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The 1 Supernatural Episode That Was Directly Inspired By Buffy The Vampire Slayer

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  • Both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural drew from similar story elements, featuring sardonic heroes who hunted paranormal beings while leading normal lives.
  • Supernatural, unlike Buffy, rarely borrowed plots from the earlier series, as it followed older heroes on a road trip rather than high schoolers.
  • One episode of Supernatural, “What Is & What Should Never Be,” was inspired by Buffy’s “Normal Again,” exploring alternate realities and the psychological torment experienced by the heroes.



One Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode inspired a later episode of Supernatural, although both shows approached the same basic storyline very differently. Supernatural and the earlier fantasy drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer shared a lot of the same elements. Both shows followed sardonic heroes who hunted paranormal beings while also trying to lead a normal civilian life, both shows featured a monster-of-the-week structure that introduced some truly terrifying and unintentionally funny villains, and both had a sense of self-aware humor that lightened up the sudden character deaths, occasional scares, and darker dramatic moments.

However, it was rare for Supernatural to outright borrow a plot from the earlier series. Whereas Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a quintessential WB show thanks to its high school (and later college) setting, Supernatural saw its older heroes road-tripping across America to hunt down demons. The Winchester brothers were older than Buffy and in a different life stage than the vampire slayer, meaning their priorities weren’t the same as hers. That said, one particularly moving Supernatural story was clearly inspired by an acclaimed Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, and its director even admitted as much after it aired.

RELATED: 3 Times Buffy The Vampire Slayer Dies (& How She Returns)

The Buffy Episode That Inspired A Supernatural Season 2 Story

Buffy White Sweatshirt Mental Institution Episode Normal Again

In the show’s season 2 commentary, director Eric Kripke confirmed that Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6, episode 17, “Normal Again,” inspired Supernatural season 2, episode 20, “What Is & What Should Never Be”. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer outing upended the show’s universe as Buffy imbibed a demon’s powerful chemical cocktail and envisioned a world where her parents were alive, Dawn didn’t exist, and her work as a Slayer was all an elaborate fantasy. Although this episode came shortly before Tara’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer death, often viewed as the show’s low point by fans and critics alike, the inventive premise of “Normal Again” made the episode a hit.

As the title implies, “Normal Again” offered Buffy and the show’s audience a glimpse into a world where the heroine was a normal person. Admittedly, Buffy is committed to a psych ward because she rants about vampires and Slayers, but the demon’s spell still allows her to see what life could be like if it weren’t for her vocation. This was expanded on in Supernatural’s “What Is & What Should Never Be,” wherein Dean goes through a similar trippy experience thanks to a djinn. The episode began with Dean battling a djinn in an abandoned warehouse before the paranormal being granted him a chance to see what a very different version of his life would be like.

How Supernatural Adapts Buffy’s “Normal Again”

A Djinn puts its hand on Dean's forehead

The inventive premise of ‘Normal Again’ in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ made the episode a hit and inspired a particularly moving story in ‘Supernatural’ Season 2, showcasing how both series uniquely explore the psychological depths of their heroes.

While Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s most powerful villains could kill countless characters in an instant, what made the villain of “Normal Again” so dangerous was the psychological torment his visions wrought on Buffy. The same was true for Dean, who was given a chance to finally see what his life would be like if his mother wasn’t killed when he was a child. Dean and Sam appeared to live happier lives, and Dean was dating Azazel’s victim Jessica. However, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s eponymous heroine, Supernatural’s hero returned to his real life when he realized how many victims demons would claim without his intervention.

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