‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Most Tragic Villain Deserved Better – Armessa Movie News

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The Big Picture

  • Drusilla was one of the most complex villains on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and she deserves more recognition.
  • Drusilla was a victim, purposely made by Angelus, who destroyed her life and forced her into insanity before turning her into a vampire.
  • Drusilla was relegated to a secondary villain role and didn’t have the opportunity to shine like other villains on the show. However, she has continued to evolve in tie-in media.


Throughout the groundbreaking seven-season run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, viewers are introduced to an array of sympathetic monsters who occupy an ambivalent moral territory (both demonic and human). Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) on-again, off-again boyfriend Angel (David Boreanaz) was a vampire with a soul, tortured by his murderous past. Rogue slayer Faith (Eliza Dushku) went over to the dark side. Even Buffy’s BFF Willow (Alyson Hannigan) descended into a state of dark magic-induced villainy. Tragedy underpinned the above characters’ motivations for succumbing to evil, and all enjoyed a nuanced exploration of their villainy and subsequent redemption. However, one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s most sympathetic and tragic villains didn’t get the same recognition, and arguably was given short shrift in comparison to other villains on the show: Juliet Landau’s tragic villain Drusilla, who deserved better.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

A young woman, destined to slay vampires, demons and other infernal creatures, deals with her life fighting evil, with the help of her friends.

Release Date
March 10, 1997

Cast
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Michelle Trachtenberg, Emma Caulfield, James Marsters

Main Genre
Action

Genres
Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Rating
TV-14

Seasons
7

Creator
Joss Whedon

Production Company
Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television

Drusilla Was One of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Most Complex Villains

Drusilla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Image via The WB

Buffy the Vampire Slayer always felt dangerous for Buffy and her friends with innovative monsters and frightening villains out to get the Scooby Gang. One of the pitfalls of making a show about demons is they are sometimes shaded in black and white. In the Buffyverse, vampires are shadows of their former selves, their humanity and soul relinquished with little of their identity retained. Drusilla, Angel, and Spike (James Marsters) are the exceptions to this demonic rule, more evolved than your run-of-the-mill demon or vampire. Drusilla more so, as her mental frailty, childlike demeanor, and prognostications elevate her above your typical Big Bad, which also serves to remind us of how she is as much a victim as a villain.

When Does Drusilla Arrive in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’?

James Marsters as Spike and Juliet Landau as Drusilla dancing
Image via The WB

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2, after The Master (Mark Metcalf) had been vanquished and attempts to resurrect him by The Anointed One (Andrew Ferchland) were thwarted by Buffy, life on the Hellmouth was relatively peaceful for a short period. Then, Spike and Drusilla rolled into town in “School Hard” with every intention of raising Hell. Buffy was informed Spike had fought and killed two slayers, and now he was planning on killing her. He didn’t deliver on his promise and would remain in Sunnydale throughout Season 2 in order to help Drusilla regain her strength (after she was lynched) and kill Buffy. But, having languished in the shadows for almost the entirety of the 22-episode season, and only appearing in a handful of the episodes, Drusilla finally proved herself just as lethal as Spike or Angelus by fighting and killing slayer Kendra (Bianca Lawson). Disappointingly, when she did appear, she was always playing a lackey to the surrounding men, so we didn’t really get the story we wanted for the character.

Drusilla Is a Victim With a Tragic Story in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

Juliet Landau as Drusilla and James Marsters as Spike in
Image via The WB

Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans often overlook the fact that Drusilla is a victim and was purposely made by Angelus. When Angel was traveling in England with Darla (Julie Benz), they encountered a girl who had the Sight in London. Drusilla was a devout young woman with a family who frowned on her ability to see the future. Evil Angel loved a challenge and proceeded to destroy Drusilla’s life by butchering her family and forcing her to witness it. The horror continued until he pushed the already fragile Drusilla to a state of insanity. Before becoming a vampire, she was a religious girl and fled to a convent. That ended badly and would ensure her eternal life would be one of suffering (and one of sadistic Angel’s ghastly achievements). It largely mirrors Angel’s treatment of Buffy and her friends when he lost his soul to happiness and reverted to Angelus. The main difference is Drusilla didn’t have a Slayer friend or Buffy’s support network. She could see what was coming and was nearly powerless to prevent it. Another tragic dimension to Drusilla is how much of who she was and how she suffered was not alleviated by eternal life. (In the spin-off/continuation comic series, Wolfram and Hart did manage to control her symptoms with medication.)

Drusilla Was Only a Secondary Villain in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Angel’

Buffy and Angel in episode
Image Via The WB

In both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and spin-off Angel, Drusilla was always a secondary antagonist in the shadow of another villain. Though she was always entertaining and frightening, Drusilla was never really offered an opportunity to shine like Spike, Faith, and Darla. We’ve already mentioned how she is superior in many ways to the vampires she followed and idolized, but surely the writers could have created an arc for her not entailing her shop-massacring with Darla or making eyes at Spike or Angelus? Drusilla was more compelling than cyborg Adam (George Hertzberg) or Hell-God Glory (Clare Kramer), and she would’ve made a more tantalizing season-long baddie. She is further explored in later comic books in a refreshing way and in storylines that skew close to her mental health in a very exciting way.

Juliet Landau Has Remained Active in the Buffyverse

James Marsters for the Buffy podcast
Image via Audible

Juliet Landau has remained active in the Buffyverse since Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended. She even penned comic books about Drusilla. Now, Drusilla will be resurrected in the Buffyverse podcast. The story will follow Spike, parallel worlds, Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), and Landau reprising her role as the audio drama’s Big Bad. The action takes place in a dimension where Buffy isn’t around, and we have a fun new concept to explore: Cordy the Vampire Slayer versus Drusilla. It opens up more avenues to explore with future episodes and the expansion of the Buffyverse. However, while Drusilla has continued to evolve in tie-in media, and we’re excited about her return to the Buffyverse in the podcast, she still deserved better in the show. Not all the series’ villains were as well-crafted as Drusilla with such a fascinating backstory; off the top of our heads, we can list multiple villains we could have done without and one or two who had way too much screen time.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is streaming exclusively on Hulu in the U.S.

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