On Valentines Day, Rewatchable breaks down 14 of the craziest and scariest things that the Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s characters have done in the name of love.
Love in all its forms is a hugely powerful force in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe, and it generally does a whole lot of good. The world has been saved quite a few times through the power of someone’s love, and the show contains some of television’s most romantic moments of all time, really beautiful and memorable scenes that left us swooning for years.
However, sometimes, on Buffy, romantic love — or delusions of it — leads to our characters making some pretty crazy and unhealthy choices, ones that end up causing a massive amount of trouble for themselves or the citizens of Sunnydale. Even from what we’ve seen so far in our Rewatchable rewatch, Buffy herself is not immune to losing sight of herself in order to impress boys — whether it’s trying to bone up on Emily Dickinson to connect with the edgy Owen, sexy-dancing with Xander on to make Angel jealous, or dressing up like a lady from Angel’s original era to appeal to him, but that’s small potatoes compared to some of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s true crimes of passion. Here are some of Buffy’s best — or worst — instances that prove that love definitely does make you do the wacky.
‘I Robot… You Jane’
In one of season 1’s best monster-of-the-week episodes, the demon Moloch the Corrupter demands a dedication from his followers that seems to imply romantic or sexual love. We initially see him working his magic on the twinkiest monk in all of history, and hundreds of years after some slightly more traditional monks lock the demon away in a book, Moloch is downloaded into Sunnydale in digital form. This demon preys on impressionable minds — including the lonely Willow, whom he catfishes, convincing her she’s got an internet boyfriend called Malcolm. He also manages to make a couple of deeply loyal servants out of fellow nerds Dave and Fritz, so who knows what those chat histories looks like…
‘Some Assembly Required’
The home of this article’s titular quote, “Some Assembly Required” is Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Frankenstein episode, in which the kindly Chris tries to do right by his dead brother Daryl — whom he resurrected with science, by the way. Daryl wants a girlfriend — someone made just for him, who’ll stay with him in hiding forever, and poor Chris does his best, sourcing more dead bodies for his project. However, when it turns out that the Corpse Bride will need a living — or freshly killed — head, and Daryl selects Cordelia, Chris teams up with Buffy to put a stop to his brother’s plan. Buffy has it right when she assesses, in disgust, that love has nothing to do with the actions taken, but nonetheless, Daryl chooses to die in the burning lab rather than leave his incomplete zombie girl.
‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’
Xander and Cordy were an unlikely couple who certainly had their ups and downs, but this was a real low point — when scared of losing her social status, Cordelia dumps Xander before their first Valentine’s Day, and Xander makes Amy, who’s picked up her mom’s witchcraft, cast a love spell to win her back. It goes awry, causing every woman in Sunnydale EXCEPT Cordelia to fall madly in love with Xander: Amy herself, Buffy, Willow, Ms Calendar, Joyce, you name it. Mob mentality takes over with near-deadly consequences (Amy turns Buffy into a rat, Willow tries to kill Xander rather than see him with anyone else) but when it’s all cleaned up, Cordelia decides that she’s proud to call Xander her man.
‘I Only Have Eyes for You’
Beloved as one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s saddest episodes, “I Only Have Eyes for You” is a ghost story set against the school’s Sadie Hawkins dance, where James and Grace, two spirits who were an illicit student/teacher couple at Sunnydale High, use host bodies to act out a replica of thee murder-suicide conducted by James in 1955. After causing several tragic incidents, the ghosts eventually possess Buffy and Angelus, finally finishing their last conversation and finding peace. Angel’s love for Buffy makes his cruelty to her when he reverts to Angelus even more determined, but the ghost story helps Buffy to stop blaming herself for his lack of soul.
Honestly, pretty much every single thing Spike does, be it wonderful or horrific, is driven by his idea of love. Season 2 shows him to us as a new type of vamp, one with genuine emotion despite his lack of soul. He loves being alive, and he’s passionately devoted to Drusilla, willing to do anything to help her. However, his sensitivity doesn’t end up sitting well with the demonic Dru. We find out that she leaves him for a Fyarl demon, and in his only season 3 appearance, Spike returns to Sunnydale and kidnaps Xander and Willow — he wants a love spell done in order to get Dru back. It’s one of Spike’s maddest moments – even Joyce takes pity on him — and he ends up serving up some uncomfortable truths to Buffy and Angel.
Spike wasn’t the only one doing the wacky in “Lovers Walk” — Willow and Xander weren’t thinking with their brain parts either. That episode is the culmination of their secret romance — behind the backs of Oz and Cordelia, their respective significant others. Cordy helps to save the pair from Spike, but catches them kissing and, due to being so startled, ends up badly injured. In “The Wish,” Cordy traces the journey to her eventual heartbreak back to Buffy’s arrival in town — if the Slayer had never come to Sunnydale, none of this would have happened. Her pain unknowingly summons the vengeance demon Anyanka who makes this wish come true, and a scary Buffy-less alternate reality comes to pass, with deadly consequences.
‘Graduation Day, Part 2’
After siding with the Mayor and assisting with his Ascension plans, Faith poisons Angel with a toxin called Killer of the Dead, which, as the name suggests, is fatal to vampires. When the Watchers Council refuse to give the Scoobies any information — they don’t help vampires, even one such as Angel — Buffy ruthlessly takes matters into her own hands, renouncing the authority of the Council and going after the only other known cure. To live, Angel needed to drain the blood of a Slayer. Buffy first tries to bring him Faith, dead or alive, and when this fails, she forces Angel to feed off of her own body, draining her to near death.
Season 5 sees the beginning of Spike’s love affair with Buffy — the season follows his inappropriate infatuation with the Slayer as he becomes her ally. In “Crush,” Buffy finds out how Spike feels when he offers to kill Drusilla in order to prove his love for her. Buffy has trouble coming to terms with what Spike has to say, believing that love, or any real emotions, are an impossibility for a soulless being. She makes a good point — the way Spike deals with his love at this point involves threatening to kill her, getting his current girlfriend, Harmony, to cosplay as Buffy for him, and by getting an exact replica Buffy sex-robot made. His love and his loyalty is very real, but his inner demon means that his choices on how to express that are pretty damn crazy. Buffy’s rightfully disturbed.
‘I Was Made to Love You’
Speaking of horrific sex robots, we meet their maker in “I Was Made to Love You.” Warren — a human being more deplorable than many of Buffy’s demons — created April, a robot woman who’s unaware she’s a robot and who’s designed to be deeply in love with him. April is sweet and pleasant and super strong, and she causes havoc in her attempts to get back to Warren. I turns out that he’d quickly tired of her and fallen in love with a real girl called Katrina, and he’d left April behind in the hopes that her batteries would run down. April’s simple mind is confused and hurt, and she tries to show Warren how much she loves him right until her ‘dying’ moments. Buffy is disgusted by Warren’s callousness, but it’s just the tip of his terrible iceberg — in season 6’s “Dead Things,” Warren and his friends try to make his real-life now-ex-girlfriend Katrina into their sex slave, and when they accidentally kill her, they use magic to make Buffy believe she’d done it.
In season 6, Willow’s attempts to magic up a solution to everything end up causing a lot of problems than they solve, due to her growing addiction to supernatural power. Her relationship with Tara begins to suffer early on, and when she tries to break up with Willow, Willow offers to go a month without using magic, to prove that she doesn’t need it. Tara tells her to try a week, but even this is too difficult for Willow, so instead she casts a spell to make her forget their fight. This goes wrong and causes the entire Scooby gang to lose their memories of their own identities. The result of this, while it lasts, is hilarious, but the deeper implications of what gets revealed during this time causes a lot of discord among the group, and leads to Tara and Willow’s true break-up.
Willow’s break-up and addiction send her down a dangerous path throughout the season, as she teams up with Amy to pursue reckless magical behavior and becomes generally unlikeable. She ends up finding the willpower to clean herself up and reconciles with Tara, but right as they get back together, Tara is shot by Warren and dies. This sends Willow spiraling into utter darkness as her emotions feed her power and vice versa, and she seems to transcend humanity. She tracks down Warren, tortures him with one of his own bullet, and magically flays him before setting him on fire and setting off to find the other members of his posse. Not something we ever expected to see from one of the show’s core heroes.
After Spike’s unreciprocated infatuation, Buffy begins a relationship with him in season 6, after she returns from the grave. He continues to love her, in his way, while she admits that she’s doing it because she doesn’t care about hurting him. Nevertheless, he becomes a sort of confidante as well as her guilty pleasure. When she comes to terms with how unhealthy she’s been, she decides to end things with Spike, and in a moment fueled by a demon’s version of passion, he comes into her home and attempts to force himself on her. He’s horrified by the entire scenario and by his love for her, and ends up leaving town on a quest to fix himself. We’re lead to believe that means the removal of the chip that ‘neuters’ him — so that he can be a proper demon again and kill Buffy, stop loving her. It doesn’t. The quest was to restore his soul — to become a real man worthy of her. Beautiful, but goddamn crazy.
The entire concept of vengeance demons is pretty relevant if we’re talking about crimes of passion – demons who serve heartbroken women by placing curses on the men that have wronged them. After Anyanka is introduced in “The Wish,” she sticks around in human form for the rest of the series, getting engaged to Xander and almost marrying him. Their break-up leads her to return to her old life as a vengeance demon, and in “Selfless” we see the origin of her story. Vengeance demons start out as normal human women — Anya’s friend Halfrek was once Spike’s first love Cecily — whose wronged emotions send such an emotional ripple that they’re offered supernatural power to ‘help’ others in their position, in a very bloodthirsty way. Unsurprisingly, D’Hoffryn, the boss of the vengeance demons, once offered Willow a position if she should ever want it.
It’s abundantly clear that throughout the seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike is the spokesperson for the “love makes you do the wacky” club — whether it’s with or without a soul, every move he makes his motivated by his idea of love. It’s a journey that goes from deeply dangerous to generally unhealthy and on to a true redemption, and the series finale doesn’t pull punches in proving this. When Angel shows up with a tool to help save the world, a gem to be worn by Buffy’s champion, she gives it to Spike instead. This may be due to the fact that she doesn’t want to risk losing Angel in the final battle, but at this point her relationship with Spike is immensely important to her, and ultimately, he quite happily dies to serve her cause. His name is the last word Buffy utters in the entire series.