One dark and stormy night, like so many queer people before me, I eagerly introduced a friend to the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
This is an extremely important episode of television! Willow meets her vampire doppelgänger who is…really kinda gay!
16. Graduation Day, episode 3×21
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
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
Reason not to drink in college #238: You might…go…neolithic?
13. Superstar, episode 4×17
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
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
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
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
On this week’s episode of Catfish, there’s a demon on the internet!
8. Doublemeat Palace, episode 6×12
Buffy’s foray into gainful employment goes just about how we’d expect.
7. The Pack, episode 1×06
Oh no! One trip to the zoo, and Xander’s acting like…a sixteen year-old boy!
6. Bad Eggs, episode 2×12
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
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
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
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
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
Four words: Ventriloquist. Dummy. Demon. Hunter.