I’m sure you’ve all figured out by now that there will be SPOILERS.
I guess I shouldn’t complain about having to rank the episodes of my favorite television show when I volunteered to do it… But in all honesty, this is how I feel. This list will be each seasons’ episodes ranked individually, with a brief synopsis (and probably a quote, because the show just has some really good lines in it). Some will have opinions that I couldn’t keep in, and others will have outlines that were bias based on what happened in the actual episode. If I have to choose between two lines about Spike’s story or two lines about Riley’s, you’d better be damn sure I’ll give you Spike’s.
11. 08 I Robot… You, Jane: Poor Willow. She gets conned into falling for a demon that’s been uploaded into the computer. If that’s not super 90’s, nothing is. No one wanted to see our favorite nerd get punk’d.
10. 03 The Witch: This episode introduced a character that will become pretty pivotal in a later season, but the whole mom-stealing-her-daughters-identity-so-she-can-relive-her-glory-days-as-a-cheerleader-thing was really effing strange.
9. 04 Teacher’s Pet: A substitute teacher is a huge praying mantis demon that seduces Xander and tries to kill him. Not the best, but certainly entertaining. This episode also started the much loved and ongoing joke about how he was a demon magnet.
8. 05 Never Kill a Boy on the First Date: Our first foray into why Buffy could never date a normal guy. Also: Angel.
7. 10 Nightmares: A sad episode that gave the viewer a Sunnydale-look into a little boy suffering physical abuse at the hands of his softball coach. When did TV stop being this good?!
6. 01/02 Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest: The 2-part series premiere. We met our characters, fell in love with an old British librarian, and were kinda skeptical because these two were very, extremely not good. Pick up any dictionary and next to the entry “Campy” you’ll see a screenshot of these episodes.
5. 11 Out of Mind, Out of Sight: My first introduction to the amazing Clea DuVall. Whatever happened to that school for assassins that was shown at the end? Spinoff, you say?
4. 09 The Puppet Show: Creep factor is way high and totally deserved. Ventriloquists are the worst, but this episode was wonderfully crafted.
3. 06 The Pack: A totally underrated episode where Xander is infected with some ancient hyena God and proceeds to terrorize and victimize Sunnydale High. Poor Principle Flutie.
2. 07 Angel: Buffy – and the audience – finds out her mysterious hunk of tall, dark and broody is a vamp.
1. 12 Prophecy Girl: Buffy’s first sacrifice (read: death) in order to save the world. “How can I say this clearly? I don’t like you. At the end of the day, I pretty much think you’re a vampire. But Buffy’s got this big old yen for you. She thinks you’re a real person. And right now I need you to prove her right.” [Xander]
22. 18 Killed By Death: This episode was a waste of 42 minutes. Buffy gets sick, goes to hospital and saves some kids. That’s very heroic and so completely boring.
21. 12 Bad Eggs: An episode about killer eggs where the entire school is under control of baby demons. Wat?
20. 05 Reptile Boy: Buffy and Cordelia go to a frat party that ends up being a sacrifice to some demon God that keeps the boys rich and successful post-college. Good enough laughs, not good enough an episode.
19. 20 Go Fish: Xander in a swimsuit, young Wentworth Miller, Buffy the Bodyguard. Ok by me.
18. 07 Lie to Me: Roswell-BtVS crossover, except not really. Jason Behr comes to town as Buffy’s old crush from Los Angeles, admits to her that he knows she’s the slayer, makes a deal with Spike and ends up getting himself staked by the Buffster at the end of the episode.
17. 11 Ted: One of the few episodes where Buffy’s actions have real-world consequences when she’s suspected killing her mom’s boyfriend, Ted. Of course, it’s later revealed that Ted is a robot, but for a quick minute Blondie McSlay is in deep with the cops, her mom, and her classmates for having murdered an average Joe.
16. 16 Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered: Xander + Lovespell. AWESOME.
15. 04 Inca Mummy Girl: We met Oz! What was the rest of the episode about, again?
14. 02 Some Assembly Required: This episode shocks me every time I watch it. Not because a dude raised his bro from the grave, then proceeded to play Doctor by Frankensteining his walking dead sibling a new ladyfriend, but because by the end you’re really sad for the zombie brother that it didn’t work out in his favor. It wasn’t his fault he was brought back; he just didn’t want to be alone.
13. 01 When She Was Bad: Buffy’s attitude post-death-#1 starts to impact all those around her, and luckily the ever sassy Cordelia smacks her into shape. “Whatever is causing the Joan Collins ‘tude, deal with it. Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever, but get over it. ‘Cause pretty soon you’re not even gonna have the loser friends you’ve got now.” [Cordelia]
12. 06 Halloween: The Scooby Gang is turned into their costumes on Halloween courtesy of Giles’ old pal Ethan Rayne. Xander turns into an army guy (the training stays in his head until the end of the show, which was quite clever), Willow into a [slutty] ghost, and Buffy into a 19th century lady… So, completely useless in their fight against Spike at the end of the episode. “She couldn’t’ve dressed up like Xena?” [Willow]
11. 09 What’s My Line, Part One: A bunch of random assassins hired by Spike and Drusilla go after the Scoobies during Career Week at Sunnydale High, and we meet a mysterious girl who locks Angel in a cage that’ll be showered in sunlight come dawn. “Y’know, with that kind of attitude you could’ve had a bright future as an employee at the DMV.” [Xander]
10. 10 What’s My Line, Part Two: Mysterious girl turns out to be Kendra the Vampire Slayer that was Chosen when Buffy died at the end of S01. Oz gets shot saving Willow, and Spike gets crippled during a fight with the gang. (His luck only goes downhill from here, poor thing.)
9. 08 The Dark Age: Jenny Calendar and Giles are finally starting to get close and even dating a little bit when Ethan Rayne shows back up with a demon from Giles’ dark days in tow. The demon possesses Jenny and she pulls back from her and Giles’ relationship, which is only one the saddest things ever.
8. 03 School Hard: We meet Spike and his crazy lover Drusilla for the first time during parent-teacher night at school. Buffy takes charge and her mother Joyce sees just a glimpse of who her little girl really is. (Fun fact about Spike: He was supposed to be killed off in S02, but the writers, producers and fans liked him so much they kept him on and in S04 he finally became a regular until the end of the series.)
7. 15 Phases: Oz turns into a werewolf for the first time, and Willow’s totally cool with it. Like a boss. “Well, I like you. You’re nice and you’re funny. And you don’t smoke. Yeah, okay, werewolf, but that’s not all the time. I mean, three days out of the month I’m not much fun to be around either.” [Willow]
6. 19 I Only Have Eyes for You: The spirits of lovers past who died at Sunnydale High come back and haunt the students, eventually inhabiting Buffy and Angel and allowing the dead spirits to reconcile and find peace all while eerily resembling B+A’s current situation. If you don’t cry during this episode, you‘re a robot. “Impulsive? Do you remember my ex-boyfriend, the vampire? I slept with him, he lost his soul, now my boyfriend’s gone forever, and the demon that wears his face is killing my friends. The next impulsive decision I make will involve my choice of dentures.” [Buffy]
5. 13 Surprise: Buffy and Angel get frisky after a big fight, Angel gets set on the path to lose his soul, the fandom has a collective heart attack.
4. 14 Innocence: The initial aftermath of Angel reverting back into Angelus (his soulless alter-ego). Buffy doesn’t understand until late in the episode what happened, and by then your blankets are already soaked in tears and your voice is gone from screaming at the TV. “You know what the worst part was, huh? Pretending that I loved you. If I’d known how easily you’d give it up, I wouldn’t have even bothered.” [Angelus]
3. 21 Becoming, Part One: The set-up to the gut-wrenching, heart-shattering, world-ending season finale. “Bottom line is, even if you see ‘em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does.”[Whistler]
2. 17 Passion: The death of our beloved Jenny Calendar. Always be prepared and have a box [or 20] of tissues handy. “I’m sorry, but let’s not forget that I hated Angel long before you guys jumped on the bandwagon. So I think I deserve a little something for not saying ‘I told you so’ long before now. And if Giles wants to go after the, uh, fiend that murdered his girlfriend, I say, ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’” [Xander]
1. 22 Becoming, Part Two: Buffy sacrifices a newly re-souled Angel; he already opened the gates to hell and the only way to close them was to kill the being that opened them to begin with. Your heart and soul will be crushed. Spike and Buffy team up for the first time, and Joyce finds out what Buffy is. “And I may lose more! The whole earth may be sucked into Hell, and you want my help ’cause your girlfriend’s a big ho? Well, let me take this opportunity to not care.” [Buffy]
22. 11 Gingerbread: A witch hunt takes over the town thanks to some random demon that dresses itself up like two little kids. One of the witches turns herself into a rat (see S01E03 “The Witch”).
21. 01 Anne: Buffy ran away to Los Angeles after she killed a re-en-souled Angel in the S02 finale. Her friends have taken over her slayage duties, and she tries to live a normal life as best she can, while wallowing in her misery all alone.
20. 04 Beauty and the Beasts: An abusive dick with control issues starts to harm his girlfriend and Oz, the resident werewolf, is first on the list of suspects.
19. 03 Faith, Hope and Trick: Angel comes back from hell and we meet Faith: the new slayer that was Chosen after Kendra’s death.
18. 10 Amends: Angel is haunted by the First Evil who tries to convince him to kill himself. Buffy saves the day. I used to really love this episode, but the more I watch it the less impactful it becomes; it’s still very good but it doesn’t stand tall on its own the way some others do.
17. 16 Doppelgängland: Vengeance demon Anya does a spell-gone-wrong and brings Willow’s lesbian-vampire-Doppelgänger-from-an-alternate-universe to Sunnydale.
16. 13 The Zeppo: The Zeppo really hits home for a lot of folks and succeeds at what Joss does best; giving power to the little guy. This episode follows Xander as he’s shafted from the Scoobies (who all seem to have some power or other, while he just “gets in the way”) and gets himself into a mess of his own with some undead peers who decide to blow up the school. “You know, it’s not like I haven’t helped before. I’ve done some quality violence for these people.” [Xander]
15. 05 Homecoming: Cordelia and Buffy’s animosity is at an all-time high while they run against each other for Homecoming Queen. The Scoobies band together and set them up to ride in the limo alone together, which of course gets highjacked by demons. They end up coming to a mutual understanding and respect for the others’ world and kick some serious demon ass.
14. 07 Revelations: Faith gets a new Watcher and the Scoobies angrily learn about Angel’s return. “Excuse me, Mary Poppins, but you don’t seem to be listening.” [Faith]
13. 17 Enemies: A now-evil Faith and The Mayor decide to take Angel’s soul. Some good acting on his part and a demon that owes Giles a debt reveals Faiths true colors to the gang. “Demons after money. Whatever happened to the still-beating heart of a virgin? No one has any standards anymore.” [Giles]
12. 15 Consequences: “Consequences” and “Bad Girls” kinda go hand-in-hand, but I had to choose which one I preferred. “Consequences” faces the aftermath of Faith having killed a human and trying to blame it on Buffy. Angel tries to get through to her and almost succeeds, but [Buffy’s] new watcher barges in and tries to cart her off to England to be put under a psychiatric hold of the Watchers’ Council. She escapes, and teams up with the bad guys instead.
11. 14 Bad Girls: Giles has just been fired from the Watchers’ Council and his stuffy replacement arrives. Faith drags Buffy into her world of reckless abandonment and carelessness that costs a human man his life. “I didn’t get this job because of my looks.” [Wesley]
10. 09 The Wish: Xander and Willow have made a mess of their relationships and Cordelia, viewing Buffy as the reason her life is in shambles, unknowingly asks vengeance demon Anya to create a world where Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. Alternate universe has: Xander and Willow as S&M vampires, Angel as a slave to the Master (Big Bad from S01), Giles and Oz fighting to protect the humans because Giles’ slayer never arrived in town, and trained soldier Buffy showing up to stake all her former-friends-now-vampires. Bad ass episode. “World is what it is. We fight, we die. Wishing doesn’t change that.” [AU Buffy]
9. 06 Band Candy: Cursed candy turns the town’s adults into teenagers so the vampires can steal children and sacrifice them to a demon. Also: Joyce and Giles bone. Repeatedly.
8. 08 Lovers Walk: A dumped Spike comes rollin’ back into Sunny-D and kidnaps Willow and Xander to help him perform a love spell on Drusilla. Tensions between Willow and Xander rise to an all-time high, and Cordy and Oz come to rescue them, only to see some smooches happening instead. Cordelia flees the scene, steps on some broken stairs, and falls through the floor of the abandoned warehouse, getting an iron rod through her stomach. “She just left. She didn’t even care enough to cut off my head or set me on fire. I mean, is that too much to ask? You know? Some little sign that she cared?” [Spike]
7. 18 Earshot: Buffy is infected with a demon’s blood that gives her the ability to read thoughts. She discovers her mother and Giles’ kinky secret. “I am my thoughts. If they exist in her, Buffy contains everything that is me and she becomes me. I cease to exist. Huh.” [Oz]
6. 02 Dead Man’s Party: I really loved this episode. Buffy finally returns home to Sunnydale after months in Los Angeles with no communication with her friends or mother. She receives a cold welcome, and everyone’s emotions come crashing down during a party. This episode is the first time we really see her friends stand up to her and tell her she’s wrong. “Well, a gathering is brie, mellow song stylings; shindig, dip, less mellow song stylings, perhaps a large amount of malt beverage; and hootenanny, well, it’s chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.” [Oz]
5. 12 Helpless: By far one of the best episodes of the entire series. A slayer’s 18th birthday is chock full of trials by the Watchers’ Council – they remove her strength and let her fight a blood thirsty vampire as human. If she survives, she passes the test and if she fails… Well, she definitely doesn’t pass the test. This episode was the first of a few times where Buffy loses her faith and trust in Giles: the one person she should always be able to count on. When Giles interferes with the test and stands up to the council, they fire him for failing his test – for getting emotionally attached to his slayer. “In matters of tradition and protocol, I must answer to the Council. My role in this… was very specific. I was to administer the injections and to direct you to the old boardinghouse on Prescott Lane.” [Giles]
4. 21 Graduation Day, Part 1: The Mayor gets ready for his Ascension during Graduation. Anya helps out with the Scooby gang, and Faith poisons Angel with something that only a slayers blood can cure. Buffy and Faith fight, leaving Faith stabbed and in a coma. “I’m talking about watching my lover die. I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about and I don’t care.” [Buffy]
3. 19 Choices: Willow is kidnapped by Faith and The Mayor, and Buffy and Angel start to confront the choices they have ahead of them in their relationship and lives together. “So Faith was like, ‘I’m gonna beat you up,’ and I’m all, ‘I’m not afraid of you.’ And then she had the knife, which was less fun.” [Willow]
2. 20 The Prom: No synopsis. Just speech. “We have one more award to give out. Is Buffy Summers here tonight? Did she….um…This is actually a new category. First time ever. I guess there were a lot of write in ballots and the prom committee asked me to read this. ‘We’re not good friends. Most of us never found the time to get to know you. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t noticed you…’” [Jonathan] (ALSO: There will be another ranking coming soon with all the great BtVS speeches in order from less-best to most-best. Because really none of them were bad.)
1. 22 Graduation Day, Part 2: On the heels of that speech, where the students recognize how Buffy have saved them countless times, and how they’ve all assisted her and backed her up when she needed it, comes “Graduation Day, Part 2” where the student body is literally her backup, armed with crossbows, bombs, stakes and flaming arrows against the multitude of vampires working for The Mayor. …And then Buffy blows up the school. “Fire bad. Tree pretty.” [Buffy]
22. 02 Living Conditions: I hated the crazy roommate. I’m pretty sure she pissed me off more than she pissed off Buffy who actually had to spend the whole episode being told by her friends that she’s nuts and needs to chillax about it.
21. 18 Where the Wild Things Are: An entire episode of Buffy and her most boring boyfriend ever having raunchy sex and disturbing a spirit of a woman who used to torture children. Ugh.
20. 17 Superstar: I liked Jonathan enough, but an episode dedicated to an alternate reality where he’s the richest, most popular guy in Sunnydale was meh.
19. 05 Beer Bad: Buffy has been blown off by her one night stand, drinks beer that turns her into a cave-woman, and she helps burn down a bar. Best part about this episode was Willow’s balls. “Just how gullible do you think I am? I mean, with your gentle eyes and your shy smile and your ability to talk openly only to me. You’re unbelievable!” [Willow]
18. 01 The Freshman: Buffy is having a hard time figuring out the college thing, while Willow finally steps into her own and feels comfortable and confident, with possibly the most annoying vampire adversary on the show.
17. 14 Goodbye Iowa: Buffy discovers project 314 (how painful that I live in apartment 314 of my building), and Riley starts an unknowing detox after the fall of The Initiative. Apparently no one told him he was being given drugs to make him a good toy soldier.
16. 07 The Initiative: Riley punches Parker in the face. Spike is awesome.
15. 12 A New Man: Giles is turned into a demon by stupid Ethan Rayne and Spike is the only one to help him, while destroying the clutch on Giles’ car.
14. 13 The I in Team: After being sent on a mission intended to kill her, Buffy finally shows Dr. Walsh’s true colors to Riley and it’s awesome.
13. 03 The Harsh Light of Day: Spike has returned to Sunnydale and is searching for the Gem of Amara – a mystical gem that makes vampires invincible. Buffy, obviously, takes it from him and sends it off to Angel instead.
12. 11 Doomed: Buffy and Riley have just found out about the others’ slayerage and The Initiative. They come up on yet another apocalypse at the old High School, and Spike in a Hawaiian shirt teams up with the gang to help out.
11. 08 Pangs: Part one of the first crossover-episode between BUFFY and ANGEL that sets up the saddest episode of Angel possibly ever. That’s not actually true, there are two others that rival it, but “Pangs” deserves a very honorable mention for the ramifications it has on ANGEL.
10. 09 Something Blue: Willow does a spell that goes wrong blinding Giles, turning Xander into a literal demon magnet, and causing Buffy and Spike to get engaged. Such hilarity ensues that “Something Blue” is easily the funniest episode of the season.
9. 04 Fear Itself: 3-inch tall fear demon terrorizes the Scoobies on Halloween.
8. 19 New Moon Rising: Oz comes back to Sunnydale to break our hearts all over again, and Willow chooses to be with Tara instead of him. While we all grow to love Tara in the end…Oz.
7. 06 Wild at Heart: Veruca, a sexy ladywolf shows up and leads Oz astray. After we’ve all sobbed until we can sob no more, Oz leaves Sunnydale – and Willow – behind.
6. 15 The Year’s Girl (Part 1): Faith wakes from her coma and switches bodies with Buffy leaving you with a very confused and anxious pit in your stomach until the following episode.
5. 16 Who Are You? (Part 2): Buffy in Faiths’ body is kidnapped by the Watchers Council league of assassins, Faith in Buffy’s body sleeps with Riley and seduces Spike with some naughty words. That scene alone is enough to put this episode in the top 5 of the season. “Cause I can do anything I want, and instead I choose to pout and whine and feel the burden of Slayerness? I mean, I could be rich. I could be famous. I could have anything… And you know why I don’t? [pause] Because it’s wrong.” [Faith-as-Buffy]
4. 20 The Yoko Factor (Finale Part 1): Angel visits Sunnydale to apologize to Buffy, and instead gets in a big ol’ fight with Riley. The worst part about this episode was the part where Angel didn’t pummel him until dead. Oh, and Giles gets drunk which is always nice. “Seriously? That’s a good day? Well, there you go. Even when he’s good, he’s all Mr. Billowy Coat King of Pain…” [Riley]
3. 10 Hush: One of the most inventive and challenging episodes BUFFY ever pulled off. Twenty-six minutes of TV, with not a single word of dialogue. No funny quips or jokes, just terrifying floating men (who evolved into The Whispermen, according to some Doctor Who theorists). “Can’t even shout, can’t even cry. The Gentlemen are coming by. Looking in windows, knocking on doors. They need to take seven and they might take yours. Can’t call to mom, can’t say a word. You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard.”
2. 21 Primeval (Finale Part 2): While the Adam-Project 314-storyline needed major assistance in the creativity and Big-Bad-of-the-season departments, the way Buffy beat him was off the charts of awesome. Casting a spell to invoke the power of the first slayer, the Scoobies combined Willow’s magic, Giles’ intellect and Xander’s heart into Buffy’s body in order to kick Adam’s big, ugly behind. An incredibly powerful way of reminding the audience that even though this season wasn’t about the trials of the Scoobies altogether, they still serve as four parts to one whole. “Spike’s working for Adam?! After all we’ve done — Nah, I can’t even act surprised.” [Xander]
1. 22 Restless: The best dreamscape episode of television ever. The baddie of the season has been defeated, and the gang is all hanging out at B’s house watching a movie and relaxing. Fallen asleep, we explore each of their subconscious minds as they’re afflicted by the past, the present, the future, the first slayer, and the man with the cheese. “I wear the cheese, it does not wear me.” [Cheese Guy]
22. 01 Buffy vs Dracula: Buffy meets the famous Dracula, who turns Xander into his slave. Fine enough in theory, but a snoozer. You don’t miss anything important if you skip this episode.
21. 08 Shadow: Glory (the most hilarious Baddie ever) unleashes a huge snake-thing to find the “key” to her home dimension that has been placed under Buffy’s care. Fairly straight forward and not that interesting.
20. 09 Listening to Fear: An alien-but-not-alien demon attacks a brain tumor stricken Joyce in the Summers’ home. A quite unappealing episode, but Spike coming in to save the day and Buffy finally breaking down in the kitchen over her mom’s illness are really touching scenes.
19. 02 Real Me: Apparently, Buffy has a sister. No one knew, and here she is. This episode is spent getting to know the little brat since she was just thrown into the show five seasons in, yet was supposed to have been there all along. Until the audience finds out what her dealio is, however, we have to listen to her whine.
18. 04 Out of My Mind: Riley episode. Again. The Initiative screwed him over. Again. Blah, blah, blah. Bor-ring.
17. 17 Forever: After the most harrowing episode Buffy ever produced, we get “Forever.” It should have been great to have Angel back and see how the Scoobies deal with the recent tragedy, but this episode was a rather shocking disappointment after the stunning grace that came before it.
16. 11 Triangle: Anya and Willow refuse to get along because they both want to love and protect Xander from the other. They summon a troll accidentally – Anya’s ex, Olaf – and then have to work together to get rid of him. Hilarious, endearing, and sort of makes you love Anya even more.
15. 05 No Place Like Home: We finally found out what Dawn is and meet Glory for the first time. Overall, a decent episode to get the ball rolling in preparation for the remainder of what we thought was BtVS’s final season.
14. 15 I Was Made to Love You: An introduction to another pivotal character that not a single fan can defend. A great episode were Buffy meets Warren, a misogynistic nerd who built himself a robot girlfriend when he couldn’t find a real one. After a sad goodbye to the robot whose batteries died (who didn’t like April? Poor thing.) the episode ends with Spike demanding Warren building him a BuffyBot. Also: Tara and Anya bond. “She’s a sex bot. I mean, what guy doesn’t dream about that? Beautiful girl with no other thought but to please you, willing to do anything. (He gets strange looks from the group.) Too many girls. I miss Oz. He’d get it. He wouldn’t say anything, but he’d get it.” [Xander]
13. 03 The Replacement: Xander is hit by some demony-thinga-mabob and is split in two – his strengths and his weaknesses. A great episode until you find out Nicholas Brendan’s real life twin Kelly Donovan played his Buffy-life twin, and then it’s even better.
12. 10 Into the Woods: Riley leaves. Poor Buffy, but Riley leaves! Ding dong, the wicked Soldier is gone.
11. 13 Blood Ties: Dawn finally founds out she’s The Key and runs away to the hospital. While Dawn herself is frustrating and annoying as usual, Buffy shares a great moment with her at the end of the episode.
10. 14 Crush: Spike confesses to Buffy – after he kidnaps her and chains her up under his crypt – that he’s in love with her. Mixed signals? A little bit. But Buffy’s signal is quite clear when she has Willow revoke Spike’s invitation into her home, leaving him locked outside as she shuts the door in his face. “What part of me punching you in the face did you not understand?” [Buffy]
9. 19 Tough Love: Tara and Willow have their first big fight, and Glory in realizing that Tara is the newest member of the gang, attacks her thinking that she’s The Key. Glory sucks out Tara’s brain leaving her a vegetable, and the episode ends with Tara unknowingly revealing to Glory that Dawn is The Key she’s been searching for.
8. 20 Spiral: Buffy and the Scoobies flee Sunnydale in an effort to hide from Glory, but an ancient order of Knights comes after them to kill Dawn and prevent Glory’s apocalypse.
7. 06 Family: Tara’s family swings into town to take her back home before she turns into a demon like the rest of the women in her family… Of course, they’re women-hating bastards like Warren, and the demon-thing is just a story told to keep the women from straying too far. Buffy and the crew put themselves between Tara and her nasty family and threaten them, finally making Tara feel like she really is one of the gang. “There’s no demon in there. It’s just a family legend, am I right? Just a bit of spin to keep the ladies in line? You’re a piece of work. I like you.” [Spike]
6. 07 Fool for Love: Easily one of the best episode of the season. After getting her butt handed to her and sustaining a wound to the abdomen, Buffy employs Spike to tell her the stories of how he murdered two slayers. After profoundly pissing him off, Spike arrives at Buffy’s house with a shotgun to finish her off. Meanwhile, Joyce’s sickness worsens and the episode ends with Spike comforting a crying Buffy instead.
5. 21 Weight of the World: Many people disliked “Weight of the World” citing that it was a filler episode because the writers must have forgotten they were supposed to do 22 episode total. I, however, do not agree. After Glory has kidnapped Dawn, Buffy goes into a catatonic state and Willow has to enter her subconscious and force her to come back to take care of business. We finally get to see just a tad of what goes on inside her head, while the world keeps on turning and time is still being wasted outside.
4. 18 Intervention: We finally meet the BuffyBot Spike…commissioned. After Glory’s minions attack and the Bot protects Spike, Glory has him kidnapped thinking he must be the key since the “slayer” protected him above all the others. The real Buffy has gone on a spirit journey in the desert however, and the First Slayer reveals to her that “Death is [her] gift.” The episode ends with Buffy playing as the BuffyBot to determine if Spike gave up The Key’s true identity during his torture – which he did not. “Because Buffy — the other, not-so-pleasant Buffy… anything happened to Dawn, it’d destroy her, and I couldn’t live with her being in that much pain. I’d let Glory kill me first. Nearly bloody did.” [Spike]
3. 12 Checkpoint: I’m such a sucker for Watchers’ Council episodes. The whole two of ‘em, anyway. The council shows up to interview Buffy and her friends and determine if they are worthy of receiving the information the council has gathered on what Glory is, where she came from, and what The Key is. The climax of the episode has Buffy telling the council to shove it because she’s all they’ve got, and the information is hers whether they like it or not. The council reveals that Glory isn’t a demon; she’s a God. “No review. No interrogation. No questions you know I can’t answer. No hoops. No jumps. (Nigel is about to speak.) No interruptions. See, I’ve had a lot of people talking at me in the last few days. Everyone just lining up to tell me how unimportant I am. And I’ve finally figured out why: power.” [Buffy]
2. 22 The Gift: Deciding between “The Gift” and “The Body” was the most agonizing decision I’ve made thus far, because they’re both such beautifully crafted, heart-straining episode. Alas, the 100th episode and [first] series finale had to come in second. The final battle between Glory and Buffy is upon them, and the only way to save the world is for Buffy to sacrifice herself. The ending shot of Buffy’s tombstone is enough to make anyone cry. “She saved the world. A lot.”
1. 16 The Body: There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe how this episode tore into our souls. Buffy has come to find her newly recovered mother dead on the sofa. An episode full of long, panning shots, minimal editing and not a single scrap of music, “The Body”was an agonizing 42-minutes of quiet sobs for every fan. “But I don’t understand! I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s– there’s just a body…and no one will explain to me why.” [Anya]
21. 11 Gone: Buffy is turned invisible and spends the episode being mischievous. That’s totally fine and cool… Except for the part where the episode was boring.
20. 04 Flooded: And this bad boy was not much better. We meet “The Trio” – a gang of nerds we’ve met previously: Jonathan, Warren and Andrew – who decide to become evil and take over Sunnydale, and that’s about all that happens in this waste of time.
19. 14 Older and Far Away: Buffy’s birthday where she and all her friends are trapped in a house by an old vengeance demon pal of Anya’s. Best part about this episode was Tara’s under-the-table quips at Spike about him and Buffy and their secret love affair.
18. 15 As You Were: Riley returns with his annoying as hell wife. The last scene of Buffy breaking Spike’s heart telling him they can’t sleep together anymore and apologizing was so effing sad.
17. 12 Doublemeat Palace: Buffy gets a job at a fast food restaurant in order to help pay bills that are piling up at home; a phallic demon that comes out of an old lady’s head and some creepy employees were not enough to rank this episode any higher. Frankly, I think being #17 is still too generous.
16. 16 Hell’s Bells: Anya and Xander’s wedding, where a demon set on destroying Anya’s life shows Xander a fake future where he and Anya are miserable. Xander subsequently leaves Anya at the altar and the episode ends with her reverting back into a vengeance demon.
15. 06 All the Way: The season’s Halloween episode where Xander and Anya reveal their engagement and Dawn sneaks off with a boy she didn’t know was a vampire. Instead of dealing with it herself, Buffy pushes it off on Giles to discipline her afterward.
14. 10 Wrecked: After Tara leaves her for her budding addiction to magic, a high Willow goes so far as to get her and Dawn into a car accident while they ran away from a demon that was of her own creation. Willow decides to quite magic cold turkey after seeing what she’s done to her friends.
13. 01/02 Bargaining: The two-part episode that brings Buffy back from the dead, was fairly lackluster in comparison to what it could have been. Most touching scene in this hour and a half long mess, was Spike seeing Buffy for the first time and realizing she had to crawl her way out of the grave.
12. 20 Villains: Willow is out of control with grief and rage. She hunts down Warren, the nerd responsible for Tara’s shocking death, and skins him alive.
11. 05 Life Serial: Buffy, struggling to adjust to normal life, is plagued by The Trio in her every venture, destroying her plans one at a time. Redeeming scene: Spike gets Buffy drunk.
10. 21 Two to Go (Finale, Part 1): Dark Willow and Buffy go toe-to-toe while Buffy tries to protect the remaining Duo from the former good-witch. Giles comes back to stop Willow using a gift from a powerful coven of witches, “the true essence of magic.”
9. 22 Grave (Finale, Part 2): Giles and Willow have a magical battle, but Willow drains his power and sets off to raise an ancient Goddess to destroy the world because there’s too much pain and suffering. In a nice turn of events, Xander is the one to save the day by bringing Willow back from the edge. Also: Spike gets his soul back.
8. 09 Smashed: Spike founds out that the chip The Initiative planted in his head to stop his from harming humans doesn’t work on Buffy 3.0, and in the final battle scene they have such raunchy sex that it literally brings the house down. Willow turns the rat-witch from S02 back into a human so she has a friend to do magic with.
7. 03 After Life: Episode was boring, but the finale scene was enough to rank it so high. Buffy reveals to Spike that she was not in a hell dimension like her friends thought, but that she was at peace in what she thought was heaven. She begs him to never let them find out what they did, and you beg Joss Whedon to stop breaking your heart into a zillion little pieces.
6. 08 Tabula Rasa: The funniest episode. Willow uses a spell to erase Tara’s memory of their fights about her magic use, and the spell backfires erasing the entire gang’s memory. Everyone wakes up not knowing who – or what – they are (ie, Spike thinking Giles is his dad. LOL WAT?). The episode ends with Giles revealing that he’s returning to England, and Tara dumps Willow for beinga manipulative butthead. “Randy Giles? Why not just call me Horny Giles? Or Desperate-For-A-Shag Giles? I knew there was a reason I hated you.” [Spike]
5. 13 Dead Things: The Trio accidentally murders Warren’s ex-girlfriend, then conjures time-altering demons to trick Buffy into thinking she caused the girl’s death. When Buffy goes to the police station to turn herself in, she pummels Spike half to death (oh, the irony) because he doesn’t understand why she’s so upset over killing someone. While we all hate to see the Buffster cry, it’s always a nice reminder that she struggles with keeping separate her demonic duties from the real world laws.
4. 18 Entropy: Woof. This episode. The Scoobies discover that The Trio has been watching them through hidden cameras in their homes and at their work. Both dumped and heartbroken, Anya and Spike get it on at her magic shop, while The Scoobies crack the surveillance system at home and end up catching the entire glorious show. Spike tells everyone that he and Buffy used to be naked-friends, and everything goes to hell. Happy ending, though: Willow and Tara get back together! “I’m not joking now. You let that evil, soulless thing touch you. You wanted me to feel something? Congratulations, it worked. I look at you, and I feel sick ‘cause you had sex with that.” [Xander]
3. 17 Normal Again: A lot of fans really disliked this episode, but for me it was one of the best in the entire series. Buffy is infected by a demon and started to hallucinate about her life: in reality she’s a slayer who fights demons and monsters, but in her hallucinations she’s a sick girl in a mental institution. The further we get into the episode, the more Buffy believes she really is a sick girl in an asylum, and she tries to murder her friends in order to cut ties with her “delusion” and re-enter the “real world.” While we know that isn’t the case, for just a brief moment you actually want sick Buffy to be ok and you find yourself wondering, “What if that’s actually what’s happening?” It’s a shockingly real episode for a show that’s rooted in imagination.
2. 19 Seeing Red: This episode would absolutely be ranked #1 had the musical episode not happened. “Seeing Red” ripped you to shreds a thousand times over. Willow and Tara have finally gotten back together, Buffy goes after The Trio and takes them [mostly] down, and Spike tries to rape an injured Buffy in her own home. Buffy gets shot. Tara gets shot and dies. This episode was a cruel, vicious reminder of mortality in watching one of our favorite characters die, setting off Dark Willow as she cries to Osiris to bring her lover back. It was also a wake-up call to the audience: we might love Spike for all he’s worth… But he’s still evil, he’s still soulless, and he’s still got a long road ahead of him until his compass points anywhere near true-north.
1. 07 Once More, With Feeling: Does anything really need to be said about this episode? It gave us everything we wanted for the entire season. It gave us Tara finding out about Willow’s memory-altering spell, Giles admitting that it’s time for him to leave Sunnydale behind, Spike and Buffy gettin’ with the smooches, and Buffy confessing to her friends that they pulled her out of heaven. Not to mention there were songs and dancing, which makes everything a billion times better. “That would explain the huge backing orchestra I couldn’t see and the synchronized dancing from the room service chaps.” [Giles]
22. 06 Him: What was this episode and why did it happen? Seems like the writing staff were trying so hard to make a call-back episode to Buffy’s years in high school and something that would have happened to her, but this episode was all wrong and very out of place. The final season of the show, the stakes are higher than ever before, and we get a boy whose Varsity jacket is cursed with a love spell. Maybe in S01 or S02 that would have been fun, but not S07.
21. 14 First Date: Because we needed yet another filler episode in this season? “First Date” was utterly pointless other than to show the animosity between Robin Wood and Spike and to give the audience the knowledge of who Principal Wood really is… And who Spike is to him.
20. 01 Lessons: This episode was fairly forgetful. As a season premiere it was lackluster and introducing us to the new high school didn’t leave quite the impact that I think the writers intended.
19. 09 Never Leave Me: Buffy holds Spike and a newly returned Andrew hostage while trying to figure out what’s toying with Spike’s chip and brain. Not great, but not horrible. Did get some juicy Spuffy, though! “Apparently, I just slaughtered half of Sunnydale, pet. I’m not really worried about being polite anymore.” [Spike]
18. 03 Same Time, Same Place: Bringing Willow back after her murder spree was going to be a challenge either way. We all want to understand and forgive her, but how do we accept her back into our lives right off the bat? By shifting her into an alternate dimension for a day, apparently. It also served a little indication that Willow is much more powerful that we knew, even after her little trip to the Dark Side.
17. 08 Sleeper: Spike is a sleeper agent of the Big Bad, who has figured out a way to turn the chip off and set him loose on Sunny-D to eat, maim and kill lots of fine folks. Also, Giles is potentially dead?
16. 10 Bring on the Night: We meet an original, fully demonic vampire – not like the half-human ones we’ve grown accustomed to over the last seven years. (Apparently that’s a thing. Way to tell us in the last season of the show, guys.) Giles shows up with a few “potential slayers”; girls that were chosen to be possibly Chosen in the wake of the slayers’ demise. (PS, how does that work since Buffy has already died? Was she no longer considered “the” slayer after Death #1? Is Faith “the” slayer and since she’s alive no one has needed to be called? If not, there should have been a third slayer after B’s death in S05.)
15. 02 Beneath You: Ranked so high because of the final scene where Spike goes bonkers and tells Buffy he’s got his soul back. Touching, and horribly sad when Buffy decodes his crazy-talk and figures out what happened.
14. 21 End of Days: For the first time in five seasons, Buffy and Faith find common ground, realizing that they together will have to share the burden of being The Slayer, and that no one else could ever understand that loneliness. It was a moment that I feel the fans were owed after everything these two went through, regardless of my personal feelings towards Faith. Also, Angel comes back to bring Buffy a little present. Worst part of the episode: Apparently there’s been a coven of ancient women watching the Watchers since the dawn of the Slayer. Why did it taken seven seasons for this revelation? “I’m looking at you, everything you have, and, I don’t know, jealous. Then there I am. Everybody’s looking to me, trusting me to lead them, and I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life.” [Faith]
13. 11 Showtime: While the meat of the episode was so-so, I was a big fan of Anya and Giles’ trip to the Beljoxa’s Eye: an oracle demon who tells them that The First Evil is back because there was a falter in the slayer’s line. Giles figures out that it wasn’t because Buffy died that the First Evil was able to gain control, but because she lives – again. Yet another slap in the face to the Scoobies that were only trying to save their friend.
12. 15 Get It Done: After all these years watching Buffy save the world with all her strength and knowing that she was the chosen one, we finally get to know how it came to be. “Get It Done” took us to another dimension, suspended in time, that revealed when and how the First Slayer was made. The Three Shadow Men tell Buffy that she is the last protector of the Hellmouth, and try to infuse her with more of the same demonic energy that they initially cursed the First Slayer with. Buffy wasn’t down with it, chose to kick their shadowy asses instead, and the Shadow Men give her a vision of the Hellmouth in return. This episode also marks the first time in a long time where Buffy is starting to be doubted by her friends. “The First Slayer was right. It isn’t enough.” [Buffy]
11. 16 Storyteller: This episode was surprisingly not my favorite. I say surprisingly, because I love Tom Lenk and moreover, Andrew Wells. It was some much needed light in an otherwise gloomy and dark winding up of the finale season; this episode brought in some great humor and jovialness that was much needed. That being said, I wanted to like the episode a lot more than I actually did, as it followed Andrew around as he tried to document the Sunnydale Situation and twists events into better “storytelling” for the camera. The episode ends with Andrew begging Buffy’s forgiveness for murdering Jonathan, his best friend. “She’s like a woman fighting for more than life. She fights like fighting is her life. It is the air she breathes, and she knows she will win because there is no alternative.” [Andrew]
10. 20 Touched: The Scoobies sans Buffy kidnap a minion of the First and cast a spell in which he speaks through Andrew, taunting their inevitable failure and deaths. Spike and Andrew return from a mission, and upon seeing that Buffy has been exiled from her own house, he spits on the Scoobies, starts a fight with Faith and leaves to find Buffy. They have a super sweet, super sappy moment when he gives her a big speech about how he loves her and she’s always been a strength to admire. “I’ve seen your kindness, and your strength, I’ve seen the best and the worst of you and I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You’re a hell of a woman.” [Spike]
9. 18 Dirty Girls: Not much need to be said about “Dirty Girls.” There’s Nathan Fillion as a hell-preacher named Caleb who can kick the snot outa Buffy, Faith comes back and bonds with Spike, and Xander loses an eye. One of the most horribly great episodes we’ve had in the shows entire run. “You’re protecting vampires? Are you the bad slayer now? Am I the good slayer now?” [Faith]
8. 17 Lies My Parents Told Me: Spike and Robin Wood come head to head in this intense, beautiful 42-minute pieces of art. Spike’s trigger from the First is finally exposed as a torment from his past and he and Wood have it out in a shed lined with crosses and brass knuckles. Spike leaves Wood alive after a brutal fight, declaring, “You see, unlike you, I had a mother who loved me back…I was her world.”
7. 12 Potential: Xander’s speech and seeing how Dawn is finally a character in the show, and not just Buffy’s annoying kid sister. “Seven years, Dawn. Working with the Slayer. Seeing my friends get more and more powerful…I see more than anybody realizes because nobody’s watching me. I saw you last night. I see you working here today. You’re not special. You’re extraordinary.” [Xander]
6. 05 Selfless: This episode was very disturbing on a multitude of levels. Anya, a vengeance demon, finds out that she’s being talked about by her demon friends for going soft and not creating the havoc and horror she once did. Her response is to kill an entire fraternity. Buffy upon finding out what’s happened admits that this leaves her no choice and that she has to do her job – she has to kill Anya. The episode ends with Anya’s boss reversing the damage to the frat at the cost of Anya’s BFF’s life. “Behold D’Hoffryn, Lord of Arashmaha, he that turns the air to blood and reigns te – Miss Rosenberg. How lovely to see you again. Have you done something with your hair?” [D’Hoffryn]
5. 04 Help: How quickly us fans get attached to characters. After only one episode, we still mourn the loss of high school clairvoyant Cassie who foresaw her own death. Another grounding episode and one of the few deaths Buffy couldn’t stop. Relatable teen Cassie saw her death, but not how it happened: from a heart defect. “There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to do. I’d love to ice skate at Rockefeller Center. And I’d love to see my cousins grow up and see how they turn out, ’cause they’re really mean, and I think they’re gonna be fat.” [Cassie]
4. 13 The Killer in Me: This episode broke my heart, and will continue to break my heart every time I watch it. While the audience grits and bares the atrocity that is Kennedy, “The Killer in Me” gave us yet one last time to grieve Tara’s loss with Willow. An old frenemy casts a spell that causes Willow to physically turn into Warren after her first kiss with Kennedy. While trying to find a way to reverse the spell, she starts to actually become Warren. Willow barges into the backyard where Warren shot Tara, and she falls to her knees confessing that she let go of Tara by kissing Kennedy. She begs for forgiveness from her dead lover. Meanwhile, Buffy and Spike go on a mission to get the chip in his brain fixed when they realize it’s killing him. Buffy is given a choice: repair it, or remove it. She chooses the latter. “He indicated you might be needing our assistance. We’re to provide you anything you need to help with…assface here. Those were his exact words, ma’am.” [Initiative General]
3. 19 Empty Places: All her years of saving the world, her deaths, her sacrifices, her isolation and her self-involved speeches. It all comes down to this: “You really do think you’re better than we are. But we don’t know…You didn’t work for it. You’ve never had anybody come up to you and say that you deserve these things more than anyone else. They were just handed to you. So that doesn’t make you better than us. It makes you luckier than us.” [Anya]
2. 07 Conversations with Deal People: This episode. Was everything. The Scoobies are split up doing their own things, and in a single night all their worlds change. Buffy meets a boy she went to high school with who became a psychologist and then was turned into a vampire. Dawn is attacked in her home by a demon wearing her mother’s face. Willow is visited by Cassie… Or something that looks like Cassie, bringing a fake message from Tara encouraging her to kill herself. A brilliant episode that prepares us for the upcoming battle from early on in the season.
1. 22 Chosen: Was this the most epic episode ever? I didn’t think so. Comparing the two series finales (S05 + S07), I’d absolutely say that S05’s “The Gift” takes the cake… However, Joss Whedon was given the chance to do something extraordinary – to give his show two series finales, and he did them both perfectly. In the first, Whedon did what we expected and needed: he had Buffy sacrifice her life. She was The Chosen One, she alone would fight against the forces of darkness and she did. But in “Chosen,” he gave her what she needed from the beginning – to not be alone. He changed mythology and legacy to break the line of The Chosen One and make it the line of The Chosen All. Every potential slayer would be a slayer from there on out, and It. Was. Beautiful. Willow conquered her fear, Spike earned his redemption, Faith was given a place in the world, and Xander proved one last time, that he was the heart and soul of the Scoobies. “In every generation, one Slayer is born, because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule.” [Buffy]
My heart seems to still be in tact momentarily, so here is Part 3: Ranking of the Top 7 Episodes!