Buffy the Vampire Slayer wasn’t just a popular show. It was a show that very quickly changed the landscape of pop culture mythology. Buffy changed how fans consume their favorite media even as it changed how creators approached long-term storytelling. And the show has only grown in popularity with age. New fans discover it every year while old fans look back with fond memories on their favorite characters and episodes. However, memory is a tricky thing, and it often has some magical tricks of its very own!
There are things about Buffy that most of us remember that are, in fact, outright incorrect. Sometimes these are popular myths that became accepted as truth somewhere along the way. Other times, the confusion comes from plots and characters that even the show runners can’t even seem to keep straight in their heads. Fortunately, we’re here to sort out all of the confusion. We just came back from seeing the Powers That Be and we have a treasure trove full of Buffy myths to bust. Don’t worry, you don’t need to consult the long-lost scrolls in order to see what we’ve found...just keep scrolling to check out Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Buffy!
15 XANDER IS REALLY NICE
When looking back on Buffy, most fans think of Xander as “the nice guy.” After all, he didn’t have any real powers, but he put his life on the line to fight monsters, all while providing love and support for his friends. However, Xander crosses a few different moral horizons in the show. First, he infamously neglects to tell Buffy that Willow is working to restore Angel’s soul, which causes her to kill her lover.
Also, Xander spends a lot of time creeping on Buffy and other women and generally being misogynistic. Finally, he stays quiet about starting the events in “Once More With Feeling” while people literally burn to death! There’s blood on the hands of this “nice guy,” and getting his eye plucked out isn’t enough to pay for what he’s done.
14 DAWN IS REALLY ANNOYING
Another big Buffy myth is that Dawn was overly annoying. There is some truth to this early on, back when the character was written to be younger (before they cast Michelle Trachtenberg in the role and made Dawn a little older than intended). However, she gets a bad rep in later episodes for no real reason. Fans point to the fact that Dawn mopes a lot and has some stereotypical rebellious impulses such as stealing.
However, Dawn also finds out she’s a mystical object, loses her mother, and temporarily loses her sister.
And Buffy is emotionally AWOL when she is resurrected, leaving Dawn to emotionally (and literally) fend for herself more often than not. So sue us: we think she had some legitimate complains about her older sister!
13 ANGEL IS SPECIAL
One of the most elementary ideas about Angel is that he is special. He’s “the vampire with a soul,” and his tortured broodiness was so popular with fans that he got his own spin-off series. However, later episodes would reveal something that Angel haters knew all along: he’s not actually that special.
We later see that Spike is able to not only desire a soul but to go to great lengths to obtain it. And afterwards, he seems capable of the same heroism and sacrifice that Angel is capable of. It turns out that Angel was not unique and that the actions he took are pretty much what any vampire with a soul would do. So, is it too late for us to get a Spike spin-off series?
12 BUFFY HAS BAD TASTE IN MEN
To this day, fans like to joke about Buffy’s boyfriends. And let’s face it: it’s easy to look at human garbage fires like Parker Abrams or Scott Hope and instantly see that these guys are losers. Overall, though, Buffy has had an impressive list of beaus!
For instance, people like to make fun of Riley for being a boring character and a so-so boyfriend, but he helped to save the world, moved on to a healthy relationship and helped save Spike’s life.
And Angel and Spike each have a tortured past and gray morality, but they each become champions of the innocent and heroes in their own right. If your ex prevented the apocalypse once every year or so, that would have to count for something, right?
11 MAGIC IS ADDICTIVE
Sometimes the things that people get wrong about Buffy are because of the mixed messages of the show itself. That is certainly true when it comes to the dumbest plotline ever: Willow becoming “addicted” to magic. This ran through season six and made fans think that magic is potentially addictive for users.
If magic was truly like an addictive drug, then the solution with Willow would have been to get her off of it entirely. Instead, Giles takes her to a coven and she learns to mix magic and meditation and to use her powers in a more positive way. It turns out the “magic is drugs” storyline was actually a much older storyline all along: power corrupts. And so corrupted Willow had to find her balance once more.
10 SPIKE'S A GOOD GUY
Spike showed up in season two as a new Big Bad for Buffy and the Scoobies to fight. He quickly became a fan-favorite character (thanks in no small part to the sheer charm of actor James Marsters) and was featured more and more. He became an ally (first reluctantly, then voluntarily) for the Scoobies and eventually sacrificed himself to save Buffy, leading many to think he is a good guy.
However, even worse than Xander, Spike is a character that has crossed some moral horizons, and there is simply no going back.
In addition to centuries of murder, his early Scooby alliance is driven by his need to commit violence, and the chip in his head means he can only fight demons. Most infamously, he tries to force himself on Buffy…and while this causes him to go seek out a soul, many fans find it impossible to truly forgive the character.
9 THE SHOW WAS DIVERSE
Buffy as a show gets a lot of brownie points for being progressive. After all, it was an outspoken feminist show, it featured prominent gay characters, and so on. Because of these progressive qualities, many fans think the show was pretty diverse. However, these fans are dead wrong!
As the vampire Mr. Trick said about Sunnydale, this show is mostly a “Caucasian occasion.” The entire main cast are white characters with similar backgrounds, and early attempts to add characters of color ended awkwardly (such as the murder of Kendra in season two). We finally got a compelling character of color with Principal Woods, but this was too little and too late for our taste. As it turns out, Buffy was about as diverse as a shopping cart filled with vanilla ice cream.
8 GILES IS WEAK
Buffy is a show that really lends itself to drinking games. However, if you drink every time Giles gets knocked out, you’ll pass out in no time! Because our favorite Watcher gets knocked out so often, many fans think that he’s something of a pushover. However, Giles is quietly quite the stud.
He’s able to hold his own against vampires and other monsters very often with no special powers or weapons, and his command of magic can make him just as dangerous as Willow.
Finally, he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, like when he channeled his “Ripper” days and killed Ben to stop the menace that was Glory once and for all. If Giles was really a pushover, he would have died fighting evil long ago.
7 WILLOW IS BISEXUAL
One aspect of Buffy that often confuses fans is Willow’s sexuality. While she had a relationship with Tara and Kennedy, she had previous relationships with Oz and (briefly) Xander. This has led many fans to assume that Willow is bisexual. However, the character is gay, although that distinction has annoyed many fans who insist she must be bisexual. However, Willow frequently refers to herself as gay and jokes about no longer being attracted to men.
In hindsight, it looks like this was a choice Whedon made so the character could become a gay icon during a time when much of the public didn’t really understand bisexuality (and might have dismissed her intense feelings for Tara as being just a temporary phase). Nonetheless, our favorite witch is canonically gay and not bisexual.
6 IT'S A FANTASY SHOW
It can be pretty difficult to classify what kind of show Buffy is. For many fans, the answer to this is “fantasy.” After all, our characters fight an assortment of magical monsters, and they do so using things like swords and crossbows instead of any kind of modern firepower.
However, Buffy is much more of a low-key science fiction show.
The most obvious example of this occurs in season four, which shows the government capturing monsters and studying them with various technology. However, even in the first season, Willow brought demons to life with a laptop, and the government recruited an invisible girl for spy operations. Ultimately, Buffy is much closer to the world of the X-Files than it is to Lord of the Rings!
5 SUNNYDALE IS SMALL
So, how big is Sunndydale supposed to be? This is actually something of a trick question. Most people would say “small,” and the early episodes of the show reinforce this, with Buffy complaining about moving to a “one Starbucks town.” Over the years, though, the show ends up proving this to be wrong.
Later, we see that the small town has several major districts and docks for large boats. The town also apparently has an international airport for bad guys to arrive in, and once Buffy graduates high school, we see that Sunnydale has a major university campus as well. The only thing we can conclude is that the town is fairly large and that early show Buffy was either wrong or just being a snob.
4 THE BRONZE SOLD TEENS ALCOHOL
It was tough to get a feel for what kind of club The Bronze was. For instance, our characters start going there when they are younger and keep going as they age. At different times, The Bronze seems to be a coffee shop, nightclub, bar, or maybe a little bit of all three. And because of this confusion, many fans wondered if they were serving alcohol to minors.
While easy access to booze might explain what a creepy weirdo early show Xander is, The Bronze is clearly not serving alcohol to minors.
Multiple episodes make this point, and it’s clear that the staff has no problem separating those who can buy alcohol from those who cannot. In this way, it’s like any number of real world locations that are family-friendly but have booze available for adults.
3 BUFFY SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAID
It’s tough not to think that Buffy should have been paid a salary by the Watchers. After all, she performs a dangerous job that regularly puts her life in danger and has killed her on multiple occasions. However, as near as we can tell, only Giles gets paid, leaving fans to think that Buffy was being unnecessarily shunned by these Watchers.
The truth is more mundane: the Watchers expected Buffy to live with Giles, which is why they provide enough money to rent one home. Buffy was unique in that she chose to live her own life, including living with her mother and keeping her identity secret. Therefore, not paying Buffy was in line with previous Watcher behavior, and it also would have been difficult to preserve her secret while still giving her a salary. To top it off, Giles financially contributes whenever it’s necessary but otherwise respects Buffy’s independence.
2 ANYA WAS A DEMON
This is one more in the column of things that confused fans because the show often seemed to forget its own history. Anya basically replaced Cordelia as an “outsider” kind of Scooby, and we got a lot of humor revolving around her confusion about humans and human customs. After all, she WAS a demon...right?
The answer here is “yes and no.” Anya was a human that was later turned into a vengeance demon. This means there’s a lot about the human experience and mortality that she should already understand (even if it was a really long time ago). Nonetheless, the show often acted like she had been a demon all along. How can we blame fans for getting confused about it, too? At least we can all agree with her stance on bunnies!
1 TARA AND WILLOW WERE GOOD TOGETHER
Part of what made Tara and Willow so special to so many viewers is that they were impossibly cute together. The actresses had undeniable chemistry, and it bled over nicely to their onscreen performance. Because of this, many fans have canonized their relationship as something really great and really special.
However, when you look back, these two had a really dysfunctional relationship.
Unsurprisingly, most of the issues came from Willow: our favorite redhead was manipulative, going so far as to erase her lover’s mind and push her away as her “addiction” to magic slowly deepened. What we’re saying is that even if Tara had not been tragically killed by Warren’s stray bullet, it’s highly unlikely that such a dysfunctional relationship was going to last forever.