Buffy/Spike

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Pairing
Pairing: Buffy Summers/Spike
Alternative name(s): Spuffy
Gender category: het
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Canonical?: yes
Prevalence: popular
Archives:
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Buffy/Spike is the pairing of Buffy and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Canon

Spike is a vampire, introduced as Season 2's Little Bad. Despite their enmity, Buffy and Spike joined forces to take down the Big Bad. Buffy agreed to a truce with Spike, allowing him to leave town with Drusilla in return for his help defeating Angelus. In season 4, Spike returned to Sunnydale and was captured by the Intiative who implanted a behaviour modification chip in his brain. As a result of his chip, Spike couldn't hurt humans and turned to Buffy for help, and while less than helpful, Buffy was unwilling to stake him.

In season 5, Spike realizes he is in love with Buffy. Spike's actions after this realisation were deeply problematic but were often played for laughs by the show. Spike stalks Buffy, breaks into her house, briefly considers killing her, and eventually kidnaps Buffy, chains her up and offers to kill Drusilla for her. Buffy is disgusted by Spike's feelings and his behaviour, but she continues to trust him to protect her sister Dawn.

Buffy's death and resurrection changed the dynamic of their relationship in several ways. The newly resurrected Buffy chose Spike's company over the company of her friends, resulting in several less antagonistic interactions. They had their first proper kiss at the end of the episode Once More With Feeling but following this, Buffy is disgusted with her actions and tells Spike it will never happen again; cementing their relationship dynamic for the rest of the season. Their canon relationship was increasingly violent, culimintating in Spike's attempted rape of Buffy, and Spike fleeing Sunnydale to seek out his soul.

In season 7, Buffy goes out of her way to protect and help a souled Spike as the vampire returns to help Buffy in the big fight against The First. In the final battle, Spike sacrifices himself to save the world. Buffy's final words to Spike, "I love you", and Spike's response, "No you don't but thanks for saying it", inspired a lot of post-Chosen meta in the fandom.

Fandom

People began shipping Buffy/Spike almost immediately after Spike's introduction in the second season.

For a time, Spuffy was a unpopular ship with the majority of the fandom prefering other ships for both characters. In season 4, Spike became a recurring character and the fandom started to grow. In March 2000, Destroyer of Worlds, the original Buffy/Spike zone of the BtVS Writer's Guild, was created.[1]

In season 5, the pairing became more popular and several boards and archives were created to provide a space for the growing number of fans who supported the ship. In February 2001, the Bloody Awful Poet Society a Spike redemptionist mailing list was founded and soon had a dedicated website and fanfiction archive. Spike redemptionists were fans who wanted to see Spike achieve a Souless Redemption. Most Spuffy fans were also redemptionistas and BAPS became a prominent forum for Spuffy fans. There were also many Spuffy fans amongst other redemptionist forums and communities.

When Buffy and Spike's relationship became canon in the sixth season, some fans saw Buffy as exploiting and abusing Spike. Buffy's characterization in fanfic at this time varies widely. While a lot of Buffy-bashing fics did not pair her with Spike, there are many B/S works where Buffy is portrayed as abusive toward Spike before learning the error of her ways. Other fans felt that they could have a functional relationship, and wrote fic about that relationship.

Within meta at this time, there was a tendency to describe B/S as queer het. This was largely due to the subverted gender roles of their canon relationship. Some meta writers also pointed to the Slayer/Vampire relationship dynamic; with Spike describing his attraction to the Slayer as "wrong" and Buffy disgusted and ashamed of their eventual relationship.[2] Barb Cummings, for example, wrote a review of the sixth season in which she discussed Buffy/Spike as "BtVS's real queer relationship."

Common Tropes & Storylines

  • Amnesia!Spike is most common but there are also works where Buffy or both Spike and Buffy have memory loss.
    • Tabula Rasa AUs pairing Joan and Randy are also common. These are often missing scenes or canon divergent fics where it takes longer for the Scoobies to regain their memories - if they regain them at all.
  • Human Spike fics are often set post-shanshu. These works can be dark or domestic, and domestic fics sometimes overlap with pregnancy and baby fics. There are also works where Spike becomes human by means other than the Shanshu Propohecy.
  • Vampire Buffy is often sired by Spike. In fics where a vampire other than Spike turns Buffy, she often abandons her Sire or kills him. Spike often takes on a Sire role, mentoring Buffy in what it means to be a vampire. In some works Buffy keeps her soul because of a spell, and in others the demon is tempered by the fact she is a slayer.
  • Time travel, frequently where white-hat/souled-Spike or Buffy visits evil-Spike eras of canon, resulting in season AUs. There are also works where Buffy time travels to different periods and encounters an unsouled Spike who doesn't know her yet. Time travel can also be used to introduce Buffy to the human William Pratt, before he becomes a vampire. There are also works where Victorian-era human William is brought to Sunnydale, or Spike may be under a spell that turns him back into William.
  • Pregnancy fics can be as a result of magical intervention or via time travel, and while very rare mpreg does appear. (Check Mate by Xela)
  • Magic made 'em do it or ritual sex fics. In these works, sex may be required to fulfill a prophecy or in order to cast a spell. There are also works where a spell results in Buffy and Spike having sex, such as a lust spell. Other fics may be set during "Something Blue", the episode where Willow's spell goes awry and Spuffy get engaged.
  • Claiming (vampire form of mating for life) is a popular trope in Spuffy fics.
  • Body swap works sometimes overlap with "Harsh Light of Day" AUs. There are also fics where a spell, artifact or demon causes Buffy and Spike to swap bodies.
  • Post-Chosen Spuffy fics often ignore AtS S5 and the comics. These works often deal with Buffy's grief and Spike eventual resurrection.
  • Some works are set during Angel the Series Season 5, and there are "The Girl in Question" AUs.
  • Post-NFA works sometimes involve Buffy saving the day and then caring for an injured Spike. There are also works where Spike is human following the final battle. He rarely seeks out Buffy in these works, and instead the two often meet unexpectedly and reconnect.
  • Mythology-inspired AUs often follow the story of Orpheus/Eurydice with either Spike rescuing Buffy from hell post-Grave, or Buffy rescuing Spike from hell post-Chosen.
  • Souless Redemption is common. Because many Spuffy fans were redemptionistas there are many works which depict Souless!Spike as one of the good guys and capable of redemption. There are season 6 AUs where Spike didn't regain his soul, but there are also works where Spike loses his soul.
  • There are several Virtual Seasons of Seasons 6 and 7, as well as many post-Grave and post-Chosen AUs. These fics often ignore large swaths of the next season's canon in favour of a more Spuffy friendly premise. There are many alternative S6 fic where Buffy is more accepting of the relationship.
  • Missing scenes are most often set during the later seasons.
  • All-human AUs are common.
  • M-Preg fanfic writer Zabjade and others have written several fics in this trope.
  • Traditional Gender-roles inverted

Controversy and Fannish Opposition

There were many fans within Buffy fandom who were opposed to the pairing of Buffy/Spike. Initially much of this opposition stemmed from the fact Buffy was the Vampire Slayer and Spike was a Vampire. Within Buffy fandom, there were canon purists, sometimes called Fundies, who believed that all vampires were irredeemable monsters and disliked storylines that didn't align with that perspective. These fans were not alone and some writers on the series also believed it would be immoral to show Buffy in a functional relationship with a souless vampire.[3] Even within Spike fans, there were a group of fans who preferred Evil!Spike. These fans were known as Evilistas. See Remdemptionistas vs Evilistas

Initially Spuffy was a rarepair and was able to coexist alongside other pairings for both Buffy and Spike. As Spuffy became more popular the pairing began to face more opposition from fans who were already invested in another pairing for either Buffy or Spike and various ship wars arose. See Bangel vs Spuffy.

During seasons 5 and 6, there was also fans who believed the pairing of Spike and Buffy was abusive. Spike's pursuit of Buffy in Season 5 was controversial, running the gamut from violent stalking to surprisingly selfless (for a vampire) acts such as withstanding Glory's torture to protect Dawn. However, this was nowhere near as controversial as their Season 6 relationship, which incited criticism from practically all sections of the fandom at one point or another.

In the early episodes of season 6, some fans objected to Buffy taking Spike into her confidence and spending time with him at the expense of the Scoobies; as the season progressed, Spike and Buffy's violent affair was often described as an abusive relationship, but people argued at length over which of the two was the abusive partner (and which the victim). Among Spuffy fans at the time there was a tendency to view Buffy and the Scoobies as abusive of Spike. A great deal of meta was written analyzing Buffy's actions and Spike's motivations, including essays delving into reversed gender roles of Season 6.

To say that Buffy's treatment of Spike was not domestic abuse is disingenuous at best and dangerous and immoral at worst, and to see it excused the way it has been turns my stomach. The gender roles were so thoroughly reversed this season that the stereotypical "bad boyfriend" actions were nearly drowning me as they rolled off Buffy. Yet, we were constantly told that she was simply coming from a confused place, not a bad one, and that there was much angst from her resurrection that she was trying and failing to deal with.[4]

Spike's actions in Seeing Red were seen by some as an unforgivable rape-attempt, by others as an understandable extension of their greatly dysfunctional affair. Spike's quest for (and regaining of) his soul, the ultimate consequence of the Season 6 Buffy/Spike relationship, only brought more contention before and during season 7. Fan opinions of the Season 6 relationship, it should be said, were never (and have never become) either binary or linear between two opposing extremes.

Reaction to Seeing Red

Seeing Red is a Season 6 episode which is almost universally hated in the fandom, because of story choices that shocked and angered fans. This is the episode where Tara dies and Willow goes evil, fulfilling the Dead/Evil Lesbian Cliches. This is also the episode where Spike attempts to rape Buffy in the infamous bathroom scene which divided the fandom.

Following this episode, Spuffy fans were sometimes called rape apologists and subject to harassment by other sections of the fandom. This was particularly common in Bangel shipping circles as the Spuffy vs Bangel ship war escalated after the AR (attempted rape) scene. In their meta essay You Might Have Post-Traumatic Joss Syndrome, shipperx referenced "letter campaigns and sexual abuse websites put up by Bangels prior to and in the wake of "Seeing Red" and the running joke of 'rappist lover'".[5]

Many Spuffy fans interpreted the AR scene in the context of Buffy and Spike's already abusive and toxic relationship.

Yes, Spike did a horrible thing--a horrible things that humans with souls are also capable of. That scene was not about Spike getting off on hurting and overpowering Buffy; it was about Spike having a nervous breakdown after months of abuse. Read my gender essay for more.[6]

There was also much meta written about Buffy's reaction to the AR, with many viewers confused by why the Slayer appeared powerless.

There've been several theories advanced as to why Buffy behaves like the damseliest of damsels in this scene. They range from it being an attempt on the writers' part to revive flagging audience sympathy for her by painting her as the victim of the Bad Evil Man, to the supposition that she didn't fight back because she trusted Spike and expected him to stop on his own. None of the internal explanations have ever been very satisfactory to me. The simplest one, that Buffy is weakened by the convenient injury she sustains earlier in the episode, rather falls apart when Buffy goes straight form her tussle with Spike into all-out battle with Warren, where said injury vanishes without a trace. [...] The other prevalent theory, of course, ties right into that--that Buffy is reacting to Spike not as the Slayer, but as a woman being attacked by a man she has feelings for.[7]

Several fans had identified a gender role reversal in Buffy and Spike's Season 6 relationship, and viewed the AR scene as a return to traditional gender stereotypes.

Buffy has always displayed stereotypical masculine traits like strength, aggressiveness and emotional detachment. Spike, on the other hand, often shows stereotypical feminine behaviour like submissiveness, caring and emotional expressiveness. Both of these tendencies are particularly visible in their season 6 relationship. It's difficult to suddenly accept Spike as the overpowering male and Buffy the overpowered female when the relationship has been tipped the other way all season.[8]

There was also concern among the fandom that showrunners would not be able to appropriately deal with the serious subject matter, when addressing the aftermath of this assault in Season 7.

In her Succubus interview (May 2002), Jane Esperson made a point of saying that the scene wasn't about real life rape issues. If this is how it was meant, then it was a poorly presented dramatic choice, because ME made the scene very realistic. As a consequence, there may be an audience expectation for ME to send the "right" message about real life sexual assaults, which could backfire if they fail to do so. They're taking a serious dramatic risk, and only season 7 will tell if it was worth it.[8]

Notable Fanworks

Fanfiction

For a list of Spuffy fanfiction articles on Fanlore see Spuffy Fanfiction.

Fanart

Vids

Zines

Girls Invented Punk Rock, Not England by Dynamite

Meta

See also List of meta on different aspects of Buffy/Spike relationship

Archives

Communities & Rec Sites

Awards Sites

References