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Dawn's creation was too much


Jun 4, 2016
The inclusion of Dawn is a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I think it was an incredibly original idea and daring storytelling. Inserting Dawn into the storyline as they did and rewriting the history of the show was a very bold move and for the most part I think they handled it very well. I like her inclusion into the series and how they deliberately chose not to explain it for a 3 episodes. It also kind of blows my mind that they can actually completely sell me on Buffy/Dawn's sibling relationship despite not having met Dawn until S5. I completely buy it from the very moment she appears (like Buffy gently stroking Dawn's hair at the end of No Place Like Home) and that's a testament not just to the writing but the chemistry between SMG and MT.

What I do struggle with is the way they completely rewrote the history of the show which, if I think about it too hard, gives me headaches and feels like a betrayal. It's a tad insulting to completely rewrite the first 4 seasons, not make us privy to what now the characters now remember as having happened in them, and expect the audience to be ok with this. Evidently, a lot of the audience didn't have a problem with it so maybe it's just me, but our memories very much shape who we are and not knowing how the characters remember things and not knowing if Dawn completely altered the events of certain episodes or created entirely new plots etc really bugs me. It's kind of like if Superstar just never ended and we were stuck in that universe forever.

I like to pretend that things were altered as little as possible but there's no denying that Dawn's inclusion fundamentally changed some things. Buffy felt somewhat like a different character and certain dynamics such as Buffy/Joyce and Buffy/Willow were changed pretty significantly. For instance, in S1-S4 scenes between Buffy/Willow were common place where they'd discuss their love lives, their anxieties etc. In S5 onwards these are almost entirely replaced by scenes between Buffy/Dawn instead. The scene in Triangle where Buffy talks with Dawn about her loss of Riley would have absolutely taken place between Buffy/Willow in S4 etc. Not only did I prefer the dynamic between Buffy/Willow (it felt like 2 equals talking whereas Dawn was always written so much younger and she always came off as inquisitive and trying to understand Buffy whilst Buffy had to explain things to her - it didn't feel like Buffy had a solid person to bounce back with) but I do feel a little resentful that they just randomly replaced a relationship that I had watched grow over 4 years - and that they had earned through character/story development - for an entirely new character with a backstory and relationship with Buffy that was, literally, just created out of thin air that we're not privy to.

I think a lot of my niggling issues with Dawn would've been easily resolved if Dawn had remained but their fake memories of her were reversed. Or, at the very least, an amalgamation of their original memories and their new memories occurred (kind of like Wesley and Connor in Origin). Honestly, I'd have actually found it a pretty moving story if the fake memories had been reversed but Buffy had come to love Dawn in S5 anyway and considered her a sister. I can easily imagine a plot where Dawn feels that with their memories gone the Scoobies and Buffy wouldn't care about her anymore, only for Buffy to reveal that her feelings are now real and that they can now build real memories together as a family. That would have been poignant and would have solved the problems I have with them rewriting the series.

For a series that prides itself on character development and is so good at harkening back to earlier episodes and making the character's histories really matter and give them depth, it is very odd to betray that. I can understand why people consider S5-S7 an alternate reality in that sense. But I just try not to think too hard about it.
The Bronze
The Bronze
Exactly this. I think they tried your idea in the comics but didn't really commit to it.


Jun 25, 2017
Evidently, a lot of the audience didn't have a problem with it so maybe it's just me, but our memories very much shape who we are and not knowing how the characters remember things and not knowing if Dawn completely altered the events of certain episodes.
I think the idea that memories shape who we are is what they're going for - they've just made the idea of memory far more complex. Personally, I don't have a problem with it but I can understand why people do. Out of interest (and a genuine question), what do you make of the Christmas (?) scene immediately prior to Buffy finding Joyce's corpse? On topic because it relates to memory.

There is a tonal shift from S5. I'm not sure why but, IMO, it falls in line with the "turn to language" movement. There's a discernible shift away from playful postmodernism to a text where postmodern theory kinda takes centre stage (which is one reason I prefer the later seasons). It's summarised here in Life Serial (again, not really going off topic because memory is an intrinsic part of what they refer to as The Social Construction of Reality - or the linguistic turn). I don't think this is a throwaway scene - its logic underpins S6/7:

Shot of the teacher dressed casually, writing on the blackboard the words "Social Construction of..." WILLOW: You'll like Mike. (sits) BUFFY: You call your teacher Mike? Boy, school sure has changed since my day. (sits) Mike turns from the blackboard. The final word he wrote was "reality." MIKE: Social Construction of Reality. Who can tell me what that is? (many students raise their hands including Willow) Rachel. RACHEL: A concept involving a couple of opposing theories, one stressing the externality and independence of social reality from individuals. (Buffy looks confused) MIKE: And the flip side? (many hands raised) Steve? STEVE: That each individual participates fully in the construction of his or her own life. MIKE: Good, and who can expand on that? (hands) Chuck? CHUCK: Well, those on the latter side of the theoretical divide stress... BUFFY: (leans toward Willow and whispers) Will, I'm not following this too well. WILLOW: Oh. The trick is to get in the rhythm, kinda go with the flow. (raises her hand) BUFFY: Flow-going would be a lot easier if your classmates weren't such big brains. WILLOW: (hand still raised) Buffy, that's ridiculous! They are no smarter than you or me. MIKE: (O.S.) Willow. WILLOW: (lowers hand, speaks to Mike) Because social phenomena don't have unproblematic objective existences. They have to be interpreted and given meanings by those who encounter them. (Buffy stares at Willow) MIKE: (O.S.) Nicely put. So, Ruby, does that mean there are countless realities? WILLOW: (notices Buffy's look) What? Cut to Buffy and Willow walking through the hallways. WILLOW: You're not dumb. Just rusty. BUFFY: Maybe I should ease back in with some non-taxing classes, like, introduction to pies, or maybe advanced walking.


Oct 8, 2020
I have a soft spot for her (I know people irl who hate her) but agree Dawn is a mixed bag. A little bit too confusing once you start to imagine what the characters remember about the previous seasons and Buffy's childhood. Pretty much impossible to explain to newbie fans asking questions. There's a reason why Dawn being The Key was hardly mentioned after Season 5.

The concept is something only screenwriters get kick out of (Dawn was the opposite of Chuck from Happy Days- the brother who was never mentioned after two seasons, or a spoof of a 1980s sitcom introducing a new cute kid to the family).

A true mindscrew would be to never mention that Dawn was The Key and just play it like a straight retcon, like Bobby Ewing in the shower from Dallas. Would have made everyone REALLY upset. LOL


Socially Awkward
Aug 16, 2020
Eh, I don't really care much for plot inconsistencies to be honest. I know a lot of people find this sort of stuff jarring, but as Angel said in season 2, "somehow, I just can't seem to care." 🤣 But yeah, these plot details were not really at the back of my mind when I was watching season 5. I'm more interested in the thematic details of the story, like Dawn as an adopted child metaphor which feels more intriguing.


May 4, 2020
Ya I agree to an extent, I remember watching it and when she first appeared as her sister out of nowhere, I just thought the show had pushed it a bit too far even as a supernatural show but after a while I did get used to the character. After a while, I did get used to her and enjoyed the key/Glory plotline. However after that I found her a bit redundant, I know she was supposed to be Buffy’s tie to humanity and effectively Buffy became a mum figure to her more than a sister. She just irritated me and don’t get me started on asking her to leave the house in Season 7, Empty Places
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