This Scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Still Haunts Fans

This Scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Still Haunts Fans
Image credit: The WB

Joyce’s death still has a very strong grip on fans as one of the most masterfully crafted dramatic episodes of television.


  • Buffy’s episode called The Body is arguably one of the best episodes on the show.
  • It shows people dealing with grief in their own unique ways.
  • The eerie atmosphere and a lack of music add to the devastation you feel along with Buffy.

If the Buffy fandom was to pick one still from their favorite TV show that would mean nothing to casual viewers but break the hearts of all fellow fans, it would be that grayish “Mommy?” shot.

Yes, you got it—we’re talking about The Body, an episode from Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with a moment that became a catalyst for some of the show’s most heartbreaking and devastating moments.

In that episode, Buffy comes home and finds her mother dead. You might have mixed feelings about Joyce, but she has been part of the show for many seasons and an extremely vital component of Buffy’s journey. Seeing Buffy so lost and broken, unsure of what is going on, but feeling—along with her—that something had gone terribly wrong, is surreal.

This Scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Still Haunts Fans - image 1

The episode is made to be hard to watch. Yes, you heard us: the showrunners created the eerie atmosphere so perfectly, it is hard to make yourself turn it on during re-watching. It has managed to capture the grief, the devastation, the emptiness, exacerbated by the total lack of music that usually guides us through the story.

Some music might’ve made it easier for us to watch; maybe some dramatic music when Buffy comes home, some sad music when Dawn breaks down, sobbing, in the hallway as we watch her through the glass; maybe even some light music when Willow is rambling, unable to decide how to support her best friend. But we hear none of that. And that crashes us down, adding to the overall painful impact of the episode.

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We see the characters go through so many emotions. Everyone deals with grief in their own way, and The Body manages to encapsulate it all: denial, depression, sorrow, anger, even bargaining—with every shot put together to get a point across.

But you know what makes the episode even sadder? How mundane it is. Joyce dies as we all do, from a brain tumor, something that could happen to everyone. But it is not supposed to happen to a character on a show about all things supernatural. That isn’t usually how it works—and that’s what makes it so unbelievably real.