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Buffy Summers was not identified as a Potential until she was a teenager - actually after she had been activated. The other Potentials who would be activated: Faith Lehane and Kendra Young are described as having been raised and trained by Watchers from a young age.

In the episode Chosen,

Willow uses the scythe to activate all other Potentials across the globe. We are shown a montage of Potentials feeling their first surge of power and strength, but few if any are clearly in the care of their own Watchers.

So, how/why are some Potentials so easily identified and taken into the care of Watchers while others are clearly missed or ignored?

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  • 2
    I would guess that there simply are not enough watchers during Buffy the TV series to find them all. I don't see any figures on how many potentials exist vs. watchers anywhere. It would be useful if they had something like Cerebro. – BennyMcBenBen Jun 1 '12 at 14:18
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It was not uncommon for Watchers to either not be aware of potentials or not have the manpower to monitor potentials - as you say, Buffy was only assigned a Watcher after becoming the Slayer in the canon comic The Origin. Why exactly that is, is not clear.

However, to answer your explicit question - why were there few Watchers around the Potentials in that episode? Caleb had destroyed the Watcher's Council headquarters earlier in the season, and murdered many, if not most, of the Watchers. In an issue of Season Eight, Giles comments that he is, for all intents and purposes, the Watcher's Council - implying that the damage Caleb did largely rendered the Watcher's Council inoperable (although Buffy taking potentials/Slayers under her wing probably did the rest).

That leads me to conclude that the combination of already knowing that the Watchers did not identify every potential before they became a Slayer, let alone every potential, plus having their numbers decimated and their organization smashed a couple of episodes earlier, pretty much accounts for why so many potentials in "Chosen" do not have a Watcher.

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  • I'm unsure if it's how the Watcher's Council did it. But in season 7 the Devon Coven (that helped rehabilitate Willow) was alerting the gang to potential slayers. Also season 8 stated that there were about 1,800 slayers world wide, so it seems unlikely the Watcher's Council could train them all. – Dracs Jul 9 '12 at 2:38
  • "and murdered many, if not most," Do you have anything backing up that claim? I would think more watchers would be in the field than sitting at the council headquarters. – phantom42 Jul 9 '12 at 12:42
  • The evidence for that is circumstantial, based off a comment by Giles - "In an issue of Season Eight, Giles comments that he is, for all intents and purposes, the Watcher's Council." – dlanod Jul 9 '12 at 13:03
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There are a number of methods that can be used to find a 'potential' slayer.

  • Seers can locate them remotely.

WILLOW: Positive. Althenea says the seers definitely located another Potential Slayer here in Sunnydale. Someone who already lives here.

Buffy: Potentials

  • Once you've determined their rough location, you can use a spell involving an egg to locate and identify them at close range.

WILLOW: An egg that means the life to come. Take this, O Spirits, and my spell is done.

[As she tosses in an EGG, the room starts to fill with ORANGE NOXIOUS SMOKE. It reeks of rotten eggs.]
...
XANDER: Oh good god, what is that smell?
...
WILLOW: The smell will lead us to the Potential.

Buffy: Potentials


  • In an earlier outing, Slayers (well, most of them, anyway) bear a sacred mark

MERRICK: The mark of the Coven! The -- where's the mark?

BUFFY: You mean that big hairy mole? Excuse me: eeyuu. I had it removed.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)


As to why certain girls are taken into the care of the Watchers and others aren't, the most likely explanation seems to be that seers may have some way of determining the likely life-path of the girls they locate. Some are obviously far more likely to become slayers than others and, given the limited number of Watchers available, those girls would receive the highest priority in terms of training.

Ironically Buffy was evidently a very unlikely pick, hence why Merrick didn't contact her until after she'd been called.

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