The Best Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes
The Rest of the Buffy Episodes
Notes on Methodology: I have only watched the vast majority of these episodes once, over the past two years. This means two things: my memory of the later episodes is much stronger, and if or when I go back and rewatch the series, the list could change dramatically.
The Bottom 15
144) #211 "Ted" – Is it really the worst Buffy episode of all time? It's more competently produced than most of the first season, yes. The guest star is certainly capable. But the tonal shifts, from annoyed Buffy to murderous Buffy and back again are whiplash-inducing. The central metaphor, with something horrific threatening Buffy's life with her mom, is especially frustrating since it handles something real so ham-handedly. It's the most frustrating episode I can think of in the entire series, and that's enough to put it at the bottom of the list.
143) #108 "I, Robot... You, Jane" – We'll start with the good stuff: Miss Calendar is introduced. That's it! It's rare for the show to feel dated, but its use of computers in early episodes certainly puts it in a time and place. About the only other close-to-nice thing I can say is that it's a little friendlier to online relationships than The X-Files' “2shy.”
142) #711 "Showtime" – To this episode's credit, it manages to do the nearly impossible and have characters who are even more annoying than Dawn: the whining gaggle of Potential Slayers, panicking about the Turok-Han. In addition to annoying, it's also dour and humorless. Not even Andrew can make it entertaining.
141) #610 "Wrecked" – The nadir of the infamous addiction storyline. Amy the witch is a good character, who is totally wasted by the most excruciatingly forced (and extended) metaphor of magic-as-heroin.
140) #719 "Empty Places" – An otherwise perfectly competent stakes-raising episode leading up to the series finale, “Empty Places” totally falls apart in its final scene, when everyone turns on Buffy. Arguing with her leadership, sure, but kicking her out is mind-bogglingly stupid and out of character for all involved. Anya's speech is particularly annoying, making no sense and ignoring the entire history of the show – quite the opposite of her famous monologue in “The Body.”
139) #304 "Beauty and the Beasts" – There's a theme here with these worst-ever episodes. The central metaphor is taken too far, to the point where it's obvious and not interesting. Such is the case with this episode, which is basically an hour-long public service announcement that abusive relationships are bad.
138) #706 "Him" - “Him” seems like an old idea from Season Two that never got implemented, and the return to high school of the seventh season gave the show the opportunity to do it. It has two major problems though. First, it's Dawn-centered. Second, it's too late. It really does feel like a second-season episode, ignoring the character growth from the previous five years. It's too bad, really, as there's some funny stuff, especially once Anya and Willow get involved. But still much more frustrating than not.
137) #402 "Living Conditions" – Buffy goes to college. College is weird for her. Something bad is happening that she attributes to the supernatural. Her friends try to convince her that's it's normal adjustment, but hey! Buffy's actually right and it is supernatural! This would have been a completely serviceable storyline...had the exact same thing not been done the previous week with “The Freshman.” There are a couple good ideas here, but they're almost totally wasted.
136) #612 "Doublemeat Palace" - Tries to be a comedy about the drudgery of work, which isn't a bad idea. Unfortunately, it fails. There's some humor here, but you have a little bit too hard to get to it.
135) #104 "Teacher's Pet"
134) #105 "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"
133) #109 "The Puppet Show" – The first season of Buffy just isn't very good. These episodes aren't bad, they just all follow the central “High School as horror” metaphor too closely to be considered as effective as those which come later in the series, when it's more comfortable with its world and its characters.
132) #204 "Inca Mummy Girl" – An episode so generic you can pretty much figure out the storyline from the title.
131) #609 "Smashed" - The Great Addiction Debacle begins here. It's bad, but boy does it ever get worse.
130) #418 "Where the Wild Things Are" – No, really, thinking about Buffy and Riley having constant wild monkey love orgasms isn't really that appealing, thanks. I do understand that the show needed to demonstrate a little more sex positivity after some previous storylines, but this is just a bad premise. There's some funny stuff in it, but not enough to salvage it all.