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The Worst Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published November 21st 2021
The classic TV show had its share of cringe moments
The Worst Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Rupert Giles: "I can't believe you served Buffy that beer. "

Xander Harris: "I didn't know it was evil. "

Rupert Giles: "You knew it was beer. "

Xander Harris: "Well, excuse me, Mister 'I Spent the Sixties in an Electric-Kool-Aid-Funky-Satan Groove.' "

Rupert Giles: "It was the early seventies and you should know better. "

Xander Harris and Rupert Giles, "Beer Bad", Buffy the Vampire Slayer

When Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered in March 1997, no one expected the show to be a big hit. The low budget teen drama about a teen girl vampire slayer had cheesy special effects and was based off a forgettable film that bombed at the box office. To the surprise of many, Buffy the Vampire Slayer made a huge impression, and went on to become one of the most influential television shows in pop culture history. The series received critical acclaim and drew between four and six million viewers per episode during its original run. The show was praised for its writing, characters, humour, music, make up and direction. Several episodes are still praised today for being landmark moments in television, like the season five episode "The Body", the season six musical episode "Once More, With Feeling" and the season four episode "Hush". This list will examine some of the episodes of Buffy that aren't that good. I wanted to look at some episodes which received poor reviews and have been criticised over the years. I know these episodes are "bad" when compared to better, well-received episodes. But I still like them, cringe and all. They're so bad they're good.

1. Beer Bad

The Worst Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Don't make Cave Slayer Unhappy

Episode Details: Season 4, Episode 5
Air Date: 2 November 1999
Written by: Tracey Forbes
Directed by: David Solomon

Best Quote:

Willow Rosenberg: "Buffy, that is my best friend, you need to think about not Parker. He's no good. There are men, *better* men, wherein the mind is stronger than the penis."

Xander Harris: "Pfft."

[loudly] Xander Harris: "NOTHING CAN DEFEAT THE PENIS!"

[Willow and Buffy stare at him]

Xander Harris: "Too loud. Very unseemly."

Xander embarrasses himself in front of his friends, "Beer Bad", Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"Beer Bad" takes place in season four when Buffy is at college. Buffy is depressed after the boy she had a crush on, Parker, dumped her after having a one-night stand with her. Meanwhile, Xander gets himself a fake ID and a job at the college pub. He thinks it will be a good place for him to pick up girls, but the job is stressful and he just gets insulted by college kids. Buffy turns up at the pub and immediately spots Parker talking to another girl. She goes up to the bar and tells Xander that she understands now that Parker likes to use women, which makes her feel even more ashamed that she slept with him. Buffy turns to leave, but a group of college boys insist that she joins them drinking beer. Buffy agrees.

Over the next few nights, Buffy starts to drown her sorrows in alcohol, which worries her friends. Xander, feeling protective of Buffy, tries to get the boys she has been drinking with to leave the pub. To his shock, one of the boys transforms into a violent Neanderthal. The other three boys begin to convulse and transform into Neanderthals as well. Xander rushes to tell the owner of the pub, Jack, what has happened. Jack confesses that he put something in the beer to get revenge for twenty years of college kids taunting him. He tells him not to worry and insists that it will wear off in a day or two, but Xander panics, because he served Buffy the same beer. He calls Jack a "Very bad man!" and then rushes to find Giles. The two of them head to her dorm room and discover... Cave Slayer.

"Beer Bad" is considered among fans and critics to be one of the worst episodes of the series. For a long time, I agreed. But after multiple re-watches, my opinion of it has changed. Is it bad? Yes. The plot is nonsensical and the "big bad" in the episode is laughable. And yet, the episode has grown on me. It contains some wonderful (and terrible) acting and some of the most hilarious lines spoken in the show. Nicholas Brendon is the absolute star of this episode. He's hilarious in almost every scene that he is in. "Beer Bad" features some of his best lines in the whole show. Sarah Michelle Gellar is also fantastic in this episode. She is so funny in all of her scenes where she is supposed to be acting like a Neanderthal. My favourite line of hers in the episode is when she shouts "Foamy!" after Xander asks her what did she learn about beer.

A lot of people dislike this episode because they feel that the twin moral of the episode, that causal sex and drinking beer is bad, is very judgemental. They're not wrong. The episode does contain a very cheesy, moral message. But there are parts of it that I would argue are good. I like how it lets us see that Buffy, who has fought monsters twice her size, can feel vulnerable and hurt by guys like Parker. It shows us that underneath her tough exterior, she is still an ordinary, human girl.

2. Living Conditions

The Worst Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It's share time, Buffy!

Episode Details: Season 4, Episode 2
Air Date: 2 12 October 1999
Written by: Marti Noxon
Directed by: David Grossman

( about her roommate)

Buffy Summers: "Ooh! She's even affecting my work, now. She's the Titanic. She's a crawling black *cancer*!"

( kicks and breaks a bench )

Buffy Summers: "She's...other really bad things! "

Oz: "On the plus side, you killed the bench which was lookin' shifty. "

Buffy complains to Oz about Kathy, "Living Conditions", Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"Living Conditions" is another episode of Buffy that I've flip-flopped between liking and disliking over the years. Just like Beer Bad, it's grown on me. "Living Conditions" is the second episode of season four. Buffy is still getting used to being at college and discovers that living in a dorm can be quite the adjustment. Her roommate Kathy (played by Dagney Kerr) starts to drive her crazy with her passive aggressiveness and idiosyncrasies.

Buffy starts complaining to her friends about Kathy, who plays love songs all the time, labels food in the fridge, and borrows her clothes without asking. Her friends listen to her concerns, but start to feel worried about Buffy, who they feel is lashing out too much about her roommate. Buffy starts to have dreams that she is being held down in her bed by an orange, blue-eyed demon, who pours blood down her throat, puts a scorpion on her chest and sucks a glowing essence from her mouth. Buffy later describes the dream to Giles, Willow and Oz. Her friends express concern among themselves over how stressed Buffy has been acting.

Buffy returns to her dorm, still in a bad mood, and lashes out at Kathy in annoyance. That evening, Buffy has the same demon dream again. The next morning, she wakes up convinced that Kathy is a demon, and tells Willow that she must kill her. Willow convinces Buffy to go to Giles and ask for his advice before attacking Kathy. After she leaves, she phones Giles to warn him that Buffy is coming. Buffy goes to Giles and is ambushed by Xander and Oz who drop a net on her. Giles tells them that he thinks Buffy has been possessed by a demon which is why she has been acting so stressed. Buffy breaks free from her restraints and knocks Xander and Oz unconscious. She returns to her dorm to confront Kathy and discovers that she is the orange, blue-eyed demon who has been attacking her in her sleep. She screams "I knew it!" just before Kathy attacks her.

"Living Conditions" is a silly episode that doesn't take itself too seriously. It works really well as a comedy. Dagney Kerr is fantastic as Kathy and Sarah Michelle Gellar is great as an irritable and stressed out Buffy. The tense scenes between her and Buffy is a really accurate portrayal of roomies and how sharing a room with someone can be hell sometimes.

3. Him

The Worst Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
A magic spell makes the women of Sunnydale fall in love with Sunnydale High's star quarterback

Episode Details: Season 7, Episode 6
Air Date: 2 5 November 2002
Written by: Drew Z. Greenberg
Directed by: Michael Gershman

Best Quote:

Buffy: "Willow, you're a gay woman! "

Willow: "This isn't about his physical presence! It's about his heart. "

Anya: "His physical presence has a penis! "

Willow: "I can work around it! "

Buffy and her friends argue over who has the strongest feelings for R.J., "Him", Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"Him" is the sixth episode of the seventh and final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Dawn, Buffy, Anya and Willow fall under a love spell and start expressing undying love for a handsome Sunnydale High School quarterback, Spike and Xander must team together to help snap them out of it. It's funny to watch each of the women start lusting after Dawn's classmate RJ. The impact of the love spell makes each of them start acting erratically and vowing to do big and grandiose things to "prove" that they love RJ the most. Watching each of the women do crazier and crazier things to prove their love and seeing the exasperation of Spike and Xander at their antics is a lot of fun. My favourite scene is when Buffy goes to kill the school principal with a rocket launcher to win over RJ. We see her raise the rocket launcher outside the principal's office window and then get tackled by Spike who grabs it and runs off. It's a really great scene. Watch it here.

There are some parts of "Him" that make me uncomfortable. I'm not a fan of Buffy trying to seduce RJ at school and being caught by Xander. There's also Dawn's sexy dance in the Bronze which is a teensy bit inappropriate. And Willow trying to turn RJ into a girl using magic is also a little bit eyebrow-raising. What the episode does get right is how it shines a light on how Dawn is one of the most tragic characters in the entire series. Dawn had to grow up in the shadow of her older sister, the Slayer, which would have been difficult. Dawn knows that she cannot complete with Buffy for RJ, so she tries to kill herself. After she is rescued by Buffy, she tells her that she knew she could never compete with her for RJ's affections, so that's why she thought of killing herself. Her desperation is able to snap Buffy out of the love spell who tells her that no boy is worth her life, not ever.

Another thing I like about this episode is we get to see Spike and Xander, two characters who are adversarial towards each other most of the time, team up together. My favourite part of the episode is when the two of them rush RJ to steal his magic letterman jacket (the source of the love spell) and then just run off with it leaving RJ bewildered and confused. "Him" is a real mixed bag of an episode. It has a lot of cringe moments but is also really humorous in parts as well. The scene with the rocket launcher will always get a smile out of me.

4. Where The Wild Things Are

The Worst Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The gang discover something horrifying

Episode Details: Season 4, Episode 18
Air Date: 25 April 2000
Written by: Tracey Forbes
Directed by: David Solomon

Best Quote:

Willow: "We have to go back in there. "

Anya: "Why? "

Xander: "Because Buffy and Riley are trapped. "

Anya: "So? She's the Slayer, he's a big soldier boy, what do they need you for? "

Xander: "Anya, look around! There's ghosts and shaking, and people are going all Felicity with their hair... We're fresh out of superpeople, and somebody's gotta go back in there. Now who's with me? "

Spike: "I am. I know I'm not the first choice for heroics... And Buffy's tried to kill me more than once. And, I don't fancy a single one of you at all. But... Actually, all that sounds pretty convincing. I wonder if Asian House is open. "

Xander tries to convince the gang to rescue Buffy and Riley, "Where The Wild Things Are", Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"Where The Wild Things Are" is the eighteenth episode of season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Buffy and her boyfriend Riley decide to sneak away upstairs at a fraternity party to have sex in an unlocked bedroom, they end up unleashing a powerful, supernatural force that threatens everyone in the house. A lot of fans hate this episode, but I like it. I consider it to be a lot like Beer Bad. It's a bad episode, but it still has some enjoyable moments.

After Buffy and Riley lose themselves to lust at the fraternity party, strange things start to happen. People begin acting out in weird ways sexually and the ghosts of children start appearing and lashing out violently at people in the house. Eventually, things get so bad at the party everyone flees, except for Buffy and Riley, who can't stop having sex in the upstairs bedroom. When the gang try to break into the room to get them out of there, they are forcibly expelled from the house. Later, Willow discovers that before the house was a fraternity, it used to be a children's home for adolescent runaways, juvenile delinquents, and emotionally disturbed teenagers from the 1940s to the 1960s that was run by a religious institution. The woman who ran the house, Genevieve Holt, was abusive who punished the children when they showed an interest in sex. As a result of her abuse and Buffy and Riley's lust, the house has become infested with poltergeists of the children, who cannot let go of the rage and guilt and shame that they suffered while under the care of Genevieve Holt. In order to free Buffy and Riley from the house, the gang must break back into the house and perform an exorcism before the poltergeists are able to drain Buffy and Riley of their energy and kill them.

"Where The Wild Things Are" is disliked by a lot of fans. It is frequently criticised for its plot, how it shames kids for showing an interest in sex, how much time Buffy and Riley spend having sex in the episode and the fact that Buffy is featured in very few scenes. I think the whole concept of "being lost in lust" is a bit cringe and Buffy and Riley's constant lovemaking unleashing "a big burstin' poltergasm" in the house is kind of bad. At the same time, though, I don't think the episode is a total waste of time. I think it has some great dialogue, I love the haunted house scenes and I think the lack of a spotlight on Sarah Michelle Gellar in the episode gave the supporting cast members a real chance to shine. We get to see some great comedic moments in the episode between Xander and Anya, Xander feeling left out, we see Tara and Willow start to get closer, Spike talking himself out of helping the group and the best scene of all, Giles singing in the Expresso Pump. The cutaway to Giles singing "Behind Blue Eyes" might be one of my favourite comedic gags in the whole series. The stunned look on Willow's face, Tara's polite interest and Xander's line "Can we go back to the haunted house? Cause this is freaking me out" always gets a smile out of me.

A lot of fans dislike "Where The Wild Things Are" because they think the episode sends the message that too much sex is bad. I disagree. I think the message in the story is that sex is good and wanting to explore those feelings is a natural impulse that should be explored and not repressed. Buffy and Riley's storyline in the episode is not that having sex is bad, it was that getting wrapped up too much in a romantic relationship can be bad, because you risk losing your identity and your friends.

5. The Puppet Show

The Worst Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Sid the Dummy joins forces with Buffy to slay a monster targeting the school talent show

Episode Details: Season 1, Episode 9
Air Date: 5 May 1997
Written by: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali
Directed by: Ellen S. Pressman

Best Quote:

"I hunt demons. Yeah, you wouldn't know it to look at me. Let's just say there was me, there was a really mean demon, there was a curse, and the next thing I know I'm not me anymore. I'm sitting on some guy's knee, with his hand up my shirt. "

Sid the Dummy, "The Puppet Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"The Puppet Show" is the lowest-rated episode of season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It drew in an audience of just 1.9 million when it first aired. The first season of Buffy is, without a doubt, the roughest. The show didn't have the biggest budget, the actors were new in their roles, and the writing was not the best. Despite its low audience score, I am fond of "The Puppet Show" and consider it to be one of the best episodes of season one.

The episode starts with Principal Snyder putting Giles in charge of the annual talent show at Sunnydale High School and then forcing Buffy, Willow and Xander to take part in it. When one of the students involved in the show turns up dead with their heart removed, Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies suspect another student performer, Morgan, and his ventriloquist dummy Sid might be involved. Buffy starts to speculate that Sid might be alive and responsible for the murder. In a twist of the "killer dummy storyline", it turns out that Sid is alive, but he is not the murderer. A long time ago, Sid used to be a human who fought and hunted demons, but then he met a really mean demon who cursed him and turned him into a ventriloquist dummy. Ever since then, he was hunted the demon that cursed him, in the hope that he will be able to break the curse on him and die.

"The Puppet Show" is a fun mix of horror and comedy. The reversal of roles keeps the episode interesting and offers something new to the viewer. Nicholas Brendon is great in the episode as Xander. When Buffy confesses that she fears Sid is alive, Xander responds like any typical sixteen-year-old teenage boy would, with sarcasm and laughter. He is so convinced that Sid is just a puppet he grabs it at one point and shouts "Redrum! Redrum!" while shaking it, which was an ad-lid from Nicholas Brendon that was included in the episode. Later in the episode, when Sid reveals to the group that he is alive, the stunned expression on Xander's face is priceless. "The Puppet Show" is a very silly episode that suffers from a low budget and bad special effects, but is still worth watching, bad puppets and all.
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Why? The beloved TV show about a teenage vampire slayer had some episodes that sucked
Your Comment
I totally agree that Beer Bad & Where The Wild Things Are were Buffy’s worst episodes but I didn’t mind the roommate from hell episode and honestly loved The Puppet Show. I liked the entire first season of Buffy though.
by pinkp (score: 0|6) 9 days ago
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