“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” may have premiered 20 years ago, but the impact of the seven-season series still lives on within fans to this day. While the Scooby Gang often celebrated moments of triumph against the baddies of the week, there were also moments of despair as major and minor characters alike didn’t make it to the next season. While some deaths were temporary (*coughBUFFYcough*), others were more permanent. But the blow to our hearts were just the same.
Whether they were on the series for a few episodes or several seasons, they were strong characters who we grew to love and their deaths still haunt us to this day. Joss Whedon is known for writing series that bring shocking deaths to characters that we hold near-and-dear to our heart. However, it’s the same gut-wrenching moments that keep us coming back to his shows and movies, and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” his very first TV show, is definitely no different.
15. JONATHAN LEVINSON
Jonathan was a hilarious character in the series and his loss was definitely felt when he was betrayed and sacrificed by his friend, Andrew in “Conversations With Dead People” during season six. But before his death, Jonathan had a number of notable moments in the series. In “Earshot,” he tugged at our heartstrings when we learned that he was going to attempt suicide atop of Sunnydale High School. (Luckily, Buffy convinced him out of it.) We were hit with the feels again when he presented Buffy with the “Class Protector” award in “The Prom.”
One of his most memorable moments (and episodes) is when he took over the series by creating an alternate universe that made him the central character. (He even took over for the show’s intro with a version that starred himself.) In the zany episode, it was Jonathan who invented the internet, starred in “The Matrix” and defeated numerous enemies. Hilarious. Although Jonathan was a part of the evil group known as The Trio, he always had one of the biggest hearts on the show and his death was a big loss for fans.
When Buffy realized that the First Evil was a more capable and bigger threat than any of the other villains she’d faced off against, she decided to call in reinforcements. This included the Potentials, a group of teenage girls who were in line to become the next slayers pending Buffy’s death. With her Cockney accent, Molly was also one of most memorable of the bunch.
During a training exercise when the potentials were locked inside a crypt to fend off a vampire on their own, Molly stepped up to the plate to kill it. This made her the first of the Potentials to slay a vampire. However, her victorious streak was short-lived as she was later stabbed with a knife by Caleb, a psychotic preacher and serial killer who served under the First Evil. The young potential slayer first appeared in season seven’s “Help” and met her untimely death several episodes later in “Dirty Girls.”
Amanda was one of the few potentials who made an appearance before it was determined that she was one of the chosen ones in line to be a slayer. The gangly teenager visited Buffy two times during the slayer’s time as a guidance counselor at Sunnydale High School. During this time, Buffy advised Amanda on standing up to bullies and avoiding an unhealthy, abusive relationship.
While Amanda first appeared in “Help,” it was in the episode “Potential” that she discovered what fate had in store for her. Between Willow’s locator spell and a vampire who kept attacking Amanda, it was determined that the youngster was indeed a potential and subsequently joined the growing crew in Buffy’s home. Unfortunately, Amanda was one of the casualties in the series finale, “Chosen,” when a Turok-Han Vampire snapped her neck. As an awkward, confused teen, Amanda represented all of the seemingly out-of-place girls who proved to be strong and capable.
12. NIKKI WOOD
Nikki Wood was a badass vampire slayer in the ‘70s. With her teeny weeny ‘fro, she was strong, serious and super fly. Unfortunately, she met her untimely death in a fight against Spike on a New York City subway train in 1977, as seen in “Fool For Love.” This fight is also what led to Spike donning his famous long black leather jacket, which originally belonged to Wood.
Her death later spawned the revenge plot when Wood’s son, Robin, kept his identity and true intentions hidden from the Scooby Gang in season seven, as he was secretly plotting to kill Spike. Whether it was in flashbacks or some other brought-back-to-life scenario, we would definitely have liked to see more of Nikki Wood in the series. Considering that she had one of the longest reigns as a slayer with seven years on the job, we’re sure there’s plenty of backstory there for the young slayer.
11. ANNE PRATT
In “Lies My Parents Told Me,” viewers finally learn how William The Bloody, or Spike, became the violent, yet caring, villain-turned-good guy. The flashback in this episode shows Spike’s time as a human right before he was turned, as well as his time as a vampire right afterwards.
It turned out that Spike was originally a cowardly, sensitive and a hopeless romantic known as William Pratt. While the townsfolk often ridiculed him and the object of his affection rejected him and his poetry with a laugh, his mother, Anne Pratt, always supported and loved him. Unfortunately, his mother fell ill with tuberculosis. But to Spike’s perceived luck, he gained the ability of eternal life from his sire, Drusilla, and was able to pass on the favor to his mother. However, the turn made Anne Pratt abusive and cruel towards her son. This ultimately led Spike to stake her, an action that haunted him throughout his life as a vampire.
10. CASSIE NEWTON
In season seven’s episode “Help,” Cassie Newton tells Buffy that she predicted her own death and that it’s set to happen in two weeks. With this news, Buffy and the gang become determined to save her, but Cassie’s death turned out to be inevitable. The crew goes above-and-beyond to rule out any possible threats to Cassie, including threatening her abusive alcoholic father, saving Cassie from a group of boys who planned to sacrifice her in favor of bringing forth a demon and avoiding a deadly booby trap.
However, Cassie stills ends up dying from a heart condition. Cassie seemed wise beyond her years and her death was a reminder that sometimes fate wins and nothing can be done about it — even if you’re Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Before her death, Cassie used her precognitive power to relay that Buffy will make a difference and declare her love for Spike.
9. KATRINA SILBER
Katrina Silber was set down a dark path when she decided to date Warren Mears. While they were both brilliant engineering students, Silber developed miniature monorails while Mears’ created a “love-bot” dubbed April. When the love-bot was abandoned by Warren, it turned jealous and territorial, and subsequently attacked Katrina, rendering her unconscious. The bot was eventually defeated by Buffy, but that didn’t stop Katrina from breaking up with Warren (particularly because he never mentioned April).
Warren’s antics didn’t stop there, though. A year later, he used a drug on Katrina that made her lose all of her free will and forced her to follow each of his commands. He even made her put on a French Maid outfit and planned to make her a sex slave for his friends, Jonathan and Andrew. Luckily, Katrina was able to break out of the spell before anything happened. Although she threatened to go to the police, she never made it since she fell down a set of stairs and was hit over the head with a champagne bottle by Warren, a combination that led to her death.
8. KENDRA YOUNG
When Buffy briefly died in season one’s episode “Prophecy Girl,” she inadvertently created a loophole in the slayer rule that dictates that “one girl in all the world” will alone “wield the strength and skill to stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness” until her death, when the next slayer is awakened. With Buffy technically dying at the hands of the Master and later being brought back to life through C.P.R., she introduced a way for there to be two slayers.
Enter Kendra the Vampire Slayer. While Buffy was aloof and distracted by teenage antics, Kendra was focused and settled into her role as a slayer. However, just as we were getting used to Kendra, she lost a battle against Drusilla which led to her death in “What’s My Line, Part Two.” Her reign as slayer was short-lived, but she became a stand-out character in the series.
7. JENNY CALENDAR
There have been many meaningful deaths in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” but Jenny Calendar might have been the worst. It wasn’t enough for Angelus to just kill Rupert Giles’ beau, he also set it up in the cruelest of ways. When Giles returned home to roses spread across the floor that lead up to his bedroom, he thought he would find Calendar settled in for a romantic date night.
Instead, he found her dead body. Jenny Calendar wasn’t just a loss for Giles, she was also a loss for the team. More-so than Giles’ love interest, Jenny Calendar was a part of the Romani group who cursed Angel. With that, she was often able to give extra insight to the old texts for the team, allowing them to uncover the latest mystery on how to stop villains. She was also one of the few older women for the Scooby Gang to look up to in the series.
Spike started out as one of the strongest villains in season two of the series, but by the time season four rolled around, he was moving towards the side of the good guys. Although at first it was because of a microchip that made it impossible for him to feed, he continued to try to be one of the good guys when he started to fall in love with Buffy. He even found a way to redeem himself and sought out to regain his soul.
Unfortunately, being on the side of good often means sacrifice. In the series finale, “Chosen,” Spike did just that as he took one for the team and sacrificed himself. It’s in this moment that Buffy tells him the words that he’s been longing to hear: “I love you.” Unfortunately for him, he knows that it’s not true and replies with: “No, you don’t; but thanks for saying it.” Ouch. (Note: Spike thankfully comes back in “Angel.”)
5. ANYA JENKINS
It’s a cruel fate to live through several seasons in a world like “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” where the next apocalypse is always looming around the corner only to die at the end of it all. Nevertheless, that’s exactly how the beloved former vengeance demon, Anya Jenkins, went out, as she fought to the death against monsters in the series finale, “Chosen.”
Despite being naive to appropriate human behavior, she fell in love with Xander and often served as an inadvertent comic relief in the series. (Her biggest fear was bunnies.) Anya Jenkins joined the series in season three and stayed on until the very end. But the worst part about her death was that it was so quick and matter-of-fact that it was almost unbelievable at first. In the midst of chaos, Anya ended up being just one of the casualties of war in the battle against the First Evil in the series finale. Her loss was felt by the characters and fans alike.
It was one of the biggest twists of the series when Buffy’s beau, Angel, turned into his evil self, Angelus, after the two shared a moment of pleasure together. Throughout the season, Angelus tormented the Scooby Gang with several heinous crimes including the aforementioned murder of Jenny Calendar. Although it was clear that Buffy would have to defeat him, when Angelus planned to kickoff the apocalypse by opening a demonic vortex, it became certain what she would have to do.
According to the texts, the only way to stop his apocalypse was to kill him and throw him into the vortex. Unfortunately, when Angelus reverted to his former self, Angel, right before Buffy was about to drive a sword through his chest, it was all the more cruel for the two star-crossed lovers. He was not Angelus anymore, but rather her one true love, Angel. However, she still had to drive the sword through him and send him to hell. Between the pain and confusion in his eyes and the hurt in her heart, it’s enough to make this one of the most poignant moments of the series. It all goes down in season two’s season finale, “Becoming, Part 2.”
3. BUFFY SUMMERS
Buffy died for a few seconds in “Prophecy Girl,” but that’s not the death we’re talking about here. In season five’s “The Gift,” which also served as the series’ 100th episode, Buffy throws herself into a hellish portal that’s set to bring demons into the world. This works and closes it, thus saving the world from yet another apocalypse. However, it also meant Buffy’s death.
This moment also led to one of the best speeches in the series that Buffy relays to Dawn before she leaps: “Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles…tell Giles I figured it out. And…and I’m okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world… is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.” And then she jumped into the hell portal. Although the Scooby Gang were able to bring her back with witchcraft in the next season, her resurgence wasn’t without consequences, which they had to face later on.
2. TARA MACLAY
Tara was shot through the heart by the Trio mastermind and overall terrible human being, Warren Mears. She joined the show in season four during the episode “Hush” and stayed with the Scooby Gang until season six. She was a shy, sweet and powerful witch who ended up being a perfect match for Willow’s adorable, good-natured and strong sensibilities. It wasn’t long before they became our One True Pairing as well as a hell of a power couple, as the both wielded magic to their will.
In “Villains,” Tara was accidentally shot by one of the most (if not the most) hated villain, the aforementioned Warren, with a bullet that was meant for Buffy. Tara’s death is also what sparked Willow to turn into Dark Willow, a villainous witch who was blinded by vengeance. Luckily, Xander was able to bring her back with a certain “yellow crayon” speech. Unfortunately, the same wasn’t able to happen for Tara, who remained gone forever.
1. JOYCE SUMMERS
With the multiple threats from vampires, demons and other various villains, Buffy’s mom, Joyce Summers, had a natural death as she succumbed to a brain aneurysm in season five’s episode, “The Body.” In one of the most shocking moments in the series, Buffy returned home to find her mom laying face up with her eyes wide open on the couch. What followed was a series of disorienting moments, as Buffy and her friends attempted to figure out what to do about “the body” of Joyce Summers.
This episode also gave us this heart-wrenching, tear-jerking monologue from Anya: “I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s…there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid. And-and Xander’s crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.” We’re not crying, you’re crying!
Which death on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” hit you the hardest? Tell us in the comments!