Six Reasons Why Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the Greatest Show of All Time

Buffy the Vampire is the most incredible show of all time. It offers compelling stories, realistic characters, and a tongue-in-cheek look at modern life. 

The show, which initially aired in the late 1990s, remains iconic over twenty years later. Its timeless themes speak to the very nature of our souls. Despite some technological differences, today’s audiences can still relate to the human condition on display in the teen drama. 

Here’s why you have to watch Buffy. 

Why Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the Greatest Show of all Time

*Spoilers ahead for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you haven’t seen it, watch it on Hulu and return for our analysis!

The first season and a half of Buffy didn’t age well. Season one bursts with 90’s campiness, wardrobes, and technology. 

That’s part of the fun!

The first season has only 11 episodes and started as a mid-year filler show. No one knew whether it would get picked up for season two, so they did the best with what they had. 

The studio saw its potential, and we’re thankful it did. Though still rife with camp, season two has some of the best episodes in television history. 

Most of the camp disappears by season three, and all that’s left is genius. 

Here are six reasons why the show still works so well today. 

Compelling Characters

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a character-driven show. The entertaining plot is a device used to explore the characters’ different personalities and help them develop. I have never seen a show do such a great job of fully developing characters. 

The four main characters, Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenburg, Xander Harris, and Rupert Giles, all have very human strengths and weaknesses, which the series expands upon throughout the show.

All four have very human flaws. 

Humanity in the Main Cast

Buffy is terrible at relationships. She struggles to communicate with her partner, leading to heartache. She constantly grapples with the balance between her slayer calling and wanting a normal life. 

Willow fears she will never be more than that “nerdy little girl.” She dabbles in powerful forces beyond her control in an attempt to shrug off her high school persona and find her place in the world. 

Xander comes from a broken family, doesn’t know how to treat women, and struggles with the transition to adulthood. He feels left out when his friends go to college. 

Giles has a shady past and struggles with feeling needed. What is he if he isn’t Buffy’s watcher? How does he fit in with a group of young adults?

These weaknesses lead all of the characters to bad decisions, and bad choices in the Buffy verse tend to get people hurt.

However, despite the wrong decisions and character flaws, they are all good people at heart. You want to root for them because although they struggle, they all want to do good in the world. 

Their flaws make them human, and that makes them relatable. The characters on Buffy feel more real than those in any show I’ve ever watched. They are a massive part of what makes the show so compelling.

The Supporting Characters

Many shows only focus on the development of the main characters. Part of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s genius is the three-dimensional nature of all the characters. 

The supporting characters Cordelia, Angel, Oz, Riley, Spike, Anya, Tara, Dawn, and Joyce have goals, hopes, dreams, strengths, and weaknesses. They’re flawed and human. None of them exists solely as a plot device for the others.

Even side characters like Jonathan, Larry, Harmony, Drusilla, and Principle Synder get development. The show puts a lot of effort into making everyone you meet feel like a genuine person. 

It Hits You in the Feels

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an emotional roller coaster. This show can make you laugh and then cry like no other. 

The hilarious one-liners, quips, and comedic situations will keep you in stitches. Buffy slays with silly puns, Xander covers his insecurity with jokes, and Willow has a unique way of seeing the world that’s both funny and charming. Anya, Cordilla, and Spike’s sarcastic attitudes and blunt humor offer some levity in serious situations.

But the show isn’t a comedy, and it can hit you so hard in the feels that you don’t even know what happened. 

The episode “Passions” in season two had the first shocking death of a main character. But it wasn’t her death so much as the meticulous way the killer set her body up that was incredibly heart-wrenching. Later episodes like “Becoming Part 2,” “The Prom,” “The Body,” and “Seeing Red,” will leave you in tears. 

This show knows how to shock and disturb its viewers.

I never expected to experience this much emotion while watching a silly teenage show about vampires.

Supurb Stand-Alone Episodes

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the first shows to offer a season-long arch. Each season has a dedicated “big bad,” and most episodes drive the plot to the ultimate season-ending battle. 

Sprinkled between the story episodes are a scattering of “stand-alone” episodes, which don’t do much to drive the plot forward but offer unique situations and character growth. 

Some of these “monster of the week” episodes showcase the best of the Buffyverse. Here are three of the best stand-alone episodes. 


Everyone thought that Buffy’s success was only due to the snappy dialect. Joss Whedon, Buffy’s creator, wanted to show the critics how wrong they were. He wrote an episode about monsters who steal everyone’s voice.

The Gentlemen, as they were called, were some of the creepiest monsters ever to be featured on Buffy. The action sequences and the attempts to communicate without the spoken word were groundbreaking – this had never been done on television. 

“Hush” is absolutely one of my favorites.

“The Body”

“The Body” is a cinematic masterpiece. In this heart-wrenching episode, Buffy’s mother dies of natural causes. This episode captured the feeling of hopelessness we have when a loved one dies like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

Every character deals with grief in their own way. 

Buffy imagines that she saved her mother and, in the end, has to find a way to pull herself together for her little sister.  Willow, Xander, Tara, and Anya are angry and unable to comprehend the loss. Giles tries to be strong for Buffy but is overcome with his own grief.

The episode’s lack of music adds to its realism, and you feel like you are there mourning with Buffy and her friends. 

“The Body” is so powerful that I can hardly even watch it when I’m on a Buffy re-watch.

“Once More With Feeling”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “Once More with Feeling” as the best stand-alone episode of the series. It does tie into the plot, so it might not be a stand-alone, but this is probably one of the best episodes of any show in television history. 

“Once More with Feeling” is a musical episode – in fact, Buffy was one of the first shows ever to pull it off. The songs are fun and catchy but powerful, giving a peek into the characters’ psyches. 

It’s a masterpiece. I can’t say more about it; you must watch it.

It’s Groundbreaking

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a ground-breaking show. It changed how we viewed television and helped change our culture with its casual feminism, support of LGBTQ characters, and “Buffy Speak.”

Buffy is one of the first shows to feature a strong female lead character and female supporting cast. But part of its genius is that it didn’t bill itself as such. 

Buffy was just a girl who happened to be chosen, and her calling turned her into a strong leader. It was an incredibly feminist show that didn’t pat itself on the back for being feminist. Buffy is a leader that anyone could look up to.

The show also featured the first normalized lesbian relationship on network television. Willow and Tara’s romance was one of the healthiest relationships in the show (until Willow got all crazy with the magics). They shared one of the first real lesbian kisses ever featured on a network show, and it wasn’t done to sexualize the couple. It was a sweet kiss shared in a moment of grief. It’s impressive that a television show could do so much to help normalize homosexual relationships.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer also changed the way we speak. It created an entirely new dialect, coined “Buffy speak,” a mix of Valley Girl and slang that still seeps into our language today. 

The Over Arching Themes

Buffy is a show about life disguised as a show about monsters. It uses the supernatural as a metaphor for things we all struggle with. 

At its heart, the show is about growing up and navigating life as a young adult. The seven seasons fall into three distinct categories: high school, growing up, and adulthood. 

The High School Years

The overarching theme of the first three seasons is that high school is hell. The theme comes to life with an entrance to hell directly beneath the high school. 

Buffy portrays common high school problems with monster metaphors. Episodes showcase teachers who prey on high school boys, feeling invisible, jocks who get away with anything, online predators, and trying to fit in with the cool kids. 

Though Buffy explores these themes with monsters, in reality, they’re common problems that many high schoolers face on a daily basis. 

Growing Up

Seasons four and five deal with the transition from high school to adulthood. The girls go to college while Xander tries to find his way through a series of terrible jobs

Giles tries to find his place in their lives as they grow up. He was Buffy’s watcher, the school librarian, and mentor to all, but with the school gone, he no longer has a role. 

Season four tests the gang’s friendship as they grow and struggle to find their places in the world. It showcases how most of us lose touch with our high school friends as we head off to college and enter the real world. 

We leave a huge part of ourselves behind. 

In season five, they all start to gain some footing, but that comes with its own trials and tribulations as they accept roles they aren’t truly ready for. Buffy gets a sister, and her mother’s death thrusts her into parenthood. Xander proposes to Anya but isn’t sure he’s ready for marriage. Willow grows more and more reliant on magic. 

They’re all growing up. 


Seasons six and seven explore coming to terms with adulthood. 

Season 6 is the show’s darkest season, and it’s my absolute favorite. The “big bad” isn’t a monster—it’s life. Buffy struggles with severe depression and tries to keep things together for her sister. She fails more often than not. 

Willow becomes addicted to the power of witchcraft because she feels that it’s the only thing she has to offer. “If you could be plain old Willow or super Willow, which would you choose?” she asks. 

Xander and Anya’s relationship is on the rocks because Xander is trying to decide if he really is ready for marriage. He ends up breaking her heart and leaving her at the altar – because he wasn’t prepared but didn’t know how to tell her. 

The characters are a complete mess in season six, which makes it so good. It’s gritty and real, and Buffy doesn’t hold back in portraying how hard the first few years of adulthood are. 

Season seven is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Buffy overcomes her depression, Xander becomes a foreman at his company and learns to respect his friend’s decisions, and Willow learns to find balance in witchcraft. 

Many people hate this season because of the focus on the potential slayers, but I think it’s a beautiful end to a fantastic series. The hell mouth gets destroyed for good, and Buffy finally has the chance to lead a normal life if she chooses. This season is about being an adult and making adult decisions, and I think it’s incredible.

The Love Interests

Although the overarching themes and cinematography make the show great, the drama sucks folks in and keeps them watching. 

Buffy has the most compelling love stories of all time. She fell in love with vampires before it was cool. 

Fans still argue over Buffy’s infamous vampire love triangle. I’ll try to remain unbiased in my analysis of each relationship, but I clearly favor one over the other. 

Buffy and Angel

Buffy and Angel – the Vampire Cursed with a Soul – became a modern-day Romeo and Juliet. 

Angel is the mysterious older man who often comes to Buffy with dire warnings. He’s the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome, and it’s easy to see why she’s so smitten. 

Drama defines their relationship. He’s drawn to her but doesn’t want to date her because of what he is. He lies to her about seeing Drusilla and forces her to admit she loves him (although she explicitly states she doesn’t trust him). 

When he eventually tells her the truth about how horrible he was without a soul, she forgives him, and they move forward with their teenage romance.

But loving Angel comes with a deep price. His curse was meant to make him suffer. If he had just one moment of happiness, the curse would be lifted, and he would lose his soul. Making love to Buffy was the one moment of happiness that caused him to lose it, and now she’s left to deal with one of the most dangerous vampires in history. 

Her life turns upside down when she has to kill him to save the world.

Buffy and Spike

“I like my evil like I like my men – evil.”

Buffy likes dangerous men. And there’s no one more dangerous than Spike. 

The Slayer of Slayers hopes to make Buffy his third kill. Instead, he falls in love with her. 

As the show progresses, the dynamic between the two characters keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. They go from sworn enemies to reluctant allies – to friends and then to lovers, with a lot of drama and heartache in between. 

They are horrible and abusive to each other in season six but can forgive and trust each other by the end of season seven. 

Their journey is so real—it’s not a teenage fantasy of what love should be. Their relationship shows two adults who both made terrible decisions. They both tried to make amends and move past their mistakes. 

The realism of it makes it my favorite relationship in the entire show.

Buffy is the Best Show Ever

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite show, and if you’ve gotten this far, you can see why. 

It’s storytelling at its best, with complex characters, compelling themes, and enough drama to keep you hooked. 

There’s a reason why a show nearly two decades old is still so popular. Its messages resonate even today.

10 thoughts on “Six Reasons Why Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the Greatest Show of All Time”

      • Agreed! I’m obsessed with all the YouTube reaction watchers – I love that the show is getting this new generation of people falling in love with the characters and relating to their struggles in the way I did as a teenager. My heart is full everytime I see it become someone else’s favorite show!

  1. Buffy is still my favorite show of all time! And the ending was absolutely perfect!!! Sure it was sad to see Spike and Anya go, but it made perfect sense for the character arcs. Willow turning white instead of black haired, Anya saving Andrew, and the biggest point of all, Buffy sharing her Slayer power with all the potential slayers all over the world! Not only was it the most beautiful story of female empowerment, but Buffy finally got let off the hook of being the only “chosen one”. The final line is Faith asking Buffy, ” what are you gonna do now?” The smile Buffy gives is so awesome. She finally gets her time to show some oats.

    • Agreed! Best show ever. It was nice to see Spike come back in Angel and in the comics though

  2. Buffy is also one of my favorite shows ever!! I too loved Buffy and Spike. I loved that he sought out his soul in order to be worthy of her. I always thought he handled having a soul better than Angel bc he fought for it instead of it being a punishment. Season six was my favorite as well! I’m a bit unnerved at all this talk of a reboot.

    • Totally agree! I’m cautiously optimistic about a reboot. It’s time for a new generation to appreciate slayer lore!

  3. I agree 100% that Buffy is the best show ever! And the only episode you left off was Tabula Rasa. Otherwise I agree with all you said and I am also a Spuffy shipper! I enjoyed the read. Thanks! Grrrr Arrgghhhh!!

  4. Alisha, I totally agree with you about Spike handling having a soul better than Angel. All Angel ever did was whine and complain while Spike tried to be the better man/vampire. Long live team Spuffy!!

    • Angel is the worst! I understand why Buffy, the 16-year-old character, liked him. But I can’t understand how anyone watching can be like “yes, this is a wonderful relationship”

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