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Next — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
The Prom
May 11, 1999


Marti Noxon

David Solomon

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
Seth Green as Oz
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Stars:
Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Danny Strong as Jonathan
Brad Kane as Tucker
Andrea E. Taylor as Salesgirl
Mike Kimmel as Butcher Guy
Bonita Friedericy as Mrs. Finkle, store manager
Joe Howard as Priest
Tove Kingsbury as Tux Boy
Michael Zlabinger as Student at Mike
Damien Eckhardt as Jack Mayhew
Monica Serene Garnich as "No" Girl
Stephanie Denise Griffin as Girl in store


Angel decides to do the right thing and break up with Buffy, as they can never have a real life together. Buffy, of course, doesn't feel like it's the right thing, but she must put her pain aside when some Hellhounds with a fetish for formal clothing threaten the Prom. Determined to let her friends, at least, have a happy Prom, Buffy saves the day in the nick of time. Buffy's night doesn't turn out so bad after all, as she receives the Class Protector award, and Angel stops by for one last dance.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Hell Hound There are many mythologies that have so called "Hell Hounds," the most famous perhaps being the three-headed dog Cerberus of Greek mythology, who stood guard over the entrance of the Underworld. The Buffyverse Hell Hounds were obviously not quite the same thing; rather, they were just dog-like demon foot-soldiers left over from some demon war (the "Mahkesh War"). Horror movies about bad things happening on Prom Night also abound, including some of the ones that Tucker brainwashed the Hell Hounds with.

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Body Count

Anonymous Vampire
Staked by Buffy in the sewers.
Tux Boy
Mauled by a Hellhound in April Fools (a clothing store).
Hell Hound
Shot with a crossbow by Buffy outside the school.
Hell Hound
Knifed by Buffy in the school, outside of the gymnasium.
Hell Hound
Had its neck broken by Buffy in the school, outside of the gymnasium.
Total: Five
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Dialogue to Die For

Anya: "Look, I know you find me attractive; I've seen you looking at my breasts."
Xander: "Nothing personal, but when a guy does that, it just means his eyes are open."

Angel (to Buffy): "You should be with someone who can take you into the light; someone who can make love to you."

Giles (regarding Buffy's break-up with Angel): "I understand this sort of thing requires ice cream of some kind."

Giles (to Wesley, regarding Cordelia): "For God's sake, man, she's eighteen. And you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone. Just have at it, would you? And stop fluttering about."

More quotes from this episode...

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  • Buffy (describing the prom to Angel): "Think cotillion with spiked punch and electric slide." — A cotillion is a formal ball, usually given for debutantes to be "introduced to society." Spiked punch is punch "spiked" with alcohol. The electric slide is a line dance, often performed at weddings, etc.

  • Xander (in response to Anya's invitation to the prom): "How come I got the short straw?" — In order to decide who gets or has to do something, a group of people will draw straws, one of which has been cut shorter than the others, and the person who ends up with the short straw is the winner (or loser, depending on the situation).

  • Anya (as to why she's asking Xander to the prom): "You're not quite as obnoxious as most of the alpha males around here." — In packs of dogs (such as wolves and coyotes) and certain other animals, the alpha male is the dominant, aggressive leader of the pack.


  • Cordelia (to Wesley): "I bet you would look way 007 in a tux." — This is a reference to the James Bond movies (James Bond being a secret agent whose number was 007), beginning with Sean Connery in 1962's Dr. No and continuing on to the most recent, Tomorrow Never Dies with Pierce Brosnan. Bond was always quite the ladies' man.

  • Buffy: "Giles, we get it. Miles to go before we sleep." — This is a reference to Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," of which the last line is "miles to go before I sleep."

  • Willow (reading Tucker's email to the gang): "The Sunnydale High lemmings have no idea what awaits them." — A lemming is a mouse-like rodent of arctic or northern regions. Two or three times per decade, Norway lemmings undergo a population explosion that forces them to set out in search of food. Crossing bodies of water by swimming, some reach the ocean and drown — giving rise to folklore about lemmings committing mass suicide. Tucker is probably trying to say that the students are dumb enough to follow each other even into death.


  • Xander: "Or check and see who's been stocking up on Hell Hound Snausages." — Snausages are a dog treat from Heinz pet products.

  • Buffy: "I've got to stop a crazy from pulling a Carrie at the prom." — Carrie is a book (by Stephen King in 1974) about a girl with telekinetic abilities, tormented by her classmates, who gets revenge by using her abilities to destroy the prom — leaving 440 dead and 18 missing. It was made into a movie in 1976 and a sequel (without Stephen King's help) in 1999.

  • Buffy: "Now I'm gonna lock you in here, and then I'm gonna party like it's 19..." — Buffy is referring to Prince's song "1999" (released in 1982). The chorus includes the words "tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999."   Listen

  • Buffy: "Devil Dogs are history." — Devil Dogs are a snack cake (think chocolate Twinkies) made by Drake's Cakes and distributed in the New York/New Jersey area.

  • Oz: "I got all teared up when they played 'We Are Family.'" — "We Are Family is a classic party song from 1979, by Sister Sledge.  Listen
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  • Surprise/Innocence — Angel refers to "what happened before, when I changed" and says it won't happen again. He means when he and Buffy had sex, causing him to lose his soul and become evil again.

  • The Wish — Xander talks to Anya about her powers of the wish, which she used on Cordelia (leading to a Buffy-less alternate universe), and then lost, leaving her stuck at Sunnydale High.

  • Homecoming and Lovers Walk— Anya mentions that Xander was unfaithful to Cordelia. His tryst with Willow began in "Homecoming" and ended when they got caught in "Lovers Walk."

  • Choices — Xander and Giles discuss the usefulness of the pages Willow stole from the Books of Ascension in "Choices." Xander also mentions a "road trip fund," referring to the road trip which he announced in "Choices" that he wanted to take after graduation.

  • Dead Man's Party and The Pack — When Jonathan states that weird things happen in Sunnydale, students shout out "Zombies!" and "Hyena people!" They are referring to the zombies which crashed Buffy's welcome home party in "Dead Man's Party" and the students (including Xander) who were possessed by hyenas in "The Pack." There were also zombies in "The Zeppo," but there was never any indication that anyone but Xander knew about them.

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • In the library, while the group is discussing the Prom, there is a close shot of Giles, and a small pile of books on a cart. They cut to a long shot, and there are more books on the pile. They cut back to a close shot, and there are less books again. — Submitted by Mathew.

  • Toward the end of the break-up scene, Buffy's hair is in front of her shoulder. As the camera cuts back and forth between her and Angel, her hair moves behind her shoulder and then back in front of her shoulder again, even though you can tell she wasn't moving. — Submitted by Mathew.

  • When the Hell Hound bursts through the window of the store, "Tux Boy" keeps calmly adjusting his tuxedo right up until he is attacked. If you saw that thing anywhere near you, would you really stand there fixing your cuff links?

  • While the Hellhound is attacking "Tux Boy" in the store, an outfit or two are pulled off of a nearby rack in the melee. In the library later, when the gang is watching the security video, most of the outfits are pulled off the rack. The shot on the video must be from a different take than the one earlier in the episode. — Submitted by Mathew.

  • At the Prom, Wesley is holding a red napkin when he first spots Cordelia. The camera cuts to her, and when it cuts back to Wesley, he's holding a yellow napkin. It's doubtful that he stopped ogling Cordelia long enough to turn around and switch napkins. — Submitted by Mathew.

  • When Buffy tries to lead the Hell Hounds away from the school, she leaves her bag of weapons, which is reasonable (for easier running). But a bit later, she takes her prom dress out and walks away from it. Why would she leave all of her weapons just sitting outside the school?

  • What was with the knife that mysteriously ended up in the Hell Hound? We never saw her put the knife in her jacket (though it's conceivable that she might have off camera), and it didn't look like the type of knife that would just be laying around. It looked like the knife she got at the library, but she put that one in her bag, not her jacket.
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  • There is a shot of the moon after Buffy and Angel break up in which it looks as though the moon is full (though it could be the day after the full moon). There is another shot of it on the night of the Prom in which it is not full. (So, no, Oz should not have been a werewolf on Prom night.) It could be that Prom was a couple of days after the break-up; or that could be what the moon looks like two days post-full (we're not lunar experts).

  • In response to all your emails (whether you've written them yet or not): yes, it was fairly bright in Angel's mansion, brighter than one might expect. But it really isn't a goof. Perhaps Angel likes to get as much light as he can. Only direct sunlight can kill or hurt him, so as long as he only opens the shades on the side of the house where the sun's not at, he'll be okay (or if it's a really cloudy day). And when he opens the door to let Joyce in, he stays in the shadow of the door.

  • Angel doesn't drink coffee; it makes him jittery.

  • Giles states that there are thousands of species of demons.

  • The clothing store where Cordelia works is called April Fools.

  • The movies that Tucker used to train the Hell Hounds were: Prom Night, Pump Up the Volume (which Seth Green and Juliet Landau were in), Prom Night IV, Pretty in Pink, The Club, and Carrie. They were from a video store called Big Lou's.

  • Buffy's wedding dress was designed by Vera Wang; and her prom dress by Pamela Dennis (in real life, that is; it wasn't something mentioned in the show).

  • Willow mentions that Angel is 243, which can be taken as proof that it was an error in "Becoming, Part One" when it was shown that Angel became a vampire in 1753. In fact, he was not born until 1755 or 1756 (as evidenced in this episode, "Earshot," "Some Assembly Required," and "Reptile Boy").
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Hell hath no fury like a Buffy scorned! This is definitely one of my favorites of the season, the only drawback was that the Hell Hounds weren't much of a challenge for Buffy. When I had first heard on some of the spoiler sites that Buffy was going to get a "Class Protector" award, the first thing I thought of was cheese, and lots of it. However, the writing, directing, and acting pulled it together very nicely; I even had a small tear build up. This was also Buffy and Angel's best breakup (if there can be such a thing) ever. It was very emotional and obviously very painful for both of them. Buffy's post-breakup scene with Willow has got to be one of the best and most realistic portrayal of a breakup that I have ever seen. Xander and Cordy also had some great magic in this episode; they obviously still care very much for each other. Even though I can't wait for twice as much of Joss's fun next season, it does pain me to think about some of the Scooby Gang breaking up. (8.5/10)
Jamie Marie:
I assumed that Buffy and Angel wouldn't break up until the finale, so I wasn't expecting to cry during this episode. But that I did. SMG's acting in this episode was truly excellent; both the break-up itself and the scene with Willow were brilliant (hey, I've been there, I know what a realistic break-up looks like). And how true that even though she knows Angel is probably right, that doesn't ease the pain in the least. Joyce's lines, echoing the Mayor, were fine except that it seemed like they belonged in "Choices" — she even talks about making choices. But how true to motherly form to go behind Buffy's back and drop hints that Angel should let Buffy go. I don't think Buffy would be too pleased about that. As for the Cordelia/Xander thing; I had read a spoiler (lesson learned) that Cordelia thought it was Wesley who bought her prom dress. I was very relieved that she wasn't actually that stupid, and that she was truly grateful. And while I would never support the coupledom of Cordelia and Wesley, the flirting stage is admittedly cute; and Giles' advice was absolutely hilarious. Too bad Giles didn't have anyone to dance with. :-( Anyhow, on to the Hell Hound subplot: at first I thought "How contrived is this? This kid finds these monsters who knows where and trains them to attack people in formal wear?!" And yeah, I guess it could be seen as contrived, but on second thought, I realized it was actually funny. One thing, though — what about the other awards (especially most likely to succeed, which had to be Willow)? Perhaps they'll mention them sometime in the next two episodes? And was there no Prom Queen? All in all, a damned good episode that leaves me itching for the finale and yet not wanting the season to end. Oh yeah, and two thumbs up on the music choices, including the score music. (9/10)
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Air Date Rating Ranking
May 11, 1999 3.8 87 of 122
August 10, 1999 2.1 101 of 126 (tie)
March 20, 2000 1.8 108 of 117 (tie)

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