Joyce Summers

From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Name: Joyce Summers
Occupation: art gallery manager
Relationships: Buffy Summers (daughter), Dawn Summers (mystical daughter), Hank Summers (ex-husband)
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Joyce Summers is a secondary character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who is Buffy and Dawn's mother. She is played by Kristine Sutherland.

In Canon

Divorced from husband Hank, Joyce is a typical single mother, balancing a career managing an art gallery with bringing up her daughter—and the odd bit of defending her from vampires. Joyce struggles at first to come to terms with Buffy's role as the Slayer but later becomes supportive, and is a powerful mentor & protector figure for the Scoobies. She has a one-night stand with Giles in Ripper mode while under magical influence, befriends pre-chipped Spike and readily takes the magical-key-made-Summers-flesh into her family. She dies suddenly after being operated on for brain cancer during S5. Spike and Dawn attempt to resurrect her, but change their minds. She later appears in the guise of the First Evil.

Fannish Opinion

...Joyce is a unique character. ... With Joyce the writers had to deal with two competing imperatives: Joyce was to be a constant in Buffy's life, but she also had to evolve.

And evolve she did. Her journey was not perhaps as great or as troubled as the others, but compare the clueless, confused and fragile Joyce of season one with the strong and confident woman we saw in season five, fully a part of the Scooby Gang and not only aware of the supernatural dangers around her but willing to face them, and you realise just how far she travelled.

It is true that Joyce is not as difficult a character to understand as some of the more complex figures that we met in the show, like, say, Oz, Spike or Buffy herself. Frankly, she simply wasn't – and couldn't be – written that way. However, that lack of complexity should not be confused with a lack of depth.

The Body could not have been written about anyone else. No other character was as universally popular, and there were few if any whose departure could sustain not just one, but two full episodes. By just being there, being a dependable, comforting presence, Joyce wove herself so intricately into the fabric of the Buffyverse that her loss seemed unendurable.

...Joyce was integral to the show, and without her it could not have worked. Moreover, she passed many of her greatest qualities to her daughter, and so without Joyce we would have had a very different heroine. (Dolores)[1]

Joyce, belying her cheerful name, is not a happy person. Oh, she looks happy, with her Stepford Smiles and her cheerful demeanor, but underneath that facade is a withered soul mired in misery. She steadfastly clings to the self-delusion that she has Done Nothing Wrong, indeed, that she is incapable of wrong. Her addiction of choice is to the narrative that she is a Good Mother, and woe betide the daughter who brings up even the most minute shred of evidence to the contrary, because there is no room for grayscale in Joyce's universe. Either she is a Good Mother who has never done anything wrong ever, or she is a Bad Mother. Since the latter is unthinkable, anyone who presents evidence that might conflict with the former is clearly someone who must be silenced and stopped. (Ana Mardoll)[2]


In early seasons some fans were critical of Joyce's reaction to Buffy's Slayerdom, especially during 'Becoming', but by the time of her death she'd evolved into a widely (though not universally) beloved character.[1]

She only rarely makes it into fanworks. Much Joyce fanfiction is gen.

Common themes are her relationship with her children, especially after Buffy leaves in the S2 finale, her reaction to acquiring the created memories of Dawn, her reflections after her cancer diagnosis, and other characters mourning for her after her death. One trope is that the false Dawn memories might have been responsible for her brain tumour. Several horror stories allow Dawn & Spike's resurrection attempt to succeed.

Joyce's most popular het pairings in the JOYFFA archive are with Rupert Giles, Spike, Xander Harris and, to a lesser extent, Angel. Ethan Rayne is another popular partner in AO3, and there are lots of Giles/Ethan/Joyce threesomes.

In the JOYFFA archive, Faith predominates in femslash, and there's a wide range of other female partners including Willow Rosenberg, Anya Jenkins, Tara Maclay and Jenny Calendar.

Topics in meta include her parenting skills, her sexuality, and her ambivalence towards authority.

Example Fanworks





Fan Sites, Lists


  1. ^ a b idol-reflection: BtVS: Joyce Summers: The Chosen Mom (accessed 6 September 2015)
  2. ^ Buffy: A Picture of Abuse (accessed 6 September 2015)