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Spike was one of the most popular characters in the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the original plan was to bring him in as the Big Bad for a few episodes and not bring him back, but viewer reaction was strong enough they wanted to use him again and he was brought back, still as a Big Bad.

When he came back in, during the 4th season, he was given an implant that would not allow him to hurt others. While this dramatically changed Spike as a character and led to a story line that lasted until the end of the series, it also led to a time when Spike was nothing more than weak comic relief. (This included scenes like the one in the graveyard where he was measuring the size of a crypt so he could fit his furniture in it.)

Joss Whedon is well known for planning his story lines out years in advance and this one just completely stalled for a number of episodes, during which we saw a strong willed character turn into quite a wimp, before he finally decided what he wanted to do.

Has Whedon (or anyone else involved in the production of Buffy) made any comments about the difficulty of handing this story arc, or if they had made changes that ended up leaving that story stalled for a while?

It just seemed so out of place and incongruent with the rest of the series to see such a strong willed character turn into comic relief that I've always wondered if there was a reason behind what happened.

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    It's interesting to note that the TVTropes's "Badass Decay" trope was originally called "Spikeification", based exactly on what you're describing. tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BadassDecay Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 19:36
  • I read an interview somewhere (I think it was with Darla's actress) that said something along the line of if your show is about killing vampires, and you're a vampire, if you're to become a major character something's got to happen to you - a soul, a chip... Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 17:35
  • quiet a wimp -> quite a wimp. Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 19:27

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All I know from some of the audio commentaries from the DVD's is that they had a great actor in James Marsters that people and the writers loved but they didn't have anything to do with him so they just kept him hanging around and gave him some little story points here and there.

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    Could you add details on this? Specific quotes or citations to which episode commentaries?
    – user1027
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 19:15
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According to James Marsters, Whedon wanted villains to be defeated, so he (Whedon) was not happy that audience popularity was keeping Spike around. This may explain why there was no real role for Spike after season 2.

“In Joss’s world, evil is not cool,” Marsters said. “I was supposed to come in and get killed off, but the audience reacted to me in a way that was going to make it very difficult to kill me off … I was basically ruining his show.’

“It changed the show from one about a teenager overcoming adolescence,” Marsters said, “to a show where those problems are kind of sexy. I was killing people all of the time. I was shredding them, and the audience wanted more of that. And Joss thought, ‘The point is overcoming the evil!’”

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