Joss Wedon's classic show Buffy the Vampire Slayer is television at its finest. Based on the 1992 movie of the same name, this seminal coming-of-age drama — which uses the supernatural as a metaphor for life — first aired in 1997. It quickly became a critical darling on top of a cult favorite that people still talk about today.
It has spawned books, graphic novels, a spin-off, video games, and more. One would be hard-pressed to find a television property that has changed the scope of genre storytelling like Buffy has. So, in honor of this beloved series, let's revisit the ten best ranked episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, according to IMDB.
10 Becoming, Part 1 — 9.2
Angel plans on destroying mankind by awakening an ancient, apocalyptic demon named Acathla. To do so, though, he needs a key that only the Slayer's Watcher can decipher. In the meantime, Buffy discovers the spell that Jenny Calendar wanted to use to restore Angel's soul. This development causes turmoil among the Scooby Gang as everyone is conflicted about saving Angel. But if they can return Angel's soul, they may also prevent Acathla from ending life as we know it.
The penultimate episode of season two explores Buffy's life before she was called, and the hardships it took to get where she is now. It's one half of a monumental two-parter that encapsulates everything that is great about Buffy.
9 Innocence — 9.3
Drusilla and Spike are trying to rebuild a powerful demon named The Judge, and the only way to stop that is to keep him from being physically reconstituted. However, Angel's plan to disappear to the farthest regions of the Earth with one of The Judge's stray body parts fails. This then leads to Buffy and Angel consummating their relationship.
Unbeknownst to everyone but Jenny Calendar, though, the second Angel experiences a moment of true happiness, he loses his soul and reverts to his demonic persona — Angelus. Now that Angel has joined the leagues of Dru and Spike, Buffy must come to terms with the fact that she has to fight the man she loves.
Buffy wouldn't be the show it is without "Surprise" and "Innocence". Both are integral, emotional episodes. The fallout of "Innocence" especially plays a role in the remainder of this series as well as Angel's spin-off.
8 Doppelgängland — 9.3
Willow is fed up with being thought of as predictable even though her friends mean no harm. So, when she steps outside her comfort zone and helps former vengeance demon Anya with a supposedly harmless spell, the ritual goes wrong. Terribly. The vampiric Willow from the alternate reality that Anya previously conjured for Cordelia has been summoned here. And she wants to make this Sunnydale more like the one she's familiar with.
Alyson Hannigan wowed as she played three different versions of the same character in one episode. Of all the episodes that focus on a character other than Buffy, "Doppelgängland" is easily the best.
7 Chosen — 9.3
The end is nigh. The First has dealt its cards, and now Buffy must show her hand. She just defeated Caleb, acquired a new weapon, and had a brief yet important reunion with her first love, Angel. While Willow prepares a spell that would tip the scale in good's favor, Buffy comes up with a plan that will stop The First once and for all. And that requires everyone to enter the Hellmouth.
It's no secret that fans are divisive about season seven. Yet in spite of its flaws, the Buffy fandom cannot help but be both enthralled and moved by the series finale.
6 Passion — 9.4
Angel has raised the stakes when it comes to stalking and tormenting the Scooby Gang. He leaves a drawing of Buffy on her bed, and then he kills Willow's fish. Buffy urges Giles to find a way to revoke Angel's invitation into their homes. Meanwhile, Jenny Calendar has plans to restore Angel's soul after finding the crucial ingredient for a spell. As Miss Calendar stays on campus to translate the spell into English, Angel pays her a visit.
"Passion" is an agonizing plea to your heart. Not only do we lose a recurring character, we see one of the most poignant displays of Buffy's fatherly relationship with Giles in the whole series.
5 The Gift — 9.5
Glory has found the Key she's been searching for, Buffy's sister Dawn. Now, she can finally return to the hell dimension she was cast out of. At this point, the most certain way to make sure Glory doesn't open the portal to her home world — and release wave after wave of unspeakable terror on our reality — is to destroy the Key. Buffy isn't going to let that happen, though. This forces the Scoobies to strategize in a bid to avoid the end of the world.
A number of fans will agree Buffy could have ended here and they would have been happy. After all, "The Gift" is a stellar finale that will tug at your soul.
4 Becoming, Part 2 — 9.6
Buffy realizes Angel was stalling her so his minions could snatch Giles, whose knowledge is integral in awakening the dormant Acathla. With Willow in the hospital, there appears to be no chance to restore Angel's soul. So, Buffy has to do what she didn't want to do all along — kill Angel. After "coming out" to her mother about being a Slayer, Buffy forms an unlikely alliance with Spike to stop Angel.
Very few television shows nail it like Buffy did with the season two finale. "Becoming" defies all expectations and preconceived notions people ever had about this underdog series.
3 The Body — 9.7
Buffy returns home to find her mother lying on the couch and unresponsive. Joyce is eventually declared dead, and is taken to the hospital for an autopsy. There, as everyone mourns over the loss of Joyce, Buffy learns yet another hard life lesson.
"The Body" is a must-see event for anyone. Even those who don't subscribe to the brilliance of Buffy the Vampire Slayer should watch it. Rarely does any fictional account of death depict the event as frankly as "The Body" does. From the ennui to the irrational subtleties intrinsic to the grieving process, this episode is a coup for the series.
2 Hush — 9.7
Everyone in Sunnydale suddenly loses the ability to speak. Buffy and the gang expects there to be a supernatural reason, and, of course, they are right. It appears a group of demons called The Gentleman has come to Sunnydale. To stay alive, they must harvest seven hearts. The Scoobies do find a way to defeat The Gentlemen, but it requires something none of them have — a voice.
To this day, fans cite "Hush" as one of, if not the, scariest episodes in the show's entire run. The visual horrors, the sweeping and alluring score, and the timeless humor all accent a wonderfully orchestrated monster-of-the-week episode.
1 Once More, With Feeling — 9.8
A mysterious force has caused everyone in Sunnydale to start... singing. People are breaking out into song at random, and they are spilling their innermost secrets to the sound of music. The cause of these supernatural showstoppers is unknown, but perhaps living in a musical isn't the worst thing. That is, until people start bursting into flames from dancing so much. Now, Buffy must find the source of the spell while stopping herself from divulging the secret she's kept hidden from her loved ones.
"Once More, With Feeling" could very well be the cause of why shows like Grey's Anatomy, The Flash, and Scrubs all had musical episodes down the line. Very few episodes are as highly regarded as this one.