Sunday, May 17, 2009

The 25 Best (and Five Worst) Buffy Episodes


Few shows grabbed me as immediately as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even in its shaky, skin-deep first season, it displayed enough quirky wit and character development to keep me interested. But from that campy, American horror version of Doctor Who came one of the greatest character dramas ever put on television. While I prefer the darker tone of its spinoff Angel, I cannot deny that Buffy The Vampire Slayer is the bigger beast, and one of the greatest shows of the modern era. But unlike Angel, picking the best episodes of this series is fairly straightforward; I imagine my top 25 would not differ wildly from any other fan's, and I'm almost certain the top 10 I came up with contains the exact episodes in everyone else's, give or take one or two and with differing orders based on the ranker's preference. Of course, this doesn't mean that there are only 25 good episodes, but that the payoffs of this show are more apparent than the more subdued tone of Angel. And even though most of us pick the same episodes, the best of Buffy varied considerably in tone, where Angel's highlights tended to be the ones that plunged it to knew depths of existential despair. But enough talk, let's get down to business:

25. Villains (6x20)

While the Dark Willow arc occasionally seeped into the realm of the overly melodramatic, it remains a high point of the show, and "Villains" is the single strongest of the four episodes. Willow's been building to this all season, and she really comes unhinged in a terrifying way in these 42 minutes. Alyson Hannigan was, like most of the actors on both Buffy and Angel, so effortless and natural in her acting as to almost pass under the radar, but here she unleashes with fine fury. I never thought someone so cute and unassuming could be so terrifying -- not even her alternate reality vampire-self pointed to this level of horror. The final scene with Warren must be one of the two the most shocking of the series.

24. The Zeppo (3x13)

This has no lasting importance to the third season arc, but it is one of the more brilliant high concept episodes of the show. In it, the typical A/B plot structure is turned on its head, pulling Xander's quest to figure out his importance to his friends and his own sense of self-worth while shuffling a (presumably) action-packed apocalypse prevention story to the background. It is likely the series' most instantly quotable episode and remains my favorite of that short but oh so sweet list of Xander-centric episodes.

23. The Wish (3x09)

Hi Anya! "The Wish" introduces what would become one of my favorite characters in a fantastic alternate reality episode in which Buffy never came to Sunnydale. It is equal parts disturbing and disturbingly hilarious, though the character deaths at the end are rather sobering and show just how close their real-life doppelgangers come to death at every moment. I actually felt my heart skip when the Master snaps alternate-Buffy's neck.

22. Doppelgangland (3x16)

Of course this would have to come right along with "The Wish." Seeing Vamp Willow interact with the real Willow is both funny and foreshadowing ("I think I'm kinda gay"), but it also gets across a deep level of character development and arc advancement. While it bears little importance to the bigger arc, this episode stands as likely the best example of Season 3's impeccable ability to move things forward without ever letting on.

21. Earshot (3x18)

What starts as an amusing concept (Buffy can read minds and thus hears the salacious simple-mindedness of the men around her and learns just what Joyce and Giles did under the influence of band candy) turns into a harrowing post-Columbine drama, even though it was written before that terrible tragedy. It takes yet another twist at the end which, though it moves away from a school attack, is every bit as relevant to examining the mindset of kids who snap. A true gem.

20. I Only Have Eyes For You (2x19)

One of the big sleeper hits of the series. It starts off seemingly as a disconnected, kooky concept and ends up eerily holding up the mirror to Buffy and Angel's relationship when the spirits of two dead lovers -- a teacher who incurred the wrath of the student she loved when she broke it off -- imbibe them. The possession ends up bringing out Buffy's guilt in unleashing Angelus while serving to remind us that Angel is still buried in that demon, even without his soul.

19. After Life (6x03)

The opening salvo of season six immediately put to bed my fears in reviving Buffy after her noble death in the last season's finale. This early mini-arc culminates in the darkly atmospheric "After Life," in which Buffy confesses to Spike that they did not rescue her from Hell, but tore her from Heaven. Many complain that Buffy went too dark this season, but thank God they never shied away from the implications of this episode.

18. Superstar (4x17)

Probably the funniest spin on fanfic ever. Watching little Jonathan make himself into a combination of Buffy, Superman, James Bond and Bill Gates was a riot and a half, and then you mix in everyone's fawning adulation and you've got a winner. You can see a lot of the initial antagonism of Season Six in this episode, what with a nerd manipulating others in an unethical yet pitiable attempt to fit in. Bonus points for finally turning Marc Blucas' lack of talent into intentional comedy (they also managed this in the season finale).

17. Lies My Parents Told Me (7x17)

Just when you thought you couldn't learn anything else about Spike. Buffy's most fascinating character gets yet another episode to shine, this time revealing the tragedy of his relationship with his mother and hammering home just how different a vampire he was long before he fought to win his soul. The juxtaposition between Spike's and Robin's relationships with their mothers is brutally effective. It also finally breaks Buffy of her dependency on Giles.

16. Chosen (7x22)

Season 7, though action packed and never really dull, too often neglected its characters at the expense of just making everything bigger. Funnily enough, the biggest episode of them all managed to make it all worth it. It ended up a stunning action climax mixed with moving character and story resolution, all of which remained true to the characters. And I dare you not to cry when you realize it's all over.

15. Conversations With Dead People (7x07)

After a season exploring the very depths of Buffy's constant inner turmoil, the writers let her really flounder throughout much of the final season, but she gets across some astonishing late-game progress in this episode, which also advances most of the other characters. Andrew and Jonathan reappear, only for the two more innocent members of the Trio to suddenly take a dark turn. And anything and everything to do with Dawn's segment (in which the First poses as Joyce) is just shiver-inducing. It also marks the first -- and one of the only -- time that The First Evil really unsettled.

14. Who Are You? (4x16)

"Face/Off" with hot chicks. I could stop there, but that would rob a superb hour of TV its due. Faith's body swap with Buffy could have been played up for laughs or just been unintentionally hilarious, but -- apart from a few amusing bits -- it mainly serves to get deep down into what they each think of each other and particularly brings out the more sympathetic and wretched side of Faith. It's also genuinely suspenseful and marks one of the few times the Watchers Counsel comes off as frightening instead of just a complete annoyance.

13. Normal Again (6x17)

Mix the finale of the show "St. Elsewhere" with the early alternate reality gem "The Wish," then add a dash of "The Twilight Zone" and you've got a recipe for the most fundamentally disturbing hour of Buffy ever produced, made all the more unsettling by the fact that you never know which reality is the true one. It's also darkly funny when the doctor lists all the plot holes and contrivances of the show to convince Buffy that Sunnydale and Slaying are just a hallucination. And, like any good piece of head-screwing, it leaves us totally unsure of whether or not it all really was just a fabrication.

12. Selfless (7x05)

I make no bones of my love for Anya, so this ranking might be biased. Then again, this whole list is because I made it and I can only speak for myself, so leave me alone. We finally learn what motivates Anya and we see her start to create her own sense of identity after so many centuries defining herself by that which is related to her (vengeance demon, Xander's gal). On the humorous side, there some nice winking references to her past as a virulent communist, and the scenes from 880 are only more funny as they're shot in the style of an old hand-cranked camera as if they were really in 50s America (which itself is a sly reference to how little a difference there is between the sexism of these medieval warriors and a moment of our own past we've yet to fully outgrow).

11. Innocence (2x14)

The episode that firmly established Buffy's direction. Before this, the series was little more than a subversive take on horror clichés with flashes of pathos and depth, but even Joss believes that this episode drew a line in the sand, establishing just what the writers could do and what the series could achieve. Even years later, he Angelus arc remains untopped for many fans, and it's not hard to see why even from this arc-opener. Also, it contains the best demon killing of the series ("What's that do?").

10. Graduation Day, Pt. 2 (3x22)

People say Season 3 was short on emotional impact, and they're right. But who can ignore the visceral thrill of this finale, which packs action on top of action and sends Sunnydale High out in the best possible way. For many (including myself), they never found a better villain than the Mayor ever again -- even though I prefer seasons 5 and 6-- and he goes out in top form. There may be no single episode of any of Joss' programs as exhilarating at this.

9. Fool For Love (5x07)

I've explained my Achilles heel for Buffyverse flashback episodes in my Angel reviews, so let's get right down to the meat: "Fool For Love" is a subtle gem that shows how Spike grew from a timid, awful poet into the killer of two Slayers. It does so in the form of slowly piecing together the modern physical appearance of Spike, from his hair (which goes from naturally brunette and wavy to blond and curly and finally to the streaked platinum we know) to his coat. As the pieces come together, we see why a soulless vampire might fall for a Slayer, and that Spike was always more than meets the eye.

8. Dead Things (6x13)

For the first half of Season Six, the Trio dicked around and basically were like the Three Stooges of Evil (with a liberal dash of Kevin Smith-esque pop culture arguments). But with "Dead Things," we see the boys cross a threshold that forces them to finally confront serious consequences of their actions. Meanwhile, it gets to the core of Buffy's post-resurrection issues without letting her off with any simple solutions. Few episodes of this or any other series are as psychologically dark and complex. It got Season Six back on the track to excellence after a noticeable downturn in the middle.

7. Passion (2x17)

"Innocence" matured the show, but "Passion" showed just how dark Joss Whedon could go. Angelus' cold, swift killing of Jenny remains forever seared into my mind, and it is the most shocking moment of the show, even above Willow skinning Warren. This episode leaves me numb whenever I watch it. Yes, Angelus may have been little more than a mustache-twirling villain, but the greatest villain of all time (Iago) had no motivation, and look how scary he is. Boreanaz's acting throughout the first season was at the very least borderline laughable, but he brought his A-game when Angelus emerged, and this is the finest example of how far he could go.

6. Hush (4x10)

Some people say that Joss Whedon desperately wanted an Emmy and created his most out-there concepts to win one. I don't know if that's true, but if it is, I'm almost glad he never got one because it means we kept getting some of the best TV ever made. The first of these high concept pieces, "Hush," remains a deserved fan favorite and the episode that even non-fans know. Robbing the characters of the speech that makes them so funny was daring, but it resulted in a brilliant silent comedy with vital character and story development. Special props go to Giles' flashcards, which made a barnstorming reappearance in the seventh season.

5. Once More, With Feeling (6x07)

What better foil to an episode of silence than a musical? It's so funny that it's easy to miss all the rich character development, but there's a lot of pathos buried in these peppy numbers, the sort of narrative and character progression absent from nearly any other musical show or film. The Anya/Xander bit hints towards Xander's fears about becoming his father and points towards the dissolution of their engagement, while Spike gets to let off some steam over his confusion regarding Buffy's new attitude. And nothing can compare to SMG morosely admitting (through song, of course) to her friends just what they did when they resurrected her.

4. Restless (4x22)

Released a full year before David Lynch got back on the horse after a decade of misfires with "Mullholland Dr.," "Restless" is the best and worthiest successor to "Twin Peaks:" an endlessly deep, ambiguous, foreboding and complex dreamscape. After a season full of rich but sporadic character growth, it forces the heroes to find their footing and sets up the show to come. Each of the dream sequences has something that earns a good laugh, but soon it spirals into cryptic and disturbing warnings to the slumbering Scoobies. The fact that this is not number one should be telling you something about the fierce quality of the top three.

3. The Gift (5x22)

Really, only one season finale in the series ("Grave") was less than excellent, but "The Gift" stands out even among its brethren. As with the whole season, it manages to cram the action and character reaffirmations of S3 with the intense emotional force of the second season. The fight with Glory is spectacular (not to mention full of enough remembered continuity to make even the most examining viewer squeal with delight), but the final moments in which Buffy gives her life to save the one thing she has left in this world are devastating. If you don't cry when you see Buffy's tombstone you have no soul, and if you don't get out a teary chuckle when the camera zooms out to see the last line of the epitaph you have no sense of humor.

2. The Body (5x16)

Has there ever been an hour of TV more depressing than this? If there is, I don't know if I could withstand it. The greatest of those so-called "Emmy grab" episodes, it is the ultimate rumination on death from a man who gave us so many memorable character demises. Its simplistic, brutally realistic look at mortality reminds us that death can come at any moment and it doesn't have to be epic, even in entertainment. And to think that it was the first death of natural causes in the whole series. I tear up just thinking about it.

1. Becoming, Pt. 2 (2x22)

You don't know how much I debated with myself over the ordering of the top three. Any one of them would be the single most defining hour of any other program, and I have to choose between them. Ultimately, I picked "Becoming" over the others because, apart from being an emotionally draining, darkly poignant thrill-ride, it works as a self-contained, utterly frank coming-of-age story that strips Buffy of just about everything, until the fifth season showed just how much more she had to lose. By all accounts, the show could have ended here and it would have been utterly compelling (but thank God it didn't). Beautiful, haunting, and exhilarating: television doesn't get any better than this.

Honorable Mentions:

Consequences (3x15)

While Season 3 may have been short on emotion, the fallout from Faith unintentionally killing a human cut the core of her character and why she so completely envied Buffy. Anyone else would have made this into some growing up moment for her (and indeed it was...for Buffy), but the writers took a more realistic turn and threw Faith into her darkest area yet. This is pretty much what they wanted to do with "Ted" but couldn't risk with their star player.

No Place Like Home (5x05)

A terrific mix of humor, character development, and story advancement, NPLH gets to the bottom of just what's up with Dawn and sets her down as a character truly deserving of pity. It also sets up a more mature Buffy, although she's still not ready for what she's about to go through (could anyone be?).

Angel (1x07)

The first episode that hinted that Buffy could be something more. Eventually, they took the Buffy/Angel relationship too far in their third season "just get me to my spinoff" section, but here Whedon got across with actual subtlety the doomed-but-maybe-it-will-work-after-all-OK-it-won't-but-it's-fine-for-now poignancy of their relationship. The final image of Buffy's cross burned into Angel's chest is one of the most iconic to me. This, along with "The Prophecy Girl" pointed to the Buffy we came to know and love.

The Five Worst Episodes of Buffy

Unfortunately for Buffy, just as picking out the top 10 takes no time, so too is it easy to pick out the duds. I had to really rack my brain to come up with 5 bad episodes of Angel, but I actually had to leave a few off this list. Buffy was a bold first show with a constantly evolving foundation, so slip-ups were inevitable. So, as we celebrate the finest the show had to offer, let us also reflect on the moments that were thankfully all too brief.

5. The Killer in Me (7x13)

What disappoints me so much about this episode is that it had not one, not two, but three potentially magnificent storylines and promptly wasted them all. Spike's malfunctioning chip was both funny and deadly serious, but they bring back the Iniative complex (which I guess wasn't totally destroyed when the Iniative shut it down, proving that they truly can do nothing right); Willow turning into Warren after kissing Kennedy could have been a great subconscious expression of her guilt and grief over Tara, but it turns out it was all the work of Amy, who had no reason to hex Willow; and the notion that Giles might be the First would have explained his off behavior as well as delivering a killer gut-punch to both the Scoobies and the audience. Instead, it all gets solved in one episode, hugs are had, and heads are placed in hands to absorb the shock of such bad writing. What a terrible waste.

4. Where The Wild Things Are (4x18)

The last of Tracey Forbes' three episodes and the first of two to appear on this 'worst of' list, "Where the Wild Things Are" took pretty much the exact concept seen in the season's earlier, vastly superior "Fear, Itself," only to remove everything interesting and fill the gap with incessant shots of TV sex between Buffy and Riley. Of course, considering how stiff Blucas is, there's really no better job for which he is suited. Plus, the subtext of a religious nutbag who left the children in her care sexually repressed was too over the top and bluntly overstated to be of any interest. Let us thank the TV gods that they banished her to permanent obscurity following this pile of tripe.

3. As You Were (6x15)

The fact that they brought Riley back is enough to gain my scorn, but the actress who plays his wife makes Marc Blucas look like '70s De Niro; her performance is so awful that she won an Emmy for it in a parallel universe. The Finns aside, the episode is still dumb and utterly pointless and throws off the momentum "Dead Things" gave to the season after that noticeable drag in the middle. Thankfully, things got back on track once Riley left for good and the season barreled magnificently towards its wonderful conclusion.

2. Beer Bad (4x05)

Aside from one or two admittedly funny lines, this is the worst episode I've ever seen to warn teenagers against alcohol. Think about all the terrible, pandering, condescending episodes of TV ever devoted to the dangers of underage drinking, and despair. Some lines are genuinely funny ("Fire bad!"), but everything is just so insulting to the audience and so much of the dialogue misses that the few bits that connect cannot hope to make up for it. At least it finally broke Buffy of her childish sulking after the Parker debacle.

1. I, Robot...You, Jane (1x08)

Even the worst episodes of Whedon television have something going for them. In fact, it's usually bad execution that makes them memorably weak. But not "I Robot, You Jane." No, it starts with a broad, uninteresting concept --the Internet is a dangerous place? Even for 1997 this was redundant-- and combines it with an inane MOTW villain, wheel-spinning character development (the last thing we needed to see even in this early stage was a nerdy, shy, helpless Willow), and just plain unfunniness and you've got the most insufferable hour of Whedonverse television ever produced. Thank God they got it out of the way in the first season of his first series.

So there you have 'em. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to post your own favorites and comments.

(See also: my picks for the 25 best (and 5 worst) Angel episodes)


  1. My take is over here:

    Just wanna give a shout out to my fave episode, Lie To Me. For me, this is were the show got bigger than the initial premise, becoming something truly unique.

    Personally, I would have The Body as number one. But you're right, with the top Buffy episodes, ranking becomes kinda meaningless.

  2. I'll try to keep this brief...

    I think that, beyond a certain point, as Mercer Finn says, the ranking really becomes meaningless. You could put Becoming Part 2 at Number One, but you could also put an episode that barely scraped into the Top Ten there. It's just that good a programme. So I'm only going to mention the bad ones...

    I completely agree about I Robot, You Jane. It's the worst piece of Whedon television I've ever seen, and the only one I've found with glaringly obvious errors. For instance, when Corrupt-O-Saurus Rex was hacking into Buffy's school records, it shows you the screen twice. The first time, she is down as being born in 1981 (correct), and as being a Sophomore (I think that's it anyway). The next time you see it, a mere ten seconds later, she was born in something like '77 and is a Senior... It couldn't possibly be that silly monster changing her details, because what would that achieve? The episode in itself is as poor as that moment. Very.

    Beer Bad, as weak as it is, still entertains me. I like the 'have you seen a blonde girl, about this tall? Walks with a sort of, sideways limp?' quip from Giles, and Xander's storming out of the pub, only to pop his head round the door and say 'you're a bad, bad man'. Bits like that amuse me, so I can stomach it.

    Where The Wild Things Are... Giles sings. That's all I have to say about that episode really. Totally unremarkable.

    As You Were... I like Buffy's 'my hat has a cow on it...' comment upon seeing Captain Cardboard, but the fact that he's in it at all (I seem to remember watching that for the first time and saying 'oh god...' when he entered the Doublemeat Palace) makes me almost physically sick. I like the end though. Where he leaves.

    And we've talked about my feelings on Season Seven, so I'll let you off with The Killer In Me (not the best, but it's part of Season Seven, so it escapes my wrath).

    Personally, I'd have replaced The Killer In Me with Doublemeat Palace (I'm yawning thinking about it) and Beer Bad with Him.

    But a good review overall, despite a few typo's :P

  3. Oh, and another little sidebar.

    As much as Into The Woods isn't exactly Top 25 material, surely it deserved at least honourable mention for being the episode that Captain Cardboard finally packs up his pissy little camo napsack and gets the hell out of Sunnydale.

  4. I actually considered throwing in In the Woods as an honorable mention with only the qualifier "Riley leaves," but for some reason I took this meaningless list seriously :p

  5. Gotta throw in an honorable mention for Lovers Walk. I can pinpoint the exact moment where I went from enjoying the series to adoring it: "Love isn't brains, children, it's blood. Blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it." The line's a bit overwrought, but Marsters' delivery almost physically stunned me, made me see that the show was really onto something. Oh, and Cordelia's "death scene" was a masterstroke.

  6. i agree with this list whole heartedly and thank god they got rid of riley (human boys...why bother?) and i agree with you on becoming prt 2 not just because the ending made me cry but i love the spike truce arc and when he explains that he doesnt want to destory the world (in a spike-y way) and says she plays the triangle in his band
    lover's walk also gets point for marsters acting its brilliant and the hot chocolate scene is so funny. Basically i've always loved spike even when he was 'evil'

    P.S. i always wanted them to make that rock band especially after once more with feeling they could have the first interspecies rock band ever

  7. Andrew is one of the all time greatest characters ever introduced to Buffy. Therefore I think Storyteller really needs a mention as one of the greatest episodes. His hilarious documentary was just beyond description and in the end we see him finally come forward with the true details of Jonathan's murder.

  8. Hmm. I agree with most of these. The only thing that really grabbed me was all the Riley hate. I didn't find him all that annoying. Certainly he's not the best actor out there, but he's miles ahead of David Boreanaz. Put a mannequin in a leather jacket and you've got just as much charisma and twice the emotional range.

    1. I like both Riley and Angel; I think Boreanaz was a better actor but I liked Riley as a character just because I thought that he was (excluding Tara) one of the better parts of season five.

  9. whoever thinks riley is better than angel ovboiusly doesnt watch the show. rileys best moment was when he left. never could chose between angel or spike.
    my best episodes would be once mroe with feeling, tabula rasa, superstar, a new man, who am i? or becoming part two. i agree whole heartly with the gift and the body though.

  10. I can not believe you said Riley was better than Angel. Are you blind?? I was always a little dissappointed that the best romantic interest (Angel) was so early in the show... he was hard to top.

  11. Great list. I'd rank "The Wish" much higher and would probably include "Prophecy Girl," but all my other faves are on here.

    As for bad episodes, though, I don't think anything was worse than "Gone." Invisible Buffy playing childish pranks? An invisible fight scene? At least "Beer Bad" is somewhat knowingly bad. (Not that I'm defending it.)

  12. I certainly can't come here to praise "Gone," but I never thought it was as bad as people say. Not remotely good mind you, but at least it moved the plot where it needed to go. Whedon TV was always about being rich in character and emotion while it did move the plot, yes, but I wonder if spending the last few months catching up on LOST has lowered my standards for good writing (Christ, the odd Whedon filler is like the standard episode in that show).

    1. I know you'll probably never read this, but to the Internet in general, stop hating on Lost. It's one of only 2 shows that may actually be better than BTVS (the other being BSG) and it's fine if you didn't understand or appreciate it, but don't call Gone an average Lost episode.

  13. While I agree that "I, Robot...You, Jane"'s whole "Internet bad" message was a little jarring, the episode was redeemed solely by the final few seconds. I died of laughter for several minutes after the credits rolled.

  14. I tend to agree with the list, although I would have rated Hush and Once More with Feeling a little higher. And I think Tabula Rasa needs to be on there- it was such a comedic relief to the darkness that was season 6.

    Also, whoever up there said that Marc Blukus is better than DAVID BOREANAZ must be on crack. David is amazing.

  15. To somewhat defend The Killer in Me, Xander was supposed to meet the same fate that Giles did near the end of this season, only it would be for real. He would get killed, and the first evil would pretend to be him for a little while, so I'm starting to think that what the writers did with Giles was meant to forshadow that. It doesn't justify the episode, but it would've at least made it meaningful.

    However, the writers changed their minds about killing Xander, because, let's face it, we'd still be recovering during "Chosen", and Buffy's smile wouldn't mean as much.

  16. Jeez, people need to stop hating on David Boreanaz's acting. I'm pretty sure throughout the first season the only direction he was given was to go out there and brood and he did a damn fine job of it. After they gave him a bit more to work with he really came into his own. And lets face it, he made Angelus the creepy as hell.
    But anyway, on a more related note, I agree with almost everythingon your list except for the episode Superstar. I will never figure out why people like this episode!!!! It was sooooo terrible! and not to mention pointless! It took some effort for me to get through, and if it wasn't for my devotion to Buffy, I probably would have given up. I didn't think it ws funny and I find Jonathans character duller than a bar of soap.
    Definately agree with The Body and Becoming Pt. Two. Loved em both to peices. I did think Hush would be higher though. Those gentlemen still give me the willies.
    Thanks for the list!

  17. Personally "Passion" was the #1 for me, it was the first one to really make me realize the true genius of Joss Whedon. There has never been a tv series that has truly made me think about my hummanity, or has made me feel so much emotion. It was the first tv episode to make me really cry (not counting "Ugly Betty" those were just personal issues at the time). But the way jenny died and how much emotion was put into the writting was amazing. Then the gift is deffinetly in my top three, though i didn't cry i had chills the entire time, it was deffinetly another emotional hit with me, as well as the body. I also had an emotional thing with Taras death, it made me think of losing a soul mate, someone who truly loves you. Then there was the part where the first was pretending to be a message from tara, "she says she still sings" i thinkk that really hit the emotional aspect of willows loss. This list is really great, i hated captain cardboard especially when he came back in season 6. He had a thick skull, and was just another military cut out. Spike rocks! And the last episodes of season seven chill me too the bone, there was so much spirit. Tabula Rasa should be on the list, because it was one of the few lights in the end of season six. Also the last few minutes in Seeing Red and grave were great, especially the moment with willow and xander. And "Him" should get an honourable mention because that to me was really funny, i really dont know why. Overall Joss Whedon is a Genius, there is so much crap on tv now, and our modern culture is shallow and weak. This series faced peoples worst fears and helped reveal the dna of hummanity. Most people do not see that, it took me a long time to see that. Joss Whedon is an inspiration to me, his work has taught me to never hold back in my writing. Thank you for the list!


  19. My least favorite Buffy episode has to be Where The Wild Things Are and Beer bad. My favorite is Hush as it's such a different episode to what we are used to and I really like once more with feeling as I thought it was brilliant with all of the singing. I just want to add that the episode the body has to be one of the best acted episodes and the most upsetting to me. It doesn't matter how many times I watch it, I still cry each time.

  20. My top 3 FAVORITE episodes of Buffy are as follows - Chosen - Such a beautiful, poignant and epic finale, sad, brutal, honest and thrilling. A definite classic. Restless - Not just the best of the finales, but an amazing filmmaking feat for a television show. It rivals anything else involving cryptic, prophetic dreamscapes and surreal visions of impending doom. An amazing end to a season deserving more respect than it received. And FINALLY, this is a tough one, because I have so many episodes in my mind that deserve this spot, BUT..... Hush - Such a great stand alone "monster of the week" episode, only these monsters were the most terrifying and gut wrenchingly scary, and truly posed a threat to the Scoobies. The scene with Tara being chased is simply frightening, her character had not even been explored much at this point, YET we still cared about her and worried that she might die. I <3 BUFFY FOREVER.

  21. Everysingle episode of Bufffy the Vampire slayer is number 1 on my list!

  22. As i was reading that article I kept thinking whens Becoming going to come up, when's becoming going to come up, and then it was, at number one, I was so pleased. It seriously was perhaps one of the best episodes ever on television. I pretty much agree with that list, although definitely tabula rasa should make an appearance (far better handled than its counter part on angel) and lovers walk. Also any flashback scenes to the fanged four!!! THat was always my one regret about buffy, their should have been more flashbacks.

  23. Tabula Rasa is a great episode, indeed, and it's probably the one most people wish were on the list, but there are only so many slots, and it was just out of reach.

  24. normal again-tabula rasa- the body-tough love - restless

    i can watch these all over and over again

  25. Oh my god I cant believe no one mentioned schoolhard...when Spike to the school on parents evening... It was basically letting the fans know that despite the master being killed that there were still highly dangerous vampires out there with the potential of killing her

  26. The characters on Buffy are phenomenal, especially the quirky ones like Anya, Andrew, and Xander. They bring a light to the darker episodes, and have entertained and captured the hearts of many, many fans, including the writers and producers.
    Tom Lenk (Andrew) was cast as a vampire minion to Harmony, and obviously had something to give as an actor since he was picked up and given a larger role, and continued to increase in screen time in the last couple seasons.
    Anyways, it's clear the person who said otherwise didn't watch the last few seasons because that's when Anya and Andrew's characters developed so well.
    Dawn, unfortunately is probably the worst character on the show, despite Michelle Trachtenberg being a half decent actor. Perhaps it was just because she was always the whiny little girl dragging everyone else down and getting in the way.
    But as an acting student, I could not possibly say that David Boreanaz is a bad actor. If he was truly that awful, he wouldn't be nearly as successful as he is. He has wonderful stage presence and Charisma, otherwise he wouldn't have been given his own show by Whedon.

  27. I've been rewatching Season 1 and, having seen the first 8 episodes, find myself compelled to agree with you about the relative deficiencies of "I Robot...You Jane", which is the weakest episode of the bunch so far - though it has a strong opening scene and the robo-demon did look kinda cool. I'm actually finding Season 1 to be an excellent watch. Much better than I'd thought it would be.

    I agree about "Dead Things" being an exceptionally ominous episode, even by the standards of Season 6 - the point in which the Trio (or at least Warren) became a credible threat. "As You Were" is definitely Season 6's worst episode, in spite of the impressive-looking monster.

    You also seem to have listed quite a number of Season 3 episodes as favourites, and quite rightly too. It's a very consistently strong season. I don't think the less emotive qualities work against it in any way. For me, the season is every bit as good as Season 2 - and probably better than Season 6 (which I do nonetheless love). Faith and The Mayor are such wonderful creations, and the Scoobies are in their prime.

  28. I agree with most of this listing, however, I don't think that Becoming Part 2 was as great as everyone says it is. Granted, it may have been because I was sick of the Angel stuff (though Angelus was one of the best villains). Probably my favorite episode (so far, at least) would be either The Body or the Gift. What great stuff there.
    I'm surprised though that Something Blue wasn't somewhere on here. That remains one of my favorite episodes, and while it wasn't phenomenal, it was hilarious. An honorable mention for sure.
    Also, Wild at Heart and Witch should've been on here somewhere. Those two episodes were very well done.
    Mark Blucas was not a phenomenal actor, and his character irritated me, but he was as good as Riley could get. And you don't see the true gem that is David Boreanaz until you see him as Angelus. As I mentioned before, he (along with Glory) was one of the best Big Bads.

  29. Finally! I thought no one was going to mention Wild at Heart. The concept/philosophy was interesting, and we so rarely get any glances into Oz's emotional turmoil and state. I thought Seth Green and Allyson Hannigan (spelling?) were amazing, and, as those two characters are the two I relate to the most, that episode moved me.

  30. Buffy vs Dracula should be on this list, great list otherwise

  31. I find it quite funny that most of the episodes Joss Whedon lists as his favourites have only honouorable mentions. And there's one from the'Bottom 5'. It just goes to show , doesn't it!
    What I love about Buffy is that it would be IMPOSSIBLE for me to name my favourite episode. I love the seasons as a whole because they all mean something very different and special to me. And don't shoot me but...I found Glory really annoying! Team that with Downer Dawn and I wasn't as into season 5 as all the others. I can't say it was bad! Those words would scorch my mouth but it's definitely the one I have watched least.

  32. oh, Wild at Heart breaks my heart. It would definitely have an honourable mention from me.

    I also loved Storyteller! I think as well as being a great concept and wickedly funny, it also holds a mirror up to the scoobies, as well as being a great standalone.

    Overall, spot on top 3. If anyone attempts to criticize Buffy I always break out Becoming and The Gift. :)

  33. I posted the comment that first mentioned Wild at Heart, and now that I've finished the series, I have some things to say. First, Chosen is one of my favorite episodes, hands down. Second, I really enjoyed the Killer in Me. While it was all Amy's doing, it still did explore Willow's guilt over loving someone other than Tara. I also really enjoyed Grave. But I do agree, Doublemeat Palace was just a terrible episode.

  34. 'Touched' should be on the top! I really love this episode, specialy when Spike talks with Buffy

  35. I STILL love 'Beer Bad'. I don't care what you people say!

  36. Wowowowowow!!! Haha, I love all of those episodes. Lovers Walk, Passion, Villains and Seeing Red are at the top of my list for "Shockers" - all had their huge, 'gasp-scream-hands-over-mouth' moments which just make them fantastic.

    I'm also one of those people that falls for the uber-romance bits :P So I love those moments where I can squeal and squirm because something gorgeous happens :) (The end of Entropy, the spell casting scene in Hush, all of Angel, I love it all!)

    Then there's the episodes in which hilarity ensues - Tabula Rasa (except the ending!), Something Blue, Him, Band Candy, Bewtiched Bothered and Bewlidered, Triangle, Life Serial, Pangs.... the list goes on.

    Okay, you know what, I love it all!! Except for fucking Keneddy, I wanted to kill her 'My girlfriend has a pierced tongue'.

    Willow & Tara FOREVER <3

  37. I think Tabula Rasa and Something Blue should both be on there! The Buffy and Spike engagement plot had to be the funniest thing i ever saw on tv :D Especially Giles and Xander's reactions to it! I loved Tabula Rasa too because it was so funny and took the edge off the season which had been pretty dark overall! Plus Spike had some seriously funny lines there! 'Randy Giles' and the moment he realised he was English particularly!
    Oh and band candy too! Bad ass Giles is fab :D

  38. Tabula Rasa would have made my fav list, but I agree with everything here. As for the worst episodes, "Empty Places" it is for me. Literally cannot watch that episode, as it makes me hate so many of the characters I love so much.

    That said, I thought it was well written, but to betray Buffy like that, after ripping her out of heaven and everything she has done. Wish Spike was still souless and had just ripped everyone apart.

    Anyway, loved this list, really well put together. Thanks!

  39. Wow. Never knew there was hate for "Beer Bad". I'll have to watch it again. :)

    I've just recently started re-watching the series after taking a break for a few years (there can be such a thing as too obsessed). I'm up to Season 3. The Pack from Season 1 has to be my least favorite so far.

    For some reason I love Anne. And Ted. A couple not-so-epic episodes that I can watch over and over again. And Triangle's like that too. Love the Willow/Anya fight.

    Episodes like Hush and The Body (Becoming, most of the above list) are a given. Tabula Rasa as well. Think my favorite part of that is the Anya/Giles dynamic with the bunnies.

    I didn't mind the darkness of season 6. I kind of liked it. Season 7 was definitely my least favorite. I liked Lies My Parents Told Me and Him along with some other moments, but over all I have to say, I was bored. Too much slumber party in the living room. Potentials? I was tempted to kill them off myself. The First Evil? Too amorphous.The concept is kind of silly, IMHO. And it seemed like they started a lot of storylines and then just kind of forgot they existed. Frustrating.

    Oh, well. I'm actually glad I didn't like Season 7 as much because it made it just a little bit easier to accept that the show wasn't going to be on for Season 8.

  40. Cool list. I agreed with most of your favorite episodes, though i would have rated Normal Again much higher. I think that's definitely one of the top five episodes of the whole series...just to think of that kind of story line was so awesome. And Sarah Michelle Gellar's acting was again so great. During the show it was hard to know what was truth and what was not, and unpredictability is one of the hardest things to get in TV.

  41. Great list and very well explained. Question: Which episode had the flashback of Buffy before she came to Sunnydale and Angel was watching her from afar? I loved that episode, but I can't remember which one it was. Thanks!

  42. 5x01, "Buffy Vs Dracula". How could that not make the list? It is one of the top 10 episodes, not just a top 25. I know from showing it to friends that it's a great stand alone episode for people who are unfamiliar with the Buffy milieu. It's even better for people who can get all the references in Xander's rant near the end. This episode was hilariously funny, its Dracula was excellent, his (near) seduction of Buffy gave the episode some dramatic depth and the way Dawn was introduced at the end was pure genius.

  43. the episode i can't stand is Superstar. it pissed me off how Jonathan took credit for everything Buffy had done. i admit it had funny parts, but mostly it just pissed me off. i hated dead things cause Buffy let Spike take her in the Bronze i thought it was just completely humiliating. Buffy was going through some bad times, i know, but that scene was a bit too much. i don't understand why people didn't like season 7,i loved it, it kind of pulled everything to the start and made it complete..and Chosen was perfect. also loved to see Faith back and getting along with Buffy.

  44. Has nobody mentioned "Halloween" yet? That was one of the more outstanding epsiodes, and definitely on my top 10 list! I loved the ending, with Willow crossing the street in front of Oz's van.

  45. The worst episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer have to be Beer Bad, and Dirty Girls the one where Xander loses his eye. I still cannot watch that episode without feeling sickly. Also the other ones that I do not like are Real Me because that introduced Dawn and Hell's Belles that is what broke up Xander and Anya. The one with Willow taking out her revenge on Warren called Villians. My favorites are Halloween, The Replacement, A New Man, Band Candy, Fear Itself, Tabula Rasa, I Robot You Jane Willow is excellent in that episode, and Once More With Feeling. I admit that I do not know how to rank Chosen. We all wish that there could be more episodes of Buffy without reading the comic books. In season 5 if Dawn would have stayed out of Sunnydale would there be no chosen episode?

  46. This is a great list with excellent details to back em up. Couldn't actually rank them myself but most would still be in my top 25. Other reader's comments are good too. It's all reminded me of some episodes I need to go back and watch soon. If you'd ask me today, my favorite episodes would be:
    Once More with Feeling

    It might be different if you ask me tomorrow. Thanks for putting the time in to this list.

  47. Even before I post my favorite 25, which for this show is like picking your favorite child, I have lots of other thoughts. I will tell you that my after long consideration, I decided season 3 is my absolute favorite, mostly because all the favorite characters appear. Not enough of Spike though, but a sprinkiling of everyone. The Mayor & Faith are fantastically interesting villains. You’ve got Angel, Anya, Oz and Cordelia.

    I always liked the Angel/Buffy relationship but I was never obsessed with it. I always thought, in the end, it was a two-sided crush that had too many limits and got annoying for me.

    I don’t hate Riley. I think the point of Riley was that there was something nice and ordinary about him… except for the Initiative stuff. I do think that some of the episodes that focused on him weren’t the best written, but I never found fault with the actor.

    I do think they wrote the character Dawn is way too annoying. She was playing the same age that The Scoobie Gang was when they started, and yet they made her insufferably immature.

    The 1st and 7th seasons are my least favorite. In the 1st, you can tell Joss doesn’t have his groove yet and doesn’t know how far he could go with the vampire/slayer mythology. My biggest problems with the series happen in the 4th and 7th seasons. In the 4th season, the killing of Professor Walsh ruins everything for me. She was the interesting character, and to leave us with Adam was just horrible. The 4th season is so weird to me because it has some of the best and some of the worst episodes.

    The 7th season has a lot of genius in it, but the episodes miss. You could tell they didn’t have a lot of places to film, and my memory of the season is that it takes place in Buffy’s house, while she’s giving speeches. The idea of Potentials was great, but the girls cast were one more annoying than the next. How did the man who cast great young actresses like Anya and Faith, cast that group. You could tell from watching it that Joss got cut off from doing as many episodes as he wanted, and therefore, a lot of exposition seems to be missing. Nathan Fillion needed to be brought in earlier. As did Faith. I was so dying to see The Mayor again that I thought that it could have been some trick The First pulled, bringing back one of Buffy’s villains, like The Mayor and Glory. Or maybe bring back the Mayor but he’s got no special powers anymore. Selfless, though, might make my Top 25.

    The finale though was a score for me, with a few flaws. The Buffy/Angel scene had little chemistry, and the cookie dough conversation as just absurd. Actually their whole convo is annoying. And to nitpick, why would Willow do the spell while all the slayers and Potentials are trapped near the vampires. She could’ve done it, saw that it worked, and then gave Buffy a cellphone call and said, “Okay, get over here.” And I was surprised that Joss didn’t have some cool way in which Dawn being the key, or a key, could factor in and help them.

    I don’t have a list of episodes I hate yet, but Beer Bad certainly wasn’t one of them. It was a humorous parable about drinking. I laugh a lot during it and I enjoyed the Willow/Parker conversation.
    Anyway, list will be coming soon!

  48. So glad to see becoming at no 1. That episode encompasses everything the show is about for me. When I think of Buffy, the lasting image in my mind is Angel crying, Buffy reassuring him everything is alright, telling him to close his eyes, before sending him to hell. So powerful and such amazing performances. On that note, can't agree with anyone slamming David, I think he is brilliant! Especially as angelus and on Ats when he had more material to work with. He can do understated comedy so well but also pack a punch in dramatic scenes.. Also, I can't see how season 3 was less emotive or lacking in emotion? It wasn't as dark as s2 or 6, but there are so many episodes in s3 that still make me cry! Lovers walk, Amends, The Prom...

  49. No-one mentioned what I found one of the funniest which was the "Puppet Show" in season 1.

  50. Like many have said I think you've had a good stab at something I would find very hard to do, especially singling out a single favourite ep! Like yourself I'm a massive Anya fan and would probably put Selfless in the top 5. I differ with your interpretation though, you compare the ep to a 1950s american film but, and maybe its just because of the Swedish dialogue and the subtitles, I see it more as a 1950s Ingmar Bergman style homage. Check out the Seventh Seal to see what I mean.

    Worst episodes are even harder because even the clunkers have a few decent moments, including I Robot You Jane. Where the Wild Things Are was probably my least favourite though. Inca Mummy Girl was a bunch of arse too!

  51. My favorite Buffy episode ever was Lies My Parents Told Me, and my favorite Buffy relationship is spike (season 7)
    Least favorite episode was Normal Again, least favorite relationship was RILEY.

  52. No "The Prom"? The umbrella scene alone should make it a top 25 episode

    1. Thank God someone mentioned that, the prom scene was spectacular. It was such a notable episode, the death knell of buffy and angels doomed relationship, the beautiful cover of wild horses really sends that message in, the class protector award which answers the question of why none of the students seem to know what buffy did for them but they really knew all along handled with just the right amount of humour and emotion.

      That episode marked the end of an era for the show and it was clever enough to utilise a fairly hokey villain subplot so the true themes would be able to shine fully, just masterful.

    2. Thank God someone mentioned that, the prom scene was spectacular. It was such a notable episode, the death knell of buffy and angels doomed relationship, the beautiful cover of wild horses really sends that message in, the class protector award which answers the question of why none of the students seem to know what buffy did for them but they really knew all along handled with just the right amount of humour and emotion.

      That episode marked the end of an era for the show and it was clever enough to utilise a fairly hokey villain subplot so the true themes would be able to shine fully, just masterful.

  53. I have recently been re-watching this series as I haven't seen it since it originally aired. Amends has to be one of my favorite episodes, I adored the angsty Buffy/Angel romance when I was younger and even now, more than ten years later I still love it, especially at the end when it begins to snow, and the weatherman announces there will be no sunlight today while Buffy and Angel walk along the street holding hands. Maybe it's the romantic in me. The ones that stuck with me the most though had to be Graduation Day pt 2 and The Gift. Although I am rather fond of the episodes Band Candy and anything to do A New Man. Giles being one of my favorite characters.

  54. My favourite Buffy episodes of the ones in this list would have to be (in no particular order): Hush; Restless; Graduation Day part 2; The Body; Beer Bad (sorry, but I thought it was frigging hilarious). My two other favourite eps that didn't get a mention were Killed By Death (remember Der Kinderstadt? Creepy as hell!), and I Only Have Eyes For You (maybe that's because I'm a huge Chris Gorham fan).

  55. No one ever mentions When She Was Bad. That's gotta be in my top 10. I just love the scene between Buffy and Cordelia ("you're really campaigning for bitch of the year"). I thought it was a great way to show Buffy dealing with her death at the hands of the Master, and the reminder of her own mortality it gave her, and it gave a little glimpse of Buffy's dark side, which amazingly parallels Angelus' emergence later in the season. I also loved Buffy sexy-dancing on Xander to Cibo Matto's Sugar Water to simultaneously make Angel jealous and torment Xander. It's also a parallel of how Faith acts in S3. I dunno, I just have a lot of love for Bitchy Buffy and Cordelia in general. I'd also put Homecoming and The Prom in my favorites as well. When Cordelia intimidates one of the Gorches just by being Queen Cordy I get tingles, and who could forget Johnathon presenting Buffy with the Class Protector Award? I guess I just have my characters and episodes that I will defend to the death (Anya, Cordy, Faith and Spike are the characters, btw).

  56. I would have to say my number one favorite episode would be hard to choose, since there are so many different episode impacts to choose from (funny, dark, meaningful to the plot, etc.). But I believe the episode I've watched the most is Tabula Rasa.. I'll just never forget how damn hard I laughed at that whole episode. I think I replayed it right after I finished it, if I 'm remembering correctly. Spike and Giles assuming they were related because of their accents had me in tears.
    As far as emotional goes, The Body was definitely one of my favorites. It really hit home with me, seeing one of the characters die an un-epic and natural death. Especially since it was Joyce.. it was smart on Joss' part to kill her off like that and so early, because I can't imagine how it would have been dealing with her in the last few seasons.
    Dark is obviously Hush, I mean even pictures of those damn Gentlemen give me chills to this day.
    My least favorite would have to be Where the Wild Things Are. I freaking hated that one. Namely because I hated Riley, but also because it was pretty boring watching them "have sex" and create a damn house-jungle. Stupid.
    I have love/hate relationship with the series finale, only because Anya was in my top three favorites (along with Spike and the Slayer herself) and watching her die like that absolutely shattered me.
    Oh, and I didn't like Kennedy either. She was annoying and a definite downgrade from Tara, not that poor Willow had much of a choice. Watching her skin Warren was one of the most satisfying scenes of TV history IMO.
    Whoops, this is long. Sorry. :D

  57. Wow. It's been years now, and Boreanaz still can't act his way out of a paper bag.

  58. I find ranking impossible, but having just finished re watching seasons 1- 5 for the first time in years, I can say it's my least favorite to date. So many glaring wholes that are forgivable in sillier episodes, but not when trying to seriousness. Has Glory been around in earth 25 years or a thousand? Both are stated outright. I don't remember what it's called, but the episode in which the knights attack leads to Glory's capture of Dawn is so beyond bad! How did the knights magically appear behind the winibago? Why did they suddenly vanish? Buffy kills humans in that episode - puts an axe right in one guy's chest - and it's never discussed? Why the hell is leaving Sunny D seen as an emotional response instead of the logical one it was (albeit they did leave in the midst moronic way possible)? And why - despite Glory's weak explanation that Ben's feelings caused her to hurt, not kill - did Glory not just kill the gang and torture Buffy like she did with everyone else? I know finding and poking holes in Buffy is a silly game to play, but what the hell were they thinking while writing and directing that one?

    Least favorite charterers are easily Joyce and Dawn. Dawn's whiny, bratty little self was obviously just a device to lead to situations they wanted to develop - but there were better ways to have done it.

    But Joyce - what a horrible parent! I know she's not supposed to depict a real mother, but instead is a thematic stand in for parents not listening to their children, but it was taken too far. The metaphor was stretched long beyond its utility. Horrible parent. Too self involved. Never, ever, actually listened to Buffy.

    Though my rants make it seem otherwise, Buffy is still my favorite show. And come on - Beer Bad was a fun! Obviously not one to highlight the series awesomeness, but a little absurd stupidity thrown in sure as hell lightens the mood and releases some of the tension. Buffy as a soap opera was never my favorite.

    1. So many autocorrect spelling mistakes! Sorry! Wish there was an edit button.

    2. Why do so many people dislike Dawn? Riley was just as whiney.

  59. I think that 'Insect lady' was worse then 'the killer in me' and more rightfully deserves to be on the 5 worst. I honestly liked 'The killer in me' I also think that the episode that Tara died should be on the 25.

  60. Oh c'mon! Beer Bad, wasn't that terrible was it? I kinda got a joy out of seeing neanderthal Buffy. I feel like Seeing Red should be on honorable mentions (at least), I mean we did lose a very lovable character on that one with Tara. Oh and Ted! I absolutely loved how much that episode made you question Buffy's judgment. I'm 100% behind your top 3 though.