Finding love isn’t easy – especially when you live on a Hellmouth. Over the course of a combined twelve seasons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel, portrayed a myriad of relationships. Some were happy and healthy, while others, could not be classified as either. Buffy and Angel may be the most iconic couple of either series, but they were hardly the only memorable one.
Twenty years later, we are still discussing the fates of our favorite characters. More has been revealed in the comics, which have continued the story up to season 11 and counting. These characters were not only lovable, but also relatable and they remain just as important today as they were when they were introduced.
Some of the relationships on BtVS and Angel were certainly better than others. In fact, some are downright painful to revisit. This is bound to get a little heated, as we Buffy fans can be a bit intense on the subject. Whether it was an epic love story or just a one-night stand, here are 21 Buffyverse Romances, Ranked.
21. Spike and Harmony
These two were certainly a match made in – well, you know where. Just when we thought Harmony was gone for good, she reemerged, more irritating than ever. The upside though, was that we got Spike back as well. This was the worst relationship of the series.
Sure, at first it was kind of fun to watch the dynamic between them. However, it didn’t take long before Spike unleashing all of his vitriol on someone incapable of defending herself became upsetting. He was just plain abusive. Sure, he didn’t have a soul, but when we’re feeling bad for Harmony, there’s something wrong. Okay, so she did become a somewhat sympathetic character on Angel, but that’s a different story.
Aside from that, there just wasn’t much passion between James Marsters and Mercedes McNab. The insane chemistry he’d had with Juliet Landau made the absence of it even more apparent. We had Spike and Harmony, but all we wanted was to have Spike and Dru back.
20. Willow and Kennedy
We all wanted Willow to find someone else after Tara died – which we’re still crying about – but we were hoping to actually like the person that she chose. Again, a lot of it comes down to chemistry. Amber Benson and Alyson Hannigan were definitely not lacking in that department. However, Iyari Limon and Hannigan just never felt believable together.
It’s not that Kennedy was so awful. She was fine as a character. Honestly, she was kind of the best of the potentials, although that’s not saying too much. It’s not as though it was all her fault. Kennedy may have been bratty and a bit obnoxious at times, but that wasn’t the main issue. She just wasn’t right for Willow. After Tara, though, could anyone be?
The short answer is: yes. No one thought that Willow would find someone who could quite live up to Oz after Seth Green left the show. However, Tara became even more beloved. We know that the writers of BtVS are capable of willing incredible characters into existence. Kennedy just wasn’t one of them. Willow deserved better.
19. Willow and Xander
Sure, they were better together than Willow and Kennedy, but that’s hardly an accomplishment. It’s not like pairing Willow and Xander never made sense. She did pine for him for quite some time, but waiting until they were both in happy and relatively healthy relationships never made much narrative sense – although vampire Xander and Willow were kind of great.
Perhaps the two characters needed to be brought together to show that they shouldn’t be? We’ll never know, but what we do know, is that it didn’t really work. This may have been something the audience hoped for before Willow met Oz, but we fell in love with Oz pretty much when she did. By the time season 3 rolled around, we were sold on those two, as well as Xander and Cordy.
Dismantling both relationships in favor of something that was never going to work felt wrong. Not to mention that by that point, Willow and Xander seemed more like siblings than anything else. At least their ill-fated romance didn’t last longer than a few episodes.
18. Buffy and Riley
Let’s get this out of the way: Angel was a tough act to follow. David Boreanaz left some pretty big shoes to fill and Marc Blucas just wasn’t up to the task. Admittedly, watching the initial courtship between Buffy and Riley wasn’t terrible, but once the characters were in a real relationship, that changed. Riley went on to become one of the most despised major characters in the entire Buffyverse.
First of all, there was zero chemistry between Blucas and Gellar. Yes, the sparks flying between her and Boreanaz were pretty impossible to beat, but there wasn’t a hint of smolder between these two. Captain Cardboard indeed. Their sex scenes were just painful to watch – unfortunately we’ll never be able to forget “Where the Wild Things Are” – and the emotional stakes were just never there. Any time these two were in danger of breaking up, no one cared. Buffy never truly let Riley in and neither did the fans.
Also, let’s not forget that Riley basically cheated on Buffy and then gave her an ultimatum. He blamed his poor life choices on her and then left town. Xander didn’t help matters by piling on either. However, his speech to Anya at the end of “Into the Woods” was one of the most beautiful declarations of love ever uttered on BtVS, so we’ll forgive him.
17. Faith and Robin
This is a possible pairing that was never really given a chance to develop. It is true that all these two really shared by the end of the series was nothing more than a one-night stand. However, in the season 8 comics, Faith refers to Robin as “the ex”, which implied that there was more between them that we simply did not see. It also meant that whatever they shared was over.
So, while it obviously wasn’t a romance for the ages, Faith and Robin really did kind of make sense together. They certainly were a better match than he and Buffy, which thankfully, the series didn’t choose to explore too much. Robin proved after his night with Faith that he was capable of challenging her, which was something that few people did. The fact that he could hold his own was impressive, but ultimately, they were never going to stand the test of time.
16. Cordelia and Groo
Well, this started out like a fairytale romance. Once upon a time, in another dimension, a kingdom needed saving. The tale comes replete with arch villains, oppressed citizens, and most importantly, a love story.
Cordelia and the Groosalugg met in Lorne’s home dimension, Pylea. Although Cordy becoming queen of that world wasn’t meant to last, Groo never stopped treating her like one. He surprised her by following her back home and for a few episodes, they were happy. That is, until Cordelia started treating him like dirt, in favor of Angel.
It turned out that Groo traversing dimensions didn’t actually make a difference, because Cordy was too involved in Angel’s life to really care. To be fair, Angel did have a lot going on at that point – although when did he not? Also, Cordy never really loved Groo anyway. She probably just got swept up in the magic of the fairytale.
15. Angel and Nina
Due to Angel’s cancellation, we’ll never know how this would’ve played out. They didn’t exactly make a bad couple, though. Being a werewolf gave Nina insight into Angel that others in his life didn’t necessarily had. Jenny Mollen and David Boreanaz may not have had off the charts chemistry or anything, but they worked well enough together. Plus, their scenes together in “Smile Time” were perfect – although, that entire episode was perfection.
As far as we know, this was nothing more than a fling. However, the best part about this couple wasn’t their relationship itself, but rather what it represented for Angel. One of the more ridiculous aspects of Angel’s mythology was this idea that he’d lose his soul if he had sex with anyone. This not only diminished the importance of his love for Buffy, but also just didn’t make any sense. Perfect happiness is most certainly not something you find with every partner!
Angel’s tryst with Nina proved unequivocally that Angel was capable of having a sexual relationship without becoming a monster. This was a huge development for his character. It’s a shame that the series wasn’t given the opportunity to further expand on it.
14. Wesley and Lilah
Okay, so this wasn’t the healthiest relationship on this list. It might actually beat out Spike and Harmony for the unhealthiest. So why was it so much fun to watch this unfold? Probably because Wesley’s character arc is the best of Angel’s entire run and this relationship was where the new Wes really began to emerge. Plus, for some reason Alexis Denisoff and Stephanie Romanov were really great together.
While Lilah and Wesley were never each other’s endgame, these characters did come to mean something to one another. Their relationship may have been filled with deceit, but their feelings for each other were real. In many ways, Lilah was a lifeline for Wesley when he had lost everything. Sure, she was there for her own selfish reasons, but in the end, he broke her heart. Who even knew that she had one?
13. Angel and Cordelia
Their low placement on this list has absolutely nothing to do with the awesome and complex friendship these two characters developed over the course of Angel’s first two and a half seasons. This ranking is all about the unnecessary romance that they were pushed into mid-season 3.
While Carpenter and Boreanaz had plenty of chemistry before their conveniently discovered feelings for one another, putting them together just felt awkward. Yes, Carpenter’s pregnancy in season 4 kind of threw a wrench in the gears of this relationship anyway, but why was this something that the series needed?
The introduction of Nina proved that viewers could embrace the idea of Angel being with someone other than Buffy – if it was the right person. The only reason that Angel and Cordy rank above them is the wonderful relationship that they shared prior to the writers deciding that they were better off as a couple.
12. Gunn and Gwen
These two would be higher on the list if the seed that the writers planted in “Players” was ever given the chance to germinate. Seriously, what an awesome idea it was to put Gwen and Gunn together! Gwen was a really cool character who was only given a handful of episodes to shine. Gunn’s character was in desperate need of a facelift after the dissolution of his relationship with Fred. Their interaction in “Players” proved that J. August Richards and Alexa Davalos had major chemistry.
Gwen’s electrical power meant that she could never touch anyone – ever – so the kiss we saw her share with Angel was probably her first one. Obviously those two were never going to be a thing, on account of Angel’s feelings for Cordy. Gwen saw potential in Gunn that not everyone in his life did. She saw him as so much more than “the muscle” of the group. Gwen may have betrayed him for L.I.S.A., but she trusted that he could handle himself. Plus, that device was the only reason that they were able to touch at all, so let’s call the debt paid. It’s such a shame that this relationship was never given any time to develop, because it could have been great.
11. Xander and Cordelia
It was so much more entertaining to watch Xander and Cordelia wrestle in a broom closet than it ever was to witness her aforementioned romantic relationship with Angel. Although at first it appeared that a broom closet was as far as their romance would go, the undeniable chemistry between Nicholas Brendan and Charisma Carpenter is no doubt what led to a real relationship between these two characters. They were an unlikely pair to be sure, which is a large part of what made them work so well together.
Of course, Xander and Cordelia were never in it for the long haul, but they deserved better than having their relationship destroyed by his brief tryst with Willow. Moving to Angel was the smartest decision that could’ve been made with Cordelia at that point, as she was no longer really a member of the Scoobies anymore anyway. Even though we all knew that Xander and Cordy wouldn’t make it to be college sweethearts, seeing them breakup was still a bummer.
10. Angel and Darla
Angelus and Darla may have been a couple of soulless monsters, but they were also kind of amazing together. When Darla sired Angelus in that alley, she could never have imagined the beast that she was unleashing. He was the perfect partner for her in every way and his viciousness was more than a match for her own. Darla may have tossed Angel out after he got his soul back, but she never actually stopped loving him. She also never gave up hope that he would one day return to the fold.
When Darla was given a second chance at life, Angel did everything he could to help her. Her resurrection on Angel created an interesting opportunity to explore their connection in a new way. It also added so much depth, not only to her character, but also to their entire relationship. The bond between them, whether as friends or enemies, made for some of the best stories of the series.
Darla was supposed to die in the second episode of Buffy, but was still appearing on Angel even during the show’s final season. This was, no doubt, because Julie Benz was amazing in the role, but also because of how much fun it was to see Angelus and Darla together.
9. Fred and Gunn
Well, these two were just adorable. We all thought that Fred would go for Wesley, but Angel tricked us there. Although it was soul crushing to witness her rejection of Wes, there was enough chemistry between Amy Acker and J. August Richards to make fans change their minds about whom Fred should wind up with. She and Gunn had a really sweet courtship that led into one of the show’s healthier relationships. They were actually happy for a bit.
The problem was that when life took a turn – as life tends to do – their romance couldn’t withstand the pressure. Gunn tried really hard. He bent as far as he could and then he just broke. Gunn committed a murder for Fred, which is what they blamed the breakup on. However, that wasn’t exactly why this couple imploded. It was the growing attraction between Fred and Wes. Gunn was overtaken by jealousy, but honestly, the guy did have something to be jealous about.
8. Giles and Jenny
Giles’s relationship with Jenny may have been built on lies, but it remains one of the sweetest – and saddest – romances seen on BtVS. Watching them come together was really cute and it seemed like their love might actually survive some pretty insurmountable odds. They were able to move past Eyeghon, the demon Giles raised in his youth, possessing Jenny. After that, there was the hurdle of Jenny having lied to Giles about basically everything. They were getting past that too, though.
The one thing these two could not survive was Angelus snapping Jenny’s neck. It was heartbreaking. Not only did it prove that Angelus was unequivocally evil, but also that Joss Whedon had no problem delivering a proper gut punch. Robia LaMorte was incredibly likable and Jenny really fit into the Scooby Gang nicely, so it was sad to see her go.
Aside from his incredibly underdeveloped relationship with Olivia or his delightful fling with Joyce, Giles didn’t see much action on BtVS. Jenny was the only real relationship we saw Giles have and it was cruelly snatched away from him far too soon.
7. Xander and Anya
Like Darla, Anya was only supposed to be in a couple of episodes, but Emma Caulfield made such an impression that Joss Whedon chose to write a much larger role for her. After spending over a thousand years as a demon, Anya had quite a lot to learn about being human. She asked all the questions that people want to ask, but know that they shouldn’t, which is one of the many reasons that she became a fan favorite.
Anya may have had to drag Xander into their relationship kicking and screaming, but she wound up being the love of his life. They grew together, with Anya learning how to be a human and Xander learning how to be a grownup. He did leave her at the alter, but he obviously never moved on and neither did she. Had she not been unceremoniously sliced in half – which we are also still crying about – these two would certainly have gotten back together.
6. Willow and Oz
For a long time, Willow and Oz were the most stable couple on BtVS. After watching Willow pine for Xander for a season and a half, it was a relief to see her find someone who recognized how amazing she was. As for Oz, let’s face it, the guy was pretty easy to fall in love with. Their relationship was both happy and healthy. It was also the most drama-free romance on the show, despite the fact that Oz was a werewolf.
These two managed to make it through Willow’s indiscretion with Xander. They even continued dating when they went to college together. Everyone kind of thought Willow and Oz were in it for the long haul, so when he locked himself in a cage with Veruca, Willow wasn’t the only one who was heartbroken. It took the whole “men are animals” thing to a whole other level.
Oz’s presence was definitely missed and fans hoped that he would return. However, by the time he did, Willow had already moved on – and so had we. Even still, Willow and Oz remain one of the show’s best couples.
5. Spike and Drusilla
These two were absolutely perfect together. Their “love was eternal, literally.” Okay, so it turned out not to be literally eternal, but Spike and Dru introduced the idea that vampires could share love and affection, despite their lack of a soul. That kind of turned the lore of the series on its head. Spike was a monster to everyone but Drusilla and he accepted her just the way she was, crazy and all. James Marsters and Juliet Landau had the most incredible chemistry. They were, without a doubt, one of the most fantastic couples in the Buffyverse.
Spike and Dru were held so dear that when Spike initially fell for Buffy, fans were actually upset about it, because this meant that he and Dru were really over. “Crush” was a rough episode, because Spike kicked Dru to the curb in favor of winning Buffy’s affections – and she was not impressed. Still, even in flashbacks, these two lit up the screen. Honestly, if they weren’t such callous creatures, they might have been placed even higher on this list.
4. Buffy and Spike
Spike and Buffy’s relationship is complicated, to say the least. His obsession with her was completely creepy, regardless of how you felt about him as a character. He had no soul, so he was no different from Angelus. Yet, he was a bit different, somehow. Spike showed an emotional spectrum that far outmatched that of his grand-sire. His feelings for Buffy – although taken to extremes that ranged from mildly disturbing to truly terrible – did become something real.
After Spike’s brutal attack on Buffy, he left in order to become the kind of man who would never do such a thing. The truth is, Spike wasn’t a man before getting his soul back. He may have been a lovable monster, but he was a monster just the same.
Between Spike’s unforgivable actions and the fact that Buffy was only ever using him in the first place, it would seem that these two would have no future together at all. However, season 7 gave Spike a chance at redemption and as Buffy watched him become a champion, her feelings for him began to change. Although the series ended with them in a place of uncertainty, their relationship in the comics has really blossomed. It took both of them a while to come around to it, but these days, they are in a loving and supportive relationship. It turns out that they are pretty great together.
3. Buffy and Angel
When people think about romance in the Buffyverse, this is the couple that first comes to mind. From the moment that Angel first appeared as an enigmatic stranger, fans knew that a relationship between him and Buffy was inevitable. Even the revelation that he was a vampire wasn’t enough to keep these two apart for long. Theirs was a rapport rife with longing and, no matter how hard they tried, they always found their way back to one another. Plus, the chemistry between Boreanaz and Gellar was pretty incredible.
Angel was Buffy’s first love and really, she was his as well. The heartbreaking arc of their relationship became the Buffy version of “I slept with my boyfriend and now he won’t talk to me anymore.” Due to that pesky curse, these two can never seem to make it work. Also, happy and in love people are often kind of boring to watch – which is why on a Joss Whedon show, if a couple is doing too well for too long, someone is either going to die or turn evil.
While Buffy’s relationship with Spike has deepened over time, there will probably always be a part of her that loves Angel. Their lives are inextricably linked. They may not really work as a couple anymore, but nothing in Buffy’s romantic life hurt quite as bad as when she was forced to kill Angel or made us swoon quite as much as when he showed up at her prom.
2. Fred and Wesley
We watched Wesley quietly pine for Fred for more than two seasons before she finally returned his affections. Wes had been in front of her the whole time, but Fred was always looking elsewhere. When they finally got together, it felt truly earned. Here was a payoff that viewers had waited years to see and when we finally got it, it was just as amazing we’d hoped. However, this is a Joss Whedon show, so no sooner had they come together, that Fred was killed off. It was absolutely brutal.
Just because Fred was gone, didn’t mean that Amy Acker was off the show. In an incredible performance, Acker portrayed Illyria, the ancient being that took over Fred’s body. When Illyria’s machinations for world domination didn’t quite go according to plan, Wesley couldn’t help but come to her aid. After all, she was wearing the face of the woman that he loved. Wes taught Illyria what it means to be human.
In a strange turn of events, Illyria fell for Wes, a man who could never truly love her back. She may have looked like Fred, but she was not. In one of the most poignant moments of the series, Illyria – who was able to alter her appearance – allowed Wes to look into Fred’s eyes as he died. It was as beautiful as it was tragic. Although they were not given much time as a couple, Fred and Wes shared one of the greatest romances in the Buffyverse.
1. Willow and Tara
While the Buffyverse had no shortage of epic romances, Willow and Tara undoubtedly shared the greatest love story of all. Theirs was the healthiest, happiest, and most stable romantic relationship on either series. Everyone fell in love with Willow and Tara.
When Seth Green left Buffy, he broke up the show’s favorite couple. Fans were clamoring for him to return. When Willow and Tara began to grow closer, some viewers were hesitant to accept where their relationship was going. However, Tara won everyone over, going on to become one of the show’s most beloved characters. Her relationship with Willow unfolded so organically and evolved into such a loving and understanding partnership.
The relationship between Willow and Tara was also completely revolutionary considering when the series aired. It may not seem like much now, but Willow and Tara had one of the first long-term relationships between a same-sex couple ever to be portrayed on network television. Those early boundaries were slow to break down and BtVS was on the front lines. It took a year into their relationship – and Whedon threatening to quit – before we ever saw their first onscreen kiss.
Tara’s death remains devastating to fans. Amber Benson almost reprised her role, but the deal never quite came together. Regardless, no other relationship in the Buffyverse can compare.
How would you rank the romances of the Buffyverse? Sound off in the comments.