32 Great Pieces Of Giles Wisdom From Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Anthony Stewart Head in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox Television)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a wildly popular '90s show, one that has remained a cult classic part of pop culture in the decades since it ended. Buffy's cast included Anthony Stewart Head as the title character's Watcher Rupert Giles, who appeared in a whopping 123 episodes throughout its run on TV. And there are 32 great pieces of advice Giles gave during that time.

While Buffy changed networks for its final two seasons on the air, the starring cast stayed the same. Giles was a father figure to the entire Scooby Gang, especially Sarah Michelle Gellar's title character. And they, along with the audience, learned a number of lessons from the beloved Watcher. Let's break it all down.

Giles in Fear Itself

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Read the fine print.

Sometimes Giles' lessons are surprisingly down to earth considering the wild nature of fighting evil on the Hellmouth. Like during Season 4's Halloween episode "Fear Itself", which sees the Scoobys trying to survive the demon Gachnar. But after Giles broke into the haunted house read the fine print about the demon, it turned out that the illustration showed the demon's actual size, and Buffy was able to quickly kill him by stomping on him like a bug. 

Giles during Band Candy

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Don't eat the band candy.

Season 3's episode "Band Candy" is a fan-favorite chapter in Buffy history, as it presented a delightful change in status. Giles' old frenemy Ethan Rayne returns to Sunnydale and manufactures chocolate bars that are sold to fundraise for SHS's band. But there's a catch, the candy makes the adults of the town regress into their younger selves. As a result, Giles became his awesome, younger alter ego Ripper, and even got romantic with Buffy's mother Joyce. 

Angel in Buffy Season 3

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Forgiveness is earned.

While Giles is the adult in the Scooby Gang, he's got feelings just like everyone else. And once betrayed, it can take a while for him to give his trust back. Case in point: Angel, who tortured Giles and killed Jenny Calendar after losing his soul and transforming into Angelus. It would take a long time before Giles let this go, although he did work with Angel throughout Season 3 and his guest appearance in Season 4.

Clare Kramer as Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox Television)

The greater good matters more than individual feelings.

Season 5 of Buffy put the title character in a moral pickle. It turns out her sister Dawn is a mystical key that is capable of opening up the barriers between universes, and is being hunted by a Hell God named Glory. During this Giles is chillingly realistic, and claims that Dawn has to die in order to save the world. Although Buffy refuses to do anything but protect her sister. 

Alyson Hannigan as Dark Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 6

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox Television)

Don't mess with dark magic.

Giles is someone who knows the supernatural world very well, and is often guiding the Scooby Gang-- especially as they each got more powerful (except for Xander). And when Willow starts getting addicted to dark magic, Giles is the first one to put his foot down and call her a "rank, arrogant amateur." He was right, and would return to fight Willow himself in the final episode of Season 6. 

Giles with a chainsaw in Buffy

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

When life closes a door, make a new one. 

While Buffy does the most ass-kicking on the show, Giles is known for getting his hands dirty, and also using magic to help fight the forces of evil. And sometimes he surprises both the fans and Scoobies, like when he whipped out a chainsaw in order to carve out a door and save the group on Halloween. 

Giles in Once More with Feeling

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Know when to leave.

While Giles is a major character throughout all of Buffy the Vampire's run on television, he does leave Sunnydale a few times. During Season 6 he realizes he might actually be holding Buffy back from her true potential, and decides to depart so she can have independence and become a true parental figure to Dawn. Although he returned in a big way during the final episode of that season, as well as Season 7.

Giles in Season 7 of Buffy

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Make sure to touch people/objects so people know you're not The First

Season 7 of Buffy sees the gang fighting against the First Evil, a big bad who can take the appearance of anyone who has died. The First isn't corporeal, instead haunting the Scoobies and trying to make them lose their minds. After Giles returns to Sunnydale the group realizes they have no memories of him physically touching any of them, leading them to think he might actually be The First. Who knew that there would be so much power in a simple hug? 

The Slayer Book from Buffy episode 1

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Reading is fundamental.

When Giles is introduced he's the Sunnydale High School's librarian, in addition to Buffy's Watcher. Throughout the show's run, he's constantly checking his collection of books that are focused on the occult, even after Sunnydale High gets blown up in the Season 3 finale. 

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Keep weapons handy… even in a High School library.

While Buffy has superpowers, she and the rest of the Scoobies often need to arm up and use weapons to fight the forces of evil. Giles was always good at preparing, even if that meant hiding weapons in the locked part of the SHS library. 

Buffy with a rocket launcher in Season 2

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Sometimes you need a modern weapon.

While Buffy and the gang usually use wooden stakes and swords in combat, sometimes a more modern weapon was needed. Case in point: back in Season 2 Buffy uses a rocket launcher to kill The Judge, to the dismay of an evil Angel and Drusilla. 

Giles fighting Willow in Season 6

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Sometimes you have to fight your friends.

Giles has a strong moral compass, one that was celebrated by fans for Buffy's 25th anniversary. This resulted in him coming to blows with people he loved a number of times. Perhaps the most obvious came in Season 6, when he returned to Sunnydale with magic abilities to fight Dark Willow aka one of Buffy's best villains.

Giles training Buffy in Season 6

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Training is key.

While Buffy and the other Slayers are given fantastic abilities when activated, that doesn't mean they can rest on their laurels. Giles is constantly training Buffy throughout the show's run, resulting in the title character becoming more and more powerful as the seasons go on. 

James Marsters in Buffy

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox Television)

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Since Giles is a non-powered human, sometimes he's had to ask for help in order to fight against the forces of Evil. That includes utilizing Spike once he became a Scooby, and borrowing powerful magic from a coven ahead of fighting Willow in Season 6.

Buffy talking to the First Slayer in Season 5

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Learn from the past.

On top of using his collection of books to help battle Evil in Sunnydale, Giles is known for learning from the past while fighting in the present. That's why he helped Buffy communicate with the First Slayer back in Season 5, before eventually taking the Potentials to do the same during Season 7. 

Giles killing Ben in Season 5 of Buffy

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Sometimes killing is necessary.

While Buffy stands against killing humans or innocents during the show's run, Giles can function within the margins of this rule when needed. Just look at the Season 5 finale, where Giles murders Ben to ensure that Glory never returns to get her revenge on the Scoobies.

Buffy talking to the Watcher's Council in Season 5

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Sometimes you have to challenge authority.

While Giles is loyal to his employers The Watchers Council when we first meet him, the way they test and interact with Buffy eventually makes him change his tune. By Season 5 both Giles and Buffy stand in opposition against the Council, refusing to participate in any more cruel tests or assessments. 

Buffy, Anya, and Tara in Once More with Feeling

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Teamwork is a must.

While Buffy is the one slayer (at least until Kendra and Faith show up), she can't do it all on her own. That's why Giles and the rest of the Scoobies are often working together--with Buffy's Watcher even making sure Tara and Anya gave her "backup" during the musical episode Once More with Feeling.

Buffy as Anne in Season 3

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

You can't run away from your problems.

After the Season 2 finale sees Buffy kill Angel and come out as a Slayer to her mother in order to save the world. She's kicked out of the house, and Season 3's premiere "Anne" features her as a waitress under a pseudonym. But the supernatural is a magnet to Buffy, and she realizes that she can't run away from her issues back in Sunnydale.

Anya in Buffy Season 6

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Boundaries are important.

While Giles loves Buffy and the gang, he has to establish boundaries on a few occasions. Nowhere is that more obvious when refusing to parent Dawn in Season 6 and leaving Sunnydale so Buffy could grow. He also leaves Anya the Magic Box as a result and never changes his mind/takes it back. 

Buffy talking to the Watcher's Council in "Helpless"

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Anything can be a weapon.

One adage that is said throughout Buffy is that anything can be a weapon in the hands of a Slayer. This is an important lesson in the Season 2 episode "Helpless", where Buffy is stripped of her powers and tested by the Watcher Council. She later shared this lesson with Dawn and The Potentials in Season 7.

Robin Sachs in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox Television)

Sometimes the past needs to stay in the past.

We're given a few glimpses into Giles' backstory throughout the run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, particularly in episodes that feature his old buddy/enemy Ethan Rayne. During these moments Giles is tempted back into his old violent ways, but ultimately retains his morality.

Wesley in Buffy

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Know how to work the system.

Giles' relationship with the Watcher's Council is ever-changing throughout the show's run. Back in Season 3 Buffy is assigned a new watcher, Wesley. But Giles stays on and works the system, not-so-secretly pulling the strings regardless of Wesley's wishes. 

Buffy in her graduation gown

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Sometimes you need to burn it all down.

Giles goes through a ton of changes during Buffy's run, developing as a character alongside his young compatriots. In the Season 3 finale he steps away from his identity as a librarian, even blowing up the Sunnydale High library in order to kill Mayor Wilkins after he ascended and became a giant monster. 

Giles in a Sombrero on Buffy

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Family doesn't have to be blood.

While Buffy has a loving mother and eventually a sister, she and most of the Scoobies come from less-than-ideal home environments. Giles becomes a father figure for them all, proving that a chosen family is just as powerful as blood relatives. 

Anya in Buffy Season 6

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Some people deserve second chances.

A number of characters in Buffy make mistakes and are given another chance by Giles and company. He hires Anya and eventually gives her the Magic Box, and forgives Willow for nearly ending the world with her dark magic. 

Sarah Michelle Gellar as The First Evil in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox Television)

Sometimes you need to stand on your own.

While Buffy has a support system helping her fight evil in Sunnydale, there are times when Giles insists that she stand by herself against an enemy. This notably happens in episodes like "Once More With Feeling", where she's leaning too much on him in her professional and personal life. 

Olivia in Buffy's episode Hush

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

Adults have lives too.

While the Scoobies see Giles as a mentor and parental figure, he's got a personal life like anyone else. But it takes actually seeing it for the kids to learn this lesson. A case in point is the Emmy-nominated episode "Hush", which features Giles' lover Olivia. 

Giles in Buffy

(Image credit: Mutant Enemy)

You don't need superpowers to kick ass.

While Buffy does the bulk of the fighting on the show, the rest of the gang also gets in on the fun and dusts some vamps. While it took a few seasons for Willow and Xander to get used to hand-to-hand combat, Giles proved early on that you don't need superpowers to kick ass.

Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox Television)

Evil takes Halloween off.

Despite what you might think about the holiday, Halloween isn't big with the bad guys on Buffy. As Giles explains, most forces of evil are against getting into trouble, finding the holiday insulting. Of course, we saw a few different exceptions during Buffy's three Halloween episodes. 

The cast of Buffy The Vampire Slayer

(Image credit: UPN)

There are multiple Hellmouths.

So much craziness happens in Buffy because Sunnydale is literally sitting upon a gateway to the underworld aka the Hellmouth. While the series finale sees the Slayers close it for good, Giles explains there is another one in Cleveland. 

Willow and Tara holding hands while sitting on a Bed on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Always be prepared.

If there's one thing Giles is always teaching it's the importance of preparedness. That includes Buffy's training, having resources into the occult, a cache of weapons, and contact with The Watcher's Council and a coven of witches across the pond.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.