High school as a horror movie may have been the original concept behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Joss Whedon and Co. were still churning out bad guys long after the slayer left Sunnydale High. Whether they were inspired by other works of fiction (Dracula, for example) or created entirely from scratch, the supernatural foes the Scooby Gang encountered were more creative than just your run-of-the-mill vamps. Although many of the Buffy baddies were purposefully designed to be campy and fun, some of them were genuinely frightening (especially in the later seasons), and you can’t help but wonder how they got away with a TV-14 rating. From the mildly unsettling to the truly terrifying, here is our list of the 11 Scariest Buffy Bad Guys.
11. The Turok-Han
The Turok-Han are to vampires what Neanderthals are to humans, but that doesn’t mean they’re lesser beings. In fact, the opposite is true. Dubbed the uber-vamps by the Scooby Gang (and for good reason), the Turok-Han are a race of mega powerful, mega tough vampires from ancient times; as Giles put it, they’re “the vampires that vampires fear.”
The Turok-Hand appear throughout series 7 as part of the First Evil’s plan for world domination. Physically, the Turok-Han look a lot like the master, or Count Orlok from Nosferatu. They are tall, pale and bald, with pronounced brow ridges like their prehistoric human-equivalents. Ten times stronger than regular vamps, they are also incredibly agile, jumping long distances without aid and their claws can supposedly shred human flesh. They are almost impossible to kill with regular stakes, due to their dense sternums, making them almost invincible against traditional slayer tactics.
Still, despite their physical advantages, the Turok-Han weren’t the brightest baddies. Virtually brainless animals, the First brought them in for their single-mindedness and ability to follow orders without question. They are not immune to certain vampire afflictions, such as sunlight, and could still die from decapitation. Buffy and the potential slayers defeated the hoard of Turok-Han in the final ever episode, destroying the Hellmouth and Sunnydale in the process.
At first glance, Doc seems like a pretty lovable guy. Appearance-wise he comes across as a sweet yet slightly eccentric old man who is knowledgeable in magic, particularly resurrection spells. He debuts is in the season 5 episode ‘Forever,’ in which he assists Dawn and Spike with a spell to resurrect her mother after she dies from a brain aneurysm.
However, we quickly learn that Doc’s kind demeanour is all an act, and that Doc is actually a powerful demon in disguise. Although he mainly resembles an elderly Caucasian male, he also possesses a forked tongue, lizard tail and the ability to turn his eyes from human to solid black at will. He is also incredibly fast and a rapid self-healer, with inhuman reflexes and stamina.
Later in the series we find out that Doc is a worshipper of Glory, and in the season 5 finale he betrays Dawn by ‘bleeding her.’ As Dawn is the key, this process opens the gates to all other dimensions, and although Buffy arrives a fraction too late to stop him, she still manages to push him off the top of the ‘crazy’ tower built for the ritual. Unlike almost all other Buffy baddies, his fate is never fully revealed, although many believe the fall was most likely fatal even to someone with his ability to regenerate.
Eyghon was an ancient demon from Etruscan times, who appeared in the episode ‘The Dark Age.’ Eyghon was known as the Sleepwalker because his power lay in his ability to possess people who were either dead or unconscious, and he couldn’t survive in this realm without a body to take over.
Giles had experimented with calling up the demon for fun as a teenager, resulting in him being ‘marked.’ Giles and a group of other young sorcerers would summon Eyghon into one of their sleeping bodies, resulting in a unique high for the one possessed, and the group still sported tattoos of the demon’s symbol into middle age. At some point during their youth the group lost control of Eyghon, and the demon took permanent possession of one of their friends, whom they ended up killing to rid themselves of the creature. When Eyghon came to Sunnydale in search of now Watcher Giles he did so in the corpses of his deceased friends, before taking over an unconscious Jenny.
What made Eyghon so terrifying was not only his ability to easily possess people, but the fact that he did so in a time when they were most vulnerable – while they were asleep. What’s freakier than going for a nice nap and then waking up with a demon inside of you? Not much, I can tell you that.
8. Warren Mears
Warren is the Buffy-verse equivalent of most 4Chan users – sexist, nerdy and possessing a strong hatred of the world around him. A technological genius, Warren was one third of ‘the Trio’ (the other two being Jonathan Levinson and Andrew Wells), a group of self-professed supervillains who operated out of his mother’s basement. Their original goal was to take over Sunnydale, but that soon turned into attempting to ‘neutralise’ Buffy, who they believed was the main obstacle in their way of achieving greatness.
Although initially Warren and his fellow geeks’ antics were annoying for Buffy, they were actually rather harmless by Sunnydale standards, such as the time they robbed a bank or turned themselves invisible to sneak into a women’s locker room. But things took a darker turn when Warren used the Celebral Dampener on his ex-girlfriend Katrina to turn her into his sex slave, which resulted in him accidentally killing her when she tried to escape once the spell wore off.
It is from this point on that we begin to realize Warren is actually very different from his Trio cohorts. While Jonathan and Andrew are infatuated with the idea of being supervillains, they don’t actually possess the malice to become true criminals. However, Warren’s actions soon reveal him to be misogynistic and sociopathic, as well as a murderer, and I think we all secretly enjoyed the scene where he was finally caught and flayed by Willow for killing her beloved girlfriend, Tara.
The Gnarl was a Gollum-esque demon who made his debut in the season 7 episode ‘Same Time, Same Place.’ The Gnarl paralyzed his victims with his own brand of poison, before peeling off and eating their skin. Ew.
The creature is essentially a parasite, feeding off the skin and blood of humans like an overgrown insect. He has long sharp fingernails and lots of pointy, stalactite teeth, and until its death, dwelled in a cave outside Sunnydale.
The Gnarl possessed a sadistic yet childlike personality, and has been compared by fans to Gollum from Lord of the Rings due to his decrepit appearance and twisted demeanour. Like Gollum, he also spoke in broken sentences or the third person, with a sing-song voice and prolific use of rhyming couplets.
Other than the way he looks (and he looks pretty freaky), what makes the Gnarl so creepy is his enjoyment in torturing others. The paralysis he bestows on his victims is not just an evolutionary advantage – he clearly likes that they’re alive when he’s feasting on them – as we see in the scene where he captures and starts chowing down on Willow.
6. Zachary Kralik
What’s worse than a serial killer? A vampire serial killer.
In life, Zachary Kralik was a murderer. He killed and tortured six women before getting caught and put in an asylum for the criminally insane, where he was sired by another vamp.
Due to abuse from his mother as a child, which included her castrating him with a pair of scissors, Zachary has severe mommy issues. After he was turned he killed and ate her, but rather than finding freedom in his new form he was shunned by other vampires due to his damaged mental state. At some point he also became addicted to anti-psychotic medication, which caused him immense physical pain if he missed a dose.
Buffy was forced to fight Kralik by the Watcher’s Council in the season 3 episode ‘Helpless’ as part of a test of her abilities. She was locked in a building with Kralik, with her slayer powers removed, to see if she can beat him using her wits alone (which of course she does). After a bloody battle, Buffy tricks an anxious Kralik into drinking a glass of holy water with his pills, disintegrating him from the inside out. That’s our girl.
Good-guy-gone-bad, Angelus is Angel minus his soul. Before he was cursed by Romani, Angelus was one of the most famous vampires in history and was known as the ‘demon with an angel’s face’ (hence the name).
Angelus was sired by Darla in 1753 at the age of 26, and it was not long before he became notorious for his brutality and sadistic tendencies. In various flashbacks we see Angelus take genuine pride in killing, coming up with new, and admittedly innovative, ways to torture his victims. Along with Darla and their friends Drusilla and William the Bloody (aka Spike), Angelus terrorized Europe until 1898, when he was cursed by the Romani clan Kalderash for killing one of their own. They conducted a restoration ritual to return his soul, forcing him to live with the guilt of his centuries of cruelty for eternity – or at least until he experienced one moment of ‘perfect happiness.’
One most important plotlines in Buffy, and later the spin-off Angel, is the character’s on-going battle for atonement, and after his soul returned Angel helped Buffy fight against evil in Sunnydale. However, in season 2 after the couple finally consummate their relationship, Angel loses his soul and turns back into Angelus, and spends several episodes psychologically tormenting Buffy and Co. He fed on Buffy’s classmates, turning one into a vampire purposefully to mess with her head, killed Willow’s goldfish, drew pictures of Buffy and her mother as they slept and told Joyce of their secret romance to compromise her trust in Buffy. This reign of terror culminates in the death of Giles’ girlfriend, and Scooby Gang member, Jenny, leaving her corpse in Giles’ bed for him to find when he returns home. Luckily, Willow manages to return his soul using the original curse, but not until he’s already attempted to end the world and cause his own (temporary) death in the process.
Caleb was a highly misogynistic preacher turned serial killer, who worked for the First Evil in the final season of Buffy. The leading enforcer in its plot to end the slayer line, Caleb served as a vessel of power for the bodiless First, giving him super-human abilities that surpass even that of Buffy. Before joining its crusade, Caleb used his trusted preacher persona and charm to lure and murder at least two girls, although it is strongly suggested there were more. After joining with the First he repeatedly asks it to appear in the form of the girls he murdered, so he could kill them all over again for fun.
That scene where he sticks his thumb in Xander’s eye socket is forever etched in my memory, but perhaps the reason Caleb is so scary is because he’s believable. I mean, how many perverted, women-hating priests are there in the real world? We can bet more than a few, even if they don’t possess super-strength or magical abilities. What else made Caleb so creepy was his misuse of scripture to create terrifying, rambling rants, mainly about the sinfulness of women, and since the First chose him over all other humans and demons to be his representative, that probably means he is one of the most evil beings on the entire planet.
3. Der Kindestod
Der Kindestod, which in German means ‘the child death,’ was a demon who was invisible to everyone except those that were feverishly ill, particularly children. The Der Kindestod snuck into hospitals at night to murder sick kids by sucking the life out of them. His particular technique meant that when the bodies were found it looked as though the child had been killed by their illness, and that no further investigation would be taken into their deaths (not that the grown-ups would believe them anyway). One of his victims was Buffy’s eight-year-old cousin Celia (although she didn’t realize it at the time), and she re-encountered the monster as a teenager in the episode ‘Killed by Death,’ when she contracted a severe case of the flu and had to be taken to the hospital.
Despite originating from German folklore, the Der Kindestod looks a lot like Freddy Kruger, with a black trilby, severely scarred skin and razor sharp finger nails. If that wasn’t bad enough, it feeds by climbing on top of its victims and using stalks from its eyes to suck out their life force – not a pretty way to go.
As usual Buff came to the rescue, purposefully making herself ill once again so she could battle the creature. In the end she broke its neck, saving a ward full of children, one of which thanks her by drawing a graphic picture of Buffy kicking the Der Kindestod’s butt.
2. The Queller Demon
I remember watching this episode as a 10-year-old while visiting my Dad, and had never been scared by a Buffy baddie until this moment. I mean, seriously Dad, why the hell did you let me watch this? ON MY OWN?
Anyway, part cockroach and part alien slug thing, the Queller Demon came down to Earth in a meteor in the season five episode ‘Listening to Fear.’ It was summoned by Ben Wilkinson in order to ‘handle’ the mentally ill people Glory was creating with her sanity-draining powers, so people wouldn’t start to wonder where they all were coming from.
The Queller Demon is freaky for many reasons. Not only is it fast, but it has a mouth like a tapeworm in the face of a human, leaves slime everywhere, and if those reasons weren’t disturbing enough, it likes to crawl under beds and along ceilings.
Still, Ben wasn’t the first person to ever summon the Queller Demon. While researching, Giles revealed that people had been calling upon the monster to rid society of troubled individuals as far back as the Dark Ages (nice). But when the mental side effects of Joyce’s brain tumour put her in the Queller’s line of sight, Buffy stepped in to snuff it out, stabbing it with a knife.
1. The Gentlemen
“Can’t even shout.
Can’t even cry.
The Gentlemen are coming by.
Looking in windows,
knocking on doors…
They need to take seven
and they might take yours…
Can’t call to mom.
Can’t say a word.
You’re gonna die screaming
but you won’t be heard.”
The horrible Freddy Krueger-esque song, the freaky metallic smiles, the overly polite mannerisms – the Gentlemen were by far the most horrific Buffy villains to ever grace the streets of Sunnydale. A group of silent demons said to originate from traditional fairy tales, the Gentleman roamed from town to city taking the hearts of residents to stay alive. If that wasn’t creepy enough, they first of all stole the voices of the citizens using a magical box, so they couldn’t scream when their hearts were cut out. Urgh.
Choosing to float around rather than walk, they were followed by equally grim footmen in strait-jackets who did their leg work for them. That was until it came to actually removing the hearts, which the Gentlemen gleefully did themselves, with a scalpel, from the still-living victims. In the episode ‘Hush,’ The Gentlemen managed to get five of the seven hearts they needed before they were stopped by Buffy and Riley. The only way they could be harmed was by the sound of a human voice, which Buffy does by screaming after Riley smashes The Gentlemen’s box.