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Season 3’s Big Bad was a father figure with the heart of a demon

Illustration: Nick Wanserski

Big Bad: The Mayor

Aliases: Richard Wilkins I, II, and III


History: Although the mayor was mentioned briefly in an earlier season, he came into his own in season three to become the Big Bad. It turns out that Mayor Richard Wilkins had been around for 100 years, a longevity he owes to offerings and deals he makes with the demons and vampires populating Sunnydale. But he ultimately wants to become a demon himself, so starts preparing for his “ascension,” which will coincide with a solar eclipse on graduation day for Sunnydale High’s class of 1999. The weird thing is that in his mayor guise, Wilkins (as gamely portrayed by Harry Groener), is just this side of a ’50s sitcom dad, who hates swearing and favors cleanliness. He’s most paternal with Faith, Buffy’s fellow slayer who latches onto the mayor as a fill-in father figure, which causes her to break from the Scooby gang. The relationship between the mayor and Faith is really rather sweet, even as it hurtles toward this Big Bad’s intended mass destruction.

How’d they bite it? In pretty spectacular fashion: In the season-three finale, “Graduation Day, Part 2,” the Mayor does indeed get his ascension, transforming into a giant demonized snake. But Buffy and her pals have enlisted the entire graduating class to rise against the mayor and his demon minions, slaying vampires left and right (even Cordelia gets one!) Buffy leads the giant snake into the school library, which has been rigged with explosives. She and Giles then blow up the school and the Mayor is destroyed. He does pop up in some future dream sequences, like Faith’s in season four’s “This Year’s Girl.” But chalk his ascension up to yet another apocalypse that Buffy managed to avert.

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