It's quite clear from Buffy and Angel that vampires with souls are vanishingly rare. The Shanshu Prophecy refers to the vampire with a soul, and the appearance of Spike as a second such causes great consternation. (Beyond the general consternation Spike commonly causes.) Now, Angel was first re-ensouled forcibly by a gypsy tribe when he ate their favorite child. He's since been re-ensouled twice more by Willow. Apparently a different set of gypsies tried the ritual on a different vampire, and failed.

Is any explanation ever provided as to why this ritual is not at least attempted any other times? Forcibly re-ensouling a vampire against his will should greatly reduce its threat potential, as was seen in Angelus/Angel. And it can apparently be done remotely! What a great weapon, if you can pull it off. And Willow did it with almost zero magical training. Why aren't Slayers and allies casting this all the time on every standing vampire threat?

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    It would kind of kill the need for a Vampire Slayer, so I'm thinking that is the primary reason. See also Darla's resurrection as an human by the sacrifice of a number (5?) of other vampires and uttering of magic words. Trade 5 soulless creatures for the restoration of one who had more value as a human (e.g. a righteous person who was 'innocent' when turned - Drusilla pops to mind)? I'm in! But it leads to 'end of (vampire) story'. Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 3:51
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    Maybe the Orb of Thesulah is fairly rare, or hard to make.
    – John C
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 13:06

2 Answers 2


A couple quick points:(Many spoilers ahead)

The great consternation about two vampires with a soul turned out to be a trick by Lindsey. It was explained at the end of the episode Destiny when Spike realizes that the cup they have been fighting for contains Mountain Dew.

As John C mentions in his comment, the Orb of Thesulah is described as a rare object in the episode Passions. It is also a magical object of use to only a small sect of people. It is also a one time use magic item, which can get quite costly over time.

Even without magical training, Willow is a rare and powerful talent. That is something that that is discussed multiple times through out the show. Mostly after one of her spells has gone awry or was implemented too strongly.

Perhaps most telling, the interaction of soul and vampire is extremely unstable. Angel spent decades living in the gutter, destroyed by the magnitude of the evil he had done. Spike spent two weeks living in the school basement, jumping at voices, before he was combat ready again. It is entirely possible that the vast majority of people would just continue to be evil, with a soul. Don't forget that both Angel and Spike are uncommon people to say the least. I find it hard to believe that somebody like Harmony would do as well ensouled.

Additionally, that ritual definitely took more time and preparation than Buffy strolling down to the cemetery and sticking the pointy end of the stake into the heart of newest vampire menace.

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    Expanding on that, perhaps it's considered cruel to the departed soul to force them into the body of a vampire. Sure, the vampire isn't a threat any more, but now you've condemned a real person to a lifetime of torment... Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 19:26
  • To be honest, I doubt that Harmony's personality changed much after she became a vampire.
    – NomadMaker
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 16:44

To be honest, I agree, it wouldn't be done often but it seems hard to believe that it would only ever have been done once. But here are some reasons why it wouldn't happen often.

Not everyone would have had access to the spell.

Up until Miss Calendar got involved, it seemed as though the existence of this spell maybe wasn't even widely known outside the Roma, and certainly the actual instructions hadn't been translated into any other language. (You'd think this would have been done before. Maybe the writers thought that Romani was an extinct language. I'm told that it's not.) Once Willow and Giles had an English translation in handy word-processed format, though, you'd think they would have circulated this "lost" spell to every magician they could think of, in case it was ever needed again.

Orbs of Thesulah.

The spell also requires a special charm called an Orb of Thesulah. These didn't actually seem to be that rare. Miss Calendar went down to the Sunnydale magic shop and asked the shopkeeper for one and he had one. In fact, possibly several - he said there was no demand for them and he'd sold a couple to New Agers as paperweights. Giles later turned out to have one that he was using as a paperweight. Still, the need for an orb for each vampire would limit using the spell en masse, especially if the orbs aren't re-usable. But there might still be cases where it would make sense to try it on one particular vampire. From a purely strategic point of view, there might be a leader, say, who was too much for the hunter to tackle in a straight fight, maybe they couldn't even get at them, but this spell can be done at a distance. Or perhaps a magician had had a close friend or relative turned and was determined to try and rescue them.

Say somebody had access to the spell and the orb. There are several things that could go wrong that might put them off trying.

  1. Spell accident. Giles said that the "Rite of Restoration" was quite an advanced and dangerous spell, one he wasn't happy about a novice like Willow attempting. Yes, Willow did, in the event, pull it off, but as sarge_smith said in their answer, Willow was always particularly talented at magic - as witness how jealous Amy was - and even so, she may have been lucky. Giles, who was at least somewhat more experienced even at that stage, wouldn't go near the spell himself.
  2. Suicide. Faced with the shock of suddenly realising what their activities over the past goodness-knows-how-many years look like through normal human eyes, the vampire might well just self-destruct, as both Angel and Spike tried to do at some point. Although a callous hunter might say that that at least achieves the object of taking them out of circulation. But it would still mean no "vampire with a soul" left to muddle up the prophecy.
  3. They might just be naturally mean, anyway. Restoring the vampire's soul only gets them back to thinking like a normal human, and some humans kill people. So it doesn't guarantee that they'll no longer be a threat.
    Life as a vampire is much easier if you're prepared to kill people. Even Angel was tempted sometimes, for instance when Darla nearly got him to bite Joyce. Spike was actively trying to be more murderous at one point because Buffy told him to (she'd become obsessed with the idea that they weren't tough enough to defeat their enemy), and he partly enjoyed it because the fact is Spike loves beating things up. Angel and Spike stopped themselves in time because they both seem to have started out as normal, decent people - decent enough to draw the line at murder, anyway. If it happened that the vampire had got ahead as a vampire because they were already a ruthless scumbag when they were human, they might look at their options and decide to just carry on as planned.

If everything did work out, then, although Buffy and the gang didn't know about this at the time of Series 2, there might be a fourth problem.

  1. Retribution. As seen in both Series 3 and Series 7, there is a powerful spirit being known as "the First Evil" that seems to really hate vampires changing sides, and will go to some effort to get the vampire either back or dead. The show has only shown it targeting the vampires themselves, but if somebody was making a habit of restoring vampires, then that person might be well advised to watch their back, too.

Perhaps (though I've no evidence in the series that that's the case) that's the real reason why there were no others like Angel. There were, briefly, but the First got them.

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