Buffy Summers, she saved the world. A lot. Over the span of seven seasons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer saw the Scooby Gang stop a barrage of apocalypses. Their bravery saved billions of lives. But you can't save everyone. Every war has its casualties, particularly war on the Hellmouth. One would think that being exposed to so much carnage would numb the Scoobies. Yet no amount of death via vampire, demon, or hell goddess can prepare somebody for the mortality of everyday life.
Though many of the deaths on Buffy were the results of senseless violence, the show handled the concept of mortality with grace and respect. Watching it, you felt every tear, every wall punch, every clenched hug. Buffy characters were some of the best TV has ever seen; losing them felt like losing one of your own. So get a tissue ready, because here is Buffy The Vampire Slayer: 10 Most Tragic Deaths, Ranked.
10 Maggie Walsh
Her death is a tragedy? She was a schemer, a manipulator, as evil as they come, and...she was mean to Giles. Maggie was bad.
Exactly. Maggie had real potential to be Season 4's Big Bad, which would have been fascinating. Not only would she have been the first female Big Bad, she would have been the first human one too. She had Riley wrapped around her little finger and she had an indestructible mercenary in Adam...until he skewered her to death.
Season 4 was considered to be one of, if not the, worst season of Buffy. Adam, for all his brute strength, was a terrible villain. He spoke like a robot and his personality was even blander. Never send Frankenstein's monster to do Frankenstein's job.
9 Jonathan Levinson
Jonathan's only wish was to fit in. That led to some terrible decisions, mainly everything he did with the Trio. On a redemption quest with Andrew, the two dig up the Seal of Danzalthar, after which Jonathan plans to inform Buffy about its evil powers. However, Andrew is brainwashed by the First and stabs Jonathan to death in an attempt to open the Seal. This was in vain, as Jonathan was anemic and didn't shed enough blood for the ritual to work.
Jonathan had a lot of tear-jerking moments on the show, but his biggest was right at the end, and not because he was about to die. After years of searching for acceptance, being mocked and ridiculed, trying in futility to join the Scooby Gang, Jonathan let it go. He had reached peace with the fact that his dreams had not happened but wished everyone the best, from Buffy and her friends to his tormentors in high school. For a man who suffered so much pain, his last moments were truly his happiest.
8 Katrina Silber
Her death was the first instance on the show of a human intentionally killing another human. Katrina had the good sense to dump Warren after she found out what a misogynistic sleazebag he is only for him to pop back into her life a year later in the most disturbing of circumstances. Warren and the Trio used a Cerebral Dampener on her, making her believe she was their compliant sex slave. Right as she was about to perform oral sex on Warren, the spell broke.
Katrina was beyond outraged, as anyone would be. She told off the Trio for their sick behavior, likening them to rapists, which shocked and horrified Jonathan—even in 2002, he should have known better. When Katrina turned to leave, Warren cracked her over the head with a wine bottle. Katrina died in Warren's mom's basement, wearing a French maid costume. She deserved to live or at least, a more dignified death.
Talk about coming full circle. Spike started off as an anarchistic punk rock vampire who thought of humans as "Happy Meals with legs". One brain chip, a soul, and some love for the Slayer later, and Spike was sacrificing himself to save the world. The amulet Spike wore, meant for a champion, created daylight and killed all the Turok-Han vampires, sealing the Hellmouth.
In an ending that was more awkward than sweet, Buffy finally confessed her love for Spike, which he flat-out didn't believe. Hey, Season 7 wasn't perfect. This death of a major fan favorite left viewers a little cold. Many Kleenexes remained in the box. But at least Spike was resurrected and returned to star on Angel.
As a former vengeance demon, Anya went from despising humans to falling in love with one. She even fell in love with the idea of humanity itself. She told Andrew how much she admired humans' resolve when the chips are down and how so many will fight for what's right, even if it's foolish and deadly. Which is exactly what she did. Anya and Andrew were partnered up—a fatal pairing if ever there was one—to fight the Harbingers, the weakest link in the First's army.
Still, they were strong enough, as one dragged his sword right through Anya's body. Maybe Anya died doing the "stupid thing", but she died a hero.
5 Jenny Calendar
Hers was the first impactful death of the show and remained one of the most heartbreaking throughout the entire series. Jenny was this close to translating the spell to restore Angel's soul—and to consummating her relationship with Giles—when evil Angelus intervened. He chased her throughout the school, a sadistic cat teasing his prey. When he finally caught her, he didn't even feed off her; Angelus just snapped her neck as if she wasn't even worthy of being bitten, as if she were nothing.
The fallout was even more brutal to watch. Angelus staged a perfect seduction scene at Giles' apartment complete with wine and roses. An amorous Giles ascended the stairs to his bedroom, only to find Jenny's corpse waiting in his bed. Jenny's was a death Giles never really got over; nor did the fans.
This is tragedy of a Shakespearean level. It almost didn't have to happen. Angelus wanted to wake up Acathla to send the world to hell. While Buffy went to fight him, Willow worked on performing the spell to restore his soul, the one Jenny never got to complete. Her spell worked and Angel came back, but it was too late. Acathla was already awake. In the most gut-wrenching breakup ever ever, Buffy told Angel she loved him, she kissed him, then she plunged a sword through his stomach and sent him to hell.
The worst part is that it's all Xander's fault. He never told Buffy that Willow was performing the spell. Had he done so, Acathla might never have woken and Angel may have been back to normal. Even though this was mentioned in later seasons, no character ever blamed him. The audience is a different story. Still, in the moment, Buffy did what she had to do: she saved the world. And broke our hearts.
3 Buffy Summers
Death is her gift. This was the prophecy from the First Slayer that Buffy couldn't figure out until the very end. Many interpreted the prophecy to mean that Buffy should sacrifice Dawn. Buffy refused to put her sister in harm's way, much to the chagrin of Giles—and the audience.
So, a battle royale occurred, the likes of which viewers hadn't seen in five seasons of the show. With their valiant effort, the gang actually succeeded in defeating Glory, a hell goddess. But there was the tiny loose end of her worshiper, Doc. He opened the portal and Buffy flung herself off the tower to close it. She died to save the world, making her the bravest character TV has ever seen.
2 Tara Maclay
Of all the deaths on Buffy, Tara's was by far the most senseless. Everyone else either sacrificed themselves or was murdered, but Tara was victim to a stray bullet. A minor geographical mistake is what did her in. Warren, having grown tired of being schooled by Buffy one too many times, showed up at the house and opened fire. One of his bullets killed Tara, who wasn't even in the backyard where the whole thing went down.
In Buffy, like in life, nobody is safe. Tara was in her bedroom sharing a quiet moment with Willow, as the two had just reconciled. Then, poof. Gone. No Scooby Gang plan, no weapon, no magic could have stopped Tara's death. That's what makes it a tragedy.
1 Joyce Summers
Even with some deaths along the way, the Scoobies have managed to eliminate every one of their threats. But they're no match for cancer. Joyce had her ups and downs at the hospital but just when it looked like the cancer was gone, she had a fatal brain aneurysm. Buffy finding her dead on the couch was more disquieting than any monster of the week or any Big Bad, could ever hope to be.
"The Body" was one of the saddest episodes in TV history but one of the most accurate, in terms of dealing with death. Joyce's passing shattered the Scoobies in ways they never thought possible. Everyone responded differently. Buffy went numb; Dawn cried hysterically; Xander punched a wall; Willow fretted over appropriate behavior. But perhaps the most emotional response was Anya's. New to human life, her approach to death is like a child's. She repeatedly asked insensitive questions, like "Are they going to cut the body open?". When she gets chastised, Anya breaks down because she's never had death explained to her. "No one will explain to me why." The real tragedy is that nobody has the answer.