2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the hit show Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 — 2003), which is also being celebrated by the release of a brand-new sequel in the form of YA novel “In Every Generation” by author Kendare Blake, which is available now.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran for seven seasons and consists of 144 episodes. And while there are so many great episodes throughout the series, we’ve decided to pick a handful of must-watches, some of which were even nominated for awards!
So here are the five best episodes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer…
“Hush” — Season 4
Season 4’s “Hush” is among the most terrifying episodes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and its antagonists, ‘The Gentleman’, who glide along as they move without taking a stride, feel like something out of Tim Burton’s worst nightmare! This is the point where Joss Whedon really starts to get creative with the show, as there’s not a great deal of dialogue in the episode.
Upon arriving in Sunnydale, the evil fairytale creatures, who are always grinning and dressed entirely in black, remove everyone’s ability to speak, which makes this the quietest episode in the series! While this of course allows for some truly tense moments as victims are unable to scream for help, there are just as many hilarious ones as our heroes often fail to understand one another.
“Hush” was nominated for an Emmy Award, and rightly so. This expertly crafted episode blends horror, humor, and suspense incredibly well, and its nightmarish villains and the unique predicament the characters find themselves in are better than most horror movies!
“The Body” — Season 5
Not every episode on this list is designed to frighten you, and “The Body” is an incredibly disarming and moving episode that brings Buffy the Vampire Slayer down to earth. Once again, Joss Whedon writes and directs with precision, as Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) discovers her mother Joyce (Kristine Sutherland) dead on the couch, having had a fatal aneurysm.
This is yet another ‘experimental’ episode as there’s no music whatsoever, which makes the experience all the more sobering as we go through the motions of shock with Buffy. It’s simply gut-wrenching to watch her try to navigate the minutes and hours that follow, and to see others react to the news, especially Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg).
“The Body” is one of the most critically-acclaimed television episodes of all time, and despite its horrifyingly realistic execution of losing a loved one, remains a fan-favorite in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.
“The Gift” — Season 5
There are always moments in any long-running show where it could quite easily end, and Season 5’s “The Gift” is definitely one of those episodes. When evil god Glory (Clare Kramer) finally acquires the ‘Key’ — Buffy’s sister Dawn — she sets her plans in motion to rip a hole in the barriers between all dimensions so that she can return to her own realm, having been banished long ago.
And it’s surprising to see Glory realize her goal — to some degree, at least — with several hellish beasts appearing in Sunnydale as dimensions pour into one another. But what really makes this episode great is Buffy’s ultimate sacrifice to save her sister and the world. We’re not suggesting that we wanted the Slayer to stay dead, but this does feel like a natural ending for the show.
“The Gift” remains one of the strongest finales in the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, while Season 5 also happens to be one of the best. After being brought to life, Buffy faces many more threats, but it’s fair to say the ‘stakes’ are never quite as high as they are in “The Gift”!
“Once More, With Feeling” — Season 6
We think the title alone here speaks for itself, but on the other hand, we have so much to say about Season 6’s ground-breaking musical episode, which was written entirely by the show’s creator Joss Whedon, songs and all! When a different kind of demon arrives in Sunnydale, who wields the power to make people burst into song and dance, well, that’s exactly what happens!
Not only are fans treated to a collection of brilliantly written and beautifully performed songs, Joss Whedon ingeniously weaves a number of subplots into the songs too, including Willow’s growing addiction to magic and Buffy’s resentment towards her friends for bringing her back. Call outs? “Under Your Spell” by Tara (Amber Benson) and “Walk Through the Fire” by everyone!
“Once More, With Feeling” is perhaps the biggest risk Buffy the Vampire Slayer ever took, but it paid off. To no surprise whatsoever, the episode was nominated for a number of awards, and is generally considered one of the greatest episodes in a TV series of all time.
“Chosen” — Season 7
We’re always thrilled when a finale makes it onto our list, because there’s nothing worse than a season-topper that leaves you feeling unsatisfied (although we don’t think Buffy has ever let us down in that regard). But “Chosen” isn’t just the end of the season — it’s the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (at least in the medium of television, as there are several comic books).
Buffy leads Xander (Nicholas Brendon), Anya (Emma Caulfield), Spike (James Marsters), Principal Wood (DB Woodside), Faith (Eliza Dushku), Andrew (Tom Lenk), and several Potential Slayers into all-out war against The First Evil, deep beneath Sunnydale High! And it’s pretty epic stuff, with an equally-bombastic soundtrack to boot.
“Chosen” might have some real competition in the form of “The Gift”, but the latter never really had the challenge of wrapping up an entire series. As such, we think “Chosen” is the best finale Buffy the Vampire Slayer ever gave us.
What are your favorite episodes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer?