BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER has been my favourite thing in the world since I was 10 years old (I’m now 30), and it always will be. I’ve collected every piece of merchandise I can get my hands on for almost 20 years, and I have a room dedicated to it (plus quite a lot of overflow, but don’t tell my dad). BUFFY has helped me through a lot in my life, and it’s the first place I turn when I’m having a bad time.
BUFFY means more to me than anyone will ever know, so I was really excited when I was asked to write my top ten episodes. It took me a while to narrow down numbers 6-10, obviously because I’d like to include all 144 episodes (yep, even Beer Bad has its good moments), but that would take me years to correctly compile. So, here are my top ten — let me know if you agree, or disagree… I can take it!
I often struggle putting into words how much I love this episode; it’s been my favourite since the day I saw it, and I will defend it forever. ‘Prophecy Girl’ showcases BUFFY’s genius writing, and it’s also the first time I realised that the slayer is truly human. Buffy dies, the Hellmouth opens, the Master is killed, and Sunnydale carries on as normal. For the Scooby Gang, it’s just another day, but for me it was the moment I knew my love of BUFFY would never go away. Plus, this episode features my favourite scene, which is when Buffy, Xander, and Angel are walking to the sound of the show’s theme playing in the background. I still get chills whenever I watch this episode, and for me it remains the best thing Joss Whedon has ever written.
2. Graduation Day Part 2: Season 3, Episode 22
A giant snake demon. Students fighting vampires. An eclipse. Angel leaving town. These are just a few of the cool things you’ll see in this finale (okay, Angel leaving Sunnydale wasn’t cool at all), and a few of the reasons why it’s my second favourite episode. BUFFY does finales very well, and ‘Graduation Day Part 2’ is no exception. It’s a forty-two minute TV masterpiece.
3. Primeval: Season 4, Episode 21
I don’t know many BUFFY fans who like Season 4 as much as I do, but even they admit that ‘Primeval’ is a great episode. It’s fun, action-packed, and it sees the Scooby Gang all working together again to get rid of Adam and the Initiative. This is the pinnacle of what, for me, is BUFFY’s best season, and I still wish it had been the season finale. I like ‘Restless’, don’t get me wrong, but this was just more deserving of closing an amazing year of storytelling.
4. The Gift: Season 5, Episode 22
‘The Gift’ marks the second time Buffy dies, and the hardest one to watch. Spike’s in tears, Giles is too broken to believe his eyes, Buffy is gone… but the threat to the world has been eliminated. And that’s what Buffy is all about: she sacrifices herself to save everyone else, even if it means she herself won’t live to see another day. This is as perfect a season finale as you can get, and I don’t think the show ever reached these heights again.
5. Becoming Part 2: Season 2, Episode 22.
This Season 2 finale makes me cry every time I watch it. It’s so heartbreaking and well-written, and that final scene of Buffy leaving Sunnydale marks a change in her character. She sacrifices Angel to save the world, and I don’t think she ever fully recovered from it. The whole episode is an absolute treat with great dialogue, kick-ass sword fights, and more at stake than ever before. BUFFY doesn’t get much better than this, and it’s an episode that is endlessly rewatchable.
6. Hush: Season 4, Episode 10
This is an episode that needs no introduction, as I’m sure most BUFFY fans will agree. It features one of Buffy’s most popular Big Bads in the form of the skeletal Gentlemen, lots of creepy visuals, half an episode with no dialogue, and some of the funniest scenes in the show’s history. I’ll never know how ‘Hush’ didn’t win an Emmy award — it was robbed, that’s for sure.
7. Killed by Death: Season 2, Episode 18
I’m a huge fan of this very clever episode, and it’s almost my favourite from Season 2. Der Kindestod, whose name literally means ‘child death’, remains the best BUFFY villain, in my opinion, even though he only terrorised Sunnydale for one episode. His terrifying design and creepy method of killing his young victims has always stuck with me, and I think this episode deserves a lot more credit than it gets. It’s excellent from beginning to end, and the practical effects are a great throwback to horror gone by.
8. Angel: Season 1, Episode 7
‘Angel’ is one of the best episodes from Season 1 — it’s the one where Buffy finds out Angel is a vampire, and the first time she sees his true vampire face. Aside from a good helping of teen slayer angst, there’s also a great showdown with a gun-wielding Darla clad in a Catholic school girl outfit, which culminates in Angel having to make a difficult decision in order to save Buffy. The writing is brilliant, the acting is top-notch, and Buffy’s scream of abject terror still stands out as one of her best. But hey, that’s what happens when you’re kissing your maybe-boyfriend and he turns into a vampire. Yikes!
9. Two to Go: Season 6, Episode 21
‘Two to Go’ is a brilliant episode, and Dark Willow is one of my favourite Big Bads. It’s a perfect example of how well Alyson Hannigan can play evil, and Warren’s demise is up there with the show’s most gruesome deaths. I loved every minute of the Dark Willow arc, and this episode shows her in all her veiny glory. Let this be a lesson to everyone: never mess with a powerful witch, or there will be trouble. And lots of revenge.
10. Something Blue: Season 4, Episode 9
‘Something Blue’ always sticks out as one of Buffy’s funniest episodes, thanks in part to Spike and Buffy’s utter devotion to each other. It’s another instance of a magic spell going horribly wrong, and it perfectly echoes Season 2’s ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’. This episode is full of laughs, and it shows just how well BUFFY can do comedy.