Buffy the Vampire Slayer generally followed a monster-of-the-week format combined with healthy amounts of martial arts and snark, and as such there’s no shortage of over-the-top awesome monster kills. In my opinion the best were often layered with significant plot or character threads, adding real heart and weight to the awesome fisticuffs and explosive moments. So without further ado, my choices for the top 6 monster kills from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
6. Buffy Abuses the Judge’s Loophole
In Season 2, Spike and Drusilla managed resurrect the Judge, a nigh invincible demon meant to purge humanity from the Earth. It was impervious to “any weapon forged” and strong enough to smack both Buffy and Angel around. However, it had been out of action since the 14th century, and so missed a few things. One of them was rocket launchers. Thanks to Xander, the gang got their hands on a weapon that wasn’t technically forged and proceeded to blow him into a bunch of little pieces. Taking down the Judge was a bit of fun after the heartbreaking seriousness of Angel losing his soul. It was a win when the Scoobies desperately needed one, and established the new status quo of the gang without Angel. They beat the Judge with a bit of legal trickery (earning points for irony), and Xander got to be useful, which back then was rare.
5. Xander Takes a Level in Badass
So around Season 3, Xander was basically useless. Sure, he had his moments here and there, but he wasn’t smart like Willow, wise like Giles, or a fighter like Buffy, and he wasn’t nearly as cool as Oz. In short, he brought nothing to the Scooby Gang. Then he had a very strange night. During said night he got a classic convertible, facilitated the raising of undead hooligans, was complicit in domestic terrorism, lost his virginity, played chicken with a zombie (and won), and saved the world by proxy.
To be fair, Oz technically killed bad guy Jack O’Toole, but Xander did the heavy lifting on this one. For Xander, this was the moment he stopped being the comic relief and started showing his hidden depths. He saved the entire Scooby Gang and world, and rather than brag about it, chooses to keep it to himself, showing that he grew from his experience. He probably had this night in mind when, 4 seasons later, he tells Dawn about what it means to be out of the spotlight.
4. The Scoobies Fulfill Every Graduate’s Dream
At the end of everyone’s tenure in high school, there exists but a single dream: to watch that place burn while we ride off into the sunset. However, few ever get to actual make that dream a reality, and the ones that do often wind up in prison. For the Scoobies though, they get to save the world while they blow up the local secondary ed facility.
After an intense battle between the Class of ’99 and Mayor Wilkins’ vampires, Buffy leads the demon into the library, where Giles did his best to turn it into a volcano. One explosion later, and the parents of Sunnydale needed to shell out for private school, though given the mortality rate of Sunnydale High that was probably for the best. This marked the end of the Scoobies tenure in high school and the last season where Angel was a regular feature. The show moved on to a new, different feel and celebrated the only way it could, blow something all to hell.
3. Buffy Puts Caleb in his Place
Back in 2003, Nathan Fillion was a great show called Firefly, but then the forces of pure, literal evil (*cough* *cough* Fox *cough*) conspired to drive him and his crew into the exile. Fillion then found himself on Buffy and started flexing his acting range all over the Scoobies as the major domo to the First Evil, Caleb. Where he learned such evil is still unknown (*cough* *cough* Fox *cough*), but he wreaked havoc on both series regulars and the newly arrived Potentials, threatening to completely steal every scene he shared with the slayer herself. Then comes the penultimate episode of the series, and our intrepid heroine has recovered the scythe, the ultimate weapon of a slayer. One assist from Angel and one epic battle later, and Buffy has shown Caleb whose show it is.
2. Willow Goes Darkside on Warren
Two words: “Bored now”. That was how sweet, shy, innocent Willow decided to preface flaying Season 6 villain Warren alive. Now the case could be made that Warren wasn’t technically a monster and so his death doesn’t belong here. To that, I say people are the real monsters and he destroyed my favourite romantic pairing. Fan preferences aside, Warren’s untimely death marks a number of serious turning points for the show.
After this, Willow takes over as the big bad for Season 6 and her quest to avenge the death of her lover Tara turns into a mad plot to destroy the world. It also completes the journey Willow had been on to the darkside since she nearly cursed Oz and Veruca back in Season 4. It’s a truly dark moment as the formerly reserved computer geek embraces the cruelest possible use of her powers.
1. Giles Goes Full Ripper on Ben
When we first met him, Rupert Giles seemed like your typical stuffy Englishman. Sure he trained Buffy in all kinds of martial arts and was armed to the teeth, but he always did it exactly as you’d expect a stuffy englishman to. Then we learned he used to dabble in black magic and under the alias “Ripper”. Then the season 5 finale rolled around. Buffy (with an assist from Xander and his wrecking ball) had just finished beating hellgod Glory down in what was probably the best fight of the series. In comes Ripper. He makes a speech about how Buffy, upstanding hero that she is, isn’t the sort to just execute a man like that. But Buffy isn’t there. Instead there’s Ripper, who opts to snuff out his life.
For most of the major character moments in the series, it’s a culmination of plot threads and character growth that sometimes took place across seasons. For Giles, though, it’s a revelation. The whole time he was Ripper, a fact that was divulged piece by piece until we understood exactly what that meant. It shed new light on an old character, adding new layers to someone we thought we understood in the most chilling and memorable way possible.
For this list, I favoured weighty character moments over more technical or surface-level awesomeness. I for one care more about what the violence makes me think and feel than how cool said violence is. Have a problem with that? Leave a comment. Appreciate my opinions? Leave a comment. Find my man crush on Nathan Fillion a bit much? Leave a comment. Or yell at me on Twitter @Bard_Brehon or here!