Vampire Slayer Buffy Summers hopes to start anew in the small town of Sunnydale. However, she soon finds that she can't outrun fate, as not only is her new home a fountain of supernatural activity, but her arrival coincides with the arising of a great evil. Now Buffy must embrace her responsibilities to help her new friends.
Buffy gradually learns to accept her role as the Slayer and prepares to battle the Master's minions in order to stop the Harvest, a ceremony which will free the Master from his prison in the sewers. Willow and Xander are confided in by Giles about the existence of Vampires and Demons and, although overwhelmed, pledge to help Buffy in her fight.
When several cheerleaders are involved in strange accidents, Buffy and the gang suspect that one of the cheerleader wannabes is practicing witchcraft and is trying to eliminate her competition.
Xander's hormones shift from Buffy to Miss French, a substitute for the deceased biology teacher. While tracking his hugger and a dangerous vampire, Buffy begins to figure out that there's more to the new teacher than meets the eye.
While trying to maintain a normal dating life, Buffy finds it interrupted by the fulfilment of an ancient prophesy that foretells the rising of a vampire known as the Anointed One, a powerful warrior to the Master.
Along with four bullies, Xander becomes possessed with a hyena spirit and they begin to roam the school as a pack, taunting and picking on weaker students. However, their behaviour begins to become increasingly animalistic and even dangerous, leaving Buffy, Giles, and Willow to undo the possession before things get worse.
As the Master ramps up his attacks on the Slayer, so does the romantic tension between Buffy and Angel. Ultimately, a moment of weakness between the two leads to the secret that Angel has been holding back since their first encounter.
Willow begins an online relationship with a boy named Malcolm. Worried about who Malcolm is and his motives, Buffy begins investigating and soon she, Xander, and Giles discover that Willow is actually chatting with Moloch, a demon who draws devoted followers. Originally bound in a book, he is now trapped in cyberspace where his access to knowledge has him becoming more dangerous than he ever was as a flesh-and-blood demon.
The Scoobies go up against their most horrific obstacle yet when the new principal puts Giles in charge of the Sunnydale High School talent show and forces Buffy, Xander, and Willow to participate. In the meantime, something is killing and harvesting body parts. Their prime suspect soon becomes a creepy ventriloquist dummy who may have a life of its own.
When strange things begin happening to the students at Sunnydale High, it seems that everyone is living their worst nightmares. Buffy and the gang must hold together to stop the phenomena before reality and the nightmare world become one.
As Cordelia prepares to become May Queen, she is distracted by an assault on those close to her. Discovering the culprit is an invisible girl whose condition came from being ignored by those around her, Buffy and friends must set aside their differences with Cordelia in order to protect her from a revenge plot.
Buffy learns of an ancient prophecy that foretells the rising of the Master and her subsequent death. Horrified to learn this, she struggles to defeat her fate, either by avoiding it or facing it head-on.