Buffy Summers is one of the coolest characters ever created. The star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is strong, smart, sexy, and resilient, and she helped pave the way for countless other TV heroines. In seven seasons on screen (and a few more in the comics), she was just as comfortable spouting off witty one-liners as she was slaying the crap out of vampires, demons, and various other forms of dark forces.
There are so many memorable instances of Buffy being awesome that it would be impossible to name them all. That doesn’t mean she was always wonderful, though. Like any truly great character, she was complex and flawed. Sometimes, she had a hard time dealing with the tremendous responsibility of being the Chosen One. Sometimes, that meant she was she was selfish, mean, and made inexplicable, dangerous decisions. None of these moments made us love her any less, even if they did make us wonder what the hell she was thinking. Here, in chronological order, are 15 Times Buffy Summers Was Just A Jerk.
15. “If the apocalypse comes, beep me!”
It’s one of the most memorable lines ever uttered on Buffy, and with good reason. In just a single piece of dialogue, the Slayer managed to sum up her characters’ central dilemma. This moment between Buffy and Giles was also a Season 1 highlight. It’s fun, funny in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, and so incredibly ‘90s.
It’s also one of the earliest examples of Buffy’s ability to be totally flippant and rude with her Watcher. Though she was just a teenager – tied to her friends and her watcher with an outdated piece of technology – she also had a grave responsibility. Balancing those two parts of her life was never easy. But in “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date,” she decided to skip Giles’ oh-so-tedious request to have her wait for the arrival of the Anointed One. Instead, she went on a date.
Sure, Owen was cute in a dorky, not-anything-remotely-like-Angel type of way. But he definitely wasn’t worth bringing about the onset of the apocalypse. Her uber-focus on her dreamy date (and the way he was making a certain dreamy vampire jealous) meant that Buffy was seriously slacking on her slayer duties. That ultimately meant she dropped the ball on the mini-evil, which made the Master’s dream of opening the Hellmouth one step closer to a reality. Good one, Buffy.
14. Dancing with Xander at the Bronze
No one ever said the Slayer wasn’t allowed to blow off a little steam. That doesn’t mean she always found the best outlet for her stress, though. At the start of Season 2, Buffy was still grappling with the fact that she’d died, for just a minute, at the hands of the Master. She didn’t really want to talk about it, though, and insisted on pretending everything was normal. Early in “When She Was Bad,” it became pretty obvious that Buffy wasn’t doing so great, and it wasn’t going to be easy for the Scooby Gang to get through to her.
Instead of responding to their attempts to help her, Buffy decided to go out of her way to make her friends feel as awful as she did. At the Bronze, she pulled Xander onto the dance floor. Of course, she knew Angel loved her, and Xander had a crush on her, and Willow had a crush on Xander. That’s precisely why she decided to bust out her sexiest and most seductive moves on him – because she knew it would hurt them. Any doubt as to her intentions was erased when she leaned in and whispered in Xander’s ear, “Did I ever thank you for saving my life? Don’t you wish I would?” Yeah, Buffy, you know he wishes that, and the fact that you rubbed it in his (and everyone else’s) face just made it that much worse. In this case, Willow was totally right to call her a “bitca.”
13. Fighting with Joyce over her slayer status
Being the Slayer isn’t easy. Neither is being the Slayer’s mom, though – a fact Joyce Summers quickly learned when Buffy finally spilled the beans about her Chosen One status. Unfortunately, neither woman was quite ready to have that conversation, so needless to say, it didn’t go so great. Mrs. Summers was full of questions like, “Have you tried not being the slayer?” and Buffy didn’t really have time to answer them because she had “to save the world, again.”
Despite the incredibly tight deadline she was under, though, Buffy could have probably been a little bit nicer to her mom. Parenting a secretive, moody adolescent is hard enough, but when you throw in a curveball like “my main extracurricular is staking vampires,” it’s a lot to absorb. In the end, Buffy’s response to her mother’s freak out was a short-tempered rant about how much her life sucked. Even if that was true, it was still just a bit on the harsh side.
12. Leaving Sunnydale without a goodbye
It’s hard to say what anyone would do if they were in the same situation Buffy found herself in at the end of “Becoming: Part 2.” Her mother kicked her out of the house. Principal Snyder kicked her out of school. The police thought she murdered Kendra. She nearly fought Angel to the death, only to witness him getting his soul back, but then she had to drive a sword through his heart and send him to hell to prevent the apocalypse.
For all these reasons, Buffy definitely had reason to think that her life in Sunnydale was pretty much over – and to want to get the heck out of there. Her flight from the Hellmouth may have been justified, but leaving her friends to wonder what happened to her really wasn’t. Sure, she probably thought they’d try to find her, or convince her to stay. Given how often they’d fought by her side, though, they deserved the chance to do just that, or, at the very least, to say goodbye.
11. The Homecoming queen competition with Cordelia
Buffy had a long history of butting heads with Cordelia, even after she started dating Xander and became a defacto Scooby Gang member. Their oil-and-water issues really came to a head in Season 3 when both girls decided to make a run for Homecoming Queen. They each had perfectly valid reasons for wanting the crown: Cordelia saw it as a testament to the work she’d put into her social status for years at Sunnydale High. Buffy saw it as a chance to reclaim her pre-Slayer glory days. None of this excuses the way they treated each other as they attempted to win over their fellow students’ votes, though.
At one point, the competition between Cordelia and Buffy became so intense that Xander had to physically separate them to avoid a violent confrontation. It also goes without saying that any time the words “vapid whore” enter a conversation, it’s probably a sign that tensions are a bit too high. Buffy may have been trying to prove that she still had what it took to be high school beauty royalty, but in “Homecoming,” she ended up showing her ugly side instead.
10. Lying to the Scooby Gang about Angel’s return
For Buffy, losing Angel once was hard enough, and losing him twice was almost too much to bear. So when he mysteriously reappeared at the beginning of Season 3, she was understandably shaken. She had absolutely no idea why he was back or what happened to him while he was in Hell. At first, he was so out of sorts that he seemed more like a feral monster than a newly re-souled vampire. In other words, the whole situation was completely confusing.
It’s easy to see why she would have had a hard time telling her friends about Angel’s return. That being said, she really had no excuse not to tell them. If he was a threat, they deserved a chance to protect themselves. Even if he wasn’t, they really deserved to know. Instead, she lied about her whereabouts and weirdness, and Xander had to find out the hard way – by stumbling upon her and Angel making out. Ganging up on her intervention-style probably didn’t help matters, but in this case, the Scoobies definitely deserved to be frustrated for being kept in the dark.
9. Turning on Angel in “Enemies”
Buffy and Angel’s dating experience was more or less a non-stop rollercoaster ride. Between fighting over whether or not he was good for her and him turning evil and trying to kill her friends that one time, they hit plenty of snags. By the end of Season 3 of Buffy, it was pretty clear that even though they seemed like soulmates, their love affair wasn’t going to last.
One of the first signs that their relationship was headed south came in “Enemies.” Angel pretended to be evil so that he and Buffy could fool Faith into giving them information about the Mayor’s Ascension. The plan went off without a hitch – which, for some reason, made Buffy decide she needed to spend some time away from Angel. Yes, he did have to get pretty intimate with Faith to make her believe he wasn’t soul-having, but Buffy knew that would be the case going into the con.
Buffy had a right to be jealous, and disturbed by seeing the remnants of Angelus once more. Still, it wasn’t really fair for her to take her discomfort at the situation out on Angel and push him away. After all, he only did what she asked him to do.
8. Almost killing Faith
For much of Buffy’s third season, Faith was a thorn in the Scooby Gang’s side. Her turn to the dark side made Buffy’s life particularly messy, especially after her fellow slayer poisoned Angel in “Graduation Day Part 1.” Once Buffy learned that the only way Angel could be saved was by drinking a slayer’s blood, she went straight to Faith, determined to kill her once and for all.
Given everything we know about Buffy, that was pretty extreme. Sure, Faith was more or less her enemy, but she was, in fact, mortal – a troubled soul more than an outright evil that needed to be put down. We knew that when it came to Angel, Buffy’s judgment could get a bit cloudy, but her momentary blood thirst marked a particularly dark moment. Of course, in the end, she ended up almost fatally wounding Faith instead of giving her up to Angel as a snack. In some ways, that may have been even worse.
7. Being a crappy roommate
When Buffy got a roommate in Season 4, it offered the perfect metaphorical segue from a “high school is hell” motif to the series’ new theme: life, in general, sure can suck a lot, too. Kathy was diabolically perky, she took Buffy’s things, she clipped her toenails out in the open, and most importantly, she liked Cher. Though Buffy didn’t have to live with Kathy long – the fact that she was a demon cut her college plans short – she certainly had plenty of opportunities to learn the meaning of “share time.”
Instead, Buffy transformed into the queen of passive aggression. She complained endlessly about her roommate to her friends, but put on a sickly sweet demeanor whenever she was actually around. She put a lock on her closet, instead of confronting Kathy about the fact that she’d stolen her clothes. Sure, Kathy went overboard when she labeled every piece of food she’d bought. Still, Buffy definitely didn’t take the high road when she chugged her roommate’s gallon of milk right in front of her. It all seems extra silly when you remember that Buffy could have easily just crashed at her mom’s place if she really couldn’t stand another round of “Believe.”
6. Ditching her friends to hang with Riley and the Initiative
Buffy had a harder time than most balancing her social life and school life, because she had a slayer life, too. In Season 4, when she met Riley and became acquainted with the Initiative, it seemed like a good way for her to kill two birds with one stone: she could date and slay without having to make time for both. Unfortunately, another big part of her life fell by the wayside in the meantime. She started flaking on Xander and Willow, and when they did hang out, she usually brought her new boyfriend – and sometimes his Army entourage – along for the ride.
It’s totally normal to get caught up in a new romance, but Buffy definitely took it too far where Riley was concerned. She didn’t even consider that Xander and Willow would be offended when Buffy brought her new military gang to their Scooby-only time. She barely saw Xander, unless she needed his help with something. The fact that she didn’t even know Willow had a girlfriend proved just how little she was paying attention to her friends.
5. Trying to tell Angel how to live his life in L.A.
You’d think that Buffy and Angel’s relationship would have gotten less complicated after they severed ties and he moved to Los Angeles. You would be wrong, though, especially whenever someone like Faith was concerned. In the first season of Angel, the brooding vampire took the troubled slayer under his wing after she swapped, and then un-swapped, bodies with Buffy in Sunnydale. Her foe tracked her all the way to Los Angeles, and wasn’t exactly thrilled to see Faith shacked up at her ex-boyfriend’s place.
There’s no doubt that Buffy’s shock and sadness at the whole situation made sense. However, the way she took Angel to task for trying to help Faith get back on the right track was out of line. Instead of acknowledging that he could actually do some good for her fellow slayer, she made the whole situation all about her pain.
When Angel rightfully pointed out that she had no business telling him how to live his life when she was no longer a part of it, she got even angrier. The entire situation proved that while Buffy usually had a strong sense of right and wrong, she also had a wicked ability to hold a grudge.
4. Fighting with Xander, Willow, and Giles
By the end of Season 4, the Scooby Gang was more or less fractured. Xander, Willow, Giles and Buffy all played a role in the tension in the group, and no one was really ready to face the quagmire of anger and sadness they felt about how they’d drifted apart. When everything finally came to a head in “The Yoko Factor,” and they started pointing fingers at one another, it was easy to see why Buffy would feel defensive. After all, her best friends were accusing her of not caring about them.
Still, she didn’t hesitate to lash right back, and it got ugly. For one, Buffy seemed pretty dismissive of Xander and Willow’s insecurities about their role in her life. For another, instead of acknowledging that she had been keeping them at arms’ length, she doubled down on her need to fight without them. For a group that had found strength and a sense of pride in standing together, her sudden need to go it alone seemed both unfair and a bit unfeeling.
3. Taking Riley for granted
Few Buffy fans would argue that Riley Finn was a particularly loveable or essential character. Compared to the slayer’s other loves, Angel and Spike, he often seemed dull and uninspiring. Despite his lack of “wow” factor, though, there was one thing that Riley consistently brought to BtVS: a devotion to Buffy that made her feel safe and loved. That’s why the way she treated Riley was often pretty reprehensible.
Yes, he was boring. He was also a stable, caring force in her life. He almost always put her first, and he looked out for her friends and family, too. He got some sexytimes in return, sure, but for the most part, she was emotionally unavailable to him. Given her past history with boys, her tendency to put a wall up was plausible. That doesn’t mean it was right for her to take all the love he had to give and offer up the bare minimum in return.
2. Messing with Dawn’s social worker
Buffy always had a bit of a “damn the man” mentality – heck, that’s half the reason we loved it. Her penchant for giving the finger to authority usually didn’t make her life any easier, but it did come from a place of righteousness. She lashed out at the Watcher’s Council because their methods were barbaric. She subverted the Initiative’s orders because she knew a better way. She used her powers of invisibility to make a social worker question her own sanity, just because she thought Buffy seemed too disorganized to care for Dawn.
That last one maybe wasn’t all that righteous, in retrospect. After all, the social worker was really only doing her job, and she did have reason to think that Dawn was living in an unstable environment. Of course, Buffy would do just about anything to make sure her sister wasn’t taken away. That still didn’t mean she had to make the social worker think she was completely out of her mind. Okay, the floating, dancing cow mug and well-placed The Shining reference were pretty funny. That being said, Buffy probably could have found a better way to salvage her guardianship.
1. Using Spike
“You hated yourself, and you took it out on me.” Those words from Spike in Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer probably do the best job of succinctly summing up his relationship with Buffy. Complicated feelings and desires cropped up between the vampire and the slayer in Seasons 5 and 6. Though she initially resisted Spike’s attempts at wooing her, she eventually gave into him.
No reasonable person could fault Buffy for what she was going through when she started sleeping with Spike. She’d been pulled out of heaven and back onto the Hellmouth, and felt more alienated than ever from her friends and loved ones. Likewise, she was in no way to blame for the fact that he completely crossed the line and tried to rape her.
Still, bedding her former mortal enemy, even though she didn’t reciprocate his intense romantic feelings for her, wasn’t just a poor choice. It was, in some ways, cruel. She was knowingly using him to make herself feel something, even though she knew he was way more invested in their relationship.
Do you think Buffy was justified in her occasional jerkiness? Let us know in the comments!