Analysis

The Villains of Each Buffy Season, From Worst to Best

You may have heard the saying that a hero is only as good as their villain. Fortunately, this isn’t true, or a lot of very famous stories would be way worse than they are.* However, a good villain can make a story much better, while a bad villain does the opposite. So how are storytellers supposed to know what makes a good villain and what makes a bad one? For the answer, we turn to a TV show that runs the gamut on villains, from the highest highs to the lowest lows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With the villains neatly organized by season, ranking them is even easier. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.

7. Adam

Adam from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

On paper, Adam seems like he should be a great villain. He’s physically very powerful, so he has a decent threat level. More importantly, his plan isn’t just to kill Buffy. As we’ll see, having goals other than killing the hero is really important to a good villain. It means they can actually win sometimes without ending the story, and few things are better for a villain’s threat level than a good victory.

Adam’s main problem is that he’s just. So. Boring. Half the time, I forget season four even has a villain. He doesn’t appear until past the halfway point, and after that, he’s barely present. He spends most of his time hiding in a cave. When he is on screen, he has almost no personality. He’s meant as an homage to Frankenstein’s monster, but he has neither the book version’s scathing wit nor the movie version’s tragic innocence. He comes across as little more than a brick wall for Buffy to punch.

Another major problem with Adam is his evil plan. He wants to create an army of fellow cybernetic human-demon hybrids, but the reasons why are never clear. He sometimes philosophizes about how demons are stuck in the past, so he wants to help them evolve, which isn’t an aesthetic the show had ever used before or ever would again. We’re left with a villain who wants to do evil things, because he’s evil. That can work if your villain is charismatic enough, but Adam is a charisma sinkhole: other characters are somehow less charismatic when he’s around.

A final nail in Adam’s coffin is that he looks silly. The comically oversized stitches seem like they should come apart at any moment, and the metal prosthetics appear held on with superglue. I don’t know if this is due to technical failures or a limited budget, but either way we’re left with a villain who’s hard to look at with a straight face. While prose writers don’t usually have to worry about how much a villain’s appearance will cost, Adam still serves as a warning not to neglect our descriptions.

6. The Trio

The Trio from Buffy

I’ll admit, it took a while to decide whether these jokers or Adam should have the bottom slot, but I eventually put the Trio in second-to-last place because they at least have some personality. In fact, season six’s villain trifecta is like the anti-Adam. He has no personality to speak of, while personality is literally all they have. Their threat level is zero, and they have no plan. Their only upside is that they’re sometimes funny to watch.

In fairness to the Trio, they arrive on the scene shortly after Buffy has defeated Glory, a literal god. Having another physically powerful villain would have been repetitive. Unfortunately, instead of creating a villain who would threaten the Scoobies in a different way, the writers went for a “big bad” who wouldn’t threaten anyone at all. As three humans with mild to moderate abilities, the Trio could have worked as a single episode’s villain,* but they are utterly incapable of carrying a season.

Every episode the Trio appears in is an exercise in asking why Buffy hasn’t defeated them yet. Sometimes the writers make some excuse, like the Trio’s attempts being so pathetic that Buffy doesn’t even notice them. Later in the season, we’re supposed to believe that Buffy somehow can’t find the Trio, despite her ability to locate far more elusive villains in previous episodes. That’s actually season six in a nutshell: the heroes are suddenly unable to solve problems that would have been trivial before.

Next, in what I can only assume was an effort to see how low the Trio could go, one of them comes after Buffy with a gun. This is incredibly obnoxious because for the show to work, we have to suspend our disbelief about why no one uses firearms. We do this because we want to see urban fantasy kung-fu fights. So when the show violates its own conceit in an effort to make some pathetic villains even a little threatening, it damages the entire premise. This is also where the Buffy writers infamously buried their gays, but that’s a rant for another time.

5. The Master

The Master from Buffy

Buffy’s first big bad is essentially Adam, but with all of his problems scaled down. The Master is boring, but not as boring. His plan is generic, but not as generic. The Nosferatu makeup looks pretty silly, but is still several steps above store-brand Frankenstein.

One place where the Master stands out from Adam is his presence in the show. Despite being trapped underground by a mystical barrier, the Master makes his presence felt fairly often, usually by sending minions to do something that Buffy has to stop. I suspect season one’s lower episode count helped in this regard.* With fewer episodes, there’s less time for the Master to fade into the background like Adam does.

It’s also interesting that the Master’s supernatural prison was apparently conceived as a way to make sure he and Buffy didn’t fight every episode, thus preserving his threat for the final confrontation. That’s a good instinct, but in the Master’s case, it falls a little flat. Instead of failing fights against Buffy directly, he sends out minions who fail to kill her. The only time he succeeds before the finale is in creating the Anointed One, a character who famously goes nowhere. Taking it a step further, the Master kills his most competent minions, the Three. This group of vampires only missed killing Buffy due to bad timing and could easily have succeeded with a second chance. Great job.

Despite these fumbles, when the final confrontation comes, the Master mostly gets the job done. His plan to cover the world in darkness or whatever is more than a little generic, but at least it’s thematically appropriate. He’s a vampire – covering the world in darkness is what they do. He’s strong enough to easily defeat Buffy the first time they fight, and she only stands a chance in round two because of a new immunity to his hypnosis. So while he’s not a villain anyone will write home about, he isn’t unpleasant to watch.

4. Spike & Angelus

A publicity shot of Angel and Spike

Buffy’s second season gives us not one, but two main villains who effectively switch roles as the story goes forward.* First, we have Spike, a welcome change from the Master’s stuffy monologues and generic villainy. Spike’s a fun-loving vampire who likes to drink blood and kill slayers because it’s awesome. Undeath is basically one long party for him. But there’s room in Spike’s life for emotional depth too. He and Drusilla legitimately care about each other in their twisted way, which is a level of complexity not normally seen on this show. Spike also rids us of the Anointed One, for which all Buffy fans remain eternally grateful.

Spike’s critical flaw is that after his first appearance, he loses nearly all his threat level. It’s clear he can’t beat Buffy, and yet he fights her over and over again, losing every time. After a while, he’s just boring to watch, no matter how compelling his personality. Spike ends up working much better once he transitions into a secondary antagonist and uneasy ally of the heroes, a process that begins near the end of season two.

Incidentally, that’s when the season’s other big bad shows up: Angelus. As the heroic Angel’s evil persona, Angelus doesn’t have quite the same magnetism as Spike, but his personal connection to Buffy helps keep him interesting. Since the two are former lovers, Buffy has some very complicated feelings about killing Angelus, an emotional conflict that plays out over the second half of season two and makes the climactic fight much more interesting.

But Angelus is held back by the same problem as Spike: he’s not strong enough to be a serious threat to Buffy. When the two of them first fight, Buffy not only beats him, but she does it via a humiliating kick to the crotch. From there, the only thing keeping Buffy from total victory are her feelings for Angel. That’s better than nothing, but it still leaves Angelus feeling pretty lackluster as a bad guy. The show also implies that he could have killed several of the heroes in their sleep but didn’t because he wants to crush their spirits first. Maybe this is supposed to make him more threatening, but instead it just adds incompetence to weakness.

3. The First Evil

Caleb from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Originating as a bad guy of the week in season three, the First Evil has the distinction of being the only Buffy big bad who’s entirely non-corporeal. Conceptually, that makes a lot of sense. Much like the Trio, the First came after Buffy had defeated a host of demonic heavyweights, so something had to be different. But where the Trio were just weaker physical threats, the First Evil is an entirely different type of enemy, at least at first.

With access to the memories of personalities of seemingly everyone who’s ever died,* the First Evil’s primary method of attack is through mind games. It turns the heroes against each other, sometimes through simple manipulation, other times through supernatural brainwashing. Getting the heroes to fight each other is a classic move, but it’s not something the main villains on Buffy do very often, so it helps the First stand out.

Being able to appear as any dead person also gives the First a lot of novelty. Season seven is full of arguments between the heroes and their long-departed friends, and it’s always interesting to see such interactions. Some of the living characters have also technically died, meaning the First can stage a debate between Good Buffy and Evil Buffy. And since it can appear anywhere, such confrontations are easy to arrange. All of this makes for a menacing villain who’s unlike anything our heroes have faced before.

Where the First Evil falls short is staying power. Mind games are great, but there has to be something behind them, and with the First it’s not clear that there is. The First’s generic minions aren’t much of a threat, and while it does eventually gain a heavy-hitting lieutenant, it’s not long before he’s taken out and we’re back to the mind games. Neither is it clear what the First is even trying to do. It spends several episodes digging up the very weapon our heroes need to kill it, and then it spends most of the season ignoring an evil portal that it theoretically wants to open.

The result is a villain who starts out cool but quickly feels like it’s running out the clock until the finale. It’s still better than the previous entries, but it’s kept out of the higher tiers by an inability to follow through.

2. Glory

Glory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Blazing into season five, Glory was originally meant to be Buffy’s final villain, and it shows. Like Adam, she can easily ruin the slayer’s day in a physical confrontation, but that’s where the similarities end. That’s because Glory has a little thing called screen presence. While Adam makes you wanna check your phone* whenever he’s on screen, Glory makes every scene solely about her. It helps that she isn’t hindered by terrible makeup, but her larger-than-life self-confidence and casual brutality is what really sells it. It’s just fun to see her so excited about being evil.

What’s more, Glory’s goal, plan, and motivation are refreshingly straightforward. She needs to find the Key so she can go home and take over her native hell dimension. This will effectively destroy Earth, but Glory isn’t bothered about such things. That’s another aspect of Glory that works really well. She isn’t actively trying to end the world; it’s just a side effect of her plan. Humans aren’t her enemies; they’re completely beneath her.

So how is Glory’s threat level? We’ve established that she can wipe the floor with Buffy, but that’s no guarantee, as the Master showed earlier. Unfortunately, there’s only one real stage in Glory’s plan: she finds the Key, then she ends the world and goes home. This means the writers can’t have her succeed at her actual goals. Instead, their solution is for Glory to always fail in her attempts to find the Key, but also beat up our heroes along the way. This is essentially a consolation prize approach. Sure, Glory didn’t find the Key this episode, but she did get to punch Buffy through a wall.

The strategy works reasonably well, giving the impression that the Scoobies are always struggling to stay half a step ahead of Glory until it’s time to defeat her in the final battle. The only major disappointment with Glory is that despite dramatically stating she’s a god rather than a demon, the show never does anything with that. Functionally, she appears indistinguishable from a very powerful demon. Even so, Glory is a very effective villain and only misses the top slot by a few points.

1. The Mayor

Mayor Wilkins from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Finally, we have season three’s big bad, Mayor Wilkins. To start, he has a perfect but strangely underused villain personality: friendly and polite. This is way more intimidating than any amount of angry shouting or violent outbursts, and there’s a simple reason why. When a villain smiles and offers to shake your hand, it indicates that they don’t have to do any of that other stuff. They’re confident in their status, so they don’t have to constantly remind everyone of it. Despite how successful this approach is, surprisingly few stories employ it, which makes villains like the Mayor stand out even more.

Moving on to Wilkins’s evil plan, it’s similar in general shape to Glory’s. He wants to transform himself into a powerful demon, which is something he’s been working on since Sunnydale was first founded. This is a multistep process that requires several items and materials, but the end result is that he’ll have to consume a lot of people for sustenance, which naturally isn’t something our heroes can allow.

Wilkins’s demon transformation is unlike anything Buffy has faced. While she’s fought creatures that called themselves “demons” before, these were comparatively weak creatures watered down by living in the human world. Wilkins, on the other hand, takes the form of a building-sized serpent. This is both good and bad. On the one hand, it actually is different from previous enemies, something the show claims with Glory but never demonstrates. On the other hand, limits on CGI mean the human characters can’t really interact with Snake-Wilkins, so there are a lot of creative camera cuts to disguise that they’re attacking empty air, which doesn’t look fantastic.

But by far the most effective element of the Mayor’s villainy is that he actually succeeds sometimes. Since his transformation plan requires several steps, he has things to accomplish that don’t immediately end the show. Unusually, this takes the form of acquiring a magic item, but in at least one case, he manipulates the Scoobies into taking out an enemy of his. Even when Wilkins loses his best minion trying to kill Buffy, he comes out ahead, as the recently heel-turned Faith soon joins his team. This is more than even Glory manages, and it’s what puts the Mayor at #1.

Almost nothing makes a villain threatening like success. When the bad guy accomplishes what they seek to do, it creates the impression that they might succeed again. This is crucial for maintaining tension, which is what keeps people turning the page or playing the next episode. It works for Mayor Wilkins because he has things to succeed at that don’t bring the story to a screeching halt. This isn’t a difficult technique to implement in your own work. The next time you’re planning a story, make sure the villain has some objective that isn’t killing the hero or achieving total victory. You’ll be well on your way.

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Comments

  1. Bellis

    I’ve been meaning to rewatch Buffy! It’s been a while since I watched it. And, I totally had forgotten Adam lmao. So, yeah, he is really boring and un-memorable – I did remember all of the other villains.
    I agree that the Mayor was the best, especially his politeness made him creepy. I know people like that in real life…

    (Also, after I watched Buffy, I immediately went on to watch Firefly. I was so freaked out by the evil evil priest suddenly being our likeable antihero captain Mal!)

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      I actually watched Firefly first for various reasons, it was weird to see our lovable Mal as a serial killing priest!

  2. Elda King

    It is quite telling that as I went through the list, I started remembering way more clearly what those villains did. I mean, what exactly did the Master or the Trio do? No idea. Adam I have a vague recollection that he was related to those military guys, but only because I saw his image here – I have no memories of his plan or actions.

  3. Tony

    From what I’ve heard about the Trio, they seem like a takedown of the sort of entitled misogynist who resents women for supposedly spurning nerds like him (the same archetype as the villain in Megamind). But yeah, I’ve heard some less-than-stellar things about those villains (and about that last couple of seasons in general), so it seems like the concept wasn’t executed that well. Another criticism I’ve heard is that the series went overboard in mocking the Trio for being nerdy, even though nerdiness isn’t the real problem with misogynistic nerds–the misogyny is.

  4. SunlessNick

    7. I actually rather liked Adam. His dry observational nature was an interesting contrast with other Buffy villains, and fit his origin as a scientific project.

    6. The Trio are my worst. I think part of the point of them was that after fighting a mayor, followed by a government, followed by a god, the next logical thing for the gang to fight was people like them – but it didn’t deliver on that – and the dark Willow plotline was abysmally done.
    (I think a better option for season 6, if Willow was to be the final villain, would be her attempting a mass mind control spell to prevent all monsters in Sunnydale from harming humans – like a blanket magical version of Spike’s chip – that’s something that would have divided the gang, and probably the viewers too, on whether to side with it. The Trio could then have just served as a distraction so Buffy doesn’t see what Willow is planning).

    5. I also liked the Master. He was a counterpart to Buffy not just in power, but in duty – he was devoted to the old ones under the Hellmouth in a religous sense. He was cool in the fear episode when he caresses the cross.

    4. I don’t really have anything to say about Spike or Angelus. Except that their respective world ending plans were cool parallels to how we’d seen them in the past – Spike was a thug, and his plan was to raise what was essentially a bigger thug – Angelus talked about how Acathla would redeem him from straying.

    3. I think the First was too abstract for a show like Buffy – I remember one person compared it to the big bad being the colour purple. Also, at that point, the writers were trying to be more morally grey, but you can’t really have the physical embodiment of evil exist as a coherent entity without the nature of good and evil being black and white.
    If it had been me, the big bad of season 7 would have been that demon that first created vampires (vampires are fast reproducers, but also have vulnerabilities that make them easier than most demons for normal humans to kill – the result is a high vampire death rate, which I would have had be a process by which the demon was strengthened, eventually being strong enough to return to Earth). Killing it wouldn’t have killed all vampires, but would have made it so no new ones could ever be created, which would have been a pretty cool final victory for the series.

    2. I was surprised to see Glory so high. I like her a lot, but she’s always seemed unpopular to me. The concept of a being that feeds on *sanity* seriously scares me. I do wonder if “god” was different-phrasing-ese for the kind of true demon the Mayor was becoming, or the Powers from Angel. The also had one of the best minions ever in Doc.

    1. I concur with the Mayor’s top slot.

    My own order from worst to best would be Trio,First, then a long gap, then jointly Adam and the Master, Spike/Angelus, Glory, and the Mayor.

    • Bellis

      Now I want to see your version of season 7!

  5. Prince Infidel

    Ironically, the only one of these villains that I had forgotten about is the Mayor. Mostly because while I think of him when I think of well done villains, he doesn’t really feel connected to the rest of the show. The writers managed to tie him to almost every aspect of the show’s lore up to that point, but he feels so out of place for Buffy, he feels like he stepped in from a different show. That’s not a complaint, more an observation.

  6. Cyrano Johnson

    I have a soft spot for the Trio on account of their being *realistic* Evil. They’re a little pack of what we would now call “incel” misogynerds who, if they actually had the instincts, acumen, and skillsets of real-life misogynerds, would really be much more threatening than they wound up being. In spite of their non-epic scale and the scattershot and chaotic nature of their motives, they *feel* like very personal, very *real* evil that spoke to its cultural moment.

    I think speaking to the cultural moment is key leverage for villains. The Joker in *The Dark Knight,* for instance captured the fear (and the allure) of terrorism and accelerationism so perfectly that real-life terrorists and accelerationists emulated him. Which is at best a pretty fucking mixed result as the world goes, admittedly, but as the *fiction* went it was top notch.

  7. Ems

    No arguments about Adam being the worst, that dude was a total dud as a villain. And no arguments about Wilkens being the best, everyone knows it. Also no arguments about The Master being rather middling.

    However, I gotta disagree with putting the First ahead of Spike and Angelus. I like the IDEA around the First, but its powers were ill-defined and underdeveloped imo. It’s a cool idea for a big bad that I think could have been written much MUCH more tightly, and Caleb was introduced too late. And on the other hand… while I will cop to idea that maybe the Fang Boys™ couldn’t keep up their threat status too terribly high, I think they were still effective antagonists because of their personal connection to the cast (Spike/Dru’s connection to Angel and then Angelus’ connection to Buffy). Their conflict was, in my opinion, the most personal out of all the seasons, and I think that adds a bit of novelty and weight to it. I dunno, I will agree that I prefer Spike as an ally/eventual antihero (he is probably the best thing about season 4 and the only reason I have a soft spot for it), I still found him to be a great villain when he was one. Same for Angelus who, quite frankly, has more personality than his ensouled counterpart.

    I will also defend The Trio a bit; not cause I think they’re good, but because they were INTENTIONALLY pathetic. The real Big Bad of season 6 is life itself, and while I have many issues with season 6, the theming around depression and uncertainty of adulthood I thought were actually quite strong. The Trio weren’t supposed to be actually threatening, but rather their continual success in getting around the gang was a sign of how hard life was coming down on them and how much they were struggling personally. If they were around any other season, Buffy would have crushed them easily. To a certain degree, I think comparing them to the other villains in the series is unfair because the framing and context around them is COMPLETELY different. Also, I like Andrew’s little redemption arc in season 7.

    • Tony

      Reminds me of how Kylo Ren was deliberately designed as a whiny, unstable Vader wannabe.

  8. William

    I think the point of the trio and why they had to suck was that they were the externalization of the real villains, which was Buffy and her group. Buffy is in a self-destructive mind-set, resenting her own resurrection and actively wanting to be dead again, Willow is becoming arrogant about her powers, Xander and Dawn continue to blatantly and unrepentantly EXIST and Spike becomes a rapist. I don’t really get the last bit, he’s a mass murderer, but everyone acts like his assault of Buffy was the moral event horizon for the character. Also, while this is not a defense, the actual assault is not all that much further than his other sexual encounters with Buffy over the course of the season. So it’s not that Spike suddenly tried to rape Buffy near the end, but they have actually been raping one another all season. Except I wouldn’t really count it as that, because by the established rules of the setting Spike is not a person, so Buffy is, at either “raping” a sex toy, or possibly committing bestiality. Frankly, I have no idea why they didn’t kill him as soon as he was unable to fight back, in Season 4. From a Doylist standpoint, I understand why they wanted to keep Spike around, but from a Watsonian standpoint, Buffy & co should have put him down the moment they had the chance, or treated him like some kind of suicide squad operative, keeping him locked up and only letting him out for fights with the promise of retribution or death if he runs away.

    Anyway, the point is, throughout the season with the Trio, the real bad guys are the main characters. Also, a lot of their problems are contrived or stupid. Or stupidly contrived. But the point is, at the place all these assholes were in, they didn’t need villains, they were getting in their own way just fine. The Trio were great thematic villains for what the show was trying to do that season. The problem is, the idea was a bad one to try to stretch over 22 episodes. Honestly the writing on Buffy is very overrated. It was utter shit the last few seasons. After Season 3 only 5 was genuinely good, and even that had its clunker moments and inconsistent characterization and plot holes. A LOT of drama in that (and subsequent) season relied on Dawn doing something unutterably stupid to create a crisis, and no one taking steps to keep it from happening again.

    • Primrose

      Well, they say extensively that they’re trying to get information on The Initiative from Spike. Then later, they state that they aren’t comfortable killing a harmless and defenceless being. No matter what the “rules” are, it’s made rather clear that the perception of Spike has literally never been that he’s an animal or an object. Consciously or not, Spike was granted personhood pretty much the moment he fell into their laps, which is entirely reasonable: he looks like a human, talks like a human, has a personality, thoughts, feelings and opinions like a human. Realistically, most people wouldn’t perceive something that intelligent and emotionally nuanced as an “animal”. They may not have liked him, but you’ll notice all the “it” and “thing” talk only came with season 6 and Buffy’s extreme case of denial. Plus, he could fight demons and was willing to for a bit of pocket money, which was valuable for a group that recently lost Angel AND Faith, leaving Buffy as the only real combatant in the group.

      Secondly, the way season six played around with consent prior to the incident in the bathroom was the point. Before the soul, Spike relied on learning morality intuitively through watching the people around him, mostly Buffy. Throw him into a deeply unhealthy relationship where verbal consent is routinely disregarded and violence is foreplay, and the lines for what is and isn’t acceptable are going to blur quickly for someone unequipped with an internal compass for badness. Spike didn’t enter that bathroom with the intent to attack Buffy, he intended to engage with their relationship as it’d always been—violent and intensely sexual. Hence why, when it occurs to him that he WAS attacking her, he went off and got his soul. Killing strangers? He has no internal morality in place to tell him that’s bad, so it didn’t even register as wrong to him. But attacking the girl he loved? That crosses a line in his own personal ethics, hence why it pushed him towards finding himself a moral compass. The point was to emphasize how dangerous Spike’s inability to dictate objective morality was, and why it was important he be able to do so if he was going to become a real good guy. And to be clear; I don’t think this was the best way to explore these ideas because I think it was irresponsible of the writers to use sexual assault for that. But it’s what they were aiming for regardless.

      • SunlessNick

        I remember a suggestion that he should have tried to turn her instead.
        (From the same circle of people I also remember a suggestion that Willow’s addiction should have been framed in comparison to gambling rather than drugs).

  9. William

    A lot of the problems with some of these villains is that they made Buffy look dumb, which dials down the threat, because instead of being afraid of the villains, the audience just gets frustrated with the hero. Why did Buffy have to flee Glory in an ancient RV with all her friends? Why not have the dead weight scatter so Glory can’t find them, and go on the run with Dawn & Spike and maybe Giles, who is theoretically knowledgeable (actually, Anya usually knows more than Giles, without having to do research, but she’s got the Xander-anchor, the deadest of the dead weight) and owns a sports car that’s presumably much faster than the RV the gang uses in OTL. They are just lucky that the enemy that comes after them adheres to a medieval tech level to an insane degree, but the otherwise cool action scenes are degraded by the knowledge that they are fighting arbitrarily handicapped antagonists.

    Or with Angelus. This actually makes Buffy look really bad and selfish. I mean, more selfish than usual for a character who in the early seasons is primarily summed up as someone who’d rather do EXTREMELY pointless juvenile crap & go on dates while other people are being threatened with horrible deaths. The show, since the pilot episode harps on the fact that a Vampire is not the person they were while alive, except for Angel, but Angelus is NOT Angel. He is not Angel being mind-controlled or possessed. He is a monster inhabiting Angel’s body, while the actual person whom Buffy loves is gone. It’s like not wanting to shoot down the fighter plane your loved one used to fly, but which has been stolen by a serial killer, who is constantly making sorties that kill innocent people.

    But Buffy can’t bear to kill Angelus because he looks like her crush, so she kicks him in the crotch in what is played as a girl power moment, and he proceeds to spend the next few episodes killing innocent people. After the crotch kick, he murders a nice innocent girl in order to frame the werewolf running around who is actually Willow’s boyfriend. He presents Drusilla with the heart of a fresh-killed shop girl and he is seen drinking a woman to death in plain view on the street outside their favorite hangout while Buffy and her friends walk past oblivious, sucking on lollipops. When Giles discovers Angel has a habit of gruesome acts on Valentines Day, the priority becomes circling the wagons to protect Buffy, the girl with superhuman strength and durability. That’s like Commissioner Gordon and Alfred and Robin all saying “Oh no, the Joker got out of jail. Let’s get Batman out of Gotham and into witness protection!” Of course Angel does the obvious-to-anyone-but-a-Buffy-writer-or-character move of targeting her loved ones, whom no one makes any effort to protect, until the following episode when he starts entering their homes, drawing pictures of them sleeping and killing their pets. At the climax of THAT episode, Angel (it’s worth noting that the evil, soulless version only started being called Angelus in later seasons and on “Angel”; during season 2, when he was the main villain, they always referred to him as Angel) finally kills a recurring character, and after that, Buffy makes a dedicated effort to hunt him down and kill him. But not until she blithely disregards three episodes of collateral damage, and never acknowledges that these deaths are the result of her fucking off, only the recurring character.

    These are clear cases of the writers not thinking stuff through, beyond what they wanted to do in any given moment.

  10. Bess Marvin

    Of the Trio I hated that S7 killed Jonathan off and let Andrew be a part of Buffy’s team when it’s what Jonathan (who’s been around the Scoobs since S1) would have loved to do. Andrew’s role was pretty much an unjaded Xander and an inside man for relaying info about the First Evil. The show could have given the comic relief role to one of the new slayer recruits and still had Jonathan as the insider.

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