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     The 1992 Film 
  • Accidental Innuendo: "I was just saving your butt!... Well, there was an exchange of butts..."
  • Adaptation Displacement: The film has faded into almost complete obscurity and is today remembered pretty much only for being adapted into the series (although it does have a bit of a cult following). Some fans of the series probably weren't even aware that a movie was made. Whedon considers his script — not the film that was actually made — to be canon, making this one of the few intentional examples of this trope.
  • Audience-Alienating Era:
    • Season 4 is sometimes mentioned as an Audience-Alienating Era, given the awkward Initiative storyline, the introduction of the widely unpopular Riley as Buffy's rebound love-interest, and above all the episode about a beer that turns people into primitive savages, although at least that episode has the excuse of being a failed grab at government money. On the other hand, this season also produced the Emmy-nominated "Hush" episode.
    • The UPN years are agreed to be an Audience-Alienating Era by fans:
      • The infamous sixth season is frequently regarded as an Audience-Alienating Era for the titular heroine, in which her traumatic resurrection from Heaven is explored so realistically that she loses all her (previously characteristic) warmth, passion, sense of humor and interest in the world around her, becoming a pale and often unwatchable imitation of her former self. The supporting cast doesn't get it much better, either: Willow's magic addiction metaphor is simultaneously anvilicious and a lore trainwreck given that it was never portrayed as such in prior episodes, the blatant fridging of Tara, Dawn's constant complaining got really annoying, the dissolution of Xander and Anya's marriage was forced, and Spike reached the depths of his Badass Decay, and the Trio's actions were just... stupid. At least Buffy had an excuse. In the season's favor, it did give fans "Once More with Feeling", widely considered the show's best episode.
      • Season 7, considering the change of Buffy into a full-fledged Knight Templar, Willow's inability to use magic for the better part of the season, Xander, Dawn, Anya and Giles getting virtually no character direction, having a textbook Generic Doomsday Villain as the Big Bad, the arrival of the mostly insufferable Potentials, and Spike's total eclipse of the whole show. Joss Whedon has admitted that everyone working on the show was exhausted by that point, and it shows.
    • Some also see the Season 8 and Season 9 comics as a continuation of the Season 7 Audience-Alienating Era, as Buffy, while a bit more sane than in Six or Seven, is also more alienated from everyone, and in addition to this, the Slayer army is just irritating.
  • Complete Monster: Lothos is an ancient vampire, famous and feared for killing numerous Slayers over the centuries. Arriving in Los Angeles, Lothos starts a new killing spree to track down Buffy and take over the city, having his follower Amilyn turn numerous people into his vampiric army for him and bring him new victims to feed on, even turning one of Buffy's friends to find her and killing another. During his first confrontation with Buffy, Lothos kills her watcher Merrick by turning his stake onto him, letting Buffy go at the time as he was expecting more of a challenge. Later, Lothos leads his minions on an attack at the school, killing several students. Lothos is completely indifferent towards his followers and their deaths, as seen when he refuses to save Amylin when Buffy stakes him, giving him an unsympathetic smile as he mockingly plays a fiddle. After Lothos fails to hypnotize and/or seduce Buffy, he stops his flirtatious advancements in favor of going in for the kill, putting his sadistic personality on full display as he notes to the rest of the students that he will kill them all himself once he's done with Buffy.
  • Cult Classic: While the TV series is much more fondly remembered by fans (to the point that some didn't even know there was a film at first), many who have seen the film like it as a rough draft to what would come later, or just for what it is; a silly little action-horror comedy. Having some of that early 90s cheese doesn't hurt either.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Amilyn, mostly for his death scene and for being played by Paul Reubens.
    • Nicki has her fans for being somewhat smarter and more loyal than Buffy's other friends, and contributing just a bit to the final battle. Borders on They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character, given how she's last seen being dragged out a window by a vampire while her less likable friends make it out unscratched. Some fans like to think she either did make it out alive or at least was turned and got revenge on her friends for letting her get taken.
  • Fan-Preferred Cut Content: Joss Whedon's original script is widely considered superior to the final film and served as the actual prequel to the series. It was later adapted into a comic book called The Origin, which Whedon approved of.
  • Ham and Cheese: Paul Reubens camping it up royally as a vampire.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Many fans like to think Nicki survives being attacked in the climax.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The Divinyls performed a cover of "Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" for the soundtrack, originally performed in 1966 by the Young Rascals, but also covered in 1977 by Angel.
    • There was a Porn Parody of the movie called "Buffy the Vampire Layer". Suffice to say, Buffy ends up living up to that name in the show. Twice.
  • Ho Yay: The scene where Amilyn watches over Lothos as he sleeps and kisses his hand makes you wonder...
  • Iron Woobie: Buffy, due to the Bittersweet Ending.
  • Memetic Mutation: Amilyn's death scene is basically what most people remember from the film: "Ooooh, aaaaah, ooooh, aaaaah!"
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: The planned Whedon-less reboot film got this reaction from a lot of people, which may have been part of the reason that it got staked.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Hilary Swank as Kimberley, one of Buffy's Girl Posse. Ben Affleck and Ricki Lake in bit parts, as a baseball player and a waitress respectively. Though his scene got left on the cutting room floor, Seth Green (Oz from the series) does appear on the tape, and DVD covers.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: This movie did okay for a low-budget film in its theatrical release but proved to be a cult favorite on videotape. It was this cult status that ultimately inspired the TV series, which ironically now tends to make the movie look bad by comparison.
  • So Bad, It Was Better: Some fans opinions comparing the comic origin story to the movie. While the comic story is more in line with the TV series and what Wheodon originally envisioned, it's also played a bit too straight and doesn't really give enough characterization to some of the characters before bumping them off (likely due to the format). Lothos and Amilyn in the comic are just evil villains without much personality, whereas in the movie you at least get some showcase of their relationship as master and servant. Opinions on the design of the vampires in the comic wasn't well received either, with most complaints being they don't resemble the TV series version and go way too hard at trying to make them monstrous, often looking more like lizards then vampires.
  • So Okay, It's Average: It's not a masterpiece and looked on unfavorably by folks who only know the series from the TV show. But in its own right, it's a decent horror/superhero origin film with some great bits of comedy and character development.
  • Tear Jerker: Merrick dying in Buffy's arms.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: As campy and silly as the movie is, Kristy Swanson puts in a sincere effort, while Rutger Hauer manages to make Lothos menacing. Luke Perry's performance isn't to be sneezed at either.
  • Vindicated by History: While the TV show has become more the idol of the franchise, some fans of the series who originally decried the campiness of the film have eased up on it, admiting that it's a fun watch and at least set the blueprints to what would come later. Some fans have even stated that they got into the series through this movie when the show was starting up in 1998, having recgonized the title and tuned in out of curiosity. The death of Luke Perry in 2019 likewise had his fans watching this film in honor of his career.

     The Series (Tropes A - G) 
  • Abandon Shipping: Many abandoned the Spike/Buffy ship after the infamous attempted rape in season six.
  • Acceptable Hobby Targets: The Trio's nerdy hobbies are frequent targets of snark and ridicule, often being used to highlight how out of their depths they are as antagonists.
  • Acceptable Religious Targets: One time, a group of religious (as against spellcasting) group of Neopagans Willow meets in college are portrayed as idiots who have no idea what they're talking about. Willow and Tara, who simply alter the fabric of reality with no religious connotations at all, are portrayed as far wiser. This type is known as the College Pagan, the Fluffy Bunny, or the Shirley MacLeaner among the pagan community. Also, Willow did invoke various gods and goddesses, so there were definitely religious connotations with her spellcasting. This becomes a Brick Joke when, in the last season, Willow visits them again, and it turns out that they actually have become a real spell casting group; oddly enough, they still do the weekly bake sale.
  • Accidental Innuendo: Before their relationship begins in "Smashed" — a Running Gag is Buffy continuously mistaking something Spike says for innuendo e.g. "rough-and-tumble" or "grunt work" — hinting that despite Buffy's denials she has begun thinking about Spike sexually. Later when she is secretly having sex with him, the Scoobies keep making comments that remind Buffy of what she's up to, e.g. "We know you've been all tied up." and "You've been going at it too hard, slinging the doublemeat and pounding the big evil."
  • Actor Shipping:
  • Adorkable:
    • Willow is the queen of this trope, especially in early seasons. She's a complete dork with an enthusiasm for science and magic, and is at first a Cute Clumsy Girl. She's utterly adorable in "Doppelgangland" when she attempts to impersonate her vampire alter ego.
    "I'm a blood-sucking fiend! Look at my outfit."
    • Fittingly enough as her true love, Tara equals Willow in this department. While much shyer and more withdrawn at first, her geeky side soon comes out - especially when it comes to magic.
    • Anya, with her blunt social awkwardness giving way to many endearing moments.
    • Pre-transformation William Pratt was a dorky, shy, incredibly earnest Momma's Boy and hopeless romantic. Spike retains a good amount of these traits, and is pretty adorkable in his own right—particularly when it comes to his genuine investment in soap operas, and his endearing insistence that he's "The Big Bad" long after he's stopped being bad.
    • Buffy has her moments too, when her Dumb Blonde side comes out to play.
      Buffy: You don't have a ricer? What do you mean? How could someone not have a ricer?
      Giles: Well, do you have one at home?
      Buffy: I don't know. What's a ricer?
    • This is pretty much the basis for Andrew, after his Heel–Face Turn. He's an earnestly nerdy Cloudcuckoolander who spends a lot of his time playing Hero-Worshipper and Shipper on Deck to the rest of the Scoobies.
    • Xander can be a dork on occasions like when he does the Snoopy dance or tries to act like a pirate.
  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Even for those who don't like Kendra, it was a shame to see her taken out by Drusilla so easily in "Becoming Part 1". Especially when you remember that she spent her entire life training to be the Slayer and when she was finally chosen she lasted less than a year.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Or rather, Alternate Episode Interpretation. The much maligned "Beer Bad" is actually a really funny and enjoyable episode if you approach it as just an amusing story than an anvilicious lecture.
    • Also, the infamous mental asylum episode "Normal Again".
    • Joss Whedon says to bring your own subtext and the way the characters act and are presented have led to a lot of discussions about them. Is Buffy still the nice girl she began as that's cracking from what's happened to her, or has she become a domineering bitch? Did Willow bring her Back from the Dead simply because of how much she cares for her, or does Willow want to show off?
    • Is Buffy's jerkass behavior between Season 6 and most of Season 7 result in all the past trauma from the previous seasons, including being yanked from heaven in Season 6, taking it's toll on her?
      • In season seven, is she a hero struggling to be a leader and make hard decisions, adopts a Cruel to Be Kind attitude and gets stabbed in the back by her loved ones? Or an arrogant, domineering, bitchy idiot who was rightfully deposed?
    • Just how stupid is Buffy and how much of her "stupidity" is fake?
    • Was Buffy's season 6 relationship with Spike his taking advantage of her post-heaven depression and manipulating her away from her friends for his own selfish desires, her taking advantage of his helpless romanticism to get a punching bag and sex toy, both at once? Fanfic has supported all of these.
      • Everything about them is subject to Alternate Character Interpretation. When did she fall in love with him? Did she fall in love with him? Why did he tell her she didn't? Why did he hide his resurrection from her? Did he want his soul back to be good enough for her, to say "sorry," or because he wanted to sleep with her again? And let's not go into what he was thinking during the Attempted Rape...
    • Pre-souled Spike: a sensitive romantic too shy to admit to his true feelings, suffering years of cruel physical and mental abuse from Buffy? Or an evil, selfish, violent vampire consumed with a psychopathic obsession for Buffy, who should have staked him years ago? Somewhere in between? James Marsters has said that he played Spike as being attracted to Buffy from the beginning.
      • Post-souled Spike: Self-serving Jerkass who's no better than before he had a conscience? Or Jerk with a Heart of Gold with crippling self-esteem issues and sincere intentions for good that he hides behind flashy bravado?
    • Willow Rosenberg, card carrying lesbian or in the bi closet?
    • Kennedy. Is she really The Scrappy or does she get a pass because of her age? Is she really a Jerkass or more Jerkass Has a Point? Is she really a Satellite Love Interest or does she have Hidden Depths? Did she really love Willow, or was she trying to manipulate things so that Willow would be in charge with her as the real power behind the throne?
    • In "Once More, With Feeling", a sizable number of fans suspect Dawn really did summon Sweet and Xander was covering for her. This would explain how Xander is able to sing about not knowing what's going on despite the songs forcing you to tell the truth.
    • Given Xander's behavior throughout Season 6, first insisting that his and Anya's engagement be kept secret from the gang, and continuing to have serious insecurities about it until finally he leaves Anya at the altar, it's easy to interpret as his never wanting to marry her, and only proposing because he thought the gang had no chance of beating Glory and he wanted to give Anya a bit of happiness before the end.
    • Sequel comics aside, in the show itself was Amy putting Willow in a different party a ruthless plan, a somewhat sadistic prank signifying her break from Willow, or (given statements by the actress about the direction she’d hoped to take the character) a misguided, one-time thing meant to try and give Willow context for some of what Amy had gone through.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail:
    • In this cast reunion, Sarah Michelle Gellar talks about when she first got cast as Buffy for the Pilot. She mentions that her friends thought the show would never last because it was to be a midseason replacement, it was from an unpopular movie and was going to air on a channel not very popular at the time.
    • None of the cast thought "Once More, With Feeling" would work since James Marsters (Spike) and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles) were the only ones with any actual singing experience. Now? The episode is considered by many fans to be a series high point and a rare occurrence where a show's Musical Episode is not a sign of it having jumped the shark.
    • "Hush" came about from Joss Whedon hearing that the show's dialogue was the most praised part of the show. What happened when he tried doing an episode largely without this dialogue? One of the most praised and well-thought of episodes in the series, by both the cast and the fans.
  • Angel/Devil Shipping: Whistler is a half-demon who appeared in "Becoming Part 1". In the season 9 comics, he reveals that his parents were one of the Powers That Be (the closest beings the Buffyverse has to angels) and a pure-blooded demon. This is compared to (as in being a lot more taboo than) the Slayer/Vampire pairings (Buffy/Angel and Buffy/Spike).
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • In "The Harvest", the second episode, Xander and Willow's so-called best friend Jesse gets turned into a vampire, and Xander is forced to slay him. Neither Xander nor Willow seem that affected by this event, especially over the long term. Jesse is never mentioned again. Worse, this was their first exposure to the fact that vampires are real. The situation might have been different if the development plans for Jesse had come through, since a proposed line was for him to become a recurring, unapologetic vampire opponent (like Xander and Willow as vampires in the Wishverse).
    • An In-Universe example occurs in "Forever"; Dawn accuses Buffy of having this reaction to their mother's death, since Buffy hasn't even cried and is just running around, treating the whole thing like some kind of chore. In reality, Buffy has been bottling up her emotions to deal with her grief and trying to stay strong for Dawn's sake.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Played with in "Buffy vs. Dracula". Though he demonstrates powers no other vampire in the series has, he's still treated like a bad joke by Spike, and easily defeated.
  • Anvilicious:
    • "Beer Bad", in which a group of college students and Buffy are turned into Neanderthal-like cave people by spiked beer. Ironically, the episode was intended to have a clear moral, as the writers participated in a competition to write a storyline that (realistically) brought up the dangers of drinking... and were disqualified, because every complication is caused by supernatural influences rather than the beer itself. It at least had the decency to hang an amusing lampshade on that aspect of the episode:
      Xander: And was there a lesson in all of this? What have we learned about beer?
      Buffy: Foamy!
      Xander: Good. Just so that's clear.
    • The drugs/magic episode, "Wrecked", is probably the most blatant metaphor in the whole show.
    • While pants-soilingly disturbing, the most heavy-handed part of "Gingerbread" (about prejudice) was when Cordelia fire hosed down the brainwashed parents.
    • Buffy's speech in "Chosen" is quite anvilicious about female empowerment - attributing the entire Slayer line to "a bunch of men", and then following it by saying of Willow "this woman is more powerful than all those men". Season 7 overall really hammered home the feminism to a degree not quite seen on the show before.
  • Arc Fatigue:
    • Season Six. Every plotline and character arc seemed stretched out without any developments or changes. It took Buffy the whole season (21 episodes) to get over being dead and resurrected. The last time she died and was brought back to life (in season one) it took one episode of angst before she was back on her feet. (In all fairness, though, the first time she merely flat lined and was revived. The second time she was yanked out of Heaven against her will and brought back to Earth and forced to claw her way out of her own grave, after being buried alive had been established as her biggest fear.)
    • Season Seven with the First Evil storyline suffered in a similar way, mainly because the First Evil itself barely did anything productive or meaningful throughout the entire arc. It also didn't help that, unlike the previous seasons, nearly every episode of the season was spent preparing for the threat (whereas the previous episodes would give the occasional light-hearted Monster of the Week episode).
    • Even Season Five suffered from this. The Glory arc was slow and plodding with whole episodes going along without anything progressing in the plot. Glory isn't introduced until the fifth episode, is forgotten about for another three episodes and if you cut out all the filler from that season you have about twelve episodes where the plot progresses normally.
  • Archive Panic: At two episodes a week, it would take a year and a half to finish all of the series. On the other hand, 144 episodes at around 45 minutes per episode only makes for 105 hours of continuous viewing. Allowing time to sleep, you could still watch the whole show in less than a week, if only barely. If all you did for one week was watch the series and sleep, you would have about 63 hours total to sleep, which comes out to 15 hours of television a day. And if you try to watch everything from the Buffyverse, Angel adds in another 110 episodes. There's also the original movie, and Joss Whedon's original script which was quite different, and the unaired pilot, and the 100+ comics which are considered "canon". There are also dozens of non-canon comics and over 70 non-canon novels.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • "Lessons" retcons Willow's magic addiction arc. Joss Whedon himself (not to mention Alyson Hannigan) disliked this development, so he included a scene where Giles explicitly tells Willow that magic in itself is not addictive, and it's explained that Willow's actions were actually due to her not using magic.
    • The writers realised that Buffy's inspirational speeches in season seven were becoming annoying for some fans, and so they began to make fun of her pep talks. In "Storyteller", Andrew indicates that he felt they were dull, and once Buffy started she'd only stop when she had to go to work. He also made fun of them saying Willow had a high threshold for speech-making, but even she looked bored. In "Lies My Parents Told Me", Buffy says, "Have you heard my speeches?" and "The other day I gave an inspirational speech to the telephone repair man", showing again that the writers could parody themselves.
    • Season 10, where the Spuffy pairing is concerned. It does its best to properly discuss the fallout of their season 6 Destructive Romance—addressing Buffy's Heroic BSoD from the bathroom attack and Spike's crippling self-esteem issues from being used, both of which were only slightly touched upon in season 7.
  • Award Snub: Many think Sarah Michelle Gellar was legitimately deserving of awards for her work in "The Body".
    • The show in general is infamous for a series of Emmy Award snubs; it won two technical awards in the early years, but in its entire run only earned the sum total of one nomination for the majors (Whedon, for Best Writing for "Hush"). In one infamous instance, "Once More, With Feeling" was nominated for Outstanding Music Direction, but due to a typo was left off the ballot form. Several writers considered it somewhat indicative of the Academy's attitude towards the show.
  • Awesome Ego: Spike is obviously completely full of himself from the first second he steps foot on-screen, but he's earned it by being a truly talented fighter who's managed to take out two Slayers (as well as nearly Buffy herself) and un-lived to tell the tale. Even after his Badass Decay sets in, he's still so charismatic and funny that his ego is still plenty entertaining enough to justify itself.
  • Badass Decay: Spike began the series as a straight villain who was set up to be killed off. Prior to this, he did things like kill the Annointed One, lead three powerful demon bounty hunters, and (once it was decided not to kill him off) betray Angelus behind his back and help save the world for his own selfish benefit. As the character became popular and got strung along throughout the rest of the show's run, he gradually became more and more sympathetic and cuddly. The change was so infamous that this trope was once called Spikeification. Despite his decay, the character would occasionally receive a few awesome moments to keep him interesting, and he wound up becoming somewhat badass again on Angel. The decay probably began around the season three episode when he stumbles back to town a heartbroken drunk after Drusilla broke up with him for not being evil enough. Thankfully, by the end of the episode, he realizes that all he needs to do to win her back is go back to being the person he was, i.e. a complete badass with a healthy dose of sociopathy.
    • The decay hit the ground running in season 4 when he is captured by the Initiative (a government paramilitary group studying demons) and has a chip installed in his head that prevents him from hurting humans. With the ability to cause harm removed, he is forced to become Angel-like: drinking blood obtained from butchers or blood banks, helping the Scoobies because he is so raring for a fight that he chose to attack other demons, and generally becoming angsty about his inabilities. However, it is when he falls in love with Buffy that he dives face-first into the realm of decayed.
    • This decay is sort of justified out-of-universe, because to keep Spike on the show past his time as a villain, he would have to be rendered a non-threat, so the audience wouldn't be wondering why Buffy didn't just stake him. If Spike were still unchipped and competent, Buffy's failure to stake him would be outright negligence as a Slayer. Beyond that, the fact that he was now on the good side (more or less) meant he doesn't particularly need to be intimidating anymore and his unique perspective could be used for comic relief and drama.
    • The Turok-Han. When it was first introduced, the "ubervamp" was so powerful that it just couldn't be stopped by any member of the Scooby gang and it almost killed Buffy. Twice. On the third try, Buffy kills while giving a speech to all the Potentials and the Scoobies and Andrew, but just barely. In the season finale, after Willow turns all Potentials into Slayers, you can see a whole army of ubervamps go down like flies, as Buffy's army kill them as if they weren't stronger than regular vampires. And it's not only the power of a slayer; Robin and Giles and even Anya are seen killing a few of them!
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Xander is easily the biggest example of this in recent years; he is either the lovable Butt-Monkey and Heart of the Slayer Machine, or a hypocritical jerk who is way too judgmental of Buffy whenever she screws up, especially in regards to Angel and Spike — or any other guy she's interested in, for that matter, even when it's none of his business. There's also some debate as to whether his preoccupation with sex is just a normal teenage straight guy's disposition or a creepy lecherous qualitynote .
    • Buffy herself in the show's later seasons. Her sleeping with Spike, Holier Than Thou attitude towards both the Scoobies and the Potentials, and taking an entire season to claw her way out of depression being some of the main points of contention. However, there are others who think these actions are justified, considering her friends unwittingly yanked her out of Heaven.
    • Surprisingly enough, Spike. There are those who think he's hilarious and one of the best parts of the show, others think we saw too much of him in the later seasons and can't put up with his constant wangsting about Buffy not returning his feelings.
    • Faith. Does she use all her misfortune as an excuse to be a heartless, violent bitch, or is she genuinely a victim who has been pushed off the rails and needs all the support she can get? There are also those who argue that she was offered support, but chose not to take it, preferring to resume her reckless lifestyle for her own selfish benefit. Or was she so unused to being offered friendship and understanding that she just couldn't process it?
    • Kendra. Either a narmy Ethnic Scrappy with a ridiculous accent who is especially boring when compared to her successor Faith, or a genuinely interesting addition to the slayer mythos who had sufficient enough chemistry with Buffy to make for some great storylines. There's also a third party believing her to be a better character than Faith.
    • Drusilla. Sick, twisted psychopath who deserved everything that was coming to her? Or ultimately just another one of Angelus's victims, and not nearly lucid enough to fully understand or take responsibility for her actions? Even among her fanbase, there's some debate as to whether she should be enjoyed as a straight-up, gleefully wicked villain or a tragic example of what could've happened to Buffy without Slayer strength and a network of supportive friends.
    • Harmony. Harmless comic relief character or annoying Karma Houdini?
    • The same goes for Andrew. Some think his presence was much-needed in the dark final season and that he had some great one-liners and Character Development. Others prefer Xander (who by this point in the show had matured quite a bit) or Anya dishing out the humor instead. There's also Andrew's killing of Jonathan. Does he truly redeem himself, or does he get off way too easy? Oh, and does he deserve to actually become a part of the Scooby Gang in the comics after essentially shoehorning himself into the group, when it really should have been Jonathan all along?
    • Wood. His backstory is certainly interesting (he's the son of a slayer Spike killed), but the fandom is split over whether he really needed to be introduced in the final season and if he served any actual purpose before or after "Lies My Parents Told Me" other than a Last-Minute Hookup with Faith (which is in itself a Broken Base, for those who prefer Faith without a love interest or with Buffy).
    • The Big Bad of Season 7, The First Evil. Either a legitimately frightening presence made cool because it can assume the form of anyone who has died, or a ridiculous final villain that only accomplishes anything through its Dragon, Caleb, and which did not require an entire season to defeat.
    • Molly the Potential doesn't attract the bile that the likes of Kennedy and Rona. But she isn't as well-liked as Amanda or Vi, putting her somewhere in the middle.
    • Glory when it comes to her status as a Big Bad. Some love her and find Clare Kramer's ditziness endearing and entertaining. Some find her a tiresome villain who is too powerful to be interesting. Others liked her at first but feel that her storyline suffered Arc Fatigue.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: Not the series itself, but some individual episodes experience this.
    • "Go Fish" is remembered for the scene where Xander - going undercover on the swim team to investigate - walks out in a speedo. The Fanservicey shot of him in the speedo is used in the opening credits for the next two seasons.
    • "Doppelgangland"'s most famous scenes are Willow as a vampire hitting on regular Willow, with seductive neck lick - and Willow in the Spy Catsuit remarking "gosh look at those" re: her pushed up boobs.
    • "Dead Things " is infamous for the implied scene of Spike giving Buffy anal while at the Bronze.
    • "Smashed" is remembered for the scene of Spike and Buffy having sex inside a house that's falling down. It lasts just a minute and they're fully clothed for it by the way.
    • Deliberately averted with "The Body", which features Tara and Willow's first on-screen kiss. Joss chose to place it in the middle of a scene where they're mourning Joyce's death to prevent it from being used in a Girl-on-Girl Is Hot sort of way.
  • Better on DVD: Especially seasons 3, 4, and 5, when there were meaningful arcs. Season 5 lets you see that every single episode, no matter how much it seemed like filler at first, leads toward something important in the big Season Finale. The season sets available in retail stores in America have 'previously' for only one episode, "When She Was Bad".
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • After the opening theme rolls in "The Body" we see a five minute random flashback to Christmas dinner at Buffy's house that has nothing to do with the rest of the episode. Word of God has said the scene is there because they didn't want to have the opening credits playing over Buffy trying to revive Joyce.
    • The Men in Black subplot of "Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight" which was never brought up or mentioned again, not even when the Initiative showed up or when the army went against the Slayers in Season 8. Fridge Brilliance and Fridge Horror on that: they're an army of invisible people. You WOULDN'T KNOW if they were onscreen or not.
  • Bizarro Episode:
    • "Once More With Feeling" is a bizarre case of a bizarro episode that is based on an utterly ridiculous premise, is important to the season's major story arcs and remains one of the most loved episodes of the entire series, like a Bizarro Episode and Wham Episode mixed together.
    • "Restless", starts like this. Eventually what's going on is clarified, as well as the fact that it contains large amounts of foreshadowing.
    • "Superstar". Jonathan, a recurring Butt-Monkey who'd been the butt of jokes for the past four seasons, rewrites reality to make himself a Black Hole Sue who even takes over the opening credits.
    • "The Zeppo" can be seen as this, diverting from the building plot threads of that season to tell a completely zany, full-out self-parody of every Buffy trope in the book.
    • "Normal Again", aka the episode that implies that the series may or may not be the hallucinations of a mental patient.
    • All of these just go to show that Tropes Are Not Bad in the hands of a skilled writer.
  • Broken Base:
    • The comics: good or bad? Canon or not?
    • Buffy/Angel or Buffy/Spike? Buffy/Riley fans are a bit harder to come by.
    • There are those who prefer the high school setting as opposed to the darker, more "grown up" atmosphere of later seasons (and vice versa).
    • Should the show have been uncancelled or were Seasons 6 and 7 a waste of time?
    • "Becoming, Part 2": Xander telling Buffy to kick Angel's ass instead of telling her about the spell: Xander putting the world first, or Xander limiting Buffy's options in the battle because he hated Angel and he ultimately subverted the group for his own needs?
    • Spike becoming a Breakout Character to such a degree that some fans thought he was practically the main character by the end of the series. Was this a good thing (thanks to the compelling writing for him and James Marsters' magnetic performance), a bad thing (because of how much the other characters suffered in comparative screentime), or somewhere in between?
    • There's Buffy's planned fate for Faith in "Graduation Day" - feeding her to Angel so her blood can cure the poison. Half the base finds this as Buffy going too far and becoming just as twisted as Faith, while the other half feels this a perfect karmic punishment for her. Whatever the opinion, Buffy doesn't get the chance and ends up using her own blood to cure Angel.
    • When did Spike move from villain to Anti-Hero? It can be argued to be anytime from when he realized he could kill demons (even with his chip) in "Doomed" to as late as when his soul was restored in "Grave".
      • And just how much did he need the soul? Was it absolutely necessary for his redemption, given the century of slaughter and his tendency for (mistakingly or not) backsliding into evil? Or, was the fact that he was willing to seek one out in the first place proof that he could have been good with the proper guidance that nobody had ever really given him?
    • Was Season 5 dull and Dawn a Wangst-y Scrappy character or was it a fitting end for the show and a nice attempt to get in touch with a newer generation of fans? In addition, did Dawn happen to "grow up" in Season 7, or she is still her same annoying self?
    • Willow's relationship with Tara. Groundbreaking for its time and/or poorly written, poorly acted and too abrupt?
    • Was Willow truly a lesbian or was she secretly bisexual? Many people have argued that the show perpetuated biphobia by not even exploring the possibility that she could love men and women, whereas a similarly sized proportion of the fandom have pointed out that there are many lesbians *in real life* who used to date men before they realized they were gay, and that it's a little disrespectful to insinuate that these women don't exist or that lesbians are less valid if they don't have a perfect gold star. The Willow-is-gay camp also bring up the issue of self-identification and how if someone says they're gay they should have the last word on that, to which the Willow-is-bi camp often reply that as Willow is fictional and not a real person, her 'self-identification' is in fact just a reflection of the writers. And of course, the writers were living in very biphobic times (not that long ago, it wasn't uncommon for people to think that bisexuality didn't really exist).
    • Good luck trying to leave unscathed if you happen to bring up the infamous mutiny at the end of "Empty Places".
    • In "Selfless" who was in the right: Buffy or Xander? The show doesn't take either person's side but that doesn't stop fans from trying.
    • Was Andrew the right choice for Season 7's redemption arc, or should it have gone to Jonathan instead? Andrew certainly needed the redemption more, but Jonathan was an established, sympathetic character fans already knew and liked; many still feel that he should have been the one to join the Scoobies instead. On the other hand, Andrew won a lot of people over, many of whom feel that the story wouldn't have worked nearly as well had the characters' roles been switched.
    • Souls and how exactly they work with ensouled vampires. The convoluted lore has given rise to tons different interpretations; from it being the same consciousness/person with the added ability for morality and remorse, to ensouled vampires being the midpoint of the original soul and the demon, to the soul and the demon being complete split-personalities to each other. Just about every fan has their own take on it, and even the comics attempts to clarify this haven't completely eliminated the discussion.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: Retroactively, Angel being a vampire has become this. Partially through cultural osmosis and partially because the then novel twist of the mysterious broody love interest being secretly supernatural has been repeated endlessly in the supernatural romance genre since the show came out. It even has its own trope page.
  • Cargo Ship: Kendra and her favorite stake, Mr. Pointy. Actually, slayers and stakes in general, especially if you've played the Chaos Bleeds game and remember Faith quipping about the alternative uses she's found for a stake.
  • Continuity Lock-Out:
    • The show could be somewhat guilty of this, especially during the fourth season and onwards. The most egregious example comes during "This Year's Girl"/"Who Are You", where Faith re-appears. It's assumed that the viewer knows her history, and despite this being lampshaded by newcomer Riley ("Who's Faith?"), very little explanation is given, and you'd better be watching the spin-off too, 'cos otherwise you won't see the end of this mini-arc or know what to make of Angel's appearance a few episodes later.
    • Interesting is that this trope functions in-universe too. The Scoobies are a very self-contained group with their own in-jokes and insider information that makes getting close to them very difficult and makes miscommunication practically a given.
    • And God help you if you pick up the Season Eight comics after a substantial time away from the show. Why is Dawn a giant? Why does Xander only have one eye? Why is there an army of Slayers running around? How did they become a paramilitary organization?
    • Lampshaded again in a hilarious, fast-paced exchange between Buffy, Giles, and Principal Wood in "Lies My Parents Told Me" while discussing all the things that have happened to Spike.
    • Happens in-universe when Joyce has to learn what it means that her daughter's a slayer.
    • The resolution of "Chosen" also hinges significantly on a plot device that originated on the Angel episode "Home" and only found its way to Buffy via a crossover episode on the other show. Good luck making sense of what was going on if you weren't watching both shows religiously.
  • Crack Pairing:
    • The comics had Xander hook up with Dawn.
    • The comics also have Clem fall in love with Harmony, granted it is one-sided.
    • In-Universe, Spike and Buffy were considered this, even by themselves a lot of the time. "Something Blue" plays heavily on this idea for laughs, and later when Spike's infatuation becomes clear to the group, it's largely met with laughter and confusion. Ironically, the comics see them the subject of a lot of shipping on deck from most of the same people who'd formerly thought the pair was laughable.
  • Crazy Is Cool: Drusilla, who's batshit insane, yet manages to be very effective in her evil-doing, pits Spike and Angelus against one another, and gets away unscathed every single time.
  • Creator's Pet:
    • Kennedy. The writers other than Joss knew how hated Kennedy was by the fans and often toyed with her almost getting killed. Joss, however, loved her, and so she stayed til the bitter end.
    • Riley. Whedon never wanted the vampire romance, so when he got the opportunity to give Buffy a human Love Interest, the writers spent so long making him "not Angel" that they forgot to give Riley any actual personality or chemistry with Buffy. Despite that, many characters constantly mention how he's the nicest guy around and how great of a couple he and Buffy make. This reached its breaking point in Season 5's "Into the Woods", where Buffy finds out Riley is addicted to letting vampires bite him, for which he blames Buffy for liking bad boys and thus emasculating him (even though it actually stems from his own issues about not being able to handle dating a girl stronger than him) and not giving him enough attention, completely forgetting that Buffy wasn't hanging out with anyone so she could take care of her sick mother, who has a brain tumor. After all this, the series wants you to take Riley's side, and Xander rants that Buffy is screwing up her chance at love and guilt-trips her into taking him back. When he returns in "As You Were", none of his faults are brought up again and he leaves Happily Married, this time to a Badass Normal who is, indeed, weaker than him, while even Buffy now believes she should have been with him. As an ameliorating factor, at one of Buffy's lowest points, he unhesitatingly reveals his faith in her and states that she's probably the most amazing person he knows.
  • Creepy Awesome:
    • Spike and Drusilla in Season 2, particularly their first appearance. Even the Order of Aurelius seem a little unsettled by their creepy doting and bloodplay, but it's hard to say that they don't also have a magnetic appeal to them.
    • Vampire Willow manages to make Alyson Hannigan into Squick, turning Willow into a Depraved Bisexual Dominatrix with an unsettlingly serene disposition. That said, her competence and genuine intimidation factor is very real.
    • Angelus. He'd be easy-going and charismatic if he weren't so incredibly delightfully cruel and evil. When he's Angel he's the regular kind of awesome instead.
    • The Gentlemen may be some of the scariest monsters in the series, which is saying something, but they're so nicely dressed and friendly to each other it's hard not to admire them a little.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • The scene in "Hush" where Buffy attempts to mime staking the Gentlemen and ends up miming another action entirely shocked the network, but they kept it in because it was just so damn funny.
    • Season six piled on so much Deus Angst Machina that it became an in-universe example of crossing the line twice: when Giles (very dramatically) returned at the end of the season, Buffy told him about all the horrible traumatic things that have happened just since he left, never mind everything that happened before. Does he give her a hug? Tell her everything's going to be all right? Help her figure out how to stop the latest The End of the World as We Know It plot? No - he breaks down in uncontrollable laughter. A moment later, Buffy joins him. And so does the audience.
  • Crossover Ship: Connor/Dawn has a surprisingly large army of supporters. Not so surprising if one stops to consider how different yet remarkably similar their circumstances are, not to mention how they deal with said circumstances.
  • Designated Hero:
    • For many fans, Buffy is the DH for much of Seasons Six and Seven. However, there were implications that Buffy wasn't exactly herself, being under even more massive pressure than usual, and having gone through several traumatic experiences in a short time. This has been played with several times, from Buffy's temper tantrum that she wasn't allowed to kill Faith and Angel telling her to get stuffed, to her being rejected by the potential slayers, to a storyline where a rogue slayer intends to kill Buffy because of how much of a princess she is.
    • There's also Spike in Season 7. For some reason, Buffy (and the writers) seem to believe Spike is in the right when he tells Robin Wood that his mother never loved him. And frankly, that's only the worst time by a small degree. The Angel Season Five writers tried to do an Author's Saving Throw for all this, giving Spike more than one episode where he actually has to confront bad he's done, and how self serving he's been even post-soul.
    • We're supposed to think Riley is Buffy's "real shot at love" and everyone treats him like he's the nicest guy ever. Despite the fact that he's a teaching assistant dating one of his students, thinks it's A-OK to torture demons, or "animals" as he calls them (demons are evil, but kill them quickly, don't experiment on them), and whines and complains like a two-year-old when he thinks Buffy isn't giving him enough attention... when she's distracted by her mother being in the hospital due to a brain tumor. His way of dealing with the latter is going to a vampire "whorehouse" (to get off on getting bitten by them), thinks Buffy is entirely to blame for his behavior, and gives her an ultimatum: he's leaving if she doesn't forgive him. What's worse is that, from how it's written, we're supposed to be taking Riley's side, not to mention that Xander calls Buffy out on letting Riley go and Buffy is led to believe that she was in the wrong. Sickening doesn't even begin to describe this, and the fact that the writers utterly failed to see the implications (and instead blamed fans for liking the vampires Angel and Spike too much) just makes things worse. Then, when he returns in season 6, he goes around believing his opinion is better than everyone else's, everyone loves him again despite what he did, has married someone below his rank (which is a no-no in the US army) and he makes Buffy (who's suffering from depression, struggling with money and raising a teenager) feel terrible... but she listens to him anyway. It's kind of obvious that the writers wanted to make us think "look what you made Buffy throw away!" but instead made him look like an even bigger jerk than before.
    • Xander can often come across as very hypocritical and judgmental - he wants Angel to be punished and held accountable for crimes he did as Angelus but then in Season 7 objects to Buffy wanting to do the same to Anya, and his only defence is "you don't love her like I do" (not caring about the twelve people she killed). The show never seems to frame his pettier actions as wrong or anything more than 'bad but justified'.
  • Designated Monkey: From her introduction, Faith qualifies. A seemingly cool character who steals Buffy's friends, tries to take over her role as Slayer, and sneaks her food. It turns out Faith's life sucks, which she covers up through sex and partying, in contrast to Buffy's better upbringing. She correctly feels she never fits in, then tries to kill Angel, thinking he was evil. This causes such a rift that Faith is very much on the outside. She then sleeps with Xander, the character who first described himself as a Butt-Monkey, and when Xander tries to help Faith after she accidentally kills someone, it becomes horrifying. During this time, Faith becomes evil; not just evil, but frightening. The writers have her commit one evil act after another to portray her as a vicious, sadistic character, foregoing their original plan to have Faith so distraught over what she'd done that she's Driven to Suicide. That particular storyline didn't get played out until a season later (and Angel) after she wakes up from a coma and discovers she has lost her (evil) father figure, the only person who ever treated her like she was worth something in and of herself.
  • Die for Our Ship:
    • Riley was notoriously treated this way by fans, partly for being the Replacement Scrappy after Angel's departure, and partly because Marc Blucas had zero chemistry with Sarah Michelle Gellar. It was made worse by him not being a bad boy, and being right smack in the middle between Buffy's other two fan-preferred love interests. Though really, every single character in the series has received flak from part of the fandom for getting in the way of their preferred ship. Yes, even Oz, who was hated by many Xander/Willow shippers.
    • A mix of this and Replacement Scrappy can be traced as the source for a good deal of hate for Kennedy. Granted, the character seemed to be a less successful attempt to recreate a morally neutral "Faith" type, but mostly there were cries of "Too soon!". Kennedy's level of Satellite Love Interest was almost lampshaded by Willow asking why Kennedy liked her - Kennedy isn't able to come up with any real reasons besides Willow's cuteness and gender preferences. Yet, by the next episode, they're in a committed relationship. On top of everything else the characters simply had no chemistry together. A lot of fans point out that Fred/Willow had more sparks flying in "Orpheus" than Kennedy/Willow did in the whole of season seven.
    • Oddly enough, it seems that Fuffy shippers seem to not really hate on any of Buffy's canon love interests (except for the occasional Riley hate and even that's rare). Then again, a fairly large number seem to take place in seasons 3, 4 or 6.
    • Xander is sometimes the butt of hatred by Bangel and Spuffy shippers, not for "getting in the way" so much as for his consistent vocal dislike for both Angel and Spike, regardless of their soul-situation. It certainly doesn't help that his hatred for vampires isn't deeply examined by the show and is undercut by him dating an ex-demon whose past is easily just as shady, thereby making it come across as petty jealousy to many fans.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Spike is a standout example. He's stated to be one of the worst vampires in recorded history, second only to Angelus, with two Slayer kills to his name, but he was so pretty, badass and funny that the fans just ate him up. The fact that he was also the first soulless vampire with any amount of emotional nuance also helped, and made his later Character Development into a good guy go down smoother.
    • Faith. Those pants are personally responsible for some sympathetic views of Faith in fanfic. And lots of Freudian Excuses, a well executed Heel Realization, and a Heel–Face Turn works to excuse, well, most of her actions.
    • Caleb. Unlike Spike and Faith, he has zero redeeming qualities and no redemption...but he's played by Nathan Fillion!
    • Glory might count as well, with her knockout appearance not hurting how being viewed as a charismatic villain who just wants to go home (albeit at the cost of threatening the world) with a little sympathy in a Cry for the Devil way in and out of universe.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Spike. Before he was turned into a vampire, he was laughed at and wrote "poncy poetry", whereas when he was sired, won over Drusilla, killed two slayers, and managed to pose a threat to even the mighty Angelus.
    • In "The Wish", Xander and Willow got rid of their geeky sides after vampirization, instead opting for black leather and a smooth demeanor.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Vampires in general, for obvious reasons. The most infamous examples being Angelus, Spike, Darla, and Drusilla.
      • Willow and Xander as vampires deserve special mention, as it's explicitly shown that evil made them sexier. Xander and Willow were, at the time, considered dorks who dressed like Rummage Sale Rejects but became slick, sexy smooth-talkers upon becoming vampires.
    • Faith is Buffy's Evil Counterpart, wears skimpier clothes, and is unabashedly promiscuous and seductive.
    • Glory, a.k.a. Glorificus. She may want to destroy the world, but that doesn't keep her from being pleasurable to look at!
    • It's not played up, but Amy Madison in Season 6 and onward, after she does a Face–Heel Turn.
    • Caleb is one of the most monstrous characters in either show - and he's Nathan Fillion playing a Sexy Priest.
  • Fair for Its Day: Willow and Tara's relationship early on reeked of Hide Your Lesbians. The network was so strict on what they were allowed to be shown doing that the writers were forced to use magic as a metaphor for lesbianism. And of course it involved a previously straight character suddenly discovering she was gay rather than bisexual. That doesn't change the fact that the romance was hugely groundbreaking for lesbians on TV. Tara eventually developed into her own character separate from just being Willow's girlfriend. They were also treated as simply another couple on the show, with their own problems and issues. Once the show moved to UPN, they were shown kissing a lot more and sharing a bed. This too was shocking because it wasn't too long ago that it was assumed that lesbians merely wanted emotional fulfillment rather than sex.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Buffy the Vampire Banger - The eponymous character, after her relationship with Friendly Neighborhood Vampire Angel heated up. Made even more appropriate once she started boning Spike in season 6, her second Friendly Neighborhood Vampire boyfriend.
    • Pencil Boy - The First Evil. So nicknamed due to his intangibility making him useless for anything except monologuing and making scary faces. Or as one fan put it: "What's so scary about this guy? He couldn't even pick up a pencil if I dropped one on the floor."
    • Spicule - The "defanged" Spike from later episodes. Another Television Without Pity exclusive.
    • "Captain Cardboard" - Riley, Buffy's Season 4 boyfriend. Also originally used in the script.
    • "Smidge" - A mostly British nickname for Sarah Michelle Gellar, whose initials are SMG.
    • "BAIT" - Bad Actress In Training. Applied to the "potential Slayers" that showed up in Season 7, it apparently came from Buffy message boards (particularly The Bronze). Possibly alluded to in an episode where Kennedy said that she'd "never been the bait before."
    • "Fanged Four", "The Whirlwind", or "Scourge of Europe" - Darla, Angelus, Drusilla, and Spike during their The Family That Slays Together heyday. "Fanged Four" is not to be confused with "Fang Gang", above. "Scourge of Europe" was said on the show, but only applied to Angelus. "Whirlwind" comes from a line by Darla in her eponymous Angel episode.
    • "Captain Peroxide" - Spike because of his platinum-blond hair.
    • The Folk Man has become a popular name on YouTube for Caleb.
    • Sid and Nancy - Nickname for Amber Benson and Adam Busch. Better yet: Warren S Burroughs.
    • Noodles for the first Ubervamp who appeared, because he was ultimately so easy to kill.
    • Craig Whedon, named after the South Park character Craig who compulsively flips everybody off. If you're a fan of his shows, you know why.
    • Buffy Cross and Stake and Angel's Soul Spoiler boards: Red board and Blue Board respectively, due to their text colors.
    • Willow the Vampire Flayer. Why? Here's why.
    "Bored now." squiiiiiick
    • The Endless Bummer: Season Six. You know why.
    • Even though the show generally uses "Angelus" for Angel in the past and "Angel" for him in the present regardless of whether he has a soul, fans generally use "Angelus" as shorthand to refer to the soulless version of him and "Angel" for the ensouled version.
    • The Annointed One has been dubbed The Annoying One by fans due to how lame and unthreatening he was.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Right from Spike's introduction in season 2 as the season Big Bad, the at the time Crack Pairing of Buffy/Spike had its fans, but its popularity as a ship really picked up when season 4 aired and Spike joined the main cast. And though they only really had an affair and plenty of Ship Tease rather than a true relationship (on the show), they still have a very active fanbase even 20 years after the show wrapped up and remain the pairing with the highest number of fanfiction on Archive of Our Own—beating out even Buffy/Angel by a rather large margin of a couple thousand.
    • Spike and Xander's Foe Yay Shipping chemistry and multiple interactions gained them a lot of fans during Season 4, and the pairing only grew as the series went on. Added to that was the general indifference if not dislike for Xander's canonical relationships, and the result was more fans shipping him with Spike than anyone he ever actually dated.
  • Fan-Preferred Cut Content:
    • Professor Maggie Walsh was supposed to have been the big bad of season four. This could have created an interesting dynamic - someone who serves as a rival for Giles as Buffy's new teacher and Riley's surrogate mother figure, a contrasting sequel antagonist to the Mayor (affable and cheery public figure replaced with a calculating and cold figure who operates in the dark) and with military technology and resources on her side, thus giving Buffy a more human foe. Given that even Joss Whedon felt that Adam was the show's most boring villain, many feel that this would have made the season better.
    • "Conversations with Dead People" had a scene planned where the First Evil would impersonate Jesse from the first two episodes to torment Xander. It would have solved many complaints about Jesse being a Forgotten Fallen Friend, and also served as a nice Call-Back to the first season. Sadly, Eric Balfour wasn't available.
    • A planned episode would have Buffy bringing Tara back to life with one wish. Needless to say, a lot of fans would have liked that over Willow's relationship with Kennedy.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With Charmed (1998) due to They Copied It, Now It Sucks and the perceived idea that it was created to follow Buffy's success.note 
    • There's also the age old conflict of who would win in a fight, Buffy or Blade.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • The "Wish" Universe: Remember that Alternate Universe from "The Wish" where Buffy never came to Sunnydale? How did Xander get turned? How did Willow? What happened with Darla? How did Angel became a wreck?
      • For that matter, other "Wish" Universes based around another character never coming to Sunnydale.
    • Fics where dawn is inserted into the previous seasons: Everyone in the Cast was given false memories of Buffy's little sister Dawn in the Fifth season. How would any given episode in the first four seasons play out with Dawn there? In universe certain sources Retcon Dawn into the storyline, the Animated Adaptation intended to do this and one of the season eight comics has Buffy dream of season one with Dawn.
    • The "Normal" Universe: "Normal Again" told us that the entire show was a hallucination being created by Buffy in an insane asylum. Describe that world. Maybe the Big Bads are all just manifestations of her doctors.
    • Yet Another Halloween Fic: Also called YAHF for short, these deal with "Halloween" where people wearing cursed Halloween costumes started turning into the things they dressed as. Halloween World is probably the most famous among the fandom.
    • Hell, Halloween Fics have sprouted a tiny subgenre: Xander gets all the abilities and hardware (including a certain blue AI) of Spartan-117
    • "Earshot" has spawned several fics regarding Willow's comment about...ahem, her idea of the aspect of the demon.
    • The episode "Helpless" dealt with Buffy losing her slayer powers due to a ritual. What if she never got her powers back? Would she still fight monsters or use this chance to live a normal life?
    • Buffy is only the latest in a long, long line of women who slay monsters. In one short story, describe one of these previous- or future- Slayers.
    • What were the Trio up to during "Once More, With Feeling" and what was their Villain Song like?
    • Vengeance Demons are very useful plot devices for fanfic writers, given their conditionally omni-potent power that the gang have easy access to via Anya (and her friends).
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Many fans are notorious for this, seeing as how many fan theories of future events were thrown out the window by the premiere of a new season, hence the term Jossed, there are a few moments that just about everybody likes to forget.
    • Most fanfic (particularly the slash) will ignore that Spike said (and was later confirmed) to have been sired by Drusilla and NOT Angelus. To be fair this theory seemed canon for several seasons until clarified and, as many point out, Drusilla was hardly in a fit state of mind to raise a child herself so Angelus probably did a lot of it.
    • Most fans say that Willow's romantic relationships ended after Tara was murdered by Warren, so that Willow seeing Kennedy, the series Scrappy, never happened. Kennedy was widely hated for her unlikeable personality, which was made up entirely of trying to get Willow into bed, her shallow character, and terrible acting.
      • On a related note, many fans of Willow prefer to ignore Tara's murder all together. Others ignore the fact that Oz and Willow ever broke up.
    • A segment of fans also prefer to ignore the majority of the events of Season 4. Which featured the highly loathed Initiative, a new boyfriend for Buffy, ill received by fans and the equally loathed Frankenstein Monster, Adam, even though it means losing out on "Hush", one of the series' best episodes. Even those who don't ignore the events of Season 4 tend to ignore the episode "Beer Bad", which is easy, since it has no bearing on the overarching plot, and is generaly regarded as the worst episode in the series.
    • Some viewers dismiss all of seasons 6 and 7, except for a few outstanding episodes. Debate rages as to whether it's worth junking stuff like the "Smashed"/"Wrecked"/"Gone" trilogy, "Hell's Bells", "Empty Places", "Doublemeat Palace", and the ridiculously polarizing "Lies My Parents Told Me" if it means losing "Tabula Rasa", "Conversations With Dead People", and the legendary "Once More, With Feeling". This particular break in continuity is particularly easy to rationalize because the show switched networks between the fifth and sixth seasons and, in-universe, Buffy died in the season 5 finale.
    • Some people who don't disregard seasons 6 and 7 as a whole still don't acknowledge the apparent deaths of Amanda and/or Anya in the series finale.
    • Some fans will tolerate a bit of the sixth season and stop at "Once More With Feeling" due to it ending with Buffy and Spike getting together, even if it leaves behind a lot of loose ends.
    • Others ignore anything past Season 3, where Buffy's time in high school ended.
    • Some fans, especially since the beginning of the penultimate arc, consider the Season 8 comic-book as non canon. Officially, even if it is a comic, it is canon because it is outlined, and in some parts written, by Joss Whedon himself.
  • Fans Prefer the New Her:
    • In the flashback to Buffy being first called as a Slayer, she's wearing an impractical Valley Girl outfit, and her overall look is meant to show that she needs to undergo Character Development. But damn if Sarah Michelle Gellar doesn't look gorgeous with that long hair.
    • In "The Gift", Dawn has to take part in the ritual while wearing a sacrificial gown. Despite the Tear Jerker that it is for the scene where she puts it on - symbolising that she's accepted her impending death - the gown itself is quite cute.
    • Xander's eyepatch. He may have gotten it because Caleb horrifically gouged out his eye, but fans loved the look on him.
  • Faux Symbolism: The Cheese Man that appears in everyone's dreams in "Restless", who Joss Whedon has said means absolutely nothing.
  • Fight Scene Failure: Happened a few times in the first season. The other seasons aren't exempt from this. Notably the second season finale where the stunt man for David Boreanaz has a much thinner hairline than David, or "Consequences", where SMG's stunt doubles face is shown front and center several times in the fight at the end.
  • First Installment Wins: Both averted and played straight. The TV show is much more popular than the film, but the TV show also massively trumps the canonical comic continuation for mainstream attention, despite as of 2015 being in print longer than it was on the air.
  • Foe Yay Shipping:
    • Buffy and Spike. The subtext of Season 2 rapidly became text when Spike's obsession with killing Slayers and flirting with death developed into quite a different kind of...flirtation in Seasons three, four and five (most notably in the episode "Fool for Love"), until they became a canon couple in season six.
      • Joss Whedon himself noted that he didn't know why he didn't realize sooner that Spike's obsession with defeating Buffy was from him being in love with her. It came as a "well duh" moment.
      • In the opposite direction, it's worth noting that Buffy doesn't have sex with Spike (at her initiation) until after she realises that Spike's Restraining Bolt no longer works and he could kill her. At that point, though, it becomes Destructive Romance, showing just how potentially harmful one of these relationships really could be.
    • Angelus and Buffy in Season 2. He is as obsessed with Buffy (and hurting her) as Spike was, doing everything from terrorizing her and her friends to breaking into her house at night to draw pictures of her while she sleeps. He claims to be "punishing" her for making him remember Angel's love for her, though one might argue his obsession comes from another place. And of course his famous quote: "In order to kill this girl, you have to love her."
      • Interestingly enough, Angelus only calls off his long-drawn out plan of emotionally torturing Buffy after sharing a kiss with her while possessed by spirit lovers. Now he suddenly wants to destroy the world. And his extreme reaction of disgust and complaining of "love" is also worth mentioning.
      • This argument may actually be canon, as Angel lampshades this on his own show:
    Angel: The guy's a trainwreck when it comes to love. Almost destroyed the world. I can relate.
    • Glory has Foe Yay Shipping chemistry with everyone. Between holding and licking Tara's hand, or ripping her dress off before fighting Willow, or asking Buffy if she's "Had a long day at work, sweetie?", or pinning Spike to a bed and straddling him when she kidnaps him. And every interaction she has with Dawn is some horrid combination of "comforting big sister" and "child rapist".
    • Faith had a good amount, especially with Buffy. They were always rivals with large amounts of sexual tension, especially after Faith's Face–Heel Turn.
      • In "Touched", the First, who gains all of a person's knowledge and memories when they die, appeared to Faith as the Mayor, saying that all she wanted was for Buffy to accept and love her. Since he probably knew Faith better than anyone, this basically confirms that Faith was in love with Buffy. Some of their interactions make it easy to believe that Buffy loves her as well.
    • Holden Webster in "Conversations With Dead People": "I was afraid to talk to you in high school, and now we're, like, mortal enemies. Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we became nemeses?"
    • Warren and Buffy, which was noted by Willow: "That's why you always had a mad-on for the slayer. She was the Big 'O', wasn't she?"
    • Drusilla and Kendra. The final scene between them in "Becoming Part 1" has been described as "almost sexualized" and "a G-rated lesbian interlude"
    • Giles and Ethan, who are so obvious some thought it was actual text instead of subtext. Cordelia even picks up on it in "The Dark Age", when they meet in the library.
    Ethan: Hello Ripper.
    Giles: I thought I told you to leave town.
    Ethan: You did. I didn't. Shop's lease is paid 'til the end of the month.
    Cordelia: *aside to Xander* Why did he call him Ripper?
    *Giles grabs Ethan by his hair and hauls him to his feet, bringing them almost nose-to-nose*
    Giles: You should have left when I told you.
    Cordelia: *with a look of dawning comprehension* Oh . . .
    • Willow has this with herself in "Doppelgangland" when her vampire self from an alternate timeline blatantly hits on her. This was before the real Willow had come out, but was the first hint that she was gay, a full season before she came out.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Many a viewer bemoaned Buffy benefiting from Double Standards in Seasons 6 and 7 - such as her abuse and rape of Spike being glossed over while his towards her was demonized. Faith actually benefited from said Double Standards as well - since her sexual assault of Xander is forgotten, and her actual rape of Riley focuses instead on how this affects Buffy. These were easier to accept, since both happened while Faith was a villain and while she did get redeemed - she also voluntarily turned herself into prison to become The Atoner, only being freed because she needed to fight in the final battle.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • In "Fear Itself", you can see Oz wearing a name tag with "God" written on it. That is precisely what the root Os- means.
    • Speaking of Oz, he's in a band called Dingos Ate My Baby, referring to the Lindey Chamberlain case. One of Buffy's old school friends is named Ford, and later we are introduced to another one, Holden. All are symbolic of Oz, as in Australia.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The show was successful in the US but enjoys massive popularity in Europe, where the stigma of science fiction/fantasy isn't as pronounced. Of course, now Chiller, Oxygen, Logo, and Teen Nick are all showing it in the States.
  • Gotta Ship 'Em All: Any possible pairing you could conceive of probably has at least a couple fans.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • Season two. Spike and Drusilla's arrival in Sunnydale proved a noticeable upswing, but the true beard-growing moment was probably the resurgence of Angelus, cementing the shift from Monster of the Week episodes to a darkly comedic, character-driven series. True Art Is Angsty after all, right?
    • Others would argue the show at least grew some stubble in "Prophecy Girl", the first episode to really deal with bravery and explore the impact such a great destiny had on what was essentially a scared teenage girl.

     The Series (Tropes H - O) 
  • He's Just Hiding!:
    • Many people were devoted to the relationship of Willow and Tara and were devastated when Tara died near the end of season 6. There are many websites of Willow and Tara fanfics. In half of these stories, the events of season 6 are changed to keep Tara from dying. In the other half, Tara dies but is somehow brought back from the dead afterwards. After all, Buffy was resurrected by a magic spell at the start of season 6, so why not Tara? Willow tried and failed to use magic to bring back Tara on the TV show, but in fanfiction, the First Law of Resurrection applies.
    • There were several areas where Amber Benson might have come back. As the First, but Benson was available. Also, the originally planned finale was to give Buffy one wish, which she would spend the episode trying to figure out how to spend, before ultimately bringing Tara back for Willow. Joss Whedon later stated that, even though neither of those theories panned out, he likes that she stayed dead because it sent the message that Willow could still find love and move on with her life. That said, fans still have reason to be annoyed, because he continues to tease the possibility in the comics, and pretty much everyone else that died during Season 6 was revived, often under very contrived justifications. If he wasn't so quick to use resurrection as a plot device, it might be understandable, but nearly the entire main cast has been brought back at least once.
    • Spike was killed off in the series finale, but was later resurrected in Angel. The WB's website was advertising Spike joining the cast of Angel the same day that BtVS aired its last episode, if not before. It irritated Joss since it prevented him from doing a shocking intro for anyone who had even looked at the website or read articles pertaining to the show.
    • There are some who like to think that Anya and Amanda could have survived the final battle, due to Anya seeming to go down too easy despite her powers and Amanda being killed by something that isn't always fatal in real life (a Neck Snap).
    • The explosion of the Watchers Headquarters can leave some slight ambiguity about whether it killed everyone Travers was talking with, given how its unclear if it was meant to happen right after he finished speaking with everyone in the room, not to mention the unpredictability of explosives in killing people in the first place.
    • Despite Spike's claims, some fans are convinced the Buffybot is repaired offscreen after being dismembered and shutting down in the season six premiere, as the android has previously been rebuilt after being mangled.
  • He/She Really Can Act:
    • While never considered a bad actress, Sarah Michelle Gellar has received some particular praise at some points. Highlights include Buffy's reaction to her mother's death in "The Body", Buffy's breakdown in "Prophecy Girl" after learning she's destined to die fighting the Master, and her convincing performance as Faith-In-Buffy's body in "Who Are You?" Not to mention her performances in "Becoming, Part 2" and "Ted", to name a few others.
    • Joss first realized David Boreanaz could carry his own show after being wowed by his performance in "I Only Have Eyes For You". In addition, fans who were still skeptical about Boreanaz's acting ability up to that point also changed their minds after seeing him play Angelus, which was a complete 180 from the brooding, lover-boy Angel they were used to.
    • Alyson Hannigan really put people on notice during Season 3. "Doppelgangland" has her easily play regular Willow and vampire Willow in the same scene, as well as extra scenes of them pretending to be the other one. In a more straightforward version of this trope, the bathroom scene in "Consequences" where Willow cries after realising Xander lost his virginity to Faith showed how well she could turn her characters from Adorkable into The Woobie.
    • Emma Caulfield made a seemingly mundane speech into the ultimate Tear Jerker in "The Body". She was also a revelation in "Once More, With Feeling" - as she was not known as a professional singer like some of the more accomplished members of the cast - but is held up as one of the strongest singers in the episode. They even got her to sing again in "Selfless"!
    • While many people detest her character Dawn, the same cannot be said about Michelle Trachtenberg's acting in numerous episodes, with "The Body", "The Gift", and "Conversations With Dead People" being major highlights of her acting prowess.
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • Xander, despite Nicholas Brendon being an incredibly attractive guy, and the character rather witty, he is the bottom of the social barrel at Sunnydale High, and numerous cracks are made at his inability to get girls. He dates the cheerleader Cordelia from Season 2 onwards. He was told to stop working out by producers because they didn't want Xander to look too buffed. Joss mentions this trope in the DVD commentaries:
      Joss Whedon: Of course, Nicholas Brendon is way too good-looking, but this is Hollywood, so get over it.
    • Willow Rosenberg, played by the very attractive Alyson Hannigan, is in the same boat. In the original, never-aired pilot, Willow was played by Riff Regan, who is more plain. This is also part Executive Meddling, who requested that Willow be "more hip, like Buffy".
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Amber Benson found herself attacked by fans over her weight - particularly around the time Willow chose her over Oz. She has never been anything resembling fat, but sharing the screen with the very waify Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan made her look bigger by comparison. In fact, Amber was nearly turned down for the role because producers thought she was too voluptuous for a character imagined as very dainty (as she needed to take Willow's place as The Woobie since the latter was getting too powerful to keep putting in danger).
  • Idiot Plot:
    • "Living Conditions". Buffy struggles to get along with her roommate, who initially seems to be just annoying but is later revealed to be a soul-sucking demon. Solution? Buffy moves in with Willow. But why on Earth weren't they already living together? Why is Buffy living in the dorms at all, when her house is so close to campus? Whose brilliant idea was it for the Slayer, who sneaks out every night to fight evil, to share a room with a stranger, who can't help but notice this suspicious habit, in an unsecured environment with all of her weapons so very easy to find? A bad roommate could have stolen them. A good roommate might have logically mistaken her for a criminal. There was no way this was ever going to end well, and the characters had an entire summer to see the obvious reasons why not and make other arrangements.
    • In "Intervention", the titular heroine goes on a vision quest in the desert. Meanwhile, Spike has ordered a robot replica of her to use as a sex toy. Buffy's friends stumble upon said robot and cannot figure out that the eternally cheerful vapid robot having sex with Spike is, well, a robot, and not their friend. All the wacky hilarity that ensues depends on Buffy's best friends not being able to figure out the difference between her and a robot, even though a few episodes earlier, it took them all of five minutes to detect that a woman they had never met before was the same kind of bot. Buffy lampshades this, expressing incredulity that her friends couldn't tell the difference.
    • When Buffy is struggling to make money in Season 6, first trying to get a loan and later becoming an employee of the Doublemeat Palace, no one even once suggests that Willow and Tara could pitch in, despite them living in her house. It's probably because Willow and Tara, unlike Buffy, were in college, but there is such a thing as a college student with a part-time job.
    • Of course, the whole latter half of Season 2 is dependent on the gypsies who gave Angel his soul as a punishment deciding that if he becomes happy and stops being punished... he'll lose his soul and turn back into a psychotic killer with ambitions to destroy the world. Which not only guarantees he won't be being punished anymore, it's also kind of, um, dangerous. Okay, maybe they didn't have that much control over how the curse worked, but they don't explain the rules to Angel, simply sending Jenny to keep an eye on him without bothering to tell her how the curse can be broken, and have her make a half-hearted attempt to keep Angel and Buffy apart. You'd think explaining to Angel how his soul could be lost again would fit perfectly with their vengeance, since he'd then make sure to never be happy (not to mention that anytime he lost his soul and his friends would put it back, they did the EXACT SAME WAY instead of just putting it in to stay without any loophole).
    • When the First Evil starts appearing to people pretending to be their loved ones to break them...the gang keeps falling for it. No one thinks of using a secret handshake or anything to prove it's really them instead of the First Evil. Hell, a regular handshake would work because the visions are incorporeal. But everyone just keeps assuming it was really someone else instead of the entity they know is out to mess with them.
    • "Chosen" gives all the characters the Idiot Ball several times over, considering their strategy to go into the Hellmouth. First, they have the potential Slayers enter the Hellmouth before Willow's spell takes effect, when they could easily wait to make sure it was effective before sentencing themselves to violent and certain death. Second, they risk the lives of all the non-Slayer Scoobies by posting them as guards around the high school. Sure, MAYBE keep Giles and Robin around, but Dawn, Andrew and Anya would hardly add enough manpower to make it worth the risk. It's even more bizarre when you realize that they are fighting vamps in the middle of the day, who can't leave the school without getting dusted. Given the way the events unfold, having any of the Scoobies around turned out to be completely unnecessary anyway.
  • Incest Yay Shipping: Buffy, Joyce and Dawn were insanely popular in fanfic and fanart in this respect, the gorgeous athletic young woman, beautiful sophisticated 40 something mother and adorably cute sister. So much so that there were whole fansites dedicated to "Daffy" and the first rule of the 'Joyce Summers Fanfic Archive' was "No Incest" because people loved putting them together so much.
  • Informed Wrongness: While his intentions were hardly pure, Spike wasn't particularly wrong to inform Buffy that Riley was sneaking out behind her back to get off from vampire bites in "Into The Woods". Not only is it borderline cheating, but it put himself, Buffy and all her friends and family in considerable danger if he'd ended up being turned. However, despite his actions being fairly justifiable, Spike is largely condemned as the most in the wrong while Riley is posed as the Designated Hero of the episode.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Buffy. Life screws her over royally time and again. Even when demonic forces aren't actively threatening everything she holds dear, she is still risking her life on a nightly basis and constantly alone, but she just keeps going. In fact, most Buffyverse characters are this trope. Joss Whedon is just mean to his characters.
    • Xander Harris. He's been the most unfortunate of all of the main characters (except the titular character herself). Bad things happen to him for nearly no reason other than to provide comedy and/or angst for the main character, to the point that at one point he declares himself the butt-monkey of the BTVS universe. Furthermore, despite a highly impressive track record, his achievements, loyalty, and bravery are always downplayed/dismissed by his friends until such a time that he becomes useful for them. Despite this treatment, he never turns on his friends or the fight against evil, and you have to admire him for that determination. Xander addresses this in "Potential". After Dawn acknowledges that she is not the new potential slayer the Scoobies were looking for, Xander tells her that the others will never know what it's like to be normal when all of your friends have ridiculous amounts of power that keep growing, but that he knows how much strength it took for Dawn to not let everyone continue to think that she was the potential. It's actually a pretty touching scene.
  • It Was His Sled: Nearly every new viewer of the show has Tara's murder at the end of Season 6 spoiled for them before they get to that point, sometimes before even starting the show, since it's the poster child example for Bury Your Gays. The likelihood of it being spoiled approaches 100% if they browse TV Tropes.
  • Jerkass Dissonance: Joss Whedon hated the idea of another vampire romance for Buffy (he never wanted the first one either) and wanted Spike to get killed despite his popularity, as he was determined for vampires to remain villains. However, Spike's fans wouldn't be deterred and many continued loving him no matter how hard his evil past was emphasized. Whedon eventually relented and let Spike complete his full Heel–Face Turn by the end of the series—albeit not without putting both him and his fans through the ringer first.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Say what you like about Faith's brash, tactless attitude, her willingness and lack of shame at using people like tampons and her psychotic murderous qualities, but even her most zealous of haters (as well as her most dedicated fans) admit that it must have sucked to be her. To have abusive, alcoholic parents who are strongly implied to be dead, to see your watcher die in front of your eyes and to never of had a real father figure must have stung pretty badly. And of course, there's the whole being stuck in a coma for months thing, before awakening to find the only person who ever cared for you is dead. Truly the cherry upon the crappy cake that is Faith's life. The real question among the fandom is whether Faith uses all her misfortune as a excuse to be a heartless, violent bitch or if she is genuinely a victim who has been pushed off the rails and needs all the support she can get. Of course, then there are the people who argued that she was offered support, but chose not to take it, preferring to resume her sociopathic, reckless lifestyle for her own selfish benefit. Or even if she was so unused to being offered friendship and understanding that the poor mess couldn't process it. Either way, definitely a Jerkass, definitely a woobie.
    • Spike spent most of his human life as a ridiculed introvert, rejected by the woman he loved. Then he was turned, and turned his mother out of love and devotion. She promptly tried to molest him and accused him of being Oedipal, forcing him to stake her. He then spent twenty years or so in the company of three of the most evil vampires in history, often considered bottom of the pack as the youngest, and had to see Drusilla, who he adored, screw Angelus. Then he lost Drusilla and was essentially neutered and mocked, used as a source for information and occasional meatshield by the Scoobies. Despite this, he retained a capacity to feel love (even if he was phenomenally bad at expressing it in a remotely human manner) and affection (e.g. Dawn and Joyce), making him nigh unique among vampires. After that, Buffy essentially yanks him back and forth for most of series 6, taking advantage of his affections for her for sexual escapism but mocking and dehumanizing him constantly for thinking it might have meant something. Then he resolves to get himself a soul and is promptly driven mad by it, then driven further up the bend by the First, and dies in a Heroic Sacrifice after finally getting a Love Confession from the woman he adored—which he doesn't even believe, meaning he wasn't even granted Let Them Die Happy before biting the dust. (He got better, so it's not too bad, but still). Granted all this is presented amongst an extremely dark past of being a Hero Killer, some very questionable (and some outright terrible) acts, as well as a generally snarky attitude, which is where the jerkass comes in. However, the universe really has kicked just the ever-loving crap out of the guy for most of his existence, which definitely qualifies him for a Woobie.
      • This quote sums it up pretty well; "The chip. It won't let me be a monster. And I can't be a man. I'm nothing." Did Spike get what was inevitably coming to him? Did he deserve this? Did he bring all or at least most of his suffering on himself? Well, yeah. Does that make him any less ashamed, lonely and conflicted in a way a lot of the audience really connected with? Does it lessen how sympathetic his frequent but often horribly failed attempts at being good are? Not one bit.
    • Buffy herself, after she sacrificed herself to save her sister (and the world, though at that point, she cared little about it in comparison) only for her friends to bring her back to life. Confused, scared, and hurt, she reveals that she was happy being dead and in heaven, simultaneously pushing people away and using them.
    • As whiny and self-centred as Dawn could get, it's hard not to feel bad for her at times. Let's see, she finds out that her entire existence is false, her mother dies, she's almost sacrificed by a psychotic god, her sister dies in her place and is then brought back in the wrong headspace, the couple who raise her in Buffy's absence break up (essentially making her relive her parents' divorce), then one half is murdered and the other half almost turns her back into a ball of energy. Is it any wonder she develops abandoment issues? At one point, she tearfully confesses to Spike that the burden of being the Key is so much that she thinks she's evil due to the awful things that have happened. All this while still a teenager. Christ, send the poor kid hugs, ASAP.
  • Jerks Are Worse Than Villains:
    • Xander Harris was a popular and beloved character during the show's original run thanks to a combination of his humor, vulnerabilities and role as The Team Normal in a group where almost everyone either had expert knowledge of the supernatural or was a supernatural creature themselves. However, Values Dissonance has resulted in Xander's character being viewed in a much more negative light over the years. Xander has drawn criticism for his casually sexist comments which are often lobbed at Cordelia (whom he later cheats on), his jealousy of Angel's relationship with Buffy coming across as entitlement, his often judgmental and hypocritical attitude towards his friends, and his ditching Anya at the altar. It doesn't help that Joss Whedon — who admitted to basing Xander on himself — has recently lost a great deal of public favor due to revelations about his personal life and his behavior towards certain actors on the sets of both Buffy and Angel. Some fans have even gone as far as saying Xander is more evil than the villains of the show whose crimes have included murder, rape, torture and attempted genocide.
    • Fans have little love for the Watchers Council due to them being Armchair Military Obstructive Bureaucrats whose treatment of Slayers has been shown to be outright abusive; one of their traditions is the Tento di Cruciamentum, a Rite of Passage which involves drugging the Slayer to weaken her powers and turning a vampire loose on her. This is done to any Slayer who lives to past the age of 18 and their Watchers are instructed not to tell them about the test, likely because they would object to it. The Watchers Council are also disliked for the role they played in Faith's Face–Heel Turn by trying to arrest her for the accidental death of Mayor Wilkins's assistant which broke her trust in Buffy and her friends because she thought they were in on it. Some fans have also pointed out that the Watchers drafting young girls into a war against evil that will likely kill them at a young age without even financially compensating them is pretty messed up, especially when a Slayer's Watcher is given a salary. The only Watchers who aren't hated worse than most of the villains by fans are Giles and Wesley, the latter initially being just as stuffy and insufferable as most other Watchers before being Rescued from the Scrappy Heap on Angel.
    • Season seven introduced Caleb, a smug, hateful, misogynistic serial killer, who was one of the most evil and depraved characters on the show, yet was entertaining to watch thanks to Nathan Fillion's natural charisma. The same can't be said for Kennedy and Rhona, who stand among the most unlikable characters in the series, for their whiny, petulant, selfish, ungrateful, entitled attitudes towards Buffy despite the number of times she's saved them. The former was a particular sore point as she replaced Tara as Willow's girlfriend, despite the short amount of time since Tara's death and the fact that the two had no chemistry with each other.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Faith. And Wishverse Willow. And Fan Fic writers seem to love making Xander's Fatal Attractor status go Up to Eleven, especially in Crossover fiction. Buffy, Angel and Spike are also shipped with just about anyone and everyone—including each other all at once and in every possible combination.
  • Love to Hate:
    • Plenty of fans loved Cordelia pre character development, given how wonderfully bitchy she was.
    • Glory. She's just so mean and so awesome.
    • The Master. He's so hilariously hammy.
    • The Mayor, in all his Affably Evil greatness.
    • Angelus. Almost no one can inflict as much emotional trauma on Buffy, and yet he is so fascinating to watch.
    • Principal Snyder. Especially after you see him in "Band Candy".
    • Pre-Heel–Face Turn Spike, who mixed coolness with being a genuine threat, so much so that his arrival helped with Growing the Beard.
    • Faith, who before her return to good, provided the perfect Evil Counterpart and Foil to Buffy.
    • Drusilla for being rather quaint yet, a Creepy Awesome variety. She managed to kill a Slayer with hypnosis after all.
    • Caleb is the most loathsome bastard in the show and yet he's so damn charismatic and fun to watch.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Buffy's plan in Season 7 involves becoming this. Results vary.
      Buffy: They're trapped in here. Terrified. Meat for the beast, and there's nothing they can do but wait. That's all they've been doing for days. Waiting to be picked off. Having nightmares about monsters that can't be killed. But I don't believe in that. I always find a way. I'm the thing that monsters have nightmares about. And right now, you and me are gonna show 'em why. It's time. Welcome to Thunderdome.
    • Also, in a more unusual example, Xander. By any Real Life standards, Xander is badass simply by merit of the fact that he's still alive after seven years of fighting the Good Fight (or more, depending on whether you count the Season 8 comics as canon). In many a Fan Fic, this is taken Up to Eleven, and Xander effectively becomes the merciless god of his universe.
  • Memetic Loser:
    • Xander shall always be "The Zeppo" of the Scooby Gang, one of the guys who Whedon goes above and beyond the call of duty of putting through the wringer. His achievements (for the most part) are talking his way to victory (ex. bluffing a Mad Bomber zombie into running away on "The Zeppo", getting the rocket launcher to destroy The Judge, confronting the dark-sided version of Willow when she decides to wipe out the planet) rather than beat the hell out of the bad guy doesn't help. If anything, fanfic attempts to give him a level in badass tend to go the other way.
    • "Dawn’s in trouble? Must be Tuesday". Dawn started out as an annoying Damsel Scrappy and she will Never Live It Down with the fans. Despite being a relatively normal teenager, being around Buffy’s gang made her lack of superpowers alone look bad, but with her teenage angst Scrappy qualities on top of that she quickly made a reputation for herself as the most useless character on the show (as even Xander, listed above, could at least be considered The Heart.) She picked up the slack and Took a Level in Badass in Season 7, redeeming herself at least somewhat to many fans, but the fact of the matter was that she could never truly go beyond Badass Normal status and become a genuinely useful fighter like the rest of the group. She actually had a nice bonding moment with fellow Memetic Loser Xander over this in "Potential". The comics also eventually threw her a bone by giving her the ability to open portals in season 10.
  • Memetic Molester:
    • You've got to wonder why no one questioned Giles always being alone with teenage girls. Lampshaded three times:
      • First one:
        Willow: He's our grown-up friend, but not in the creepy way.
      • Second...
        Giles: Now wait a minute - you think I'm evil... if I bring a group of girls on a camping trip and don't touch them?
      • And three!
        Buffy: When I kissed you? You know I was thinking about Giles, right?
        Spike: (Double Take) You know, I always wondered about you two.
    • Angel too, of course. It's completely canon that he and Buffy consummated when she had just turned seventeen, and were at the stage of regular making out before this, but properly understood, this isn't squicky. The memetic interpretation is that Angel is an Ephebophile who was planning to exploit Buffy from the moment he laid eyes on her. The best fodder for such an interpretation is the flashback scene in "Becoming Part 1" in which Buffy is just a sixteen-year-old coming out of school, giggling girlishly with her friends, while Angel sits in a car parked in the shadows, watching her without her knowing he exists.
  • Memetic Mutation: The line "Dawn's in trouble, must be Tuesday" had been used advertising for the show, adapted in other media and around the web, and the comics themselves.
  • Mis-blamed: A large portion of the fandom can still be guaranteed to meltdown at the name of Marti Noxon, whom they hold responsible for the divisive sixth season, during which she took over showrunner duties while Joss Whedon was giving the majority of his time to Angel and Firefly. For many of them, the failure of subsequent series Point Pleasant was often held up as "proof" that she was out of her depth helming a TV show. Whedon came to her defense, saying the most divisive story elements ultimately came from him. David Fury and Steven DeKnight sometimes also get this, although in their cases it's more down to off-screen interactions with fans that went bad.
  • Moe:
    • Cute Bookworm and The Reliable One Willow, when she's not, y'know, evil. This is especially noticeable in the first few seasons.
    • All-Loving Hero and former abuse victim Tara. One of several reasons it was such a sucker-punch when she was killed.
    • Dawn, interestingly justified: She was deliberately made to be an adorable younger sister so that Buffy would protect her, and so that everyone else would want to, as well.
    • Potential Slayer Vi has plenty of endearing polite, shy, Naïve Newcomer, and Captain Obvious moments.
    • Potential Slayer Amanda's normal teen interests (with some Closet Geek overlap), Jumped at the Call heroism, and normally sunny disposition make her a delightful character even without her Action Girl skills.
    • Watcher's Council member Lydia, due to her occasionally jumpy politeness and being a Fangirl of Spike.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Whenever a villain tortured a member of the Scooby Gang, they tended to be seen as having gone just plain too far. Such as when Angelus tortured Giles to get information, and when in Angel, Faith tortured Wesley, in an attempt to get Angel to murder her because she could no longer live with herself.
    • For the first half Season 6, The Trio is presented as little more than incapable comic relief, posing no real threat to The Scoobies or society. The murder of Katrina in "Dead Things" however, cements Warren as a full-blown misogynist with no care for anyone (including his lackeys) and no chance for redemption.
    • Word of God says that Angelus' murder of Jenny Calender in S2's "Passion" was important for the purpose of displaying how evil Angelus had become. Before that act, Angelus had murdered at least 4 people since being turned, but had not yet committed an offense so grievious to the audience (and the Scoobies) that it became a serious question as to whether or not it was even possible to redeem Angel, and if it was would anyone (besides Buffy) want to do it? As an added layer, Angelus was purposely in his vampire face during the murder so that Angel (Angelus with a soul) could still have some form of positive reputation following his return.
    • If it wasn't the Attempted Rape and murder of Xander, Faith trying to kill Angel is an In-Universe example, motivating Buffy to feed her to him or kill her trying to do so. When she recovers Faith also essentially rapes both Buffy and Riley (she uses Buffy's body to try and get Riley to sleep with her.) Buffy is so furious she is willing to go through Angel in her attempt to kill her, but Angel defied this trope by claiming that despite all this, Faith still wasn't too far gone.
    • Glory mind sucking Tara in "Tough Love".
    • D'Hoffryn was once Affably Evil amusing albeit demonic office boss. Then comes "Selfless" where he kills Anya's best friend when she was expecting to be able to sacrifice herself to bring the people she killed back to life, and making a casual pimp like comment that he "has plenty of girls". It's no shock that he later becomes the Big Bad of season 10 of the comics.
    • "Family": "Tara, if you don't get in that car I swear by God I'm gonna beat you down."
    • Principal Snyder was a comical, child-hating asshole who had it in for Buffy. He really crosses the line at the end of season two when he lies to police that she murdered Kendra.
  • More Popular Spin-Off: Angel and Faith compared to the Season 9 issues.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Most casual fans know the titular heroine as a high school cheerleader who kills vampires. The last time Buffy shows any interest in cheerleading at all is in "The Witch". After that she practically never mentions it again. The identification of Buffy as a cheerleader seems to have been a holdover from the original movie which featured it much more prominently. The first season's opening also features Buffy as a cheerleader.
    • Dawn was originally meant to be a preteen, but then Joss was so impressed with Michelle Trachtenberg's audition that she was changed to a teenager. Unfortunately, there wasn't time to rewrite the first few episodes she appeared in, meaning she ended up looking quite annoyingly immature in them, which many had a hard time getting past even when the crew did start writing with the casting in mind.
    • Buffy really can't live down her treatment of Spike in the episode "Gone" - specifically the moment where he tells her to go and she's implied to perform oral sex on him (which gets Played for Laughs). While she does get off easy by the narrative due to the double standard, Buffy herself angsts about it more than once. She breaks up with Spike in "As You Were", acknowledging that she's been mistreating him, and in "Conversations with Dead People", she outright says she's done horrible things to him.
    • Xander's lowest moment as far as the fans go is his lie to Buffy in the Season 2 finale; not telling her that Willow was planning to re-ensoul Angel. This leads to Buffy's Trauma Conga Line of having to kill Angel right after he got his soul back, and Xander becomes a complete Karma Houdini for it. Even worse is when it receives a Call-Back in Season 7, when Willow finds out and angrily calls him on it...and it's completely forgotten about, Xander dodging repercussions again.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • "Normal Again" seems to be a Whole Plot Reference to the "Masks" two-parter of the Legends of the Dark Knight Batman comic. Both involve the main character undergoing a situation where they're made to believe that all of their adventures are just the product of their delusional minds, and they've been institutionalized the whole time. They even have the same ending, leaving it unclear if they were really crazy after all.
    • A lot of the show's original set-up seems to take inspiration from the original pilot film of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Both Sabrina and Buffy are transfer students. Xander and Willow have a bit in common with Harvey (shy, nerdy black-haired boy whose secretly pines for the heroine, although Harvey succeeds) and Marnie (nerdy red-haired girl who is even bigger outcast than heroine). The bad girls (Katie's friends/the Cordettes) originally aspire to convince the heroine to join them.
    • Director of the 1992 movie, Fran Rubel Kuzui, confirmed that Buffy was heavily influenced by Sailor Moon and it shows. To this day, fans have noted similar storylines between the two shows, the most commonly cited one being Dawn's story bringing to mind Chibiusa and Chibi-Chibi.
  • One-Scene Wonder: In her one scene in the entire series (for which she is uncredited for) Amber Grove from the third episode has a very impressively choreographed cheer audition, followed by her nearly being immolated by a witch's spell.
  • One True Threesome:
    • Buffy/Angel/Spike; between her fantasies of the two vampires oil wrestling and another fantasy of her in a nurse outfit chained to them naked, it's pretty clear that at least Buffy would be game for such an arrangement. And given the copious amounts of Ho Yay, and an outright admission by Spike that they slept together at least once while soulless, there's space to consider the possibility that Spike and Angel might be too. It's even acknowledged in-universe in the season 10 comics when Harmony declares that the best way to settle the Love Triangle would be Polyamory.
    • Buffy/Angel/Faith is another big one, what with Buffy and Faith having Les Yay out the wazoo and Angel and Faith having enough chemistry to get a spin-off comic series out of it.
    • Willow/Tara/Oz is this for some who love how both of the latter two supported and encouraged Willow while in a relationship with her.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: Joss Whedon was largely absent from season six, as he was working on Firefly. The result was a season that was disliked by a lot of fans, with the exception of the beloved "Once More With Feeling", which, funnily enough, was Joss' sole contribution to that season, though as always he contributed the overall seasonal plot and made notes on others' work.

     The Series (Tropes P - Z) 
  • Realism-Induced Horror: Part of the reason why Warren is such a surprisingly terrifying antagonist is that he's the closest thing the show has to a grounded Big Bad. Compared to the likes of the Mayor and Glory, Warren's just a nerd with a whole lot of mental issues, so you wouldn't expect him to be much of a threat - and yet, his severe entitlement complex leads to increasingly heinous actions as he racks up failures and spirals through a mental breakdown. This escalates to Attempted Rape and murder (of his ex-girlfriend, in itself a terrifyingly common target), with Warren almost managing to kill the Slayer herself just by grabbing a dime-a-dozen handgun. Especially as time has gone on and more light has been shed on the toxicity of the nerd culture that he embodies, reception to his character has gone from disappointed at his weakness to acknowledging the possibility that someone like him could actually exist, and that only makes him that much worse.
  • Relationship Writing Fumble:
    • The writers realized they were writing way too much Belligerent Sexual Tension into Cordelia and Xander's interactions, so they just went with it and made them a couple.
      Cordelia: I'd rather be worm food than look at your pathetic face!
      Xander: Then go! I'm not stopping you!
      Cordelia: I bet you wouldn't! I bet you'd let a girl go off to her doom all by herself!
      Xander: Not just any girl. You're special.
      Cordelia: I can't believe that I'm stuck spending what will probably be my last few moments on Earth here — with you!
      Xander: I hope these are my last few moments! Three more seconds with you, and I'm gonna...
      Cordelia: 'I'm gonna' what? Coward!
      Xander: Moron!
      Cordelia: I hate you!
      Xander: I hate you!
      [They kiss for the first time — hard]
    • During "The Initiative", Riley is seen comforting a depressed Willow at a party. Riley's sensitivity here and the chemistry between Alyson Hannigan and Marc Blucas in this scene (arguably more than Riley had had with Buffy) led many viewers to believe the show was heading for a love triangle, with Willow stealing Buffy's not-yet-boyfriend.
    • "Something Blue": Buffy and Spike getting married was supposed to be a joke and the catalyst to Buffy deciding she was over bad boys, but there was so much chemistry between them that the Spuffy pairing just took off.
    • By season three, Whedon had decided that either Xander or Willow would eventually come out as gay. He was apparently leaning toward Xander, but in season four Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson had such astonishing chemistry that Willow/Tara became canon instead.
    • Forrest's hostility towards Riley's relationship and immediate dislike for Buffy makes him come across as a jealous, scorned admirer rather than a concerned friend who's in too deep in the Initiative, as the writer's intended. Marc Blucas himself has occasionally joked about the idea in interviews.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Kennedy was not well-received by fans, and not just because of her replacing Tara. First off, introducing a new love interest for Willow so soon after Tara's death was questionable; secondly, she came across as bratty, egotistical and selfish: she lied to get Willow to date her, never behaved sensitively re: the Tara issue, talked about nothing other than herself and being gay, etc. She also indirectly helped cause the suicide of one of the Potentials with her Drill Sergeant Nasty act; it was the First Evil that actually caused it, but Kennedy at least scores an assist (although given that Buffy's response was a "eulogy" about how pathetic the girl was, she probably wasn't alone in that). In the Season 8 comics, the writers finally wised up and had Willow break up with her. She was actually voted the most annoying TV character of 2002-2003 in a couple polls and was included on the list of most annoying TV characters ever by EW. The dislike wasn't universal however: Some reviewers at the time considered Kennedy one of the more interesting and likable aspects of the Potentials storyline, while the last volume of the unlicensed guide book Slayer provided a more even-handed look at Willow and Kennedy's relationship while acknowledging the flaws that caused many fans to reject it.
    • Riley, who spent so much time being "the other guy" after Angel (actually lampshaded by Xander) that they forgot to make him into an interesting character.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Tara was originally despised for replacing Oz as Willow's Love Interest, but over time the fans came to love her and then revolted when she went off the show and was followed by, Kennedy, who was despised through the rest of the series and into the comics despite several attempts to make her a character most fans would consider really cool were it anyone else. Part of this was achieved through character development that gave Tara a strong friendship with Buffy, making her a surrogate big sister/mother for Dawn and a more confident person that helped her be more than just a Satellite Love Interest.
    • Dawn actually achieved this for some in Season 7. With a bit of Character Development, less emphasis on the Distress Ball and contributing more to the group — the hate towards her lessened. Season 7 is divisive but people who don't like the season do list Dawn's character as having improved.
    • Depending on who you ask, Kennedy achieves this in Season 9, where she suddenly becomes cool. She sets up a bodyguard agency and offers Buffy work, her personality is less about how gay and selfish she is and with Willow gone for the time acts the way she thinks her ex would. Loading up on guns, grenades and a sword for corporate terrorism doesn't hurt either.
    • Until the Guarded comic storyline. A million respect points for salvaging what Slayers had become by having them become Bodyguard Babes, and working with Buffy who is currently Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: Instead of solely focusing on the much more interesting storyline of Faith turning to the dark side, along with the Mayor's motivations, half of season three was dedicated to Buffy and Angel sorting out their issues, despite the fact that it was utterly obvious how it was going to end (Angel would leave to star in his own show, breaking up with Buffy). In other words, they stretched out a conflict (of whether or not they could be together) that could have realistically lasted about three episodes (and actually did end during the first half of the season).
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Shortly after he was introduced some viewers were convinced Oz was evil. Joss Whedon personally spoke out against this, saying he didn't understand this interpretation.
    • The author of the fic Penny For Your... is especially blatant when it comes to clearing away Buffy's other boyfriends in order to leave room for Spike. Angel is depicted as an arrogant idiot child with a god-complex, while Riley is turned into a sadistic monster whose attitude actually improves once he's turned into a vampire. And of course, Buffy's friends are all okay with her getting with Spike, even the vampire-hating Xander.
    • Spuffy authors really don't give Angel or Riley a break. The fanfic Five Words or Less is another, albeit much milder example. Riley is portrayed as a bastard boyfriend who likes to gleefully beat up Spike for no reason other than he's proving to be a better match for Buffy, and while Angel isn't bashed nearly as much as Riley, there is one instance where he comes off as a little too childish and petty.
    • In the Superman crossover The Child of Rao, Willow is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who stole Jenny Calendar's magic books immediately after learning she died, frequently uses black magic, hates Cordelia and Faith with a passion for being more attractive and confident than her, and has tried to break up Xander and Cordelia multiple times with magic. The author uses the justification that Willow became addicted to black magic much sooner than canon in this story.
  • Saved by the Fans: Spike was going to last only five episodes, but proved so popular that he was spared and went on to become the show's Breakout Character.
    • Several characters were going to appear for a few episodes and then die, but were instead saved (Oz and Faith are the shining examples), some were killed off much later than intended (Joyce Summers and Tara), some were even revived from the dead. Fan reaction to the characters was the deciding factor every single time.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Dawn, thanks to her constant whining and ungrateful attitude, as well as how useless and even detrimental she is to the Scoobies. It doesn't help that Buffy sacrifices herself for her in the Season 5 finale, something quite a few fans felt was unearned on Dawn's behalf. She also has a teenage-ry selfish attitude and often lacks empathy. She matures in the final season, so that by the end of the series, while still disliked by many, she has gained a certain level of respect from the fandom, becoming a full Scooby gang member, no longer relegated to just being rescued and giving Buffy unconditional love. Well that, and the fact Kennedy turns up in that season, who is generally even more despised than Dawn, making Dawn look much better in comparison.
    • Riley receives a good deal of hate from the fanbase, whether they belong to the Buffy/Angel or Buffy/Spike camps. It's not too surprising: Riley was introduced during a season considered to be one of the show's weakest, never had much of an identity established and was an integral part of the loathed Initiative. He also managed to enrage fans in Season 5, when he becomes insecure over Buffy's attraction to darkness and resents her for "not spending enough time with him" when Buffy had to look after her mother (who was suffering from a life threatening and ultimately fatal brain aneurysm). When she gets upset about it he tries to blame Buffy for how he feels, and we're supposed to side with Riley. That and the ridiculous amount of Character Shilling he received from Xander in his last episode helps cement him as one of the most annoying Buffyverse characters. Doesn't help that his return in S6 could be seen as telling Buffy what she had missed (now he has a great marriage), despite him demanding her help while she's working at the Doublemeat Palace to support her sister and herself.
    • Scrappy is not a strong enough word to describe the burning hatred fans have towards Kennedy. First off, introducing a new love interest for Willow so soon after Tara's death. Bratty, egotistical, hypocritical and selfish: lies to get Willow to date her (plus she hit on her in such an agressive way that she came across as a sexual predator), had no sensitivity or tact, helped cause the suicide of one of the Potentials with her Drill Sergeant Nasty act, talked about nothing other than herself and being gay, arrogantly questioned those with more experience than her etc. She was also a forced love interest for Willow considering that they're literally polar opposites personality-wise in every conceivable way. In the Season 8 comics, the writers finally wised up and had Willow break up with her, though not without putting the heels to her character further and even the motion comics adding lines to make her look like an utter bitch, as well as portray the other characters loath her. She was actually voted the most annoying TV character of 2002-2003 in a couple of polls and was included on the list of most annoying TV characters ever by Entertainment Weekly and no matter what the writers try with Kennedy, she may well be regarded as the most hated TV character ever. In this ranking of the major and recurring characters in the Buffyverse, she comes dead last. That's right, fans hated her more than the villains (she was ranked a place behind the Anointed One). However, despite her very committed hatedom, you don't have to look that far to find contemporary reviews and guide books and even retrospectives that say positive or at least sympathetic things about the character. The problem is she was always on a hiding to nothing when she was basically presented as a Replacement Goldfish for Tara.
    • Many find the Potentials in the final season as a whole pretty annoying, due to them either being bland cyphers who faded into the background or being insufferable. Plus, they take away precious screen-time from the characters that we actually care about and introducing this many characters in the final season means that they're not going to be explored properly. If Kennedy is the most loathed of the bunch, then Rona is a close second (and maybe even a first for some peopple, since Kennedy was at least occasionally useful while Rona was pure Damsel Scrappy) due to her ungrateful, bitchy attitude, generally being an asshole to everyone and being no fun to watch due to her constant complaining. It speaks volumes that Dawn tells her to shut up. The only Potentials that actually were likeable were Amanda and Violet.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • Season 4 is a popular candidate, losing the high school element and most of the popular characters, with Angel and Cordelia having disappeared off onto another show, Oz departing early in the season for parts unknown, and Xander and Giles not being as integrated into the college setting. Buffy's relationship with Riley was not well received and the introduction of a demon-hunting military unit was too much of a departure from the show's norm. The season also took far too long to get to the point, waiting until over halfway through before introducing Big Bad Adam and then hardly doing anything with him (only his first full episode and the two-parter that wrapped up his storyline give him any real screen time, with the intervening episodes trying to keep the arc moving by having characters go "We must do something to stop Adam" during unrelated problems), leaving it feeling rather directionless at times. Main plus points were Spike's emerging Ensemble Dark Horse status, the return of Faith in "This Year's Girl/Who Are You?", and a few decent individual episodes like "Fear Itself", "Hush" and "Restless".
    • Season 6 in particular is a case of divisiveness; many revile it for levels of gloom bordering on Wangst, the pathetic-ness of the Trio of as Big Bad, plot elements such as the widely-detested "magic addiction" arc and an inconsistently written romance between Spike and Buffy. On the other hand, some praise it for the attempts at emotional depth and character development, a change of pace from the relentless Sorting Algorithm of Evil, and individually beloved episodes like "Once More, With Feeling" and "Tabula Rasa". Lampshaded in this scene:
      Buffy: Giles, everything's just been so... Xander left Anya at the altar, and Anya's a vengeance demon again... Dawn's a total klepto... money's been so tight that I've been slinging burgers at the Doublemeat Palace... And I've been sleeping with Spike.
      Giles starts to laugh
    • Season 7 likewise gets a lot of flak when compared to what came before. While it doesn't have as much in it that angered fans like Season 6 did (what with the dissolution of Xander/Anya, Willow's addiction to magic, and the near-rape of Buffy), it also lacks a lot of the highs that Season 6 managed ("Once More, With Feeling", "Tabula Rasa", the final arc with Willow's Heel–Face Turn). Season 7's greatest offering is "Conversations With Dead People", but other than that, the entire run of episodes is spent preparing for a fight with the Big Bad. This provides the season with a lot of weariness, as there are far fewer lighthearted episodes to offer levity, and the Big Bad itself was rather uninteresting (being little more than an incarnation of evil). Its Dragon Caleb had potential but is introduced far too late and killed off far too quickly to be among the show's most memorable villains. The Potentials had a mixed reaction: Individual characters were liked by some and hated by others, but either way giving Buffy a mostly non-speaking Red Shirt Army resulted in long-standing characters being pushed to the sidelines. There are, however, a number of decent episodes like "Same Time, Same Place", "First Date", the Spike character piece "Lies My Parents Told Me" and "Chosen", which ended the series on a high note.
  • Sequel Displacement: Not many people know of the film.
  • Ship Mates:
    • Fans of the Spike/Buffy ship tend to get along with, if not outright overlap with, fans of Angel/Cordelia.
    • Fans of Faith/Buffy also tend to get along with Spike/Angel shippers.
    • Anya/Xander and Willow/Tara more commonly show up alongside Spike/Buffy, mostly because they were all canon around the same time.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat:
    • If you suggest that Angel is Buffy's true love and their relationship is tragic and believable compared to the Masochism Tango of Spike and Buffy, the Spuffy shippers will hit you. If you suggest that Spike is Buffy's true love and their relationship was gritty and realistic compared to the hopeless and boring idealism of Buffy/Angel, the Bangel shippers will hit you.
      • This one gets particularly hairy when the subject of souls comes up, given the rather fast-and-loose lore
    • If you suggest that Angel and Spike had no interest in Buffy at all except for fighting over her because they're really in love with each other, the het shippers will hit you. If you suggest that neither Spike nor Angel had interest in each other and they both love Buffy more than anything else in the universe, the slashers will hit you.
    • If you admit to shipping anyone with Riley Finn, everyone will hit you, with the obvious exception of Riley/Xander, which is just common sense — in the comics Xander even admits to being a Team Riley shipper, which makes sense for his character.
    • Funnily enough, averted with Willow/Tara vs Willow/Oz shippers who generally tend to get along just fine. In their mutual hate of the Willow/Kennedy shippers, that is. There's also the fact that Oz and Tara are among the least hated characters in the fandom. Granted, both received their fair share of vitriol in the early days (especially Tara), but nowadays they are almost universally-adored by all fans.
  • Shocking Moments:
    • Buffy vs. Angelus in "Becoming, Part 2 ", culminating in him getting his soul back and Buffy stabbing him and sending him to hell for all eternity.
    • Anytime Buffy and Faith fight, which usually ends in some kind of tragedy or development.
    • Glory's a what now?
    • Awww... Buffy and Xander sharing a Friendship Moment and Willow and Tara are back together. Wait, what's Warren doing here with a gun...?
    • The ending of "Lessons", where The First torments Spike by merging into all the previous Big Bads as well as Buffy herself. Not only is this Paranoia Fuel, but the impact of the scene is even greater if you don't remember "Amends" because you have no freaking idea what this new Big Bad could be.
    • "Conversations With Dead People".
    • The final battle in "Chosen", but especially the deaths of Anya and Spike. Oh yeah, and Buffy and Willow making every girl on the planet who has the potential to be a Slayer into a fully-fledged Slayer. Joss Whedon really outdid himself with that one.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The reveal the the cute blonde schoolgirl breaking into a high school with her date is a vampire.
    • Spike plowing through the Sunnydale sign with his car.
    • Buffy using a rocket launcher to kill The Judge doubles as both this and a Moment of Awesome.
    • Giles discovering the body of Jenny Calendar.
    • Buffy sends Angel to Hell and leaves Sunnydale.
    • Buffy finally gets her perfect high school moment and wins the Class Protector Award.
    • Buffy vs. Faith.
    • The high school blows up.
    • The Gentlemen floating down the street.
    • Faith and Buffy swapping bodies.
    • The rest of the Scoobies powering up Buffy to beat Adam.
    • Buffy comes home to find her mother dead of a brain aneurysm.
    • Buffy's sacrifice and final goodbye to Dawn.
    • Buffy and Spike literally bringing the house down as they have sex for the first time.
    • Tara's death.
    • Xander's "yellow crayon" speech.
    • Caleb gouging out Xander's eye.
    • The Final Fight and Willow making all the Potentials around the world into Slayers.
  • Signature Series Arc: The "Evil Angel" story arc that comprised season two and saw Angel end up losing his soul and become the main villain. It proved to be the show's Growing the Beard moment for turning the show's formula on its head, as well as introducing major characters, not the least of which included Spike, and planted seeds that would set up Angel's spin-off down the line.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • The costume used for Oz's werewolf form for most of the show. When Angel, in its final season, did a werewolf story, the note given to the costume designer was allegedly "don't make it look like a gay possum". In general, the werewolf actors always move less like a ferocious human-wolf monster than a person in a costume trying to run around like a dog (granted, the human body is definitely not built to run around on all fours, but it can still be kind of funny to watch).
    • The fight between Buffy and the giant enchanted snake in "Shadow" consists of long shots in which both Buffy and the snake are rendered in really bad CGI, and close-up shots of Gellar wrestling with a huge, virtually immobile, obviously plastic snake head and doing her best to make it look as if it is fighting back.
    • The CGI explosion for the destruction of the Watchers' Council headquarters in "Never Leave Me" was so bad that it was reduced to an almost subliminal length on-screen.
    • The vampire Game Face prosthetics look great, even in early seasons, however all the actors tend to get pretty distracting Fang Thpeak from the large obstructive fake fangs in their mouths. It gets better as things go on, particularly with mainstays like James Marsters and David Boreanaz, who have custom prosthetics that fit better to their faces.
    • The Mayor's ascension ends up looking pretty Narm-y due to the dated 90's tv-budget CGI.
    • Adam's design is just downright goofy—the comically oversized flesh stitches, rubbery-looking metal plates all over his body and the nerdy-looking haircut just undercut any intimidation factor his design could have had. It was bad enough that when The First Evil briefly imitates him in season 7, his hairstyle and metal plates were fixed up so he looked a little cooler.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: While it was meant chiefly as an adaptation of the 1992 movie, Whedon has also acknowledged the influence of The Lost Boys on the show, specifically citing Spike and the vampires' Game Face as having been inspired by that film. The plot descriptions of both (horror-comedies about teenagers moving to a California beach town only to find it crawling with vampires) are also remarkably similar.
  • Spoiled by the Format:
    • Played With at the end of season four: The heroes make up and defeat Adam in the episode before the season finale, while the season finale is a Bizarro Episode that seems like filler, but actually hints at some events that occur later on in the series
    • Angel's sudden return to life in season three would've been a great twist if David Boreanaz hadn't appeared in the credits at the beginning. For extra irony, the credits are a character montage, so even people who didn't know the actor's name still saw the character would come back.
    • Likewise, Spike's Dramatic Unmask in "The Harsh Light Of Day" is spoiled by the credits having already announced a few minutes prior that "James Marsters as Spike" was going to appear in the episode, leaving little doubt who Harmony's vampiric boyfriend would turn out to be.
  • Stoic Woobie: Giles was this in Season 2 after the death of Jenny Calendar and in Season 6 when Buffy died. He also may or may not have been this in Season 4 after being unemployed and going through a mid-life crisis.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Two big examples.
    • Buffy and Riley had no hope right from the start. Granted, the writers tried, but they tried so badly to make Riley "not Angel" that they forgot to give him any interesting character traits of his own — or any that would make him even the slightest bit compatible with Buffy. The timing of this relationship didn't help much — shortly after Buffy's dramatic and defining relationship with Angel ends and Angel leaves Sunnydale, the writers tried introducing Buffy into a brand new romantic relationship with a brand new character without giving much recovery time for the end of the Buffy/Angel relationship, which had been a primary storyline of Seasons 1-3.
    • For Willow/Kennedy in season 7, the writers didn't even try at all. Literally the only reason they start a relationship is because Kennedy is also a lesbian, and Kennedy seems determined to not have any likable traits whatsoever. It's a huge letdown after Willow and Tara's relationship, which out of the whole show had the most build-up and most development.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • Willow's first meeting with the Wiccan group where she meets Tara. The Wiccans dismiss Willow for suggesting they try actual magic, as they would do in any real life school. They're portrayed as being close-minded posers, despite the fact that The Masquerade is in effect and as far as they're concerned, Willow's suggestion is no more valid than it would be in real life.
    • The child services worker in the episode "Gone". She's portrayed as your standard Department of Child Disservices worker, but her points about Buffy taking care of Dawn really were quite valid considering, well, Buffy was having a great deal of difficulty caring for Dawn.
    • Kennedy and the Potentials in regards to Buffy's attitude. The main characters were too close to see how horrid she really was, then one by one realized she was the problem.
    • Xander's misogynistic co-workers at the construction site in "Life Serial". They're cowardly jerks who end up blaming Buffy for attacking them rather than admit to her having saved them from a gang of demons. Still, the fact that they made the assumption that a woman of Buffy's size and stature with no visible musculature would not have the physical strength to do the job at the same level as everyone else on the construction site wasn't actually unreasonable (even if it was, obviously, completely inaccurate).
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • Happens multiple times with Dawn:
      • In the last issue of season 8 she refers to herself as the former "Scrappy-Doo" of the gang.
      • In "Once More, With Feeling", she starts to sing a whiny song about how no-one notices or cares about her. She is kidnapped by the villain's henchmen before she sings more than two lines. (Although this was largely because the actress didn't want to sing, it's still pretty satisfying.)
      • In "Two to Go", Dark Willow calls Dawn out for her constant whining and offers to turn her back into her native form of a ball of energy, just to put a stop to it.
    Wanna go back? End the pain? You'll be happier. I'd be happier. We'll all be a lot happier without having to listen to all your constant whining. "Mom! Buffy! Tara! Wah!"
    • Rona being told to shut up by Dawn, when the former goes "Ding dong, the witch is dead," after Buffy is kicked out.
    • In "Touched", Faith finally puts Kennedy in her place by telling her to back the hell off. The comics see Willow break up with her and Buffy punch her in the face, giving her a black eye.
    • A small one, but at least a little cathartic in the face of all the Character Shilling he otherwise gets is Spike directly calling out Riley's general blandness by nicknaming him things like "Captain Cardboard" and "White Bread". Plus, Angel kicks his ass in "The Yoko Factor" and tells Buffy that he doesn't like him.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Oh boy, Willow and Tara in the early stages of their relationship, "Family" being the sappiest episode ever. It ended with the two of them hugging while floating in the air. Thankfully they became a much more realistic couple towards the end of season 5.
  • Tear Dryer:
    • In "Forever", Buffy stands by her mother's grave silently mourning alone. Then Angel appears to comfort her.
    • In "Touched", Buffy is at her lowest - deposed as leader and exiled from her own house and is beating herself up alone in an abandoned house. Spike finds her, reminds her of her worth and spends a tender night with her. By the climax, she's back to her old self again.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Whistler, the mysterious agent of the Powers That Be, who was originally supposed to be Doyle on Angel, but the actor was busy with other projects and they created the character of Doyle instead.
    • In "Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight", an episode was about a student Marcie Ross who can turn invisible and by the end of this episode was taken by F.B.I agents to be trained in assassination and espionage. She never appeared again. Then again, it's debatable to see whether she "appeared" at all.
    • Kendra, the secondary Slayer introduced in Season 2 who was called after Buffy's temporary death in Season 1. Very little of her character and background was explored before she was killed off towards the end of the second season.
    • Dracula. A famous vampire with mysterious powersnote , has history with both Spike and Anya and is able to really get under Buffy's skin. His single episode ends with him being mocked and leaving, most of the episode really more focused on foreshadowing things about the main characters. The comics at least make more use of him, in particular his weird relationship with his friend/meat puppet Xander.
    • Professor Maggie Walsh was shaping up to be an interesting arc villain in Season 4 - a human Well-Intentioned Extremist who shared many of Buffy's goals, had personal relationships with Buffy, Willow and Riley, and at one point even eclipsed Giles as a mentor figure for Buffy. Alas, she was killed halfway through the season and replaced by her own creation, the far less relatable human-demon-cyborg hybrid Adam, who barely interacted with the main cast.
      • Adam himself could have been an even more interesting antagonist, perhaps exploring his genesis and the morality of the organization that made him, which might have lead to a Heel–Face Turn or at least him becoming an Anti-Villain who developed his own goals and motivations who might even end up turning on his masters. Instead, he remained a shallow one-note villian until his demise in the finale. It didn't help that he was introduced very late in the season.
    • The original plans for Sunday, the vampire Buffy faces in the first episode of season 4, was that she was a previous slayer turned vampire. Seeds of this storyline remain in the episode, particularly in Sunday’s uncanny savviness against Buffy. One has to wonder why that idea wasn’t resurrected when Walsh had to be written out, rather than the introduction of pretty universally disliked Frankenstein Expy Adam.
    • Dawn is an inter-dimensional key to hell dimensions in human form but was given no powers, and is largely used as a helpless Damsel in Distress for most of her time on the show. The comics take better advantage of Dawn's origins, granting her portal-opening powers in season 10, but even then it was used rather scarcely.
    • Amy Madison feels like she could have been a more regular character after being turned human, and maybe even a member of the gang with some nice new personality traits instead of only having a few more (somewhat antagonistic) appearances.
    • Vampire barfly Sandy, given a bit of flirtation with Riley and seeming like a rare non-murderous vampire. The fact that she was turned by Vampire Willow also gives her an interesting connection to the main cast, but she's killed off in her third appearance without doing anything of note beyond kick-starting Riley's vampire bite addiction arc.
    • Principal Robin Wood was a great addition to the cast in season seven, an easy-going principal who's the son of the Slayer that Spike killed in New York in 1977. Following the resolution to their feud, he fades into the background in the last few episodes, as if the show didn't know what to do with him beyond that arc, beside having him hook up with fate. In fact, the reason his fate is ambiguous in the finale is because Joss Whedon literally couldn't decide whether to kill him off or not.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Xander had all the puzzle pieces to have a character arc regarding his vampire hatred; with what happened to Jesse being the catalyst for it and close proximity to two "reformed" vampires being obvious places of growth. Instead Jesse is never brought up after the pilot, the potential trauma Jesse's death may have caused goes unexamined and Xander continues indiscriminately hating Angel and Spike right to the end, regardless of the status of their souls and their actions. The comics somewhat fix this, as it does have Xander briefly admit to having some trauma over Jesse, and he later does seem to get over his vampire hatred by starting an Odd Friendship with Dracula and becoming Vitriolic Best Buds with Spike. It is, however, still mostly an implied arc that isn't examined too in-depth.
    • While Angel would make the occasional guest appearance after getting his own show, none of his crew ever appeared. Imagine Buffy and co. seeing how Cordelia and Wesley have grown as people since they knew them, or meeting Gunn, Fred and Lorne.
    • Season 7 has a lot of wasted potential:
      • Many fans still argue that the big redemption story of Season 7 was given to the wrong character. Jonathan had been part of the show from the beginning, so it would have been great to see him repent for his being part of the Trio and finally become a hero in his own right. But instead he's abruptly killed off, and the redemption story goes to Andrew, who we'd only just met last season and hadn't done nearly as much to earn it.
      • Unfortunately the writers' hands were forced by the actors not being available, but "Conversations With Dead People" was originally intended to feature the First Evil taking the forms of Halfrek and Jesse to taunt Anya and Xander respectively. Amber Benson also declined to return for an actual Willow/Tara conversation, not wanting fans' last memories of the character to be of an evil doppleganger.
      • Several moments in Season 7 implied that at some point, Buffy would again be forced to choose between saving Dawn and the world, and this time would choose differently, most notably Joyce telling Dawn "Buffy won't choose you" in "Conversations With Dead People". In the end, nothing of the sort ever happens.
      • Faith's return happens too late for any questions surrounding her redemption to be properly resolved. The Scoobies almost immediately accept it and trust her, even mutinying against Buffy in favor of Faith one episode after her return. Her Attempted Rape of Xander in Season 3 is also never addressed, although it's not like most shows of the time (or even today) ever acknowledge that for what it is.
      • The idea of a split between the Scoobies and the Potentials, with the Potentials preferring Faith's leadership, could have made an interesting arc, but the mutiny is resolved and Buffy ends up back in charge after just two episodes.
      • Angel's return in the Grand Finale is nothing more than a cameo, as he doesn't interact with anyone except Buffy and doesn't participate in the Final Battle, despite his history with the First Evil. Once again, the writers' hands were forced by the network limiting crossovers with Angel.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring:
    • This tends to be the reason some fans call Fanon Discontinuity after season five. You had Buffy Wangst throughout the majority of the sixth season, had a mutually destructive and degrading hookup with Spike, and then became a complete Jerkass. It had gotten so bad that Buffy's close circle of friends would rather have Faith, a once Ax-Crazy rogue Slayer, lead the Potentials because she looked saner than Buffy around that point. The Scoobies themselves are no better, if they're not on a Wangst fest then they're doing something that makes them look unlikable to the viewer’s eyes and they are supposed to be the heroes of the series. Whedon has acknowledged this is an issue with season six, as he signed off on a bunch of dark story ideas he liked, without considering that having them all happen at the same time might be a bit much.
    • Season Five introduced the idea that previous Slayers tended to die after a few years because they got weary of constantly fighting and trying to save the world. After reaching this despair horizon, they would start to give less than 100% and would eventually die by letting their guard down. Towards the end of the season, Buffy has a mental breakdown because she also experiences this weariness and realizes that it may end up costing not her own life, but that of her sister. This belief that her not giving 100% may have contributed to Dawn's capture and possible death drives her into a coma. Fast forward a couple of years, and after Buffy is unable to save the life of a doomed teenage girl, she spends nearly the remainder of Season Seven going through the motions and becoming apathetic towards whether anyone around her suffers or dies, even her close friends or sister.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • Season three had what many consider to be the show's best ever Big Bad, Mayor Richard Wilkins III. Season four's main villain was Adam, who many fans, as well as Whedon himself, felt to be the most boring villain. Season five gave us Glory, who was a return to the more entertaining main villains of the past.
    • One reason why Riley and Kennedy were so disliked was that they followed characters who were not only well-liked, but were part of beloved pairing. In Riley's case, Buffy and Angel was the original great romance of the series, while Willow and Tara are often named as the show's best couple.
  • Ugly Cute: The Gentlemen are scary as hell, but they're so friendly and polite with one another that it's almost endearing, especially when they politely applaud each others' work.
    • Gachnar the Fear Demon. He's about as ugly as any given (non-vampiric) demon, but he's so tiny that he's pretty cute.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The early seasons don't so much scream "1990s" as they beat you with a sledgehammer labeled "1990s" and perhaps teamkill you with a tank. The effect gradually fades as the seasons progress, though. The same is also true of Angel, on an accelerated scale.
    "If the apocalypse comes, beep me."
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Whether Spike deserved the audience sympathy he got after being chipped, whipped, and generally getting his ass kicked by characters, writers, and the universe alike is still highly debatable. Some do stick with the writers' interpretation (and intended response) that it was karmic retribution, deserved or brought on himself. Others think of him as a Jerkass Woobie whose ongoing Humiliation Conga made the heroes look like bigger assholes than him and wish they would either just put him out of his misery or try to help him.
      • One specific example being in season 5's "Triangle", in which Spike points out that he has no intent to drink from bleeding disaster victims in The Bronze. Buffy immediately calls him disgusting and storms off, and this is framed as him wanting a prize for basic decency. However, Spike was only defending himself from Buffy's clear accusatory tone when he was helping her with the injured patrons, and for him—a soulless defanged vampire who hasn't been able to have human blood in almost 2 years—not taking advantage of the situation to "sample" human blood without setting off his chip is a legitimately notable effort on his part.
    • Doris the social worker from "Gone" is made to look as though she's going mad just because she dropped around Buffy's house at the worst possible time. Buffy's behaviour in the episode is shown to be immature but a lot of people felt sorry for Doris - given that her job was to report if Dawn was being treated well at home.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Joyce and Buffy's friends come across as this in "Dead Man's Party". While being angry at Buffy for running away is one thing, they seem rather unsympathetic to the fact that Buffy had left as a result of killing her boyfriend. They also refuse to spend time with Buffy when she asks them to but then accuse her of pushing them away. They decide to host a party at her house and invite people she doesn't know personally just to avoid talking to her. Not to mention that Joyce was the one who told Buffy not to come back home if she left the house after Buffy revealed the existence of the supernatural to her and that she had to save the world.
    • Buffy in "The Gift" is portrayed as heroic for wanting to protect Dawn at all costs, even though she knows it means unimaginable suffering and probable death for herself — never mind that she knows that it also means unimaginable suffering and probable death for everyone and everything else in existence, including Dawn, meaning that she basically just wants to end the world for no reason. The fact that she eventually sacrifices herself is arguably not heroic either — she's the Slayer, and Season 6 shows how fast Sunnydale could be overrun without her. The most noble and selfless choice for the good of everyone would've arguably been if she had sacrificed Dawn. The fans, after all wouldn't have minded that much. Her death was probably due to meta reasons of wanting an excuse to end the show once the 5 year contract was up and the writers didn't know if anyone would renew them.
    • Giles's departure in Season 6 was intended to show him realizing that Buffy's constant reliance on him was stagnating her own growth and he had to withdraw for her own good. But the way it was written comes off more like Giles coldly washing his hands of his beloved student right when she needs him the most. Many fans still argue that his absence due to Anthony Stewart Head wanting to spend more time with his family should have been something involuntary, like the Watcher's Council sending him abroad or getting trapped in another dimension, so he wouldn't look like a jerk.
    • When Angelus kills Jenny Calendar, Joss purposely had him in his vamp face to make the audience hate Angelus's face, not Angel's, the variant with a soul and a human face. This showcased that Angel as we knew him was not there anymore and that he was a threat that needed to be taken seriously. It worked for the fan base and Angel remains one of the most popular characters in the Buffyverse. Xander, however, constantly uses this act to justify his dislike for Angel even when he has his soul back despite the fact that he was not in control of his actions at this point.
    • Riley in, well, most of season 5 but particularly in "Into the Woods". Firstly, he begins getting insecure about his girlfriend one-upping him in the strength department, which is a guaranteed Berserk Button to most fans of a Feminist Fantasy show. Then he, in a completely misguided and ridiculous attempt to "darken" himself for Buffy, gets addicted to being fed on by vampires. How exactly he thought doing this behind her back would make him more appealing to her in the first place is anyone's guess, but then he decides to indulge in this habit after having spent a romantic night with Buffy. Upon getting caught and Buffy getting validly upset about it, he jumps on the defence and issues her an ultimatum that she needs to give him a reason not to leave her and rejoin the army. Not only is Buffy presented as the wrong party for being upset at such a demand, but Xander even tells her off for being a supposed "bad girlfriend" and all but guilt-trips her into taking Riley back. By the end of the episode, the audience was apparently intended to view Buffy just barely missing Riley before he leaves in a helicopter as some sort of grand tragedy. This is despite the entire season and episode making it about as clear as it possibly could be that they were just entirely incompatible and that he just... wasn't that great.
    • Xander in "Hell's Bells". While many fans do sympathize with his worries about getting married considering his family history, it's almost universally agreed upon that him leaving Anya to announce to the wedding guests that the wedding was off was a major Jerkass move.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Xander's definitely the Butt-Monkey, but he's also the well-loved Heart of the Scooby Machine and a staple member of the group.
    • Spike is undoubtably the Iron Butt Monkey and The Friend Nobody Likes for basically the entire run of the show (aside from Dawn liking him in season 5 and most of season 6, and Buffy liking him in season 7), but is well-loved (if to a somewhat polarizing degree) by audiences to the point of being a Breakout Character.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • A big part of the reason that Xander has fallen into more and more of a Scrappy role for fans as time has gone on - in the late 90s/early 2000s, he was something of a breath of fresh air in portrayals of young men, being anti-macho, pretty much the furthest thing from an aggressive jock, willingly taking the backseat to Buffy as the leader of the Scooby Gang. As time has gone on, people have become more and more aware of the toxic culture of masculinity in nerd cultures, and Xander's portrayal starts looking more and more like that of the culture of male entitlement towards women (to say nothing of Joss Whedon's own fall from grace and his use of Xander as a mouthpiece).
    • A big one in regards to Willow hunting down and executing Warren Mears. Andrew and Jonathan some fans give a pass as they were in jail at the time, and there is a split between those horrified by her actions as the show supported and those cheering her on. At about the same time Jack Bauer was torturing and killing in cold blood over harm coming to friends and loved ones, later on games with a Karma Meter would present cold blooded executions on those like Warren as the right moral choice, Once Upon a Time from some of the same writers would have the good pure characters subscribe to An eye for an eye and even Disney's Kim Possible would get in on the act and beat down and even try to murder those irredeemably evil. Suddenly Buffy looks like a whiner for being against Willow trying to kill Warren. The general consensus now is that Willow is still in the wrong for how brutal she is against Warren but that killing him in and of itself was the right choice.
    • It's pretty hard to imagine a character like Andrew flying these days, with a whole Running Gag of "He's clearly gay, but we'll never actually say that out loud, let alone play it for anything but cheap laughs." It's probably why his first character arc in the comics was confirming his sexuality.
    • "Inca Mummy Girl" has a sequence to fit with the foreign exchange students plot - where all the students are dressed in various cultures from around the world. While the theme is culture sharing, it would spark a lot of complaints about cultural appropriation today, due to how stereotypical practically every costume was.
    • In "Gone", Buffy pretty much forces Spike to have sex with her while she was invisible—having snuck into his home unannounced and violently ripped open his clothes without establishing consent first. At one point, she's implied to have fellated him while he was literally in the middle of telling her to leave because he didn't want to be used and later, it's shown he had to throw her out because she wouldn't stop pushing for sex. While the whole episode does show that Buffy is acting immaturely from going invisible, this part doesn't acknowledge the pretty egregious disregard Buffy showed for Spike's consent and plays it as a joke. In actuality, the scenario presented in "Gone" and in "Seeing Red" are disturbingly similar, the only difference being that the scene with the male victim was Played for Laughs while the scene with the female victim was Played for Drama. People simply weren't aware of the Double Standard involved at the time and the common belief was that A Man Is Always Eager.
      • The same episode has a moment where the social worker hears Willow upstairs and remarks "you live here with another woman?" - as if the idea that Buffy and Willow could be in a relationship is another thing to count against her. Then again, Spike clearly comes across as a boyfriend sleeping over, so Doris could be assuming that it's some kind of strange poly-amorous relationship.
    • More on the Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male regarding Faith; one, she essentially sexually assaults Xander in "Enemies" by pushing him on a bed, mounting him and forcibly kissing him while grinding on him in a very sexual manner. This is, at best, acknowledged by Willow, who states that Faith had "hurt" Xander (but she was likely only referring to the fact that Faith had nearly strangled him to death), but the idea that he may have been traumatized by it is never once discussed. Two, in "Who Are You?", Faith has sex with Riley under the guise of being Buffy. The fact that what happened was essentially rape is never discussed, and the episode following it treats Riley like the wrong party for not being able to tell it wasn't his girlfriend, rather than the victim a more modern show would acknowledge he was.
    • After Willow begins dating Tara, she says things like "gay now" and the show downplays the fact that she had an interest in men in the first three seasons. The show was written in a time when it was thought bisexuality didn't exist, or people could change their sexuality at random. Willow and Tara even have an argument that is based around the latter's expectations that Willow is only experimenting and will go back to boys once she's done - which comes across as incredibly insensitive to bisexuals from a modern perspective. While the debates over whether Willow was gay or bisexual could start flame wars on the internet, the writing is simply from a time where there was less awareness of bisexuality as today. One writer even said that if Buffy were made today, Willow would probably be portrayed as bisexual - on the other hand, the Boom! Studios comics sidestepped the issue entirely by making her gay from the get-go.
    • The age-gap (both supernatural and otherwise) between Angel and Buffy in the first few seasons has drawn a lot more criticism in recent years. With Twilight having sparked the conversation about how appropriate it is to romanticize immortal characters dating minors a few years following the the show’s wrap-up, the same scepticism has been directed towards Buffy retroactively. For obvious reasons, pairing a 26-year-old immortal with a 16-year-old girl has many modern audiences too distracted by the squick-factor to get invested in the relationship itself—and the season two reveal that he’d apparently fallen in love with her when she was fifteen, upon seeing her leaving school in pigtails and sucking on a lollipop certainly doesn’t help dissuade any Unfortunate Implications. It’s become enough of a conversation that the recent Boom Comics continuity reboot made a point of putting Angel (and Spike) in their own separate comic early and giving Buffy a human Love Interest (in the form of an aged-down Robin Wood) to start out - and even before that, Angel himself is aged down so that he was sired (and thus frozen) at 18.
    • Drusilla and the treatment towards her is probably not something that would fly in a newer show either, being a wholly villainous caricature of the vague idea of insanity. The concept of ableism wasn't very wide-spread at the time, so the use of terms like "crazy" and "nutcase" to describe her were thrown around rather casually. The Boom Comics reboot also retooled her likely for this reason, dropping her insanity all together and characterizing her closer to The Master, as well as making her Buffy's first Big Bad to take down.
      • Speaking of ableism, the show also uses words like "retard" and the like, as was commonplace in the 90s. Nowadays, is considered to be a pretty ableist slur, and totally unacceptable for modern conversation.
    • "I Only Have Eyes For You" follows the love story between a high school student and (young) teacher, showing the echoes of the fatal end of their relationship. For rather obvious reasons, what was written to be a tragic Romeo & Juliet scenario mostly just Squicks out a modern audience.
  • Values Resonance:
    • Season six's big bads, The Trio, have become scarily relevant in an age of toxic fandom and geek entitlement, effectively making them the most realistic of the main villains. In particular, the entitled misogynist Warren Mears bears an uncanny resemblance to the concept of an incel, which didn't even exist as a subgroup yet when the show came out.
    • Despite some issues with how Willow and Tara's relationship is written (see above), the fact is that it's a queer romance between two characters that is portrayed just as positively as the other heterosexual romances on the show. Willow was there from the beginning, her attraction to Tara happened organically and they experienced the same ups and downs as any TV couple. Each character also had far more going on outside of being 'the gay character'. Even the much despised Kennedy was treated the same way; a Potential slayer who happened to be gay.
    • A lot of Buffy's struggles in season 6 about depression and feeling hopeless in a dead-end job resonate with modern audiences more than they had at the time, given that many young people are currently struggling to gain a foothold in the job market in the middle of a bad recession.
    • Despite that the show will go on to fumble this idea later (see Values Dissonance), "Teacher's Pet" acknowledging that the sexy female teacher who seduces her teenaged students was in fact a predator was relatively ahead of its time. Even now, you'll be hard-pressed to find media that acknowledges the existence of predatory women, especially ones who target young men.
  • Vindicated by History: Season 6 has experienced this in recent years. This article points out why it's the most "important" season of the show, and the Trio as the villains as well as Buffy's realistic depiction of depression resonate even more in The New '10s than they did in the early 2000s.
  • Wangst: Dawn frequently. Michelle Trachtenberg even addressed this during the cast reunion:
    I rarely get the "Oh she ruined the show". I do get a lot of "Oh she was so whiny!" Hi, were you a teenager? Oh, you were docile, sitting in the corner, doe-eyed and happy to be there? No. There's a reason why teenagers have a stigma and that is what Joss wrote.
    • Whedon said, "I scratched my head. I was like, "Excuse me, she's been abandoned by about six parental figures. The girl has huge issues"". However, he acknowledged that he and the writers hit "the same note for a while... We needed to make some changes." Likewise, Whedon expressed regret over not being able to go further with Dawn's character during Season 7, though he expressed "You get into a situation that you do like to stand alone [but] "Dawn Goes on a Date" is not something that people would really sit for."
  • Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?: Would you date a guy who made a sexbot version of you, tried to kill you multiple times, and attempted to rape you? If the answer is yes, you should be a Slayer!
    • Buffy's souled boyfriends weren't much better. Angel lost his soul, went on to try and kill Buffy and her friends, and yet when he got his soul back Buffy decided to get back together with him (despite the risk of him losing his soul again and when he was saying to her face that he wants to sleep with her and doesn't care if it'll cost him his soul). Riley seemed nice to begin with but when he went to the vampire equivalent of a brothel i n order to get bitten because he felt Buffy wasn't paying enough attention to him (when she was protecting her sister from a Hellgod and thought her mother was dying), Buffy dumps him... only to be convinced by Xander five minutes later that she should go after him because he's a "once in a lifetime guy" (when by this point he's done pretty much everything to prove that he's the total opposite). Buffy's taste in men just kind of sucks in general.
    • Plus Angel had stalker tendencies even with a soul and dated her when she was a minor while he was an adult. Riley also had insecurities about being weaker than his girlfriend and blamed her for it, while also having really bad jealousy problems where he'd accuse her of cheating on him just because she was in the vicinity of her ex. At the very least, Spike's bad behaviour happened while soulless and he was generally decent and respectful to Buffy after getting one—which is also the only time you could say she truly "loved" him anyways. One could argue, if working with the “vampires with souls are different people from their soulless counterparts” idea that Buffy herself pretty openly subscribes to, Spike is kinda the one she let the least amount of crap slide with, as the ensouled version of him did little to nothing wrong towards her for many years before they did anything other than tiptoe around the idea of getting together.
  • Win Back the Crowd:
    • As divisive as the seventh season was, it addressed the issues that plagued the previous year - the pacing was much better, it boasted an actually intimidating big bad, the magic addiction arc was retconned, Buffy and Spike's Destructive Romance was replaced with something much more amiable and respectful, the tone was much less depressing, Xander and Anya were back together, Dawn grew the hell up and Angel made an appearance (the issues with two shows on different networks having been cleared up).
    • Season 10 of the comics. It lacked the bloating and off-the-rails quality that season 8 was criticized for, and didn't separate the Scoobies, as season 9 had caught some flack for doing. It's praised for a tightly-written narrative that ties all the subplots together nicely, a well-done crossover with the sister "Angel & Faith" comic, and the most consistently high-quality art of all the comic seasons. The new additions to the story—Spike and Buffy's relationship finally picking up where it left off in season 7, Dawn taking a level in badass and gaining some portal-opening powers, Xander and Spike getting into an unlikely bromance, and Andrew's sexuality finally being addressed rather than being a punchline—were quite well-received by fans, and it is generally considered the comic continuations' high point.
    • Season 5 is generally seen as an improvement over season 4 thanks to Riley being written out and the Big Bad Glory being more entertaining than Adam.
  • The Woobie:
    • Angel is much woobier (after he stops the moping), especially when he gives Buffy the puppy-dog face. And then there's his own show...
    • Xander. The guy loses every girl he's with, roughly three-quarters of them are evil, and he's constantly Overshadowed by Awesome to the point where he has fully fledged moments of angst about it. Then again, he also saves the world from Evil Willow by hugging her.
    • Dawn made third place with Tara's death. Coming home to find your friend/mother figure who helped raised you dead in the bedroom, and sitting with her body for probably several hours because you're unwilling to leave... if Dawn wasn't made out of Buffy, she'd probably have gone catatonic. Not even mentioning everything she went through in season 5. She's not even real, she thinks she might be evil, she feels responsible for one of her friends being tortured and another driven insane, her mother dies, she's got whole armies who want to kill her, Glory almost uses her to end the world, then Buffy dies before her very eyes. Any whining after all this is well-earned, fans.
    • Willow fits the archetype in her initial appearances. Joss Whedon says in a DVD Commentary from early in Season 1 that the writers learned very quickly that if they wanted to get an emotional reaction from viewers, all they had to do was put Willow in danger because Alyson Hannigan was so good at portraying believable vulnerability. (One could argue that Buffy and Angel are both too strong to count as woobies.) In a later commentary, it is said that Tara was conceived partly as the "new Willow" — Willow had become too powerful and confident for "woobiedom," and they wanted someone to fill the emotional role that she had filled in the first few sesons.
    • Faith? OK, so her parents were abusive, violent alcoholics. Then she found a parent figure in her Watcher, who was torn apart right in front of her eyes. Then she goes to Sunnydale and is ritually ignored by the Scooby gang despite her attempts to fit in. She gets a new Watcher, who she quickly grows attached to, but who betrays and tries to kill her. Then she accidentally kills a man who she thinks is a vampire, which pretty much destroys her mentally. She is almost helped by Angel, but Wesley pretty much ruins that and makes sure that Faith doesn't trust anyone else ever again. She is driven into the hands of Mayor Wilkins, who is pretty much an adoptive father to her - who asks her to kill people for him. Then she is stabbed into a coma by her former friend. When she wakes up she finds that the aforementioned friend has killed the father-figure, and has already broken up with the man that she tried to kill Faith to save. A short arc later and she's sobbing in Angel's arms, begging for him to kill her. Faith is pretty much the lovechild of the Dark Action Girl, Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, and the Woobiest Woobie of them all.
    • The ultimate woobie is Drusilla. She had her whole family killed and she was tortured more cruelly by Angel than he ever tortured anyone, which given his history of sadism is really saying something. Then once she is insane he turns her into a vampire so she is insane forever. Even worse, when she regains her sanity through a demon, Angel is forced to kill said demon. Drusilla begs Angel not to "do this to [her] again".
    • Spike, especially after he is tortured by Glory and again when he gets his soul back. First, he goes insane from the guilt of his 120 years soulless and lives in a school basement feeding on rats. Then, after being forced to kill innocents against his will, he has a breakdown and begs Buffy to stake him. During the next few episodes he is tied up (not in the fun way), goes through violent withdrawal, is mindraped several times and is physically and emotionally tortured by an evil being who looks like his exes just to mess with him. Then he's forced to confront his darkest trauma, conspired against and nearly beaten to death. Then he dies in a Heroic Sacrifice, but not before making it clear that he believes himself entirely unloved.
    • Tara. Her family abused her into believing she was a demon and has virtually no self esteem to the point where she's afraid to even speak up for herself. Then she spends the last three episodes of season five mind raped by Glory. She somehow manages to rival Willow in the looking like a kicked puppy competition.
    • Amy Madison (before her Face–Heel Turn) qualifies for all of the bad things that happened to her throughout the series. In her first appearance we learn that her mom did a Body Swap with her to relive her high school years. "Amy" is seen treating her mother (the actual Amy) like dirt, and it is implied that this has been going on for a long time. Amy is restored to her original body and freed of her mother’s tyranny by the end of the episode, and nothing bad really happens to her during her second appearance. However, during her third appearance in Season 3, she gets round up during the town’s Witch Hunt and put to burn at the stake. She transforms into a rat to escape, but without any other proficient magic users around to turn her back into her human form, she gets stuck as a rat for three years! She even gets a Yank the Dog's Chain moment in Season 4, where Willow unknowingly turns her human again for approximately three seconds and then immediately turns her back into a rat. By the time she is restored to her human form in Season 6, she is clearly disoriented and confused about the last three years. Immediately after this (literally within a few days), the show then treats her as a bad influence on Willow for her overuse of magic around her, even though Amy hasn’t even had time to readjust to being human again yet. For a minor recurring character, she really went through a lot.
    • One-Shot Character Debbie Foley from Beauty and the Beasts is pretty pitiable. She's in an abusive relationship with Pete, a boy who turns into a literal monster. He hits her, kills anyone else he feels she's getting close to and blames her for everything. By the end of the episode she's half catatonic, muttering to herself that Pete does love her. And then he kills her.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?:
    • While Willow and Xander's often terrible fashion early in the series made sense in-universe, Buffy and Cordie's really didn't. Their fashion improved mostly by season 3, but seasons 1 and 2 are still filled to the brim with some pretty infamously horrendous looks between the two.
    • Necessary as they were given their usual, decidedly modern hairstyles, the wigs used for Spike and Angel in flashbacks were pretty distractingly fake-looking next to their otherwise quite convincing period-appropriate costumes.

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