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Next — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Killed by Death
March 03, 1998


Rob Des Hotel
Dean Batali

Deran Serafian

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
David Boreanaz as Angel
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Star:
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Richard Herd as Dr. Backer
Willie Garson as Security guard
Andrew Ducote as Ryan
Juanita Jennings as Dr. Wilkinson
Robert Munic as Intern
Mimi Paley as Little Buffy
Denise Johnson as Celia
James Jude Courtney as Kindestod


Buffy is sick as a puppy with the flu, but tries to patrol anyway, meeting, fighting and losing to Angelus, before the Gang step in with crosses and kicks to head aplenty. The stress of this causes Buffy to faint, and she is taken to hospital where her flu is diagnosed as serious enough to keep her in hospital for a couple of days. While delirious with the fever, she sees an ugly demon creeping through the hospital after a small boy, who dies the next day. Angelus tries to visit Buffy, but Xander faces him down in a tense confrontation. The flu is very strong, and although Buffy is recovering, these kids are dying. Giles is skeptical of Buffy's account of the demon, and believes it to be the work of the sinister Dr Backer. He is killed the next day, so Buffy infects herself with the flu virus so she can see the demon, and uses violence to kill it. — Short synopsis by Bruce.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Freddy Krueger Der Kindestod, at least physically, appears to be inspired by Freddy Krueger, the razor-fingered slasher played by Robert Englund in the Nightmare on Elm Street series of movies. The way der Kindestod can only be seen by fever-ridden patients also seems influenced by Freddy, who can only be seen when one is asleep and dreaming. Finally, the plot is reminiscent of the plot of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, the 1987 entry in which a young woman helps a group of young children fend off Freddy, the killer only they can see.

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Dialogue to Die For

Intern: "What happened?"
Xander: "She fell."
Willow, simultaneously: "The flu."
Cordelia, also simultaneously: "She fainted."
Xander: The flu, fainted and fell. She's sick, make it better!"

Xander: "Visiting hours are over."
Angel: "Well, I'm pretty much family."
Xander: "Yeah. Why don't you come back during the day? Oh, gee, no, I guess you can't."
Angel: "If I decide to walk into Buffy's room, do you think for one microsecond that you could stop me?"
Xander: "Maybe not. Maybe that security guard couldn't either. Or those cops... or the orderlies... But I'm kinda curious to find out. You game?"
Angel: "Buffy's white knight. You still love her. It must just eat you up that I got there first."
Xander: "You're gonna die. And I'm gonna be there."
Angel: "Tell her I stopped by."

Cordelia: "So this isn't about you being afraid of hospitals 'cause your friend died and you wanna conjure up a monster that you can fight so you can save everybody and not feel so helpless?"
Giles: "Cordelia, have you actually ever heard of tact?"
Cordelia: "Tact is just not saying true stuff. I'll pass."

Cordelia: "Oh, right. Your obsession with protecting Buffy. Have I told you how attractive that's not?"
Xander: "Cordelia, someone's gotta watch her back."
Cordelia: "Yeah, well, I've seen you watch her back."
Xander: "What is that supposed to mean?"  Cordelia: "Well, I was using the phrase 'watch her back' as a euphemism for looking at her butt. You know, sort of a pun."
Xander: "Oh! Right. Hey!"
Cordelia: "Well, you do."
Xander: "Jealous?"
Cordelia: "Fine. Watch my back."

More quotes from this episode...

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    The Seventh Seal
  • "Ooo, if he asks you to play chess, don't even do it. The guy's, like, a whiz." This is a reference to Ingmar Bergman's 1956 masterpiece The Seventh Seal, which tells the story of a weary knight named Antonius Block (played by Max von Sydow) who is challenged by Death to a chess match, the stakes being his life.

  • "Cordelia may be homerically insensitive..."  Homer is the possibly non-existent ancient Greek poet who wrote two of the most enduring works of literature in history, The Iliad and the Odyssey. Both works form one enormous tale of truly epic scope, and thus, even though he may not have existed, Homer's name has become synonymous with such a grand scale.

  • "Yeah, but if I see a floating pipe and a smoking jacket, he's dropped." The floating pipe and smoking jacket is one of the most famous images from the 1933 film version of The Invisible Man.

  • "Your mom's tryin' to Bogart the cheesy chips."  The slang term "to Bogart" has come to mean hoarding something for oneself. It was made famous by the Little Feat song "Don't Bogart That Joint," which told of hoarding a marijuana joint in one's mouth in much the same way that film star Humphrey Bogart would simply let a cigarette dangle from the corner of his lips for long periods of time.
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  • Buffy's cousin Celia, who died in a hospital when Buffy was eight, is the first relative of Buffy's other than her mother and father to be mentioned in the series.

  • Joyce implies that Buffy's uncharacteristic susceptibility to the flu was at least partially a consequence of the death of Ms. Calendar.

  • Buffy is not a natural blonde.

  • Cordelia brings Krispy Kreme donuts to the hospital, which implies that there is a Krispy Kreme (yummy!) either in or near Sunnydale.

  • Willow's "frog fear" ("What's My Line") appears again in this episode.

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Like Part 1 of "What's My Line," this episode slowed down the pace somewhat, only instead of taking the time to expand the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Killed by Death" turned inward to spend time exploring the relationships between the characters. In doing so, it turned away from the increasingly Melrose Place-like hormone parade of recent months, and towards an honest and insightful depiction of the unique complexity that the inter-character relationships in Buffy have achieved. The end result is one of the most mature and satisfying episodes yet. A number of extended scenes, which may not have been deemed strictly "necessary" in one of the more "important" continuity episodes, nevertheless gave us time to see Willow and Xander really being friends to Buffy, not just sidekicks; to see that the relationship between Xander and Cordelia has become more complex (and interesting) than the initial making-out-in-broom-closets dynamic; to see that Joyce Summers can be more than just an obligatory obstacle in the path of Buffy's Slaying; and, above all, to see that all of these characters have transcended the bare-bones premise of the show (group of high-school misfits fights supernatural horrors) to take on a wonderful individuality. I, for one, can't get enough of them. Some points of note: Xander's confrontation with Angel in the hospital hallway was the first time since the series began that I saw Xander as a genuinely interesting character in his own right and not just the token male among the teenaged girls; I liked that eight-year-old Buffy had brown hair — it was a nice detail that just sat really well with me; Xander and Cordelia's quiet yet emotionally-charged confrontation following her flirtation with the security guard was brilliantly written and performed; and while I'm sure many will read potential romance into the short but nice scene between Giles and Joyce, I ignore that possibility but find the prospect of a mature and platonic friendship between the two main adults of the show, especially so soon after they both suffered so much in "Passion," highly attractive and intriguing. The plot against which all this lovely characterization was played out was somewhat derivative (the Kindestod reminded me especially of Freddy Krueger), but at this point I don't watch the show for the monster-of-the-week. That's just an excuse for me to get into these character's lives for an hour, and tonight I came away feeling enriched and satisfied. "Killed by Death" was, to nick another network's catchphrase, time well spent. (9/10)
It is my opinion that this episode was the least entertaining episode of the season. This is not to say that it was bad. It was what I consider a filler episode. The story line was rather cool. It gave a reason for Buffy to play superhero and it had all of the qualities that make the show great. It lacked something that I canít really put my finger on. It may have been that it lacked Spike and Drusilla or that it just lacked the normal brilliance that I have come to expect. One small thing that I didnít like was the ending. The manner in which Buffy killed the Kindestod was too quick and seemingly too simple. I think that she should have had a weapon or something. I know... I'm being rather petty. One very positive comment about the show: I know that I have said it before but I guess recently I had forgotten. Willow is absolutely adorable and her performance was priceless. Willow rules. (5/10)
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Air Date Rating Ranking
March 03, 1998 4.1 92 of 111
June 9, 1998 2.5 99 of 115
September 14, 1998 2.1 103 of 122 (tie)

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