25 of the Silliest, Spookiest Plotlines From “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Ranked by Absurdity

One dark and stormy night, like so many queer people before me, I eagerly introduced a friend to the world of Buffy the Vampire SlayerWe watched episode after episode from Season 1 (at least, they watched. I watched them, with bated breath). Finally, they said, “huh! Are there going to be vampires in this vampire show?” And in that moment I realized that we had watched plotlines involving a giant praying mantis, body-switching cheerleaders, hyena possessions, demons on the internet…and the list went on! There had only been two episodes about actual vampires, and one of them was the pilot.

Decades before the bananas plotlines of teen shows like Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale would truly run wild, Buffy asked the question we didn’t know we needed: What if high school was actually hell? What if that substitute teacher all the boys have a crush on was a giant insect? What if the college guys were offering up ritual sacrifices in their pursuit of capitalist success? What if the first version of yourself who allowed themselves to acknowledge their gay desires was a vampire doppelgänger? What if that guy you met online wasn’t who he said he was? What if? What if?!

In seven years, Buffy gave us some truly wild episodes — and they could be truly spooky, too! And so, submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I hereby present 25 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s silliest, spookiest plotlines, ranked by absurdity.


25. Where the Wild Things Are, episode 4×18

Willow and Tara sitting next to one another on a staircase. Tara is saying "it's fun."

Don’t you hate it when the bad energy from when the frat house used to be a group home convinces you it’s wrong to have lustful feelings for your girlfriend? Me too!


24. Dead Man’s Party, episode 3×02

Buffy wearing a purple spaghetti strap top, sitting with Joyce in Principal Snyder's office. Joyce is saying "Buffy was cleared of all those charges."

Joyce brings home a mask from the gallery where she works — too bad it’s one of those pesky masks that resurrects the dead! I’m sure this will all go just as well as Buffy’s reentry into Sunnydale after spending the summer in LA is going.


23. Something Blue, episode 4×09

Buffy sitting in Spike's lap. Buffy is wearing a black tank top and saying "Giles, are you okay?"

When one of Willow’s spells goes awry, Spike and Buffy, who are currently mortal enemies, think they’re in love! Will “Wind Beneath My Wings” really be their wedding song?


22. Some Assembly Required, episode 2×02

Cordelia lies on a platform, screaming, as two high school boys hover over her.

Life comes at you pretty fast! One day, you’re the high school quarterback, the next you’re a resurrected corpse who is begging your brother to build you a girlfriend from body parts.


21. Fear, Itself, episode 4×04

Anya walking up to a house in the dark, wearing a giant bunny suit with a pink belly

I’m telling you, frat houses are scary places! This time, Oz inadvertently summons a demon who feeds on fear while setting up the sound equipment for a party, like ya do.


20. Hush, episode 4×10

Giles standing in front of a transparency, badly drawn, that says BUFFY WILL PATROL TONIGHT

This might just be the spookiest episode ever. Come for the scary, scary Gentleman, stay for Giles’ transparencies!


19. Out of Mind, Out of Sight, episode 1×11

Buffy and Cordelia tied up in chairs in a dark hall that’s ready for the Homecoming dance. They’re looking at one another in horror. Off screen, Marie is saying “I’m fulfilling your fondest wish.”

Clea Duvall guest stars as a high school girl turned invisible by her unpopularity, and is PISSED about it. The saddest thing about this episode is how rarely we actually get to see Clea Duvall!


18. Gingerbread, episode 3×11

Willow lying on her stomach on her bed, using her black laptop that has a rainbow star sticker on it, with her sneakers in the air behind her

Two local kids are ostensibly murdered, and pretty soon Joyce is making signs and badges for Mothers Opposed to the Occult. Nice acronym, Ms. Summers!


17. Doppelgangland, episode 3×16

Vampire Willow and fuzzy Willow both rolling their eyes at Anya, who is offscreen

This is an extremely important episode of television! Willow meets her vampire doppelgänger who is…really kinda gay!


16. Graduation Day, episode 3×21

Buffy and Faith fighting in darkness. There is a look of anguish on Faith's face.

Listen, sometimes you’ve gotta stab your enemies-to-almost-lovers crush, save the world from the demon Mayor AND survive high school, all in the same day.


15. Reptile Boy, episode 2×05

Willow, Xander and Buffy sitting around a table in the Bronze. Xander is reading a paper and saying “boy, I guess the rich really are different, huh!”

In which high school Buffy decides to go to a college party at a frat house that may or may not have some hooded robes in their basement. Buffy, I am telling you, it is time to STAY AWAY FROM FRAT HOUSES.


14. Beer Bad, episode 4×05

Buffy looking angry with matted hair, hitting her dorm room TV

Reason not to drink in college #238: You might…go…neolithic?


13. Superstar, episode 4×17

Willow and Tara sitting together in the Bronze, wearing complimentary pastels and looking very excited about something happening offscreen

I love this episode with all my heart. 10/10, no notes. Go watch it right now. I’ll wait!


12. Living Conditions, episode 4×02

Buffy's roommate Kathy, putting up a poster of Celine Dion

Sometimes you get the college roommate “from hell,” and sometimes…well, say hello to Kathy, who irons her jeans and may or may not be a demon on a cultural exchange!


11. Band Candy, episode 3×06

Giles wearing a plain t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, sucking on a cigarette. Joyce next to him, wearing a choker

This episode proves two things I’ve always believed with all my heart: That every grown-up needs to get to be a kid now and then, and that high school fundraisers where students have to sell stuff are EVIL.


10. Witch, episode 1×03

Buffy wearing a yellow cheerleading shirt. The closed captions show that she is saying “she switched your bodies, didn’t she?”

What do you do when your cheerleading glory days are over? Unless you’re Monica Aldama, the only rational choice is to switch bodies with your daughter!


9. I Robot, You Jane, episode 1×08

A security camera image that says LAB 02 and shows Willow, an engineer, and a demon inhabiting a robot body.

On this week’s episode of Catfish, there’s a demon on the internet!


8. Doublemeat Palace, episode 6×12

Buffy wearing a fast food uniform, with a cow on her hat

Buffy’s foray into gainful employment goes just about how we’d expect.


7. The Pack, episode 1×06

Xander looking uncharacteristically cool as a group of mean kids laugh around him.

Oh no! One trip to the zoo, and Xander’s acting like…a sixteen year-old boy!


6. Bad Eggs, episode 2×12

Cordelia, Buffy, and Willow walking across campus

There’s something going on with the eggs the Health teacher has assigned to teach parental responsibility! High school sex ed is exactly this scary.


5. Go Fish, episode 2×20

Buffy at a party in the dark, smiling at a guy who doesn't deserve her

There’s so much to unpack here. Sunnydale High has a pool? Sunnydale students party at a lake that’s never seen again? The swim team gets their own sauna? Buffy’s finding piles of skin around campus? Xander inexplicably has muscles?


4. Ted, episode 2×11

John Ritter and Joyce getting caught in the kitchen by Buffy, kissing!

The only thing scarier than your parents divorce? Your mom rebounding with a homicidal robot who calls you “young lady.”


3. Halloween, episode 2×06

Ethan Rayne holding up a pink corseted dress for Buffy to see in the mirror. He’s saying “my, meet the hidden princess.”

Buffy, kiddo, listen: that guy you’re trying to impress with your Halloween costume is about 250 years old. You do not want to be a damsel in distress!


2. Teacher’s Pet, episode 1×04

Xander recoiling in horror as a human-sized praying mantis says “kiss me.”

Never go to a second location with a sexy, mysterious substitute teacher. This is not up for debate!


1. The Puppet Show, episode 1×09

Buffy wearing a black spaghetti strap dress, standing on stage with a ventriloquist dummy who is about to plunge a knife into a demon. The dummy is saying “You have to get the heart.”

Four words: Ventriloquist. Dummy. Demon. Hunter.


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Darcy

Darcy, a.k.a. Queer Girl, is your number one fan. She's a fat feminist from California who doodles hearts in the corners of her Gay Agenda. They're living through a pandemic, they're on Twitter, and they think you should drink more water! She also wants to make you laugh.

Darcy has written 332 articles for us.

16 Comments

  1. Some of my favourite Buffy episodes (Something Blue, Doppelgangland, Band Candy) are on this list. What does that say about me?

    Also Ted is truly one of the scariest episodes, that guy scares the shit outta me. Like the horror is too close to real life abusive gaslighting men!

  2. I was so mad at seasons 6 and 7 that it seems I blotted most of Buffy out of my mind !

    But every now and then it randomly kicks up the Death of a Salesman dream from Restless, or Anya belting it out about evil bunnies in Once More With Feeling. And the Gentlemen from Hush. Brrrrr !

    Another random thought, which I wish I didn’t have, is the tower scene from the final episode of season 5, which I happened to watch again about a month after 9/11. I sat frozen in my chair for quite a while after that, the parallels were too shocking.

  3. I’ve only seen the ep once when it aired…but the orgasm wall from Where The Wild Things Are is burned forever in my brain 😂😭😱

    Something Blue!! Hush!!! Superstar!! Dopplegangland!! Classics!!! This list brought me so much joy!

  4. Buffy is probably my favorite TV show ever but so much of season one is really so bad! (I’m glad someone saw its potential and let it have a second season!)

    Anyway this list is great and makes me want to go watch all these episodes right now!

  5. Incredible list, 10/10. May I just say…that description of where the wild things are is maybe the only palatable description of that episode I’ve ever seen? I usually describe it as ‘the one with the orgasm wall’ or ‘the one where buffy and riley become a fuck battery for a fucked up group home.’ Top ten worst episodes. Anyway.

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