8 Vital Life Lessons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite show of all time. 

It’s iconic, with its clever dialogue dubbed “Buffy Speak,” ground-breaking themes, and realistic characters. 

Part of Buffy’s genius is the valuable life lessons hidden under the facade of a campy teenage monster drama. 

You’ll be surprised at how much the 20-year-old show can teach you. 

~Spoilers Ahead~

Life Lessons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a giant metaphor for life. Almost every episode has an overarching theme that involves real-life struggles. 

The show covers surviving high school, fitting in, growing up, finding your place in the world, coping with family drama, and navigating toxic relationships

It’s packed so full of crucial life lessons that it’s hard to focus on just a few. 

Here are the ones that resonate with me the most.

Life is Hard, But It’s Worth it

“The hardest thing about this world is to live in it.”

It seems dire, but it’s true. Life can be challenging. It’s not easy to get up every day and deal with the struggles of adult life. We’re juggling so many priorities that sometimes, making it through the week counts as a win. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer perfectly illustrates this struggle, sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly. 

In the early seasons, Buffy juggles school, keeping her mom’s approval, being a typical teenager, and her slaying duties. In the later seasons, she juggles a career, caring for her sister, taking care of the house, and being there for her friends with her slaying duties. 

Although Buffy often fails, she keeps trying – a central theme of the show. 

A lot of the supporting characters struggle in similar ways. Buffy’s first love, Angel, struggled so much with guilt from his actions that he tried to walk into the sunlight.

“Am I thing worth saving? Am I a righteous man? The world wants me gone!” he screams as he tries to let the daylight take him. 

Buffy’s response still sends chills down my spine:

“Strong in fighting. It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s every day. It’s what we have to do.”

She shows us that life is hard, but we must find a way to keep fighting. 

We’ve all had low points in our lives. I’ve struggled with depression, and I’ve struggled with wondering if it was all worthwhile. But it is. And it gets better. Buffy was right.

Angel lived and ended up saving the world on numerous occasions. While most of us won’t do anything that hardcore, we all make our little corners of the world better every day. And that’s worth the struggle.

Be Comfortable With Yourself

Throughout the series, Buffy struggles with relationships. Her inability to communicate with a partner and her refusal to accept that the Slayer is part of her rather than something she does makes her such a great character. 

But in season five, she starts to understand. Rather than pursue another losing relationship, she realizes that she needs to know herself before she can ever be happy in a relationship. 

 “I don’t need a guy right now. I need me. I need to get comfortable being alone with Buffy,” she says as she declines a date. 

We’d all be better off if we learned that lesson early. We’re the only person that can make us happy. Far too many of us think we need a relationship to make us whole, but the truth is if we aren’t whole, a relationship can’t save us. You will be disappointed if you depend on a significant other to make you happy. 

If you learn to be comfortable with yourself, you will find happiness with yourself. And when you do that, you can find happiness in a healthy relationship.

No Man is Worth Your Life – Ever!

Buffy hits you on the head with the fact that no man (or woman!) is worth your life. Although the show features numerous characters choosing their health and well-being over a significant other, the best example is in season seven’s “Him.” 

The “filler episode” bursts with comic gold and iconic life lessons. While under a love spell, Dawn lays down in front of a train to prove her love for a man, thinking that giving her life will show him how much she loves him.

The episode serves as a metaphor for losing yourself in a romantic relationship, and although it’s a little “on the nose,” it works. 

I was losing myself when I was stuck in a relationship with an alcoholic, becoming an angry, bitter shell of myself. Buffy taught me it was okay to be myself without getting wrapped up in his drama.

Buffy gave me the strength to finally end the toxic relationship for good. If she can kill the man she loves to save the world, I can break up with a toxic boyfriend to save myself.

It’s all about Power

“Power. I have it, they don’t. This bothers them.”

Life is all about power. We strive to maintain control over ourselves and our own lives but often inadvertently let others exert power over us. We give our agency to employers (or the Watcher’s Counsel in Buffy), families, friends, and partners.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer explores themes of power throughout the series. In season three, the Watcher’s Counsel purposely weakens her for a barbaric and unnecessary test, and in season five, that same counsel tries to trick Buffy into sharing the power she’s reclaimed with them. 

Buffy also explores power’s ominous dark side. 

In season six, Willow’s quest for influence leads her down a dark path where she loses herself in dark magic forces beyond her control. She starts using magic in unnatural ways, changing the world to her own liking rather than helping people. She abuses powerful forces to erase her girlfriend’s memory, effectively destroying her ability to be an equal partner. The lust for authority ultimately endangers the entire world. 

The show perfectly showcases the delicate balance people with power must maintain. It never claims power as good or evil – it’s simply a force. Those who have it must decide how to wield it. 

In the end, Buffy decides to use her power for good. She shares it with thousands of other girls, empowering women across the globe to take control over their own lives in one of the most compelling scenes of the entire show.

“I say we change the rule. My power should be our power. Every girl who could have the power will have the power. Are you ready to be strong?”

Buffy taught me I have power and shouldn’t be afraid to use it. She showed me that I can be strong, even in the face of adversity. 

You Have To Do Whatever it Takes To Get By

Many people refuse jobs because their egos tell them they can do better. They sit around, relying on others to help them when they refuse to help themselves. 

Buffy teaches us to put aside our egos. You gotta do what you gotta do to pay the bills, even if that means flipping burgers at the Double Meat Palace. 

Buffy takes a terrible low-wage job in season six because she needs money. Slaying doesn’t pay the bills, and she doesn’t have the job experience or time for anything else. She hates it, but she does it. 

Xander is the poster child for terrible jobs. He delivers pizzas, drives an ice cream truck, and trolls employment boards while trying to discover his place in the world. His hard work eventually pays off when he finds a temporary position working in construction, which he parlays into a career.

Xander taught us that it pays to dabble in a few things to find what suits us. He also taught us that it’s okay to work at terrible jobs while figuring things out.

Xander and Buffy both save the world, but neither is above working awful low-wage jobs to get by. 

Houses Need Maintenance

Things get rough for Buffy in season six. For some reason, monsters keep barging in and breaking all her things—lamps, doors, tables, even pipes! With her mom gone, she must take an adult role and maintain the home, leading her to find work at a minimum-wage job. 

Buffy’s struggles resonated with me. She owned a single-family home and was responsible for all the maintenance—monster-related or not. Things get broken in my house constantly, but luckily, it’s mostly wear and tear rather than monster damage. 

Get-rich Schemes are Never the Answer

In season six’s “As You Were,” Buffy still works her awful low-wage job at the Double Meat Palace. 

Spike, the soulless vampire, couldn’t understand why Buffy would “lower” herself to such a degrading position. After she sadly tells him she needs the money, he hatches a scheme to get it. Spike decides to trade in expensive but incredibly dangerous demon eggs. 

Of course, the heroes foil his plan, destroying his home in the process.  

Although I would never try to trade in something as dangerous as demon eggs, Spike’s failure offers a valuable lesson: Don’t take the easy way out to make money. 

Easy money is a myth and usually a scam. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Money is Vital

You wouldn’t expect a show about vampires to teach fundamental life lessons, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer does, and it shines. 

The show highlights money’s crucial role in our lives. 

Life is expensive, and you must find a way to pay for it. The characters each face this challenge in unique ways. They deal with unemployment, low-wage jobs, moving away from their parents, and trying to apply for loans – all real-life stuff everyone deals with. 

Anya, the former vengeance demon, showcases our need for money in a lighthearted way. 

“But I have their money. Who cares what kind of day they have?”

She talks about how great making money is every chance she gets. She loves being a cog in the giant wheel of capitalism and extols its values at every opportunity. 

Although many of Anya’s one-liners about money are used for comic relief, she’s not always wrong (though she’s often too blunt). Money is vital. It can’t buy happiness, but can give you options and control over your life.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Full of Lessons

These are just a tiny sampling of the vital life lessons Buffy espouses. The show covers many more topics about fitting in during high school, transitioning to adulthood, and finding your place in the world. 

The metaphors showcasing real-life struggles are a massive part of Buffy’s lasting appeal. The show isn’t about vampires – it’s about life. And it teaches us to be strong despite the challenges we may face. 

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