21 Moments That Prove Why Buffy the Vampire Slayer Is Still Relevant 21 Years Later

March 10, 1997 was the day that everything changed for me. It was the day that I told Joey Patterson that I liked him in my suave second grade way. It was the day that Joey Patterson pushed a nerdy red-haired girl into a puddle after she stammered out that she had a crush on him. My bruised elbows and pride aside, it was also the day that Buffy walked into my life. Twenty years later and she is still with me.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer crept onto the television scene on a relatively unknown network and with an even more unknown concept. The show opens with a beautiful blonde girl and her date breaking into the high school after hours. She has a worried look plainly etched on her face, and her date seems to take notice. In a (what I assume is supposed to be comforting, but comes off as rather patronizing) concerned tone, the boy tells her there is nothing to worry about.

Oh, but there is…because that little blonde is a vampire and she is about to kill her date. Everything about this opening scene sums up the show perfectly: stereotypes are meant to be broken. In so many horror movies the blonde high schooler is usually killed off first. She runs through the hallway while some masked psycho chases her. She inevitably trips, falls, cries, and then dies in some gruesome way. But what if the girl stopped running and faced the threat? What if she beat said threat into oblivion? What if she was actually the real threat the entire time?

This first scene takes all of these horror tropes and subverts them; breathing new life into the genre. Well, if vampires could breathe. You might be asking yourself what a 90’s teenage vampire romance has to do with you. Sit down and keep reading, as we are about to enter the Hellmouth with 21 reasons why Buffy still slays today.

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER BELOW

21. Buffy & Angel’s First Kiss/Buffy Learns He Is a Vampire

Buffy first meets this tall, dark, and handsome stranger in the very first episode. He gives her a cryptic warning about the dangers of her new hometown, Sunnydale, and then disappears into the night. Throughout the first season, he continues to warn her, fight by her side, and—on more than one occasion—save her life. He seems like the perfect man (don’t they all?). It finally culminates in a passionate kiss that leaves them both breathless…literally. Buffy pulls back, but instead of seeing the handsome face of the man she knows, she sees a vampire.

He is a monster, the one monster she is sworn to kill above all else. After all, she is not Buffy the Demon Slayer. Now Buffy is faced with the ultimate dilemma. She has feelings for someone who is older, dangerous, and has continuously lied to her since their first meeting. What does she do? Avoid him? Confront him? There is another option. By all accounts, Angel should be evil. It would be easy for him to fall back into that same pattern of violence especially knowing he has Buffy’s trust. He could easily trick her and use the feelings she has against her. The important thing is he doesn’t.

Instead, he works to help people and returns Buffy’s feelings. Buffy learns that Angel is a new kind of vampire. Despite everything stacked against them, from the disapproval of her parents and friends to defying her sacred duties, Buffy forgives Angel’s sins of the past and focuses on all of the good he does now. Knowing that Angel has the capacity for good she rethinks her judgment of him. This will be a common theme throughout the series. Buffy will be faced with choices that all seem so easy; the line between good and evil clearly defined. Buffy understands, though, that those lines are blurred. People are capable of great change and deserve forgiveness.

20. Marcie’s Revenge on Cordelia & Buffy

Have you ever felt invisible? Like no one was listening even when you were talking out loud? Well, on the Hellmouth, they take that literally. Buffy’s classmate Marcie is your average, nerdy, shy, and odd social outcast that no one ever bothers paying attention to. She slowly becomes invisible, and instead of taking it quietly, she decides to enact revenge on everyone she feels had been mean to her. Everyone is stumbling through puberty trying to find where they fit in, but some try to fit in by putting others beneath them. If given the chance, would you want revenge on the people that have the world’s attention? Of course you would.

Cordelia, the most popular girl in school, captain of the cheerleaders, and bully to Buffy and her friends is Marcie’s target. Cordelia has everything Marcie wants and Cordelia didn’t have to try very hard to get them. Being rich, beautiful, and athletic usually helps with that. Marcie kidnaps her and plans to disfigure Cordelia’s pretty face as revenge for her popularity. But, the show doesn’t want you to simply cast Marcie and Cordelia into the clichéd roles of villain and victim. Cordelia pleads with Marcie that she knows exactly how she feels from the loneliness to the fake concerns of her friends and the adults.

This episode teaches us that whether you are the captain of the cheerleaders or the girl that always has the wrong name under her yearbook photo, loneliness is a symptom we all experience during high school. But, hurting people to get back at them for hurting you never works, and Buffy teaches Marcie that lesson. Buffy rescues Cordelia and stops Marcie from doing something she would probably later regret because revenge is an empty victory. Revenge never makes the loneliness or hurt go away, rather it allows those feelings to be consumed by your anger. Buffy doesn’t allow Marcie to get away with it, and as a result, Marcie is taken to a specialized high school for young FBI agents. The episode ends with Marcie’s invisibility being seen as an asset; something that could save someone’s life someday. Buffy’s moral compass allows Marcie to find a place where she belongs.

19. Buffy vs. The Master

Throughout Season 1, Buffy is characterized as the ultimate hero. She embodies goodness and morality. The Master is an ancient vampire that embodies death and destruction, and he has allowed his clan to murder and feed on the townspeople. The entire season has been centered around the Master wanting to open the Hellmouth and release hell on earth. To top everything off, there is a prophecy that if Buffy faces the Master, she will die.

Buffy, scared of her fate, pleads with her watcher, Giles, the only father figure in her life, that she doesn’t want to die. She is 16 years old and faced with the ultimate choice: run away and hide, or fight and lose. It seems so hopeless. What is the point of fighting if you already know the outcome? She quits and walks away from being the slayer. When the Master kills a group of Buffy’s classmates, her best friends, Willow and Xander, who help her with slaying throughout the entire series, make a plan without Buffy to stop him.

Buffy realizes this is not their fight, that this is not their destiny. More unnecessary blood will be spilled if she does not accept her calling and go to fight. It is a hard battle; many times you think she won’t make it, but in the end, she gains the upper hand. Buffy pushes the Master off of a roof and onto a large broken piece of wood, which stakes and kills him.

What does it say about a hero that knows they will die but fights anyway? Buffy teaches us a valuable lesson: being brave does not always mean winning, but rather knowing failure is probable and doing it anyway. The slayer is rewarded for her bravery by literally throwing her fears over a ledge and saving the day. The next time you have a situation you know will end badly; try to relax. Hey, at least you’ll still be pretty.

18. Buffy vs. Ted

Buffy’s mom, Joyce, has a new boyfriend, Ted, and he isn’t the man everyone thought he was. In fact, he isn’t really a man at all, but actually a robot…although I digress. Ted works his way into the lives of all of Buffy’s friends and gains their trust. She is wary of him as he seems too perfect. She notices his true colors when she innocently cheats in a game of mini-golf. Ted catches her and threatens to slap her if she does something like that again. Buffy tries to tell her mother what Ted said, but she does not believe her.

After weeks of abusive behavior, including threatening to hit her, controlling when she sees her friends, and disciplining her for a B grade, Ted reads Buffy’s diary and learns her secret slayer identity. He threatens to tell everyone and have her committed to a mental institution. When she goes to take her diary back, he slaps her hard across the face. Buffy returns the slap and Ted raises the stakes by punching Buffy so hard she flies across the room. Buffy stands up to him and protects herself. Ultimately, she is able to defeat Ted, the evil robot. 

The important lesson that Buffy shows us here is that sometimes adults aren’t very nice to children, and sometimes other adults don’t want to acknowledge that. Ted oversteps his boundaries as “the mom’s boyfriend” and abuses Buffy both verbally and physically. He does this all behind Joyce’s back, which creates a rift between her and her daughter. Buffy then decides what is enough and acts accordingly. Always remember that you decide what is appropriate behavior and what isn’t. While I would say most situations will never escalate to pushing someone down the stairs because they are a serial killing robot, Buffy’s message of standing up for yourself no matter the cost still rings true.

17. The Morning After Buffy Loses Her Virginity

Buffy and Angel are in a steady relationship throughout the second season. They learn to rely on each other, and even her group of friends grow to trust and care for him. After a night of fighting, narrowly escaping with their lives, Buffy and Angel run to his apartment. The lost battle has them both shaken, scared, and emotionally vulnerable. They exchange “I love you” with each other for the first time, and lost in the one moment of joy, they decide to spend the night together.

Angel wakes in pain in the middle of the night and stumbles out into the rain. Angel’s curse says that if he were to have just one moment of pure happiness, his soul will be taken from him, and he will return to the vampire monster he was before. Now that he is his former self, known as Angelus, he only wants to hurt Buffy.

The big moment finally happened. It felt right, with the right person, and you have never felt happier or closer to someone. But, what if their reaction wasn’t what you expected? They treat you like a stranger, telling you it was good for what it was, but it didn’t mean anything more. There is always the fear that once you become emotionally vulnerable with someone, they hold all the power over you. Buffy is glowing with happiness over the moment that Angel and she just shared. But when he comes back to his apartment, he is not the man she knows and loves. He is cold, cruel, and mocks their time together as if it didn’t mean anything.

Sadly, not only is this still relatable to many young adults today, but this fear keeps many from even daring to care for someone else to the point of showing that vulnerability. Buffy is one of the strongest beings on Earth, but she is still a young woman with feelings and a heart to break. You are more than your romantic relationships, and if you are not special to your special someone, then it’s time to rethink who is allowed into your life and into your heart.

16. “Me”

When Angel loses his soul after his moment of true happiness with Buffy, she spends the rest of the season gathering the courage to kill the monster wearing her lover’s face. The night that Buffy finally goes to confront him, she is not the same girl whom he first met. She has watched friends die, been thrown out of her house by her mother, expelled from school, and now her ex-boyfriend wants to destroy the world.

They fight nearly to the death with Angel gaining the upper-hand. He stands over her and says “So that’s it, no weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away and what’s left?” It looks hopeless for Buffy. She has lost so much, but Buffy will never give up. She will never allow evil to win as long as she is still standing. So, what is left after everything has been taken away? Buffy responds with “Me.”

Buffy is the hero that lives in all of us. No matter how much pain and suffering you’ve endured, no matter how many layers of protection have been stripped away from you, you will always have you. Your relationship with yourself is the longest one you will have, why not make it a healthy and dependable one? You are everything you hope to be already, all you have to do is embrace it.

15. Buffy Talks to Jonathan About Pain

Buffy gets a little demon blood into a cut on her hand, and she gains its ability to hear people’s thoughts. At first, she is elated by the gift, but soon the thoughts of her fellow students become deafening. There is so much pain, suffering, loneliness, confusion, and anger that she slowly starts to go insane. However, she is able to pick one whispered thought out of the entire cafeteria that states they are going to kill everyone in school. 

It turns out that it’s the lunch lady, but the episode really isn’t about that. In her search to find the killer, she finds Jonathan, a meek, quiet, and bullied nerd, in the clock tower of the school. He has a gun and he plans on killing himself. She convinces him that he isn’t alone in his suffering. People he would least expect, “the beautiful ones, the popular ones, the guys that pick on [Jonathan], everyone” feels pain and doesn’t know how to deal with it.

High school can be hard. Life can be harder. We think everyone is looking at us, waiting for us to make a mistake. What people don’t realize is that it’s nearly impossible for people to be waiting for you to fail because they are too busy hoping no one sees them floundering. Buffy tells Jonathan that her “life upon occasion, sucks beyond the telling of it.” The viewer knows what our beautiful hero has been through since the opening episode; however, her classmate does not.

He doesn’t see all the tears, the pain, or the nights when she struggles with the right thing. Then again, who does? Who sees all of that within us? Buffy later says, “Everyone is ignoring your pain because they are too busy with their own.” Everyone has struggled and everyone has wished that someone would reach out and help. Maybe we can take a lesson from Buffy here and burst through someone’s window (metaphorically of course), to hold out a helping hand. You might be surprised that they can help you right back.

14. Angel Breaks Up With Buffy

Buffy and Angel take the viewers on an emotional roller coaster with their relationship. Now that Buffy is graduating from high school, her life is about to change dramatically. Buffy is growing up and that is not something he can do with her. Where does that leave him? He can’t change nor go with her. They both know deep down it is what is best for both of them, yet it doesn’t change how heartbreaking it is to watch. We go through the entire spectrum of emotions with them—the “we need to talk,” the lashing out/pushing away, and finally the tears and resignation.

We can sympathize with Angel and Buffy in this scene. Buffy wants to cling to him, not only because she loves him but because everything in her world is changing around her and she is powerless to stop it. Angel loves Buffy, as well, but is wise enough to see that love eventually will not be able to solve all of the issues they have. It is a hard lesson to learn that sometimes love is not enough of a reason to stay together, and for the betterment of you both, you need to say it’s over. We all remember breaking up with our first love (it still kicks you right in the feels though).

13. Willow Meets Her Doppelganger

Willow is a quiet and brainy computer nerd and Buffy’s best friend. She helps research demons, finds out she has an affinity for magic, and even learns to fight; but, everyone still treats her like the shy little nerd she was. No one recognizes her new power or newfound confidence. What if all of your dark desires were allowed to come into the light? You could let your baser instincts make decisions for you. Would it be a good thing?

These are the questions the show asks when Willow meets a vampire version of herself from an alternate universe. This Willow is not shy at all. She demands attention and exudes power and strength. She is everything Willow is not. At first, Willow is excited to see where a road less traveled can take her. She is known as “ole reliable” and defined by her timidness, but she is tired of it. She is an 18-year-old girl who is just discovering her own voice.

However, this new Willow isn’t the answer either, as we learn. She is cruel, unsympathetic, and doesn’t value friendship. These are all values that are important to Willow regardless of the changes she is going through. She does not want to trade them just to feel more exciting or interesting. She learns her friends love her the way she is, and she doesn’t need to become something she isn’t to get noticed.

At the end of the episode, Willow pretends to be vampire Willow and deceives the horde of vampires threatening to kill all of her classmates. She sends her minions one by one outside to “check a noise,” where Buffy is waiting for them. They kill all of the vampires and save the day. Willow sends her vampire counterpart back to her appropriate universe, but she gains a better understanding of herself throughout the experience. Ultimately, Willow discovers that she doesn’t want to be a different version of herself if that version is not genuine.

Doppelgangers can be examples of choices we did not make, and lives we did not live. It might seem thrilling at first to be a different person and not have any consequences, but you made those choices before for a reason. Nothing good can come from always wondering what life would be like if you could do it over. All you can do is move forward and be the best version of yourself, not a version of someone else.

12. Buffy’s First Time Being Drunk

Buffy begins college heartbroken without Angel. She meets a seemingly sweet, thoughtful junior named Parker. The two go out on a few dates and Buffy begins to let her guard down around him. Buffy and Parker end of sleeping together, and afterward, Parker blows Buffy off claiming “it was just a good time.” Old wounds reopen from her morning after with Angel, and Buffy is devastated. She goes to the on-campus pub and meets a group of guys drinking beer. They compliment her, joke with her, treat her with kindness, and ask her to join them drinking.

The beer makes Buffy feel relaxed and happy for the first time since Angel and Parker left her. It turns out that the beer is a potion that turns anyone who drinks it into Neanderthals due to the jealousy Jack, an older bartender, feels toward the youthful college kids. The boys drinking with Buffy earlier start a fire in one of the buildings that Willow is in. She is trapped by the fire, and it quickly spreads throughout the rest of the school.

Buffy is too busy being “cave-slayer” to notice the chaos around her, and it almost costs Willow her life. Buffy realizes the danger and saves Willow at the last second. She sees that the alcohol, while magically tampered with, still wasn’t the answer to her heartbreak. In fact, it made things worse as she was oblivious to the pain of her friends and the dangers her drunkenness might put them in.

College is a time of finding yourself and figuring out what kind of adult you’d like to be. It’s a confusing whirlwind of emotions and hormones. Suddenly, you have all of this newfound autonomy, but it also comes with the pressure that all of it is on you. Sometimes you wish there was some magic potion that would make you braver, cooler, and help you with any pain you might be feeling. In walks alcohol. It seems like the perfect solution to a never-ending list of problems, but alcohol comes with its own set of issues.

All of the power and free will that you have been patiently waiting for as an adolescent is sucked away when you’re drunk. You don’t feel in control anymore, which might seem like a good thing,  but can lead to some dangerous situations if you aren’t paying attention. Your baser instincts are in the driver’s seat, and while this clip makes light of the dangers, that can only lead to regrets. Also, getting caught underage drinking either by the school or the police is not the way to show off the new mature you you’ve been toting around campus. Alcohol isn’t going to solve your problems, so if you are going to drink, be an adult about it and be responsible.

11. Willow Confesses Her Feelings for Tara

Willow has a tough freshman year of college. Her high school boyfriend, Oz, leaves her after sleeping with another girl, and now everyone seems to be moving onto new romances but her. In an attempt to find a place for herself, she tries new things that she had always found interesting. She discovers Wicca and magic, and it is here that she meets Tara. The two hit it off and immediately become friends. Though, as time progresses, the two find themselves falling for each other.

Willow does not tell any of her friends about her new feelings as she is still trying to figure them out herself. Is she bisexual? Is she a lesbian? Has she always felt this way or is it just with Tara? Oz returns after months of being gone, wanting to rekindle their relationship. He has been working on himself to change and be a better man for Willow. She is forced to choose between her past self from high school and the new, more confident woman she is becoming. She will always love Oz, but it isn’t the passionate fierce love she has for Tara, and so she makes her choice. This forces her to tell her closest friend, Buffy. At first, Buffy doesn’t know how to react, but seeing her friend happy and in love after being in so much pain makes her realize that it doesn’t matter what gender is making her friend feel this way.

I always identified with Willow the most growing up. She was a computer geek redhead like me who never wanted the spotlight on her. I was 13 when I had my first crush on a girl. It was a confusing time for me, and I was unsure of where I was on the spectrum. I remembered this episode and Willow not choosing between men and women, but rather whom she had the strongest feelings for. This helped me understand myself and my feelings so much more. I had feelings for both, and it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. Willow’s bravery can always be an example to young people trying to navigate the confusing experimental years of college, separating what is trying something new and what has been there all along.  

10. Buffy & Her Friends Argue

Another aspect of college is the fear that you and your friends might all be going in different directions. This scene captures those fears perfectly. Buffy, Willow, and Xander have been best friends since sophomore year of high school. Willow grows into a confident woman and witch while starting a brave new relationship with Tara. Buffy is a strong, beautiful woman with a destiny.

Xander, however, is not accepted into college like Willow and Buffy. He is still living at home and working odd jobs to give his life some kind of routine. He just started a serious relationship with newly human Anya that he is still unsure of, as Anya used to be a 1,000-year-old demon.

As a result of all of these problems, Xander feels lonely and useless. All of his friends have superpowers and something that makes them special, but he is normal. His normal issues, which seems world-shattering to us, just don’t seem to hold up with apocalypses, newfound powers, or even realizing a new sexual identity.

Speaking of which, Willow is feeling scared that the people she loves most are judging her new relationship with Tara. She is just starting to realize who she is and what she wants, all the while worrying that her friends look at her differently. Then there is Buffy. She has been through a lot leaving high school and Angel behind. The fate of the world is always on her shoulders, and if she makes a wrong move someone she loves might get hurt.

Tip-toeing around your friends’ feelings is not exactly life or death, but it does feel that way sometimes. How can you be supportive and encouraging when you are going through so much as well? It is easy to grow apart and never talk to each other again. It is extremely difficult to make friendships work during such times of change. Buffy and her friends show us that even the best of friends go through rough patches, but it doesn’t mean you love each other any less.

9. Anya’s Speech About Joyce’s Death

Buffy faces many evils from the Master, Angelus, and high school, but they are nothing compared to the day Buffy’s mother dies from a brain aneurysm. Always faced with the forces of darkness and usually winning, Buffy is devastated that her mother is taken from her because of natural causes she cannot control. In an emotional string of events, she finds her mother’s body, tells her friends, and then has to tell her little sister Dawn that their mother is gone.

Everyone is shaken by Joyce’s sudden death. They save the world countless times, yet they are helpless to save one of their own. Why did this happen? Why can’t Buffy fight this? Mortality is never something we can fight, and it is always lurking in the dark corners of our mind. It all seems so pointless and unfair.

If there was ever a monologue that sums up the pointlessness of death perfectly, it would be Anya’s. She is newly human from being a vengeance demon for 1,000 years, and she has to learn how to navigate the confusing and often painful human experience. One of those harsh realities is death.

No one understands when or why someone dies, but it’s a natural part of life and the living are left to deal with it. Anya says she was having fruit punch when she realized “Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn, or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to [her] why.”

When my grandma passed away, I remember standing in her room, staring at her favorite bottle of perfume on the dresser and thinking that she will never put it on again. She will never hold the bottle or pick up the cap off of the floor where she dropped it. During someone’s life, we don’t think about the little things that will remind us of their absence or the things that will come to mean so much. After they are gone, those little idiosyncrasies that we remember become the lifelines that tether their memory to yours. These are the little pieces of who they were and proof that they were really here. Hold on to these moments.

8. Willow & Tara Kiss Onscreen for the First Time

This scene comes from the same episode as Anya’s speech called “The Body.” It centers around Buffy’s mother’s death and how everyone in the show reacts to it. Willow is trying to decide on what to wear to the funeral home, and she ends up having a panic attack. She is worried she will look too formal, too casual, or too “royal” at one point. Tara grabs her and kisses her to calm her down.

This kiss wasn’t about sex, showing two pretty girls kiss for ratings, or even for the fans. The kiss was about comfort and love. Tara passionately kisses Willow to ground her in the moment. She is saying “I’m here for you, and I love you.” TV really hadn’t shown that kind of love between people of the same gender before. Kisses like this were usually portrayed as over-sexualized or a drunken mistake in college, not a tender, relatable moment between two people suffering a loss.

7. Buffy’s Speech About Power


Buffy is extremely humble when it comes to her powers. She never uses them to intimidate, get her way, manipulate, etc. Buffy is the hero of the show after all, and what kind of hero would she be if she bragged about her powers all of the time? Except for when people try to control or hurt her does she step in and reminds everyone that she is truly the chosen one.

The cold, patriarchal, and predominately male Watcher’s Council has been disappointed in Buffy as a slayer and Giles as a watcher ever since both were called. They disapprove of Giles’ fatherly love for Buffy because he is only supposed to guide her as a slayer and control her just enough so she never questions the Council’s authority. But Giles doesn’t believe in that kind of authority. He lets Buffy make her own choices and she has proven time and time again that she is capable of making the right ones.

At the end of season 3, the Council fires Giles for his love. Buffy and Giles ignore the loss of the title, and she continues coming to Giles for guidance and support. The Watcher’s Council makes every slayer feel powerless in their destiny; they treat slayers as weapons, an extension of their own strength and masculinity, ignoring the fact that they aren’t actually the ones with any abilities at all. The Watcher’s Council has repeatedly told Buffy how insignificant she is; one slayer dies and another is called immediately so her life doesn’t matter.

In this speech, Buffy displays emotional control, despite season 5’s “big bad” hellgoddess Glory visiting her house and threatening her little sister, and explains why they don’t matter. A woman has power that they don’t have, nor would they ever be able to have. As Buffy eloquently states, “this bothers them.”

Strong women aren’t normally well-liked and are usually cast in either some kind of sinister role or so pure that it isn’t realistic. Buffy is a normal, everyday 20-year-old college student, but she has a light within her that makes her special and everyone seems to want to snuff it out. Every woman has this light inside of her and any one of us can tap into it without losing our femininity. “See…” Buffy says, “no begging.”

6. Buffy Reveals Her Relationship With Spike to Tara

At the end of season 5, Buffy realizes where her destiny has been leading her to all along. She sacrifices herself in the place of her sister Dawn to stop a ritual to open a portal to a hell dimension. She dies and her friends and family are devastated by the loss. Buffy receives the ultimate hero’s reward and is given eternal peace in a heaven dimension. There, she is safe, loved, and able to look down on her friends slowly picking up the pieces of their lives and moving on.

Willow and Xander have other plans, though, as they selfishly decide that they cannot live without her. Willow and Xander convince themselves that she was probably sucked into a hell dimension and use this as fuel to plot. Because Buffy was killed by magic, Willow is able to use her power to bring Buffy back from the dead. When Buffy is torn from heaven by her friends, she struggles to feel alive again.

Back on Earth, Buffy deals with the harsh realities of being alive and human again, and she finds it difficult to bear when comparing it to her memories in heaven. Everyone around her is so happy that she is back, and then they slowly just go back to the way things were before Buffy was gone. They treat her as if she was on a six-month vacation. Buffy goes through so much pain and suffering since the death of her mother as well as her own; the only thing that seems to make Buffy feel anything again is her destructive sexual relationship with Spike.

Spike is another vampire that used to be one of Buffy’s mortal enemies. After a secret government agency known as The Initiative kidnaps Spike and places a behavioral modification chip in his brain, he is unable to hurt humans without feeling an immense amount of pain. Over time, he learns to fight with the good guys and slowly begins a path of redemption. But, Spike is still soulless, and unlike Angel, doesn’t seem to feel remorse for the things he has done in the past. He is everything Buffy is supposed to hate.

He represents all of the darkness, anger, resentment, and pain Buffy feels for being ripped out of the place where she felt the safest. His cold comfort in the darkness of secrecy makes Buffy feel alive even if it’s fueled by self-loathing. Buffy asks Tara to secretly look into the spell Willow used to bring her back and see if she came back wrong at all. Buffy doesn’t feel like herself and she certainly isn’t acting like herself. Tara reveals there is nothing wrong with her. Buffy came back in the form that she left in. Buffy breaks down and reveals her unhealthy relationship with Spike.

Buffy realizes that she is suffering from a serious emotional change brought on by trauma. Tara comforts Buffy and tells her it is okay. She is going through a difficult time, and if Spike is the only solace she can find, she should take it. Buffy, being the heart and moral compass of the show, knows that it’s wrong no matter what she’s going through. She tearily begs Tara to tell her she’s wrong and that she doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. Anyone who has found themselves on a dark path where things just seem to spiral out of control can relate to the overwhelming sense of wrongness. Buffy’s mother is gone, she is the only one who can support her kid-sister, and she cannot maintain any healthy relationships for any length of time. Buffy has officially grown up.

5. Tara Is Shot by Warren

If death is pointless, murder is even more so. Warren, who is part of the villain trio of season 6, is foiled continuously by Buffy. Warren is a misogynistic terror, and he loathes that Buffy is stronger than him. He wants to control and manipulate women for his own pleasure because he can’t seem to make it work without power. Warren is a woman’s nightmare.

He stops at nothing to get his way even if it means murder. After his latest attempt to hurt someone was stopped by Buffy, Warren shows up at her house with a gun. He screams some lame “You’re a b*tch,” then points his gun and fires. A bullet hits Buffy in the chest, but Buffy’s slayer healing and strength mean that she’s not really affected.

As he is running away like a coward, he randomly fires a few shots behind his head. A bullet goes through the upstairs window and hits Tara in the heart. Tara has no superhuman strength or healing, and she immediately dies in Willow’s arms. This clip is terrible and painfully relevant today. People who should not have guns have them, and there seem to be hardly any good guys armed to deal with them.

Tara’s death is senseless, it doesn’t matter that it was an accident. Someone is dead as a result and now everyone has to suffer. This causes Willow to go down a dark path much like Buffy’s in the season. People who experience the loss of a close relationship, such as a lover or parent, know the darkness that can overwhelm us.

4. Xander Saves Willow

Willow’s addiction to magic and the death of Tara proves to be too much for her. She becomes “dark Willow.” She murders Warren and then moves to destroy the entire world. She stands on a hill overlooking the city, raising a demon goddess when Xander emerges and warmly greets her. Willow tries with all of her power to make Xander leave, but he refuses.

If the world is going to end, Xander wants to be with his best friend. Xander and Willow have been best friends since kindergarten when Xander noticed Willow crying because she broke the yellow crayon. He loves kindergarten Willow and scary evil Willow. If you have a friend as loyal and as brave as Xander, someone who will pull you out of the darkness and still love whoever comes out on the other side, cherish them. With friends like this, hang onto them and never let go.

3. Buffy Is Cookie Dough

When the last season starts, Buffy is only 22 years old. By this time, though, she experienced enough pain and suffering for many lifetimes. Yet, she is still a child in many ways. She still hasn’t figured out who she is going to be or what things she is going to accomplish, and that’s okay. Angel comes back after leaving Buffy all the way back in season 3. He wants to start their relationship back up again since they have both grown so much. Buffy is finally given what she has been yearning for since he left, but she can’t bring herself to accept his request.

Yes, they have both grown and changed as people, but Buffy has also figured something out: She isn’t ready to begin a life with someone because she is not done creating the life she wants for herself. She tells Angel that she is cookie dough, that she isn’t finished baking into whatever cookie she turns out to be. Once she is ready, then any romantic relationships will happen naturally, and it won’t be forced or rushed. She will be able to give all of herself to someone because she will have discovered all of herself. Her self-love journey is much more important to her than any guy, and she has finally learned to accept that and continue down that path.

There is no guidebook on being in your early 20s—that’s the beauty of being at the stage of self-discovery. It is okay if you don’t have a career, and it is okay if you aren’t getting married yet. You don’t have to have any of it figured out yet. You do not have to choose a life path immediately, and even if you do, it can always be changed. Trying to make sense of your place in the world is one of the best journeys you will ever go on, and it is never ending. Most importantly, it never has to be compromised or put on hold to start a relationship with someone. If they don’t understand that then they were never meant to be a lasting stop on your journey. We are all cookie dough waiting to be done baking.

2. Xander Tells Dawn She Is Extraordinary

Being the chosen one is hard; not being chosen is harder. Xander watches all of his friends become more and more powerful as they grow up together. Xander struggles to find his calling like his friends have, but he doesn’t have superpowers. He will always be normal. Buffy’s little sister Dawn is just a normal human as well. She has grown up with a beautiful supernatural warrior for a sister and has always wanted to be considered special.

At one point in the season, Dawn thinks she might be a potential slayer. Unfortunately, she’s mistaken and eventually realizes the slayer is another girl at her school. Dawn is quietly crushed. The next day Xander find Dawn crying alone. He comforts her and explains that he understands how it feels to be so close to the spotlight but never in it. He says she is not simply special, but extraordinary. Normal people, the ones who struggle day in and day out without the aid of supernatural abilities, seem to still do the right thing. They are heroes too.

When everyone seems like they have their life together and are living their dreams, what happens to those who are left behind? What if you don’t have it all figured out, and you’re still learning how to even take care of yourself? It’s okay, relax. You are in the same boat as the majority of the population. The select few who figure out their path early on are lucky. The rest of us who have to let life kick us in the butt a few times (or a few hundred) to find who we are needn’t worry. We are special and powerful too. We have everything we need to be extraordinary already inside of us. Xander reminds us if someone you care about thinks you’re special then you are.

1. Buffy & Willow Awaken All Potential Slayers

Buffy is a hero. Throughout these moments we see that she is the best slayer of her line. She is always trying to do the right thing, is loyal to those she loves, and is willing to sacrifice anything for the greater good. The most important moment of the entire series is the last episode where Buffy and Willow awaken every potential slayers’ powers.

Women need to encourage and support each other. Most television shows depict women’s friendships as catty, vindictive, and cruel. Buffy is willing to share her power with every woman and girl that it could possibly go to. That is the mark of a true hero, someone who freely shares their power with no questions asked. After all, our strength is only as good as our most vulnerable. Let’s do all we can to make each other strong.

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"So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality." Jim Carrey said this four years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I have been in the working world since I was 18 years old. Now being 28, I want to choose love instead of fear. I want to choose the bold instead of the practical. I love to write and I am finally pursuing my dream!

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21 Moments That Prove Why Buffy the Vampire Slayer Is Still Relevant 21 Years Later

March 10, 1997 was the day that everything changed for me. It was the day that I told Joey Patterson that I liked him in my suave second grade way. It was the day that Joey Patterson pushed a nerdy red-haired girl into a puddle after she stammered out that she had a crush on him. My bruised elbows and pride aside, it was also the day that Buffy walked into my life. Twenty years later and she is still with me.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer crept onto the television scene on a relatively unknown network and with an even more unknown concept. The show opens with a beautiful blonde girl and her date breaking into the high school after hours. She has a worried look plainly etched on her face, and her date seems to take notice. In a (what I assume is supposed to be comforting, but comes off as rather patronizing) concerned tone, the boy tells her there is nothing to worry about.

Oh, but there is…because that little blonde is a vampire and she is about to kill her date. Everything about this opening scene sums up the show perfectly: stereotypes are meant to be broken. In so many horror movies the blonde high schooler is usually killed off first. She runs through the hallway while some masked psycho chases her. She inevitably trips, falls, cries, and then dies in some gruesome way. But what if the girl stopped running and faced the threat? What if she beat said threat into oblivion? What if she was actually the real threat the entire time?

This first scene takes all of these horror tropes and subverts them; breathing new life into the genre. Well, if vampires could breathe. You might be asking yourself what a 90’s teenage vampire romance has to do with you. Sit down and keep reading, as we are about to enter the Hellmouth with 21 reasons why Buffy still slays today.

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER BELOW

21. Buffy & Angel’s First Kiss/Buffy Learns He Is a Vampire

Buffy first meets this tall, dark, and handsome stranger in the very first episode. He gives her a cryptic warning about the dangers of her new hometown, Sunnydale, and then disappears into the night. Throughout the first season, he continues to warn her, fight by her side, and—on more than one occasion—save her life. He seems like the perfect man (don’t they all?). It finally culminates in a passionate kiss that leaves them both breathless…literally. Buffy pulls back, but instead of seeing the handsome face of the man she knows, she sees a vampire.

He is a monster, the one monster she is sworn to kill above all else. After all, she is not Buffy the Demon Slayer. Now Buffy is faced with the ultimate dilemma. She has feelings for someone who is older, dangerous, and has continuously lied to her since their first meeting. What does she do? Avoid him? Confront him? There is another option. By all accounts, Angel should be evil. It would be easy for him to fall back into that same pattern of violence especially knowing he has Buffy’s trust. He could easily trick her and use the feelings she has against her. The important thing is he doesn’t.

Instead, he works to help people and returns Buffy’s feelings. Buffy learns that Angel is a new kind of vampire. Despite everything stacked against them, from the disapproval of her parents and friends to defying her sacred duties, Buffy forgives Angel’s sins of the past and focuses on all of the good he does now. Knowing that Angel has the capacity for good she rethinks her judgment of him. This will be a common theme throughout the series. Buffy will be faced with choices that all seem so easy; the line between good and evil clearly defined. Buffy understands, though, that those lines are blurred. People are capable of great change and deserve forgiveness.

20. Marcie’s Revenge on Cordelia & Buffy

Have you ever felt invisible? Like no one was listening even when you were talking out loud? Well, on the Hellmouth, they take that literally. Buffy’s classmate Marcie is your average, nerdy, shy, and odd social outcast that no one ever bothers paying attention to. She slowly becomes invisible, and instead of taking it quietly, she decides to enact revenge on everyone she feels had been mean to her. Everyone is stumbling through puberty trying to find where they fit in, but some try to fit in by putting others beneath them. If given the chance, would you want revenge on the people that have the world’s attention? Of course you would.

Cordelia, the most popular girl in school, captain of the cheerleaders, and bully to Buffy and her friends is Marcie’s target. Cordelia has everything Marcie wants and Cordelia didn’t have to try very hard to get them. Being rich, beautiful, and athletic usually helps with that. Marcie kidnaps her and plans to disfigure Cordelia’s pretty face as revenge for her popularity. But, the show doesn’t want you to simply cast Marcie and Cordelia into the clichéd roles of villain and victim. Cordelia pleads with Marcie that she knows exactly how she feels from the loneliness to the fake concerns of her friends and the adults.

This episode teaches us that whether you are the captain of the cheerleaders or the girl that always has the wrong name under her yearbook photo, loneliness is a symptom we all experience during high school. But, hurting people to get back at them for hurting you never works, and Buffy teaches Marcie that lesson. Buffy rescues Cordelia and stops Marcie from doing something she would probably later regret because revenge is an empty victory. Revenge never makes the loneliness or hurt go away, rather it allows those feelings to be consumed by your anger. Buffy doesn’t allow Marcie to get away with it, and as a result, Marcie is taken to a specialized high school for young FBI agents. The episode ends with Marcie’s invisibility being seen as an asset; something that could save someone’s life someday. Buffy’s moral compass allows Marcie to find a place where she belongs.

19. Buffy vs. The Master

Throughout Season 1, Buffy is characterized as the ultimate hero. She embodies goodness and morality. The Master is an ancient vampire that embodies death and destruction, and he has allowed his clan to murder and feed on the townspeople. The entire season has been centered around the Master wanting to open the Hellmouth and release hell on earth. To top everything off, there is a prophecy that if Buffy faces the Master, she will die.

Buffy, scared of her fate, pleads with her watcher, Giles, the only father figure in her life, that she doesn’t want to die. She is 16 years old and faced with the ultimate choice: run away and hide, or fight and lose. It seems so hopeless. What is the point of fighting if you already know the outcome? She quits and walks away from being the slayer. When the Master kills a group of Buffy’s classmates, her best friends, Willow and Xander, who help her with slaying throughout the entire series, make a plan without Buffy to stop him.

Buffy realizes this is not their fight, that this is not their destiny. More unnecessary blood will be spilled if she does not accept her calling and go to fight. It is a hard battle; many times you think she won’t make it, but in the end, she gains the upper hand. Buffy pushes the Master off of a roof and onto a large broken piece of wood, which stakes and kills him.

What does it say about a hero that knows they will die but fights anyway? Buffy teaches us a valuable lesson: being brave does not always mean winning, but rather knowing failure is probable and doing it anyway. The slayer is rewarded for her bravery by literally throwing her fears over a ledge and saving the day. The next time you have a situation you know will end badly; try to relax. Hey, at least you’ll still be pretty.

18. Buffy vs. Ted

Buffy’s mom, Joyce, has a new boyfriend, Ted, and he isn’t the man everyone thought he was. In fact, he isn’t really a man at all, but actually a robot…although I digress. Ted works his way into the lives of all of Buffy’s friends and gains their trust. She is wary of him as he seems too perfect. She notices his true colors when she innocently cheats in a game of mini-golf. Ted catches her and threatens to slap her if she does something like that again. Buffy tries to tell her mother what Ted said, but she does not believe her.

After weeks of abusive behavior, including threatening to hit her, controlling when she sees her friends, and disciplining her for a B grade, Ted reads Buffy’s diary and learns her secret slayer identity. He threatens to tell everyone and have her committed to a mental institution. When she goes to take her diary back, he slaps her hard across the face. Buffy returns the slap and Ted raises the stakes by punching Buffy so hard she flies across the room. Buffy stands up to him and protects herself. Ultimately, she is able to defeat Ted, the evil robot. 

The important lesson that Buffy shows us here is that sometimes adults aren’t very nice to children, and sometimes other adults don’t want to acknowledge that. Ted oversteps his boundaries as “the mom’s boyfriend” and abuses Buffy both verbally and physically. He does this all behind Joyce’s back, which creates a rift between her and her daughter. Buffy then decides what is enough and acts accordingly. Always remember that you decide what is appropriate behavior and what isn’t. While I would say most situations will never escalate to pushing someone down the stairs because they are a serial killing robot, Buffy’s message of standing up for yourself no matter the cost still rings true.

17. The Morning After Buffy Loses Her Virginity

Buffy and Angel are in a steady relationship throughout the second season. They learn to rely on each other, and even her group of friends grow to trust and care for him. After a night of fighting, narrowly escaping with their lives, Buffy and Angel run to his apartment. The lost battle has them both shaken, scared, and emotionally vulnerable. They exchange “I love you” with each other for the first time, and lost in the one moment of joy, they decide to spend the night together.

Angel wakes in pain in the middle of the night and stumbles out into the rain. Angel’s curse says that if he were to have just one moment of pure happiness, his soul will be taken from him, and he will return to the vampire monster he was before. Now that he is his former self, known as Angelus, he only wants to hurt Buffy.

The big moment finally happened. It felt right, with the right person, and you have never felt happier or closer to someone. But, what if their reaction wasn’t what you expected? They treat you like a stranger, telling you it was good for what it was, but it didn’t mean anything more. There is always the fear that once you become emotionally vulnerable with someone, they hold all the power over you. Buffy is glowing with happiness over the moment that Angel and she just shared. But when he comes back to his apartment, he is not the man she knows and loves. He is cold, cruel, and mocks their time together as if it didn’t mean anything.

Sadly, not only is this still relatable to many young adults today, but this fear keeps many from even daring to care for someone else to the point of showing that vulnerability. Buffy is one of the strongest beings on Earth, but she is still a young woman with feelings and a heart to break. You are more than your romantic relationships, and if you are not special to your special someone, then it’s time to rethink who is allowed into your life and into your heart.

16. “Me”

When Angel loses his soul after his moment of true happiness with Buffy, she spends the rest of the season gathering the courage to kill the monster wearing her lover’s face. The night that Buffy finally goes to confront him, she is not the same girl whom he first met. She has watched friends die, been thrown out of her house by her mother, expelled from school, and now her ex-boyfriend wants to destroy the world.

They fight nearly to the death with Angel gaining the upper-hand. He stands over her and says “So that’s it, no weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away and what’s left?” It looks hopeless for Buffy. She has lost so much, but Buffy will never give up. She will never allow evil to win as long as she is still standing. So, what is left after everything has been taken away? Buffy responds with “Me.”

Buffy is the hero that lives in all of us. No matter how much pain and suffering you’ve endured, no matter how many layers of protection have been stripped away from you, you will always have you. Your relationship with yourself is the longest one you will have, why not make it a healthy and dependable one? You are everything you hope to be already, all you have to do is embrace it.

15. Buffy Talks to Jonathan About Pain

Buffy gets a little demon blood into a cut on her hand, and she gains its ability to hear people’s thoughts. At first, she is elated by the gift, but soon the thoughts of her fellow students become deafening. There is so much pain, suffering, loneliness, confusion, and anger that she slowly starts to go insane. However, she is able to pick one whispered thought out of the entire cafeteria that states they are going to kill everyone in school. 

It turns out that it’s the lunch lady, but the episode really isn’t about that. In her search to find the killer, she finds Jonathan, a meek, quiet, and bullied nerd, in the clock tower of the school. He has a gun and he plans on killing himself. She convinces him that he isn’t alone in his suffering. People he would least expect, “the beautiful ones, the popular ones, the guys that pick on [Jonathan], everyone” feels pain and doesn’t know how to deal with it.

High school can be hard. Life can be harder. We think everyone is looking at us, waiting for us to make a mistake. What people don’t realize is that it’s nearly impossible for people to be waiting for you to fail because they are too busy hoping no one sees them floundering. Buffy tells Jonathan that her “life upon occasion, sucks beyond the telling of it.” The viewer knows what our beautiful hero has been through since the opening episode; however, her classmate does not.

He doesn’t see all the tears, the pain, or the nights when she struggles with the right thing. Then again, who does? Who sees all of that within us? Buffy later says, “Everyone is ignoring your pain because they are too busy with their own.” Everyone has struggled and everyone has wished that someone would reach out and help. Maybe we can take a lesson from Buffy here and burst through someone’s window (metaphorically of course), to hold out a helping hand. You might be surprised that they can help you right back.

14. Angel Breaks Up With Buffy

Buffy and Angel take the viewers on an emotional roller coaster with their relationship. Now that Buffy is graduating from high school, her life is about to change dramatically. Buffy is growing up and that is not something he can do with her. Where does that leave him? He can’t change nor go with her. They both know deep down it is what is best for both of them, yet it doesn’t change how heartbreaking it is to watch. We go through the entire spectrum of emotions with them—the “we need to talk,” the lashing out/pushing away, and finally the tears and resignation.

We can sympathize with Angel and Buffy in this scene. Buffy wants to cling to him, not only because she loves him but because everything in her world is changing around her and she is powerless to stop it. Angel loves Buffy, as well, but is wise enough to see that love eventually will not be able to solve all of the issues they have. It is a hard lesson to learn that sometimes love is not enough of a reason to stay together, and for the betterment of you both, you need to say it’s over. We all remember breaking up with our first love (it still kicks you right in the feels though).

13. Willow Meets Her Doppelganger

Willow is a quiet and brainy computer nerd and Buffy’s best friend. She helps research demons, finds out she has an affinity for magic, and even learns to fight; but, everyone still treats her like the shy little nerd she was. No one recognizes her new power or newfound confidence. What if all of your dark desires were allowed to come into the light? You could let your baser instincts make decisions for you. Would it be a good thing?

These are the questions the show asks when Willow meets a vampire version of herself from an alternate universe. This Willow is not shy at all. She demands attention and exudes power and strength. She is everything Willow is not. At first, Willow is excited to see where a road less traveled can take her. She is known as “ole reliable” and defined by her timidness, but she is tired of it. She is an 18-year-old girl who is just discovering her own voice.

However, this new Willow isn’t the answer either, as we learn. She is cruel, unsympathetic, and doesn’t value friendship. These are all values that are important to Willow regardless of the changes she is going through. She does not want to trade them just to feel more exciting or interesting. She learns her friends love her the way she is, and she doesn’t need to become something she isn’t to get noticed.

At the end of the episode, Willow pretends to be vampire Willow and deceives the horde of vampires threatening to kill all of her classmates. She sends her minions one by one outside to “check a noise,” where Buffy is waiting for them. They kill all of the vampires and save the day. Willow sends her vampire counterpart back to her appropriate universe, but she gains a better understanding of herself throughout the experience. Ultimately, Willow discovers that she doesn’t want to be a different version of herself if that version is not genuine.

Doppelgangers can be examples of choices we did not make, and lives we did not live. It might seem thrilling at first to be a different person and not have any consequences, but you made those choices before for a reason. Nothing good can come from always wondering what life would be like if you could do it over. All you can do is move forward and be the best version of yourself, not a version of someone else.

12. Buffy’s First Time Being Drunk

Buffy begins college heartbroken without Angel. She meets a seemingly sweet, thoughtful junior named Parker. The two go out on a few dates and Buffy begins to let her guard down around him. Buffy and Parker end of sleeping together, and afterward, Parker blows Buffy off claiming “it was just a good time.” Old wounds reopen from her morning after with Angel, and Buffy is devastated. She goes to the on-campus pub and meets a group of guys drinking beer. They compliment her, joke with her, treat her with kindness, and ask her to join them drinking.

The beer makes Buffy feel relaxed and happy for the first time since Angel and Parker left her. It turns out that the beer is a potion that turns anyone who drinks it into Neanderthals due to the jealousy Jack, an older bartender, feels toward the youthful college kids. The boys drinking with Buffy earlier start a fire in one of the buildings that Willow is in. She is trapped by the fire, and it quickly spreads throughout the rest of the school.

Buffy is too busy being “cave-slayer” to notice the chaos around her, and it almost costs Willow her life. Buffy realizes the danger and saves Willow at the last second. She sees that the alcohol, while magically tampered with, still wasn’t the answer to her heartbreak. In fact, it made things worse as she was oblivious to the pain of her friends and the dangers her drunkenness might put them in.

College is a time of finding yourself and figuring out what kind of adult you’d like to be. It’s a confusing whirlwind of emotions and hormones. Suddenly, you have all of this newfound autonomy, but it also comes with the pressure that all of it is on you. Sometimes you wish there was some magic potion that would make you braver, cooler, and help you with any pain you might be feeling. In walks alcohol. It seems like the perfect solution to a never-ending list of problems, but alcohol comes with its own set of issues.

All of the power and free will that you have been patiently waiting for as an adolescent is sucked away when you’re drunk. You don’t feel in control anymore, which might seem like a good thing,  but can lead to some dangerous situations if you aren’t paying attention. Your baser instincts are in the driver’s seat, and while this clip makes light of the dangers, that can only lead to regrets. Also, getting caught underage drinking either by the school or the police is not the way to show off the new mature you you’ve been toting around campus. Alcohol isn’t going to solve your problems, so if you are going to drink, be an adult about it and be responsible.

11. Willow Confesses Her Feelings for Tara

Willow has a tough freshman year of college. Her high school boyfriend, Oz, leaves her after sleeping with another girl, and now everyone seems to be moving onto new romances but her. In an attempt to find a place for herself, she tries new things that she had always found interesting. She discovers Wicca and magic, and it is here that she meets Tara. The two hit it off and immediately become friends. Though, as time progresses, the two find themselves falling for each other.

Willow does not tell any of her friends about her new feelings as she is still trying to figure them out herself. Is she bisexual? Is she a lesbian? Has she always felt this way or is it just with Tara? Oz returns after months of being gone, wanting to rekindle their relationship. He has been working on himself to change and be a better man for Willow. She is forced to choose between her past self from high school and the new, more confident woman she is becoming. She will always love Oz, but it isn’t the passionate fierce love she has for Tara, and so she makes her choice. This forces her to tell her closest friend, Buffy. At first, Buffy doesn’t know how to react, but seeing her friend happy and in love after being in so much pain makes her realize that it doesn’t matter what gender is making her friend feel this way.

I always identified with Willow the most growing up. She was a computer geek redhead like me who never wanted the spotlight on her. I was 13 when I had my first crush on a girl. It was a confusing time for me, and I was unsure of where I was on the spectrum. I remembered this episode and Willow not choosing between men and women, but rather whom she had the strongest feelings for. This helped me understand myself and my feelings so much more. I had feelings for both, and it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. Willow’s bravery can always be an example to young people trying to navigate the confusing experimental years of college, separating what is trying something new and what has been there all along.  

10. Buffy & Her Friends Argue

Another aspect of college is the fear that you and your friends might all be going in different directions. This scene captures those fears perfectly. Buffy, Willow, and Xander have been best friends since sophomore year of high school. Willow grows into a confident woman and witch while starting a brave new relationship with Tara. Buffy is a strong, beautiful woman with a destiny.

Xander, however, is not accepted into college like Willow and Buffy. He is still living at home and working odd jobs to give his life some kind of routine. He just started a serious relationship with newly human Anya that he is still unsure of, as Anya used to be a 1,000-year-old demon.

As a result of all of these problems, Xander feels lonely and useless. All of his friends have superpowers and something that makes them special, but he is normal. His normal issues, which seems world-shattering to us, just don’t seem to hold up with apocalypses, newfound powers, or even realizing a new sexual identity.

Speaking of which, Willow is feeling scared that the people she loves most are judging her new relationship with Tara. She is just starting to realize who she is and what she wants, all the while worrying that her friends look at her differently. Then there is Buffy. She has been through a lot leaving high school and Angel behind. The fate of the world is always on her shoulders, and if she makes a wrong move someone she loves might get hurt.

Tip-toeing around your friends’ feelings is not exactly life or death, but it does feel that way sometimes. How can you be supportive and encouraging when you are going through so much as well? It is easy to grow apart and never talk to each other again. It is extremely difficult to make friendships work during such times of change. Buffy and her friends show us that even the best of friends go through rough patches, but it doesn’t mean you love each other any less.

9. Anya’s Speech About Joyce’s Death

Buffy faces many evils from the Master, Angelus, and high school, but they are nothing compared to the day Buffy’s mother dies from a brain aneurysm. Always faced with the forces of darkness and usually winning, Buffy is devastated that her mother is taken from her because of natural causes she cannot control. In an emotional string of events, she finds her mother’s body, tells her friends, and then has to tell her little sister Dawn that their mother is gone.

Everyone is shaken by Joyce’s sudden death. They save the world countless times, yet they are helpless to save one of their own. Why did this happen? Why can’t Buffy fight this? Mortality is never something we can fight, and it is always lurking in the dark corners of our mind. It all seems so pointless and unfair.

If there was ever a monologue that sums up the pointlessness of death perfectly, it would be Anya’s. She is newly human from being a vengeance demon for 1,000 years, and she has to learn how to navigate the confusing and often painful human experience. One of those harsh realities is death.

No one understands when or why someone dies, but it’s a natural part of life and the living are left to deal with it. Anya says she was having fruit punch when she realized “Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn, or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to [her] why.”

When my grandma passed away, I remember standing in her room, staring at her favorite bottle of perfume on the dresser and thinking that she will never put it on again. She will never hold the bottle or pick up the cap off of the floor where she dropped it. During someone’s life, we don’t think about the little things that will remind us of their absence or the things that will come to mean so much. After they are gone, those little idiosyncrasies that we remember become the lifelines that tether their memory to yours. These are the little pieces of who they were and proof that they were really here. Hold on to these moments.

8. Willow & Tara Kiss Onscreen for the First Time

This scene comes from the same episode as Anya’s speech called “The Body.” It centers around Buffy’s mother’s death and how everyone in the show reacts to it. Willow is trying to decide on what to wear to the funeral home, and she ends up having a panic attack. She is worried she will look too formal, too casual, or too “royal” at one point. Tara grabs her and kisses her to calm her down.

This kiss wasn’t about sex, showing two pretty girls kiss for ratings, or even for the fans. The kiss was about comfort and love. Tara passionately kisses Willow to ground her in the moment. She is saying “I’m here for you, and I love you.” TV really hadn’t shown that kind of love between people of the same gender before. Kisses like this were usually portrayed as over-sexualized or a drunken mistake in college, not a tender, relatable moment between two people suffering a loss.

7. Buffy’s Speech About Power


Buffy is extremely humble when it comes to her powers. She never uses them to intimidate, get her way, manipulate, etc. Buffy is the hero of the show after all, and what kind of hero would she be if she bragged about her powers all of the time? Except for when people try to control or hurt her does she step in and reminds everyone that she is truly the chosen one.

The cold, patriarchal, and predominately male Watcher’s Council has been disappointed in Buffy as a slayer and Giles as a watcher ever since both were called. They disapprove of Giles’ fatherly love for Buffy because he is only supposed to guide her as a slayer and control her just enough so she never questions the Council’s authority. But Giles doesn’t believe in that kind of authority. He lets Buffy make her own choices and she has proven time and time again that she is capable of making the right ones.

At the end of season 3, the Council fires Giles for his love. Buffy and Giles ignore the loss of the title, and she continues coming to Giles for guidance and support. The Watcher’s Council makes every slayer feel powerless in their destiny; they treat slayers as weapons, an extension of their own strength and masculinity, ignoring the fact that they aren’t actually the ones with any abilities at all. The Watcher’s Council has repeatedly told Buffy how insignificant she is; one slayer dies and another is called immediately so her life doesn’t matter.

In this speech, Buffy displays emotional control, despite season 5’s “big bad” hellgoddess Glory visiting her house and threatening her little sister, and explains why they don’t matter. A woman has power that they don’t have, nor would they ever be able to have. As Buffy eloquently states, “this bothers them.”

Strong women aren’t normally well-liked and are usually cast in either some kind of sinister role or so pure that it isn’t realistic. Buffy is a normal, everyday 20-year-old college student, but she has a light within her that makes her special and everyone seems to want to snuff it out. Every woman has this light inside of her and any one of us can tap into it without losing our femininity. “See…” Buffy says, “no begging.”

6. Buffy Reveals Her Relationship With Spike to Tara

At the end of season 5, Buffy realizes where her destiny has been leading her to all along. She sacrifices herself in the place of her sister Dawn to stop a ritual to open a portal to a hell dimension. She dies and her friends and family are devastated by the loss. Buffy receives the ultimate hero’s reward and is given eternal peace in a heaven dimension. There, she is safe, loved, and able to look down on her friends slowly picking up the pieces of their lives and moving on.

Willow and Xander have other plans, though, as they selfishly decide that they cannot live without her. Willow and Xander convince themselves that she was probably sucked into a hell dimension and use this as fuel to plot. Because Buffy was killed by magic, Willow is able to use her power to bring Buffy back from the dead. When Buffy is torn from heaven by her friends, she struggles to feel alive again.

Back on Earth, Buffy deals with the harsh realities of being alive and human again, and she finds it difficult to bear when comparing it to her memories in heaven. Everyone around her is so happy that she is back, and then they slowly just go back to the way things were before Buffy was gone. They treat her as if she was on a six-month vacation. Buffy goes through so much pain and suffering since the death of her mother as well as her own; the only thing that seems to make Buffy feel anything again is her destructive sexual relationship with Spike.

Spike is another vampire that used to be one of Buffy’s mortal enemies. After a secret government agency known as The Initiative kidnaps Spike and places a behavioral modification chip in his brain, he is unable to hurt humans without feeling an immense amount of pain. Over time, he learns to fight with the good guys and slowly begins a path of redemption. But, Spike is still soulless, and unlike Angel, doesn’t seem to feel remorse for the things he has done in the past. He is everything Buffy is supposed to hate.

He represents all of the darkness, anger, resentment, and pain Buffy feels for being ripped out of the place where she felt the safest. His cold comfort in the darkness of secrecy makes Buffy feel alive even if it’s fueled by self-loathing. Buffy asks Tara to secretly look into the spell Willow used to bring her back and see if she came back wrong at all. Buffy doesn’t feel like herself and she certainly isn’t acting like herself. Tara reveals there is nothing wrong with her. Buffy came back in the form that she left in. Buffy breaks down and reveals her unhealthy relationship with Spike.

Buffy realizes that she is suffering from a serious emotional change brought on by trauma. Tara comforts Buffy and tells her it is okay. She is going through a difficult time, and if Spike is the only solace she can find, she should take it. Buffy, being the heart and moral compass of the show, knows that it’s wrong no matter what she’s going through. She tearily begs Tara to tell her she’s wrong and that she doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. Anyone who has found themselves on a dark path where things just seem to spiral out of control can relate to the overwhelming sense of wrongness. Buffy’s mother is gone, she is the only one who can support her kid-sister, and she cannot maintain any healthy relationships for any length of time. Buffy has officially grown up.

5. Tara Is Shot by Warren

If death is pointless, murder is even more so. Warren, who is part of the villain trio of season 6, is foiled continuously by Buffy. Warren is a misogynistic terror, and he loathes that Buffy is stronger than him. He wants to control and manipulate women for his own pleasure because he can’t seem to make it work without power. Warren is a woman’s nightmare.

He stops at nothing to get his way even if it means murder. After his latest attempt to hurt someone was stopped by Buffy, Warren shows up at her house with a gun. He screams some lame “You’re a b*tch,” then points his gun and fires. A bullet hits Buffy in the chest, but Buffy’s slayer healing and strength mean that she’s not really affected.

As he is running away like a coward, he randomly fires a few shots behind his head. A bullet goes through the upstairs window and hits Tara in the heart. Tara has no superhuman strength or healing, and she immediately dies in Willow’s arms. This clip is terrible and painfully relevant today. People who should not have guns have them, and there seem to be hardly any good guys armed to deal with them.

Tara’s death is senseless, it doesn’t matter that it was an accident. Someone is dead as a result and now everyone has to suffer. This causes Willow to go down a dark path much like Buffy’s in the season. People who experience the loss of a close relationship, such as a lover or parent, know the darkness that can overwhelm us.

4. Xander Saves Willow

Willow’s addiction to magic and the death of Tara proves to be too much for her. She becomes “dark Willow.” She murders Warren and then moves to destroy the entire world. She stands on a hill overlooking the city, raising a demon goddess when Xander emerges and warmly greets her. Willow tries with all of her power to make Xander leave, but he refuses.

If the world is going to end, Xander wants to be with his best friend. Xander and Willow have been best friends since kindergarten when Xander noticed Willow crying because she broke the yellow crayon. He loves kindergarten Willow and scary evil Willow. If you have a friend as loyal and as brave as Xander, someone who will pull you out of the darkness and still love whoever comes out on the other side, cherish them. With friends like this, hang onto them and never let go.

3. Buffy Is Cookie Dough

When the last season starts, Buffy is only 22 years old. By this time, though, she experienced enough pain and suffering for many lifetimes. Yet, she is still a child in many ways. She still hasn’t figured out who she is going to be or what things she is going to accomplish, and that’s okay. Angel comes back after leaving Buffy all the way back in season 3. He wants to start their relationship back up again since they have both grown so much. Buffy is finally given what she has been yearning for since he left, but she can’t bring herself to accept his request.

Yes, they have both grown and changed as people, but Buffy has also figured something out: She isn’t ready to begin a life with someone because she is not done creating the life she wants for herself. She tells Angel that she is cookie dough, that she isn’t finished baking into whatever cookie she turns out to be. Once she is ready, then any romantic relationships will happen naturally, and it won’t be forced or rushed. She will be able to give all of herself to someone because she will have discovered all of herself. Her self-love journey is much more important to her than any guy, and she has finally learned to accept that and continue down that path.

There is no guidebook on being in your early 20s—that’s the beauty of being at the stage of self-discovery. It is okay if you don’t have a career, and it is okay if you aren’t getting married yet. You don’t have to have any of it figured out yet. You do not have to choose a life path immediately, and even if you do, it can always be changed. Trying to make sense of your place in the world is one of the best journeys you will ever go on, and it is never ending. Most importantly, it never has to be compromised or put on hold to start a relationship with someone. If they don’t understand that then they were never meant to be a lasting stop on your journey. We are all cookie dough waiting to be done baking.

2. Xander Tells Dawn She Is Extraordinary

Being the chosen one is hard; not being chosen is harder. Xander watches all of his friends become more and more powerful as they grow up together. Xander struggles to find his calling like his friends have, but he doesn’t have superpowers. He will always be normal. Buffy’s little sister Dawn is just a normal human as well. She has grown up with a beautiful supernatural warrior for a sister and has always wanted to be considered special.

At one point in the season, Dawn thinks she might be a potential slayer. Unfortunately, she’s mistaken and eventually realizes the slayer is another girl at her school. Dawn is quietly crushed. The next day Xander find Dawn crying alone. He comforts her and explains that he understands how it feels to be so close to the spotlight but never in it. He says she is not simply special, but extraordinary. Normal people, the ones who struggle day in and day out without the aid of supernatural abilities, seem to still do the right thing. They are heroes too.

When everyone seems like they have their life together and are living their dreams, what happens to those who are left behind? What if you don’t have it all figured out, and you’re still learning how to even take care of yourself? It’s okay, relax. You are in the same boat as the majority of the population. The select few who figure out their path early on are lucky. The rest of us who have to let life kick us in the butt a few times (or a few hundred) to find who we are needn’t worry. We are special and powerful too. We have everything we need to be extraordinary already inside of us. Xander reminds us if someone you care about thinks you’re special then you are.

1. Buffy & Willow Awaken All Potential Slayers

Buffy is a hero. Throughout these moments we see that she is the best slayer of her line. She is always trying to do the right thing, is loyal to those she loves, and is willing to sacrifice anything for the greater good. The most important moment of the entire series is the last episode where Buffy and Willow awaken every potential slayers’ powers.

Women need to encourage and support each other. Most television shows depict women’s friendships as catty, vindictive, and cruel. Buffy is willing to share her power with every woman and girl that it could possibly go to. That is the mark of a true hero, someone who freely shares their power with no questions asked. After all, our strength is only as good as our most vulnerable. Let’s do all we can to make each other strong.

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