Why are we still talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer over fifteen years after it ended? Is it because of the wicked Big Bads? Epic fights? Tumultuous romances? The witty dialogue? Yes, to all. Buffy is truly one of a kind, a unicorn of a TV series. But what's most impressive about the show is its array of badass female characters. To this day, many action-based shows struggle to bring female characters into the spotlight.
There are your standard strong, independent women, but there are also women who have the power to save the world with their wit, instinct, or sheer confidence. Even the female villains have messages to teach. In a society that tries to control them, they do what they want, apologizing to nobody for it. Here are some of the most badass ladies in the series.
10 Dawn Summers
Get out, get out, GET OUT! Dawn Summers...a badass? What does she do, other than scream out Jordan Peele movie titles at a pitch only dogs can hear? Does stealing trinkets and getting kidnapped really constitute a badass?
No. It's true, Dawn Summers gives one of the worst first impressions ever. But over time, she evolves from a bratty teen to a self-aware young woman. She makes peace with the fact that she'll never be Hellmouth special, and never have powers like her sister or the other Scoobies. But, Dawn still does what she can to fight the good fight, and therein lies her bravery. Remember when Spike tried to assault Buffy and Dawn totally put him in his place? Spike is a brutal killer, having taken out two Slayers, yet Dawn has no problem looking him dead in the eye and threatening to end him should he ever hurt her sister again.
9 Jenny Calendar
How can someone called a techno-pagan not be a badass? Unlike the antiquated Giles, Jenny Calendar is a forward-thinking trailblazer whose tech-savvy nature has saved the Scoobies more than once. She's also the type of cool, straight-shooting teacher we all wish we had in high school.
While Giles is tripping over himself trying to figure out how to ask Jenny on a date, she beats him to the punch with nary a second guess or neurotic thought. When Angel loses his soul, Jenny blames herself. She puts her life at risk trying to curse him again and this is ultimately what kills her.
8 Joyce Summers
Joyce Summers never wanted a badass life. All she craves is safety and simplicity for herself and her family. But as the mother of the Slayer, that's not the life Joyce gets. Though she may need the occasional swig of peach schnapps to help her along the way, Joyce rolls with the punches better than anyone.
For the most part, Joyce is a peaceful person. But when one of her cubs is threatened, that's when Momma Bear comes out, claws at the ready. We'll never forget when she hit Spike over the head with an ax and menacingly growled, "You get the hell away from my daughter!"
7 Cordelia Chase
Of all the Scoobies, Cordelia Chase easily has the most limited skill set. She's a decent getaway driver, makes for excellent bait and... that's about it. Or is it? Let's face it, if it weren't for Cordy's gumption and sass, she'd have perished long ago.
Cordelia always finds a way to get what she wants. Remember when she was mistaken for a Slayer and hunted down during Homecoming? Not only did she survive, but she bested her enemies using nothing more than her icy death stare. Now that's power.
6 Tara Maclay
When we first meet Tara Maclay, she's shyness personified. But she proves that you don't have to be an Amazonian warrior to be a badass. Just because Tara doesn't advertise her witch powers doesn't mean they aren't there. She's even stronger than Willow when they first meet.
Tara may not present a strong personality, but she's no pushover. After Willow abuses both magic and Tara's trust, Tara ends the relationship. This is one of Willow's prime motivators for getting clean. Tara's real superpower is helping others find the good in themselves.
5 Anya Jenkins
Anya may be best known for her blunt comments and lack of social awareness, but the woman deserves to be recognized for the total boss that she is. She is, first and foremost, a career girl. For over 1000 years, Anya was at the top of her game as a high-powered vengeance demon.
You don't get to be over a millennium old without having some serious survival instincts. But Anya makes the ultimate badass decision that it's better to die fighting than to live in hiding.
4 Faith Lehane
The rogue Slayer. Instead of bemoaning her calling like Buffy, Faith takes a decidedly full-throttle approach to slaying. Saving lives is all well and good, but the real fun is in kicking ass and livin' large. It's a win-win situation for everybody—vamps get dusted, Faith gets her adrenaline jollies.
When Faith breaks bad, she corrupts everything she touches. Even the noble Buffy finds herself willing to kill Faith and cross the moral threshold that comes with taking a human life. But with Angel's help, Faith is able to realize that her warpath of destruction is destroying her most of all.
Hands down, Glory is the biggest Big Bad of all. She effortlessly bests Buffy in almost every fight they have. If it wasn't for her Ben handicap, there's no doubt Glory would have won that final battle, leaving pieces of the Scooby Gang scattered all over Sunnydale.
The best villains are those that truly have fun being evil. It's as if Sunnydale is Glory's own personal playroom, and its residents are her dolls. And boy, does she enjoy ripping their heads off—or, to be accurate, draining their brains. Badass Glory's lesson is that if life hands you lemons, take a bubble bath, put on a fabulous dress, and kill a bunch of people. Okay, maybe not that last part.
2 Willow Rosenberg
Some badasses are born that way. Not Willow Rosenberg. When we first meet her, she's a shrinking violet, too timid to go after what she wants. But something shifts in Willow when she becomes a Scooby. She's able to make change for the better, finding her strength as a witch.
But being a badass witch is like a drug, and Willow gets addicted big time. This culminates in her going completely dark and flaying someone alive. (It was only Warren, so no big loss, but still...killing people is generally frowned upon.) However, Willow's not only able to recover, she's able to re-channel her power to fight the First.
1 Buffy Summers
The Chosen Badass. Initially, Buffy makes it clear that she does not want to be the Slayer. She just wants to be a cheerleader, hang out at the mall, and go on dates with cute boys. And yet, nobody holds a gun to Buffy's head and forces her to slay. She risks her life night after night because she feels the pull to do so. Besides, if she doesn't defend the world, there won't be any malls anyway.
Over seven seasons, there's nothing Buffy won't do for the good of humanity. She completely gives up the idea of having a functional love life—never mind that this is aided by her terrible taste in men. She throws away any hope at having a career or worldly aspirations. And, oh yeah, she sacrifices herself twice. Spike, for all his issues, said it best: Buffy is one hell of a woman.