Top 25 Episodes: MikeJer’s Favorites

[Article by Mike Marinaro]

[#11-25]

#25. “Pangs” [4×08] – An episode with a notably hokey plot, but also stuffed (pun intended) with hilarious dialogue! This is the funniest episode in the entire series for me. You’ve got Anya’s usual frankness, Buffy’s cute cooking obsession, Willow’s crazy over-reaction, Xander the butt-monkey victim, and Spike being laughably lonely but acting as a dispenser of reality and hilarity. The quotables-per-minute (QPM!) is simply unmatched. “Pangs” is flawed as heck, even sporting a pointless cameo from Angel, but boy does it put a smile on my face each and every time.

#24. “The Wish” [3×09] – The Wishverse isn’t the show’s reality, which means that its darkness isn’t earned ‘as is.’ It largely makes up for this by being a fun alternate reality episode that takes a look at what Sunnydale would be like if Buffy never showed up in [“1×01”]. We get a glimpse of what reality could have been like for everyone, and because of that “The Wish” is allowed to go all-out on old characters being alive again and existing characters getting killed off left and right. Not the most important episode, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

#23. “Earshot” [3×18] – “Earshot” is one of those solid stand-alone Buffy episodes that manages to talk about some dark subject matter while remaining extremely fun. It comments on school shootings, loneliness, and suicide, which reverberates back to the main characters. Buffy gets telepathy and it’s not all fun and games (although there’s plenty of that too). Jonathan also becomes a more pronounced character in the tower scene — one that establishes a troubled personality that will become relevant again later in the series.

#22. “Villains” [6×20] – My favorite of the Dark Willow episodes ending Season 6. With an icy cool detachment we see Willow migrate from shock to desperation to vengeance to all-out fury. The music, acting, and directing all come together to create an atmosphere of dread and uncertainty. This is an important episode in Willow’s journey as it solidified that magic is not Willow’s problem; her lack of control and being able to deal with loss in a healthy way are her problems. From Season 3 to now, this is the payoff we’ve been waiting for.

#21. “Doppelgangland” [3×16] – The first time the show really takes a deep look at who Willow is — her strengths, her flaws, and who she wants to be. While Willow knows emotional control is key to using magic responsibly, we don’t actually see her pull it off very often. With a lack of self-confidence, healthy coping mechanisms, and emotional control, Willow allows Anya to bait her into a spell that goes dangerously and hilariously wrong in what amounts to a clever, witty, fun, exciting, and fascinating Season 3 outing, by Whedon himself. This is a memorable one.

#20. “I Only Have Eyes for You” [2×19] – A great example of Season 2 at its most operatic. This is a potent episode dealing with the difficulty and importance of forgiveness. It is not only beautifully constructed, but it has one the the most awe-inspiring scenes in the series when Buffy gets possessed by the spirit of a man who killed his older lover, while Angel gets possessed by the victim, which perfectly parallels Buffy’s guilt over accidentally setting Angelus loose. It is thematically rich, character-centered, and emotionally powerful.

#19. “Lies My Parents Told Me” [7×17] – A complex and rousing episode that gets at the very nature these characters, analyzes them, and then evolves them. Buffy, Giles, Wood, and Spike are all never the same after what transpires here. Although this is a huge episode for Spike as he completely regains full control over himself and his destiny, it’s an even bigger episode for Buffy as we see her step completely out of the shadow of her youth (Giles) to take on full leadership of her army; for good or bad, success or failure, it’s now clear she’s the one running the show.

#18. “Graduation Day Pt. 2” [3×22] – In a satisfying finale to the high school years, Buffy forces Angel to drink her blood to save his life, the Mayor tries to choke Buffy while unconcious in a hospital bed, vampires get killed by flaming arrows, Principal Snyder gets eaten, the high school gets blown up, Angel heads off to L.A. and, oh yeah, “counting down from 7-3-0.” While lacking the high stakes and emotional high of many of Buffy finales, “Graduation Day Pt. 2” still holds its own with a nice blend of the funny and the thrills.

#17. “Hush” [4×10] – One of the most structurally daring episodes in Buffy‘s run by having a long stretch of no spoken dialogue. It is arguably the creepiest episode in the show as well. What makes the experimental episode really come to life, though, is that it offers solid character development by way of a strong metaphor: using silence to emphasize the nature of communication; how sometimes words get in the way of communicating thoughts, feelings, and ideas. “Hush” isn’t without the funny, either, which rounds out an understandably well-loved episode.

#16. “After Life” [6×03] – I feel this is one of the most consistently underrated episodes in the entirely of Buffy. It is intelligently dark, creepy, ominous, and oozes atmosphere. Excellent follow-through from previous stories is a rare thing to see in the television world, but “After Life” puts its foot in the ground and makes the case that Season 6 means business in addressing the fallout from Season 5. I find the episode to be thought provoking, weighty, and haunting, and is one of (if not the) best episodes Jane Espenson’s ever written.

#15. “Chosen” [7×22] – As a finale to the season’s plot, “Chosen” suffers from sloppiness and convenient last-minute devices. As a finale to the whole series, what “Chosen” has to say as metaphor, through the season’s consistent themes, proves to be quite stunning and is actually near perfect. After learning the hard way how not to lead this kind of army, Buffy comes to the realization that the key to the Slayer’s isolation and power isn’t hoarding it, but rather sharing it. Buffy’s final solution makes all kinds of sense when thinking about what Buffy is all about.

#14. “No Place Like Home” [5×05] – An episode that’s not as much underrated as it is overlooked. Beginnings are rarely as exciting as conclusions, but “No Place Like Home” pulls a “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] type performance in the shape of an arc starter. It deftly merges action, comedy, and drama and is a case study in smart writing, misleads, introductions, and foreboding atmosphere as Buffy finds out that Dawn more closely resembles an adopted daughter than a sister, and that she’s left powerless to help solve her mom’s mysterious illness.

#13. “Who Are You?” [4×16] – This is another great example of Buffy‘s ability to take what initially appears like a goofy gimmick (body swapping! OMG!), and turn it into a masterful character study that lays open Faith’s ever increasing struggle with her identity. “Who Are You?” sports some really fabulous writing, beautifully constructed scenes, wonderful music, moving themes, great humor, and overall impressive development for a secondary character. When Faith, in Buffy’s body, unleashes resentment and disappointment on her own body, I’m left to simply look in awe.

#12. “Normal Again” [6×17] – This episode showcases Buffy‘s ability to take a common genre trope (it’s all not real!) and twist it into something intensely intimate and personal. This show has a lot of intimate moments, but “Normal Again” is the one that might just tear me up the most. In Season 6, Buffy’s going through the most difficult time in her life, and this episode represents a pivot point for her: will she give into hopelessness, or will she find that strength to whether storm and find joy in life again? Sarah Michelle Gellar turns in a fabulous performance here.

#11. “Conversations with Dead People” [7×07] – A quintessential example of a tight episode of television — it’s got solid action, penetrating dialogue, tons of creepiness, a unique structure, and serves up a thrilling setup to the season’s plot. There’s also strong characterization in which Buffy makes some key realizations about the flaws that have been holding her back. Willow sees the season’s villain targeting her recent fears, while Dawn gets mystery and creepiness. Jonathan and Andrew round things out with a conclusion that is sad as much as it is surprising.


[#2-10 (by Air Date)]

“Innocence” [2×14] – The episode that defined the direction the series wanted to go in. “Innocence” represents the first time that the characters’ emotions exploded out into the open (something we’ll see again in the future), and shows us that Buffy will be a show with incredible intimacy in its character/viewer relationship. Angelus rips Buffy apart emotionally by abusing his knowledge as her first lover while Willow discovers Xander’s confounding relationship with Cordelia but gains a ton of respect for Oz. To top it all off, Buffy gets to fire a frickin’ rocket launcher!

“Passion” [2×17] – While “Innocence” [2×14] changed the direction, it wasn’t until “Passion” that the direction was sealed. This episode has a crackling dark atmosphere and earns that tone by having Angelus continue to one-up himself with creative yet cruel psychological torture. It represents the show taking another huge step forward in being able to follow through on the setup it got. Between an intense emotional experience and permanent character ramifications, this is easily one of the best episodes the show ever put out. I get chills just thinking about it.

“Restless” [4×22] – A beautiful, complex, intelligent, and textured masterpiece. “Restless” fittingly comes in at around the halfway point of the show and takes the time to explore the past, present, and future. It is Buffy‘s ‘nexus’ in the truest sense. All of the primary struggles of the four core characters are subtlety dropped into a dreamscape where they are hunted by the First Slayer, who in of herself represents exactly what Buffy is subverting throughout the show. “You think you know what’s to come, what you are. You haven’t even begun.”

“Fool for Love” [5×07] – Spike as a character is often a walking enigma. Without a soul is he capable of genuine love and compassion, or is he only doing the occasional good deed for entirely selfish reasons? For the first time we really delve into Spike’s mind and see a new window into which we understand him in a beautifully directed and acted episode. It’s not only revealing for Spike, but his insights into the nature of the Slayer (as he sees it) give Buffy a lot to be concerned about, particularly the lines “death is your art” and “every slayer has a death wish; even you.”

“The Body” [5×16] – An episode this raw and painful will always have a tough time on a favorites list. “The Body” fits perfectly within the scope of Season 5’s excellent tapestry, but it’s not exactly one I ever really want to load up on its own. The quality is so high, though, that I can’t not include it in the top ten. What we have here is easily the most realistic depiction of the aftermath of a sudden death I’ve ever seen put to screen. It channels pure pain and raw emotion without any sensationalized elements. No music; no manipulative writing; no distractions. It’s Whedon directing at his very best.

“The Gift” [5×22] – In a season very much with death on its mind, “The Gift” manages to still thrill, surprise, and satisfy. It handles the lofty build-up of Season 5’s impeccably rendered arc with impeccable grace. All of the season’s themes — sacrifice, family, death, and others — come to a climax that is tender yet powerful, subtle yet shocking. In typical Buffy fashion there are moments of humor, moments of pathos, and moments of tears, often all at the same time (e.g. see the final scene). This is not only a satisfying conclusion to Season 5, but to the entire show up until this point.

“Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] – What’s so impressive about this episode isn’t just that it’s a clever musical, but more so that it remains about the characters and their ongoing arcs. The actors really get it done here. The songs are used in the best way possible in forcing the characters to reveal their deepest secrets. Most of the songs sound happy and upbeat, but there’s a consistent disturbing subtext underneath them all. Fun, smart, deep, and emotional, “Once More” has everything I could want out of an episode, plus more, and with style.

“Dead Things” [6×13] – An incredibly daring, ambitious, and potent episode that ends on an admission of undiluted guilt, but thankfully offers no easy reprieve, quick solution, or clear path forward for Buffy as she struggles to find herself and regain a sense of joy and beauty in life again. It’s quite possibly Buffy‘s finest example of intensely complex psychological exploration, diving into what’s making Buffy so confused, why Spike is all-too easy to sympathize with, and what lies beneath the Trio’s innocuous exterior. While tough, it lays a vital foundation for Buffy’s recovery.

“Selfless” [7×05] – A wonderfully textured episode that not only fleshes out Anya in the way “Fool for Love” [5×07] fleshed out Spike, but it packs a punch of great continuity and ensemble character moments to boot. We discover that Anya has always simply latched onto whatever was in front of her rather than paving her own road, whether that was being a vengeance demon or wanting to become Xander’s wife. Anya finally realizes she must find out who ‘she’ is by going through the scary struggle to find her own identity… even if it takes a sword through the chest to get there.


[#1]

“Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] – This is a perfectly balanced episode of television. It’s got massive laughs, fabulous action, and heart-breaking, gut-wrenching drama. Thanks to all the fabulous build-up in the latter half of Season 2, the stakes couldn’t be higher. “Becoming Pt. 2” satisfies on every level I could ask for, both setting up future stories while concluding this one with a heart-breaking ending for Buffy. I also applaud Whedon for his ability to give us what we want (Angel getting his soul back) right before giving us what we need (Buffy having to put him down anyway).


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42 thoughts on “Top 25 Episodes: MikeJer’s Favorites”

  1. [Note: Adam posted this comment on February 10, 2009.]

    I like your list a lot. While in particular I don’t agree with Lies My Parents Told Me and Dead Things ranked as high as they are, the rest makes a lot of sense. Personally, however, OMWF is my all time favorite episode (followed by Becoming and The Gift).

    By the way, I can’t wait for your season seven reviews!

    Like

  2. [Note: Jake posted this comment on July 4, 2009.]

    Personally, I love “Dead Things” and “No Place Like Home”, so I’m glad they’re on here. “Passion” is my all-time favourite.

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  3. [Note: CW posted this comment on September 8, 2009.]

    I’m still in the relatively early stages of rewatching the entire series after what was essentially a three-year hiatus from BtVS. Thus far, I’ve only rewatched Season 6 and the first half of Season 3, so I can only vaguely remember the finer pints a lot of the episodes mentioned above. Nonetheless, I must say this is a very intelligenty compiled Top 25 Eps – even if I don’t necessarily agree with all of them or with their ordering. Gotta say I disagree with you listing “After Life” in the Top 25. It’s a well-written and acted episode all right, but there are more deserving entries – especially considering the fact that it is practically the concluding segment of “Bargaining Parts 1 and 2”, the Season 6 opener.

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  4. [Note: Kate posted this comment on October 8, 2009.]

    Excellent list- aside from the fact Pangs is on here- I didn’t find it that funny at all. Tabula Rasa, something Blue and even Him are funnier than Pangs.

    However…I would find it better if you actually ranked the top 10. It is slightly annoying how you left it open to interpret.

    I would have it

    10.Dead Things

    9.The Body

    8.Passion

    7.Fool for Love

    6.Selfless

    5.Restless

    4.Innocence

    3.The Gift

    2.Becoming, part 2

    1.Once More, With Feeling

    But more than that, Congrats for having Innocence on there! Innocence is one of my all time favourites and most people completly forget about it.

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  5. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on October 8, 2009.]

    @Kate: At one point I did have the top 10 ranked, but as I reviewed the show they got shuffled around so frequently that I couldn’t take it anymore, and stripped them of their ranks. All of those episodes are so sublime that I don’t have it in me to pit them against each other. I know it’s kind of a lame cop-out, but it’s how I feel. 🙂

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  6. [Note: Kate posted this comment on October 10, 2009.]

    I shouldn’t berate you, I do exactly the same, when I watch those episodes. It is nice to see some finality though. 🙂

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  7. [Note: Ray posted this comment on November 22, 2009.]

    Though my top 25 would look pretty different. (Only 13 or 14 from yours) I like the list. I love lists like this and its always nice to read the perspective of another fan of this excellent tv series, which I have been re-acclimating myself to for the last few months.

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  8. [Note: katieJ posted this comment on December 9, 2009.]

    Very nice. Good explanations for all your choices. Your list compelled me to look more closely at “No place like home” and Becoming 2″ With a few changes, this looks a lot like my list. I share your affection for Fool for Love, Restless and Selfless, but I would forcefully include more Xander-centered episodes. This is probably since I weight strong comedy more heavily alongside character development and plot. I include The Pack in my top ten and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered and Superstar in top 25 (I heart Danny Strong). After watching Firefly, and even some Roseanne, I think that Joss Whedon’s sincere, subtle and kind humor style deserves recognition within the context of harsh and mean hahas in contemporary comedy-drama on television.

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  9. [Note: Brendan posted this comment on April 9, 2010.]

    The only additions I’d make are both from season 2: Halloween, which I still say is the most fun and funny, and Lie to Me, which I swear is the best pre-Angelus episode.

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  10. [Note: Josh A posted this comment on April 13, 2010.]

    Nice list! I’m a newbie to the site. But here’s my top 15, as I’m out of time (I’m kind of indifferent to the first three seasons, if you can’t tell)!

    1) Selfless (7.5)

    2) Once More With Feeling (6.7)

    3) Lies my Parents Told Me (7.17)

    4) Restless (4.22)

    5) Tabula Rasa (6.7)

    6) Fool for Love (5.7)

    7) Storyteller (7.16)

    8) Hush (4.10)

    9) Conversations w/ Dead People (7.7)

    10) The Body (5.16)

    11) Dead Things (6.13)

    12) Villains (6.20)

    13) Two to Go (6.21)

    14) Something Blue (4.9)

    15) Him (7.6)

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  11. [Note: Ollie posted this comment on May 24, 2010.]

    I enjoy your reviews, but you just put “Lies My Parents Told Me” above “Hush”, so I just lost all respect for you. 😉

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  12. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on June 4, 2010.]

    Okay, here’s my list. First, the 10 worst:

    1. Out of Mind, Out of Sight

    2. Nightmares

    3. The Pack

    4. Teacher’s Pet

    5. Doublemeat Palace

    6. Inca Mummy Girl

    7. Reptile Boy

    8. I Robot, You Jane

    9. Bad Eggs

    10. Go Fish

    And my top 25:

    1. The Gift

    2. Restless

    3. Once More, with Feeling

    4. Passion

    5. Normal Again

    6. Helpless

    7. Fool for Love

    8. Lies My Parents Told Me

    9. Becoming (I and II)

    10. Tough Love

    11. Selfless

    12. After Life

    13. The Prom

    14. Innocence

    15. No Place Like Home

    16. Hush

    17. Seeing Red/Villains

    18. Something Blue

    19. Sleeper

    20. Conversations with Dead People

    21. Intervention

    22. Blood Ties

    23. New Moon Rising

    24. Graduation Day (I and II)

    25. Lover’s Walk

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  13. [Note: Allegory87 posted this comment on December 29, 2010.]

    I’m pretty new, both to this site and to Buffy, but I think I’m ready to share my top 10:

    10.Graduation Day Part 2

    9.Passion

    8.Conversations with Dead People

    7.Selfless

    6.Hush

    5.Fool For Love

    4.Once More, With Feeling

    3.The Gift

    2.The Body

    1.Restless

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  14. [Note: A posted this comment on April 27, 2011.]

    I’d add Lovers Walk, but other than that… your list looks a lot like mine. I’m not sure if I’d have listed Selfless as high, though.

    Touched was also good.

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  15. [Note: Ben posted this comment on August 15, 2011.]

    Very good list (I’m also particularly fond of Pangs). My top 10:

    1)Becoming Pt. 1 and 2

    2)The Gift

    3)Hush

    4)Once More With Feeling

    5)The Body

    6)Passion

    7)Graduation Day Pt. 1 and 2

    8)Selfless

    9)Villians

    10)Prophecy Girl

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  16. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 7, 2011.]

    Mike, i love reading your reviews. I’m new to the site but i’m like i stumbled upon it. I have endeavoured to discuss BtVS with friends who watched the show but i think you get the most balanced perception from strangers.

    For me i would have to say that my favourite episode is The WIsh. I love the idea of this alternative universe within a fictional world. Giles and Buffy’s lives are clearly inexorably linked with him having called her to Sunnydale but its fun to see their relationship in a different context. This is a great episode to watch because it covers the what if The Master did succeed in his release from his prison within the earth.

    Other episode i consider to be amongst my favourites include Welcome to the Hellmouth because to be honest without this episode we wouldn’t have Buffy and its sweet to see the characters as kids with an innocent outlook before all the complex challenges they will face in the future.

    My list would run;

    1. The Wish

    2. Becoming part 2

    3. Welcome to the Hellmouth

    4.Graduation Day part 1

    5.Pangs

    6.Halloween

    7. The GIft

    8.Chosen

    9.Earshot

    10.School Hard.

    I have so many favourites, episodes i would watch over and over (you know if i wan’t to watch the complete series from ep 1 to ep 22 or 12 in the case of season 1.

    If i had to do compile a top 25 episodes such as Once more with Feeling, Lie to me, Band Candy, Choices, After life and The puppet show would be amongst them.

    I may not have the most conventional list but i guess that manifests how BtVS affects so many people and what fans take from the show.

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  17. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 7, 2011.]

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the site, Gemma. It’s definitely true that the show strikes different people in different ways. How a person evaluates an episode also very much depends on what they’re expecting out of it. Everyone has at least a slightly different definition of what constitutes a great episode. My system (and, to an extent, Critically Touched as a site) is obviously a reflection of what I want out of television. Naturally not everyone will agree, and that’s half the fun. 🙂

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  18. [Note: Nobody posted this comment on December 17, 2011.]

    Seeing the episode “Pangs” on the list was a pleasant surprise; I also find this to be one of Buffy’s funniest episodes ever. While “Graduation Day, Part 2” was a wonderful episode, I definitely think it’s somewhat overrated. I have the same problem for “Becoming, Part 2”; I personally found “Innocence to be much more exhilarating. I also thought that both “The Gift” and “Chosen” were much more powerful and emotionally resonant. Still, wonderful list, and I absolutely adore your site and your wonderful reviews!

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  19. [Note: Jade posted this comment on January 6, 2012.]

    I’ll be honest here, I’ve only seen Buffy all the way through once. So when I looked through a list of episodes, I found that there were a lot I liked in retrospect, especially after reading your reviews, but I did manage to come up with a top five that I remembered liking from the first second I saw it.

    #1. Fool for Love (5×07)

    While watching Buffy, I hadn’t ever thought about picking a favorite episode. It had simply never occurred to me. However, once I saw this episode, I knew in a heartbeat that it was my favorite and I hadn’t even finished the series yet. It was the first episode I watched that kept me sucked in for every second. There was never a time where I would look at the clock and wonder how much longer it was. I was surprised when it ended and I loved it so much that I wanted to see someone reviewing it and analyzing it, which is actually how I found this website.

    #2. Becoming Pt. 2 (2×22)

    Yep. It’s up there. This episode was the starting point for so many things involving me and Buffy. I realized Spike was my favorite character. I realized I liked Spike and Buffy together. I realized this show was freaking amazing.

    #3. Hush (4×10)

    I watched the series through with my dad when I saw it. He had already seen it like five times, and when we got to the disc with Hush on it he had a fit of joy and told me how the majority of the episode didn’t have any dialogue and it was amazing. We saw it and I was not disappointed. The Gentlemen were creepy and the scene with the projector was priceless.

    #4. The Body (5×16)

    I didn’t think I was going to cry when the episode started. My dad had warned me beforehand that it was tear-jerking, but I didn’t believe him. I had only cried once before during Buffy and that was during Passion. I had never gotten really attached to Joyce so I didn’t think it would affect me as much, but my eyes were moist throughout most of the episode and Anya’s speech sent me over the edge.

    #5. Lies My Parents Told Me (7×17)

    Wow, it took me forever to decide on number five. It was between this, Restless, Something Blue, OWMF, and Selfless– but ultimately I had to pick the one that focused on my favorite character, and the more I think about it, the more I realize it has to be this. I adore this episode for a few reasons– we get the last of Spike’s past, we get to see him overcome himself, we get to see Buffy race to Spike’s rescue, before giving Wood and Giles some telling off that has me cheering. And it was funny– in the early seasons I loved Giles. But this episode made me hate him without even feeling sorry about it. Buffy can do that to you.

    So, those are my top five favorite episodes. I’d have to watch the show again to make anything near a top 25, but I do have some favorite moments. Some funny, some serious.

    In no particular order:

    1. Giles walking into a tree (Earshot)

    2. Giles in his wizard robe (No Place Like Home)

    3. Drunk Giles saying “Bloody Hell!” from off-screen right after Xander realizes Willow’s gay (The Yoko Factor)

    4. Buffy with a bazooka outside Wood’s office (Him)

    5. Spike beating Angel with a crowbar (Becoming Pt. 2)

    6. Buffy kissing Spike for the first time (Intervention)

    7. The famous Spike speech (Touched)

    8. The huge simultaneous scream when the group sees a vampire (Tabula Rasa)

    There’s more, but those are my favorites. The end.

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  20. [Note: Brad posted this comment on February 8, 2012.]

    Just found this list and it is awesome & amazingly well-written, which comes as no surprised based upon your fine reviews. I do think Tabula Rasa might have made the list, but there are just too many great episodes to choose from.

    That being said, I was very surprised “Beer Bad” wasn’t in the top 10! [/sarcasm]

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  21. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on June 24, 2012.]

    It’s really hard for me to pick out my favorite episodes in Buffy because a majority of them are excellent… but here’s my top 10.

    10. The Wish

    9. Innocence

    8. Chosen

    7. Becoming, Part II

    6. Passion

    5. Once More, With Feeling

    4. Hush

    3. The Gift

    2. The Body

    1. Restless:

    This episode is just a complete masterpiece, and is the best episode I’ve seen on television (although I am very fond of Star Trek TNG: All Good Things…). It manages to give us insight into the characters down to the letter, so to speak. It looks back on what the series was, and what the series was going to be. This episode wove all the elements of the show’s overall arc together with complete brilliance, ingenuity, and complexity, and what’s more, it’s fun to watch after a multitude of viewings. This episode pretty much sums up what this series is about, and tells us about the characters in such an uncharacteristic way, that I have nothing to do but admire it.

    I really enjoy seeing what you have to say Mike. It’s nice to see that some people appreciate this show, instead of dismissing the fact of its brilliance and calling it “a girl show with a cheesy title.” It’s not hard to be annoyed by people like that. Anyway, it was interesting to see your list. However, I’m confused… are these ranked as your favorites or as what you feel is the best?

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  22. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 24, 2012.]

    Thanks for the comment, Kyle. I kind of think of the list as a mix of best/favorites, but it’s probably more ‘favorites’ than not. 🙂

    Also, I want to pretty much rearrange stuff almost every year. It’s hard to even pick 25 favorite episodes — there’s just so many wonderful episodes in this show.

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  23. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on June 25, 2013.]

    Wow! It’s amazing how much my views have changed in a year. My list is quite different now
    10. Selfless
    9. Innocence
    8. Fool for Love
    7. Passion
    6. Hush
    5. Once More, With Feeling
    4. Becoming, Part II
    3. The Gift
    2. The Body
    1. Restless
    Of course “Restless” will always be my favorite episode. There’s just something about it… 🙂

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  24. [Note: WCRobinson posted this comment on June 26, 2013.]

    Blimey, making a Top 25 would be hard. I could probably manage a Top Ten pretty easy:

    10. Storyteller
    9. Touched
    8. Seeing Red
    7. Hush
    6. The Body
    5. The Gift
    4. Once More, with Feeling
    3. Fool for Love
    2. Becoming Part 2
    1. Passion

    Like

  25. [Note: Ztobicka posted this comment on August 4, 2013.]

    1. Innocence
    2. Passion
    3. Becoming, Part 2
    4. The Wish
    5. Graduation Day, Part 2
    6. Hush
    7. Who Are You?
    8. Restless
    9. No Place Like Home
    10. Fool for Love
    11. The Body
    12. The Gift
    13. After Life
    14. Once More, with Feeling
    15. Dead Things
    16. Normal Again
    17. Selfless
    18. Conversations with Dead People
    19. Lies My Parents Told Me
    20. When She Was Bad
    21. Surprise
    22. Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered
    23. I Only Have Eyes for You
    24. Becoming, Part 1
    25. Revelations

    Like

  26. [Note: Ztobicka posted this comment on August 19, 2013.]

    Top 10 Worst Episodes:
    10. Wrecked
    9. Showtime
    8. Empty Places
    7. The Pack
    6. The Puppet Show
    5. Bad Eggs
    4. The Killer in Me
    3. Teacher’s Pet
    2. I Robot, You Jane
    1. Where the Wild Things Are

    Like

  27. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on October 20, 2013.]

    The only one I don’t really agree with on this list is Pangs. Great episode sure, not really top 25 material. I would’ve probably put The Zeppo there instead. Love the rest though!

    Like

  28. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on October 20, 2013.]

    I also love the Halloween episode in Season 2. And I think Blood Ties and Forever should be on here. Season 3 and Season 5 are my favorite Buffy seasons. Almost all the episodes in those two seasons are brilliant!

    Like

  29. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on October 21, 2013.]

    A top ten is about what I can do, after that there are so many excellent episodes that it becomes arbitrary.

    10. Storyteller/Selfless
    9. Who Are You?
    What a brilliant episode from Whedon. Faith’s psychological meltdown is done so well, and the seeds of her transformation are perfectly sown. It tears me up every time I watch her beating Buffy and yelling ‘You’re disgusting!’.
    8. Touched
    A beautiful romance. Spike’s speech!
    7. I only Have Eyes for You
    This has got to be the most angst-filled episode of the series. I love it. And the Giles quote: “To forgive is an act of compassion. It’s done not because someone deserves it, but because they need it.” Brilliant.
    6. Becoming, Part II
    5. After Life
    “Every night I saved you.” This epsiode is a profound masterpiece.
    4. Dead Things
    This is the most psychologically complex episode of television I have ever seen. It is probably the smartest episode of Buffy.
    3. Grave
    This episode resonates with me very strongly on a personal level.
    2. Normal Again
    One of two episodes that always make me cry
    1. The Gift
    The other episode that always makes me cry. It contains the essence of the show in one line: ‘The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.’ And the sunrise when Buffy jumps… visual poetry.

    Like

  30. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 8, 2014.]

    Here’s my Top 25. As with everything I say, it would probably be different if you asked me in half an hour’s time, but I think most of the episodes would stay in around about the same positions.

    25. Bargaining, Pt.1
    24. Helpless
    23. Villains
    22. Who Are You?
    21. The Gift
    20. Chosen
    19. Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered
    18. Dead Things
    17. Earshot
    16. After Life
    15. Something Blue
    14. Normal Again
    13. Selfless
    12. Storyteller
    11. Hush
    10. Doppelgangland
    9. Entropy
    8. Conversations with Dead People
    7. Passion
    6. Becoming Pt.2
    5. The Body
    4. Fool for Love
    3. Restless
    2. Innocence
    1. Once More with Feeling

    Like

  31. [Note: Patrick posted this comment on March 23, 2014.]

    Here’s mine –
    1) Restless
    2) Normal Again
    3) The Gift
    4) Passion
    5) Fool For Love
    6) Becoming
    7) Once More, With Feeling
    8) The Body
    9) Helpless
    10) Hush
    11) Dead Things
    12) Selfless
    13) Surprise/Innocence
    14) Afterlife
    15) Lover’s Walk
    16) Conversations With Dead People
    17) I Only Have Eyes For You
    18) Graduation Day
    19) This Year’s Girl/Who Are You?
    20) Villains
    21) The Wish
    22) Seeing Red
    23) When She Was Bad
    24) Touched
    25) Doppelgangland

    Like

  32. [Note: Patrick posted this comment on March 23, 2014.]

    So we have, so far –
    Three votes for Once More, With Feeling
    Three votes for Restless
    Two votes for The Gift
    Two votes for Becoming/Becoming pt. II
    Two votes for Passion
    One vote for Selfless
    One vote for Fool for Love
    One vote for The Wish
    One vote for Innocence

    Sums up the brilliance of Buffy.

    Like

  33. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on May 2, 2014.]

    I feel I should probably post my own Top 25, although I’m worried my statements on forums and such may contradict the ordering. Oh well. Here goes. They are ranked, but quite vaguely, so you can expect that they might slide up and down three or so places on any given day.

    Storyteller
    Hush
    Helpless
    Consequences
    Bargaining Pt.1
    The Harsh Light of Day
    Lie to Me
    Innocence
    I Only Have Eyes For You
    Doppelgangland
    Normal Again
    After Life
    Entropy
    Selfless
    Conversations with Dead People
    Lies My Parents Told Me
    Becoming Pt.2
    The Body
    The Gift
    Fool for Love
    Dead Things
    Who Are You?
    Passion
    Once More with Feeling
    Restless

    Like

  34. [Note: Odi et Amo posted this comment on May 2, 2014.]

    1 – The Gift
    2 – Restless
    3 – Normal Again
    4 – Passion
    5 – Fool For Love
    6 – Becoming
    7 – Once More, With Feeling
    8 – The Body
    9 – Surprise & Innocence
    10 – Seeing Red
    11 – Selfless
    12 – Dead Things
    13 – Helpless
    14 – I Only Have Eyes for You
    15 – Conversations with Dead People
    16 – After Life
    17 – This Year’s Girl & Who Are You?
    18 – Villains
    19 – Hush
    20 – The Weight of the World
    21 – When She Was Bad
    22 – Graduation Day
    23 – Lies My Parents Told Me
    24 – Lover’s Walk
    25 – The Wish

    Like

  35. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on June 22, 2014.]

    1 – Once More, With Feeling
    2 – The Gift
    3 – Fool for Love
    4 – Becoming pt.2
    5 – Restless
    6 – The Body
    7 – Chosen
    8 – Hush
    9 – Conversations with Dead People
    10 – The Wish
    11 – Passion
    12 – Selfless
    13 – Innocence
    14 – Tabula Rasa
    15 – Doppelgangland
    16 – Storyteller
    17 – Who Are You?
    18 – Lovers Walk
    19 – Grave
    20 – Something Blue
    21 – Earshot
    22 – Graduation Day pt.2
    23 – Intervention
    24 – Fear, Itself
    25 – School Hard

    Like

  36. [Note: Misty posted this comment on June 30, 2014.]

    1. Once More, With Feeling
    2. The Gift
    3. Restless
    4. Becoming pt.2
    5. Fool for Love
    6. The Body
    7. Chosen
    8. Hush
    9. Passion
    10. Conversations with Dead People
    11. Selfless
    12. The Wish
    13. Innocence
    14. Tabula Rasa
    15. Doppelgangland
    16. Who Are You?
    17. Lovers Walk
    18. Grave
    19. Something Blue
    20. Storyteller
    21. Earshot
    22. Graduation Day pt.2
    23. Intervention
    24. Fear, Itself
    25. School Hard

    Like

  37. [Note: totes posted this comment on May 28, 2015.]

    Hi MikeJer, I’ve been a fan of your site for many years and have really enjoyed your reviews- so thank you!

    I’ve always wanted to ask about your list, since I look at it so often.. with me, I personally spilt the best of BtVS episodes into two lists..

    My personal favourites looks like this..

    30. Sleeper

    29. Doppelgangland

    28. Killed by Death

    27. Earshot

    26. Choices

    25. The Wish

    24. Once More with Feeling

    23. Grave

    22. Angel

    21. Surprise

    20. New Moon Rising

    19. Gingerbread

    18. Halloween

    17. School Hard

    16. Graduation Day

    15. Helpless

    14. Amends

    13. Lovers Walk

    12. Becoming

    11. What’s My Line?

    10. Ted

    9. Homecoming

    8. When She Was Bad

    7. Out of Mind, Out of Sight

    6. Selfless

    5. Some Assembly Required

    4. I Only Have Eyes for You

    3. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

    2. The Prom

    1. Prophecy Girl/The Dark Age/Passion (tie)

    .. and the greatest (to me) like this..

    25. Lies My Parents Told Me

    24. Enemies

    23. Surprise

    22. Choices

    21. Out of Mind, Out of Sight

    20. Helpless

    19. Angel

    18. Conversations w/ Dead People

    17. When She Was Bad

    16. Restless

    15. The Body

    14. Fool for Love

    13. Once More with Feeling

    12. Lovers Walk

    11. Selfless

    10. Graduation Day (Pts 1 & 2)

    19. What’s My Line? (Pts 1 & 2)

    1 8. Prophecy Girl

    17. Amends

    16. Grave

    15. I Only Have Eyes for You

    14. The Prom

    13. Becoming (Pts 1 & 2)

    12. Chosen

    11. Passion

    As you can see they are very different.. many of my favourites aren’t critically regarded, and are clearly more for personal preference, fun, favouritism and characters; whilst it’s hard to debate the quality of the majority of those on the greatest list (my criteria is how ‘great’ the episode is in terms of viscerally how much a viewing makes me go ‘Wow!’- with attempts at things like your critical skills too!)..

    I wanted to ask you which of my two lists (in terms of criteria) yours closer resembles? The reason is that it’s called your personal favourites, but then it’s hard to debate that any of yours aren’t ‘great’ episodes (maybe with the exception of ‘Pangs’).. do you think this is because your critical skills make your favour ‘great’ episodes? Or have you mixed the two criteria?

    Simply put, are these the 25 episodes you like and love the most, or are they the 25 ‘best’?

    Like

  38. [Note: infinite carnage posted this comment on February 12, 2016.]

    i guess i’m the only one who likes becoming pt. 1 more than pt. 2

    anyway, here’s the list

    1-10

    becoming pt. 1
    becoming pt. 2
    innocence
    fool for love
    lies my parents told me
    passion
    restless
    once more with feeling
    the gift
    hush

    11-20

    selfless
    surprise
    bargaining pt. 1
    villains
    amends
    no place like home
    crush
    conversations with dead people
    the body
    dead things

    Like

  39. [Note: Bed Edlund posted this comment on April 29, 2016.]

    I’d go:
    25. Villains
    24. The Zeppo
    23. The Wish
    22. Doppelgangland
    21. Earshot
    20. I Only Have Eyes For You
    19. Lover’s Walk
    18. Something Blue
    17. Band Candy
    16. Prophecy Girl
    15. Conversations with dead people
    14. Who Are You
    13. Normal Again
    12. Selfless
    11. Dead Things
    10. Graduation Day Pt. 2
    9. The Body
    8. Innocence
    7. Passion
    6. Hush
    5. Restless
    4. The Gift
    3. Once More With Feeling
    2. Fool for Love
    1. Becoming Part 2

    Like

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