Spike is a vampire who appears in both of the Joss Whedon-created series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." The two most important vampires in both series are Spike and Angel; both of them are almost equally loved by fans of both of the shows.
James Marsters, who plays Spike, auditioned with a few different accents. Joss Whedon, who had studied at school in England, thought that Marsters was perfect at a particular London accent, and an undying character was thus created.
Spike's story, before he appears in Sunnydale, unfolds in flashbacks scattered among numerous episodes of both "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel". They are not presented in chronological order.
Spike's Origins: William and Transformation
The first flashback occurs in Buffy Season 5's "Fool for Love", and reveals that William was a romantic, if ineffectual, gentleman who lived in London, England, with his mother Anne. Anne would often sing the folksong "Early One Morning" to her son when he was a baby, right up until his late-twenties/early thirties. William's surname is given as "Pratt" in the non-canon comic "Old Times"; however, Joss Whedon has not confirmed this, lending question to its canonicity. (William Henry Pratt was the real name of Boris Karloff, who played a vampire in the 1963 Mario Bava film "Black Sabbath"; Whedon was joking when he first offered this as Spike's surname.)
Before becoming a vampire in 1880, William was a struggling poet. He was often mocked by his peers - that is, other middle-to-upper-class ladies and gentlemen, at least one of whom called him "William the Bloody" behind his back, because his poetry was so "bloody awful." William overheard this and felt bitter about it. The true origins of this nickname were not revealed until three years after it was first mentioned in Season 2, when it was believed to have purely violent connotations - both Giles and Angel believed it was because of Spike's murderous history. But back in the day, when William overheard this, he was distraught and rushed into the events that would lead to him becoming a vampire.
William showed a strong capacity for loyalty and devoted love, which followed him after his siring. After his romantic overtures were rejected by the aristocratic Cecily, a despondent William, while wandering the streets, bumped into Drusilla. She saw something special in him, then bit him and transformed him into a vampire, thus becoming his "Sire."
(In the Buffy Season 2 episode "School Hard," Spike rants to Angel, "You were my Sire," which, usually in the Buffy canon, would mean that Angel was the vampire who killed and turned him. However, Whedon said in an interview that the term "Sire" can mean that Spike is simply "descended" from Angel, not necessarily that Angel sired him himself.)
Whereas new vampires in the Buffyverse often delight in killing their families once they become evil, William was a notable exception. Having always been very close to his mother, he turned her into a vampire to prevent her from dying from tuberculosis. Unfortunately, his mother, as a vampire, taunted William, insinuating that William had always had a sexual fascination with her. He staked her because he could not bear to see his mother in such a twisted form - twisted mentally, that is, and perhaps physically, too. He would later write a poem about this traumatic experience, entitled "The Wanton Folly of Me Mum," which he is seen preparing to recite to an enthusiastic night-club audience in the "Angel" finale, "Not Fade Away".
After staking his mother, William began a new life with Drusilla, to whom he was utterly devoted. Euphoric with his newfound vampiric abilities, he became a rebel, adopting a working class North London accent and embracing impulsiveness and violence. He adopted the nom de guerre "Spike", based on his alleged habit of torturing and/or killing people with railroad spikes (it is in doubt whether he actually did this or not; he is never seen doing so at any time during the series), perhaps as a result of the insult one of his acquaintances used about his poetry: "I'd rather have a railroad spike through my head than listen to that awful stuff" (from "Fool for Love").
In the company of Drusilla, Angelus, and Darla, Spike terrorized Europe and Asia for almost two decades. He had a strained relationship with Drusilla's sire Angelus, who continued a sexual relationship with her despite Spike's strong disapproval. Although Angelus did enjoy the company of another male vampire in their travels, he found Spike's eagerness for battle to be an unnecessary risk. Angelus regarded killing as an art, not a sport, and killed for the sheer act of evil; Spike did it for amusement and the rush.
In 1894, Spike and Angelus developed a rivalry with the enigmatic Immortal, who at one point, allegedly, had Spike sent to prison for tax evasion. (Spike must have been joking or exaggerating when he said this to Angel in the "Angel" episode "The Girl in Question" -- it is hard to believe that a person who had been considered dead for at least 13 years would be required to pay taxes OR to be liable for fraud.)
Count Dracula came to England in 1897, and at some point before Spike left with Angelus and Drusilla for the Far East, they met. Spike tells Riley Finn, "Poncy bugger owes me eleven pounds, for one thing" and "We're old rivals." When Riley tells him that Dracula has come to Sunnydale, Spike says immodestly, "I guess the old boy needed closure after all."
Spike in the 20th Century
In 1900, Spike killed a Slayer in China during the Boxer Rebellion. During that fight, the Slayer wounded his face, and forever after, he bears a scar on his left eyebrow. The scar has been explained by some as the result of his being wounded by a Slayer's special powers. (In reality, Marsters gained the scar when he fought a mugger.)
In 1943 ("Why We Fight"), Spike was involved in the submarine action in World War 2. However, the canonical texts are unclear about how he became involved. Spike does not explain. Possibilities are:
(a) Spike was captured by Nazis, who were experimenting on vampires, then imprisoned in a U.S. submarine full of human sailors; (Spike dodged the experimentation)
(b) Spike was bribed by Nazis to join them in experimenting on vampires, then lured to work within a U.S. submarine full of human sailors
(c) Spike killed some Nazis, stole their uniforms, and found himself and other vampires imprisoned in a submarine with a team fighting German U-Boats
This part of Spike's past is difficult to untangle, because Angel, who has been trying to low lie as a vampire, suddenly finds himself exposed to the WWII military. Against his will, Angel is sent to the submarine to take charge, and Angel, heroically, tries to save the submarine.
Spike doesn't like Angel's appearance on the submarine, or professes not to; he became arrogant, and then sulky, and then petulent (all within the same episode). When briefly reunited with Angel, as usual, Angel wins the argument, as Spike feels he must defer to his "Sire." Spike has to leave the submarine and swim to the coast of America.
By the 1950s, Spike has reunited with Drusilla and they travel to Italy. They were part of the "cool" class of society, without humans knowing that they were vampires.
In August, 1969, Spike attended the Woodstock Music Festival in New York.
Perhaps Spike remained in New York for several more years, because in 1977, Spike fought and killed the Slayer Nikki Wood aboard a subway train in New York City. He took from her the leather jacket (most commonly called his "duster") that he wore throughout his appearances on "Buffy" and "Angel." (It was destroyed in an explosion when he and Angel were on a mission in Italy).
Spike Comes to Sunnydale
Spike first arrives in Sunnydale around the end of September, 1997, in Season 2's episode "School Hard", accompanied by Drusilla. Spike and Dru were fashioned after Sex Pistols bass guitarist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen: punk, badass vampires who were meant to contrast sharply with the religiosity of the Master and the Order of Aurelius. Spike is a fan of the Sex Pistols; he is seen singing along to a cover of the song "My Way" (as sung by Gary Oldman, who played Sid in the film "Sid and Nancy") in the final scene of the Season 3 episode "Lovers Walk."
"School Hard" is an important episode, because it sets up Spike as he first appears to Buffy and to the audience. It was written by David Greenwalt, one of the greatest Buffyverse script-writers, and contains some of the best, most quoted, and most famous lines.
Notably, Spike's first major act in Sunnydale is to rebel against a boy who has been prophesied (presumably by evil forces) as the Anointed One, who will be "the Master's great warrior" and whom all the other vampires in the vicinity want to obey and impress. The Anointed boy quizzes some of the posturing vampires who want to kill the Slayer and take the Master's place, one of whom says, "This weekend, the night of St. Vigeous, our power shall be at its peak. When I kill her, it'll be the greatest event since the Crucifixion. And I should know. I was there." Spike's first appearance in the Buffyverse comes when he enters the cavern behind this boasting vampire and sneers, "You were there? Oh, please! If every vampire who said he was at the Crucifixion was actually there, it would have been like Woodstock." He easily kills the boaster and tells The Anointed that he will kill the Slayer: "I did a couple of Slayers in my time. I don't like to brag. - Who am I kidding? I love to brag! There was this one Slayer during the Boxer Rebellion, and..."
Spike sees Buffy for the first time at the Bronze. He sends a flunkie vampire outside to menace a girl, then says loudly, where Buffy can hear him, "I need to call the police. There's some big guy out there trying to bite somebody." Buffy runs outside and one of the famous exchanges occurs: the vampire snarls, "Slayer," and she says, "Slayee!" -- but after she dusts him, she and Willow and Xander hear clapping. Spike steps forward into the light, saying, "Nice work, luv." Buffy asks who he is, and Spike says that she'll find out on Saturday, when he will kill her.
The Scoobies are more frightened by him than they have been by other demons (in fact, in his first appearance, Spike's "game-face" is more truly demonic than that of most other vampires' visages; he nearly resembles The Master), although Buffy tries to keep her cool by joking. When they gather in the school library, Giles, says, "Spike. That's what the other vampire called him? That's a little unorthodox, isn't it?" Buffy says, "Maybe he's Reform." However, it is clear that Spike is a serious menace. Giles tries to be comforting, saying, "Well, he can't be any worse than any other creature you've faced." Angel shows up momentarily to say, "He's worse. Once he starts something, he doesn't stop until everything in his path is dead." In another famous jokey quote, Xander says, "So, he's thorough, goal-oriented." But when they look up again to ask for more information, Angel has vanished, and all of them are nervous and unsettled.
During this same episode, "School Hard", Spike reveals his impatience with authority and his glee with action. (James Marsters said in an interview that if he had to describe Spike with one word, that word would be "glee.") Spike decides to move before Saturday, the "Night of St. Vigeous" at which time vampires are supposed to have "power at its peak." Instead, on Thursday, when Buffy and her friends are dealing with Parent-Teacher Night, Spike and his minions attack Buffy and a large group of people at her high school, making his first appearance the deadliest of any of Buffy's "Big Bads." She and Angel (who uses Xander as bait) fight the vampires, but eventually Buffy and Spike have to face each other, taunt each other, and fight. When it looks as though he has the upper hand, he is astonished to be hit over the head with the blunt end of an axe and to meet Buffy's mother, Joyce, who yells, "You get the hell away from my daughter!"
The conclusion of "School Hard" is important for two reasons: First, Joyce decides that she can forgive Buffy for getting in trouble at school, because Buffy is "a daughter who can take care of herself. Who's brave and resourceful and thinks of others in a crisis." Second, Spike realizes much the same thing. As he tells Drusilla shortly afterward, "A Slayer with family and friends. That sure as hell wasn't in the brochure." (In later seasons, these relationships become very familiar to Spike).
Throughout Season Two, Spike and Drusilla show for the first time on "Buffy" that vampires can be affectionate towards each other. They display the humanity and intricacies of vampire relationships. Spike was initially created as a disposable villain who was going to be killed off; however, he proved so popular with fans that Joss Whedon decided simply to injure him instead, in the episode "What's My Line?, Part Two".
Spike and Drusilla are major enemies of Buffy for much of the second season. They arrive shortly after Drusilla is seriously weakened by an angry mob in Prague, the details of which are revealed in the canon comic book "The Problem with Vampires." Spike is a devoted caretaker to Drusilla in her weakened condition, and initially hopes that the Hellmouth's energy can help restore her strength. He reunites with Angel, but is disgusted to find that he has a soul and, much worse, is in love with the current Slayer.
When Angel loses his soul and rejoins Spike and Dru, Spike's initial celebration soon turns to resentment when Angelus starts pursuing Drusilla again as a lover and taunting Spike with his success at doing so. Spike decides to ally himself with Buffy against Angelus; he explains to Buffy that, in addition to wanting Drusilla back, he also wants to "save the world":
"We like to talk big, vampires do. 'I'm going to destroy the world.' That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got the dog racing, Manchester United, and you've got people: billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision, with a real passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester bloody Square." ("Becoming, Part Two.")
Threatening him all the way, Buffy temporarily joins forces with Spike, and he leaves town with Drusilla while Buffy has to face Angelus alone.
Spike reappears in the Season Three episode "Lovers Walk", in a drunken depression after Drusilla dumps him for a Chaos Demon. He toys with the idea of using a love spell and terrorizes Willow and Xander into helping him with one. In doing so, he unintentionally causes a rift in the Scooby Gang as it was at the time. (And he does again, later, quite on purpose, specifically in the Season 4 episode "The Yoko Factor.") However, when Willow won't do the spell for him, Spike eventually resolves to win Drusilla back by simply torturing her until she likes him again.
Spike tells Buffy and Angel that no matter what happens, they will never be friends because of their love for one another. This insight foreshadows Spike's later role as the "truth-sayer" of the group, as Cordelia was before she left for Los Angeles.
Spike Becomes a Major Player
Spike returns to Sunnydale alone in Season Four, in the episode "The Harsh Light of Day." In this season, Buffy and Willow are attending college. Spike briefly dates Harmony Kendall, a beautiful but shallow young vampire who, as a human, had been in the same high school class as the Scoobies and a friend of Cordelia Chase.
Joss Whedon brought Spike back to fill the antagonistic role Cordelia had had in seasons One to Three; as he explains on a DVD featurette, "All of our characters got to the point where they were loving and hugging, and it was sort of like, where's Cordelia?" In other words, someone was needed to tell Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles that the situations they find themselves in might seem happy for a little while, but can never be perfect.
After being captured by and implanted by The Initiative with a microchip which prevents him from harming humans, Spike turns to the Scooby Gang for protection. Buffy had always been eager to kill him, but when Spike comes to Giles's house in episode "Pangs", Buffy relents and merely ties him to a chair. For the first time, Spike sees the Scooby Gang both working together and ailing together.
In the next episode, "Something Blue," Giles chains Spike in his bathtub, ordering Buffy not to slay him so that they can learn about the mysterious military men who "chipped" Spike. His inability to bite is comically compared to impotence, much to Spike's constant humiliation. (These episodes spurred a great deal of fan fiction, as has been written about by scholars.) Spike agrees to talk only when Giles assures him that he will not be killed as long as he is unable to kill anyone else. (Yet Spike also says at one point, "This is the crack team that foils my every plan? I am deeply shamed.") Very soon after, Giles frees Spike, and Xander is surprised to find that Spike is making himself at home at Giles's house, to the point of becoming a mere nuisance.
From then on, he becomes a "Buffy" cast regular and an unofficial member of the Scooby Gang, occasionally helping them out for cash payments, but having no qualms about betraying them to such enemies as Faith and Adam.
In Season Five, Spike becomes aware after an erotic dream that, to his horror, he has fallen in love with Buffy. He becomes a more active participant in the Scooby Gang, jumping into several of Buffy's fights to provide assistance whether she wants it or not. When Buffy rejects his advances in the episode "Crush", Spike attempts to prove his love by kidnapping her to witness him killing Drusilla for her, to no avail. As Cecily had said to William, Buffy tells Spike, "You're beneath me."
Not wanting to give up his obsession, Spike has villainous Warren Mears make a robot in Buffy's likeness; it is programmed to love and obey him. Disgusted, particularly after witnessing the full extent of Spike's obsession, Buffy rejects Spike again. However, she reconciles after Spike refuses to reveal the identity of Dawn Summers to the Hell-god Glory under intense torture, nearly laying down his (un)life to protect her. Buffy is moved by his unexpected sacrifice and kisses him, which stuns Spike and makes him understand her principles better -- and makes him love her more.
In the days and hours leading up to the final showdown with Glory, Spike fights by Buffy's side, earning her trust. After Buffy dies in the showdown with Glory, Spike honors her memory by remaining loyal to the Scoobies, fighting with them against evil and serving the role of baby-sitter/father figure/protector to Dawn.
Spike and Buffy Have a New Relationship
During the Sixth Season, Spike and Buffy become violent lovers after Buffy's resurrection.
Unable to confide in her friends the fact that she had been in Heaven, and that they pulled her out from there, Buffy is increasingly drawn to Spike, who understands why she doesn't want to tell them the truth.
Their physical relationship starts after a demon's spell makes them express their emotions in song - the episode "Once More, With Feeling" sees all of the major characters forced to sing and dance, and to express their feelings against their will.
Buffy sings many songs full of desire for understanding herself; the last solo song is "I want the fire back", and that desire is consummated two episodes later. Buffy most often initiates both the violence and the sex between them, and threatens to kill Spike if he ever tells anyone about their relationship. Both are unsatisfied with the relationship; Buffy is ashamed of her dark desires, while Spike obsessively craves the love, trust, and affection that she is unwilling to give.
In the episode "As You Were", Buffy admits that she is using Spike and finally ends their romantic (on his side) and sexual (on her side) relationship. Believing he still has a chance with Buffy after seeing her reactions of jealousy and hurt when he has a drunken sexual fling with Anya, Spike corners her in a bathroom at the Summers home and makes aggressive sexual advances. When she refuses him, he grows desperate and unsuccessfully tries to force her into making love. He realizes in moments by her cries that she perceives it as rape, at which point he runs out of the house, so appalled by himself that he leaves his beloved leather duster behind. Horrified by his own actions, Spike heads to a remote area of Africa, where he seeks out a legendary demon shaman and undergoes the Demon Trials, a series of grueling physical challenges. Proving his worthiness by surviving the trials, Spike earns his soul back.
A New Relationship with Buffy; Spike Seeks to Prove That He Has Changed
In Season 7, the great battle to be fought is against what is called "the First Evil" or "The First."
A re-ensouled Spike must cope with the guilt of his past actions - experiences that make him almost crazy, experiences both like and unlike what Angel had to cope with when he was re-ensouled by gypsies. Spike wants most of all to win back Buffy's trust. When Buffy asks him why he had fought for his soul, Spike explains that it was all in an effort to find "the spark" for Buffy.
Under the influence of the First Evil's hypnotic trigger, Spike unknowingly starts killing again. After he discovers what he has done, he begs Buffy to stake him, but she refuses and takes him into her house, telling him she has seen him change. Buffy guards and cares for Spike throughout his recovery, telling Spike that she believes in him, a statement which later sustains him throughout his imprisonment and torture at the hands of the First.
Potential Slayers - teenaged girls who might have been "chosen" to be Slayers - begin to arrive at Buffy's and Dawn's house because a battle to save the world is about to begin. Spike helps Buffy to train them in fighting and to encourage them to become a small army.
When Spike's chip begins to malfunction, causing him intense pain and threatening to kill him, Buffy trusts him enough to order the Initiative operatives to remove it from his head.
When Nikki Wood's son Robin tries to kill Spike, he unwittingly frees Spike from his hypnotic trigger: the song "Early One Morning" that Spike's mother sang when he was human. The song evokes Spike's traumatic memories of his mother's abusive behavior toward him after she turned; after Spike is able to address these issues, he realizes that his mother had always loved him, knowledge which frees him from the First's control.
Later in the season, Spike and Buffy achieve an emotional closeness; they spend two nights together, one of which Spike describes as the best night of his life, just holding her while she rests. It is unclear whether they resume their sexual intimacy the second night; creator Joss Whedon says on the DVD commentary for "Chosen" that he intentionally left it to the viewers to decide how they felt the relationship progressed, though Whedon had earlier stated on the commentary that he personally felt having them resume a sexual relationship would send the wrong message.
Spike tells Buffy in the episode "Touched," "Now, you listen to me. I've been alive a bit longer than you. And dead a lot longer than that. I've seen things you couldn't imagine--done things I'd prefer you didn't. I don't exactly have a reputation for being a thinker. I follow my blood. Which doesn't exactly rush in the direction of my brain. I've made a lot of mistakes. A lot of wrong bloody calls. A hundred plus years and there's only one thing I've ever been sure of. You."
In many episodes, the Scoobies and Potentials fight vicious vampires, including a terrible tribe of powerful vampires called "the Turok-Han."
Angel briefly visits Sunnydale to help Buffy if he can and to deliver a mystical amulet, which is to be worn by a Champion (an important word in the "Angel" series). No one knows what it can do.
The climax of Season 7 has been poetically named "The Battle at the Hellmouth" (after the fashion of battles described by J.R.R. Tolkien - see the Wikia page about that battle). Bringing us full circle, the battle requires all of the Scooby gang, some of their friends, and the Potential Slayers to meet at the Sunnydale High School.
Buffy has had an idea which requires Willow to do the most powerful spell she has ever attempted: to turn all potential Slayers around the world into actual Slayers, with all of the strengths that implies.
Underneath the High School, innumerable Turok-Han vampires are preparing to come above ground and destroy the world, beginning with Sunnydale. Buffy brings the fight to them. The Potential Slayers fight bravely, but it is Spike, wearing the amulet, who really wins the battle by defeating the hordes of vampires. The amulet produces a ray of fire that destroys the Turok-Han and closes the Hellmouth; Spike willingly sacrifices himself. He is slowly incinerated in the process, and Buffy runs to tell him, "I love you." He replies, "No, you don't, but thanks for saying it." Even as he burns and crumbles to dust, Spike laughs and revels in the destruction before him, glad to be able to see the fight to its end. He finally dies at the Hellmouth and saves the world in the process, becoming a Champion.
Spike Joins Angel's Team
Despite his apparent death at the end of Buffy's final season, Spike returns in the fifth and final season of "Angel." Resurrected by the amulet in the Los Angeles branch of supernatural law firm Wolfram & Hart, he spends the first seven episodes of the series as an incorporeal being, akin to a ghost.
As well as battling enemies such as "the Reaper" Matthias Pavayne and the psychotic Slayer Dana, Spike also takes on Angel to prove which one of them is the Champion spoken of in the Shanshu Prophecy. Spike defeats Angel, but the prophecy remains ambiguous.
Manipulated by antagonistic lawyer Lindsey McDonald into "helping the helpless", Spike becomes a sort of rival to Angel, resembling the heroic Champion that Angel had been in earlier seasons, before Angel became disillusioned and corrupted by the bureaucracy of Wolfram & Hart. Cordelia comments on this strange turn of events after coming out of a coma in "You're Welcome", exclaiming to Angel, "Okay, Spike's a hero, and you're CEO of Hell, Incorporated. What freaking bizarro world did I wake up in?"
Spike maintains a mocking relationship to former Watcher Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, but like the others, he becomes very fond of Fred Burkle.
When Fred is killed by an employee so that her body might be possessed by an ancient God-King known as Illyria, Spike mourns her death and fully joins Team Angel in her honour.
Angel and Spike discover that Buffy is now dating the Immortal in Rome, and when they are sent there on a mission, they both want to find her, but time and again fail to catch up with her, sometimes by mere minutes.
During the final episodes of Angel, Spike is the first to vote for Angel's plan to wound the Senior Partners by taking out the Circle of the Black Thorn. He then spends his potentially-last day returning to his mortal roots as a frustrated poet, triumphantly knocking them dead (figuratively) in an open-mike poetry slam at a bar.
After single-handedly rescuing an infant and destroying the Fell Brethren, Spike joins Angel, Illyria, and a badly-wounded Charles Gunn in the alley behind the Hyperion as the series draws to an end, preparing to incur the apocalyptic wrath of the Senior Partners, as a way of going out in a blaze of glory.
After Angel Season Five
Spike is set to appear in the canonical sixth season of Angel, titled Angel: After The Fall, written by Brian Lynch and plotted by Joss Whedon. Spike and Angel make cameo appearances in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight as part of Buffy's sexual fantasies, and may reappear later in the series.
Spike has a gift for insults. For example, he calls Riley "Captain Cardboard" (Season 5, episode "No Place Like Home") and he refers to Angel as "tall, dark and forehead."
In Season 5's episode "Checkpoint," some Watchers' Council members visit Sunnydale. One of them, Lydia, interviews Spike about Buffy's abilities, and admits, "I wrote my thesis on you." Spike is flattered.
In Season 7's episode "Storyteller," previous villain and future Watcher Andrew Wells uses his videocamera to tape the Scoobies and Potentials as they live and work in the Summers household. Spike pretends to be fed up (as Buffy really is) with his videotaping, and through the videocam we see him yelling, "I thought I told you to piss off with this bloody camera, yet here you are again with that thing in my face. Would you sod off?" (He flicks his cigarette at Andrew.) "Before I rip your throat out and eat y--" Andrew interrupts to say, "Uh, Spike? The light was kind of behind you." We realize that Spike is actually enjoying the filming when he looks around and says, "Oh, right. What, is this better, then? -- 'I thought I told you to piss off with that bloody camera; here you are again with that thing in my face. Would you sod off?'"