Demons in the Buffyverse

The Jewish idea of demons is, not surprisingly, similar to the demonology of Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse, the world of the television series, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I, admittedly, speak as a rank amateur who only knows what little I’ve read and watched. Perhaps I flatter myself; Giles calls Willow a rank amateur after she resurrects Buffy and before she nearly destroys the world. I don’t have that kind of power. Anyhow, the connection is not surprising because I find myself drawn to stories from both worlds.

Jewish demons are sometimes bad, but they can also be good. The bad ones are sometimes more annoying and playful than evil. Similarly, as Buffy argues with Faith, the other unique slayer in Buffy’s generation, not all demons are bad. Some are neutral and some even work hard to do good in the world. They just happen to be different from people, although not necessarily in obvious ways, and they almost always lack souls.

How does a demon without a soul be a force for good? Sometimes because it is easier to survive if you play by the rules of the society you live—or are undead—in. Once, because falling in love with a person makes you want to be worthy of her love. Although the absence of a soul seems to make it harder to know the difference between what you want others to do and what they really want to do. But isn’t that true of soulful people as well?

What is great about all these stories is that demonic behavior is human behavior carried to an extreme so that we can recognize what would otherwise be too much like everyday life. Now go and watch.