Buffy Summers is a total badass, there's no denying it — but she's not the only hero in Sunnydale. Rupe Giles — Watcher, librarian, and proud owner of the Magic Box — proves his worth more than once over the show's seven-season run.
However, if there's one message that Buffy the Vampire Slayer hoped to leave viewers with, it's that humans can behave like monsters. Nobody is immune from making the wrong decision. Unfortunately, our favorite Watcher is no exception. Here are five times Rupert Giles saved the day and five times he almost ruined everything.
10 Saved: Giles Battles the Undead (Dead Man's Party)
"Dead Man's Party" sees Buffy return home to Sunnydale after running away. Due to some ugly confrontations with her friends, Buffy's welcome home party is less than stellar. It turns out, Joyce's latest art acquisition — which she hangs cluelessly on her bedroom wall — is actually a cursed Nigerian mask that is responsible for the zombie hoard.
Giles quickly puts two-and-two together, baffled that Joyce could be so naive. "Do you like my mask?" He mocks to himself as he drives to Buffy's house. "Isn't it pretty? It raises the dead!" Giles gets to the party in time to reveal that the mask's power rest in the wearer's eyes. Equipped with this knowledge — and a shovel — Buffy shoves the blade into Joyce's obnoxious friend Pat's (who hypnotically put the mask on her face, absorbing its power) face, ending the chaos.
9 Ruined: Plotting With Wood to Have Spike Killed (Lies My Parents Told Me)
Despite his newly regained soul, Giles never comes around to the idea of trusting Spike. This is made worse when The First begins using Spike as a murderous puppet, controlling him by a "trigger" buried inside his memories. Unbeknownst to Buffy, Giles and Principal Wood (whose mother was killed by Spike decades prior) begin plotting Spike's death.
Giles spends the episode distracting Buffy with vampire hunts and pointed discussions about making "difficult decisions." Buffy soon realizes that she is being played and rushes to find Spike and Wood before it's too late.
Spike survives the episode, but Giles and Buffy's relationship is never the same. He may have been entitled to his feelings (and not entirely wrong), but he shouldn't have gone behind her back.
8 Saved: Killing Ben (The Gift)
The finale of Season 5 is easily one of the best episodes of the series. Glory — a contender for everyone's favorite villain — is successful. She has Buffy's sister Dawn, whose blood is the key to opening a door to the apocalypse. Buffy and the Scoobies arrive in time to stop Glory in an epic showdown. Buffy, having defeated Glory, spares her life due to the fact that she shares a body with Ben, a human boy that Buffy believes to be innocent.
After Buffy hears Dawn screaming for help, she leaves Glory-turned-Ben with Giles. Giles kneels over Ben, telling him that Buffy is a hero. "Not like us," he says, before smothering Ben to death, permanently preventing Glory from ever returning.
7 Ruined: Leaving Dawn in Danger (Once More, With Feeling)
In an effort to push Buffy towards rejoining the living, Giles takes a big step back from her life in Season 6. While this is mostly a good thing (more on that later), he makes a poor call in judgment along the way.
In the show's musical episode, Dawn is captured by a demon. Buffy assembles the gang, preparing to save her sister's life once more, only for Giles to tell her that she must save Dawn on her own. Later, he questions his decision in a song when he sings: "Will this do a thing to change her? Am I leaving Dawn in danger? Is my slayer too far gone to care?"
He ends up changing his mind, rushing to Buffy and Dawn's side just in time to save them both (or rather, watch Spike do the actual saving). Either way, Giles' bad decision could have lead to a very different outcome.
6 Saved: Threatening Principal Snyder (Dead Man's Party)
'Dead Man's Party' was a great episode for Giles. After saving Buffy's welcome home party from a hoard of the undead, Giles pays a visit to Principal Snyder on behalf of Buffy and her mother. Snyder snidely refuses to revoke Buffy's expulsion, taking a lot of joy in it. Giles threatens Snyder, telling him that he isn't afraid to take the matter above Snyder's head. Snyder is unshaken until Giles gets physical and threatens Snyder with violence instead.
By the end of the episode, Buffy is back in school where she belongs and Giles is proven a badass once more.
5 Ruined: Trying to Avenge Jenny's Life (Passion)
"Passion" is a fan-favorite episode, but it's also a devastating one. After following a trail of rose petals upstairs and finding Jenny's dead body in his bedroom, Giles is distraught and driven to seek revenge against Angelus. It's difficult to say that this a situation where Giles almost ruined everything because his blind need for revenge is justified and emotionally moving.
Regardless, Giles knew he was no match for Angelus, Spike, and Drusilla, and charged in with a flaming baseball bat anyway. Buffy shows up in time to save him from getting himself killed. "Why did you come here?" Giles angrily asks her. "This wasn't your fight." Buffy punches him in the face, angry and crying, and asks, "Are you trying to get yourself killed?" She holds Giles as he begins to sob. "You can't leave me," she says. "I can't do this alone."
4 Saved: Forcing Buffy to Grow Up (Tabula Rasa)
"Tabula Rasa" is a wild ride from start to finish. It begins with Giles' decision to leave Sunnydale and return home to England, much to Buffy's dismay. Due to Willow's spell-gone-wrong, the Scooby gang temporarily loses their memories and wake up together in the Magic Box completely unaware of who they are or why they're there. Hilarious chaos ensues.
After the spell is broken and things turn back to normal, however, Giles remains firm on his decision. He realizes that Buffy has grown too dependent on him since returning from heaven. He knows that the only way to force her back into life and adulthood is to leave her, as difficult as it may be for both of them.
3 Ruined: Pushing Buffy Too Hard (Reptile Boy)
Buffy's life isn't easy. She's the new kid, a highschooler, a teenager, a vampire slayer, and she's already died and been resurrected, all before her eighteenth birthday.
In "Reptile Boy" she becomes overwhelmed by living a secret life that causes her to lie to her mother, getting her into trouble. She's struggling with her classes, she's in love with a vampire, and Giles cuts her zero slack. Although he has the best intentions — to keep Buffy in tip-top shape as Slayer — he continues to pile on her training sessions until she has no choice but to blow everyone off for a college party that turns out to be a secret cult sacrifice in disguise. Of course.
In true Buffy fashion, she saves the day and kills the bad guy. Afterward, Giles apologizes, understanding now that his approach wasn't the best.
2 Saved: Facing Off Against Dark Willow (Two to Go)
After losing Tara and giving in to dark magic, Willow becomes the murderous big bad of Season 6. As one of the most powerful witches alive, she brags to Buffy that no one can stop her. In what is arguably his most heroic moment of the series, Giles shows up at the last minute, claiming he'd like "to test that theory." Equipped with the magic of an entire witch coven, Giles faces off with Dark Willow, proving to be a formidable opponent. In the end, he is not strong enough to defeat her. Instead, she is brought down by her own sense of humanity, sparked by Xander in an emotional climax.
More than his fearless fight with Dark Willow, Giles proves he is the true definition of a hero when he takes Willow to England with him. There, he takes an active part in her healing and rehabilitation, despite nearly dying at her hand.
1 Ruined: Lying to Buffy (Helpless)
By Season 3, Giles has become a father figure to Buffy, whose own father continues to let her down. In "Helpless," Buffy has reached her eighteenth birthday, but something isn't right. Viewers soon see that Giles has been hypnotizing her and injecting her with a poison meant to immobilize her slayer powers as part of Watcher's Council's tradition. When a slayer turns 18, she must prove herself by taking on a vampire without her super abilities.
It's clear that Giles doesn't want to do it, but he does it anyway. He ends up telling Buffy the truth and rushing to save her. This goes against the Watcher's Council's rules, and Giles is fired from his position as Buffy's watcher due to his fatherly devotion to her. Despite this, Buffy leaves Giles behind, devastated that he would lie to her and inject her with poison.