The Scooby gang are disguising Buffy's death by using the Buffy-bot as stand-in guardian for Dawn. Willow has a plan to bring Buffy back from the dead. Giles leaves for England. Anya and Xander are engaged, but the time is never right to tell the others. A demon biker gang learn the Slayer is gone, and come to trash Sunnydale. The bikers break up the end of Willow's spell, and the gang leave, thinking it has failed. But Buffy wakes up ... buried in her coffin.
The demon bikers continue to trash Sunnydale, and Spike is left to protect Dawn. Buffy escapes from her grave, but is disoriented and traumatised. The Scooby gang discover Buffy, but she doesn't know them. Then they are attacked by demons, and Buffy fights back. Still disoriented, she runs off to the tower where she died. Dawn finds her there. The tower starts to collapse, and Buffy saves Dawn.
An insubstantial demon was created during the resurrection spell, and it learns the only way it can survive is to kill Buffy. Willow manages to make the demon solid enough for Buffy to kill it. Buffy is still very subdued, but thanks the gang for bringing her back from hell. But then she confides in Spike that actually they wrenched her out of heaven, and she now feels she is lost in hell.
Three teenagers, Andrew, Jonathan and Warren, team up to take over Sunnydale. They use a demon to help them rob a bank. Buffy's basement floods, and she learns her finances are precarious, so is asking for loan just as the bank is robbed. Giles returns, and berates Willow for using dark magic. Buffy eventually kills the demon, but is unaware of the trio's plans to destroy her. Angel has discovered Buffy is alive, and she goes to meet him.
Buffy tries to find direction in her life, going back to school, taking a construction job, working in the magic shop. But the trio are testing her abilities, making time slow down, sending dissolving demons to attack, and putting her in a time loop. She goes with Spike to try to find out who is attacking her, but gets drunk instead. The trio convince her it was a demon testing her. Giles gives Buffy money to help out. She says she feels safe knowing he will always be there.
It's Hallowe'en. Xander and Anya announce their engagement. Dawn steals a medallion from the magic shop, then pretends she is sleeping over at a friend's house, but in fact they go out on a double date, not realising the two boys are vampires. Tara and Willow argue about Willow's casual use of magic. Dawn has her first kiss -- but then has to stake the guy. Willow makes Tara forget their argument.
Everyone in Sunnydale starts singing and dancing. But it's not all fun, as they start singing their deepest secrets. Giles sings to Buffy that he's holding her back. Tara sings a love song to Willow, but then discovers that Willow has been messing with her memory. Spike makes his feelings clear to Buffy. Anya and Xander have a duet about what they dislike about each other. And in a devastating finale, Buffy sings of how her friends ripped her out of Heaven. [brilliantly moving, and brilliantly funny in places]
Willow suggests spelling Buffy to forget her torment. Tara angrily confronts her with her misuse of magic, asking how she could have messed with her memory, given what Glory did to her. Will is contrite, and promises to go without using magic for a week, to prove she can. But she casts the spell anyway, and it goes wrong. The whole gang lose their memories, just as Spike is being shaken down by a Loan Shark and his gang of vampires for the kittens he owes. They muddle through, but when the spell is broken, Tara realises what Willow did, and leaves her. Giles also leaves, for England.
Willow turns the rat back into Amy, and they go out on a magic spree. The trio steal a diamond and freeze a museum guard. Spike hits Buffy and his chip does nothing to him. He thinks it's broken, and tries to feed on a human, but can't. He realises the chip is fine -- it's Buffy who's changed. They fight, but end up in a passionate embrace.
Buffy and Spike have to deal with the after-effects of their night of passion. "When did the building fall down?" Buffy is disgusted with herself. Willow is feeling drained after her night of magic, and so Amy introduces her to a warlock. But his magic proves addictive, and causes Willow to put Dawn in danger. In a very heavy-handed drug addiction metaphor, she realises she has a problem, and agrees to stop all magic, and has withdrawal symptoms. Buffy decides to stop her relationship with Spike.
A social worker threatens to take Dawn away. Spike admires Buffy's long hair, so she cuts it. The Trio's latest invention is an invisibility ray, which they accidentally turn on Buffy. She finds invisibility liberating, playing pranks, getting revenge on the social worker, seeing Spike. But the gang discover the ray will cause her to fade away. The Trio kidnap Willow to get Buffy to go to them. Willow saves Buffy's life, and they discover who the trio are. Buffy discovers she doesn't want to die.
Buffy gets a job in a fast food restaurant, where the burgers have a secret ingredient. Amy gives Willow a magical gift. The employees keep disappearing, and Buffy suspects they are ending up in the food. But it's a snake headed little old lady who's eating everyone, and she paralyses Buffy, and starts gnawing. But Willow arrives and decapitates the snake head. The burgers are actually mostly vegetable, and their secret ingredient is -- meat. Willow tells Amy to go away.
The trio invent a device to turn girls into sex slaves. The first one they try it on is an old girlfriend of Warren's, but when the effect wears off, she is understandably incensed, and threatens to turn them in for rape. In the ensuing struggle, Warren accidentally kills her. They panic at first, then decide to frame Buffy for her murder. Some time distoring demons manage to convince Buffy she did kill her. Buffy goes to give herself up to the police, upsetting both Dawn and Spike, but then learns the Warren connection, and realises what must have happened. Tara works out why Spike can hit Buffy -- due to some minor surface changes -- and tells Buffy that she didn't come back "wrong" -- Buffy is devastated, because she no longer has an excuse for her relationship with Spike.
It's Buffy's birthday party, so of course something goes very wrong. Buffy fights and kills a demon, and takes its sword -- but the demon is not really dead, but trapped back in the sword. Dawn is feeling neglected, and confides in a new school counsellor -- who is actually a vengeance demon friend of Anya's. The demon curses the birthday party goers, and they all get trapped at Buffy's, so that no-one will leave Dawn again. Tara casts a "release" spell, but it frees the demon from the sword, rather than the people from the house. Anya gets annoyed that Willow won't use magic to help them, but Tara backs Willow's decision. Anya, convinced Dawn knows what's going on, goes searching through her room, and discovers her shop-lifting habit. Buffy finds out about the counsellor, and Anya realises it's her demon-friend, and calls her. She comes, gleefully explains what's going on, then tries to leave. But the curse has caught her too, so she has to lift it to free herself.
Riley returns unexpectedly, and asks Buffy for help in tracking a dangerous breeding demon. She discovers his soldier partner is his new wife. They need to find where the demon has laid its eggs, before "the doctor" can sell them on to foreign powers. Xander is getting more stressed out by the wedding plans. Riley discovers Buffy with Spike -- because he has learned Spike is "the doctor". They manage to kill all the baby demons, just. Buffy admits she is just using Spike, and splits with him.
It's the day of Xander and Anya's wedding. The bridesmaids are not enamoured of their bright green dresses. The two families are not getting on. But Anya and Xander are happy. And Willow and Tara are getting on well. Then an old man appears, claiming to be future-Xander, and shows him a grim vision of the future. Xander runs off. The relatives all fight while waiting for the wedding to start. Anya confronts the old man, who morphs into a demon -- someone Anya punished years earlier, who is getting his revenge. Xander returns, and helps Buffy kill the demon. But he still refuses to marry Anya, saying he's scared of hurting her -- he is scared of turning into his drunken father. The demon boss encourages a distraught Anya to return to her previous occupation.
Buffy is tracking the Trio. When she gets too close, they summon a demon, who poisons her. She starts suffering a series of fully realistic hallucinations of being in a mental hospital, where she has been for the last six years, hallucinating all the vampires and being the Slayer. After all, what's more likely, that she's ill, or that she really is a super hero fighting ever stranger monsters? Xander and Spike capture the demon, and Willow makes an antidote from its poison. But Spike says something nasty to Buffy, which makes her not drink it, and drives her back into the dream. The doctors, and her parents, convince her the only way to get better is to kill her imaginary friends. So she ties them up in the basement, and sets the demon loose on them. But she comes to herself just in time. In a nicely ambiguous ending, we see a catatonic Buffy in the hospital, with a worried doctor saying she is now completely "lost".
Anya tries to take revenge on Xander, but her own ill wishes don't work. So she tries to get one of his friends to wish him ill, but they won't. Xander discovers a concealed camera in Buffy's garden, and they realise the trio are spying on her. Willow hacks into the network, and finds other cameras. Anya then tries to get Spike to ill-wish Xander, but instead they end up getting drunk together, each moaning about their lost love, and one thing leads to another, just as Willow discovers the Magic Shop camera. Xander goes after Spike with an axe. He expresses his disgust to Anya that she had sex with such a cold evil monster, and Spike says that it was good enough for Buffy. Xander walks off in horror, and Spike, furious with Xander, says "I wish ...", but Anya cuts him off. Willow and Tara get back together.
Willow and Tara are deliriously happy. The trio steal some magic orbs, which Warren uses to get super-strength. Spike goes to Buffy to apologise, and ends up trying to rape her. Buffy finds plans at the trios old hideout which tells her where their next raid will be. In a fight with Warren, it is clear he is stronger, by Jonathan tells her to break his orbs. He then loses his powers, and flees using a jet-pack. Andrew and Jonathan are arrested. Spike blames the chip in his head for giving him feelings for Buffy, and leaves town. Warren goes round to Buffy's for revenge. He shoots her, leaving her badly injured. But a stray bullet kills Tara.
Buffy is rushed to hospital, critically injured. Willow tries to bring Tara back, but is told she cannot reverse a natural death. So she goes to the magic shop, and absorbs the contents of all the dark magic books: eyes, hair and clothes turn black. She then goes to the hospital, cures Buffy, then drags Xander and Buffy off to hunt for Warren. They catch up with him on the road -- but it's a robot decoy. Buffy then learns that Tara is dead, and realises Willow means to kill Warren. Buffy explains to Dawn why it is wrong to kill Warren, and that she must save Willow before she destroys herself. Meanwhile, Spike is in Africa, undergoing ordeal in order to get the chip removed. Xander and Buffy go to Anya, who can sense Willow through her thirst for vengeance. Willow tracks Warren down to the woods, and catches him. She starts killing him slowly, making him feel the pain of Tara's death. Buffy and the others catch up with her just as she finally kills Warren. Willow says " One down ", and vanishes...
Willow goes after Jonathan and Andrew in jail. The rest of the gang desperately try to stop her. In one encounter, she is drained of her magic, so she goes back to the one who got her hooked, and recharges herself from him. There she meets Dawn, and, the dark magic now in charge, threatens to change her back to a ball of light. Anya manages to get a protection spell working, and Willow and Buffy fight while the others run. Willow breaks the spell, and beats Buffy. But she is flung to the ground by a bolt of energy -- from Giles...
Giles binds Willow, and explains to Buffy that an English coven sent him, with their magic. Willow manages to control Anya and get free. There's a big fight, and she sends a fireball after Jonathan and Andrew, which will also kill Xander and Dawn. Buffy rushes off to save them. Willow drains Giles of his borrowed magic, and overdoses, feeling the pain of all the world. She decides to destroy it. Buffy arrives at the cemetery in time to stop the fireball, but Xander is knocked cold, and Buffy and Dawn fall into a deep pit. Jonathan and Andrew flee. Giles tells Anya that no magic or superpower can stop Willow. Willow feels Buffy's desire for a fight, so obliges -- by animating zombies from the pit walls. Buffy asks Dawn for help in the fight. Xander goes to Willow, and tells her he loves her. This drains her magic, and she is restored to ordinary Willow -- Xander has saved the world! Meanwhile, Spike passes his final ordeal, so the demon grants his wish to be like he was before -- by restoring his soul!