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There were seven series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in total. Each one boasted a different villain for Buffy to face off against. I am not talking about the one-time enemies, like Friday the Vampire or the Gentlemen. I’m not even talking about the series regulars, like Mr. Trick, Faith or Drusilla. No, this article is about the seven main antagonists throughout the series from which the main plotline revolved around. I shall compare them and rank them, depending on which one is my favourite. If you agree or disagree, leave a comment below.

7 – THE MASTER, SEASON ONE

It pains me to say this, but the very first villain, the Master of the Vampires, was one of the biggest disappointments of the show. It is a shame, because he does look awesome. It’s just he doesn’t really do much. As Angelus points out in one series of the spin-off, Angel, the Master spends most of his life (un-life?), skulking around the sewers, waiting for the uprising. His method of going about starting the uprising is questionable, however: he continues to send vampires in small groups to take out a girl who has proven herself to be capable of taking out demons with relative ease. This is how he loses his right hand woman, Darla: through poor tactics. He eventually ‘kills’ Buffy, when she comes looking for him and walks right into a trap. He gets lucky and takes her out, without needing to directly fight her. However, he then walks away, without checking her pulse, and she returns to kill him, in a fairly quick fight.

He was also a little flamboyant.

He was also a little flamboyant.

Most of these flaws are down to the actual series needed a bit of smoothing out. The first season has a few teething problems and therefore the Master took a few knocks, because of this. His final fight was short, but then again, a lot of the fights throughout the season weren’t long. Eventually, the writers worked out a system they were happy with and when the Master makes a few guest appearances in Season Three and throughout Angel, he is a fairly cool, capable villain. It’s just a shame that they didn’t get him right to begin with.

6 – ANDREW, JONATHON AND WARREN, SEASON SIX

In Season Six, the writers went for a different route. They went through the entire series and hand-picked three of the nerds, who guest-starred in previous episodes. Each of them were seeking vengeance, but in the same way, the quiet kid at school dreams of the school bully getting humiliated in class: no one ever expects anything to come of it. However, Joss Whedon took that feeling and explored where that line of thought could go.

For the most part, no one takes these three seriously. They add a bit of comedy to the proceedings and the real drama comes from the internal relationships of the group. However, then, seemingly out of nowhere, Joss Whedon pulls a final twist and we are left reeling. The only reason that these guys did not rate higher is because, before the series is out, they are removed from the story and the role of the villain is replaced by a corrupt Willow. This is not a bad move, as it is one of the greatest showdowns seen on the show.

5 – THE MAYOR, SEASON THREE

Throughout Season Two, there are several references made to the mayor of Sunnydale, but we never see him. In fact, it takes us a good few episodes into the third season before we finally meet him. The Mayor is a fantastic villain: a polite family man with a destructive side. It wins a few laughs for the season, as he is ever so polite, even when slaughtering thousands to achieve the ‘Ascension’. The Mayor suffered from two things, however. One, the real star when it came to villains was Eliza Dushku as Faith, the vampire slayer turned mercenary for hire. She was played so brilliantly that the Mayor got drowned out. Also, the final fight between the Mayor and Buffy felt kind of hollow. A bit like the Master before him, there is a sense of ‘Is that it?’ Personally, I would have left Faith’s showdown to after the Mayor’s, as there was much more drama in that encounter, suggesting it would have made a better end to the Season.

4 – ADAM, SEASON FOUR

Coming soon to the studios of Take Me Out

Coming soon to the studios of Take Me Out

Adam was a great villain in his own way. Although Buffy already covered their version of Frankenstein, they obviously wanted to explore that storyline in a more serious way. Therefore, halfway through Season Four, we are introduced to Adam, the ‘human’ that was built. He quickly kills his creators and then begins his own experiments in Sunnydale: murdering hundreds of people out of interest. He becomes a behind-the-scenes man, the puppeteer for most of the fights that Buffy has in the final half of the season. Sadly, he is also the most forgettable of the villains. Maybe it’s because he only appeared in the second half or because he rarely made an actual appearance, but he never quite makes the impact that some of the other main villains managed to have.

3 – GLORY, SEASON FIVE

Glory was one of the more interesting creations in the Joss Whedon universe. For all intents and purposes, she was a God, albeit one from another dimension. Buffy spends most of the season, running from her, rather than fighting her, which was a nice change of pace; sometimes Buffy can be a little too powerful for the storyline. Her weakness was the fact that a side effect to her existing in our universe, she was subjected to sharing a body with a human. It brought up some interesting ideas.

Sometimes Glory seems a little too quirky for her own good and the respect we should have for her gets lost. At times, it works though, which suggests that it is an issue for taste among the audience. However, I must admit, when it comes to a finale, Glory bagged one of the best fight scenes in the entire run of Buffy. Season Five was a little slow at times for me, but the final episode was a fantastic pay-off for the wait. And also, going back to her human double, it brought an interesting side to Giles. It was a storyline that was never mentioned again, but unlike a lot of the forgotten plot devices, this one didn’t need to be brought up afterwards. It was just a nod to the audience about how far Giles is willing to go to save his Slayer.

2 – CALEB, SEASON SEVEN

Caleb was given the job of closing this epic series and for the most part, he did a terrific job. In the role of Caleb was Whedon regular, Nathan Fillion, an actor who doesn’t get enough work. Caleb was the twisted reverend, who was willing to let the First (pure evil) use his body as a tool to wipe out the Slayers. Like Adam, we could argue that his character is held back by the fact, he makes his entrance midway through the season. However, unlike Adam, Fillion makes up for lost time. He handles his dialogue perfectly, subtly giving off menace with every word. The first time he attacks the group, he slaughters several main characters and rips out Xander’s eye. He is not someone to mess with. He definitely allowed this great TV Programme to go out with a bang, rather than a whimper.

1 – ANGELUS, SEASON TWO

Besides... who doesn't want to punch that cocky face?

Besides… who doesn’t want to punch that cocky face?

Part of me didn’t want to put Angelus, Buffy’s lover turned evil, when his soul is ripped from him, as the top spot. It seemed too obvious and also, I feel the effect he had on the Season was lost, when he was resurrected almost instantly in Season three. However, when focusing on Season Two as an individual entry for this article, there is no other winner.

It is almost about the emotional turmoil that occurs when Buffy faces off against Angelus each time. As each episode of the season gave us any slice of evidence that Angelus was no longer a good character, Buffy was still determined to save his soul. This storyline comes to a head in the final episode and Joss Whedon controls the story perfectly, managing to squeeze the last drop of drama out of the encounter. Episodes like that remind me of the reason I love Buffy so much.

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16 thoughts on “Who was the Best Buffy Villain?

  1. I do agree with some of the assessments on this post. However, I’m not sure I agree with who you’ve chosen as the main antagonists for some of the seasons. While Caleb was an amazing villain, the actual main antagonist of season seven was The First Evil. My huge issue with bringing Caleb into the story is that it seemed that the writers understood quite far into the story that Buffy needed someone she could physically injure (as the First was some sort of nebulous entity that was sending things after Buffy but couldn’t actually take physical form). To me, Caleb seemed like he was only introduced for that reason. And while he was very good at what he did, it kind of let down the entire season for me. Both he and the scythe were kind of a deus ex machina for the season in order to bring some sort of completeness and physicality to the ending of the series.

    Similarly, as you stated, the actual main antagonist of season six was life itself. And while the Trio was there as some sort of evil for the season, they couldn’t be taken seriously. This is primarily because the things going on in every day life were way too depressing. Willow’s addiction, Xander’s fear of marriage and growin up, Buffy’s return to life and dealing with the aftereffects of her mother’s death and raising a child and Dawn’s rebelliousness and shoplifting going on every day was way too dark and serious to also have a dark and serious evil for the entire season, so the Trio imparted the lightness that in other seasons was there in every day life.

    I’d say my ordering would probably be:

    7. First Evil (it was just a bad idea from the beginning)
    6. Adam (Something about this idea also just didn’t work well with me)
    5. The Master
    4. Glory (for awhile season five and Glory was perhaps my favorite season of Buffy. There was something about the character I really liked, but the more I watch it, the more annoyed I got with it, until I finally realized what it was. The ritual was probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. The Key was NEVER before in Human form, and all of a sudden there’s some sort of blood letting ritual in order to use a human key to open the gateways between dimensions? Why would they create something like this when the key has NEVER BEEN HUMAN. It was just an excuse to have Buffy sacrifice herself for Dawn at the end of the season. Once I realized that, the whole season and Glory really lost something for me.)
    3. Life.
    2. The Mayor.
    1. Angelus (of course, season two of Buffy was probably one of the best.)

  2. My order would be:

    The Nerds – apart from Warren they were hardly villain material, and Andrew is possibly the most annoying creation in this universe, apart from perhaps Kenedy!

    The Master – I agree he had his falws to be fair he had his good moments too – killing Buffy after totally scaring her witless in his church was one of them.

    The First – brilliant idea, though I felt sadly not used to its full potential.

    Adam – charming sadistic intelligent cyborg, brilliant voice. Brilliant showdown too. Though agree is not as good as some others.

    Glory – wonderfully quirky, plus a brilliant story and arguably the best Buffy finale/showdown of the series, but possibly a little annoying and immature at times, much like early Dawn.

    Angelus – incredible, vicious, loathable, clever, frightening but lacking ever so slightly compared to his Season 3 successor. Wonderful showdown though. And his death upon reversion to Angel invokes tears every time.

    The Mayor – quirky, powerful, chilling, yes Faith was brilliant but he was far more so because of his wonderful presence and frightening good cheer. Plus Groening’s own maturity as an actor brought a gravitas to him that Angelus, Faith and Glory lacked in comparrison. Only his demise feels a little too easy compared to some others, but even then the final battle in the school is wonderfully satisfying.

    Caleb does not rate the list – as a vicar’s son I have met bishops and priests who could have played a far more chilling dark priest of the First – seriously, some of these gentlemen have voices with such power they can fill and command an entire cathedral! As a result, Caleb felt very flat and disappointing, vicious though he was. No offence to Nathan Fillion, who is SUPERB in every other part he plays.

  3. I like your list but I have to disagree on the main antagonists of each season as well. It may be more of a personal preference when it comes to choosing the main villain of some of the seasons but I have always considered it to be these seven:

    7. Adam – He just really didn’t work for me. There was something about him and sometimes I actually consider the Initiative as a whole as the Big Bad of this season, lumping Adam in with them, just because I didn’t like him very much.

    6. The Master – I fully agree with your assessment of what went wrong with the Master as the Big Bad. “Buffy” was still trying to find its footing and the Master was one of the things that just didn’t work very well. I did gain more respect for him throughout the rest of Buffy and Angel though like you did.

    5. Dark Willow – Although I do agree that the big bad could either be considered as Warren or “”Life” as someone mentioned in an earlier comment, in my opinion Dark Willow ultimately became the big bad of this season. Her descent into darkness was pretty prominent and Buffy ultimately had to face off with her in the end. She’s pretty high up on my list just because I’ve never really been sure how I felt about this. I don’t like the whole magic as a “drug” thing and I also didn’t like how it basically created a split personality in Willow. It was all a little too cut and dry and when she came back in Season 7 she was right back to sweet, innocent Willow with the exception of a few isolated incidents. (And I hated how they had to kill Tara to do this…)

    4. The First Evil – I really really wanted to like the First. It seemed like a great idea, especially if it would have become corporeal. I know Caleb was an attempt to do this, and while he was awesome, it just didn’t have the same impact as the First becoming a purely physical being. Just the whole idea of this thing being the embodiment of evil was a very risky idea and I just don’t think it worked as well as it could have in the end. I was very excited by it at first. I’ll never forget Buffy’s speech after she is beaten nearly to death by the Turok Khan (spelling?) and that really got me excited about the First but it never really paid off. If I considered Caleb the Big Bad of the season then this season’s villain would definitely be closer to one because of Nathan Fillion, but I don’t think that’s the case.

    3. The Mayor – The Mayor was pretty awesome and I also I loved his polite demeanor mixed with the evil but I agree that Faith completely overshadowed him. If I considered Faith the main villain of the season then I may have had to tie her and Angelus at number one just because I love Faith and Eliza in this role.

    2. Glory – I really enjoyed Glory and the idea o Buffy facing off against a God. Buffy’s fear of Glory was one of the major things that made her so fearsome and seeing Buffy run from her and avoid fighting her was always one of the tings that made me like Glory as a villain so much. Glory is closer to what the First Evil should have been. The way they portrayed the First Evil as the embodiment of ALL evil, it should have been closer to a god and as a god it should have been much more fearsome. Glory managed to invoke that fear in many ways (although other times she failed miserably at that but I thought they handled that very well too).

    1. Angelus – The best villain by far. It was Season 2 and nothing can top David Boreanaz as Angelus. Enough said.

  4. Doesn’t quite feel right to me. I can agree on Angelus in that eh domianted the Scoobies’ agenda emotionally every second of his arc, and he was shown as deadly. But the Mayor being that low-ish, sorry, he also emotinally dominated once they became aware of him (and there are villains who need to be known & those who need to avoid it, 2 legit types.) He almost sparked Faith’s face-heel turn by alienating his Deputy into harm’s way, and provided an outlet for HeelFaith to stay in S’dale instead of fleeing. plus Groener’s sheer brilliance rmeinds me of Ross Martin RIP. Also, angel had to return for business reasons, and a long “quest to bring him back” would’ve been even more devaluing.

  5. A great example of BUFFY being a superior series was the episode “Normal Again” in season 6 featuring The Nerds. It is very similar to an episode of CHARMED in that the main character(s) suddenly is living a non-supernatural life. Buffy’s psychiatrist even uses the feebleness of The Nerds as an argument that her life as the Slayer is a waning delusion. At the end of the CHARMED episode, we see that everything is back to normal. At the end of the BUFFY episode, we see a catatonic Buffy in an asylum. The former is an easy out for the writers and the audience. The latter makes the audience think.

  6. Just a quick typo note for you: Caleb destroyed one eye, not two. That’s why Xander started wearing an eyepatch.

    Also… didn’t Xander save Buffy after the Master killed her? He didn’t miss that she had a pulse. I thought she was legitimately dead, drowned in fact. And Xander made it in time to give her CPR. Which, as you do note, the Master did not stick around for, so yes he could have prevented it if he hadn’t taken the clich├ęd route of leaving without making sure the deed was fully complete. Like, say, burying Buffy or taking her dead body and dumping it somewhere the Scoobies wouldn’t have been able to find. Ah, bad guys… they never seem to learn that it’s all about the follow-through. ;)

  7. I loved the Mayor. He’s number 1 in my book.. And Glory would be number 2. The master was awful. And Angel (in the Buffy series) was way more interesting when he was evil.

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  9. Pingback: The Best of Buffy – Happy Anniversary To Ms. Summers « The L. Palmer Chronicles

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