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Master, The (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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The Master
Master, The - BTVS
General Information


Gender Male
Aliases Heinrich Joseph Nest, King of Vampires, the Despised One, the Sleeper
Age
Birthday
Race Vampire
Debuts
TV Show Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Film
Credit Mark Metcalf

Overview

An ancient vampire trapped behind a mystical barrier beneath Sunnydale who longs to free himself and send the World to Hell. He was one of the first major opponents of Buffy Summers during her time at Sunnydale and he ultimately killed Buffy. She got better and returned the favor, slaying him permanently.

The Master first appeared on March 10, 1997 on the television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiere episode, "Welcome to the Hellmouth". He was portrayed by Mark Metcalf who would reprise his role for the rest of the series.

Background

The exact origins of The Master is unknown however evidence suggests that he was Turned several millennia ago by Archaeus, an Old One. A Demon Lord of ancient power, Archaeus is believed to have played a role in the creation of the original Turok-Han Vampires which means that the Master is tied to the creators of the Vampire Bloodline itself which is indicated because those of his bloodline have been exceptionally strong and powerful vampires themselves.

In the early 12th Century, the Master whose features had already become more demonic had joined the Order of Aurelius; a vampire cult that worshiped the Old Ones and by the 16th Century, he had already lost his ability to assume a human form and was the undisputed leader of the Order.

Among his numerous children including Darla who herself raised the vampire Angelus and through him, created Drusilla and Spike.

After an absence of several years from the Master, Darla introduced her newest child and lover, Angelus to him in 1760. Angelus was not impressed and when he mocked the Master, was pummeled to a pulp in a matter of seconds. Despite the Master's overwhelming power and authority, Angelus was able to convince Darla to abandon him and having fallen for his recklessness and fearlessness, left with him. The Master allowed them to go but remarked that they would not last more than a century. He was right.

In 1937, the Master learned of the existence of the Hellmouth underneath Sunnydale and sought to open it in the hopes of bringing about the end of the world. In the midst of his attempt however, an earthquake intervened and the ritual instead created a mystical barrier that left him entombed for the next 60 years.

Major Plots

Personality and Traits

Absolutely ruthless and absolutely obsessed with the eradication of humanity itself, the Master was also a staunch traditionalist who worshiped the Old Ones and viewed it his sacred task to resurrect them. He also viewed the vampire race as superior to all others, even other demon kind. He was extremely arrogant in his own strength and power, viewing himself superior to other vampires due to his advanced age and experience.

He was disgusted when Darla once proffered a human victim to him that she had already fed on, viewing it as 'scraps'. He also possessed a sardonic sense of humor as he enjoyed bantering with Buffy Summers. The Master however did not tolerate failure and would punish others; he forced a minion of his to cut off his own limb and exiled him from his Order for failing to complete a mission for him. Nevertheless, the Master tended to view those that he personally Turned as his own family akin to his children and often favored them. For example, he was very fond of Darla for example as he allowed her to depart the Order of Aurelius with Angelus and later welcomed her back when she returned to the fold, cherishing her as if she was his own daughter. He greatly mourned her destruction as well.

The Master is so old that he has long lost the ability to camouflage himself as a human but his strength, speed, and power far exceeds any "normal" vampire. Further, his appearance has become increasingly demonic and he physically resembles the ancient Turok-Han proto-vampires with a bald head with pointed ears, pale white skin, and yellowish talon-like nails along with a noticeable brow ridge, wrinkles, and fangs. His eyes are blood red and he has a snub-bat-like nose along with a distinctive permanent bloody red stain from his nose down to his mouth.

His vampiric strength far exceeded even the supernatural strength of Slayers as he easily manhandled Buffy Summers with superlative ease. He also proved fast enough that he could snatch a crossbow bolt in mid-flight without any warning and then shifted position in a split second before Buffy could reload her crossbow. His talons were sharp enough that he could slice through protective clothing easily.

Centuries ago, the Master was reputed to be extraordinarily gifted as a fighter but over the decades, he began relying more and more on his sheer superior strength and speed for overwhelming his opponents. His arrogance and ego also developed to the point where he enjoyed toying with his foes and had a notable tendency to seize his opponents by the throat to immobilize them, intimidating them before he rendered them helpless via his impressive strength. This habitual tendency however backfired on him as while it allowed him to kill Buffy Summers the first time; when he tried it again the second time, she was prepared for the tactic and allowed her to be in close range to deliver a critical blow which allowed her to dispatch him.

Appearances

TV Series

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 1

  • Welcome to the Hellmouth
  • The Harvest
  • Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
  • Angel
  • Nightmares
  • Prophecy Girl

Season 2

  • When She Was Bad

Season 3

  • The Wish

Season 7

  • Lessons

Angel

  • Darla

Trivia

  • Early story notes drafted by Josh Whedon indicate that the Master was once known as Heinrich Joseph Nest before he became a vampire and was approximately 600 years old. His name and background suggested he was German. Later episode continuity directly contradict these early notes, proclaiming that the Master is much, much older than 600 years old and that he simply started being referred to as the Master by that time.
  • The Master originally was intended to have a much different look including long hair and a beard. However, actor Mark Metcalf suggested a homage to the old Nosferatu movie resulting in the pale, white skin and pointed ears and talons.
  • The Turok-Han which were a breed of vampire later introduced in the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series as an early, prehistoric version of vampires were deliberately based on the Master's iconic look.

Quotes

  • "Fear. It's a wonderful thing. It is the most powerful force in the world. Not love, not hate." ―The Master; Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Nightmares"

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