Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the greatest modern superhero shows. Some might dismiss as a silly teenage high school drama that just happens to have monsters in it, but to do so is a disservice.
Buffy did have elements of other teen dramas -- like romance, a high school setting and coming-of-age themes -- but ultimately, Buffy was an origin story about a tremendously capable and charismatic young heroine.
Buffy was the role of a lifetime for Sarah Michelle Gellar. She was able to funny, interesting, and kick butt throughout the show’s seven seasons as Buffy protected her hometown, Sunnydale.
However, a hero is only as good as their villains. Luckily, Buffy had dozens of baddies to fight as Sunnydale was located on top of a Hellmouth (which is exactly what you think).
We haven’t decided to run down every Buffy villain ever and rank them, as that would take entirely too much time. It’s also nearly impossible to decide which one episode villain is really that much stronger than another.
We have tried to gather most of Buffy’s major villains and determine which among them was the biggest threat, however.
There’s a couple criteria. These villains are ranked not only their strength and powers but how big of an impact they had on the series and how much it took for Buffy to (eventually) defeat them. We also haven't included any character or information from the post-series comics.
Remember that these aren’t the best Buffy villains, merely the most powerful.
So here is Every Major Buffy the Vampire Slayer Villain Ranked From Weakest To Most Powerful.
25 The Trio
The Trio are some of the worst villains Buffy and crew faced. They’re also the weakest, by far.
The only reason why the collection of Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew lasted as long they did was because they were active at a time when Buffy was clinically depressed.
One of the reasons for The Trio’s existence was that they proved how messed up Buffy was, as she couldn’t even take on three nerds with a god complex.
The Trio did manage to have some impact, mainly through their leader Warren. Warren was responsible for claiming the life of his ex-girlfriend and Tara.
However, both were accidents. Warren couldn't even be evil right.
24 The Anointed One
It might be stretch to call The Anointed One a “major Buffy villain,” as he was around for so little a time.
The big gimmick of The Anointed One was that despite all of the effort that went into building him up, he did next to nothing. Yet there was so much effort that went into introducing The Anointed One that it's worth it to point out how little he impacted the series.
The Anointed One was first mentioned by a prophecy in season 1, as the quasi-successor to The Master. He was meant to be the second coming of The Master, Buffy’s first big villain. T
he Anointed One did outlive The Master, but it wasn’t for long. Spike made his introduction by dusting The Anointed One, ending his disturbing evil child shtick.
23 Professor Walsh
Professor Walsh is two things, the leader of The Initiative and the college professor from Hell (although not literally). While both sound threatening, the impact that Maggie Walsh had and the challenge that she represented for Buffy amounted to nothing.
As the rogue leader of government-led The Initiative, Walsh hated Buffy and thought she was irrelevant.
Making their rivalry even worse, though, was Walsh’s strange oedipal-esque relationship with Buffy’s milquetoast boyfriend Riley.
All that animosity came to no conclusion. Walsh was skewered by her own Frankenstein creation, Adam, and everyone, including Buffy, tried to forget she existed.
22 The Judge
The Judge is another villain who wasn’t around for very long, but he did get a rather important introduction.
When Angel lost his soul and turned into Angelus, working with the resurrected Judge was one of his first orders of business. Technically Spike and Drusilla had brought the demon back to life, but Angelus commanded him.
The Judge seemed invincible. However, his reign of terror lasted barely an episode.
No weapon could take down The Judge… back when he was first alive 900 years ago. All it took for Buffy to end him was to find a modern rocket launcher, aim it at The Judge, and blow him to blue smithereens.
Anyanka eventually became the human Anya who joined the Scooby Gang and almost married Xander. Anya was one of the series' most consistent comic relief characters.
However, as an ally to Buffy, Anya didn’t do a whole lot. Luckily, she was nearly as effective as a villain.
Anyanka’s first appearance was in the episode “The Wish”, where she brought into being a world where Buffy never came to Sunnydale. Obviously, this nightmarish reality doesn’t last, but it does end up proving some of Anyanka’s powers as a vengeance demon.
However, the breaking of The Wish universe, by smashing her demon amulet also costed Anyanka her powers.
This means that Anyaka’s reality shifting powers come with a huge glowing off-switch.
20 Mr. Trick
Mr. Trick made a very strong first impression as a villain. The vampire was introduced in season 3 and his whole method was about playing things smarter, not stronger.
Mr. Trick was a wily recurring villain who tried to invent schemes to end Buffy’s life.
The biggest one being Slayerfest ’98, where he gathered together a bunch of demons to compete for the opportunity to take on Buffy and Faith (although Cordelia was accidentally used as bait instead of Faith).
If Mr. Trick had stayed a solo act, he might’ve ranked higher. However, eventually Trick joined The Mayor’s crew and ended up as little more than a lackey.
He was eventaully staked, without ceremony, by Faith.
19 Ethan Rayne
Ethan Rayne, otherwise known as Giles’ worst friend ever, was a thorn in the side of the Scooby Gang for a long time.
Rayne worked with Giles as a warlock when the two were just teenagers. Together, the two dabbled in the dark magical arts.
While Giles got on the straight and narrow, Ethan went even farther down the dark magic rabbit hole.
Ethan only had a handful appearances in Buffy, but each time, he managed to cast a spell that Giles and the gang barely managed to overcome.
The only reason why Ethan doesn’t rank higher is that he was captured and imprisoned in season 4. He never escaped, even after his jailers, The Initiative, went down the toilet.
18 Amy Madison
From a warlock we move to a witch, Amy. Amy was one of Buffy’s first introductions to witches, as she was involved in an early season 1 episode where her magical mother tried to steal her body to ensure a level of immortality.
While Amy initially seemed kind-hearted and sort of mousy, she eventually became a huge villainous force… especially after she became a rat.
Amy transformed herself into a rodent to escape being burned at the stake in Buffy season 3 and remained a rat for nearly three seasons.
When Amy re-emerged in season six, she was a little bit unstable and lashed out with her magical powers.
Amy fed Willow’s own magical addiction until Willow cut Amy out of her life.
17 Vampire Willow
Anyaka may have created The Wish universe, but she’s not the most powerful villain to come out of it.
Vampire Willow first appeared in the version of Sunnydale that never had a Buffy Summers. Yet due to some weird interdimensional travel, Vampire Willow eventually joined the “real world” in season 3.
The zombie Willow didn’t last too long, however. Although Willow had some sympathy for her alter ego, it was clear that she was just soulless and evil as any other vampire.
However, Vampire Willow knew that and tried to use it to her advantage.
Vampire Willow played the innocent card and nearly sucked the blood of Willow and Cordelia. She was eventually staked but not before showing that there was a lot more to Willow than many viewers believed at the time.
Since this a list of major Buffy villains and not major Buffyverse villains, Darla clocks in at this low ranking.
Darla did sire Angelus and went onto to have devastating effects in Angel, but as a Buffy villain, she didn’t do a whole much.
Darla was a couple steps above the average vampire in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that doesn’t mean that she was a pushover.
As explained in Angel, Darla was The Master’s right-hand woman. She was a powerful vampire that was incredibly skilled in manipulation.
There were glimpses of that power in Buffy, as she tried to turn Angel against the slayer, but ultimately, she ended up dusted-- at least temporarily.
This might seem like a horribly low ranking for Spike. Spike did, after all, end two slayers and no other vampire can claim the same.
It’s true that when Spike first appeared in Buffy, he was wild, dangerous, and incredibly charismatic animal. However, the longer Spike appeared in Buffy, the less powerful he became.
Spike’s power level dramatically decreased when he got a chip in his brain that prevented him from attacking any human and, even more importantly, when he became romantically obsessed with Buffy.
The one-two punch of the chip and his feelings for Buffy turned Spike from a terrifying villain to a sarcastic, snarky sidekick.
It took Buffy a long time but eventually the series did introduce the most famous vampire ever, Dracula, into their narrative.
Dracula appeared first in the season 5 premiere of Buffy. Dracula showed up to test Buffy’s skills, and while he did live up the legend-- at least in some respects-- he was mostly a zombie chump.
Teeing from the classic story by Bram Stoker, Dracula had powers unlike any other vampire in the Buffyverse.
Dracula could shape shift, hypnonize others, and was virtually undestroyable. Dracula, when dusted by a stake, could reform again.
This should’ve made him one of Buffy’s greatest foes, but when Buffy does stake him in their first real battle, Dracula just scurries away with his ashy tail between his legs.
13 The Gentlemen
Arguably the creepiest villains in the Buffy canon, The Gentlemen made their first and only appearance in the episode “Hush”.
Otherwise known as the silent episode of Buffy, “Hush” sees the gentlemen come to town and rob all of Sunnydale of their voices.
The Gentlemen, evidently born of a fairy tale, would invade towns and steal seven human hearts to stay alive. The Gentlemen had virtually no weaknesses, except for one.
All weapons were useless against them, but the sound of a human’s voice, specifically a scream, could banish them forever.
This explains why they stole voices and why, with such an easy available weakness, they’re not too high on the list.
Drusilla, by virtue of being so very, very weird gets a rap as being a bit of a non-entity in Buffy.
It is true that most of Drusilla’s screentime is spent on her spouting creepy nonsense and otherwise aggravating Spike.
However, when Drusilla turns on her vampiric powers, she is a force to be reckoned with.
Drusilla is the only other Buffy vampire, besides Dracula, who was shown to have a real gift of mind control and extra magical powers.
It’s through Drusilla’s magic otherness that she slits the throat of a Slayer, Kendra, and survived an incredible amount of time on her own or in a vampire group, despite being totally crazy.
11 The First
The First is essentially the Buffyverse's version of The Devil. This corporeal entity, which was also the Big Bad of the final season, is the personification of all sin and predates every other living being on the planet.
All of that is terrifying, but there’s a problem with The First-- it can't tangibly impact the world in any way.
The First can’t touch anyone or anything. For all intents and purposes, it is a ghost. The First can only haunt and manipulate others do to its will.
Yet even as a ghost, The First is effective.
The First destroyed Sunnydale, almost convinced Angel to burn himself alive, and built an enormously powerful army.
The Turok-Han were introduced in season 7 as the first corporeal enemy that Buffy could fight while going up against The First.
The First’s ethereal nature didn’t really work for an action-oriented series like Buffy and there needed to be some type of vampire to stake. This is where the Turok-Han, which were toted as an ancient race of vampires, entered the picture.
The Turok-Han had all of the powers of a regular vampire, but they were heightened to an insane degree.
This explains why the Turok-Han that Buffy faced to beat her to a bloody pulp not once, but twice.
However, once Buffy defeated her first Turok-Han, the creatures, inexplicably, became as easy to dust as any other vampire. They just looked creepier.
9 The Master
The first-ever Buffy villain, The Master, set the tone in a lot of ways. The Master was a perfect example of the somewhat goofy and quippy but mostly menacing type of main villain that Buffy (and creator Joss Whedon) would become famous for producing.
The Master was an ancient vampire descended directly from a Demon Lord, which gave him some special, very vampy powers.
Decades before Buffy began, The Master was trapped in a prison in Sunnydale and most of the first season is about him trying to escape.
This is something that The Master ends up doing and he’s one of the few villains to completely defeat Buffy, momentarily stopping her heart.
Buffy bounces back though, and without too much effort, stakes The Master.
This is a list of the most powerful Buffy villains, not the best villains and/or characters overall. This is the only reason why Adam comes in so high on the list, as otherwise this Frankenstein creature was an embarrassment for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Adam wasn’t an aggravating character, but he was incredibly lame.
All Adam really did after being created by Maggie Walsh as the ultimate demon hunting machine was pontificate and be virtually indestructible.
Still, it’s impossible to ignore how invulnerable Adam was-- it took Buffy mystically communing with the First Slayer and basically going Super Slayin’ Saiyan to even have a chance of ending Adam’s unnaturally extended life.
Caleb was a villain with a very short shelf-life on Buffy. He was only around for just handful of episodes at the tail end of Buffy season 7.
As a character, Caleb is a bit of a dud. He’s a stereotypical women-hating sociopath. Caleb’s “character” is that he’s nuts.
However, he also became the avatar for The First and that resulted in him becoming one of Buffy’s most powerful villains.
Caleb was tremendously strong. Every fight between Buffy and Caleb was a breeze for him and a nightmarish struggle for Buffy.
However, in the series finale when Buffy gets a hold of the Slayer’s Sycthe, all it takes is one swing of it to bring Caleb down to his knees-- literally.
6 Mayor Wilkins
The Mayor was creepy, certainly, but he initially seemed like a joke. However, all of that was rather intentional.
Buffy and the audience found out around the same time that while The Mayor might act like a caricature, really, he was one of the biggest threats to Sunnydale and the world.
The Mayor was immortal and received that deal from demons when he founded the town of Sunnydale.
While The Mayor lived for three generations, his greatest power level was near the end of his life. The Mayor planned to “Ascend” and transform completely to a demon.
One hundred days before this Ascension, he couldn’t be harmed in any way.
The only time that Buffy could take out The Mayor WAS when he turned into a gigantic snake demon, and even then it took a whole school filled with explosives.
Yes, the demon that caused the Buffy musical episode is more powerful than Darla, Spike, and even The First.
It’s easy to dismiss Sweet, as he’s responsible for the one of the most delightfully silly (or groan inducing, depending on your perspective) episodes of the series. However, just because Sweet’s main power is that the can force people to sing and dance, doesn’t mean he’s not scary.
Sweet doesn’t just force people into a musical, but he also makes them to sing and dance to the point of combustion.
Sweet is a very flamboyant destroying machine, and as far as we know, there’s no defence against him.
Buffy and gang never defeat Sweet-- instead, he just vanishes. Buffy doesn’t explode in a musical fire because Sweet spares her.
Faith isn’t just one of Buffy’s best characters but also one of the most threatening villains too.
She joined Buffy in season 3 as “The Dark Slayer.” Faith activated to Slayer status when the first second Slayer, Kendra, was ended by Drusilla.
For a while, Buffy and Faith worked as allies but eventually, Faith became an enemy-- mainly because she was very emotionally disturbed.
Faith joined forces with The Mayor and fought Buffy to a standstill several times.
Both Faith and Buffy were equally matched in every way, having the same powers and skill set.
Faith’s only real downfall was her emotional fragility and underlying guilt of turning evil, which eventually led her to repent.
Angelus is the best villain in Buffy, if not the entire universe. There have been few villains who have been more destructive to Buffy’s personal life.
Angelus is the soulless incarnation of the love of Buffy’s life, Angel. Angel and Angelus exist in the same body, but are two different entities.
Angelus is a little bit stronger than the average vampire, but that’s not all that determines his power level.
Angelus sets himself apart because he’s so overwhelmingly devious. Using Angel’s feelings for Buffy against her, Angelus nearly broke the young Slayer before her journey really began.
2 Dark Willow
The concept of Dark Willow was strong. The idea of Buffy’s best friend turning into a monster due to grief is a powerful notion.
Buffy season 6 just didn’t execute that idea too well, though, as Dark Willow's conception was a little rushed at the end of season 6. Luckily for her though, this isn’t a list of best Buffy villains, just the strongest.
Even if Willow’s turn to villainy happened quickly, she made for the lost time.
When her girlfriend Tara was slaughtered, Willow consumed all of the dark magic available and nearly brought about worldwide destruction.
The only thing that stopped Willow was a heartfelt story from her oldest friend, Xander, all about a crayon.
The easiest way to describe Glory is to imaginee what Superman would be like if he a) had the looks and personality of supermodel and b) was ridiculously evil.
Glory was a demon goddess from another dimension whose main goal was interdimensional domination.
Glory was put on Buffy’s trail after Buffy was magically given a sister, Dawn. Dawn, who was originally a ball of mystical energy, was on Glory's to-devour list, as the goddess could eat people's minds.
No one could stop Glory, but she came with an important weakness.
Glory shared her body with her "twin," Ben, who was just an average human. When Glory transformed against her will, she could be defeated. Otherwise Glory was a walking wrecking ball in high heels and a red dress.
Did we miss any big Buffy baddies? Do you agree with this ranking? Sound off in the comment section!