20 Best Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes
In honour of today being 20 years since the first episode of Buffy aired, I’m bringing you my 20 best Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. Yes, it really has been 20 years, and yes, I feel old now too. Glad we’re all on the same page, so here we go;
- S05E03 – The Replacement
How can you not love an episode with two Xanders? Firstly, technically one Xander is played by Kelly Donovan, Nicholas Brendan’s twin brother, but still! My favourite scene is towards the end of the episode when Giles says that Xander is a bad influence on himself.
- S03E14 – Bad Girls
This episode marks the start of a more mature Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. The death of Allan, and Faith’s lack of remorse, is likely what stops Buffy from becoming like her, and marks the time where are tow slayers venture down very different paths.
- S02E21&22 – Becoming
This episode has many great things about it. First, I’m very sorry Kendra died. I liked her, but I liked the character of Faith more, so it had to be done. Secondly, we have the flashbacks, which give us a brilliant insight into the history of Angelus, Drusilla and Darla. Thirdly, we see Spike and Buffy team up for the first time, and give us a glimpse of many more excellent exchanges between the two. Lastly, it’s worth noting that the character of Spike was originally supposed to die in the last episode of season 2, but thankfully, the writers changed their minds and decided to let him stick around.
- S07E12 – Potential
Dawn is a character that wasn’t particularly likeable in seasons 5 and 6. If she wasn’t whining, slamming doors or crying, she wasn’t doing much. Thankfully, season 7 Dawn grew up a bit, and in this episode, we see her stepping up, and becoming a rather remarkable young woman.
- S03E09 – The Wish
An iconic episode for me as it marks the first appearance of Anya, potentially my favourite Buffy character of all time. But more importantly for this particular episode, I love the alternate reality everyone. From vampire Xander, to slightly maybe gay Willow and a tough & scarred Buffy. Love it. The Wish also brings a darker overtone to the series, and watching our beloved regular cast killed in slow motion is not something you easily forget.
- S07E18 – Dirty Girls
I couldn’t really do a top 20 without having a Nathan Fillion episode included, and this one throws in the bonus return of Faith. If you also watched Angel, her build up to this point is incredible, and seeing the two slayers reunited is something we’ve waited three years for.
- S03E06 – Band Candy
Giles seems to be at the centre of many of my favourite Buffy moments, this one included. Probably season 3’s funniest episode, and who didn’t love the teenage ‘bad boy’ version of Giles. This episode also paved the way for Buffy’s “What’s a Stevedore?” question in S04E16 Who Are You episode. Cringe!
- S05E20 – The Gift
There is more to this episode than just Buffy sacrificing herself for the greater good. Yes, her death and sacrifice are iconic, but for me the most poignant moment of the episode is when Giles murders Ben. Ben is human, and is innocent, and Giles does it so Buffy doesn’t have to, but there are moral and ethical implications, well documented in this essay by Emma Petrova.
- S06E19 – Seeing Red
There are two scenes in this episode that are memorable for me. Either of which would have made it into this list independently of each other. Firstly, the death of Tara. It’s a shocking moment, and it’s dealt with by the actors and the crew in a very effective way. It’s also the first episode Amber Benson is credited as a main cast member. Secondly, is the scene with Spike and Buffy in the bathroom. The attempted rape is choreographed in a way that you experience it from the perspective of both the victim and the perpetrator, and in some respects, also feel empathy for both. It’s a complicated and disturbing scene
- S04E18 – Where the Wild Things Are
I’m not really bothered about the majority of this episode, it’s made it into my list for one simple reason. This;
- S06E20 – Villain
Similar to the previous entry, this episode made it into the list for one very small detail. Anyone who loves Willow, will forever be haunted by the words “bored now” from the end of this episode. These two simple words have previously been uttered by vampire Willow in ‘The Wish’ and ‘Dopplegangland’, and give us another glimpse at the dark side of one of our most beloved characters.
- S06E17 – Normal Again
Another iconic episode of Buffy, where we see a potential alternate reality, where our heroine is not a Vampire Slayer, but a normal girl, who suffers from severe delusions, and resides in a mental hospital. This episode sparked numerous theories that the Buffy in ‘Normal Again’ is in fact the real Buffy, and wondered if this episode would be a precursor to the grand finale when the series would finally come to an end. As much as I loved this episode, I am thankful that it did not turn out to be Buffy’s actual reality.
- S04E20 – The Yoko Factor
This episode provides a couple of great moments. We have Miss Kitty Fantastico, Giles drunk, and realising Willow and Tara are gay, and this;
- S07E16 – Storyteller
Andrew, I think, is my second favourite Buffy character (after Anya). Despite only joining the cast in Season 6, and not being hugely involved until Season 7, every moment he’s on screen is simply wonderful. His exchange with Anya when she finds him locked in the bathroom, is possibly one of the best exchanges in the entire series.
- S04E08 – Pangs
Season 4 was probably one of my least favourites, yet I’ve found a number of instances that have made it into my top 20. Unsurprisingly, none of them include Adam or Riley, who I blame for my lack of enthusiasm for this season. One of the highlights however, is a muzzled Spike. And in Pangs, his exclamations of “A bear, you made a bear! Undo it, undo it!” is one that makes me chuckle to this day. Also, Xander with the funny syphilis.
- S03E16 – Dopplegangland
Evil Willow – nuff said.
- S06E07 – Once More with Feeling
When I first watched this episode I wasn’t too keen, but now I look back with fond memories, and it’s often an episode I’ll pull out to watch as a one off. Somehow, Joss Whedon made magic with this episode. Despite music being the central role of the episode, a number of important moments occur throughout. The character development in this episode is astonishing, with secrets revealed, and a new honesty sweeping through.
- S04E10 – Hush
Almost the exact opposite of ‘Once More with Feeling’, much of this episode is silent. It contains my favourite demons of the whole series, the Gentleman, and once of my funniest moments (the one during Giles’ presentation). It received a nomination for an Emmy, and it should have won.
- S05E16 – The Body
When I think of this episode, I often think of it as my least favourite episode. I don’t like that they killed Joyce, and I don’t like watching it, but there’s something about the way it’s done that gets me everytime. This show deals with death on a regular basis, but something about this one makes it very real. The way the show, and the actors, handled grief, is something I’ve never seen anyone else do better.
- S04E15 – This Year’s Girl
Hands down the best episode of Buffy for me. You have both Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Eliza Dushku, both actresses I love, essentially playing each other. Both are amazing in this episode, and their performances during the body swap scenes are flawless. Watching Sarah Michelle Gellar transform into Faith for the scene in front of the mirror is the best scene. I know it’s unlikely to be many other people’s favourites, but it’s mine!
Did I miss your favourite moment? Let me know in the comments below 🙂Thanks for reading!
Like me on Facebook - Follow me on Instagram - Follow me on Twitter