Thanks to the title, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” can easily be dismissed as a silly fluff show by those who have never watched. Long time fans however know that not only can the show be full of humor, drama, romance, and action, it can also make you feel like your heart has been ripped out of you.
Producer and Writer Joss Whedon is someone who closely follows the “kill your darlings” philosophy of writing. He knows that death and heart break and betrayal are a constant in real life, and he uses those elements to make his shows more real. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is chock full of moments that leave you breathless and can make even the toughest man have to fight real hard to hold back the tears.
Listed below are the eight moments in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” that touched me the most. The list contains many spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the show yet, go do it now and forget about this list until later!
1. Buffy’s Mom Dies (The Body)
Sara Michelle Gellar is at her best when she goes into “little girl mode”. When Buffy discovers her mom lying still on the couch, she quickly goes from curiousity to heart break with three simple words : “Mom? Mom? Mommy??”
We all knew that Joyce was probably doomed this season, it was only a matter of seeing how Joss Whedon was going to handle it. Rather than making us have to watch our favorite background character suffer through some supernatural demise, instead she passes away naturally as a victim of cancer. Joyce was always Buffy’s anchor to the “real world” and her passing means that Buffy is now permanently and forever fixed in the world of the Slayer.
2. Angelus Returns (Innocence)
As soon as it was revealed that Angel’s character was cursed and that if he ever experienced a moment of true happiness that he would return to being Angelus, you knew it was going to happen eventually. As the season wore on and you came to realize that the moment of happiness that was going to break the curse was Buffy and Angel’s love, you were both wanting and not wanting it to happen. Everyone wants to see Buffy and Angel together, but of course no one wanted Angelus to return. The fact that Angelus chose to torture Buffy emotionally rather than kill her just makes this episode and the ones that follow that much more painful. Buffy rarely gets to be truly happy and let the Slayer world fall away for even a short while, and to see it result in such terrible consequence when it does is truly a heart breaker.
3. Tara Dies (Seeing Red)
Tara Maclay seemed to come out of nowhere, entering Willow’s life at college as just another member of the campus Coven. Joss Whedon made sure that we were kept guessing about Tara’s place in the show for several episodes, dropping red herrings all over the place that she might be a demon or worse. When the truth comes out that Tara is just a love sick girl who wants nothing in the world but to be with Willow, she quickly grew on us. When Tara is brutally and randomly struck down in Seeing Red, we felt pain. Pain for the loss of Tara and pain for Willow.
4. Buffy Quits (Prophecy Girl)
Throughout the first season Buffy faced and defeated many foes and managed to stay in school and maintain a social life. Just as she thinks that she may be able to balance the Slayer world with the teenage world, she overhears Giles and Angel discussing the fact that if she faces the Master, then she will die. Watching our beloved Slayer fall apart while alternately cursing Giles and begging for a way out left me in tears.
5. Angel Kills Jenny (Passion)
Joss Whedon said that having Angel kill Jenny was his way of letting the Angel fans know that Angelus was REALLY bad and was not just Angel “having a bad day”. Jenny learns how to restore Angel’s soul only to be confronted by Angelus, and then to have him snap her neck without even feeding. Not content with just murder, Angelus also torments Giles by leaving Jenny’s body in his bed, surrounded by candles and rose petals.
6. Buffy Dies (The Gift)
Had there not been a season 6 and 7, this of course would be #1 on the list. Buffy dies the way a hero should, by sacrificing herself to save others. Even though me and every other fan knows that Buffy will return as soon as we pop in the next DVD, you can’t help getting choked up when she realizes that the only way to save Dawn is to sacrifice herself. The fact that Dawn is not even REALLY her sister never plays into Buffy’s decision. She runs, she jumps, we cry.
7. Xander Leaves Anya at the Altar (Hell’s Bells)
Even though Anya was most often used as comic relief for the series up to this point, it didn’t change the fact that you fell in love with her. The marriage of Anya and Xander was to have been the dream wedding of the series, making more sense than perhaps even Buffy and Angel being together. Fans may have expected the wedding to be difficult, of course there would be demons and some sort of fight, but we all expected Buffy to clear all that up and then Xander and Anya would be wed right before the credits rolled. But no, Xander instead falls to his own fear of failing Anya and chooses the cowards way out.
8. Buffy lies to Spike (Chosen)
Buffy – “I love you.”
Spike – “No you don’t, but thanks for saying it.”
He started off as a love sick poet, then became the second baddest vampire in history, then got neutered by the government, then fell in love with his sworn enemy, then got his own soul back. Spike was probably the second most tortured character in the show and everyone wanted Buffy to fall in love with him since Mr. Pointy Hair was off in Los Angeles now anyway. While Buffy loved Spike, she was not “in love” with him, and he knew it. But that didn’t stop him from loving her or turning his back on the world. While Spike might not have died with the love he desired, he died with her respect.