Spike (a.k.a. William "the Bloody"), played by James Marsters, is a fictional character created by Joss Whedon for the cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Spike is a vampire and played various roles on the shows, ranging from villain to comic-relief to anti-hero. He is considered a 'breakout character'.
In 1880, William was a struggling poet, often mocked by his peers who called him "William the Bloody" behind his back because his poetry was so "bloody awful." The true origins of this nickname were not revealed until three years after it was first mentioned in Season Two, when it was believed to have purely violent connotations. William showed a strong capacity for loyalty and devoted love, which followed him after his siring. After his romantic overtures were rejected by the aristocratic Cecily, a despondent William, while wandering the streets, bumped into Drusilla. She consoled, bit him, and forced him to drink from her thus transforming him into a vampire. This seems to contradict a scene in "School Hard", when Spike calls Angel his sire, though it can be speculated that Spike was using the term in a metaphorical, rather than literal, sense; or perhaps taking lineage into account: Angel was Drusilla's sire. Whereas new vampires in the Buffyverse often delight in killing their families once they become evil, William was a notable exception. Having always been very close to his mother, he turned her into a vampire to prevent her from dying from tuberculosis. Unfortunately, his mother, as a vampire, taunted William and insinuated that William had always had a sexual fascination with her. He was forced to stake her because he could not bear to see his mother in such a twisted form. He would later write a poem about this traumatic experience entitled "The Wanton Folly of Me Mum," which was mentioned, but not recited in the Angel finale "Not Fade Away".
After staking his mother, William began a new life with Drusilla, to whom he was utterly devoted. Euphoric with his newfound vampiric abilities, he became a rebel, adopting a working class North London accent and embracing impulsiveness and violence. He adopted the nom de guerre "Spike" based on his habit of torturing people with railroad spikes, perhaps as a result of the insult one of his acquaintances used about his poetry: "I'd rather have a railroad spike through my head than listen to that awful stuff." It is hinted in "The Weight of the World" that Spike may have been involved in criminal activities, as he mentioned that he spent "the better part of a century" in delinquency. In the company of Drusilla, Angelus (later known as Angel) and Darla, Spike terrorized Europe and Asia for almost two decades. He had a strained relationship with Drusilla's lover Angelus, who continued a sexual relationship with her despite Spike's strong disapproval. Although Angelus did enjoy the company of another male vampire in their travels, he found Spike's eagerness for battle to be an unnecessary risk. Angelus regarded killing as an art, not a sport, and killed for the sheer act of evil; Spike did it for amusement and the rush.
In 1894, Spike and Angelus developed a rivalry with the enigmatic Immortal, who later had Spike sent to prison for tax evasion. In 1900, Spike killed a Slayer in China during the Boxer Rebellion, and in 1943, he was captured by Nazis for experimentation and taken aboard a submarine, where he was briefly reunited with Angel. By the 1950s, Spike had reunited with Drusilla, and they traveled to Italy. At some point, Spike also became rivals with famous vampire Dracula. The enmity between Spike and Dracula was explored in the comic series Spike vs. Dracula. In the comic, their mutual hatred is caused when Spike, along with Darla and Drusilla, slaughtered the Romani (gypsy) tribe that cursed their patriarch, Angelus, with a soul. That clan (unknown to Spike) was favored by Dracula and he sought revenge for their deaths. Spike contends that Dracula "owes me eleven pounds" because Dracula tossed a signed copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula in a fire in 1898. Spike, having paid eleven pounds for the book, maintains Dracula owes him the cost of the novel. Spike attended Woodstock, and later fought and killed the Slayer Nikki Wood aboard a subway train in New York City, 1977, taking from her the leather duster he wore throughout his appearances on Buffy and Angel until it is destroyed in an explosion in Season Five of Angel. However, he gets a new one that looks exactly like the old one in the episode "The Girl in Question" in Angel's final season.
Spike and Drusilla are major enemies of Buffy for much of the second season. They arrive shortly after Drusilla is seriously weakened by an angry mob in Prague, the details of which are revealed in the canon comic book The Problem with Vampires. Spike is a devoted caretaker to Drusilla in her weakened condition, and initially hopes that the Hellmouth's energy can help restore her strength. He reunites with Angel, but is disgusted to find that Angel still has his soul, and is in love with the current Slayer, Buffy Summers. When Angel loses his soul and rejoins Spike and Dru, Spike's initial celebration soon turns to resentment when Angelus starts pursuing Drusilla as a lover and taunting him. Spike decides to ally himself with Buffy against Angelus; he explains to Buffy that, in addition to wanting Drusilla back, he also wants to "save the world":
"We like to talk big, vampires do. I'm going to destroy the world. That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got – the dog racing, Manchester United, and you've got people: billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision, with a real passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester bloody Square." — Spike (cf. "Becoming, Part Two").
Spike reappears in the Season Three episode "Lovers Walk", in a drunken depression after Drusilla dumps him for a Chaos demon. He kidnaps Willow and Xander, and forces Willow to conduct a love spell for him to make Drusilla love him again, even coercing Buffy and Angel to help him in exchange for the safe return of their friends. He eventually realizes Drusilla left him because he had begun to go soft, and he resolves to win her back by simply torturing her until she likes him again, simply telling the two where Willow and Xander are being held. He also tells Buffy and Angel that no matter what happens, they will never be friends because of their love for one another. This insight foreshadows Spike's later role as the "truth-seer" of the group.
Spike returns to Sunnydale alone in Season Four, in the episode "The Harsh Light of Day," briefly dating Harmony Kendall, a shallow young vampire. He returns to Sunnydale looking for the Gem of Amarra, a ring which would make any vampire immune to all of their conventional weaknesses. He finds it and faces off with Buffy before she steals the ring and sends it to Angel. He goes to Los Angeles, and hires a vampire named Marcus to torture Angel in order to get the ring, only for Marcus to steal the ring himself and for Angel to destroy the ring later on. After being captured by the Initiative and implanted with a cerebral microchip which prevents him from harming or attempting to harm humans without experiencing crippling pain, Spike turns to the Scooby Gang for protection. This inability to bite is comically compared to impotence, much to Spike's constant humiliation; in "Doomed", he attempts to commit suicide by staking himself at Xander's house. From then on, he becomes a Buffy cast regular and an unofficial member of the Scooby Gang, occasionally helping them out in exchange for cash, but having no qualms about betraying them to such enemies as Faith and Adam. In Season Four, Spike was introduced to fill a similarly antagonistic role as Cordelia had in seasons One to Three; as Joss Whedon explains on the DVD featurette, "All of our characters got to the point where they were loving and hugging, and it was sort of like, where's Cordelia?" Spike appeared in every episode thereafter with the exception of "The Body".
In Season Five, Spike becomes aware after some erotic dreams that, to his horror, he has fallen in love with Buffy. He becomes a more active participant in the Scooby Gang, jumping into several of Buffy's fights to provide assistance, whether she wants it or not. When Buffy rejects his advances in the episode "Crush", Spike attempts to prove his love by kidnapping her to witness him killing Drusilla for her, to little avail; Buffy un-invites him from her house, something she hadn't bothered to do in the two years since their alliance against Angelus. Not wanting to give up his obsession, Spike has Warren Mears make a robot in Buffy's likeness that is programmed to love and obey him. Disgusted, particularly after witnessing the full extent of Spike's obsession, Buffy rejects Spike again. However, her disdain softens to some extent when she discovers that, even under intense torture, Spike refused to reveal the identity of The Key (Dawn Summers) to Glory. Buffy is moved by his unexpected loyalty and kisses him, telling she will not forget what he has done. In the days and hours leading up to the final showdown with Glory, Spike fights by Buffy's side, earning her trust. After Buffy dies in the showdown with Glory, Spike honors her memory by remaining loyal to the Scoobies, fighting at their side and serving the role of baby-sitter/older brother/protector to Dawn.
After Buffy is resurrected at the beginning of Season Six, she is despondent and detached from her friends. During this time, her relationship to Spike deepens and she is able to talk to him about things she feels she cannot share with the Scooby Gang. She gets drunk with Spike, and calls him "a neutered vampire who cheats at kitten poker." After a demon's spell makes them express their emotions in song, and Buffy sings, "I want the fire back", Buffy and Spike begin a physical relationship that is consummated two episodes later. The relationship is frequently violent, with Buffy most often initiating both the violence and the sex between them; the violence in their relationship is made all the more easier when it is discovered that Spike's chip does not stop him from harming Buffy, due to a side effect of Willow's resurrection spell. She also threatens to kill Spike if he ever tells anyone about their relationship. Both are unsatisfied with the relationship; Buffy is ashamed of her dark desires, while Spike obsessively craves the love, trust, and affection that she is unwilling to give. In the episode "As You Were", Buffy tells Spike that she is using him and ends their relationship. Believing he still has a chance with Buffy after seeing her reactions of jealousy and hurt when he has a drunk sexual encounter with Anya, Spike corners her and makes aggressive sexual advances. When she refuses him, he grows desperate and unsuccessfully tries to rape her. Horrified by his own actions and intentions, Spike heads to a remote area of Africa, where he seeks out a legendary demon shaman and undergoes the Demon Trials, a series of grueling physical challenges. Proving his worthiness by surviving the trials, Spike earns his soul back.
In Season Seven, a re-ensouled Spike must cope with the guilt of his past actions and try to win back Buffy's trust. When Buffy asks him why he had fought for his soul, Spike explains that it was done in an effort to become the kind of man she deserves. Under influence of the First Evil's hypnotic trigger, Spike unknowingly starts killing again. After he discovers what he has done, he begs Buffy to stake him, but she refuses and takes him into her house, telling him she has seen him change. Buffy guards and cares for Spike throughout his recovery, telling Spike that she believes in him, a statement which later sustains him throughout his imprisonment and torture at the hands of the First. When Spike's chip begins to malfunction, causing him intense pain and threatening to kill him, Buffy trusts him enough to order the Initiative operatives to remove it from his head. When Nikki Wood's son Robin tries to kill Spike, he unwittingly frees Spike from his hypnotic trigger: the song "Early One Morning" that Spike's mother sang when he was human. The song evokes Spike's traumatic memories of his mother's abusive behavior toward him after she turned; after Spike is able to address these issues, he realizes that his mother had always loved him, knowledge which frees him from the First's control.
Later in the season, Spike and Buffy achieve an emotional closeness; they spend three nights together, one of which Spike describes as the best night of his life, just holding her. It is unclear whether they resume their sexual intimacy the second night; creator Joss Whedon says on the DVD commentary for "Chosen" that he intentionally left it to the viewers to decide how they felt the relationship progressed, though Whedon had earlier stated on the commentary that he personally felt having them resume a sexual relationship would send the wrong message. In the final battle inside the Hellmouth, Spike, wearing a mystical amulet, sacrifices himself to destroy the Turok-Han and close the Hellmouth. He is slowly incinerated in the process, but not before Buffy tells him "I love you." He replies, "No, you don't — but thanks for saying it". Even as he burns and crumbles to dust, Spike laughs and revels in the destruction around him and the burning presence of his soul, glad to be able to see the fight to its end. In dying to save the world, he becomes a Champion.
"Now, you listen to me. I’ve been alive a bit longer than you. And dead a lot longer than that. I’ve seen things you couldn’t imagine - done things I’d prefer you didn’t. I don’t exactly have a reputation for being a thinker. I follow my blood. Which doesn’t exactly rush in the direction of my brain. I've made a lot of mistakes. A lot of wrong bloody calls. A hundred plus years and there’s only one thing I’ve ever been sure of. You." — Spike (cf. "Touched").
Despite his apparent death at the end of Buffy's final season, Spike returns in the fifth and final season of the spin-off series Angel. Resurrected by the amulet in the Los Angeles branch of supernatural law firm Wolfram & Hart, he spends the first seven episodes of the series as an incorporeal being akin to a ghost. As well as battling enemies such as "the Reaper" Matthias Pavayne and psychotic Slayer Dana, Spike also takes on Angel to prove which one of them is the Champion spoken of in the Shanshu Prophecy. Spike defeats Angel, but the prophecy remains ambiguous. Manipulated by Lindsey McDonald into "helping the helpless", Spike becomes a sort of rival to Angel; resembling the heroic Champion Angel was in earlier seasons before becoming disillusioned and corrupted by the bureaucracy of Wolfram & Hart. Cordelia comments on this strange turn of events after coming out of her coma in "You're Welcome", exclaiming to Angel, "Okay, Spike's a hero, and you're CEO of Hell, Incorporated. What freaking bizarro world did I wake up in?"
When Fred is killed by Illyria, Spike mourns her death and decides to join Team Angel in her honor. Angel and Spike discover that Buffy is now dating The Immortal (although this is later revealed to be a decoy Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, set up by Andrew Wells to annoy both Spike and Angel due to their rivalry with The Immortal), and travel to Rome to find her, but fail to catch up with her. During the final episodes of Angel, Spike is the first to vote for Angel's plan to wound the Senior Partners by taking out the Circle of the Black Thorn. He then spends what might be his last hours on Earth returning to his mortal roots as a frustrated poet, triumphantly knocking them dead (figuratively) in an open mic poetry slam at a bar. After single-handedly rescuing an infant and destroying the Fell Brethren, Spike joins Angel, Illyria, and a badly-wounded Charles Gunn in the alley behind the Hyperion as the series draws to an end, preparing to incur the apocalyptic wrath of the Senior Partners, as a way of going out in a blaze of glory.
Following the end of Buffy and Angel's respective television runs, Joss Whedon would later continue both stories in canonical comic book series published by Dark Horse Comics and IDW Publishing respectively, with both series beginning in 2007. Spike and Angel both make cameo appearances in Buffy's continuation, Season Eight (Dark Horse) as part of Buffy's sexual fantasies, and may reappear later in the series.
One of Spike's most notable personality traits is his lust for violence and his love of brawling. He has noted that he finds the very act of violence therapeutic: in the episode "School Hard", he responds to a lackey's incompetence by snapping the neck of a hostage he considers to be 'too old to eat' and notes that he feels better afterward. Similarly, during his drunken pining for Drusilla in the episode "Lovers Walk," he notes that getting pent-up aggression out of his system by staking and driving off several vampires 'put(s) things in perspective' for him. After a prolonged period of being unable to bite or hurt humans, Spike is delighted to discover that he is able to fight demons and gladly accompanies the Scooby Gang on patrol, proving that it does not much matter to him what he is fighting for so long as he can fight. Even in the episode Bargaining, Part Two, when Spike is a protector and pseudo-big-brother for Dawn, they look outside to see demons destroying the town and Spike smiles. Dawn asks why he's smiling. He shrugs and responds, "Just... looked like fun." Despite his love of violence, Spike is highly intelligent. He has displayed excellent skills of insight and analysis, particularly on relationships. However, despite this, he was often delusional about his relationship with Drusilla and refused to acknowledge her acts of infidelity.
In contrast to the brooding Angel, Spike has a dry, sarcastic sense of humor. A polar opposite to his callow and simpering human nature, Spike as a vampire possesses a swaggering posture and enjoys living by nobody's rules save his own. He has a habit of making pithy remarks and glib insults, even toward the few he does not view as antagonists. Among his favorite targets are Angel, Xander, Giles, and (to a lesser extent) Buffy. Joss Whedon credits this antipathy as what convinced him in the episode "Lovers Walk" to bring Spike back as a cast regular. As James Marsters put it, "I was supposed to be the one who stood at the side and said, 'Buffy, you're stupid, and we're all gonna die'."
In Season Six, although he is, for the most part, good and a full-fledged member of the Scooby Gang, Spike is still prone to murderous impulses due to his lack of a soul; in "Smashed", when he believes his chip has stopped working, he does not hesitate in trying to bite an innocent woman.
Spike often nicknames people, both as insults and as terms of endearment, referring to Dawn, for instance, as "Little Bit" and to Drusilla and Buffy as "Pet." He speaks with a strong English accent and slang; while suffering from amnesia, he labels Giles a "nancy boy" for being English, before realizing, "Bloody hell! Sodding, blimey, shagging, knickers, bollocks, oh God! I'm English!" However, Spike also retains something of his literary intellect from his human side, routinely referencing poetry, songs, and literature; he on occasion even waxes poetic on the nature of love and life (and unlife) as being driven by blood, reasoning that blood is more powerful than any supernatural force because it is what separates the living from the dead.
Spike often treats his vulnerability to the sun as simply an annoying inconvenience, rather than a limitation; he drives in broad daylight in vehicles with blacked-out windows, and he regularly travels outside during the day, using a blanket for cover. Indeed, he has a remarkably stronger resistance to sunlight than most all other vampires seen in the series (who usually catch on fire just by the slightest solar ray) except Angel. Both Spike and Angel have demonstrated an ability to resist the pain of sunlight on extremities, in fact, when Spike was first sired, he and Angel originally bonded over enduring the direct rays of the sun. However, this elevated endurance should not be confused with total immunity as both have on occasion caught fire from sunlight because of prolonged exposure. He also has a taste for human food and drink, such as beer, whiskey, hot chocolate (even asking Joyce Summers if she has any of "those little marshmallows"), chocolates, Buffalo wings, and onion blossoms, constituting the most varied diet of any vampire on the show. Sometimes he adds extra ingredients into his blood, such as Weetabix (for texture)., and spices and burba weed (for flavor) He also smokes cigarettes (as do many vampires); preferring the fictional brand Morley, which he lights with a trademark silver Zippo lighter.
Spike appears to be a fan of pop culture; when held captive by the Scooby Gang in Buffy Season Four, his biggest concern is missing his favorite soap Passions. Over the course of the series, he makes references to movies and shows such as Star Wars, Dawson's Creek, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown , Ghostbusters , Knight Rider and The Nightmare Before Christmas. In the Angel episode "You're Welcome", after his hands are cut off and subsequently reattached, he is instructed to play video games for physical therapy, including Donkey Kong and Crash Bandicoot, and can be seen playing a Game Boy Advance in "The Girl in Question." Before fighting a Denon to win his soul, he said "Here we are now, entertain us" in reference to "Smells like Teen Spirit".
In contrast to Angel, Spike's personality remains relatively the same whether he has a soul or not.
- Bouncer: [When asked if he has seen Spike] "Yeah, yeah, I know the guy. Billy Idol wannabe?"
- Buffy: "Actually, Billy Idol stole his look from - never mind."
Spike has a punk look which strongly resembles that of English rock musician Billy Idol. His hair is peroxide blond for the duration of his time on Buffy and Angel, although in flashbacks it can be seen in its natural medium brown state as well as dyed black. Marsters' V/Y-shaped scar on his left eyebrow, which he received during a mugging., was worked into the show; make-up artist Todd McIntosh decided to shave out his eyebrow in order to make it more prominent. He also included the scar on Spike's "vamp face" prosthetic, albeit slightly altered as though the skin has stretched. In Spike's first appearance in the series, the wound still looks fresh, but it gradually blends in over the course of the series, eventually to the point where it is barely visible in Angel Season Five. In Season Five's "Fool for Love", it is revealed through a flashback that Spike received the scar from the sword of the first Slayer he killed in 1900. Angel once sarcastically asked him "What color is your hair? Radioactive?". He has been called Captain "Peroxide" by Xander and Angel.
Spike usually wears long black leather coats, including one that he took from a Nazi officer and another that he took as a trophy from Nikki Wood, the second Slayer he killed. He wore the Slayer's black duster for over twenty-five years. When the coat was destroyed by a bomb from the Immortal in Italy, Spike heartbrokenly declared it to be irreplaceable. However, the Italy branch of Wolfram & Hart quickly supplied him with a whole wardrobe of new, nearly identical ones which he happily began wearing. His trademark look includes the leather duster, a black t-shirt or v-neck shirt and black denim pants, usually with heavy boots. He also wore a red long-sleeved shirt fairly often, particularly during the earlier seasons of Buffy.
Spike often displays insight and skills in perception and observation, especially with regard to relationships and personalities, so long as the relationship in question doesn't concern him personally. This ability allows him to wield powerful psychological weapons as easily and effectively as physical ones. For example, when he wants to create disharmony among the Scoobies, Spike divides-and-conquers with the "Yoko Factor", exploiting tensions that exist under the surface to alienate Buffy and her friends against each other. He explains to Buffy that he was able to defeat two Slayers because he sensed and exploited their secret desires to be free of their burden. Spike's skills of analysis allowed him to be the first to see through Tara's abusive and controlling family, forced Buffy and Angel to admit that they were more than "just friends" and identify when and why some relationships, such as that between Buffy and Riley, are not meant to last, masterfully feeding Riley's insecurities in an effort to sabotage his relationship with Buffy, so that Spike can pursue her. His analytical skills also help him in battle from time to time; for example, in "Time Bomb", he identifies Illyria's fighting style as a Tae Kwon Do/Brazilian Ninjitsu hybrid.
Although capable of developing sound battle strategies, Spike (particularly in the days before receiving his chip and being ensouled) often loses patience with anything more complicated than outright attack, as mentioned in the episode "In the Dark".
- Spike: I had a plan.
- Angel: You, a plan?
- Spike: Yeah, a good plan. Smart. Carefully laid out. But I got bored.
He is also impatient to fight the Slayer upon his initial arrival in Sunnydale; the attack is supposed to coincide with the Night of St. Vigeous (when a vampire's natural abilities are enhanced), but he "couldn't wait" to go after the Slayer and attacks the night before However, Spike did exercise patience throughout the latter half of Buffy Season Two, when he was confined to a wheelchair after a brutal battle with the Scoobies left him paraplegic for several months. Feigning weakness, he endured tortuous weeks watching Angelus sexually pursue Dru as he waited for the right time to strike against his enemy.
Spike's "vampire constitution" provides him with an extremely high tolerance for alcohol (which he regularly consumes in copious quantities). Due to his experience in criminal activities, he is skilled at picking locks, hotwiring cars, and pick-pocketing. He is also capable of easily operating various vehicles, such as various cars, a Harley Davidson motorcycle ("Bargaining"), and a Winnebago ("Spiral"). He has also been shown using video game systems and a computer, treating injuries, and playing poker and pool. Spike is also seen speaking Latin, Luganda (a language of Uganda, where he meets the demon shaman), and the language of Fyarl Demons.
When Spike was transformed into a ghost-like intangible state following the destruction of Sunnydale and the Hellmouth and his subsequent materialization at Wolfram & Hart, he was capable of walking through solid objects. He was initially unable to make contact with objects around him until he learned how to focus his abilities through desire, allowing him to make brief contact with people and things if he concentrated enough. However, this ability was relatively useless in a fight, as he was unable to pick up a wooden bar to hit the demon Tezcatcatl in "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco", and required a few moments to properly punch a cyborg that was strangling Gunn in "Lineage".
Spike will be receiving his own canonical four part mini-series titled Spike: After The Fall in July.
In 2004, Joss Whedon set plans for a Spike movie. The film, if ever greenlit, would star James Marsters, Alyson Hannigan and Amy Acker. At a convention, Acker stated that the film was not going ahead due to money issues.