Buffy proved herself beyond doubt in the season 1 finale when she closed the Hellmouth and dispatched the dreaded Master.
Just say no, kids. To sex with your vampire boyfriend. Buffy’s decision to give it up unlocked the evil in Angel and kick-started an amazing half of season 2…
…that was capped off by this (literally) soul-destroying episode in which Buffy sent Angel to Hell. As he was sucked into the void, Willow’s spell restored his humanity, but it was too late. The Slayer fled Sunnydale to the strains of “Full of Grace,” and so began the onslaught of Sarah McLachlan weepers that continue to haunt us via sad puppy eyes to this day. (Heightened the next hour when “Angel” played during Dawson’s Creek‘s season 1 finale. Epic.)
The first appearance of Anya! And as a slutty, psychotic Willow! After seeing Xander and Willow kiss the episode before, Cordelia wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. Obviously, this was a terrible, terrible idea.
Obviously Whedon has a thing for vampy Willow. He wrote this episode specifically for her.
The only one of Buffy’s eps to be nominated for a writing Emmy. And its most powerful moments featured barely a single word of dialogue. What did it have? Heart-snatching, voice-snatching ghouls called The Gentlemen and proof that the Scoobies didn’t need their snappy repartee to get down to business (though we were more than happy to have their one-liners back the next week).
Whedon’s more experimental episodes, the season 4 finale skimped on the slaying in favor of surreality. Each of the main characters traveled through a dreamlike state that hinted at what was in store for season 5, most notably the introduction of Buffy’s suddenly-there sister Dawn.
You’d think Buffy would be desensitized to death. Then it struck home. The shocking, non-violent death of Joyce Summer hit Buffy harder than anything else on the series. Paralyzed, she crumpled into a ball on the floor of their home. Heartbreaking.
I’ve got a theory, it was the bunnies that made this one of Whedon’s faves.
Buffy, Dawn, and Willow are all visited by ghosts from their pasts… or are they? This real-time episode was a series first and got to the heart of Buffy’s deeply conflicted psychology in the final season.
Admittedly, this is a lightweight episode, especially in the context of Buffy’s battle with evil Angel, but seeing Xander’s surprisingly fit physique in a Speedo? Priceless.
Buffy enlisted all of Sunnydale to help her vanquish the town’s biggest baddie yet — its own mayor. The episode was also the last regular appearance of Angel, who headed to L.A. to fight evil — but never quite as awesomely as he did with Buffy.
Buffy sacrifices herself to save the world. Need I say more?
Back and utterly haunted by the happiness she saw on the other side, Buffy gives in to her attraction to Spike. As a building collapses around them, they have, passionate, darkness-filled sex for the first time.
Willow gives into her rage after Tara’s death, nearly destroying the world in the process. Alyson Hannigan was outstanding.