The emotional roller coaster of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is intense. Fans doing a rewatch have to gear themselves up for Buffy sending Angel to hell, Willow and Oz’s breakup, Joyce’s death, and countless other heartbreaks and tragedies.
But the highs of the show are truly spectacular. Whether they’re scenes of sweet romance, quiet yet poignant character development, or oh-so-satisfying battle victories, Buffy knows how to bring the tears and the cheers. Ask any fan, and they’ll say they’ve watched these scenes more than a few times.
10 Buffy Gets Her Voice Back And Screams (“Hush”)
“Hush” (season 4, episode 10) is an absolute masterpiece of television. In it, the Gentlemen, the scariest-looking demons the show has ever seen, steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale. The episode is almost entirely dialogue-free as the now-speechless Scooby Gang tries to figure out how to get their voices back.
Controversial couple Buffy and Riley eventually find the box where the voices are trapped. He breaks it, and Buffy lets out the most satisfying bloodcurdling scream ever. This is especially poignant because Buffy at large turns the trope of the helpless blonde scream queen on its head. Here, Buffy’s scream is anything but helpless as the sound causes the Gentlemens’ heads to explode in geysers of green goo.
9 The Extraordinary Speech (“Potential”)
While Dawn had a bratty string of episodes, her later seasons see her grow up and mature. This is especially true in “Potential” (season 7, episode 12). Buffy’s little sister is giddy at the prospect of her being a Slayer and thus special like her sister. But when she discovers that the potential is actually her classmate Amanda, Dawn swiftly hands over the reins.
Nobody notices this quiet sacrifice — except Xander. He and Dawn are kindred spirits in that they’re the only members of the Scooby Gang without any powers. For years, Xander had to contend with being the only “unspecial” member of the group, but he makes peace with it when he realizes fighting the good fight with no mystical abilities is its own superpower. Xander may be a supremely toxic character, but when he tells Dawn she’s extraordinary, it’s hard to keep a dry eye.
8 Spike’s Introduction (“School Hard”)
Spike’s introduction is easily Buffy‘s most memorable. In “School Hard” (season 2, episode 3), it’s a quiet night in Sunnydale when out of the blue, the “Welcome to Sunnydale” sign is run over by a vintage black car. A leather-clad, bleach-blond vampire steps out, lights up a cigarette, and says, “Home, sweet home.” Just like that, a fan-favorite was born.
This entire episode is a fantastic introduction to Spike’s character. After a season of a ho-hum villain in the Master, fans were on board with Spike’s sentiment that he was an entirely different kind of vampire. A rebel to the core, Spike takes a punk-rock approach to vampirism, and the audience was completely in love.
7 Cordelia Leaves The Cordettes (“Bewitched, Bothered, And Bewildered”)
In “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” (season 2, episode 16), Cordelia has to make a choice: her popularity or a relationship with Xander. She initially dumps Xander on Valentine’s Day, but after realizing that she wants to be with him, Cordelia tells off Harmony and the rest of her so-called friends, proclaiming she is cool because she does what she wants.
This isn’t a great scene because Cordelia chooses Xander. As Buffy later proves, she is far too good for him. What makes the scene so great is Cordelia’s character development. At the beginning of the show, the most important thing to her was her status as Sunnydale’s queen bee — or Queen C. Here, she’s choosing herself over fitting in. That’s what makes Cordelia a great character in both Buffy and Angel.
6 Glory Gets Hit With A Wrecking Ball (“The Gift”)
Hands down, Glory is the toughest big bad that Buffy and the Scoobies ever faced. She is a hell goddess, after all. When Buffy and Glory are duking it out in “The Gift” (season 5, episode 22) and the latter gains the upper hand, she taunts Buffy — only to get hit with a full-on wrecking ball, courtesy of Xander’s construction site.
Glory had tormented the gang all season long. The final battle against her was the first time the audience really worried that not everyone would make it out alive — and indeed, Buffy sacrificed herself to save the world. That’s what makes Glory finding herself on the wrong side of a wrecking ball such a stand-up-and-cheer moment.
5 Willow Kisses Oz (“Phases”)
In the early days of Buffy, wallflower Willow isn’t exactly lucky in love. That’s what makes it so wonderful when Oz falls for her. But a wrench is thrown into their developing romance in “Phases” (season 2, episode 15) when he discovers he’s a werewolf and tries to hide it. When the truth comes out, Willow tells Oz she still wants to be with him and plants a kiss on his lips.
Fans were over the moon that somebody finally saw Willow as the amazing woman she is, but this scene is really special because Willow isn’t waiting to be chosen. She is the agent here, and after spending the entire episode wishing Oz would make a move, she does it herself.
4 Buffy Cuts Caleb In Half (“End Of Days”)
The only villain to give Glory a run for her money is the misogynistic preacher, Caleb. Every time Buffy goes up against him, she narrowly escapes with her life. But that’s when she realizes that she has been fighting Caleb completely on his terms. So in “End of Days” (season 7, episode 21), instead of matching his brute strength, Buffy uses her agility and her wit. She wins the battle by slicing Caleb in half from the groin up.
This scene is the perfect metaphor for the entire show. The entire Slayer line was created by a bunch of men who wanted a woman to sacrifice herself while they gave the orders. Over seven seasons, Buffy learns that she is at her best when she does things her way, and if that’s a problem… well, look what happened to Caleb.
3 “Under Your Spell” (“Once More, With Feeling”)
Really, the entirety of “Once More, with Feeling” (season 6, episode 7) is something fans love to watch over and over. But if any number in the musical episode deserves a rewatch, it’s Tara’s “Under Your Spell,” in which she professes her love and desire for Willow.
Everything about this scene fills the audience with glee, from Tara’s Disney princess-inspired dress to her exquisite vocals. This is also the scene that shows the most intimacy between Tara and Willow, as the end of the song finds them in the bedroom. It was a pivotal moment for LGBTQ+ representation on network television.
2 Buffy’s Class Protector Award (“The Prom”)
In “The Prom” (season 3, episode 20), Buffy almost misses the high school milestone because she is fighting evil. But she makes the event just in time for Jonathan to present her with the Class Protector Award, specially created for her.
All throughout her time at Sunnydale High, Buffy makes sacrifices. She eschews a normal life to save her classmates from evil and works overtime to keep her identity a secret. But the class of ’99 knows what’s up and that the reason they’re alive and about to graduate is because of Buffy. Buffy — and the audience — can barely keep it together.
1 Sunnydale High Fights Back (“Graduation Day, Part Two”)
As luck would have it, Buffy’s final battle against the Mayor takes place at her graduation in “Graduation Day, Part Two” (season 3, episode 22). He is the most formidable foe she has faced yet, and after his Ascension, promises to be unstoppable. But after Buffy’s graduating class reveals they know she’s the Slayer, she recruits them all to fight the Mayor and his cronies.
Since the first three seasons are all about the “high school as hell” metaphor, there’s something incredibly moving about everyone in Buffy’s school, from the jocks to the nerds, banding together in a “we’re not going to take it anymore” moment for the ages. High school was a hell of a battle for Buffy, but she and the Scoobies survived.
NEXT: The Greatest Redemptions In Buffy