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A Slayer is an individual who... well, slays things. Kills 'em. Dead. In fantasy settings one who slays plies their craft against a wide variety of critters such as dragons, giants, trolls, etc. They are usually knights or some other type of righteous and heroic archetype and the ability to slay an enemy earns them great reward or reknown amongst his or her people.
The term Slayer has been most popularly applied however to the WB Network/UPN television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which aired for seven seasons from 1997-2003. In the mythology of the series, the Slayer is a Chosen One and is always a female of teenage years. Slayers hone their skills under the tutelage of a mentor known as a Watcher and there is a Council of Watchers whose sole duty is to identify potential Slayers and prepare them to do battle against the forces of evil.
There have been several Slayers featured on the show, but the primary character is the program's titular hero, Buffy Summers. When one becomes a Slayer, they inherit certain physical attributes, such as enhanced strength, reflexes and durability, making them a veritable superhero. In the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Slayer also possessed a preternatural sense of when vampires were nearby, which manifested in the form of menstrual cramps, but this was largely dropped from the regular series.
Each episode opened with a narration taken from the Prophecy of the Slayer. It is spoken by the character of Rupert Giles, who is Buffy's mentor on the series. Although it has been altered or abridged at times, it typically goes:
Into every generation, there is a chosen one. One girl in all the world. She alone will wield the strength and skill to stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness; To stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer.
In the mythology of the show, once a Slayer dies, the calling is passed on to another individual. Buffy has died twice during the series (and was resurrected), but her deaths prompted other Slayers to take up the mantle. In the season one finale, "Prophecy Girl", Buffy was killed by a vampire known as The Master. Though she came back to life in season two, a new Slayer had awakened - Kendra Young. Kendra was killed by a vampire named Drusilla in the season two episode, "Becoming (Part 2)". Her death awakened a new Slayer, Faith Lehane.
Faith was a more aggressive and violent Slayer than Buffy and she was a recurring character throughout the show, sometimes portrayed as an antagonist, and at other times, a heroine. Faith has also made appearances on the Buffy spin-off series, Angel, though that series had minimal involvement in the Slayer mythology.
The mystical forces responsible for selecting a Slayer are always at work, even if a Slayer is already active. There are dozens of potential Slayers across the world - those who are destined to take the title should the Chosen Slayer be killed in battle. Potential Slayers do not have the benefits of being an actual Slayer, but they are slightly more physically durable than a normal teenage girl and may even experience dreams of Slayers from the past. By season seven of the show, a ritual was performed to awaken the abilities of all of the potential Slayers so that they would be able defend themselves and help out in the battle against the First Evil and it's minions.
One one occasion, a non-sentient entity served as an interim Slayer for a time. After Buffy died a second time, closing a rift to save her sister Dawn, the Scoobies pressed a Buffy robot, or Buffybot, into service. The Buffybot, though not nearly as functional as the real Buffy, protected Sunnydale for a brief period of time before being destroyed by a demon biker gang.
On one occasion, a Slayer potential named Dana was crazed and insane. She broke out of a mental health facility in or near Los Angeles, and embarked on a revenge crusade against Spike, who knew nothing about this woman.
Known Slayers Edit
- Buffy Summers
- Dana - Insane potential Slayer. Fought Spike.
- Kendra Young - Buffy's successor
- Faith Lehane - Kendra's successor
- Sineya - The First Slayer
- Nikki Wood - Killed by Spike in the 1970s.
- India Cohen - Buffy's predecessor
- Xin Rong - Killed by Spike during the Boxer Rebellion.
- Amanda - Potential Slayer
- Kennedy - Potential Slayer
- Shannon - Potential Slayer
- Vi - Potential Slayer
- In "Welcome to the Hellmouth", the vampire known as Luke makes reference to having once battled a male slayer during the 1800s. This is likely an error on Luke's part, since the Slayers have always been female.