Throw-back Sunday: Ranking the top 5 heart-breaking moments from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

It’s Throw-Back Sunday TV Fans!  For today, I have once again returned to one of my old favorites, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  There’s something to be said about moments in television that can bring you to tears.  You invest a lot of time into the shows you watch and connect with the characters on a profound level, which is what makes it so impossibly emotional when certain moments happen, shattering the calm and happy existence you have come to know and rely on.  Whether it is one of your favorite characters dying, an epic romance coming to end, or something else entirely, there are certain heart-breaking moments on television that still impact us today.  After many re-watches of Buffy, there are still certain moments that I recognize.  I find my heart starting to skip faster, anticipating the worst, even hoping that somehow the outcome might be different with a re-watch.  However, the tragedy replays as it did the first time watching, still bringing tears to our eyes and tugging at our own feelings in the process.  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch the full series yet.  My top 5 heart-breaking moments from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are:

5

Giles’s discovery of Jenny’s death. 

In season 2, Angel loses his soul when he experiences true happiness with Buffy.  When he returns to his former monstrous self, Angelus, he stalks and torments Buffy and her friends.  It is not enough to simply kill them.  He wants them to truly suffer, weakening them further in the process.  Fans loved the blossoming romance between Giles and Jenny Calendar.  When Angelus learns that Jenny is on the verge of finding out how to bring the curse back along with his soul, he views her as a threat in the episode, “Passion.”  He hunts her down in the school and snaps her neck, which was horrific enough for viewers.  However, Angelus doesn’t stop here.  Rather, he stages a romantic evening for Giles to walk into.  Giles approaches his doorway with a rose waiting for him and happily walks into opera music playing along with champagne and a note reading, “Upstairs.”  To Giles’s horror, he finds Jenny’s lifeless body waiting in his bed, dropping the champagne bottle and shattering it, while the opera music crescendos louder and louder.  What makes this moment truly tragic is Giles’s reaction to it.  Giles and Jenny were finally going to be reunited and make things work, but Angelus viciously ripped this happiness away from him, toying with his emotions.

4

Tara’s death. 

In season 6, Warren is not about to let Buffy and the gang make a fool of him.  A once harmless villain has now become deadly.  He points a gun at Buffy and Xander to the surprise and horror of fans and shoots it.  Xander falls to the ground and it first appears that he is his victim, but the bullet ricochets to the upstairs window and strikes Tara right in front of Willow.  Tara’s blouse has a single blood stain on it, as she falls and collapses in Willow’s arms.  Willow’s eyes turn black in rage, now releasing the dark magic and power that she had kept away for so long.  The love between Willow and Tara was so pure and beautiful and fans were horrified to see Willow’s love taken away from her in a violent act.  The Scoobies have faced evil day after day, but what makes this so awful is that it was a mortal act of violence.  It wasn’t a vampire or a monster, rather it was a human being who felt wronged by the world and took his anger out with a man-made weapon, revealing that mortals can be just as dangerous as monsters in this world.

3

Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn. 

In the season 5 finale, “The Gift,” Buffy recognizes that her blood is just like Dawn’s.  Dawn’s blood is the key to closing the portal that will destroy the world, but she is not about to let her innocent sister suffer the consequences.  Buffy makes the decision to jump into the portal to sacrifice herself.  She tells Dawn that “you have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world — is to live in it. Be brave. Live…for me.”  This is one of the most powerful and heart-breaking quotes in the entire series for me.  Buffy’s unconditional love for her sister, her friends, and the world is beyond words.  She has touched the lives of so many people and helped saved innocents with each action, but there is something about this act that transcends all of that.  She recognizes the sacrifice and embraces it, leaving her friends mourning her behind.  Spike is left in tears, making this moment that much more tragic for fans, as he does truly love her and feels like he let her down.

2

Buffy kills Angel when his soul returns. 

In the season 2 finale, “Becoming,” Buffy knows what she must do and is now truly ready to defeat Angelus so that she can save the world.  She recognizes that the good man she came to know and love is gone, leaving only a shell of a monster behind.  Seems easy enough, right?  Before Buffy is about to strike the final blow, Willow’s spell works and Angel’s soul returns.  Angel doesn’t remember what has happened and Buffy tells him to close his eyes and kiss her, right before she strikes him fatally with a sword, sending his body through the portal.  Buffy is still relatively new and young as a slayer in season 2, dealing with high school drama and this is more than any teenage girl could handle.  She leaves Sunnydale behind, unable to deal with her emotions and the loss of her great love by her own hand.

1

Buffy finds her mother’s body. 

In season 5, Buffy is dealing with a new sister and a god named Glory who will stop at nothing to find her key and destroy the world.  What makes this moment truly tragic is that it is a mortal tragedy.  Buffy’s mother, Joyce, has been sick for a while, but when Buffy discovers her body lying on the floor, she becomes an innocent and terrified young girl.  Buffy whispers “Mommy,” as we empathize with her completely.  Her powers will not help her here.  She is left to attempt CPR and call an ambulance, but it is too late.  Her mother is gone and she has to deal with this loss along with realizing that she will now have to pick up the pieces of her family and grow up even faster than she already has.  This episode did not feature any background music so that viewers were able to completely focus on Buffy’s reaction and emotions throughout this heart-breaking scene, which is still incredibly difficult for me to watch.

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to share some of your own heart-breaking moments from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the comments section.  Thank you so much for reading and happy viewing!

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Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

@TV_Fanatic_Girl

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“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Ranking the top 5 episodes of the series

Happy Friday TV fans!  I was somewhat uninspired by the shows that aired last night so I decided to return to an old favorite, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Over the years, Buffy still holds up for me as one of my top shows of all time.  Buffy first aired when I was in high school and in desperate need of a female lead to look up to that was strong, resilient, smart, and selfless.  Plus Sarah Michelle Gellar’s wardrobe as Buffy helped my fashion sense tremendously.  Watching Buffy helped shape me into the person I am today and while I have not re-watched the show in several years, the episodes are still fresh in my mind.  I have to say that out of all my top 5 rankings, this was the most difficult show to narrow down my selections.  I adore making lists so when I was brainstorming last night about which episodes I wanted to include, I found myself scratching off some and adding others repeatedly.  There were some that I really wanted to include but I thought it was only fair to pick 5.  I think that goes to show that there are so many amazing episodes of Buffy.  Good job Joss Whedon! My five top episodes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer for are:

5

“Hush” (season 4, episode 10).  

I have to admit that I still have nightmares about “The Gentlemen” from this episode.  They are so well crafted and creepy, that even Freddy and Jason cannot compare.  “The Gentlemen” travel to Sunnydale to collect hearts and steal the voices of everyone so that no one can hear you scream.  I was in college when this episode first came out and I remember being very hesitant to open my dorm-room door after a knock because of this.  Sure that is a little extreme, but that’s how truly scary these demons were.  What really makes this episode stand out is that Buffy and the Scoobies have to find a way to defeat them and communicate with one another without their voices.  This leads to some great comedy along the way balanced with sheer terror.

4

“Fool for Love” (season 5, episode 7).

In this episode, Buffy comes very close to dying and is looking for a way to learn from her mistakes and stay alive.  She decides to go to the vampire, Spike, for help.  She knows that over his lifetime, he has killed two slayers and she wants to know how.  For me, Spike has always been one of my favorite characters.  The development of his back-story was so interesting and necessary to the show.  What really grabs the viewer is when he tells Buffy that “he’s always been bad,” only to flash back to a scene where he is dressed in a dusty suit, reciting poetry.  Who would have thought that one of the most dangerous vampires of all time had a romantic side?  We find out through the episode that he was nicknamed “William the Bloody” because of his “bloody awful poetry.”  While it is interesting to see how Spike is turned into a vampire and how he defeated the other two slayers, what really stands out is his love for Cecily.  He had been crafting his poetry for her and pouring his heart out, only for her to reject him and say that he is “beneath her.”  This moment is what drags Spike’s vulnerability to the surface and comes back to haunt him when Buffy later says the same thing to him.  For me, the end of this episode always stands the test of time.  Spike goes off to kill Buffy for making a fool of him and he sees her crying on her porch steps after she has learned that her mother is very ill.  He goes to sit with her and comfort her in what I think is the purest and most beautiful moment between them.  At this moment, Spike doesn’t have a soul.  Sure, he has a chip in his brain preventing him from hurting others, but he is able to show true compassion and friendship here, which is really beautiful.

3

“The Gift” (season 5, episode 22).  

This is a very powerful season finale and I often thought that the series would end here.  It wasn’t until the UPN network picked up Buffy for seasons 6 and 7 that it continued on.  A lot goes on in this episode and a catastrophic portal opens that can only be closed by the blood of the key, Buffy’s sister Dawn.  Buffy makes the ultimate sacrifice, choosing to jump into the portal to sacrifice herself to save her sister and the world.  A flash-back reveals Buffy reminding Dawn that their blood is the same, which brought tears to my eyes.  Buffy tells Dawn that “the hardest thing in this world is to live in it.  Be brave.  Live.  For me.”   As if this moment couldn’t have been tragic enough, Spike’s reaction to Buffy’s death is so heart-wrenching and real.  He does truly care for her and feels he let her down.

2

“The Zeppo” (season 3, episode 13).  

You may be wondering why I included this episode and why it is ranked so high on my list.  “The Zeppo” is the funniest episode of the entire series, following a series of events through Xander’s perspective.  In the beginning of the episode, Cordelia talks about how everyone in the Scoobies has something to contribute except for him.  He’s like “Jimmy Olsen” or “The Zeppo.”  Xander gets into a never-ending adventure where Buffy and the rest of the gang are simply background noise.  Xander’s reaction to each new challenge is hilarious and the music is spot on, which makes this episode stand out for me as one of my all-time favorites.

Some honorable mentions before revealing my number one episode of Buffy are:

  • “School Hard”
  • “Halloween”
  • “Innocence”
  • “Passion”
  • “I Only Have Eyes For You”
  • “Homecoming”
  • “Lovers Walk”
  • “The Wish”
  • “The Prom”
  • “Living Conditions”
  • “Something Blue”
  • “Who Are You?”
  • “Buffy vs. Dracula”
  • “Triangle”
  • “The Body”
  • “Life Serial”
  • “Once More, With Feeling”
  • “Tabula Rasa”
  • “Conversations with Dead People”
  • “Lies My Parents Told Me”
  • “Chosen”

1

“Becoming Part 2” (season 2, episode 22).  

This has always been my absolute favorite episode of the series.  While the episode has a lot going on, the last moments are what make it so powerful.  Angel has lost his soul and became the evil Angelus and Buffy is fully prepared to put a stop to him, recognizing that the man she fell in love with no longer exists within this soulless demon.  Angelus is opening the mouth of a demon that will swallow the world hold, unleashing hell upon earth.  Just as Buffy is about to strike him down with a sword and save the day, Willow’s spell takes effect, and his soul has now been returned.  Angel doesn’t remember what has happened or where he is.  The damage is done; however, as the demon’s mouth has already been opened and Buffy must destroy the love of her life to close the portal.  Buffy reveals her selflessness again to save the world, losing her true love in the process.  Once the tragic task is completed, Buffy leaves Sunnydale, unable to deal with the tragic consequences.

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to comment on some of your own favorite episodes.  Happy viewing and have a wonderful weekend!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl