Buffy is one of those shows. It’s still great entertainment, over a decade since it finished. Looking back, there are so many fantastic episodes: some are emotional, tragic, relationship based episodes, and others are funny and tongue-in-cheek, while others manage to do creative things with storytelling and form.
These 20 episodes are a few of my favourites, for so many different reasons.
This was the episode where Buffy first found out the truth about her brooding admirer, Angel. Yep, that’s right, he’s a vampire.
This was a bit of a cheesy episode; a werewolf is terrorising Sunnydale and the gang must find out who it is so they can stop them. Unfortunately, it turns out to be someone closer they thought.
This is one of my all-time favourite Buffy episodes. After sleeping with Buffy for the first time, Angel loses his soul as a result of an ancient curse and begins to terrorise his girlfriend and her friends. In Passion, he takes this to the next level, killing Jenny Calendar, who has been working on a spell to save him.
The episode is framed with a moving voiceover, but the most emotional moment comes when Giles arrives home to find his house full of rose petals, with classical music playing. He follows them upstairs, expecting to find Jenny waiting for him. But instead he finds her body, as Angel has staged the scene to provoke him.
Becoming, Part One and Becoming, Part Two
The series three finale ties up the evil Angel storyline, as Buffy must stop her ex love from destroying the world. She makes the decision to kill him, but before she can, he recovers his soul thanks to a spell. But it’s too late and Buffy is forced to send him to hell anyway.
In a powerful scene at the end of the episode, we see her running away from Sunnydale to escape her heartbreak.
Since returning from hell earlier in the series, Angel has been tormented by visions of the people he has killed. In this episode, things get more intense and Buffy has to stop him from destroying himself.
When there’s a rift with a parallel dimension, the Scoobies meet their doppelgangers. In Willow and Xander’s case, they’re bad ass vampires and Willow suspects her counterpart might be ‘kind of gay’. An amusing bit of foreshadowing for later events!
After she kills a demon, Buffy develops the ability to read other peoples thoughts. While it starts out as a joke, the situation quickly becomes serious when the Slayer struggles to cope.
In true series style, this episode works in some really funny jokes and asides as everyone tries to hide their unsavoury thoughts from Buffy.
A Halloween party at a frat house gets a bit too real when a spell inadvertently causes a demon to manifest. Creepy and silly fun, and in costume too!
Wild at Heart
Another of my personal favourites, this episodes deals with the demise of Oz and Willow’s relationship after he is enamoured by a girl at university who is not only a talented rock singer, but also turns out to be a werewolf. When she fails to persuade Oz to let his wolf side loose, she decides to get Willow out of the way instead.
A comedy Thanksgiving episode, this always has me laughing out loud. Spike reappears after being ‘neutered’ by The Initiative and the Scoobies are forced to take him in. Xander has just started dating former demon Anya, Buffy is flipping out trying to organise the perfect Thanksgiving and the spirit of a Native American hunter is out for revenge. Oh, and Angel is lurking in the shadows, back in town to protect Buffy from a mysterious evil.
Another comedy episode, in a strop over her own heartbreak, Willow casts a spell to have her will done, but it doesn’t turn out as she expects. Giles goes blind, Xander becomes a demon magnet and Buffy and Spike get engaged.
Another classic. This whole episode is done pretty much in silence, after a group of monsters arrive in Sunnydale and steal the townspeople’s voices. Cue much miming and picture drawing to music as the gang try to save the day.
This is a bit of an odd episode, where Buffy and the gang fall asleep watching a movie and begin to dream of the first Slayer, whose power they invoked in a previous episode. Quirky and dreamlike, if you watch closely this episode gives all kinds of clues to future storylines and character development.
Buffy vs. Dracula
Not a classic episode, but I love this one for its comedic moments. The legendary Dracula blows into town and immediately begins stalking Buffy. The cast fall into roles based on those in the novel – with Xander as a hilariously unhinged Renfield – and it all gets very tongue-in-cheek.
Another cleverly filmed and very moving episode, as Buffy discovers her mother’s body, after she dies from a brain tumour. This cannot fail to make you cry.
Once More with Feeling
The famous musical episode where the cast sing and dance their way gamely through the entire episode. Love it.
Another powerful character development and relationship based episode, as Willow’s magic starts to get out of control. She casts a spell that results in everyone losing their memories, leading to some hilarious antics. Unfortunately, the gang also come under attack from a group of thuggish vampires, but they’ve forgotten how to fight back. I particularly love the scene at the end that plays out over a Michelle Branch song, as Tara leaves Willow and finally we see Buffy and Spike kissing in the Bronze.
While fighting a demon, Buffy is poisoned and begins to suffer flashes of herself in a mental hospital, where her life as the Slayer in Sunnydale is her delusion. But which version of Buffy’s life is the truth and which is the fantasy?
The final episode ever isn’t one of the best, but it brings the show to a dramatic climax. There are deaths and disasters and the chance for a new beginning.
Were you a Buffy fan? Which episodes were your favourites?