Buffy and her mother move to the idyllic town of Sunnydale, after Buffy was expelled from her previous school for burning down the gym. The new librarian recognises that Buffy is the Slayer -- the one who can kill the vampires. Which is just as well -- Sunnydale is built over the Hellmouth, and the Master is about to engage in the Harvest. Willow and Xander get caught up in the harvest, so come to know Buffy's secret role too.
Jesse: Eric Balfour --- Luke: Brian Thompson --- Darla: Julie Benz
Buffy tries out for the school cheerleading team. Amy seems to want to be on the team very badly, because her mother was a famous cheerleader, wants it so badly that things start happening to the others. But really it's Amy's mother: she is a witch, has swapped bodies with Amy, and is casting spells on the other girls. And the one she casts on Buffy will kill her unless Giles can conjure a counter spell. Giles: "Why would anyone want to hurt Cordelia?" Willow: "Because they'd met her?"
Amy: Elizabeth Ann Allen --- Catherine: Robin Riker
When the biology teacher disappears, Natalie French arrives as the substitute. She has all the boys eating out of her hand, and seems to be able to rotate her head through 180 degrees. Cordelia then finds the original teacher in the fridge, with his head bitten off. Buffy realises Miss French is a Preying Mantis who feeds off virgins, and has to rescue Xander from her clutches.
Natalie French: Musetta Vander
Giles discovers that The Anointed One is destined to lead the Slayer unknowing into Hell, and the prophecy is due now . But Buffy has a date with Owen, and just wants to be a normal girl for a change. So Giles goes by himself to the funeral home, and gets trapped by vampires. Buffy goes to his rescue, and kills the supposed foretold vampire. "Buffy, when I said you could slay vampires and have a social life, I didn't mean at the same time!" But Owen nearly gets killed, and she realises she can't have a normal life -- it's too dangerous for her friends. In a teaser cliffhanger, we discover the prophesied Anointed One wasn't the vampire Buffy killed after all, but a cute little boy.
During a visit to the zoo, Xander and a gang of four unpleasant kids all undergo a strange transformation when they get too close to some quarantined hyenas newly arrived from Africa. Xander behaves out of character: saying spiteful things to Willow, trying to attack Buffy, eating the school's pig mascot. When the other four eat the principal, Giles finally believes Buffy that this isn't just normal 16-year old behaviour....
Zookeeper: James Stephens [the student in "The Paper Chase"]
The Master is annoyed with the way Buffy is getting through his vampires, and sends The Three to kill her. But she is rescued by Angel. They get closer, but when they kiss Angel reveals himself to be a vampire, too. Buffy is distraught: she doesn't want to have to kill him. Then another vampire attacks Buffy's mother, Buffy thinks it was Angel (in fact, he saved her), and sets out to kill him. He was cursed with a soul and a conscience by Romanies 100 years ago, and has been unable to kill ever since. The right vampire ends up dead.
Willow scans a mediaeval book containing an imprisoned demon into the school computer. The released demon starts haunting the Internet, courting Willow, and trying to kill Buffy.
The new Sunnydale High principal [Armin Shimmerman; Quark from ST :DS9] assigns Giles to direct a talent show, and Buffy, Willow and Xander to appear in it. Buffy investigates a ventriloquist's dummy, who she suspects of being a demon harvesting organs from the students to gain life. The dummy drops an iron chandelier on Buffy, and, when that doesn't kill her, tries to stab her. But it turns out that the dummy is actually a cursed demon hunter, who is trying to kill Buffy because he suspects her of being the demon. All is sorted out, and they save Giles from having his brain harvested by the magician's guillotine, in the nick of time
Buffy and her friends find their nightmares becoming reality: spiders attack one boy, Buffy has to do a history test unprepared, Xander ends up unclothed in class, Giles forgets how to read, Willow has to sing on stage unprepared, Buffy's father tells her she was the reason for her parents' divorce, Cordelia has a bad hair day, Xander meets the laughing clown from his sixth birthday party, Buffy is attacked by the freed Master, Giles finds Buffy dead, Buffy becomes a vampire. A young boy is seen around the school when this happens: he's actually in a coma in hospital after being attacked after a baseball game. Buffy has to convince him to face his fears before everyone is destroyed by their dreams.
Cordelia is buying votes for May Queen with chocolates. Then her date is beaten up, her friend falls down stairs, and a teacher helping her is attacked. Cordelia realises, correctly, that she is the target, and actually asks Buffy for help. Buffy has already been investigating the weirdness, and discovers an ignored student has gone missing, turned invisible by neglect, and is taking her revenge on Cordelia. She locks Giles, Willow and Xander in the basement, being filled with gas, but Angel rescues them (and gives Giles the Codex, a book of Vampire Slayer prophesies). Then she captures and drugs Buffy and Cordelia; Buffy has to rescue Cordelia before she gets given a face no-one will ever forget. But first, she has to free herself.
Buffy has been busy Slaying -- there seems to be a lot of Vampires out there. Giles thinks he knows why -- the Codex has a prophecy that the Master will rise and kill the Slayer, and then the Hellmouth will open. Giles doesn't want to tell Buffy, but she overhears him discussing it with Angel. She doesn't want to die -- she's only 16 -- and decides to give up being the Slayer. But it's not that easy -- Willow witnesses the aftermath of a vampire attack in the school and is badly upset by it. Buffy realises she can't just give up, and so goes to meet the Master, knowing full well that she is going to die. The Master laughs at her -- if she hadn't come, he wouldn't have been able to escape, because he does so by stealing her power. Buffy ends up face down in a pool of water -- dead. All Hell breaks loose -- Giles, Willow and Cordelia are attacked in the library. Xander and Angel find Buffy, and Xander gives her CPR -- and then she's not dead any more. In the showdown, she kills the Master (he ends up as a skeleton, rather than the usual vampire dust), but she's obviously been badly shaken by the whole affair.