Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Once More, With Feeling

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Once More, With Feeling
Once More, With Feeling
Season 6, Episode 7
Airdate November 6, 2001
Production Number 6ABB07
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
← 6x06
All the Way
6x08 →
Tabula Rasa
Buffy the Vampire SlayerSeason Six

Once More, With Feeling is the seventh episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the one-hundred and seventh episode overall. This episode is different from many episodes of the show as this one is set up as a musical. A demon is accidentally unleashed on Sunnydale that causes the inhabitants to belt out singing at inopportune moments to the point of being burned alive. Far from being a throwaway episode, this episode forces huge revelations on the unwilling characters as they are left with no choice but to sing their most well-guarded secrets.

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers), James Marsters (Spike)

and Alyson Hannigan (Willow)

Special Guest Star: Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles)

Guest Starring: Hinton Battle (Sweet), Amber Benson (Tara)

Co-Starring: David Fury (Mustard Man), Marti Noxon (Parking Ticket Woman), Daniel Weaver (Handsome Young Man), Scot Zeller (Henchman), Zachary Woodlee (Demon/Henchman), Timothy Anderson (Henchman), Alex Estronel (Henchman), Matt Sims (College Guy #1), Hunter Cochran (College Guy #2)


Plot Overview

Everyone in Sunnydale, including the Scoobies, find themselves bursting into song and dance. It seems innocent at first, but turns serious when burned up bodies begin to turn up. Buffy and the others also find themselves belting out their buried fears and feelings, so that before the curtain falls, certain secrets will be unveiled.


Monster of the Week

  • Sweet: Sweet is at first a seemingly harmless demon, but, in the end, we find out that he has the power to make people spontaneously combust by singing too much. His ultimate goal in the episode is to kill Buffy by overloading her with music. At the end, he proves to be loyal to the forces of balance and leaves because of a simple mistake that cannot be worked around.
  • Henchmen: Sweet's henchman are never seen on-camera because they are always shielded by face masks, similar to 60s and 70s caper-style films. Like their counterparts, they are generally useless and are seen on the show with adequate but incompetent fighting techniques.

Body Count

# Whom By Whom How Where
1/2 Vampire Buffy Staked Cemetery
3 Vampire Buffy Beheaded Cemetery
4 Horned Demon Buffy Stabbed by sword Cemetery
5/6 Dancing Men Sweet Spontaneous combustion Street
7/8/9 Henchmen Buffy Fight The Bronze


For a complete listing of songs, including lyrics, please refer to the Once More, With Feeling Lyrics page.
Song Sung By
Going Through the Motions Buffy
I've Got a Theory / Bunnies / If We're Together Scooby Gang
The Mustard Mustard Man
Under Your Spell Tara
I'll Never Tell Xander and Anya
The Parking Ticket Parking Ticket Woman
Rest In Peace Spike
Dawn's Lament Dawn
What You Feel Sweet
Standing Giles
Under Your Spell / Standing (reprise) Tara and Giles
Walk Through the Fire Scooby Gang
Something to Sing About Buffy and Spike
What You Feel (reprise) Sweet
Where Do We Go From Here? Scooby Gang
Coda Buffy and Spike

Arc Advancement



  • Buffy and Spike: Buffy and Spike kiss in this episode, although it is the first time they kiss while being aware of the other person. Previously, they have kissed under the guise of magic or otherwise.
  • Willow and Tara: Willow and Tara's relationship shatters in this episode when Tara finds out that Willow cast a spell on her even though Tara has warned Willow not to use anymore magic.
  • Xander and Anya: Xander and Anya both sing to each other about the hardships of soon getting married, both expressing their doubts on the future and their own imperfections, and how that would have an impact on the other person.


  • Pangs: Anya refers to the time Xander was cursed by a tribe of Native Americans with syphilis.
  • Tough Love: Tara refers to the time that Glory altered her mind so that she was mentally unstable when she sings "you know I've been through Hell" in the reprise of "Under Your Spell."
  • The Gift: Buffy says "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it" to Dawn before she dies in The Gift
  • All the Way: Buffy references the previous events that went on in the last episode.


The Show

  • First Time: This is the first episode of the show to have its episode title shown on-screen during the episode.
  • Only Time: This is the only episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be filmed and aired with widescreen in mind. Although the region two DVDs are in widescreen, this was never Joss's original vision.
  • Listen Closely: The demon in the Mutant Enemy logo is altered in this episode as it sings "Grr... argh."
  • Past Censors: The Parking Ticket Lady's last line in her song, which is barely audible, is Hey, I'm not wearing underwear.
  • Quick Eyes: During the song "Life's A Show," Amber Benson accidentally hits her hand into one of the supporting pillars. In the very next scene, you can see her dusting herself off.
  • Overrun: This episode is eight minutes longer than most television episodes. UPN allowed the overrun because it had just recently acquired Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the WB, and was excited at such an ambitious sweeps stunt.
  • Haven't I Seen Them Before?: The two vampires and demon, the street cleaners and Sweet's minions are played by the same three people.

Behind the Scenes

  • Emmy Awards: "Once More, With Feeling" was nominated for an Emmy, but because of ballot misprints, it was left off the official ballot. Although the Emmy committee reprinted new ballots with the episode and the show listed, many of the voters by that point had already submitted their picks.
  • Timetable: Joss Whedon spent the entire summer of 2001 writing this episode, and it took a total of four months to completely do from start to finish.
  • Accolade: This episode was named the 13th Greatest Musical according to a poll conducted by Channel 4, a network in the United Kingdom.
  • TV Guide ranked this episode #14 on its list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time".
  • This episode made TV Land's "The 100 Most Unexpected TV Moments" list as number 44.
  • Where's Willow?: Although she is a major part of the series, Willow has the least amount of singing to do in the episode. This is because Alyson Hannigan requested that her part be reduced because she was embarrassed by her singing voice. She later regretted this decision upon seeing how great the songs turned out. She most wanted to sing in "Walk Through the Fire" and "Under Your Spell".
  • Crew Cameos: As Giles, Anya and Xander are walking down the street, they pass a woman singing about her parking ticket and a man and woman doing ballet in the street. The woman singing about her parking ticket is executive produce Marti Noxon and the two doing ballet are the choreographer and his assistant. The two were added to the scene at the last minute and improvised the dance. Also making a cameo in the episode was co-executive producer David Fury, who played the mustard man at the beginning of the episode.
  • For its original airing on UPN, the episode ran until 9:08. Joss Whedon was having a hard time cutting any scenes out to fit the 1 hour time frame, so UPN let him air the whole episode in it's entirety, even if it meant less time for Roswell, which was the show supposed to air at 9:00.

Allusions and References

  • Lethe's Bramble: Lethe's Bramble, the flower Willow uses to Tara to make her forget, is named after the river Lethe in Greek mythology. The river, located in the underworld, allowed the dead to forget about their lives on Earth.
  • Magnolia: Magnolia was a complex film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson about several interconnecting lives that seem completely irrelevant to one another. One of these characters is Frank T.J. Macky, an inspirational speaker for men who is known for the catchphrase "Respect the cock and tame the cunt!"
Xander: Respect the crueller and tame the donut!
  • Yma Sumac: Yma Sumac is a popular Peruvian singer. However, what she is most known for is being able to sing with a range of four or five octaves at the peak of her singing career. She was also one of the leading members of the exotica musical movement in the 1950s.
Spike: ...saw a 600 pound Chirago demon makin' like Yma Sumac; that one'll stay with you.
  • Michael Flatley: The Lord of the Dance is a title most commonly associated with Irish-American riverdancer Michael Flatley. After starring in Riverdance, Flatley went on to produce his own dance shows, "Lord of the Dance" and "Feet of Flames". He most recently created the Irish show "Celtic Tiger," where he attempts to dance the entire history of Ireland in two hours.
Tara: This demon, that can be summoned, some sort of Lord of the Dance... but not the scary one. Just a demon.
  • The Fiddler: Nero Claudius Caesar was a close relative of the Julio-Claudian dynasty of Roman emperors during the early first century. Legend say that he played a fiddle while he was watching Rome burn.
Sweet: I bought Nero his very first fiddle.
  • The Music Man: Robert Meredith Wilson's "The Music Man" is about a con-man who sell musical instruments. He runs a con in Iowa by attempting to get the youth of the town to start a band. The musical was adapted to film twice, once in 1962 and again in 2003 as a TV movie. Among the songs in the musical is "76 Trombones."
Spike: ...there'll probably be a parade. 76 bloody trombones.

Memorable Moments

  • Spike catches one of Sweet's henchmen. Spike tells him to sing at which point the music swells and he proceeds to... just talk.
  • When Buffy sings to everyone that she was in heaven and that her friends ripped her out, Willow looks on with a mortified and yet blank face.
  • During the coda at the end of the episode, Buffy and Spike kiss.


  • Dawn: Oh, my God. You will never believe what happened at school today.
Buffy: Everybody started singing and dancing?
Dawn: (deflated) I gave birth to a pterodactyl.
Anya: Oh, my God. Did it sing?
  • Tara: Tha-that's right! Th-the volume! The text.
Giles: What text?
Willow: The volume-y text!
Tara: You know... !
Willow: The Mermrfrd... Report!
  • Giles: I was able to examine the body while police were taking witness arias.
  • Spike: Oh, so that's all. You've just come to pump me for information.
Buffy: What else would I want to pump you for? I really just said that, didn't I?
  • Buffy: So, Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday.
  • Buffy: (singing) I touch the fire and it freezes me. I look into it, and it's black. Why can't I feel? My skin should crack and peel. I want the fire back! Now through the smoke, she calls to me; to make my way across the flame. To save the day, or maybe melt away. I guess it's all the same. So I will walk, through the fire, 'cause where else can I turn? I will walk through the fire, and let it...
  • Spike: (singing) This torch I bear is scorching me. And Buffy's laughing, I've no doubt. I hope she fries! I'm free if that bitch dies! (gets up) I better help her out.
  • Giles: Will this do a thing to change her? Am I leaving Dawn in danger? Is my Slayer too far gone to care?
Xander: What if Buffy can't defeat it?
Anya: Beady-eyes is right, we're needed. Or we could just sit around and glare.
All: We'll see it through, it's what we're always here to do, so we will walk through the fire.
  • Anya: She came from the grave much graver.
Spike: First he'll kill her then I'll save her!
Tara: Everything is turning out so dark...
Buffy: Going through the motions...
Spike: No, I'll save her then I'll kill her!
Willow: I think this line's mostly filler.
  • Sweet: Showtime.
  • Buffy: (singing) There was no pain, no fear, no doubt, till they pulled me out, of Heaven. So that's my refrain, I live in Hell, 'cause I've been expelled, from Heaven. I think I was in Heaven... So give me something to sing about! Please, give me something!
  • Xander: Does this mean that I have to... be your queen?
Sweet: It's tempting, but I think we'll waive that clause just this once.


  • Overall Grade: A+ with 1 review
  • Review Breakdown: A+: 1 A: 0 A-: 0 B+: 0 B: 0 B-: 0 C+: 0 C: 0 C-: 0 D: 0 F: 0
  • Oh, hey, another perfect Buffy episode. This episode is probably the peak of the series for me, as there's a very clear distinction between the quality of the episodes that happen before it, and the episodes that happen after it. Although Tabula Rasa really does mark "the beginning of the end," this episode still marks the quality change. Episode-wise, it's amazing that a concept as ridiculous as a musical could turn out to be so great and have such lasting impacts for everyone on the show. Huge secrets are revealed, relationships are brought out into the open, and, for a moment, you'd have no idea how the show is going to go on with everyone knowing everything about everyone else. It's a fun-filled hour of singing, but it's actually one of the most depressing episodes in the series. After this point, the series never really does recover from its season six slump of depression. A+ --Wizardryo 17:12, 10 Aug 2005 (PDT)