There’s not a more charismatic antihero in all the Buffyverse than Spike. Creator Joss Whedon originally meant to kill him off after his first story arc in season 2. But fan response was so fervent, they kept him around, and Spike grew to be one of the most popular (and controversial) characters of Whedon’s career.
There are things that even a casual fan knows about this globe-trotting London ex-pat. Turned vamp in 1880, he reinvented himself through the decades, but settled on first wave punk as his “forever look”. Spike is a fan of the Sex Pistols and the daytime soap, Passions. Always armed with a snarky quip, Spike can rock some eyeliner, and he loves a bit of the old Ultraviolence.
Maybe you’ve seen every episode of Buffy and Angel, and worn out the pause button on that scene in “Wrecked” (you know the one). But even the most dedicated Spikettes won’t know all 15 of these Spike facts. If you’re not caught up on all things Buffyverse, proceed at your own risk. Here be spoilers.
15 Spike Had A Rivalry With Dracula
The 5-part 2006 IDW one-off comic, Spike Vs. Dracula, tells the story of the nearly 100-year rivalry between William the Bloody and Vlad the Impaler that begins when Spike, along with Dru and Darla, wipe out a Romanian town that was under Dracula’s protection. Years later, while under his thrall, Dracula kidnaps Dru and Darla and takes them for his brides, though Spike frees them by luring an angry mob to Dracula’s castle.
Their squabble continues through 2003, and involves many famous faces during their clashes, including Bela Lugosi (whom Dracula attempts to sire), a young Ed Wood, Adolf Hitler, and Oz’s grandfather, Nathanial Osbourne. Spike claims that his grudge is motivated by the notion that Dracula owes him $11. Years before, Dracula threw a signed copy of Bram Stoker’s “vampire slaying instruction manual” into a fire, and Spike has been hounding Dracula about it like the paperboy from Better off Dead ever since. Though not technically canon, it’s fun to think about Spike squaring off with the Grand Poobah of vampires.
14 Spike Is Multilingual
Spike’s native tongue is, of course, the Queen’s English. But, like most non-Americans, he is also fluent in several other languages, including Latin, Luganda, and Fyarl (a demonic language). On occasion, he’ll translate Latin words for the Scoobies, as in "Empty Places", when he helps them read a prophesy related to their conflict with Caleb. He is the only one who can understand (and therefore recognize) Giles when Ethan Rayne temporarily turns him into a Fyarl demon, thus saving Giles from being slain by a clueless Buffy. In the season 6 episode “Villains”, Spike is shown to have a perfect understanding of Luganda, one of the major languages of Uganda, when he visits an African village in order to win back his soul. He also has a passing understanding of Sumerian.
Unfortunately, he’s not quite as skilled at doing an American accent, as when he goes undercover at a party as “a friend of Xanderrr’s”.
13 Spike Was Almost A Cowboy
Undeniably, one of the most charming things about Spike is his British wit. But the saucy lad we know and love today almost never existed. That’s because James Marsters, the actor who plays Spike, originally auditioned for Joss and Co. using a Texan accent. Marsters knew from the beginning that they had intended for Angel to kill off Spike after 5 episodes. Maybe you don’t mess with Texas, but you also don’t give Texas a recurring role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Marsters credits their eventual revamp (sorry) of the character as a major factor in why he was able to retain his job. “When I read for Spike, I also did it with a Southern accent, which would have been sexy but not as dangerous. I’d have been staked if they’d gone with Southern; I’d be dead by now.” We’re all very grateful to Joss for moving Spike’s origins across the pond.
12 Marsters Based His Accent On Giles
James Marsters’ English accent is so flawless that even true Brits are often surprised to learn that the actor is not actually from The Old Smoke. When developing Spike’s accent, Marsters studied the inflections of co-star Anthony Stewart Head (Giles), who is from Southeast England and speaks with what’s known as an Estuary accent. To differentiate from Giles, Marsters added a bit of a working class edge. But since his character was born into high society, Marsters is actually doing a posh vampire pretending to be working class. Now that’s dedication to a character.
It also makes it all the more plausible that the two are related, as they falsely deduce during the hilarious amnesia-plot episode, “Tabula Rosa”. And it goes deeper still because Giles comes from delinquent beginnings. ”Spike is what Giles used to be and Giles is what Spike refused to be,” sums up Whedon. Got all that?
11 Spike Was Joss’ Favorite Villain To Write
In a reddit AMA, Joss Whedon revealed that Spike was at the top of his list for favorite Buffy characters to write. In contrast, Angel was one of the hardest to write, because it’s hard to "make a decent, handsome, stalwart hero interesting". Regardless, Whedon never wanted viewers to forget that despite his myriad charms, Spike is still a villain. That’s why he wrote that awful attempted rape scene in "Seeing Red". Marsters agrees that though that was his least favorite day on set, it was necessary.
Joss was constantly trying to remind the audience, ‘Look, guys, I know he’s charming, but he’s evil.’ He’s a bad boyfriend…And I think he wanted to reinforce that in the most dramatic way imaginable. And also give Spike a really good reason to try to reform and try to become better and try to get a soul. Joss doesn’t do anything with half measures. He goes all the way with things.
That’s for sure.
10 Spike is Named After Boris Karloff
We know our Blondie Bear by many names, including Captain Peroxide (a name Xander gave him), Hostile 17 (his name at the Initiative), Randy Giles (what he believes is his name in “Tabula Rasa”), and William the Bloody (a derogatory nickname given to him in life that referred to his “bloody awful poetry”). Spike received his ultimate moniker when he developed a reputation for torturing his victims with railroad spikes. His given name, however, is William Pratt.
Possibly not coincidentally, Spike shares his birth name with that of the actor Boris Karloff, best known for playing Frankenstein’s Monster in the Hammer horror films, and for narrating How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966). Or maybe one day we’ll see a graphic novel adventure that depicts Karloff’s young mother getting inspired after a wild night with a mysterious gentleman called William.
9 Marsters Penned A Spike Comic
In 2004, James Marsters published a one-off comic through Dark Horse called Into the Light. Though Marsters is clearly an expert on the character, it’s considered non-canonical because of its failure to fit neatly into the Buffy timeline. The story is set “near the beginning of season 7”, but Spike’s appearance and behavior more closely resemble his arc on season five of Angel.
The impetus of the story has Spike starting his journey to become re-ensouled. He’s spurred on by a desire to become worthy of Buffy’s love after what happened in that awful bathroom encounter. Broke and lacking suitable footwear, Spike stops off in a small California town to retrieve $10K cash that he once stashed under the floorboards of an old store. He is waylaid by a child-stealing demon and a love interest named Dylan, based on Marsters’ real-life wife, Jasmine. Dylan enraged fans who thought he should only have eyes for Buffy. Regardless, the comic met with critical acclaim.
8 Billy Idol Stole His Look From Spike
You might think that Spike’s signature look is reminiscent of a certain '80s pop star, famous for dancing with himself and mocking his little sister at her white wedding. But it turns out that Billy Idol may have been inspired by a chance encounter with sweet William, prompting him to adopt his spiky bleach-blonde hair, sexy sneer, painted-on trousers, eyeliner, and safety pins for days.
In the season five episode, “Fool for Love”, a bouncer at the Bronze mocks Spike, calling him a “Billy Idol wannabe”. Buffy corrects him, revealing that Idol was the real image thief. At another point in the episode, we see Spike in a very familiar getup as he battles (and defeats) his second slayer, Nikki Wood, on an abandoned New York Subway train in 1977. By that metric, the fashion-forward Spike must have cultivated his look prior to 1976, when Billy Idol came onto the scene with his first band, Generation X.
7 Spike The Softie
Spike loves a good brawl. But he’s got a soft, chewy center when it comes to the people he loves. When we first meet him, he’s in a tumultuous, but fully committed relationship with Drusilla. Despite her rampant infidelity, he remains devoted and doting until she leaves him for good when she sees he has feelings for Buffy. Spike’s warmth extends to all the Summers women. He’s devastated by Joyce’s death, endures Glory’s horrific torture to protect Dawn, and vows to keep “Nibblet” safe when Buffy sacrifices herself in “The Gift”. He also sires his mother to save her life, but is forced to stake her when she turns evil. He’s all about romance and believes wholeheartedly in true love.
Despite all that passion, he seeks to better himself; no other vampire has chosen to become re-ensouled. As he explains to Angel, “You had a soul forced on you, as a curse, make you suffer for all the horrible things you'd done. But me, I fought for my soul…Almost did me in a dozen times over, but I kept fighting 'cause I knew it was the right thing to do.” Take that, Angel.
6 Spike And Halfrek Had A Tryst
The 2005 IDW one-shot comic Old Times details Spike’s history with the vengeance demon Halfrek. Though the book isn't considered canon, Whedon has confirmed that Halfrek was masquerading as Cecily, the object of Spike’s affections, in “Fool For Love”. William wrote love poems about Halfrek/Cecily, but at a party on the night he was sired, she rejected him, saying that he was beneath her.
In the comic, Spike runs into Halfrek in an L.A. bar and learns that she was on the job at the party, and enacted revenge on two of the men that mocked William’s poetry. She’s in L.A. looking for a hapless poet named Lenny, a decedent of one of the cruel partygoers. Halfrek has been killing every male member of his family on their 30th birthday. Spike makes it his business to save Lenny and convinces Halfrek to lift the curse. Later, they meet up at Bela Lugosi’s grave and end up making out. But Spike can’t resist a sweet burn, observing that this time, Cecily is beneath him.
5 Spike Is A Jack Of Many Trades
Spike knows a thing or two about a thing or two. When you’re immortal, you’re bound to pick up a few skills. Over the years, he’s kept up with and references pop culture, which isn’t always easy for vampire. Growing up middle class, he was likely well educated by the time he was sired. In addition to his writing background, he’s also very well read, exhibiting knowledge of literature from several different eras, as seen when he goes mano a mano with Giles’ Shakespearean references.
He dabbles in criminal pursuits, with a proficiency in lock-picking and hotwiring cars. He’s also a great fighter, exhibiting knowledge of several forms of martial arts. He calls out Illyria’s hybrid Tai Kwan Do and Brazilian Ninjitsu fighting style, and his own style blends Judo, Karate, Kung-fu, and street boxing. He can wield nearly every weapon he picks up. and drive any vehicle with ease, from motorcycles to buses. Not one to shy away from modern technology, he enjoys video games and manages to run electricity and cable television into his crypt bachelor pad. A pretty well-rounded guy, all things considered.
4 Spike Is A Textbook Abusive Boyfriend
Despite his bottomless charm, Marsters and Whedon never wanted audiences to forget that Spike has done a lot of unforgivable things during his time as a vamp. According to this article by Jonathan Patrick, Spike exhibits many of the qualities of a classic abusive boyfriend. Viewers who see Spike as Buffy’s one true love are tragically overlooking all the warning signs. Patrick states that Buffy’s relationship with Spike brought out Buffy’s worst qualities and undermined the feminist message of the show.
He does have a history of abuse before Buffy, especially in regard to Harmony, a woman he dated and berated until she finally got the nerve to leave him. Calling him a misogynistic coward and an enabler, Patrick asserts that every good thing Spike did was motivated by his own selfish drive to win Buffy’s affections. Had he really loved her, he would have stopped their unhealthy cycle of sex and shame, rather than entertaining it for his own benefit. We love Spike, but it’s hard to argue when he brings up Buffybot and the bathroom scene. Who needs a hug?
3 Spike killed Hugh Hefner
In IDW's series, Angel: After the Fall, we catch up with Spike after he’s been established as the Lord of Beverly Hills alongside Illyria. Spike and Blue are living the high life in the Playboy Mansion. And just how did they come by such illustrious digs? It seems Hugh Hefner became a vamp during the hell-on-earth melee that followed the Angel series finale, “Not Fade Away”. Spike has no choice but to stake the famous lothario and replace his Bunnies with the "Spikettes”, a collection of human and demon women seemingly at their beck and call.
Though the arrangement resembles indentured servitude, the truth is that Spike and Illyria are masquerading as evil lords in order to provide sanctuary from all the Big Bads running amok in L.A. Eventually, Illyria is able to forcus her time-phasing power and restore the City of Angels to it’s pre-hellscape condition. Hef goes back to being the living octogenarian rake he’s always been.
2 Buffy Ends Up With Spike
When Buffy last sees Spike in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series finale, “Chosen”, he’s burning to a crisp in a last-ditch effort to collapse the Hell Mouth and save the world. Right before he turns to dust, Buffy finally says the 3 words he has longed to hear. But, not wanting to go out on a false note, Spike calls her out with, “No you don’t. But thanks for saying it.” Spike is surprised to find himself back on Earth as a ghost tethered to Wolfram and Hart, and hilariously haunts Angel until he regains his corporeal form. In the TV series, he never sees Buffy again.
However, in the canonical graphic novel series, which continues the “seasons” of Buffy, their lives continue to entwine. In Season Ten, Spuffy finally happens with both parties equally invested. It’s not all wine and roses, however. Angel predicts that Spike will unwittingly implode their relationship with his self-destructive tendencies. But the two make an honest go of it. Buffy even manages to forgive Spike (much to many fans’ chagrin) for that awful incident in the bathroom.
1 Joss Is A Spuffy Shipper
Though actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, the embodiment of our favorite vampire slayer, insists that she believes Buffy’s one true love is Angel, creator Joss Whedon disagrees. He is quoted as saying, “I’m a Buffy/Spike shipper. I always felt like he was a more evolved person, but that’s like saying Juliet’s going to be so happy with Benvolio and everyone will love it. Buffy/Angel is for the ages; Buffy/Spike is maybe for me.”
James Marsters agrees, but with a caveat. "…Ultimately Spike is the right person for Buffy. In the storyline, a few years after the series is completed, Spike would be ready for her having had time figuring out what to do with this new soul of his…It obviously can't be Angel and Buffy because every time they hook up Angel goes evil. So that's just not going to work. I think Spike and Buffy are the ultimate pair. But for the time of the series, Spike wasn't ready yet."
What do you think? Is Spike worthy of being Buffy’s one true love? Did we miss any fun facts? What’s your favorite Spike moment? Let us know in the comments!