Netflix Cherry-Pick: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Updated: Oct 31, 2021
I just realized something apocalyptic: I am the world’s biggest Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and yet, somehow, I’ve never written a post about Buffy, even though I’ve worked on this blog for nine years.
At first, I didn’t believe it. I did a search of Chickster for the word Buffy and found three pages of hits. So I mention Buffy a lot, usually when comparing other shows (since all other shows are inferior), but I’ve never actually written a post that was specifically about Buffy. How is this possible?
Well, it ends today.
Why you should watch Buffy
I always thought this video covered it pretty well, but I watch Buffy for the dialogue. Joss Whedon is well-known in Hollywood as the Script Doctor and tends to rewrite dialogue to make movies better. He’s done this on some very famous movies, including Speed and Toy Story, even without credit. He is crazy good at dialogue.
Buffy has its own slang, and it’s so catchy, you will learn it quick. You probably already know a lot of it without knowing it came from Buffy:
Like the phrase “Big Bad” meaning this season’s ongoing bad guy? Yep. That was first heard on Buffy’s “Gingerbread” episode; Now every show uses it. (An article on SyFy even claims that Buffy popularized the season arc. Probably. Imagine Game of Thrones without that.)
What about referring to a team of good guys as Scoobies or the Scooby Gang outside of Scooby Doo? Yep. That’s from Buffy, too.
Five by five. (We’ll come back to that one.)
Grr. Arg. (You’ll notice this one fast.)
Fire Bad. Tree pretty. (You’ll get there.)
And the list goes on and on and on... Here’s a whole slang dictionary.
I also like the humor and the twists. Sometimes Joss jokes that he invented the plot twist, and it’s almost true, since he did invent the Whedon twist, which is just like a plot twist, but actually unexpected and usually ends with a very main character dead.
He also invented his own vampire lore, which is pretty fun.
Buffy vampires are unique
They actually look human most of the time but their faces change when they’re about to feed. Their foreheads get bumpy and their eyes become yellow or orange. Many vampires transform, but no other vampires look like Buffy vampires.
They actually act human most of the time since they retain their host’s personality. Sometimes they act so human, it makes you wonder if every vampire is actually evil, and there are one or two exceptions.
They don’t decay, which is good for the romance factor.
They can’t be in the sun without catching on fire and turning to dust (with only one or two magical exceptions.) And no. They do not sparkle.
They get a bad burn from holy water.
They turn to dust when staked through the heart. At first, this effect looks lame and later on it becomes way expensive. Joss was being practical here. He didn’t want his characters spending all their time cleaning up bodies. Plus, he comes up with some really creative ways to “dust” vampires. It becomes part of the fun.
A vampire who makes another vampire is that vampire’s sire, but it’s a noun and a verb. A vampire can sire another vampire.
Now that you’re hooked, here are all the episodes of Buffy and why you should watch every single one. But if you want to be lazy and just watch the best episodes, that’s okay, too. Loser.
Kidding. I’m actually going to say something that may shock you: Not every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is good, even though it’s unexpected success is what made Joss Whedon...well ...Joss Whedon.
But most of them are good. In fact, most of them are amazing. So let’s go over each episode one by one.
A.k.a: Dog and pony show with no dog and no pony, as Joss Whedon himself describes it, because he had very little money, but there’s a bunch of potential.
1.1 Welcome to the Hellmouth–1.2 The Harvest: These episodes lay the groundwork and introduce all the characters: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, Angel, Cordelia and Jesse (snicker.) You have to watch these, and they have potential and humor, but do know that this is not Buffy. Not yet. Best line: Buffy: Seize the moment. Because tomorrow you might be dead. DON’T SKIP.
1.3 Witch: Good, solid episode but continues with the weird tone that is not yet Buffy. But Buffy actually gets to be a cheerleader, for a scene, and there’s a witch. And this episode gets referred to several times throughout the whole rest of the entire series. Best exchange:
Giles: Why should someone want to harm Cordelia?
Willow: Maybe because they met her? DON’T SKIP.
1.4 Teacher’s Pet: This one is awful. Just awful. The story is dumb. The big prying-mantis monster looks dumb. Some bright spots and some real humor, so watch if you must, but you’re not missing anything if you don’t. SKIP. 1.5 Never Kill a Boy on the First Date: This one introduces Buffy’s first love interest and it may not be who you expect. It’s not super necessary, but it’s the first episode in season one that almost feels like Buffy. Best exchange:
Xander: (Loudly) So, Buffy, how’d the slaying go last night?
Xander: I mean, how’d the laying go? No, I don’t mean that either. DON’T SKIP.
1.6 The Pack: This one is entertaining, but weird. It carries that tone that most of season one carries that just doesn’t work. A pilot tone. A cookies-not-yet done tone. But it still has some really great moments and once again, if you don’t watch it you’ll miss out, because they refer to this episode for the whole rest of the show. Because the monsters are hyenas that possess human bodies. Because that makes sense...in Buffy. Best Line: Giles: He’s turned into a sixteen-year-old boy. Of course you’ll have to kill him. DON’T SKIP.
1.7 Angel: The love interest gets vamped up in a real way and this episode is almost Buffy, though still some weirdness tone-wise. Hello, best episode of season one. Best line: Xander: How could you love an umpire? Everyone hates ’em! OH MY GOD, DON’T SKIP.
1.8 I, Robot... You, Jane: This is the worst episode of Buffy I’ve ever seen. It is so bad that I’ve only watched it once, when I’ve watched all other episodes hundreds of times, and so bad I won't even bother telling you what it’s about. It does not matter. Giles meets Jenny Calendar and she’s hot. That’s the ONLY thing that matters about this episode. SKIP SKIP SKIP SKIP.
1.9 The Puppet Show: This one is okay. It’s funny but still has that weird tone. It’s entertaining, but not important for the show’s arc. I say skip if you’re disturbed by dummies that come to life. POSSIBLE SKIP.
1.10 Nightmares: This one is probably throw-away, but it has some really interesting and funny moments having to do with common nightmares like clowns and spiders, but it wouldn’t derail you to skip it. POSSIBLE SKIP.
1.11 Out of Mind, Out of Sight: This is about a girl who is so ignored she actually becomes invisible. It’s powerful. And you will recognize the invisible girl immediately, even though she’s only on-screen for one or two scenes. Best line: Cordelia: People who think their problems are so huge craze me. Like this time I sort of ran over this girl on her bike. It was the most traumatizing event of my life, and she’s trying to make it about her leg. DON’T SKIP.
1.12 Prophecy Girl: This is the most important episode of season one. This is the only other episode this season, besides 1.5 and 1.7, that almost doesn’t have weird, pilot-y, cookies-not-done tone. This is almost when Buffy becomes cookies. Almost. You will like this one. And it’s no coincidence that this is the only episode this season that was written and directed by Joss Whedon. You can feel it. Best line: Buffy: You have fruit punch mouth. DON’T SKIP.
A.k.a: The biggest tonal shift in television history from weird to “Oh my god. This is the best show I’ve ever seen.” If you watch it, the next number-one-Buffy-fan will be YOU.
2.1 When She Was Bad: The weird tone is almost gone and most of it has been replaced with refreshing changes. Better hair. Better production quality. Better special effects. When a vampire gets dusted in this episode, it actually looks somewhat expensive. Best line? It’s a three-way tie:
Willow: Why else would she be acting like such a b-i-t-c-h?
Giles: Willow, I think we’re all a little too old to be spelling things out.
Xander: A bitcuh? DON’T SKIP.
2.2 Some Assembly Required: This one is gross. Guy pieces together the perfect woman like Frankenstein. I don’t think you need it. Like most Buffy episodes, it has bright spots and humor, but. Eh. SKIP.
2.3 School Hard: Watch this one and then...watch it again. This is the first episode with Spike. Who’s Spike, you ask? You already know. He’s the Billy-Idol-looking vampire with the white hair and the black leather jacket. If you’ve ever seen anything about Buffy, you’ve seen him. He’s on everything (even the above picture). He’s the iconic Buffy character. There are people who know him who don’t even know who Sarah Michelle Gellar is. (SMG is Buffy.) And he’s hugely popular for a reason. Best line: Spike: If every vampire who said he was at the crucifixion was actually there, it would’ve been like Woodstock. DO. NOT. SKIP.
2.4 Inca Mummy Girl: This episode mostly sucks. A mummy comes to life. Because of a...plate. But there is one reason you must watch it: Seth Green. This is when Seth Green comes in, and who knew funny, short, Robot-Chicken-creator Seth Green could play such an amazing love interest and character. You will LOVE Oz. Best exchange:
Devon: What does a girl have to do to impress you?
Oz: Well, it involves a feather boa and the theme to A Summer Place. I can’t discuss it here. DO NOT SKIP.
2.5: Reptile Boy: Still has that weird not-done-cookies feel, but is a strangely good episode anyway. Not crucial but some interesting and important stuff happens and there’s a snake that’s portrayed by a guy in a suit. I wouldn’t want you to miss that awfulness. Best exchange:
Buffy: I told one lie, I had one drink.
Giles: Yes, and you were very nearly devoured by a giant demon snake. The words, ‘Let that be a lesson,’ are a tad redundant at this juncture. DON’T SKIP.
2.6 Halloween: Since Buffy is Buffy, there are many Halloween episodes and this is the best one. People become their costumes and it’s funny. Still not cookies, but funny. (There is a reason I’m talking about cookies so much. You will see in season seven.) Best exchange:
Buffy: A demon! A demon!
Willow: It’s not a demon. It’s a car.
Buffy: What does it want? DON’T SKIP.
2.7 Lie to Me. Whoa. This episode is deep. You don’t expect it, and there it is. The last scene where Buffy asks Giles to lie to her still makes me both cry and laugh at the same time. And you will, too. Best line: Cordelia: I just don’t see why everyone’s always picking on Marie Antoinette...She was gonna let them have cake. DO NOT SKIP.
2.8 The Dark Age. This episode is boring. It has something to do with Giles’ old friend, but I never get through it. SKIP.
2.9–2.10 What’s My Line Part 1 and 2. This two-parter is pretty good. Not cookies yet, but you will be entertained and it introduces two slayers for the first time in the show, so it’s important. Also, it feels like a mid-season finale, even though those didn’t exist yet. (Did Joss Whedon invent that, too?) Best Line: Oz: I mock you with my monkey pants. WATCH!
2.11 Ted. Ha. This is the one with John Ritter. Is it important? No. Should you watch it? Yes. At least once. Best line: Buffy: Well, sure, if you’re gonna use wisdom. DON’T SKIP.
2.12 Bad Eggs. This one is totally not important to the arc and completely monster-of-the-week, but still very entertaining with a pod-people feel. I never skip this one. Best line: Buffy: As far as punishments go, this is fairly abstract. DON’T SKIP.
2.13–2.14 Surprise and Innocence. This is it. This is where Buffy becomes cookies. I won’t spoil it for you with a description, but I will say, if you watch this two-parter, which is somehow the second mid-season finale of the season, you will get absolutely addicted to Buffy and watch all the way to the end of the whole seven-season show. Think you won’t? I dare you to watch these two episodes. Best exchange:
Oz: I’m gonna ask you to go out with me tomorrow night. And I’m kinda nervous about it, actually. It’s interesting.
Willow: Oh! Well, if it helps at all, I’m gonna say “yes.”
Oz: Yeah, it helps. It ... it creates a comfort zone. ... Do you wanna go out with me tomorrow night?
Willow: Oh! I can’t!
Oz: Well, see, I like that you’re unpredictable. THESE EPISODES WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
2.15 Phases. The mechanical creature in this episode is way better than later replacements, which is a shame, because it’s not great. But the episode is good and completely important. Best Line: Buffy: Welcome to the mystery that is men. I think it goes something like, they grow body hair, they lose all ability to tell you what they really want. MUST WATCH.
2.16. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. This is a filler episode, but one of the best ones EVER. It’s the Valentine’s Day episode and there’s only one, because they knew they could never top it. Best line: Cordelia: I’ll date whoever the hell I wanna date. No matter how lame he is. WATCH.
2.17 Passion. This one will blow your mind. I won’t say anything else. Best exchange:
Cordelia: Oh, God! I invited him in my car once. That means he can come into my car whenever he wants.
Xander: Yep, you’re doomed to havin’ to give him and his vamp pals a lift whenever they feel like it. And those guys never chip in for gas. WATCH.
2.18 Killed by Death. This one is filler, but so interesting and funny you shouldn’t skip it. And the monster is actually scary. Best exchange:
Giles: Cordelia, have you actually ever heard of tact?
Cordelia: Tact is just not saying true stuff. DO IT.
2.19 I Only Have Eye for You. This one does not impact the main story, but what an amazing ride, especially right near the end. You’ll see what I mean. Best line: Xander: This was no wimpy chain-rattler. This was ‘I’m dead as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore.’ WATCH.
2.20 Go Fish. Ha haha haahah. You can totally skip this one. The swim team become...fish. It’s truly awful. Unless you enjoy awful? Though I have to say, the hilarious scenes where Nicholas Brendon (Xander) goes undercover on the swim team may be worth it. PROBABLY SKIP.
2.21–2.22 Becoming Part 1 and 2. Just as good as the unofficial, second mid-season finale of this season. You will laugh, you will cry, you will gasp and you won’t believe what happens. Pretty much everything you could possibly think of comes to a head in this bonkers-amazing episode. Best exchange:
Big Bad: No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what’s left?
Buffy: Me. YOU WON’T SKIP IT.
A.k.a The weakest link, but still classic Buffy.
3.1 Anne. This episode sucks. Even though it’s the first episode of the season, it’s totally terrible, filler. You won’t miss much by never watching it. But watch the first scene...SKIP.
3.2 Dead Man’s Party. This one isn’t great either or important, but at least it’s semi-entertaining. You may actually miss some important character-building scenes if you skip it. Best line: Oz: Well, I like it. I think you should call it Patches. PROBABLY WATCH.
3.3 Faith, Hope & Trick. You can’t skip this one because it introduces Faith who is super important, but the other two characters it reveals are just awful. One is a villain who falls so flat, he doesn't even survive half the season. (Not a spoiler if doesn’t spoiler anything. You’ll be relived.) The other is a guy Buffy dates who’s so boring and short he dumps her after two episodes. Because. Right. Best line: Buffy: The girl’s not playing with a full deck, Giles. She has almost no deck. She has a three. WATCH.
3.4 Beauty and the Beasts. This one has a big reveal that you cannot miss, but it’s not a good episode. Best exchange:
Oz: They used to horse around.
Faith: They were screwing?
Oz: I don’t think so, but he hid her music comp book once. YOU CAN’T MISS IT.
3.5 Homecoming. This one stinks. Of course it has some great humor, but it’s not good. Season three really had trouble finding its way. SKIP.
3.6 Band Candy. This is the first good episode of this season, and it’s hilarious. It’s filler, but you won’t care. Xander: I don’t get this. The candy’s supposed to make you feel all immature and stuff, but I’ve had a ton and I don’t feel any diff—never mind. FUNNY.
3.7 Revelations. This one is filler and not great, but there is an amazing fight. In Buffy, there are a lot of amazing fights, but this one. Man. Best line: Buffy: Interesting lady. Can we kill her?
3.8. Lover’s Walk. This one. This is why you will love Spike forever. Best lines: Spike: She wouldn’t even kill me. 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? WATCH.
3.9 The Wish. This episode is demented. In a good way. It shows what Sunnydale would’ve been like if Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, and it’s bad. Many characters that aren’t normally vampires, get to be vampires and one person is really good at it. And it introduces a very important character that you will love later. Love. You won’t believe me until later but you will. ENJOY THE DARKNESS.
3.10 Amends. I very much dislike this episode, but if you don’t watch it, strangely, all of season seven won’t make sense, so you have to watch it. Best line: Oz: You ever have that dream where you’re in a play and it’s the middle of the play and you really don’t know your lines? And you kinda don’t know the plot? WATCH.
3.11 Gingerbread. This is filler and not amazing, but somehow. I never skip it. It makes me laugh. And it features exactly who you’d think it would with the title “Gingerbread.” Best line: Oz: (After falling through the ceiling and not being needed.) We’re here to save you. WATCH.
3.14 Helpless. You could never watch this episode and be fine. It is an interesting concept though, and the blow up at the end is kind of important. Best line: Buffy: (After a vampire rolls down a playground slide.) Wow! That was really funny looking! Could you do it again? MAYBE WATCH.
3.13 The Zeppo. You can miss this episode and miss nothing. It’s is one of the worst episodes of Buffy I’ve ever seen. But at the same time, it’s a really interesting experiment and has some serious laugh-out-loud moments. So if you’re curious, watch it, but if not, keep moving. YOU CAN GO EITHER WAY.
3.14 The Bad Girls. Super crucial and good. You’ll like it. It features exactly what the name implies. Best line: Buffy: Whenever Giles sends me on a mission, he always says ‘please.’ And afterwards I get a cookie. WATCH.
3.15. Consequences. This one always bores me but it has some very important moments. Best exchange:
Wesley: My. She’s cheeky, isn’t she?
Faith: Uh, first word: jail; second word: bait. WATCH.
3.16 Doppelgangland. In this one, the person who was really good at being a vampire in “The Wish” gets to be a vampire again and it’s hysterical. Best line: Willow: It’s really nice that you guys missed me. Say, you all didn’t happen to do a bunch of drugs, did ya? WAY WORTH IT.
3.17 Enemies. This one pulls the rug out from under you, and you will love it. WATCH.
3.18 Earshot. Buffy can hear thoughts and it’s hilarious. Oz and Cordelia are the funniest. Oz has some crazy deep thoughts while Cordelia says exactly what she thinks, which shocks no one. Best line: Oz: (Thinking) I am my thoughts. If they exist in her, Buffy contains everything that is me and she becomes me. I cease to exist. (Out loud) Hmm. WATCH AND LOVE!
3.19 Choices. This one is good. And what’s in the box will make your skin crawl. Best line: Principal Snyder: You... All of you. Why couldn’t you be dealing drugs like normal people? WATCH.
3.20 The Prom. The monsters in this one are dumb but the emotions are real. And what actually happens at the prom will have you in tears from a very unexpected source: an umbrella. Best line: Giles: For God’s sake man, she’s eighteen. And you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone. Just have at it would you, and stop fluttering about. WATCH.
3.21–3.22 Graduation Day Part 1 and 2. This episode has such a big finish, the show could’ve ended here. (Thankfully it didn’t). But it is the end of classic Buffy before the show moves into Buffy 2.0, with some of the best episodes ever still ahead. Best exchange:
Cordelia: I personally don’t think it’s possible to come up with a crazier plan.
Oz: We attack the Mayor with hummus.
Cordelia: I stand corrected.
Oz: Just keeping things in perspective. WATCH AS EVERYTHING CHANGES.
A.k.a Episode-by-episode the best season of Buffy, while having the worst story arc in Buffy history.
4.1 The Freshman. Buffy starts college and it’s pretty interesting. Though the monster story-line in this one is dumb. Best line: Willow: But here... the energy, the collective intelligence, it’s like this force. This penetrating force.. and I can just feel my mind opening up, you know, and letting this place just thrust into and spurt knowledge into.... That sentence ended up in a different place than it started out in. MUST WATCH.
4.2 Living Conditions. We’ve all had a bad roommate. No need to relive it. SKIP.
4.3 The Harsh Light of Day. A solid episode with some hard truths about dating. Best line: Xander: Whoa! Giles has a TV! Everybody... Giles has a TV, he’s shallow like us! WATCH.
4.4 Fear, Itself. Another Halloween episode and it’s really fun. Best costumes? It’s a tie between Oz and Anya. WATCH.
4.5 Beer Bad. This episode is bad, but strangely, I love it. Buffy becomes a cavewoman. Makes total sense. Best exchange:
Xander: What did we learn about beer?
Xander: Good, just as long as that’s clear. WATCH.
4.6 Wild at Heart. Another solid episode with hard truths about dating. Best exchange:
Willow: How come you didn’t tell me I look like a crazy birthday cake in this shirt?
Buffy: I thought that was the point. WATCH.
4.7 The Initiative. A very important and funny Spike episode that sets up a demon-hunting organization. Best line: Willow: I know I’m not the kind of girl vamps like to sink their teeth into. It’s always like, ‘Oooh, you’re like a sister to me,’ or, ‘Oh, you’re such a good friend.’ WATCH.
4.8 Pangs. This is the only Thanksgiving episode of Buffy, because it’s terrible. SKIP.
4.9 Something Blue. One of Willow’s spells goes wrong and makes unlikely things happen, but it’s all funny. Best exchange:
Spike: Passions is on! Timmy’s down a bloody well, and if you make me miss it I’ll—
Giles: Do what? Lick me to death? MUST WATCH.
4.10 Hush. The episode almost won an Emmy (other episodes did) and it really should’ve. It’s one of the best episodes of any show I have ever seen. I won’t spoil it with a description. Best exchange:
Riley: I guess we have to talk.
Buffy: I guess we do. (Silence) WATCH LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.
4.11 Doomed. Has some funny parts, like they all do, but generally terrible and throw-away. SKIP.
4.12 A New Man. This episode is so hilarious, it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t impact the arc at all.
Spike: I’m doin’ my best. I don’t know if I’m drivin’ this thing or wearin’ it.
Giles: It’s perfectly serviceable.
Spike: (Laughs) Funny hearing a Fyarl demon say 'serviceable.’ WATCH.
4.13 The I in Team. Buffy gets in with the demon-hunting organization, for a guy, but are they what they seem? Best exchange:
Willow: Guess she’s out with Riley. You know how it is with a spanking new boyfriend.
Anya: Yes, we’ve enjoyed spanking. (Xander loses control of the deck he’s shuffling.) WATCH.
4.14 Goodbye Iowa. Since this episode about Buffy’s weakest-link boyfriend, I tend to skip it. SKIP.
4.15–4.16. This Year’s Girl and Who Are You? This one is five by five. Best exchange:
Willow: She’s like this cleavagey slutbomb walking around going, ‘Ooh, check me out, I’m wicked cool, I’m five by five.’
Tara: ‘Five by five?’ Five what by five what?
Willow: See, that’s the thing. No one knows. WATCH.
4.17. Superstar. From the opening credits to the last word, you’ll be very confused, but in a good way. Best exchange:
Buffy: Giles, do you have a Jonathan swimsuit calendar?
Giles: No... Yes... it was a gift. WATCH.
4.18 Where the Wild Things Are. This episode is about a sex poltergeist, yet it’s not sexy or funny. It’s just bad. DO NOT WATCH.
4.19 New Moon Rising. Some unexpected twists and some crazy stuff.
Willow: It was my fault. I upset you.
Oz: Well, so we’re safe then. ‘Cause you’ll never do that again. WATCH.
4.20 The Yoko Factor. The band breaks up, but before it happens, they have the funniest blow-out fight I’ve ever heard. I’ve watched this scene on repeat.
Buffy: Are you drunk?
Giles: Yes, quite a bit, actually. WATCH.
4.21 Primeval. The battle between Buffy and Adam (and the concept behind it) is epic. Best line: Xander: Does anyone else miss the Mayor? ‘I just wanna be a big snake?’ WATCH.
4.22 Restless. The dream episode. It’s super weird and super funny. And it foreshadows the whole rest of the show, including the big reveal at the beginning of season five. Best line: Xander: You know, I never got the chance to tell you how glad I was you were eaten by a snake. WATCH.
A.k.a Arc-wise the best season of Buffy, but not great episode-by-episode. Insider Tip: Fast-forward through all of Glory’s scenes. You won’t miss anything. She’s the worst Buffy Big Bad.
5.1 Buffy vs. Dracula. Pretty weak and throw-away for a season opener, but the last few seconds put the whole season in motion. (Confusion is the desired reaction.) Plus, it’s funny. Best line: Buffy: And you’re sure this isn’t just some fanboy thing? Because... I’ve fought more than a couple of pimply overweight vamps that called themselves Lestat. WATCH.
5.2 Real Me. Getting to see the show through the eyes of an impossibly new character is awesome. Best exchange:
Buffy: How bored were you last year?
Giles: I watched Passions with Spike. Let us never speak of it. WATCH.
5.3 Replacement. This is a Xander-heavy, filler episode, but oh-so-funny. Best exchange:
Xander: But I never help. I get in trouble and Buffy saves me.
Willow: That’s not true, sometimes we all help to save you... And-and sometimes you’re not in trouble. WATCH.
5.4 Out of my Mind. This Spike-heavy episode takes a huge turn at the end. Best exchange:
Buffy: Spike, I just saw you taste your own nose blood. You know what? I’m too grossed out to hear anything you have to say. Go home.
Spike: It’s blood. It’s what I do! WATCH.
5.5 No Place Like Home. This is where season five really takes off. Best exchange:
Xander: Anya, the Shopkeepers Union of America called. They wanted me to tell you that “Please go” just got replaced with “Have a nice day.”
Anya: But I have their money. Who cares what kind of day they have? WATCH.
5.6 Family. Boring filler about the family of a character we don’t even care about yet. SKIP.
5.7 Fool for Love. This one really explores what makes Spike tick. Best line: Spike: Lesson the first: a Slayer must always reach for her weapon. I’ve already got mine. WATCH.
5.8 Shadow. Filler. The only important part is that Buffy’s mom is sick. SKIP.
5.9 Listening to Fear. This one has some really crucial stuff in it, even though the large, alien, cockroach monster is stupid. Best exchange:
Xander: I still don’t get why we had to come here to get info about a killer snot monster.
Giles: Because it’s a killer snot monster from outer space... I did not just say that. WATCH.
5.10 Into the Woods. Buffy’s weakest-link boyfriend leaves and no one cares, including you. SKIP.
5.11 Triangle. Oh, the troll episode. Nope. DON’T WATCH.
5.12 Checkpoint. This is the one where the Watcher’s Council comes to Sunnydale to evaluate Buffy. It’s funny and the second to last line of the episode will blow your mind. Best line: Buffy: You’re Watchers. Without a Slayer, you’re pretty much just watchin’ Masterpiece Theater. WATCH.
5.13 Blood Ties. A lot of big stuff happens. Best exchange:
Dawn: Lurk much?
Spike: I wasn’t lurkin’. I was standin’ about. It’s a whole different vibe. WATCH.
5.14 Crush. Lots of people have crushes on lots of people and mayhem ensues. Best exchange:
Buffy: What... is this? The late-night stakeout, the bogus suspects, the flask? Is this a date?
Spike: A d— Please! A date? You are completely off your bird! I mean... do you want it to be? WATCH.
5.15 I Was Made To Love You. Sigh. The robot girlfriend episode. No. The only thing you need to know is that a guy named Warren built her, and he’s a misogynist jerk. SKIP.
5.16 The Body. This is the second most celebrated and talked about episode of Buffy (after “Hush”). You will like it, but it will make you uncomfortable. No best quote on this one. You’ll see why. WATCH AND CRY.
5.17 Forever. After what happens in “The Body,” this episode is a huge helping of “too soon” and it’s not even interesting. SKIP.
5.18 Intervention. This is the first one with the Buffy Bot. Do we want a Buffy Bot, you ask? We do. We really do. Best exchange:
Buffy Bot: Anya. How is your money?
Anya: Fine. Thank you for asking. WATCH.
5.19 Tough Love. This one has a bitch/witch fight that you won’t wanna miss. Best Line: Giles: I hope this isn’t a return. Everyone wants petrified hamsters and they’re never happy with them. WATCH.
5.20 Spiral. This one has knights in it. There should never be knights in Buffy. SKIP.
5.21 The Weight of the World. This one has a bit of boring repetitiveness in it since Buffy goes catatonic and Willow has to enter her mind to talk to her, but some important stuff goes down. Best line: Spike: Is everyone here very stoned? (They’re not.) WATCH.
5.22 The Gift. This is definitely the most weight-y season finale of Buffy, though not necessarily the best. But it is epic. Best line: Buffy: Live... for me. WATCH.
A.k.a. The darkest season. It was so dark that a lot of fans abandoned it leading Joss to jokingly say in an interview (about the upcoming season). “Tune in. Some of our characters don’t want to die.” But that was 2002. By today’s standards, it’s nothing.
6.1–6.2 Bargaining Part 1 and 2. This isn’t a great two-parter. (The demon motorcycle gang is lame.) But it’s so important you can’t skip. Best line: Giles: I’m fine. I just need to die for a minute. WATCH.
6.3 After Life. This one about a hitchhiking demon is dumb. You can miss it, except the last five minutes. There’s a huge reveal. SKIP MOSTLY.
6.4 Flooded. This one has an actual demon, but the real demon seems to be coping with adult-ing, which totally resonates with me. Plus this is the first episode with the Trio. Best line: Buffy: Who’s calling me? Everybody I know lives here. WATCH AND LAUGH.
6.5 Life Serial. The Trio decides to mess with Buffy, and it’s funny. Best line: Buffy: Yes. And then I’m going to marry Bob Dole and raise penguins in Guam. WATCH.
6.6 All the Way. Though it’s a Halloween episode, it’s Dawn-focused and weak sauce. SKIP.
6.7 Once More, with Feeling. The musical episode of Buffy. This prompted every single show airing that year to make a musical episode hoping for similar success. It’s pretty awesome. Some of the characters can really sing. (And some can’t.) Best exchange:
Dawn: You will never believe what happened at school today.
Buffy: Everybody started singing and dancing?
Dawn: I gave birth to a pterodactyl.
Anya: Oh my god, did it sing? WATCH AND SING ALONG!
6.8 Tabula Rasa, or blank slate in Latin. But does blank slate really mean clean slate? You’ll find out. Best exchange:
Spike: I must be a vampire with a soul. I’m a good guy on a mission of redemption. I help the helpless!
Buffy: A vampire with a soul? Oh, my God! How lame is that? WATCH.
6.9 Smashed. Named for the house that comes down around the unexpected “event” in the last few scenes. This episode has some serious comedy, and it changes everything. Best exchange:
Buffy: How’ve you been?
Amy: Rat. You?
Buffy: Dead. WATCH.
6.10 Wrecked. This episode is basically the hangover of the previous episode, and it’s realistic. Best exchange:
Xander: Anya has a theory. She thinks that Martha Stewart froze that guy.
Anya: Don’t be ridiculous. Martha Stewart isn’t a demon. She’s a witch.
Xander: Please, she—really?
Anya: Of course. Nobody could do that much découpage without calling on the powers of darkness. WATCH.
6.11 Gone. Buffy comes down with a little case of invisibility. Best lines:
Warren: We’re your arch-nemesises...ses. You may have beaten us this time, Slayer, but next time... um... uh, next time...
Jonathan: Maybe not! WATCH.
6.12 Doublemeat Palace. Joss once said that he never had more advertisers pull out than when he decided to poke fun a fast food. It’s even grosser than you’d expect. SKIP.
6.13 Dead Things. This one is both dark and crucial. Best line: Spike: You always hurt the one you love, pet. WATCH.
6.14 Older and Far Away. This one does not impact the main plot, but it’s an interesting concept. Best line: Spike: So, you ever think about not celebrating your birthday? Just to try it, I mean... MAYBE WATCH.
6.15 As You Were. Though this one has the return of someone I really don’t care about, the badness of hitting rock-bottom and having an ex witness it is pretty relateable. Best exchange: Vamp: What’s that smell? Geez, slayer, is that you?
Buffy: I’ve been working!
Vamp: Where? In a slaughter house?
Buffy: Doublemeat Palace.
Vamp: Ooh. You know what? Let’s just call it a night. If it’s all the same to you, and you’ve been eatin’ that stuff, I’m not so sure I wanna bite you.
Buffy: You’re dead. You smell like it. How do you get to say I’m the one who’s stinky? WATCH.
6.16 Hell’s Bell. A Buffy wedding episode. Does everything go wrong? Of course. Best exchange:
Spike: It’s nice to watch you be happy, for them, even, I don’t see it a lot, you, uh... you glow.
Buffy: That’s because the dress is radioactive. (It’s hot green.) WATCH.
6.17 Normal Again. This is my favorite episode of Buffy ever. It pulls the rug out from under you in every possible way and makes you question what’s real for the whole rest of the show. It also makes you wonder how Joss would’ve ended the show if everyone wasn’t getting on his case about being too dark. Best line: Buffy: ‘Cause what’s more real? A sick girl in an institution, or some kind of supergirl, chosen to fight demons and save the world? That’s ridiculous. WATCH AND WONDER.
6.18 Entropy. The Trio messes with Buffy again, but this time there are some real consequences. Best line: Tara: Things fall apart. They fall apart so hard. WATCH.
6.19 Seeing Red. A heart-breaking event sets the whole rest of the season in motion. Best line: Tara: Your shirt... WATCH.
6.20 Villains. This is where a beloved character loses it. Best line: Willow: Bored now. WATCH.
6.21 Two to Go. And continues to lose it. Best line: Giles: I’d like to test that theory. WATCH.
6.22. Grave. And continues to lose it. Then there’s something really sweet about a yellow crayon. Then something really unexpected happens to Spike in the last few seconds of the episode that will make you gasp. Best line: Anya: My hair is blond. Again. WATCH.
A.k.a. The second-worst season of Buffy (after season one), since Joss was busy making season five of Angel awesome. But still has some great moments.
7.1 Lessons. It’s a weak season opener, but there are some things you need to know. Best exchange:
Willow: Is there anything you don’t know everything about?
Giles: Synchronized swimming. Complete mystery to me. WATCH.
7.2 Beneath You. Important Spike episode. Best exchange:
Buffy: Spike, have you completely lost your mind?
Spike: Well, yes. Where have you been all night? WATCH.
7.3 Same Time, Same Place. This is about a monster who likes to eat skin. It’s disgusting and doesn't serve the plot. SKIP.
7.4 Help. This one is a boring, throw-away after-school special. Imagine trying to fit both seasons of 13 Reasons Why into an episode, but doing it badly. SKIP.
7.5 Selfless. This one dives deep into Anya’s backstory and, boy, is it interesting. Best line: Anya: I don’t talk to people much. I mean, I talk to them, but they don’t talk to me, except to say that, ‘Your questions are irksome,’ and, ‘Perhaps you should take your furs and your literal interpretations to the other side of the river.’ WATCH.
7.6 Him. This one’s funny but dumb. YOU CAN GO EITHER WAY.
7.7 Conversations with Dead People. This episode won a Hugo Award. Check out past Hugo winners and nominees to see what other cinematic giants have won these. Buffy’s been nominated two other times for its series finale and its musical episode, the latter which lost to Lord of the Rings, because, of course it did. But the point is, it was in the same category as that and Harry Potter. I know. Best line: Vamp: Buffy, I’m here to kill you, not to judge you. YOU CAN’T MISS.
7.8 Sleeper. Important Spike episode. Best line: Aimee Mann: Man, I hate playing vampire towns. WATCH.
7.9 Never Leave Me. Another important episode for Spike and this season’s big bad. Best quote: Principal Wood: Listen, this whole permanent record thing is such a myth, anyway. Colleges never ask for anything past your SAT scores, and it’s not like employers are gonna be calling up to check to see how many days you missed back in high school. WATCH.
7.10 Bring On the Night. The first episode with the ubervamp, which is clearly a LOTR’s orc, but at least it’s a decent little bad. Giles: Sorry to barge in. I’m afraid we have a slight apocalypse. WATCH.
7.11 Showtime. This one is fun and important. Best exchange:
Buffy: I am the thing that monsters have nightmares about. And right now you and me are gonna show ‘em why. It’s time. Welcome to Thunderdome.
Andrew: Two men enter. One man leaves. WATCH.
7.12 Potential. This one is throw-away and a Dawn episode, but still kind of ”extraordinary.” YOU CAN GO EITHER WAY.
7.13 The Killer in Me. This one just doesn’t work, which is strange for a Willow episode. Something big happens concerning Spike, but you’ll figure it out eventually. SKIP.
7.14 First Date. It’s Date Fest 2003, and it’s really dull. SKIP.
7.15 Get It Done. This one SUCKS. Buffy does a spirit walk with Africa shamans, for some reason, and the tone is all off. The only important thing they tell her is that she is the ”last slayer.” SKIP.
7.16 Storyteller. This one is hilarious. We get to see the show through Andrew’s eyes, who you will love by now, even though he was first introduced as member of the Trio. Best line: Andrew: Come with me now, if you will, gentle viewers. Join me on a new voyage of the mind. A little tale I like to call: Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyrs. WATCH AND LAUGH.
7.17 Lies My Parents Told Me. The knock-down, drag-out fight you’ve been waiting for happens. Best line: Buffy: The mission is what matters. WATCH.
7.18 Dirty Girls. This one introduces the medium bad, and its a familiar face, if you’ve ever seen Firefly or Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog. Best line: Faith: You’re protecting vampires? Are you the bad slayer now? Am I the good slayer now? WATCH.
7.19 Empty Places. Buffy gets ousted for bad leadership and replaced by worse leadership. It makes you mad at everyone and really seems unrealistic and unearned. It’s a weak episode, but you still need it. Best line: Spike: Tell anyone we had this conversation, I’ll bite you. WATCH.
7.20 Touched. This one is important physically and emotionally. Best line: Spike: You sad, sad, ungrateful traitors. WATCH.
7.21–7.22 End of Days and Chosen. There’s a very unlikely crossover (given that these shows are no longer on the same network). And the show wraps up with a pretty epic finale, though not as epic as season five. But Chosen was nominated for an Emmy and a Hugo Award for a reason. But I will say. It does look and sound too much like LOTR in one scene. But of course, Joss loved LOTR. Who didn’t? Also, you will love the part with the girl and the baseball bat. In fact, you will cry. Best exchange (and yes it’s about cookies):
Buffy: Okay, I’m cookie dough. I’m not done baking yet. I’m not finished becoming... whoever the hell it is I’m gonna turn out to be. I make it through this and the next thing and the next thing, and maybe one day I turn around and realize I’m ready, I’m cookies. And then, y’know, if I want someone to eat m—or...enjoy warm delicious cookie-me, then that’s fine. That’ll be then. When I’m done.
Angel: Any thoughts on who might enjoy... do I have to go with the cookie analogy? WATCH AND CRY.
And there you have it.
Now, I know Buffy is no longer available on Netflix Instant, which is a real shame, but it was on there for five years. If you didn’t get around to it in five years, I completely judge you. But you can still get the DVDs through Netflix. So I may forgive you.
But also, you may get a second chance at this show anyway, with the reboot, which will be good as long as Joss stays involved.