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ONTD Original: Ranking 'Series Regular' Buffy the Vampire Slayer Characters

Hi, ONTD! I think we could all use a break from this long, long--wait, we're only 9 days into 2021? 

Okay. I think we can all use a distraction. That's it. That's the sentence. ...only kidding.

Over the past few months, I've been binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (literally twice from start to finish), and it occurred to me that I have strong feelings about many of the characters. Rather than sit here with my own feelings, what is more on brand for 2020/2021 than to go online and post it for the world to see? 

Here are my personal thoughts for ranking the regular characters from all 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (These thoughts/feelings are my own. I welcome discussion/feedback, but please try not to be nasty. We've had enough negativity in these past 9 days.)


So here are the guidelines for the ranking, and how I chose who to include/exclude:
- The character had to have a story arc, and it had to mean something. I'm not ranking potentials from season 7 or Parker.
- I'm not ranking villains who were only there to be a villain (that's for another post, if y'all are interested)
- If I do include villains, it's because they had a story arc and/or they were attached to one of the mains.
- It's my opinion and I do what I want. Hah.
[You think you know, whats to come, what you are... you havent even begun.]
23. Xander Harris

Xander Harris was the absolute worst. He was cringeworthy when he tried to be funny, his "silly" parts were annoying to Giles and everyone else, and he was an absolute pig. Plus, Xander-focused episodes were the absolute WORST. He went through with a spell to mess with Cordelia's free will which resulted in all women in Sunnydale wanting him, he was HORRIBLE to Buffy throughout the series (she turned him down and he belittled her, he belittled her in front of her classmates at her welcome home party in season 3, he spied on her when Angel returned, he acted like a moral superior in season 5 when Riley was leaving, he left Anya at the alter, then he judged Buffy and slut shamed her for sleeping with Spike, he turned on her when he got hurt in the final season...) there are SO many more examples of why Xander was the absolute worst, but I'll stop here. We could be here all night.

22. Dawn Summers

Dawn Summers was the surprise character everyone never knew they never wanted. She was an unexpected cliffhanger at the end of the fifth season premiere, and it all went downhill from there. Her main storyline was saved only by Buffy and Glory, and as much as I love me some Harriet the Spy, Michelle's acting here just wasn't up to par. Her overall presence was just irksome at best, imo. The 'throw myself on the bed and try to look glamorous while I cry' thing she did 3 times, the nasal cry-talking, the consistent "I'm innocent, I don't understand sexual innuendos" fakeness...all of it. Not. A. Fan. NEXT!

21. Forrest Gates

Forrest Gates, Riley's semi-friend-turned-enemy-as-soon-as-Riley-got-a-girlfriend, was just a jerk. Which is a shame, because he's definitely eye candy and brought some diversity to a painfully white show. The issues I have with Forrest are probably pretty obvious to anyone who's seen Buffy before: he's a stuck up, woman-hating misogynist with no redeeming qualities who becomes an evil demon/human hybrid. He got what he deserved in the end, but I really wish he would've had SOME redeeming quality. But, in his words, "Thank God he's pretty."

20. Principal Snyder

Principal Snyder was just a jerk. He rejoiced in Buffy's expulsion, describing the feeling as "tingly", and for some reason he absolutely hated just about everyone. So why isn't he at the absolute bottom of the list? "Band Candy." The insight given to how Principal Snyder grew up, as a total geek who just tried to fit in and desperately wanted to be liked by literally anyone, made me hate him just a smidge less. It's also the reason, I think, why Buffy made a look of horror when Mayor Wilkins post-ascension ate him in one bite. He was a jerk, yes. He was a bad principal, yes. But the insight and the laughs he provided at certain times made him somewhat-more-palatable than some of our lower ranking characters.

19. Jenny Calendar

Jenny Calendar was never a favorite for me. First, her smugness, the way she sort of inserted herself into the gang, the mocking of Giles, the lying about her identity to everyone, the fact that her habit of lying and hiding everything is ultimately caused her untimely death (and the trauma Giles and everyone else experienced). Aside from her attempt to make things 'right', I don't see a lot of redeeming qualities for Ms. Calendar.

18. Riley Finn

Riley Finn was bad from the start for me. First, he didn't respect Buffy and that bothered me to no end. Anyone remember when Buffy told him she wasn't interested in starting a relationship, and he kept pushing? No means no, Riley. Also, what about when he was sulking and throwing an internal tantrum because Buffy, God forbid, was dealing with her Mother being sick ON TOP OF being responsible for the fate of the world? What about when he started cheating on her with vampires because he wasn't feeling "needed"? Or when he gave her an ultimatum because she wasn't being open enough for him? Or when he became a jerk and caused extra stress for all involved and passively shamed Buffy for being stronger than him? The list goes on and on. Riley's one redeeming factor was to send the initiative to help Buffy in season 7 and told them to do whatever she said, even if it's to help "assface." (That made me LOL)

17. Andrew Wells

Andrew Wells had a strange development over the series. When he came on the scene, he was just, "Tucker's brother." Then he became part of "The Trio", and was weirdly infatuated with Warren. He was seduced by the idea of being "a bad guy", and then when s*** hit the fan, he was OUT. He had no spine, and really didn't follow through too much aside from stabbing Johnathan (which is why he's lower on the list), but then he ended up sort-of redeeming himself by being comedic relief in season 7 and helping fight against the apocalypse. He isn't the worst, but he's certainly not top 10 material.

16. Glory/Ben

Ok, ok, I said no villains. But hear me out. Glory is hilarious, and I think all of us feel she's relatable on some sense. "If I had friends, and they heard about this..." I'm including Glory and Ben because they were the reason for number 23 on our list, and they were such a huge part of season 5. While Glory is absolutely evil, selfish, and horrible for what she does (especially to Tara), she's a "Hell God." That's what she does. Ben, however, is just awful. He started out OK enough, but when Glory offered him immortality, he immediately turned on Dawn and decided it was him or her, and he chose himself. Just terrible. Glory, however, was just an exiled God who wanted to get home and she was hilarious. Even when she was awful, she made me cackle.

15. Harmony Kendall

Harmony Kendall, I don't necessarily hate, but I don't love. In later seasons she became silly and fun (aside from the whole wanting to kill Buffy), but in the first few seasons I didn't understand her and she gave me some serious highschool memory PTSD. She's the blonde, you-dont-know-how-she-became-popular-because-she-really-isnt-that-pretty girl we all likely experienced in highschool, and she was just awful. She isn't at the bottom because I do think, even as a vampire, she had some redeeming qualities: she didn't just kill to kill, she seemed to retain some sense of a conscience, she just wanted to be loved, and she was tacky AF (unicorn statues, really?)

14. Drusilla

Drusilla was a nutjob. But she was a hilarious one. Sure, she killed Kendra, and she was out to torture and maim anyone she could (including children), but I had a soft spot for her because she had a torturous life before becoming a vampire. She was treated horribly by her family for being clairvoyant, she was tortured by Angelus prior to being turned, etc. She was insane and enjoyed being evil, and I didn't hate her for it. I wish she wouldn't have killed Kendra, but aside from that, I really didn't have TOO many things to complain about with Dru.

13. Jonathan Levinson

Jonathan was a toss-up. He falls to this spot because he had some high points, and some low points. I felt for him when he was in that clocktower during season 3, and he made me cry when he read the letter to Buffy when presenting her with the award for being class protector. I loved when he stood up to Warren and kept saying he didn't want to kill Buffy, and I loved in season 7 when he told Andrew that despite everyone being awful to him, he wanted to hear from them and reconnect. He fell to this spot because of his involvement that led to the death of Tara, the shooting of Buffy, and the rise of Dark Willow. His redeeming qualities made him less bad than a few, though.

12. Principal Wood / Robin Wood

I'm going to start this one off by saying, I don't like that he's so low on my ranking. I don't think it's for a lack of the acting ability or even the personality, but I think it's the weak character development of Principal Wood. I didn't love the revenge storyline, or the faux interest in Buffy that led to him being a cheesy amateur vampire hunter. I also didn't love how he got mad at Buffy for calling out the selfishness of focusing on a vendetta when the world is literally about to end and fired her but covered it up as, "You need to focus on other things." I don't hate the man, but he's not top 10 material.

11. Cordelia Chase

Cordelia Chase was a mixed bag for me. Certain episodes, I loved her. Certain episodes, I hated her. Overall, she wasn't terrible. She had some moments that were really sweet, like offering Buffy a ride home when she was weak and angry with Giles, and when she was vulnerable with Buffy about feeling alone when surrounded by a crowd. Overall, Cordelia wasn't the worst but she certainly wasn't the best. I don't hate her, but this is as far up as she gets for me.

10. Spike

Spike isn't my favorite character, especially because of what he did to Buffy when she tried to cut things off and tell him no, and he didn't listen. Normally, that would be enough to put him at the bottom of my list. Overall, though, I have a lot of feelings about him in a cumulative fashion that pushes him up. His genuine care for Buffy when she's going through her issues with her Mother's health (when her actual boyfriend was too busy being angry at her for not giving him enough attention), and the fact that he continued caring for Dawn when Buffy had died. The look on his face when Buffy was brought back, the fact that he's the only one who had faith in Buffy's choices in season 7, and the fact that he pretty much always had Buffy's back. I gather I'll probably be shredded for having Spike up so high, but...it is what it is.

09. Faith Lehane

Faith is a character I hate, but I love. I love her back and forth with evil and good, the struggle with doing right or wrong when she traded bodies with Buffy, and the look of horror on her face when she swapped back. I loved the things she said to Buffy at the end about experiencing Buffy's role with everyone depending on her and never feeling so alone. I even loved the twisted dream where she envisioned Buffy as the villain chasing her and killing Mayor Wilkins and trying to kill Faith. I like her, but I hate her.

08. Oz

Oz was mostly OK in my book, aside from being a cheater and lying about his feelings and connections with Veruca. I also didn't love that he just up and abandoned Willow, or that he returned and freaked out about Willow having found someone new and just expected her to be waiting for him. He's a funny character, and he's mostly OK, so he fell to this place for me.

07. Angel

For me, Angel is probably tied with Oz. I do like him, mainly because he was pretty hot up to season 4 when he returned. My problem with him is: he was super interested in starting a relationship with Buffy and allowed her to become completely invested in it before dropping her after ONE conversation with her Mother. He told her he was done, wanted her to live her life and move on, and then kept coming back and giving her sass and attitude when she was with Riley and Spike. On the other hand, Angel was ultimately my favorite of Buffy's boyfriends. He's not higher on the list because he played games with her in season 7 when he said, "Well, I'm not getting any older..." as if there was NOW a chance for them? Why is Angel now giving me f***boy vibes?

06. Joyce Summers

Ok, part of this is because of my personal experiences, but Joyce isn't top 3 for me because of her reaction to Buffy "coming out." I, too, came out to my Mom as a slayer gay boy, and when I did, she had a similar reaction. "Have you tried not being a slayer gay?" and subsequently kicking me out of my home for not following her directive. Joyce redeemed herself by wanting to be over-involved and showing up with a thermos of cocoa and snacks for Buffy on patrol, and I'll never NOT be reduced to a sobbing mess when I watch "The Body." I love Buffy's Mom, and if it weren't for the solid group, I'm sure she'd be in the top 3.

05. Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins

Anya is absolutely one of my favorites, and there's no way she wouldn't land in the top 5. She's hilarious, strangely literal, had some of the funniest moments in the show, and she was ultimately one of the most vulnerable people on the show. Her monologue about mortality in "The Body" will forever be one of my favorite scenes, and I can't think of anything truly heinous she's done that made me hate her. Also, because of my intense dislike for Xander, I was cheering and rooting her on when she wanted to exact vengeance on him.

04. Rupert Giles

Giles holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. Sure, he turned on Buffy in season 7 and attempted to have Spike killed, lied to her, and then stood by idly when the potentials and her friends unceremoniously kicked her out of her own home. But the preceding six and a half seasons saw Giles being the Dad that Buffy never had. The scenes where Giles shows fatherly love toward Buffy all make my eyes water: when he glows with pride after she gets accepted to Northwestern, when she returns from Los Angeles at his door in the beginning of season 2, when he sees her for the first time after she's been brought back from the dead in season 6, when he sees her body after she's jumped and saved the world, when he pushes for her to get it out that she had to kill Angel despite him being cured... I could go on and on, but the bond between Buffy and Giles and the (mostly)loyal nature he has toward her makes me just love him. Most of the time.

03. Willow Rosenberg

Willow is one of my favorite humans from the Buffyverse for a few reasons. Aside from being a treacherous brat in season 7 when she turned on Buffy and that whole trying to end the world thing in season 6, Willow is just a good person. She couldn't bring herself to hurt Oz when he had cheated, and the only thing that drove her to be "evil" was watching the love of her life be shot in front of her. When she was blind with rage, she definitely became evil (and somehow learned to be a professional fighter on par with Buffy?) but that is forgivable, considering what had happened. She's smart, funny, a loyal friend, and she gave up a free ride scholarship and acceptance to the top schools in the world to stay in Sunnydale and fight evil with her best friend. In my book, Willow is A-OK and I love her. Plus, hello, gay now! (Minus Kennedy, because she's trash.)

02. Tara Maclay

Tara was the most unproblematic of all Buffy characters, and she was absolutely lovable. She was sweet, loyal, honest, and wanted the best for all. I loved that she had this genuine positivity, and stuck around to ensure Dawn and everyone else knew she loved them despite the breakup with Willow. I can even forgive that she performed the spell out of fear that caused everyone to temporarily lose their ability to see demons, leading to them being attacked. I absolutely love Tara, and her death was very, very sad. The only thing I have to say about this, is I think she was paid in scraps for what her character brought to the show. Her death was so quick, so short, and the focus immediately turned to Willow and her struggle with magic. Which, I have to admit, was frustrating for me.

01. Buffy Summers

I know, I know, predictable. Buffy Summers is the character who helped me get through a lot growing up. I watched Buffy, and I felt connected with her. Coming out and being essentially disowned, feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, dealing with 'the end of the world', having your boyfriend go evil on you, and trying to focus on finding reasons to go on and fight for the world that keeps giving you the short straw? Same, girl. Same. The fact that Buffy constantly found reasons to save people (and even demons) who weren't perfect, and always gave people chances, and always stuck to her gut feeling no matter what it cost her is the reason she's number one. She'd rather be kicked out and exiled from her friends and the potentials than go against what she knows and feels in her gut, and then doesn't hold a grudge or allow anyone to attack Faith when they all were hurt because of Faith's plan. She didn't exile or kick out Willow when she almost killed Dawn, and she gave Spike, Angel, and countless others their chances to get better. Sometimes she made poor, somewhat selfish choices, but it just made me love her all the more, because she's human and she deserves to make mistakes. I will forever deem Buffy Summers as my favorite character from television. Ever.


So, ONTD, who are your top 3 Buffy characters? Have you re-watched it recently? It's currently streaming on Hulu and Prime Video. Happy Hunting, wishing you monsters.




Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
Tags: alyson hannigan, buffyverse / whedonverse, eliza dushku, ontd original, sarah michelle gellar
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