'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' is by far one of the biggest cult television shows to have ever been created. With its campy humour, serious themes and brilliant pacing, it there is no doubt as to why it became and still is a huge cult icon, with a massive following of devoted fans.
With 145 episodes to choose from, selecting 10 as the best is difficult but it can be done. These following 10 episodes are my personal favorite of the entire show.
WARNING - MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
- #10 - Prophecy Girl - S1 Ep12
The first season finale of the first brilliant series. This finale tied up everything perfectly for the shows first season in a way that if it had not been renewed, we wouldn't be left with a thousand questions unanswered, like a few shows nowadays.
Poor Buffy dies, allowing The Master to rise from the Hellmouth, only to be put back in the ground again, figuratively speaking of course. With all the vampires coming to the school, we see all our favorite characters come together for a pretty awesome first season battle.
Combining classic witty dialogue, wicked action and breathtaking moments, this episode lands a place here for being not only an awesome episode but for being one of the best season finales of most shows on television and for Buffy still kicking undead butt and looking beautiful in that white dress, despite having drowned in it.
- #9 - Killed By Death - S2 Ep18
The demon of the week in this episode is just terrifying on all levels. Again weaving Fairy Tale monsters with the Buffy-verse, this episode was memorable mostly for its demon but a quite important fact of Buffy's life is revealed in the episode.
Placed right in between the Angelus Arc of season 2, it didn't feel out of place in any way because it still continued his arc and worked it in well. There isn't much else to say about this episode but it is memorable because of its creepy demon, taboo subject of child murder and interesting facts about Buffy's life in the past.
It earns it's place though on my top 10 because when I first watched it it terrified me beyond belief and if a show or film can do that, it is worthy of being on a list like this.
- #8 - Conversations with Dead People - S7 Ep7
Upon first viewing, I did not get why this episode was highly acclaimed by a number of fans. Sure it had some creepy haunted house stuff and previously dead characters came back but I found it initially to slow.
However, after watching it, literally, years later, I understood why it was such a good episode. Not only did it bring the to the audiences attention the first evil and how it would play a major role in the final battle but because also it allowed audiences to reminisce with past characters as our protagonists do. It reminded us of how sudden and surprising deaths come on this show and that being the final season, it was going to get a whole lot more unpredictable.
Never does an episode stumble on dialogue and its script and this episode was heavily reliant on dialogue and did so perfectly.
- #7 - Welcome to the Hellmouth - S1 Ep1
Who can't love a pilot? Especially one that nailed the overall tone and pace of the entire series in only 40 minutes. This particular pilot introduced all the principle characters so well and awkwardly at times (poor Willow) but explained a huge chunk of the mythology of the show as to not spend an entire series trying to uncover why this woman in particular is the Slayer. It simply and effectively explains it so that it can just carry on introducing new characters and new demons for our cast to battle each week. Not many pilots can introduce such a pivotal plot element like this and it be perfectly explained so simply.
- #6 - Graduation Day pt. 2 - S3 Ep22
Epic is the only way to sum up this episode. There is something about season finales that Buffy does so well but this is my all time favorite season finale ever. Sadly saying goodbye to Faith, the most complex rogue hero of the show, the episode quickly moves into an all out war between the student body of the school and the Mayor of Sunnydale.
The moment Buffy shouts 'NOW' and that music starts up, with the students revealing all their weapons under their graduation gowns, I had goosebumps. The brilliant fight sequence was the most complex the show ever did and it had by far the funniest take out of all time, Wesley being hit in the throat about 3 seconds after starting to fight. It was hilarious but totally fit with his character and comedy Buffy became famous for.
However, the episode is not only memorable for its final battle but because it closed the chapter on High School and saw the cast grow up and move on to their own lives. It became reminiscent as we all leave high school and what the first 3 seasons did so well was act as an allegory for the horrors of high school for teenagers and so effectively included all the possible issues teens face at some point in their lives.
- #5 - Passion - S2 Ep17
By the time the episode was over fans world wide were reeling from the death of Jenny Calender. A beloved addition to the gang with a shady past, Jenny became the best love interest of Giles throughout the run of the show and his only true love interest at that. Playing a key role in Angelus restoration it was only natural for her to die because if she was allowed to live, it wouldn't have truly shown Angelus true evil nature and we wouldn't have seen Giles go ape in the warehouse at the end.
Season 2 was possibly the darkest of the entire show featuring many tense moments between the main cast and the introduction to the villains who would play key roles in series to come. With a touching cry between Buffy and Giles at the end, it is no wonder why this particular episode is usually on many top 10 lists of Buffy episodes.
- #4 - Seeing Red - S6 Ep19
Oh wow. This episode. I can honestly say I unashamed to admit that it had me in tears, as did the following 3. Only proving that no character is ever safe in Joss Whedon's world, this episode set up the best season finale of the entire show with far reaching effects seen right up until the season 7 finale.
Tara is by far my favorite character of the show. I don't know why but ever since her first appearance I fell in love with her and she only grew and developed into a great character who stood her ground against the others and became a shoulder for Buffy to cry on for most of season 6.
It is actually quite funny that this episode is so high on my list because it is only the ending of the episode that I love. Buffy's general mission from stopping Warren and his babbling duo from obtaining a magical crystal was far from memorable. But it was that final scene where Warren come through the gate and shoots at Buffy, hitting Tara (cry) in the process that just took me so by surprise that by the time the credits had finished, I was still reeling from complete shock at what happened. There was no lead up or hint that she might die throughout season 6 so when it happened it was a complete shock. That is why it is so high on the list.
- #3 - The Body - S5 Ep16
The most effective and memorable death in Buffy history. The beloved Joyce Summers, who wasn't only our protagonists mother but the audiences voice of reason as it were, passed away. She was the character that grounded the show in reality and told the audience to remember that despite being a supernatural show, it was still a drama that dealt with everyday troubles. Any parent would react to the situation her daughter faces in the way Joyce does. Despite having her doubts and worries for her daughters safety, after discovering her supernatural gift, she cares for her and allows Buffy to grow and lead her own life but with the the knowledge that she will always be there for her.
The episode itself was flawless in everything; acting, direction, sound and script. The use of only Diegetic sound in the episode brilliantly emphasis the unreal-ness of the situation the cast members find themselves in. The long pauses between speech, prolonged silences and almost awkward interaction between the cast only adds to the emotion of the episode and allows the audience to really take in everything going on in the episode. Joyce's death is by far the most emotional and the greatest departure from a series ever and she will always be remembered by hardcore fans and causal watchers.
- #2 - Hush - S4 Ep10
The only episode appearing from season 4 on the list, Hush was the Emmy award nominated episode that defined the entire season. By including the scariest group of doctors on television, ever, the episode perfectly ties the world of Buffy with the world of Fairy Tales. Also this is the introduction of Tara, who went on to be the best supporting character of the show.
Like 'The Body' this episode makes brilliant use of sound, well lack of in this situation. With no speech for 27 minutes of the episode, the classic Joss Whedon witty speech is still present through body actions and still as funny as any other episode. Scary, funny, new and inventive this episode was definitely worthy of the Emmy nomination but it did deserve to win it.
- Worthy Mentions
Before my number 1 episode is revealed, here are a few episodes that were amazing but didn't quite make the cut to the top 10. The following episodes listed do not mean they were going to be put at number 1 but they would be chosen if I were doing a top 20 or even 30 list. For timing purposes, I am not reviewing each of these episodes, just listing them.
- Chosen - S7 Ep24
- The Prom - S3 Ep20
- Harvest - S1 Ep2
- Family - S5 Ep6
- Restless - S4 Ep 22
- Becoming p1+2 - S2 Ep 21 and 22
- Innocence - S2 Ep14
- Tabula Rasa - S6 Ep8
- #1 - Once More with Feeling - S6 Ep7
Deciding which episode to put as number 1 was extremely difficult. Any of the top 3 on the list could have been number 1. Ultimately I chose the musical episode, partly because of my love of musicals but also because it was so fitting with the tone of season 6.
Being the first season on a new network, Season 6 had a lot to live up to and had to prove that it could stand a move to a new network. Season 6 was my favorite season as it featured more my favorite character, Tara Maclay. 'Once More with Feeling' is definitely the most memorable episode of the series but also the entire run of the show. It completely shifted the usual pace and tone of the series and brilliantly exposed so many plot points to be covered in the rest of series.
But who cannot love musicals? From hilariously memorable songs (I'll never tell) and emotionally moving ones (Walk through the fire) this episode delivered the usual Buffy themes and action but on a new and unexpected level. With some exceptional singing and dancing from the cast, this episode proves that Joss Whedon had a few tricks up his sleeve to keep viewers interested in the show but also that a serious cult show like this, can stand a shift of tone and even genre. The musical elements worked so well and only makes you ask why they did not do it earlier.