Chosen. One girl in all the world, plucked from an ordinary existence to become something greater, to shoulder the weight of the world. To fight the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer, and these are the monsters who fear her presence.
In 1997 writer/director Joss Whedon unleashed Buffy Summers unto the world, and nothing was ever the same. After a frustrating attempt at a feature-length film, Whedon allowed himself to be talked into trying to adapt his project into a television show and was thus finally given the creative freedom he desired to properly execute his story about a pretty girl backed into a darkened alley who turns the tables on her attackers. Add one Sarah Michelle Gellar and a heavy dose of the 1990s and you’ve got Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of the most popular TV programs ever aired, led by one of the most inspiring female characters ever conjured.
Set in Sunnydale California, it’s easy to understand why someone would want to vamp up this story about an everyday girl endowed with superpowers that give her the ability to fight monsters and save the world, and given the recent confirmation of a reboot, this writer would say there’s a lot here to chew on here – and not just for the vampires. Therefore, in honor of the reimagining and as a shout-out to the O.G., we’ve compiled a list of the best baddies to ever put on their “grr face” and dare take on the foolish task of challenging the Slayer to a duel. Those who were wise enough to leave Buffy alone were five-by-five, but as for the rest who so boldly attempted to call out the girl who monsters have nightmares about, it’s pretty safe to assume they’re now a pile of ash – and not the kind that a Time Stone could possibly bring back in a sequel.
40. Natalie French
Willow might not have labeled Xander a “demon magnet” until season four, but Alexander Harris began showing his tendency toward evil women all the way back in season one, episode four when he took the phrase “Teacher’s Pet” to new and alarming heights. It all begins when the substitute science teacher Miss French asks awkward virgin Xander for directions to class, and he struggles to stutter out a reply. From that moment onward, Harris was hooked, and his foolish teenage hormones would lead him all the way to Miss French’s house after class for private tutorials, and even all the way down into her basement after his naïve self-downs of her GHB-riddled cocktails. Now, trapped in a cage beneath Miss French – or, as it is revealed, the She-Mantis – ‘s floorboards, Xander has to hope against hope that the Scooby gang will find him in time. Otherwise, this “Virgin Thief” will take a bite out of her latest victim, and Xander will only be remembered by the fertilized eggs he leaves behind.
39. Moloch the Corruptor
Kids today might not remember, but back in the late ‘90s/early 2000s when the internet was just getting big – heck, when personal computers were just getting big – there used to be a fear shared by all parents and world wide web noobs alike that “going online” meant entering into a dangerous place. In the case of season one episode eight, “I Robot…You Jane”, those fears were caught, contained, and shoved into one very limited PC, which is where Moloch the Corruptor resides when Willow Rosenberg logs into the school chat room. Willow, who has always experienced some difficulty communicating with in real life, finds some comfort in speaking to an avatar without a face. However, as she’ll soon come to learn, sometimes people aren’t always the same person as they present themselves to be online. This is especially true when one lives on the Hellmouth, and it turns out that your new instant messenger crush is actually a five-hundred-year-old omnipotent demon named Moloch the Corruptor who was accidentally released onto the internet when the ‘Circle of Kayless’ book was scanned onto the Sunnydale High School computer system. These poor kids just can’t catch a break.
38. Chaos Demon
Perhaps the greatest thing about the Chaos Demon is how we’re introduced to the character. At first, we only hear about the creature by rough description. In season three episode eight, “Lover’s Walk”, Spike rolls back to Sunnydale a drunken mess, crying over Drusilla, kidnapping Willow, and demanding that she cast a love spell on his behalf. Sobbing onto Willow’s shoulder, Spike recalls how he caught Dru making out with a Chaos Demon, remarking sourly “Have you ever seen a Chaos Demon? They’re all slime and antlers, they’re disgusting!” It’s a funny little moment, not only because it feels so absurd to see Spike in such a vulnerable state, but also just because it’s hilarious picturing this fungus coated creature sweeping the crazed Drusilla off her feet. The gag becomes even greater in season five’s “Fool For Love” when the joke is called back and we finally get a glimpse at the gooey humanoid, elk-man. It’s hard not to laugh watching him awkwardly back away and out of sight as Spike and Dru bicker it out loud on the street.
37. Ghora Demon
Every person who has ever experienced loss understands what it’s like to bargain. To try to reason with death. To try to offer up some sort of trade, some meaningful exchange in which you get to spend five more minutes with the one who left too soon. But what happens when you live in Sunnydale, and such fantasies become attainable? What do you do when a spell for restoration and all of the necessary ingredients lie within your grasp, just five minutes away at The Magic Box? If you’re Dawn Summers, you sneak out of your house, team up with the local vampire with a soul, and head to the cave of the Ghora Demon – a three-headed dragon-like beast whose giant eggs just happen to be the key element to bringing back Dawn and Buffy’s mother from the dead.
Joss Whedon must really have a thing for snake monsters, as made evident by the many times he’s depicted them throughout the series on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Whether it be Machida in season two episode five “Reptile Boy”, The Mayor in season three episode twenty-two’s “Graduation Day Part 2”, or the delightful season two Halloween episode “Band Candy”, Whedon manages to squeeze some sort of special affinity for the serpent man in to quite a few of his storylines throughout the run of the show. Even season five sees Glory conjuring up a cobra demon to help her track down her key to her dimension. However, as clear as Joss’ unbridled enthusiasm for legless reptiles may be, the one thing that really separates Lurconis from the others, and arguably makes him the most menacing snake monster of all – he eats babies.
35. The Trio
It’s hard to think of a timelier gang of miscreants on Buffy the Vampire Slayer than ‘The Trio’, a.k.a. Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew – a posse of geek trolls who spent most of their high school years fawning over scantily clad female action figures rather than actually conversing with women in real life. Now, unable to properly communicate with the opposite sex – or anyone other than each other, really – this couplet relies on their increasingly high IQs and incredibly desperate need for attention, coupled with their affinity for comic books and James Bond characters ultimately come up with a plan to team up and take over Sunnydale. Although laughable at first, their silly antics doing little else besides putting the Slayer on edge, in the end, their time loops and freeze ray guns evolve into something much more dangerous – misogynistic, malicious murder. Together, this little trio kills two women and nearly Buffy herself as well, after Warren shoots Buffy and Tara at Buffy’s very own home, right in her front yard. It’s a brash wake up call for men who claim their antagonizing ways are harmless, because as the show effectively demonstrates, what starts out as an angry boy who can’t get the girl he wants eventually turns into outright killing in the name of control.
34. Kathy Newman
We’ve all had that one terrible roommate experience – heck, some of us are still experiencing it. You know the one. They hog the TV, stink up the kitchen with strange smelling foods, hide the toilet paper – okay, maybe this writer is relying a little too heavily on her own personal experience, but the point is, either way, we’ve all lived with someone we didn’t quite mesh with at some point in our lives. For Buffy, that point comes her freshman year of college, in the form of one Kathy Newman. Blaring Cher’s “Believe” on repeat and clipping her toenails loudly in bed, Kathy is anything but pleasant, but of course this is Buffy’s world, so when she deems the girl a demon because in her words, “she irons her jeans, she’s evil”, it turns out that the Slayer is right yet again. It’s a playful spin on the annoying roomie trope and an episode worth watching if for no other reason than Joss’ cauldron zinger.
Chances are if Xander is attracted to someone, that girl is a demon. Such is the case with Lissa, or as kids of the early 2000s know her, recording artist Ashanti. That’s right, you remember that “What’s Luv” song she did with Fat Joe – we all do. Or what about that “Always on Time” song she did with Ja Rule? Well, now, our little Ashanti is all grown up and going out on dates and sacrificing boys so that their blood may awaken ancient vampires to help carry out the ending of the world. Yup, it totally checks out that Xander would make puppy eyes at this girl. Between Miss French, Anya, the Inca Mummy Girl, and, even arguably, Dracula, it only makes sense that a shape-shifting snake ultimately winds up trying to bleed Xander would be his next pick for a possible relationship. In his defense, she can really rock a mini skirt.
32. Hansel and Gretel
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” – it’s a biblical phrase that no one in Sunnydale really cared much about until the day Hansel and Gretel came to town. Yes, you read that right. Some shows may reference old movies or even try to replicate what other television programs have done, but this is Joss Whedon we’re talking about, which means there’s going to be less ripped off hallway fight scenes and more callbacks to Grimm fairy tales and other classic fables found in children’s books. One of these is of course Hansel and Gretel, which serves as the main source of inspiration for the episode, except now, the story about two kids getting cooked alive when they eat the wrong witch’s house has turned into a terrifying tale about two ghost kids who persuade Joyce Summers to burn her only daughter at the stake.
Said to be the perfect organism, Adam is part demon, part human and part robot. Birthed by Professor Maggie Walsh, Adam may have started out his life as a member of the Initiative alongside Riley and the others, but when his human life ends, Walsh quickly seizes the specimen for her Frankenstein project and doesn’t look back. To the government, Professor Walsh is capturing demons, holding them underground in a secret shelter, and performing experiments will hopefully help curve their violent behavior. However, the truth is that this tough love teacher by day and military maiden by night has been concocting her very own bio-mechanical demonoid monster child for quite some time now. Stitching together pieces from the demon bounty their teams bring in each night. In the end, ironic enough, Maggie Walsh creates something through science that’s much deadlier than anything the Hellmouth could spit out. With his Polgara demon bone skewers, uranium power core, and heightened self-awareness, Adam is virtually unstoppable – and in a way, represents the ultimate Karmic retribution for the Initiative’s crimes.