The late 90s/early 00s classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer has entertained audiences since its very first episode aired in 1997. I first watched the series when I was 13 back when it was available on Netflix (I was bitterly disappointed when I discovered the series had been taken off the streaming service) and I absolutely loved it. For me, it was the first time I had ever become deeply immersed in a series. So when I found out a few months back that the series was available to stream on All 4 and Amazon Prime, of course I immediately started to re-watch it. Now that I have watched the series all the way through, I thought I’d take it upon myself to rank all 7 seasons from best to worst (though, there is no bad seasons when it comes to Buffy). I’m going to try my best to not put too many spoilers in here but just as a warning to those who have never watched the series and to those who are part way through watching, there may be some minor spoilers ahead.
1) Season 3
There are numerous reasons why season 3 is at the top of this list. Firstly, it has the best villains. Each season of Buffy has at least one recurring ‘big bad’ who sets their sights on taking on Buffy (Sarah Michelle Geller) and the Scooby gang. In season 3 the main villain is the Mayor of Sunnydale (portrayed by Harry Groener) who is then assisted by (spoiler alert) the rogue slayer Faith (Eliza Dushku). These two are the best kind of villains: the bad guys you can’t help but love. Secondly, season 3 has some of the best episodes that the series has to offer (see below), including one of the best season finales. Finally, we’re introduced to Anya (Emma Caulfield) in season three, who later becomes a much loved regular on the show.
However, season 3 sadly marks the last appearance of Corelia (Charisma Carpenter) and the final season in which Angel (David Boreanaz) is a regular character. No need to panic too much though – both characters appear in the Buffy spin-off show Angel. In addition, it is also the last time we get to see Buffy and the gang as students at Sunnydale High.
2) Season 2
This is a very close second to season 3 but season 3 managed to bag the top spot because overall, season 3 has better episodes. Season 2 is at the top end of this list for similar reasons to season 3: it has some bloody good villains. It is in this season where we are first introduced to the best character Buffy has to offer: Spike (James Marsters). Spike arrives in Sunnydale alongside his insane but deadly girlfriend Drusilla (Juliet Landau). Having already killed two slayers in the past, Spike comes to Sunnydale to take on Buffy. For a while he is the main big bad of season 2 until another vampire (whose name I shall not mention for spoiler reasons) comes along with a plan to end the world. Season 2 also has excellent episodes, including one of the best season finales, and some good story lines for you to sink your teeth into.
3) Season 1
The first season of Buffy is the perfect start to what is going to be one of the best television series you will have ever watched. For me, this season earns a relatively high ranking not because of its villains but the episodes it has to offer. Each episode in season 1 is entertaining and sets itself aside from the ones that came before it by offering a wide range of evils and plots. The season allows us to fall in love with the series’ core characters (Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigon) and Rupert Giles (Anthony Head)) and the audience looks forward to seeing how each character develops and grows.
The main big bad of the series is the Master (Mark Metcalf) is unfortunately not one of the best villains that the series has to offer. Furthermore, the first season only consists of 12 episodes so there’s just not enough!
4) Season 5
Season 5 has excellent episodes, one of which being the most emotional episode of the series (yes, even more so emotional than the season finale) and some not so excellent episodes. Villain-wise, season 5 provides us ‘watchers’ (hope those of you who have watched Buffy acknowledge my reference there) with the second best type of villain: a villain you love to hate. Glory (Clare Kramer) embodies the typical mean popular high school girl persona perfectly, whilst also being one of the toughest villains Buffy and the gang has to face. Season 5 also introduces us to Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg). Dawn is a character who, in my opinion, grows on you over time. But in season 5 she is every little bit the annoying little sister.
5) Season 6
Season 6 is definitely the darkest season of the series with Seeing Red (episode 19) having the most disturbing scene that Buffy has to offer. For me, season 6 provides us with good story lines, mainly mediocre episodes (aside from Once More With Feeling and Tabula Rasa) and three rather annoying villains (the trio). Though the trio do have a tendency to get on your nerves, for me season 6 sets itself aside from the other seasons in that its not really about Buffy and the scoobies overcoming a great evil but more about them having to overcome their own personal struggles. Overall, the majority of season 6 is average therefore, earning it a pretty average ranking.
6) Season 7
Though the series ends on one of the best season finales I have ever watched, overall, season 7 offers some of the blandest episodes of the series and it is for this reason alone that season 7 earns itself a pretty low ranking. The thing I do enjoy about Season 7 is the nostalgia – particularly the parallels with season 1. For me, this is so effective in that it reminds audiences how far each character has come (and everything they had to go through to get where they are at the end of the series) as well as reminding us all that the series is, sadly, coming to a close.
7) Season 4
After the first three seasons just kept getting better and better, season 4 just feels rather disappointing. The big bad of season 4 is the Adam and the Initiative. In comparison to other villains the series has to offer, Adam and the Initiative are just flat – they’re not even the kind of villains you love to hate you just want them to be gone for good. For me, season 4 gives off the feeling of being more of a bridge season in that it lies between the days of Sunnydale High and the more darker seasons 5 and 6.
Though it is the worst season the series has to offer, Season 4 does have some good moments that can’t be ignored. For instance, there are some pretty good episodes: Something Blue, This Year’s Girl, Who Are You?, and Restless which capture the usual brilliance of Buffy (naturally, all of these defer from the Initiative and Adam). In addition, it is when both Anya and Spike become regulars on the show.
Extra: Top 10 Episodes
- Lovers Walk (Season 3, episode 8)
- Band Candy (Season 3, episode 6)
- Fool for Love (Season 5, episode 7)
- Once More with Feeling (Season 6, episode 7)
- Becoming: Part 2 (Season 2, episode 22)
- Graduation Day: Part 2 (Season 3, episode 22)
- Chosen (Season 7, episode 22)
- The Body (Season 5, episode 16)
- Restless (Season 4, episode 22)
- Prophecy Girl (Season 1, episode 12)