Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seasons Ranked

20 years later…

How do we celebrate 20 years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  How about a list ranking the seasons, my preference of course and you know I would love to hear what your order is after reading mine.

This is my 200th post for the Horror Syndicate and I wanted to write something special.  I thought about doing a Retro Review on one of my favorites or even a Horror Icon post about, I don’t know, someone.  But, with Netflix dropping Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the show bordering on horror and drama, I thought it was time for me to pay respect to the show that got me in to watching TV shows.  Strange I know, I was all about features until my first binge expierence with Buffy back in 2002 or 2003.  It must have been early 2003, the final season was airing.

Here is what I plan to do with this post, I will rank each season from worst to best, although I don’t really see one season as the worst.  Buffy was a show that was always…on.  Each season had something different and with each season the story moved forward and grew.  Of course this may lead to an Angel seasons ranked post as well.  I will also list my top 5 favorite episodes from each season within the ranking and maybe some other little tidbits here and there.

Before I even begin, I want to explain why this is on our horror website.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is deep and rich within horror.  It may not be scary, but to its core Buffy is horror.  Buffy is the slayer, she fights vampires, demons, monsters, witches, zombies and even Gods.  There are a lot of great make-up effects and a few episodes that are truly frightening, well they were when the episode first aired, the episode from season 4, “Hush” comes to mind.  Buffy has a little bit of everything, action, drama and horror.  The story lines were very good and the show was well written, like all Whedon shows.  Also…the credits and the song from Nerf Herder, damn it, I love it!

I know there are those who will disagree with the order and others who will think Buffy is not horror.  Well, if it were not for horror, the show may not have existed.  I would love to see what everyone else thinks of the list and where they stand on Buffy being classified as horror.

Here we go…

Season 1 (1997)

Sure this is a tough thing to say, but season 1 was a great place to start, but it was also pretty weak compared to the others.  Season 1 introduced us to the characters and really, re-introduced us to Buffy.  Remember, there was a feature film starring Kristy Swanson.  Of course season 2 would not have happened if season 1 would have been bad.  There are many good episodes, but some of the problems come from a shortened season, only 12 episodes and the show was trying to figure out what it was going to be.  Season 1 picked up steam towards the end and it rolled into the second season very strong.

The cast was small in the first season and would grow and grow over the course of time, but we remember a time when the core was Buffy, Giles, Willow and Xander.  For some reason, the “big bad” of season 1, the Master was, well kinda crappy, again, shorter season may have ruined character building.

Top 5 Episodes of Season 1

5. Witch

4. The Puppet Show

3. Nightmares

2. Prophecy Girl (Season Finale)


Season 3 (1998-1999)

There is a lot of people who love this season.  Something about it was really off for me.  I was not a fan of Faith, Spike was not around and Angel was, not Angel.  I am a big fan of the side characters and season 3 didn’t deliver.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I do like the season overall.  I did like the Mayor as the “big bad”.  He was a germ-a-phobe who wanted to ascend to a higher level and had all kinds of dealings with the underworld.

I think another issue, there was change coming and you could feel it.  Everything built in season 2 came crumbling down.  I loved seeing Willow and Oz, Xander and Cordelia.  Spike was a great addition to the show and really had no place in season 3.  By the end of the season, Angel and Cordelia left, along with Wesley.  Wesley ended up being my favorite character in the Buffy spin-off Angel.

Season 3 would lead into the bridge season.  I look at the first 3 seasons as the teenage years and season 4 as a bridge.  Of course by season 5, it seems like everyone was becoming adults.  So season 3 ends with their High School graduation.

Top 5 Episodes of Season 3

5. Lovers Walk

4. Earshot

3.  The Prom

2. Bad Girls

1. Band Candy

Season 4 (1999-2000)

Speaking of season 4…

I really liked the change, Buffy and Willow go off to college, Angel and Cordelia are gone, Giles and Xander seem to have no place in life and Spike is finally back.  Season 4 is a mixed bag, there are some great moments and very good episodes.  But there are episodes like “Beer Bad” and “Where the Wild Things Are” that are completely terrible.  But, we also get episodes like “Something Blue” and “Hush” that are just fantastic.  As I said about season 4, it is a bridge season, kind of filler.  It was a way to get to bigger things, like a God.  I do like some of season 4, even if it begins to shed the high school Buffy cast, Oz, Cordelia and Angel, adding Tara, Riley(terrible character), Spike and one of my favorites Anya.

Top 5 Episodes of Season 4

5. Fear Itself

4. Primeval

3. Something Blue

2. Restless


Season 7 (2002-2003)

The final season of Buffy was extremely epic.  So much going on, there were a lot of things to cover and it could have been the best season.  So, this is the end…The lingering feeling of the season for me, would it be a fitting end?  Yes, even if I wanted more.  The writing team really pulled out a great season, although the first four to six episodes were kinda, well it felt out of place.  I really enjoyed the First Evil as the “big bad” and I liked seeing all of the potential slayers.

Overall, season 7 is fantastic, but there are better seasons.  But, yes this was a good finale for Buffy.  Spike, oh Spike…that is all I can say.

One last thing, Felicia Day is in Season 7 and all nerds everywhere fell…nope took a few more years.  Season 7 also aired during and after the short lived show Firefly, so we got to see Nathan Fillion pop up in the show as Caleb and he was fantastic.  I read he auditioned for Angel in season 1.

Top 5 Episodes of Season 7

5. Storyteller

4. Conversations with Dead People

3. Dirty Girls

2. End of Days


Season 6 (2001 – 2002)

Season 6 is one of the most fun of all the seasons.  It wasn’t supposed to happen, season 5 was to be the last.  But UPN got the rights and things got a little wacky, in a good way.  The main villains of the season were the three geeks, Warren, Jonathon and Andrew.  It was a fun and crazy season with a lot of heart.  They had to find a way to bring Buffy back, the nemeisisses were fun to watch and then, SPOILER ALERT! Willow skins a guy after Tara dies.  I never cared for Tara, even now.

Some think this is a bad season, but it is one of the very best, we even got a musical episode, which may be my favorite episode of all 144 episodes of Buffy.  I think at times, the season didn’t take itself too serious.  Also, we got the double meat medley in the episode Doublemeat Palace.

Top 5 Episodes of Season 6

5. Seeing Red

4. Bargaining (part 1 and 2)

3. Grave

2. Tabula Rasa

1.Once More With Feeling

Season 2 (1997-1998)

The love for a slayer and her vampire…Buffy season 2 was all about passion, yep a pun.  You see, there was an episode called Passion.  The season was about the romance between Angel and Buffy.  But there is also the love affair between Spike and Drusilla, Xander and Cordelia, Willow and Oz…and the tragic love of Giles and Miss Calendar.  The entire season revolves around Buffy and Angel, their love to their battles when Angel turns to Angelus after that one perfect moment of happiness, sex with Buffy.

The season is full of great and memorable episodes, some of the best.  With a show that has a lot of filler episodes, “beast of the week” or whatever.  With David Boreanaz as a regular, we got to see Angel, the “big bad” in every episode of the season.

Top 5 Episodes of Season 2

5. Halloween

4. School Hard

3. Innosence

2. Passion

1.Becoming (part 1 and 2)

Season 5 (2000-2001)

Season 5 was supposed to be the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The season started with Buffy vs Dracula, I was not in to this episode as much, but over the years it has grown on me.  But, it seemed like just another season of Buffy…enter, Glory.  Glory was the “big bad” that could not be defeated, she fought Buffy and bead the living crap out of her, more than once.  Glory was looking for the Key, which turns out, Buffy has a new sister that is 14 and came from no where.  It didn’t take long to find out Dawn is the key.  The season was about keeping Dawn safe from Glory and dealing with a lot of loss.

Riley left Buffy after having issues dealing with losing his “powers” and being a “fang banger”, wrong series.  Of course the powerful episode, “The Body” where the lovable Joyce Summers dies, Buffy’s mom.  The season was full of emotion and every single episode was good, even Buffy vs Dracula.

The last few episodes of the season were pretty much epic.  We got to see Willow unleash her power on Glory, Spike stand for Buffy after being tortured by Glory.  Buffy fighting of soldiers on horseback while atop a Winnebego…with a sword!  It was awesome.  If this was to be the end, it was going out with a bang.

The final episode, we saw Buffy sacrifice herself for Dawn and the world.  It was beautiful.  This would have been an amazing ending.  I don’t think the series was ruined by the last two seasons, but it would have been a fitting end to Buffy.

Top 5 Episodes from Season 5

5. The Body

4. Fool for Love

3. Checkpoint

2. Spiral

1.The Weight of the World

So, what do you think?  How do the seasons rank for you?  We would love to know.

Check out these two videos, fan made trailer and MsMojo’s top moments.

If you like to see the Angel season’s ranked, let us know!



About Ray Marek III 682 Articles
I have been watching horror films since I was 6 years old. The story, one Saturday night, my mom and I were watching movies and she fell asleep on the couch. We had the channel set on HBO and the movie we were watching ended and the next one, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. This was some time in 1986. I watched then entire film, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. When my mom woke, she asked me what just ended and I told her, “Freddy”. That was all I talked about for weeks and finally she broke down and rented more horror films for me. She rented, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives and Halloween II. I watched all and fell in love with horror films forever. 5 Horror Films to Watch Inferno (1980) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) The Beyond (1981) Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) Horror of Dracula (1958)