It’s no longer considered all that weird to celebrate or be drawn to villains. Let’s be honest: villains are often easier to connect to, with more shades of gray to their personalities. Though when it comes to Buffy, how memorable and compelling are the villains?
Buffy is still an iconic series that spawned a brilliant spin-off (Angel), canonical and reboot comics, and the Buffy-verse is special to a lot of people. The series gave fans a variety of Big Bads (also known as villains) to love or hate—or both.
We’ve ranked a number of the most iconic Buffy Big Bads, from worst to best. Maybe this ranking is similar to yours! Let us know in the comments and we can fight it out.
I’m pretty adamant about my thoughts on Season 4. Despite some of the most iconic episodes coming from this season, Adam as a villain weighs the season down as a whole. Of course, his presence isn’t the only problem, but he’s so weakly written it’s almost impossible to ignore. Rumors are that Maggie Walsh (Lindsay Crouse) was written off because of Lindsay Crouse’s other responsibilities as an actor. For me, Adam would’ve been more interesting if Maggie had been his boss for the season. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and he landed at the bottom.
Without Season 1, we’d have absolutely nothing and therefore shitting on it is pointless. However, The Master (Mark Metcalf) falls short as a Big Bad largely because the season is so short. Of course, seasons that are 10 episodes can be successful (see a lot of the shows released these days), but The Master as a character fell victim to the choppy writing of Season 1. As much as he’s delightfully campy and at times scary (the moment when he drinks from Buffy and discards her is still horrifying), I can’t rank him much higher than this.
The First Evil/Caleb
Discussing Season 7 often causes a stir within the fandom at large. While some fans really enjoy it, many fans consider it to be one of their least favorite seasons. First Evil (who is able to appear as anyone who has died) isn’t boring per se, but they rely on other characters as a non-corporeal villain. So essentially we’re left to be scared of their minions like the Turok-Hans, the Bringers, and Caleb (Nathan Fillion). It’s unfortunate that Caleb winds up being an aggressively misogynistic priest that makes you roll your eyes. Imagine if he had just been evil and vicious without the stereotypical misogynistic rants.
The WORST character in the history of Buffy is without a doubt Warren (Adam Busch). Season 6 may have its issues, but it was ahead of its time with Warren as a villain. What’s even more disturbing is that his actions in the episode “Dead Things” (Season 6, Episode 13) aren’t far-fetched. Warren embodies all the entitlement that violent cis white men have. There are horror stories about men like him that we have heard or experienced. Even though he’s not a vampire, hybrid creation, demon, or Hell God, he’s still a horrifying villain in the series.
Dark! Willow (Alyson Hannigan) is pretty iconic as a villain and she only appears in a handful of episodes. After the death of Tara (Amber Benson), which marked one of the first instances of Bury Your Gays, Willow veered off the deep end. Even though the “magic as drugs” metaphor doesn’t work for me, I still consider Willow’s villain arc interesting to watch. Shamelessly, I’ll say that this version of Willow is very hot. Combine the confidence, the chaotic grief, her iconic “bored now” quote, and you’ve got a memorable villain. A witch looking to avenge her deceased girlfriend and rid the earth of an incel is just fine by me.
One of the best seasons of the series is Season 3 (fight me if you disagree)—and Harry Groener (The Mayor) is a major reason why. A villainous politician? Perfection. His character felt like a legitimate threat as soon as he was introduced. His surrogate-father relationship with Faith (Eliza Dushku) was executed so well. It was the villainous version of Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Giles’ (Anthony Stewart Head) relationship. The Mayor’s plans to transform into a demon snake were also terrifying when you think about the apocalyptic scales. Overall, he’s deserving of praise as a Buffy villain.
It’s not unpopular to say that Season 5 is in the top three seasons of the series. The stakes are high, Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) turns everything upside down, and Glory (Clare Kramer) is phenomenal as the season’s Big Bad. Despite how she’s such a threat to Buffy and co, she’s a delight to watch in her top-tier outfits and hot charisma. Glory (literally) commands the room when she’s in it and who doesn’t love that? A bitchy villain that knows what they want is my kind of villain. Of course in the end she epically fails, but going against Buffy is always a losing game.
The fanged three (Angelus, Spike, & Drusilla)
It’s difficult not to love Season 2 and how batshit it gets when Angel (David Boreanaz) switches to Angelus after losing his soul. Pairing him up with Spike (James Marsters) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau) makes the turn all the better. The history those three have makes for a lot of entertainment (and tension) during their scenes. Plus, they were threats in a different way than what Buffy was accustomed to. Poor Buffy was forced to deal with Angelus taunting her, stalking her, and killing Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte). What makes Angelus in particular the perfect villain is how he represents someone you love becoming a different person—one that may be a threat.
(featured image: The WB)
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