she is because Buffy and Angel were kissing.

In the 1992 film, the ability to detect vampires manifested itself in the form of feminine cramps. (Merrick describes this as a "natural reaction to their unnatural presence.") This ability was inconsistent, as Buffy was unaware that a vampire was hiding in a photo booth right next to her. The movie, however, is not considered canon, and this aspect of her powers was not carried over to the series.

Dreams Edit

All Slayers through the ages share a psychic link, manifested in dreams.[17] A Slayer will frequently dream of herself as a Slayer in another time and place. These dreams are usually vague, but can also be prophetic.[29] Dreams exist in their own mystic plane or "dreamscape" where for a Slayer, precognitive sense and the inherited memories of other Slayers can manifest themselves.[30] Also, Slayers have been shown to appear in each other's dreams, and Buffy and Faith shared several dreams while Faith was in a coma. Faith provided the first cryptic reference to Dawn Summers's arrival.[31]

Melaka Fray, the Slayer of the far future, lacks these abilities. Due to the unusual nature of their birth, her twin brother received these visions instead.

Other abilitiesEdit

A Slayer naturally has formidable fighting skills. Buffy is shown to easily fend off multiple vampires at the same time while under a memory loss spell, with no memory of her combat training - relying entirely on her natural Slayer instincts. (Although this could be attributed to muscle memory. The body will often remember things that the mind does not.)[32] Dana is seen holding her own against Spike without having any previous combat training. It is also shown that Potential Slayers have innate skills in combat, even before being called, as Amanda was able to defeat a vampire without any previous combat training in "Potential". The Slayer's Watcher trains her to hone these talents, and to teach her specific fighting skills, such as various martial arts. The training helps her to battle the occasional demon whose physical strength outclasses her own. For most situations, however, her strength suffices. To test a Slayer's natural ingenuity and capability, the Watcher's Council administers a test known as "the Cruciamentum" if/when they turn eighteen, which strips the Slayer of her powers and forces her to fight a powerful vampire without them ("Helpless"). It should be noted that the compound used to weaken the Slayer makes her typically weaker than most normal humans. This renders a Slayer who would still normally be physically fit without her powers remarkably feeble even for a human. This forces the Slayer to rely solely on her intellect and wit.

Overall, the Slayer's abilities seem to be enhancements of normal human attributes, rather than extra abilities garnered from a magical source; Buffy trains constantly and works out to enhance and maintain her abilities, suggesting that they would atrophy otherwise.[21] A "normal" workout routine that would enhance a regular human's strength and speed increases her abilities much faster and at greater magnitude.[33] Also, the concoction created in the Season Three episode "Helpless" (which Giles says includes muscle relaxants and adrenal inhibitors) would have the same effects on a normal human as they did on Buffy; the effects are simply more pronounced. Also, regular illnesses such as the flu were shown to have effects on the Slayer not greatly different from its effects on humans; once again the handicap is more noticeable given the Slayer's usually enhanced abilities.[34]

Weapons and equipment Edit

Slayers typically use weapons to fight vampires and other demons. Simple wooden stakes, crucifixes, and holy water are commonly used due to their effectiveness against vampires. Swords, axes, and knives are the most common implements used for dispatching demons, though other melee weapons (generally of medieval European design) are also used. Ranged weaponry is usually confined to crossbows. On occasion, more sophisticated weaponry is used; Buffy Summers has used a military-issue rocket launcher to defeat a particularly tough demon.[35] The Slayer Melaka Fray uses weaponry native to her time period, such as rayguns, as well as traditional Slayer weapons.

ScytheEdit

The Scythe is a weapon resembling a metal lochaber axe with a wooden stake and a flanged mace head built into the handle. Due to its design, the Scythe can be used as an axe, sword or spear, depending on the fighting style of its wielder. The Scythe exhibits some mystical properties. A Slayer who picks it up recognizes it as a source of power, and has an instinctive sense of ownership of the weapon.[2] When Buffy discovers the weapon, she tracks its lineage to a mysterious woman who explains its origin. Centuries ago, a group of women known as The Guardians forged the Scythe for the Slayer. The Guardians kept the weapon a secret from the Shadow Men, and later the Watchers. The Scythe was used to kill the last pure demon on Earth in what would later become Sunnydale, CA. It was lost after that, until discovered by Buffy embedded in stone.[2] Willow Rosenberg is soon after able to harness the Scythe's mystical essence and activate every Potential Slayer in the world.[7]

The Scythe is seen two hundred years later in the hands of the demon Urkonn, who passes the weapon on to Melaka Fray.[36] Melaka Fray did not seem to sense anything in particular upon wielding the Scythe for the first time; likely due to the fact she is cut off from the slayer's non-physical abilities. It is during Fray's time as Slayer that the Scythe was destroyed; smashed in two by a backhanded punch from Buffy Summers, who'd been visiting the future at the time.

"Slayer Emergency Kit"Edit

The "emergency kit" is a bag found in the possession of Robin Wood.[1] It had been left to him by his mother Slayer Nikki Wood. Upon giving the kit to Buffy, Wood claims that the kit should have been passed on directly to Buffy through the Slayer line, but that he had kept it instead. The bag contains assorted weapons and charms, along with a text written in Sumerian and a locked box containing a set of shadow-casters. Using the shadow-casters in conjunction with the book tells the story of the creation of the first Slayer, and opens a portal which allows the Slayer to speak to the Shadow Men directly, at a cost of unleashing a powerful demon on Earth. In order to bring the Slayer back, one must kill the demon and return it to the site of the portal.

See alsoEdit


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