The ABCs of Sunnydale

Joyce Summers (aka Buffy's Mom):

Debut -- Welcome to the Hellmouth (Season 1)

Last Seen -- The Prom (Season 3)

We first hear Buffy's mom when she calls up to Buffy that it's time to wake up for school. It's from hearing Joyce's voice that we learn that it's Buffy's first day at a new school. Joyce runs a local art gallery, and is a single mom. She doesn't know that Buffy's the Slayer, and she has her hands full trying to keep up the gallery while making sure that Buffy "stays out of trouble." Joyce doesn't appear in every episode, but we always learn a little more about Buffy, and about their relationship, when she appears. Joyce has a way of making remarks that seem perfectly normal, but that always have a double meaning, depending upon whatever situation Buffy is in. For example, when Buffy tells her mom she has to go out in The Harvest, Joyce says, "I know. If you don't go out, it's the end of the world. Everything is life and death to a sixteen-year-old girl!" I may as well tell you now that I like this character. Although I must admit, that thing she did in BBB....well, we'll get to that later...

Other 1st season appearances -- The Harvest, The Witch, Angel, The Puppet Show, Nightmares, Prophecy Girl

In The Witch, Joyce is pretty much tied up with her job and doesn't seem to have time to pay attention to Buffy. Buffy tests her on this when she tells her, "We had tryouts today." When Buffy asks her mom what she was trying out for, her mom says she's sorry, she has no idea. Then Joyce remarks that she's glad that Buffy's getting caught up in activities again; we learn that Buffy was a cheerleader back at her old school, "before the trouble started." Buffy tells her mom she's not in any trouble right now, and her mom says, "No, not yet." Later Joyce tries to convince Buffy to take up yearbook as an activity. The whole, "I'm not you" theme is interesting because it's directly connected to what Amy Madison and her mom, Catherine, are dealing with. Joyce has some good lines in this episode.

A Good Line:
"Great parenting skills...a little shaky on the dismount." -- Joyce to herself after blowing it with Buffy.

In Angel, Joyce meets Angel for the first time. Basically, Buffy hears her mom outside and yanks her inside so that The Three won't attack her. Joyce sees Angel and asks who he is. Buffy introduces Angel as a student at the community college, and she says he's helping her with her history. Joyce tells Buffy that it's late, and to say goodnight to her friend. Later that evening, Buffy screams when she discovers that Angel is a vampire. This causes Joyce to come in to see what's wrong, but Buffy doesn't tell her mom the real reason that she was screaming...

The next time we see Joyce, she's at home alone -- probably doing the bills, since those always seem to plague her -- when she hears a noise. She sees nothing, and then there's a knock on the door. It's Darla, who's posing as another of Buffy's history tutors. She follows Joyce inside after she's been invited in, and proceeds to vamp out and bite Joyce. Just then, Angel comes by, Darla shoves Joyce to Angel, and Darla leaves.

Buffy sees her mom with a vamped-out Angel and is freaked out. Later Joyce is in the hospital, and she says the last thing she remembers is inviting in Buffy's friend. She doesn't mention until later that the friend was a girl, so basically everyone's been thinking that Angel put the bite on Buffy's mom. Joyce still has no idea that vampires are real, since the doctors told her it looked like she fell onto a barbecue fork...It's in this episode that Joyce first meets "Mr. Giles, the librarian."

Joyce appears briefly in The Puppet Show. She comes into Buffy's room when she hears Buffy screaming(again!). This time Buffy was yelling because she saw Sid attack her in her bedroom. Buffy apologizes for waking her mom up, and her mom says, "It's okay, I was dreaming about bills." As she's leaving Buffy's room, she remarks to Buffy that she shouldn't leave her window open at night when she's sleeping...Later, Joyce is excited about seeing Buffy's debut in the talent show at school, and Buffy begs her mom not to come. Actually this scene could come before the one I just mentioned. I'll check the tape and fix the chronology at some point, okay?

In Nightmares, Joyce drives Buffy to school yet again, and we learn from her that Buffy's dad will be picking Buffy up from school. Joyce asks Buffy if she's afraid that her dad won't show, and she reminds Buffy that her dad loves her, but "no more than I do, by the way." I gotta say, Joyce is pretty cool, I mean, she doesn't disparage Buffy's dad in front of Buffy, and she tries to find out what's bugging Buffy and then reassure her. So she's got her faults...who doesn't?

In Prophecy Girl, Joyce is once again cool mom. She surprises Buffy with a dress that she saw Buffy " the store." When Buffy freaks that they can't afford it, her mom says that with the way Buffy's been eating, they can afford it. Which is cool, 'cause it's here that you realize that although Joyce is always freaking about the bills, she'll still be a neat mom and buy Buffy a dress. Buffy and Joyce bond in this episode a little; even though Buffy can't exactly tell her mom, "Hey, I'm gonna die tonight, try not to miss me," Buffy gets some insight as to her mom's life pre-Buffy. She learns about how her folks met at this dance, and her mom tells her that she should do what she wants to since she's young and has no responsibilities. Well okay she's totally wrong, but still...

Joyce's other big thing to do in this episode is alert Buffy that Willow's on the news, something happened. We can all thank Joyce for getting Buffy a dress that's "a big hit with everyone."


When She Was Bad; School Hard; Inca Mummy Girl; Ted; Bad Eggs; Surprise; Innocence; Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered; Passion; Killed By Death; Becoming part I, II

Joyce appears briefly in WSWB. It's the first and only time to date that we see her with her ex-husband Hank Summers. Hank tells her that Buffy was distant all summer, and Joyce basically says that's how Buffy is. That's all we see of her in this episode.

In School Hard, Joyce is sort of on Buffy's case about school, and Buffy dreads her mom's visit to the parent/teacher night -- which, by the way, marks Joyce's first visit inside the school... Joyce has a pivotal role in this episode, though. First she witnesses Buffy's taking control during a crisis, and Joyce defers to her daughter's instructions, and even tries to tell Principal Snyder he'd do well to listen to Buffy, too. Possibly the most important thing Joyce does, though, is save Buffy's life! She attacks Spike with an axe when he's about to kill her daughter. You can sort of see where Buffy gets her fire, you know? At the end of the 'sode, Joyce tells Buffy she's glad that Buffy cares enough to save other people's lives, and she promises not to get on her case for at least a week and a half!

Joyce has a seemingly small role in IMG, but in the few lines she has, she effectively remarks on her own daughter's struggle for a normal life. What's ironic is that she probably doesn't even realize it. She remarks to Buffy that Ampara's only been in the United States for a few days, but she's "already fitting in." Check out the look on Buffy's face when her mom says this. It probably didn't help that earlier, Joyce told Ampara that she wished she could talk Buffy into going to the dance, too. But Joyce can't remain clueless forever..and she doesn't.

Ted is the first time that we see another side of Joyce -- here, she's just started dating a man named Ted. The whole thing gives Buffy the creeps, though. Joyce is seemingly torn between wanting to agree with Ted about certain things while making sure that Buffy's okay with this new set-up. Joyce sees Buffy get a bit violent as Ted falls down the stairs from one of Buffy's punches. Joyce takes Buffy to the police station and is pretty upset. Can't say I blame her. Later, Ted's back and slapping Joyce around. Buffy takes care of the situation, and later she and her mom bond on the front porch after everything gets straightened out...More mother-daughter dynamics in this ep.

BE features Joyce as the disgruntled parent. Basically since she's clueless about Buffy's identity, she keeps giving her these lectures on responsibility. She grounds Buffy a lot in this episode. Also noteworthy is the fact that this is her second trip to Sunnydale High and if I'm not mistaken -- yep, I could very well be -- this is only her second interaction with Giles. I like how Joyce is about to kill Buffy with a pickaxe when everyone's digging up the Mother Bezoar and her eggs. This ep. is also fun for Joyce because she gets to make fun of Buffy's being an egg-parent.

Joyce isn't able to be with Buffy on her birthday in the episode Surprise. She also is part of Buffy's dream/prophecy..she drops a plate as she asks Buffy: "Do you really think you're ready?" -- that's in response to Buffy's asking about getting her license or learner's permit.

In Innocence, Joyce seems to notice that something's wrong with Buffy..of course, she probably has no idea that Buffy consummated her relationship with an over two centuries old vampire. Joyce sings to Buffy for her birthday and they watch an old flick together. No big developments here.

In BBB, Joyce and Buffy do their usual eating/watching tv thing together around Valentine's Day. But later, Joyce falls under the spell cast by Amy Madison, and she puts the moves on Xander. She's sly..sending Cordy away to get some bandages before she starts to hit on Xander. Cordy shoves Joyce out the door and locks her out of the house. All in all, a funny thing to witness.

In Passion, Joyce is accosted by Angelus when she gets home from the store. He tries to tell her that he and Buffy have had a fight and he basically ends up telling her that he slept with Buffy. Needless to say, shockola. She tells Angelus that she'll call the police if he doesn't leave. Later, Joyce talks to Buffy about the whole sleeping together issue, and asks Buffy if she was careful, and tells her that she'll never stop worrying about her, the whole mom-thing, etc. When the girls learn of Ms. Calendar's death, Joyce comforts and hugs Willow as her own daughter slumps down the wall in shock.

Joyce pops up again in KBD. She shows up at the hospital when the gang tells her that Buffy's ill, and she tells the gang that Buffy has hated hospitals ever since her cousin Celia died in one when Buffy was little. This episode marks the third interaction Joyce has with Giles...when Giles shows Joyce where the phone is so she can call her ex-husband Hank, Joyce pays her condolences to Giles regarding the death of Jenny Calendar. It's in this episode, I think, that a bunch of folks wondered about the romantic opportunities ahead for Giles/Joyce. I admit that I wasn't one of these people, though. Later at home, Joyce waits on Buffy, Willow, and Xander, doing the ultimate mom thing. Her expressions are great when Willow and Xander bug her for more chips and soda. Heh. I like Joyce.

In Becoming part 1, Joyce is seen in a flashback. It's 1996, LA, and Buffy's home late...I gotta check the tape, but off the top of my head I think that the following happened... Anyhoo, Joyce tells Buffy that she and Buffy's dad don't want her hanging out with Tyler, and then we hear Joyce talking to her husband...He's loud and angry and she's more calm. Divorce on the horizon, much?

In Becoming part 2, Joyce gets a visit from Detective Stein, who tells her that they're looking for Buffy to be questioned about a murder that took place at school. She's freaked out some, and goes driving around looking for her daughter. When Joyce pulls up into the driveway at their house, she runs into Buffy and Spike. This is the first time that she witnesses Buffy-as-the-Slayer...Buffy stakes a vamp right in front of her. Anyhoo, Buffy explains her identity to Joyce, who doesn't want to or can't believe it. The best scene is when she's sitting in the living room alone with Spike, and she asks if they've met before. When Spike reminds her about her attacking him (see School Hard), she asks if he lives around here. There are quite the mother/daughter similarities...

Later, when Joyce sees that Buffy's leaving the house, she tells her not to leave, to explain herself, and gets kind of angry when Buffy says to have another drink. She throws the glass to the side and issues an ultimatum to Buffy.

The Ultimatum:
"If you walk out that door, don't even think about coming back! --
to Buffy, who's got to go save the world.

Joyce regrets saying this in the heat of the moment though...later, she appears in Buffy's room, only to find a note that probably says Buffy's split town but she loves her anyway. Quite the way to start the summer for Joyce...


Anne; Dead Man's Party; Faith, Hope & Trick; Band Candy; Lovers Walk; Amends; Gingerbread; Helpless; Bad Girls; Consequences; Enemies; Choices; The Prom;

In Anne, we see that Joyce has been pretty mopey all summer, and with good reason. Buffy did take off, after all. Anyhoo, it's in this episode that we learn that Joyce doesn't blame herself for Buffy's disappearance...rather, she blames Giles. At the end of the 'sode, Joyce answers the door to find Buffy on the other side. She and Buffy's a moment.

DMP is the episode where Joyce tries to deal with Buffy's being back. She and Buffy try to wear down Principal Snyder so he'll allow Buffy back in school, but it's to no avail. Joyce also suggests having a party to welcome Buffy back. At said party, Joyce lets loose on the overdue emotional outing she needs to have with Buffy. And she also loses her new friend Pat when zombies crash the party. This marks the first time that Joyce has seen Buffy in action since she staked that vamp in Becoming part II. Maybe it gets easier for her to see this?

FHT is sort of a Joyce-as-soccer-I-mean-Slayer-Mom episode, but not really. Here she learns of Buffy's death (See Prophecy Girl.) She also meets another slayer, Faith and learns about slaying from her. Joyce and Buffy bond more, and they get to visit Principal Snyder.

Classic Joyce:
"I think what my daughter is trying to say is, 'Nah nah nah nah nah nah!'" --
to Principal Snyder upon learning that his decision to expel Buffy has been overruled.

Why does Joyce always fall victim to crazy spells? In BBB, she had it for Xander. But in Band Candy, Joyce regresses into the teenage mentality, when Seals & Croft were big and bubble gum was groovy! In this episode, Joyce starts out lambasting Buffy sort of..about her schedule, and she reinforces the idea that she doesn't want Buffy to drive.

Later, when she and Giles decide to try to set some Buffy boundaries, she falls victim to a spell that's been cast over the band candy Milkbars. Basically, she dresses trampily, thinks badass Giles is really cool and smooches him lots, and won't listen to reason when Buffy tries to set her straight. A pretty fun Joyce outing, I must say. Especially when she rolls her eyes at Snyder. Also noteworthy is her smoking and drinking. In case anyone's wondering, I don't count drugged cookies, such as those in Ted, as being "spell-laden." But..they were a food. Maybe the message here, Joycie, is more cooking and less takeout? Yeah, I saw that Chinese food on the counter in this ep.! Heh.

Lovers Walk reunites Joyce with her fave vamp Spike! Okay, but before that, she gets to play mom supreme to Buffy, hounding her about looking at colleges and continuing her education. Okay, enough about Spike ends up at Buffy's house and he and Joyce gab away like old friends. Must've been that quality living-room time they shared in Becoming part 2.

Spike moans about Drusilla's leaving him, and Joyce tries to comfort him with mini-marshmallows for his drink. She also tells Spike that it sounds like Dru is nuts. Most amusing is the fact that when Angel comes to the house, Joyce is mega-freaked and yet here she's partnered up with Spike, who has no soul, who could very well kill her. It's a scream. It's in this episode that Joyce finds out that Willow is sort of a witch. Of course, she also thinks that Xander is one, too. But hey, these fast convos with Buffy and's understandable.

Quote coming soon!

In Amends, Joyce goes Xmas tree shopping with Buffy, and she tells Buffy to invite Faith over for Xmas eve. When Buffy balks, Joyce reminds her that Faith probably is going to be by herself. However, when Buffy suggests inviting Giles over too, Joyce is the one who balks. She lamely tries to cover up by saying that Mr. Giles doesn't want to hang around a bunch of girls. Yeah, right, Joycie. Later Joyce checks out the snowfall with Faith. No other big character development here.

In Gingerbread, Joyce goes bonkers. It's a result (sort of) of her first really planned foray into Buffy's slaying activities. She wants to try to take part in this aspect of Buffy's life, or at least witness it on purpose (as opposed to those other times, y'see), and she ends up finding two dead kids at the playground. For the rest of the ep., she's gone for good. She organizes a vigil for the kids at City Hall, and she mentions the word "slayer" at the meeting, too. She also ends up organizing Moms Opposed to the Occult (MOO).

But it's not until I heard her talk about banning books at the library that I really wondered what was up with her. I mean, we all know how she can be sometimes, but I never figured her one for book-burning or anything. I mean, after all, the lady runs an art gallery! And sure, she didn't want Buffy looking at some fertility statue back in The Witch, but even Buffy said "jeepers" after sneaking a look at it.

So..anyway in this episode she forbids Buffy from seeing Willow the witch, and she subdues Buffy so she can take her down to the City Hall to burn her on a stake. And why? Because of those dumb dead "kids" who are really a big, age-old, honkin' evil who incite mobs to get rid of so-called "bad" people. By the end of the episode, she's back to normal, though. Oh. And also noteworthy, this episode gave Joyce the chance to be awkward with Giles once again since Band Candy.

In Helpless, Joyce does the basic mom things...such as offering to take Buffy to the Ice Capades for her birthday when Hank fails to deliver the goods on his fatherly duties. She also gets sucked into the Cruciamentum tradition from hell, when nutty vamp Zackary Kralik decides to use her as bait to get the Slayer to come to him. We get to see how photogenic Joyce is, since Kralik snaps many Polaroids of her in distress. Joyce is saved yet again by her quick-thinking yet powerless (this time out) offspring. If I'm not mistaken, it seems as though Joyce gets to play house mom to the gang, when they're all over at the Summers' house for eating and stuff. Too fun. Only this time, she's probably not bogarting the cheesy chips...

In Bad Girls, Joyce seems to freak Buffy out when she enters the room saying, "Admit it." This is 'cause Buffy's scouring the morning paper for news about the injured cops that she and Faith were responsible for ...injuring. But as usual, Joyce's remarks aren't meant that way. I always liked how especially in season 1, Joyce would say things that were either true to Buffy's situation or could be interpreted in ways other than she meant them...Anyhoo, this time out she's talking about admitting how some days you just want to say to hell with the diet. She offers to make Buffy some waffles, as that will decrease the's "Mom Logic" -- if the waffles aren't for her, they won't be fattening. She also asks what Faith and Buffy did last night, but mentions that she'll stay out of it. That's Joyce in this episode.

More detailed info. on Consequences coming soon! For now...we get to see Joyce watch the news. She's pretty upset as she watches these fishermen drag Allan's body up from the water. Later, she gets paid another visit by Detective Stein, who's come to question Buffy regarding the incident. That's all for now.

Joyce doesn't have a big role in Enemies. She opens the door for Faith and Angel, and tells them that Buffy's upstairs. When Angel compliments Joyce's hair, she gets a big smile on her face. It's odd.

In Choices, Joyce is beside herself with glee when she learns that Buffy's been accepted to Northwestern. Actually, so was Johnny J., now that I think about it...sorry John! "Looks like the University of Illinois..I mean, Sunnydale U." (I like to maul Risky Business quotes!)

Anyhoo, Joyce calls up Buffy's Aunt Arlene to share the good news. She also tells Buffy to put her earrings back. I guess moms don't like it when their daughters borrow their earrings...

In The Prom, Joyce is back in protective mother mode. Unbeknownst to Buffy, she pays Angel a visit. I kind of got the feeling she doesn't dig Angel very much. Hm. Wonder why. Anyway, she tells him that they need to consider Buffy's future, and her chance to have a life outside of him, because they come from different worlds. It almost felt like they used her as a plot device here. I don't know why I say that, it's not like it was really out of character. I guess maybe it's because we didn't see her anymore in this episode. It just felt like she came in, said her piece, put the rest of the plot in motion, and left. Oh well. At least she got to check out Angel's spacious place.

The ABCs of Sunnydale

The 411/Mythology

The 511/Relationships

The 611/Slayerships

The Episodes

Dingo Action


Main Entrance

Pic of Joyce courtesy of Michelle's site

This page last updated on May 15, 1999.