Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 6, Episode 16

Hell's Bells (5 Mar. 2002)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Action, Drama, Fantasy
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 868 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 1 critic

It's the day of Xander and Anya's wedding. Emotions are running high with Xander's disfunctional family clashing with Anya's demon friends. The ceremony is disrupted when an old man claiming to be the future Xander shows up.



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Title: Hell's Bells (05 Mar 2002)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jessica Harris
Cousin Carol
George Wallace ...
Old Man (as George D. Wallace)
Uncle Rory


The day of the wedding has finally come and Xander and Anya are preparing for the hoards of guests. While Xander's screwed up human family go head to head with Anya's demon friends, an unexpected guest approaches Xander to warn him that his life with Anya may not turn out to be the married bliss he has hoped for. Written by Alex

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 March 2002 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


While Buffy is playing charades with the crowd at Xander and Anya's wedding, she puts her fingers up to her head like horns and you can hear someone in the background guess "Deathwok Clan!". This is a reference to Lorne from Angel (1999), who is a demon with horns and a member of the Deathwok clan. See more »


As the manager shows Xander into the motel room, you can see over the top of the set. See more »


Mr. Tony Harris: What do ya say we slip in the back room and I show you my...
Buffy: You finish that sentence and I guarantee you won't have anything to show.
See more »


Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme
Written by Nerf Herder
Performed by Brandon K. Verrett
See more »

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User Reviews

A wedding in Sunnydale is just bound to have problems
3 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I actually liked this episode more the first time I saw it, than I have in repeated viewings. I think its because that I originally assumed that Xander leaving Anya at the alter was just a temporary setback in their relationship and that they would get back together. However, the problems in "Hell's Bells" follow them throughout the rest of the series and the show ends without any real, emotional reunion for them. I guess that, technically, season seven is to blame for that, but I still transfer my feelings of disappointment and annoyance on to "Hell's Bell." The episode itself isn't really that bad, but it makes you so sad for Anya and so furious at Xander that its hard to really enjoy it. Still, this is an important episode that will play into the story line for the rest of the show, so you really can't skip it.

"Hell's Bells" revolves around Xander and Anya's wedding day. Things are spinning out of control as their guests endlessly bicker and the Scoobies try to keep everyone calm. Anya's demon friends and Xander's human family are at each others throats. Tara and Willow help Anya with her dress, while Buffy talks with Xander. Spike shows up with a goth looking date, which annoys Buffy... Just as he hoped it would. Dawn tries to catch one of Anya's wedding "gifts" which got loose from its box. Everything seems to be tense, but headed forward. Then an unexpected guest shows up. He claims to be Xander... From the future. He shows Xander a vision of a horrible future. If he marries Anya, Xander will be miserable and his life will be ruined. Terrified Xander flees the ceremony.

When the Scoobies find out that Xander's gone, they try to cover with Anya. They have no idea where he went, but they don't really believe that he's left her at the alter. When Anya finally finds out that he's missing she freaks out. Cornering the old man who claims to be "future" Xander, she demands to know what he said to Xander to scare him so badly. The man tells her about the "visions" he showed Xander. But it turns out that he's not from the future at all. He's really one of the men that Anya cursed in her vengeance demon days. Now he's a giant demon and he wants revenge. Buffy has to fight him. When Xander shows up, he tells Anya that even if the visions were fake, he can't go through with the ceremony. He isn't ready to be married and he tells Anya that he's made a mistake. He quickly leaves again. Anya is heartbroken and decides to return to her work as a vengeance demon.

There are some really great parts to this episode. I love Buffy and Willow's hideous, toxic waste green bride's maids dresses. Willow wants to switch to the traditional demon "burlap and blood larva" wedding attire. Buffy has to wear dangle-y green earrings. It's just hilarious. And I like Buffy's jealously over Spike's date. Just the fact that he was invited to the ceremony is great. Spike and Xander spend most of their time bickering with each other, but nobody thinks its odd that Spike is coming to Anya and Xander's wedding. In the daylight no less. It's a shame that he didn't sit down because I'd have liked to see if he self-identified as a guest of the bride or groom. I also really like the scene with Willow and Xander. The way they hug and say how much they'll always love each other, is really sweet and plays into the season finale. Finally, you just have to laugh when Buffy and Kraven decide to entertain the guests with a juggling act.

Really the entire episode is contrasting Xander's human family with Anya's demon guests. They've all gathered for the wedding. Halfreck and Clem, Xander's parents and his oft-mentioned Uncle Rory. Arguments rage about drinking and taxidermy and the Anya's guests' cover-story of a "circus folk" heritage. There are fist fights and charades and bitter shouting matches. In the end, it's pretty clear that the demons are far more "normal" than the humans. Anya is optimistic and ready for a happily ever after with her "best friend." She's not worried about anything bad happening. But, as Xander stares at his parents, he sees the real specter of his future. Their bitterness and anger scare him more deeply than anything that his fake future self showed him. He's terrified and he flees. Anya might have been a demon, but her past hasn't scarred her nearly as deeply as Xander "ordinary" human life.

On the down side, where's Giles? There's no way he would skip Anya and Xander's wedding. He loves them. They're his family and he should be in this episode. Nobody even mentions his name or provides an excuse for his absence. It's crazy. Also, I think Xander's injury in his future "vision" should have been a missing eye. This would have played into season seven and added another dimension to the story. Making everyone question if his "future vision" was completely made up or if his marriage to Anya really was doomed.

My favorite part of the episode: Anya practicing her wedding vow. From sex poodles, to sea captains, to, finally, heartfelt promises of love, it's all just great.

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