Welcome to the Hellmouth

Welcome to the Hellmouth

Infobox Television episode

Title=Welcome to the Hellmouth
Series=Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Airdate=March 10, 1997cite web
url = http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0452716/
title = "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": Welcome to the Hellmouth (1997)"
work = Internet Movie Database
accessdate = 2007-12-04
] cite web
url = http://www.tv.com/buffy-the-vampire-slayer/welcome-to-the-hellmouth-1/episode/1/summary.html?tag=ep_list;ep_title;1
title = "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": Welcome to the Hellmouth (1)"
work = TV.com
accessdate = 2007-12-04
Writer=Joss Whedon
Director=Charles Martin Smith
Episode list=List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes
Prev=Unaired Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot (non-canon)
Next=The Harvest

"Welcome to the Hellmouth", the first in a two-part series opener, is episode 1 of season 1 of the television series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". See also List of "Buffy" (series) episodes. This episode, as well as the next, are the basis for the Buffy book entitled: "The Harvest".


The series premiere begins at Sunnydale High School, where a boy breaks into the school during the night with a seemingly reluctant girl, promising her mischief and therefore fun. Nervous and on edge, the girl thinks she heard something and fears something is there. The boy calls out but gets no response, during which the girl's face morphs into that of a vampire, and bites the boy, revealing to the viewer that she was the only danger all along. The girl, we will later find out, is Darla.

Buffy has a nightmare the morning of her first day at school. Her mother drives her to the school and encourages her to think positive. Inside the building, Principal Flutie tells her she will start with a clean slate. He reconsiders that after realizing that Buffy burned down her previous school's gym because "it was full of vampi—…asbestos."

Buffy exits the office and bumps into another student, spilling the contents of her handbag over the floor. Xander sees that and helps Buffy, introducing himself. She leaves without her stake, which Xander pockets because he called out to her, but she had already walked away. In history class, Buffy is helped by Cordelia, who afterwards tests her "coolness factor," skipping the written as Buffy had just moved to Sunnydale, California from Los Angeles. To Buffy's horror, Cordelia humiliates an awkward Willow at the water fountain. Inside the library, Mr. Giles places a book titled "Vampyr" in front of Buffy after realizing who she is. A stunned Buffy makes a hasty exit.

Buffy, Willow, Jesse McNally and Xander meet during a break, and Xander returns the stake. Buffy claims it is standard self-defense in Los Angeles. Cordelia appears and tells Buffy that gym is cancelled "due to the extreme dead guy" in Aura's locker. Buffy asks whether there were marks on the body, freaking out Cordelia. Buffy forces her way into the locker room, examines the body, and finds the characteristic puncture wounds of a vampire on the neck.

Buffy returns to the library and confronts Giles, who informs her that he is her Watcher. Buffy refuses to accept her calling as a Slayer, since it had gotten her kicked out of her previous school and robbed her of a social life. After they leave the library, Xander emerges from behind the shelves, having overheard the strange conversation.

That night, en route to her first visit to The Bronze, the cool hangout in Sunnydale, Buffy meets a mysterious, handsome stranger, who warns her that she is living on a Hellmouth that is about to open, and that "the Harvest" is coming. He also gives her a large silver cross. It isn't revealed until the next episode that the stranger's name is Angel.

In The Bronze, Buffy meets Willow and encourages her to seize the moment: "Because tomorrow you might be dead." She finds Giles and tells him about Angel. Giles tells her to learn to hone her skills to sense vampires anywhere. Buffy uses her fashion sense to pick out a vampire in the club and is alarmed to see Willow leave with him. She loses them and is surprised by Cordelia, nearly staking her. Cordelia immediately calls her friends to tell them about it. While Buffy looks for Willow, Jesse chats up Darla at The Bronze. Buffy is stopped by Xander, whom she convinces to help search for Willow.

Meanwhile, under the streets of Sunnydale, The Master is woken by lesser vampires from a long sleep to prepare for the Harvest. He sends Luke to fetch young blood.

Willow's new acquaintance takes her to a crypt in a cemetery, where they are joined by Darla and Jesse, whom she has bitten. Buffy and Xander arrive. Buffy kills Willow's vampire. Xander and Willow help Jesse, who has been weakened, flee. Luke takes Darla's place in the fight so she can help catch the kids. Luke throws Buffy in a stone coffin and is about to move in for the kill.


Creator Joss Whedon hoped to include actor Eric Balfour in the title credits to shock viewers when his character dies. Unfortunately, the show could not afford the extra set of title credits at the time. However, Whedon’s wish was granted in season six (“Seeing Red”) with Amber Benson’s character, Tara Maclay.Joss Whedon's audio commentary for the episode "Welcome to the Hellmouth", "The Complete First Season" Region 1 DVD.] Certain scenes, such as the argument between Giles and Buffy in the library, and Buffy's first meeting with Angel, were re-shot eight months after the first episode was recorded. Whedon decided to make Buffy less angry and more vulnerable, much to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s dismay. Whedon jokingly teased her they were going to reshoot the scenes a third time. The high school used for external and some internal scenes in the series is Torrance High, the same school used for the acclaimed series Beverly Hills 90210. [Golden, Christopher, and Nancy Holder. The Watcher's Guide, Vol. 1. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.] Brian Thompson, who plays the vampire Luke, returns to the series in season two as a different character, the Judge, in "Surprise" and "Innocence".

When Buffy is in her room deciding what to wear to the Bronze, the Sprung Monkey’s “Saturated” is played in the background. Incidentally, Sprung Monkey appear on stage at the Bronze. They first perform “Believe,” followed by “Swirl” and “Things Are Changing.” The original score is written by Walter Murphy.

On the original airing of this episode, The WB provided a teaser advertisement briefing the history of past Slayers. It revealed horrific events in towns that were halted when a particular woman arrived. This promotional teaser, however, does not appear in syndication or on DVD. [Strafford, Nikki. Bite Me! Toronto: ECW P, 2002.] “Welcome to the Hellmouth” received a Nielsen rating of 3.4 upon its original airing. ["Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's First Season." ]


* Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
* Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
* Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
* Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
* and Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles

Guest starring

* Mark Metcalf as The Master
* Brian Thompson as Luke
* David Boreanaz as Angel
* Ken Lerner as Principal Flutie
* Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
* Julie Benz as Darla
* J. Patrick Lawlor as Thomas
* and Eric Balfour as Jesse McNally


* Natalie Strauss as The Teacher
* Carmine Giovinazzo as Boy
* Amy Chance as Aphrodesia
* Persia White as Aura


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