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Did Spike really care for Dawn?

darkspook

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It is a question that bothered me while watching S6. In season 5 their relationship was one of big brother/little sister. He was more accepting and open minded with her status as a key, she in turn was one of the first to spot that he had a crush on Buffy, he was on of Dawn's crushes too and he was willing to be tortured by Glory to keep Dawn's secret as the key. At the season opener of season 6 they spend alot of time together, he is still fighting to protect her and they are shown to be very close. So it sort of feels like I have answered my own question...

However as soon as Buffy returns Spike no longer has anytime for Dawn. Their interaction is massively limited to the point were scenes between them go the way of the dinosaurs as his whole focus is on Buffy. Basically as soon as Buffy gave Spike some he forgot Dawn existed. He only attends Dawn's birthday to see Buffy. It could also be argued that in his attempts to pull Buffy further into the darkness 'the famous balcony' scene is pulling her further away her ties to the real world ala Dawn... didn't seem to bother him that much. In 'Seeing Red' their first scene together he is fairly unapologetic about his behaviour but it could be argued that he was full of self pity by that point. Come season 7 there is still next to no interaction between the two characters. Again Spike's interaction is dormainted by Buffy. It should be noted that Dawn's stance with him is fairly harsh and stand offish, clearly she doesn't think much of him after his attemptive rape of her sister but we never see him apologise or defend his actions to her.

They pretty much strangers by the end of the season and in the comics too so I ask again did Spike ever really care for Dawn?
 

thetopher

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I think Spike cared for Dawn in a kind of shallow, situational way; he liked her because he knew and saw that Buffy cared deeply about her. I guess it helped that she was kinda nice to him, thought he was cool and stuff.
But I think his feelings were genuine and not affected because they also bonded over their respective journey's; Spike was a human who was turned into something that resembles human whereas Dawn was something 'other' that was made human; their views about themselves and their 'apart-ness' from the rest of the gang was suitable bonding material. He was with Dawn when she found out the truth about herself and he was honest and non-judgmental for the most part.

In S6 Spike cared for Dawn but it seemed much more of an obligation out of guilt, his affection for her had diminished because Buffy was dead, it was mixed with guilt and grief.
And then the obligation was lifted when Buffy returned and so he left. But I think he still cared about Dawn in a kind of abstract way even when he was with Buffy. He was convinced to help rescue her in 'Wrecked' and...I think they were find together in 'Older And Far Away' as far I can remember.
All in all that's quite a lot for a soulless vampire; he kinda cared about her because of shared history and wouldn't go out of his way to be nasty to her.


As for S7, I got nothing. Souled Spike cared about Buffy (and possibly Anya) and little else.
 

Cheese Slices

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However as soon as Buffy returns Spike no longer has anytime for Dawn.
There isn't really a scene that shows that Spike does not want to spend time with Dawn. In AYW, in their first scene he tells her at some point "I can't come inside, so..." which could be taken as indication that he tried to insert himself into her "human" life more, but was rebuffed. But all in all, just because something isn't there doesn't mean the opposite of said something is true. We just don't have enough material to draw from.
He only attends Dawn's birthday to see Buffy
I think it was Buffy's birthday, wasn't it ?
attempts to pull Buffy further into the darkness 'the famous balcony' scene is pulling her further away her ties to the real world ala Dawn
100% true that when all is said and done Spike's #1 priority is Buffy. If Buffy had told him at some point "Screw everyone, I wanna go on a road trip", he wouldn't have thought twice imo. However it doesn't mean he doesn't care to some extent about other people.
I'd also like to add that, while it's true that he spends a significant amount of time trying to convince her that she belongs in the dark with him yiddy yadda (mostly because he thinks it's the only way she'll have him), there is a quote from NA that seems to indicate he would be ok with being "in the light" with her :
"It's why you won't tell your pals about us. Might actually have to be happy if you did. They'd either understand and help you, god forbid ... or drive you out ...where you can finally be at peace, in the dark. With me. Either way, you'd be better off for it"

He presents both options as viable (at least that's my interpretation).

'Seeing Red' their first scene together he is fairly unapologetic about his behaviour but it could be argued that he was full of self pity by that point
What does he have to apologize for at this point ? Dawn is mad at him for sleeping with Anya, even though he had every right to and she herself admits that she has no idea what happened between him and Buffy.
And yeah, he's definitely full of self-pity (and I'd argue self-loathing) at this point. I would be too.

Dawn's stance with him is fairly harsh and stand offish, clearly she doesn't think much of him after his attemptive rape of her sister but we never see him apologise or defend his actions to her.
Why should he apologize to Dawn ? What he did to Buffy is between him and Buffy, no one else.

To answer the original question : yes, I think he did care for her, at the very least to the extent that you tend to care for the person you love's loved ones (what terrible phrasing). I think that had a certain kinship, with quite a lot in common. However, he was always going to make Buffy a priority, and follow her lead in pretty much every regard.
 

TriBel

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Yes...in as much as he was able. He'd "made a promise to a lady" and Dawn was part of that promise - a non-sexual, flesh and blood, stand-in for Buffy? A step in the right direction given his abhorrence of the Bot. In S7 the roles are reversed...Dawn's protective of Buffy...Spike's reliant on her. An indicator perhaps that Dawn's "grown up" (Lessons makes that metaphor impossible) while Spike still has ground to make up.
but we never see him apologise or defend his actions to her.
Why would he/should he? How do you apologise when the word "sorry" has to multitask? "I'm sorry for my sexual attack on your sister" v "I'm sorry I got pizza on your favourite top"? What happened happened partly because of the inadequacy of language. Any apology would be subject to the same restrictions. The paucity/excess of language is one of the themes of S7. He can hardly defend his actions and surely any explanation would involve Dawn's part in it? For once he keeps his gob shut and I'm relieved.

He presents both options as viable (at least that's my interpretation).
And mine.

and in the comics too
Is that right? Genuine question - I can't remember. He's not around much in S8. She's the reason he and Buffy almost split up in S10...and isn't he the one who fights to retain memory of Dawn in S9 (?). Plus...she's with Xander.

TBH, I'm always surprised just how claustrophobic relationships in BtVS are. Yes - I know they have a narrative function but sometimes I wish they'd just get out a bit more.
 
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Athene

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I have to say no because it's far too suspicious that Spike stops most of his interest in Dawn in season 6. But I've never put a lot of value into their friendship on Dawn's end she's a very naive child and doesn't really know Spike at all so everything she says regarding him I take with a pinch of salt until season 7 when she's had the wool pulled out from over her eyes and is standoffish because she actually has grown up and knows about Spike now.

But Spike cared about Dawn because of her ties to Buffy, that's why when he has Buffy in season 6 he no longer puts as much interest into Dawn. Spike cares about Dawn when Buffy needs him to or if it's something to do with Buffy. Spike is protecting Dawn the summer that Buffy died because it's how he copes with failing to save Dawn in The Gift which he sees as having got Buffy killed so again it's not about Dawn at the core, same way he suffered torture to not give Dawn up because of what it would do to Buffy.
 

AstridDante

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Yes he definitely genuinely cared for Dawn both in her own right and as Buffy’s sister. He exhibited compassion towards her and a comradarie with her numerous times. I think when he became involved with Buffy that took up all his time and priorities as he was obsessively in love with her, not necessarily that he stopped caring about Dawn
 

Stake fodder

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I think part of the issue with Spike and Dawn is that the writers wrote it differently than they intended. I think they meant for it to be that Spike only cared for Dawn as part of a relationship with Buffy, even when she's not there. He was not meant to have a separate friendship with Dawn.

But in season 5, Spike clearly enjoys that Dawn looks up to him, and that he can tell his bragging stories about kills he's made, when he has no one else to tell them to. I think he also likes hanging around with her when he's taking care of her in S6. If nothing else, he likes seeming cool to her when no one else thinks he is.

I think the writers just didn't have time to put in scenes between Spike and Dawn in S6. But they probably realized that it also helped the "still soulless" emphasis to make it seem that he never really cared about Dawn herself.

In AYW, in their first scene he tells her at some point "I can't come inside, so..." which could be taken as indication that he tried to insert himself into her "human" life more, but was rebuffed.
I thought it was odd when Buffy didn't want him coming in the house "because Dawn is there," when he is friends with Dawn, too, and she wouldn't jump to any conclusion that they were dating just because he was coming around. Also, he had shown he could behave himself and not be all handsy around Buffy's friends or relatives. Buffy wants to keep Spike compartmentalized at this point, yet it still adds to the idea that Spike doesn't care at all about seeing Dawn.

Why should he apologize to Dawn ? What he did to Buffy is between him and Buffy, no one else.
He shouldn't or can't, but I can see that Spike might want to try to re-establish the relationship that had been built up between them, with Dawn looking up to him as the cool older brother, and that would require an attempt at some fumbling explanation. But again, the writers weren't interested in furthering their friendship at that point.

So, I think Spike did genuinely care for Dawn, even if only out of a selfish desire to have someone around who thinks he's cool. I just think the writers changed their mind about it later on.
 

AlphaFoxtrot

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Heck if I know. I believe the Creators' statement on the matter is that Spike is amoral, and anything he does that appears to be altruistic, is motivated by his belief that it will help him with Buffy. Not the best answer, but it’s what they want us to think.

IMHO My fan theory is, Spike is delusional. One of his delusions, is that is still the same person he was prior to his death. I suppose this is shared by most vamps as a type of false memory. As Spike is under the operant conditioning, and is the weakest of the Scoobies, his Demon submits to Buffy and largely withdraws, leaving him with his weak human taint as the primary guide to his actions. He is essentially a ghost, performing the same actions he would have done in life, but without any real desire. You smile at someone to appear grateful.
 
AnthonyCordova
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Interesting idea

darkspook

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I think part of the issue with Spike and Dawn is that the writers wrote it differently than they intended. I think they meant for it to be that Spike only cared for Dawn as part of a relationship with Buffy, even when she's not there. He was not meant to have a separate friendship with Dawn.

But in season 5, Spike clearly enjoys that Dawn looks up to him, and that he can tell his bragging stories about kills he's made, when he has no one else to tell them to. I think he also likes hanging around with her when he's taking care of her in S6. If nothing else, he likes seeming cool to her when no one else thinks he is.

I think the writers just didn't have time to put in scenes between Spike and Dawn in S6. But they probably realized that it also helped the "still soulless" emphasis to make it seem that he never really cared about Dawn herself.



I thought it was odd when Buffy didn't want him coming in the house "because Dawn is there," when he is friends with Dawn, too, and she wouldn't jump to any conclusion that they were dating just because he was coming around. Also, he had shown he could behave himself and not be all handsy around Buffy's friends or relatives. Buffy wants to keep Spike compartmentalized at this point, yet it still adds to the idea that Spike doesn't care at all about seeing Dawn.



He shouldn't or can't, but I can see that Spike might want to try to re-establish the relationship that had been built up between them, with Dawn looking up to him as the cool older brother, and that would require an attempt at some fumbling explanation. But again, the writers weren't interested in furthering their friendship at that point.

So, I think Spike did genuinely care for Dawn, even if only out of a selfish desire to have someone around who thinks he's cool. I just think the writers changed their mind about it later on.
I agree that the writers probably didn't have the time nor the interest to invest on the relationship. They had 45 minutes of television to make so can't stick in everything. But I just feel the jump from older brother type relationship in S5 to not sharing any screentime together in S6 is rather telling for me.
 

nightshade

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I thought it was as James asked them to not write as many scenes with Michelle because of her crush on him?

Not to derail the thread into the James and Michelle stuff though.
 

thetopher

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I thought it was as James asked them to not write as many scenes with Michelle because of her crush on him?
I think many understand the out-of-show reasons for it happening, just like they understand the writing out of Giles so ASH could return to the UK to be with his family.

People can still criticize the writing of the characters to justify it though, many think Giles timing was awful, or explain that they think he couldn't risk being so close to Buffy again after grieving her death, or that he had a new life in Bath he wanted to get back to.

Same with Spike and Dawn; the writers could've easily made it happen a different way. As it is he kinda seems to stop caring once he gets with Buffy (also he stops trying so hard to appear good) and so the viewer can conclude 'oh, I guess his relationship with her wasn't that deep', hell in S7 was non-existent.
 

Taake

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I think Spike cared for Dawn, partly because of Buffy, but Spike is also a very companionable vampire. When he is not with Drusilla he strikes up a friendship with Clem. When he is chipped he is basically an outcast and his social needs have to be fullfilled somehow. I would argue this is why he hangs around the Scoobies, no matter how much they abuse him for it, and later why he becomes friends with Clem, and also Dawn. He has a need for social interaction, this does not mean that the bonds are particularly tight, but tight enough for a consistent interaction to be pursued.

I would argue that the falling apart of Dawn and Spike has less to do with Spike, and more to do with Dawn. Spike is pretty consistent in his affections/friendships.
She kind of idolizes him when she is younger, then she is disillusioned and he mostly becomes "Buffy's boyfriend" or the like, not unlike Angel probably was to her before (in the Dawnverse), i.e. less interesting to her because he is Buffy's. Even if he was interested in Buffy before, their more official relationships changes the dynamics of everyone involved, and we see Dawn grow out of her girlish crush on Spike and also her own need for their friendship, as she is very much a teenager trying to find her own identity, somewhat separate from Buffy.
 

Cheese Slices

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I thought it was as James asked them to not write as many scenes with Michelle because of her crush on him?
This may have been a factor, but a rather minor one imo. IIRC Jane Espenson said in an interview that they didn't write so many Dawn/Spike scenes because it wasn't the story they were telling, and if you think about it it makes sense : in S5, the focus is primarily on Buffy & Dawn, so Spike is used as a sort of fun house mirror for both characters. Then in S6&7, the focus moves away from Dawn and even more onto Buffy, so his character follows suit.

Same with Spike and Dawn; the writers could've easily made it happen a different way. As it is he kinda seems to stop caring once he gets with Buffy (also he stops trying so hard to appear good) and so the viewer can conclude 'oh, I guess his relationship with her wasn't that deep', hell in S7 was non-existent.
Sure, but the problem when you that is that all bets are off, and you can think of many ways to paint whatever character you dislike in the worst possible light, since technically no one can prove that your assertions are wrong. (This is a general you btw, not a *you* you).
 

LemonBanana

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I think he did a little, but possibly a lot of it came from his caring for Buffy? They seemed to get along, Spike and Dawn, and although he didn't have a soul, he proved he could 'love', so I don't see why he couldn't have cared for Dawn!
 

thetopher

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Sure, but the problem when you that is that all bets are off, and you can think of many ways to paint whatever character you dislike in the worst possible light
Well don't people do that anyway, regardless of what the writers want? That's why we have a discussion board after all. There are so many examples of characters of being painted in a negative light by fans (and they all get their turn) even when the writers go out of their way to put a character-positive spin on it.
Just one example- How many people are deeply irritated by Xander's speech to Buffy regarding Riley in 'Into The Woods'; this is almost naked writer-intent and many just actively dislike it.

But in S6 the negative light thing is far more understandable given a lot of questionable writing or character choices. Is Spike The Doctor? Riley framed him, right?
Why did Xander get away with summoning Sweet? Wasn't it Dawn? I mean, seriously it was clearly Dawn?
Why does nobody comment on Willow's increasing reckless magic choices except the two people (Giles and Tara) who just up and leave?Are Buffy and Xander truly that blind?
Why was it never mentioned that Joyce stuck Buffy in an asylum when she babbled on about vampires? All those times Buffy jokingly said she was a vampire slayer and Joyce never booked her in for another visit?
Do Willow and Tara seriously never financially contribute to the running of Buffy's house? etc.

The writing matters even when its sloppy, the fans are going to try and fill in any blanks in plot or character consistency because it helps with their immersion, helps it seems like these are fully-rounded characters who make choices that are consistent with their nature.
If we say 'oh, Giles left because ASH wanted out' that tells us nothing about Giles, there's just this blank mystery 'WHY?' except the (weak) explanation the writers give.
Same with Spike I guess. Many people- including me- adored a lot of the Spike./Dawn scenes and relationship progression in S5 and then...it goes nowhere? And there's no explanation given and we have little to work with in-show, so many fans desperately make one. It's only natural.
 

Cheese Slices

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Just one example- How many people are deeply irritated by Xander's speech to Buffy regarding Riley in 'Into The Woods'; this is almost naked writer-intent and many just actively dislike it.
I think this example doesn't work because people are picking apart a scene that actually exists and bring evidence from scenes that actually exist as well, whereas with Spike & Dawn the "evidence" is a complete lack of content, which is just too open to interpretation to be relevant. Like I could argue that Willow accidently cast a spell in S7 that make it physically impossible for them to communicate and there would be technically no counter evidence to it...except people would rightfully find it absurd.
Why does nobody comment on Willow's increasing reckless magic choices except the two people (Giles and Tara) who just up and leave?Are Buffy and Xander truly that blind?
They do, actually, comment on it. In Smashed, and a few other episodes as well.
f we say 'oh, Giles left because ASH wanted out' that tells us nothing about Giles, there's just this blank mystery 'WHY?' except the (weak) explanation the writers give.
There is evidence that we can point to to explain it (his arc in S4 and esp. Restless, and the build up in early S6); you may think it wasn't developed well or enough, but it has the merit of existing.
There is no such thing with the "Spike doesn't care about Dawn" theory, AFAIK. In fact, there is some counter evidence to that, even though it is a little tenous to be truly satisfying.
 

thetopher

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I think this example doesn't work because people are picking apart a scene that actually exists and bring evidence from scenes that actually exist as well
It's not always about scenes, it can be about relationships between characters and how they grow and develop. Or how they change for the worse. Fans do it all the time, not just with this particular pairing.

whereas with Spike & Dawn the "evidence" is a complete lack of content, which is just too open to interpretation to be relevant.
We know Dawn's character and we know Spike's character enough to interpret any number of things.

Another example; In 'Damage' Andrew tells Angel that 'nobody on our team trusts you'; is that true? Did Giles send Andrew deliberately to deliver that message? Does Buffy know anything about this?
It's Giles who often gets the blame for orchestrating this even though we have little information as to why the relationship between the two groups would sour so quickly.

Like I could argue that Willow accidently cast a spell in S7 that make it physically impossible for them to communicate and there would be technically no counter evidence to it...except people would rightfully find it absurd.
But that's not the same at all, that's making up events off-screen only to justify things that happen on-screen, which people aren't really doing here. They're speculation on 'what is seen' (or in this case what is absent from what we expect to see) and what we can interpret about the characters from the that.

If I said 'well, Spike and Dawn don't get along because 'Spike shouted at Dawn off-screen sometime after Flooded and that's why they never interact closely again'; that would be 'making things up' based on nothing much.

They do, actually, comment on it. In Smashed, and a few other episodes as well.
It's incredibly mild; Willow accidentally wiped all their memories with magic but its okay because she was only trying to wipe some people's memory with magic. Tara up and leaves and the others are 'having a conversation'?
It's tepid enough writing to warrant much fan speculation as to what's going on, for many a fan. Maybe Willow cast another spell...

There is evidence that we can point to to explain it (his arc in S4 and esp. Restless, and the build up in early S6); you may think it wasn't developed well or enough, but it has the merit of existing.
Again, there is some evidence given by the writers and yet many find it weak and choose not to accept it/want a better explanation. They still penalize Giles for making a choice that ASH and the writers HAD to make. Is it fair? Of course it is. Any and all writing can be questioned, even the absence of writing can be interpreted.

There is no such thing with the "Spike doesn't care about Dawn" theory
But you just said that we can use previous seasons to look for reasons, like with what was foreshadowed with Giles, so why not with Dawn and Spike? He had scenes with her in S5 that were great and showed a different side to both of them and then their relationship kinda vanished until what? Season 9. That's notable.

In fact its notable enough to perhaps be a deliberate writing choice. And it's not just S6 but S7; time has passed,. Spike has fundamentally changed and yet there is still little interaction except maybe twice?
In fact I could argue that Spike not interacting with any Scoobie in S7 was a calculated choice by the writers for how the season was going to progress...but WE can still speculate wildly as to 'in-universe' reasons even if none are given.
 
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