Buffy the Vampire Slayer is seminal in so many ways. The series broke ground and altered how we view supernatural dramas. Back in the '90s, it changed the scope of television. and it's undeniably still affecting the medium today.
One influential aspect that does not get talked about enough is shipping. The show helped popularize the desire to romantically pair characters together or tout ones already in place. And Buffy certainly has some of the most iconic couples in television history, though the reasons why vary. So, let's revisit five Buffy couples fans support and five they reject.
10 Rejected: Willow and Kennedy
Fans will admit they didn't like Tara all that much up until Season 6. It was that moment where Buffy confided in Tara about Spike that really changed opinions. However, Tara's tragic outcome gutted a lot of fans. It was heart-wrenching to see someone go just as they were coming into their own. Then along came Kennedy, a Potential in more ways than one. She was blunt and determined. She didn't fool around when it came to romancing Willow either. They seemed pretty happy together, but in the wake of Tara, fans still couldn't get behind Willow and Kennedy.
9 Supported: Xander and Anya
Fans initially did not like Anya. It took them a good while to appreciate her insight and quirks. The same could be said for the Scoobies, who often treated her like an outcast, which she was in many ways. Things changed in "The Body" when Anya opened up about her fears of mortality and allowed herself to be vulnerable. As for Xander, fans are divisive about him nowadays. Nevertheless, these two made an interesting couple when they weren't fighting. Anya helped Xander grow, whereas Xander taught Anya how to love again. Despite not staying together, anyone could tell they still cared for each other.
8 Rejected: Buffy and Parker
Following her breakup with Angel, Buffy got involved with Parker Abrams. This fellow UC Sunnydale student could charm the pants off almost any woman. Willow can attest to that, though she ultimately wasn't fooled by this smooth operator. Unfortunately for Buffy, she fell for Parker's act. They eventually hooked up with very different expectations. Buffy wanted more than sex; Parker was already over her by the next morning. Suffice it to say, Parker did not treat Buffy well. Her pining over such a jerk was painfully relatable. It's no wonder fans detest Parker so much. At least Buffy got some satisfaction from knocking him unconscious in "Beer Bad."
7 Supported: Willow and Oz
Before she met Tara, Willow dated Oz the werewolf. Their courtship had a slow and adorable buildup. It was the perfect beginning to a relationship some might disregard these days in light of later developments. However, Willow and Oz were the model Scooby Gang couple at one point — until Willow's unnecessary affair with Xander threw a wrench into the relationship. They reunited, but Oz was then written out of the show when he could no longer manage his affliction. The writers' tendency to gloss over Willow and Oz does not undo the importance of their relationship.
6 Rejected: Buffy and Riley
You don't earn a nickname like "Captain Cardboard" if you're well-liked. Being Buffy's first major boyfriend after Angel, Riley Finn had a lot going against him. Fans generally have an aversion to Buffy/Riley. The opposers lamented the end of Angel and Buffy, or they simply didn't like frat boy/soldier Riley. Ignoring the events of Season 5 for a moment, Riley was a good college boyfriend for Buffy. They challenged each other during a time of extreme transition. It was in the aforesaid fifth season where it all fell to pieces. At that point, the Riley hate was understood.
5 Supported: Willow and Tara
Buffy fans would be remiss not to mention the pushback against Willow and Tara at the start of their relationship. On top of losing the beloved Willow/Oz dynamic, fans were caught off guard by Willow coming out as queer. Not to mention audiences couldn't warm up to Tara. Not yet. How Buffy and Xander first reacted to her — "I don't necessarily get her, but she's real nice." — was a reflection of how the fandom felt. Season 6 was where the couple fully blossomed. This was perhaps the most real they ever felt. Alas, their love was cut short.
4 Rejected: Cordelia and Xander
Fans can be dismissive towards Cordelia . Even without acknowledging her inevitable transformation in Angel, Cordy was an important member of the Scooby Gang. And to everyone's surprise, Cordy's relationship with Xander was the cause of her metamorphosis. After the Xander/Willow scandal, Cordy still returned to the fold to help Buffy and the Scoobies time and time again. It was no longer only because she was dating Xander; she helped because she wanted to. Plenty of fans reject Cordy/Xander as a couple, but their time together had a significant and positive ripple effect.
3 Supported: Drusilla and Spike
Drusilla and Spike are the Bonnie and Clyde of vampires in the Buffyverse. They essentially stole the show in Season 2 by being so uncanny and alluring. Fans eat up Drusilla's campiness while reveling in Spike's sardonic outlook. They were a match made in hell who surely rank high on anyone's list of favorite Buffy foes. Their brand of enticing ferocity was never emulated again in the series. Their mutual desire for wanton destruction regretfully ended too soon with the advent of Angelus, but at least we have the memories.
2 Rejected: Buffy and Spike
Fans must err on the side of caution when discussing Spuffy. The discourse can be downright exhausting. Experiencing Buffy/Spike firsthand and in the moment can cloud judgment even in today's world. Under scrutiny, the coupling is problematic with the fault squarely falling on Spike. Remembering Spike is capable of love when his contemporaries are not (i.e., Angelus) makes him special. But it doesn't erase the fact he's still a demon. The abuse Buffy suffered with Spike is hard to forget, much less excuse.
1 Supported: Angel and Buffy
It goes without saying the fandom loves Buffy's first relationship in the television series. Our heroine wouldn't be who she is without her considerably short time with Angel. After all these years, Bangel fans still consider their ship to be endgame. How it all began has its fair share of creepy factors — for instance, a 200 plus-year-old man stalked a teenager before following her to a new town — but there's an undeniable epic quality to Buffy and Angel's romance. It came fast and hard. Their chemistry was through the roof, and their scenes together remain enthralling to this day.