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School Hard
September 29, 1997


David Greenwalt (story & teleplay)
Joss Whedon (story)

John T. Kretchmer

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
David Boreanaz as Angel
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Robia LaMorte as Ms. Calendar
Andrew J. Ferchland as The Anointed One
James Marsters as Spike
Juliet Landau as Drusilla
Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder
Alexandra Johnes as Sheila
Gregory Scott Cummins as Big Ugly
Andrew Palmer as Lean Boy
Brian Reddy as Police Chief Bob
Keith MacKechnie as Parent
Alan Abelew as Brian Kirsh
Joanie Pleasant as Helpless Girl


Something is rotten in the state of Sunnydale High. If you're Buffy. She's one step from expulsion, her GPA is a disaster and Parent's Night is in a few days time. That's the badness she knows about. The Night of St. Vigeous is approaching, when the power of all vampires will be at its peak. All that, however, is the good news. There's two new faces in town. One of them's under a bleach blond haircut and over a black leather trenchcoat, the other's in front of a criminally insane clairvoyant brain: Spike and Drusilla. Spike decides to crash Parent's Night, which actually does Buffy a favor, since she's trying her best to keep Joyce from Snyder. Spike nearly gets the better of Buffy till Joyce brains him with a fire axe. Women! Later, Spike kills the Annointed One, and sets up shop as ruler of Sunnydale. After he and Dru see what's on television, of course. — Short synopsis by Bruce.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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As the title gives away, the whole "lone hero uses guerrilla tactics to defeat army of building-controlling baddies" premise of the episode was lifted from the 1988 movie Die Hard, with Buffy in place of Bruce Willis' New York cop John McClane, and Spike and his vampires in place of Alan Rickman's gang of European terrorists. Speaking of Spike, he has a lovely air of British punk about him, the Billy Idol look paired with Johnny Rotten's attitude. And Drusilla is something straight out of a Victorian horror novel, all white lace and poetic lunacy. St. Vigeous is a completely made-up concept.

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Dialogue to Die For

Principal Snyder: "Your parents, assuming you have any, will meet your teachers, assuming you have any left."

Spike's wonderfully theatrical entrance: "You were there? Oh, please! If every vampire who said he was at the crucifixion was actually there, it would have been like Woodstock. I was actually at Woodstock. That was a weird gig. I fed off a flower person, and I spent the next six hours watching my hand move."

Spike: "You've got Slayer problems. That's a bad piece of luck. Do you know what I find works real good with Slayers? Killing them."

The workings, such as they are, of Drusilla's mind: "The boy doesn't trust you. They follow him. I think sometimes that all my hair will fall out and I'll be bald."

Buffy: "Do we really need weapons for this?"
Spike: "I just like them. They make me feel all manly."

Joyce, after braining Spike with an axe: "You get the hell away from my daughter!"

Spike: "A Slayer with family and friends. That sure as hell wasn't in the brochure."

More quotes from this episode...

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  • Woodstock, which Spike attended, was a musical festival held in a farmer's field in Woodstock, NY, the weekend of August 15-17, 1969. Featuring such acts as Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar, and the Grateful Dead, the event immediately came to symbolize the bohemian atmosphere and hippie culture of the free-love late 1960s.

  • The Boxer Rebellion, during which Spike killed a Slayer, was an anti-Westerner uprising in China that took place from 1900 to 1901. Resentful of the economic power and social condescension practiced by Europeans and Americans living in China around the turn of the century, the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi encouraged her subjects to rise up. This led to a group of armed Chinese calling themselves "The Fist of Righteous Amity" smashing up western-controlled train stations and businesses and eventually actually murdering Westerners. A coalition of Western forces including the U.S. Marines fought the Chinese back to Peking and imposed harsh terms of surrender upon them.

    Anne Rice

  • "People still fall for that Anne Rice routine?"  Novelist Anne Rice single-handedly rejuvenated the popularity of vampires with her Vampire Chronicles, including Interview With The Vampire (1976) and The Vampire Lestat (1985), which portrayed vampires as tortured, romantic and sensual souls.

  • "I haven't seen you in the killing fields for an age."  It's unclear whether or not this is a deliberate reference, but "the killing fields" is the name given to the 1975 massacre of over one million Cambodians by the Communist Khmer Rouge government of that country, led by the recently-deceased Pol Pot. The story of the Cambodian upheaval was the subject of the Academy Award®-winning 1984 film The Killing Fields.


  • "You were my sire, man! You were my... Yoda!"  Yoda was the wizened, ancient Jedi master who taught Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return Of The Jedi (1983), the second and third movies in George Lucas' Star Wars trilogy.

  • "Man, I can't believe this. You Uncle Tom!"  This is a reference to the 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, the famous first novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896). The novel's title character is a pious and faithful slave whose overeagerness to win the approval of his white masters has made his name synonymous with obsequious subservience to authority by minority members.
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Goofs and Gaffes

  • Is Willow really strong enough to so easily pick up the bust she used to knock the vampire off Cordelia?
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  • Spike's real first name is William, and he was once known as "William the Bloody." Giles' research shows that he's barely two hundred years old, though this is later proved wrong in both "The Initiative" and "Fool For Love." Spike has killed at least two Slayers in the last century, one of them in China in 1900 or 1901 during the Boxer Rebellion. He and Drusilla have also been to Czechoslovakia.

  • Though Spike refers to Angel as his sire, this is not technically correct. It was eventually shown (in Season Five's "Fool For Love") that it was actually Drusilla who sired Spike. For many of us, this was no surprise — Joss has been saying for ages that Dru was actually Spike's sire. For example, on January 2, 1998 (about 3 months after "School Hard" aired), he said, "Angel was Dru's sire -- he made her -- and she made Spike. But SIRE doesn't just mean [the] guy who made you, it means you come from their line. Angel is like a grandfather to Spike." Whether the line was originally intended with that interpretation, or whether it was a boo-boo that slipped through and Joss justifies that way, Joss has always maintained that in his mind (which is the only place the characters really live), Dru was Spike's sire.

  • St. Vigeous led a crusade of vampires through Russia, Persia, and "points east." On the Night of St. Vigeous, vampires' power is at its peak.

  • Principal Snyder seems to know more than he lets on about what's really going on in Sunnydale, and his conversation at the end with the police chief indicates that the "gangs on PCP" explanation is a standard-issue cover story, rather than a legitimate theory.

  • The Anointed One is the first vampire in the series to die from exposure to sunlight.
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  • Nickel - "1000 Nights" and "Stupid Thing" (From Stupid Thing, Sensitive Man Music, 1997)
      Nickel is the band playing live in the Bronze. "1000 Nights" plays first, as Willow tutors Buffy in French, and then "Stupid Thing" as Xander coaxes them out to the dance floor.
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Full marks. I can't rave enough about how completely amazing I thought this episode was, so I won't even try. I'll just pick a few things I thought were exceptionally remarkable on which to comment. My favorite author, Orson Scott Card, once said that when done well, the seemingly mundane can be infinitely more interesting than the superficially fantastic. This was certainly the case in "School Hard" — by the end of the fourth act, I was more genuinely interested in what was going to happen between Buffy and her mom than in the vampires-invade-the-school scenario. David and Joss managed to make it believable and pulled it off with aplomb. And when Buffy's mom whaled on Spike's head with the fire axe, Will and I whooped, "Go Joyce!" at the top of our lungs. Speaking of our new vampire bad-ass — Spike rocks! 'Nuff said. Angel's got his edge back, and I must say I like it. And I have a burning desire to know what, exactly, Principal Snyder and that policeman meant when they scoffed at telling "the truth." All in all, a raging success for the Buffster and Company! (10/10)
Ladies and gentlemen... please stand and put your hands together and applaud the Billy Idol of the vampire world, Spike. All I have to say is that David and Joss are bloody geniuses. With the death of the Master at the end of last season I wasn't sure where the writers were going to take the show. Much to my pleasure, our newest villain, Spike, and his flower child girlfriend, Drusilla, are absolutely marvelous. Spike is obnoxious, sarcastic, mean, witty, and just downright fun to watch. The introduction of these two new characters was the cornerstone of this episode and therefore the performances of the other characters were a bit overshadowed. All performances in this episode were quite good, but the one shining star (aside from Spike's performance) was that of Buffy's mom. Joyce hitting Spike over the head with an axe was unexpected but very entertaining. She then berated Spike about picking on her daughter. I loved it! They did take the time to tone down Cordelia's role in this episode as well as making Angel an important part in it rather than trying to fit him in where he doesn't belong or isn't needed. Overall, I feel that "School Hard" was flawless and it embodied everything that I love about this show. (10/10)
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Air Date Rating Ranking
September 29, 1997 3.4 93 of 109 (tie)
December 22, 1997 NA 85 of 107 (tie)
July 28, 1998 2.2 98 of 112 (tie)

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