The Cheese Man is a very minor and extremely enigmatic character on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series. Although the Cheese Man only appeared briefly in two episodes, he has become an iconic figure for some fans. The character is a topic of intense discussion among some fans, but the show's creator, Joss Whedon, claims that the Cheese Man was meant to be a meaningless and absurd character, and that he has no tricky subtext or symbolic significance.
He only appears in dream sequences, suggesting that he is an invention of the subconscious, although the Cheese Man appears in dreams had by multiple characters. He appears in a taupe suit, with round eyeglasses, a balding head, and, of course, cheese. The cheese always takes a sliced form, and it may be laid out on a tray, or held in the Cheese Man's hands, depending on the sequence. He speaks directly to several of the characters, making enigmatic and puzzling statements like “I wear the cheese. It does not wear me.”
This character first appears in “Restless,” the season four finale. In is episode, the four leading characters of the show have a series of complex and interconnected dreams in which they explore their own fears and weaknesses, and the Cheese Man appears in each of the dreams, typically only for a moment. His second and final appearance was in season seven, in “Storyteller,” in another shared dream sequence had by two villains from the previous season.
Because Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran for seven seasons, there are a number of minor characters like the Cheese Man who only appeared in one or two episodes, and the creators of the show are sometimes surprised by how captivated fans have become by some of these characters. The Cheese Man may have attracted a great deal of interest because he appeared in “Restless,” an episode which dealt with a great deal of the show's mythology as well as the personal struggles of the characters.
Some Buffy fans have come up with complex explanations for the purpose of the Cheese Man, arguing that he is a symbolically important character, and sometimes providing credible evidence to support this. Whedon has firmly stated that the Cheese Man was included to bring in the element of the absurd to make the dream sequences in which he appears seem more surreal. Given that the show is littered with references to cheese, a few fans have suggested that the Cheese Man may simply be a manifestation of Joss Whedon's fondness for cheese.