Everyone knows that Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans are the best kind of fans. We’re all so nice! My adoration for Joss Whedon’s television series has given me some incredible friends and also helped me through some really difficult times in life. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows in Sunnydale though, as Buffy the Vampire Slayer frequently caused audiences to cry their eyes out over what was happening on their television screens. I know that a list like this has been replicated a thousand times on other websites with several of the same moments included, but I’ve never written one of them so I’m taking this opportunity to say my piece on the subject. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was filled with countless tear-jerking moments, and these are the ten that made me sob the hardest. I’ve also linked to each specific scene (if available) in case you’re feeling masochistic and want to watch it.
***MAJOR SPOILERS for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Below***
Giles Discovers Jenny’s Corpse (Season 2, Episode 17: “Passion”)
It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace.
This is the first time I ever remember crying during Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I know. I didn’t cry the first time she died. I’m soulless). It wasn’t Jenny’s death so much as it was Giles’ reaction to finding her body. You all know the story: Angelus wasn’t satisfied by simply killing Jenny. Oh no, he had to put on display for the man that loved her. Giles walks into his house to the sound of opera music and rose petals leading up the stairs to his bedroom, only to find Jenny’s corpse on the bed. The cherry on top of this was that Angelus left Giles a drawing of her to frame and put on his wall. Don’t even get me started on Buffy having to stop him from trying to kill Angelus. Ugh, this was rough, y’all.
Buffy Kills Angel (Season 2, Episode 22: “Becoming: Part 2”)
Close your eyes.
Joss Whedon is an expert at tormenting his audience, and by that I mean killing beloved characters. Angel losing his soul and becoming Angelus is one of the greatest twists the show ever pulled off. In the second season finale, Angelus awakens the demon Acathla by pulling a sword out of its chest. He and Buffy get in a totally awesome sword fight and just as she is about to kill him he gets his soul back (thanks Willow). But it’s too late! He has already awoken Acathla and only his blood can prevent the demon from sucking the world into a Hell dimension, so she gives him a final kiss before stabbing him with the sword. If there was ever any doubt that Buffy would “go there,” this scene effectively got rid of them (and this is coming from a show that killed its title character in the first season finale).
Buffy Summers: Class Protector (Season 3, Episode 20: “The Prom”)
Whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you or helped by you at one time or another. We’re proud to say that the class of ’99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history, and we know at least part of that is because of you. So the senior class offers its thanks and gives you, uh, uh, this. It’s from all of us, and it has written here, “Buffy Summers, Class Protector”.
Not all tear-jerking moments have to be sad, you guys! After three years of saving the world, Buffy finally (finally!) received some recognition in the form of a sparkly gold umbrella. It was a rare win for the Slayer, and provided one of the most cathartic experiences of the series. It also has the distinction of being Sarah Michelle Gellar’s favorite episode of the series.
Buffy Finds Her Mother’s Body (Season 5, Episodes 15-16: “I Was Made to Love You” and “The Body”)
Mom? Mom? Mommy?
Is there a better scene in any episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I would argue not. The rest of the scene, which opens the next episode (aptly titled “The Body”). Filmed without sound and filmed in real time (the first three minutes of “The Body” don’t feature any cuts), Buffy’s discovery of her mother’s body it a truly disturbing piece of television and it feels all too real. If you don’t even slightly tear up while watching Buffy realize that her mother is actually dead, then you have no soul.
Anya’s Fruit Punch Speech (Season 5, Episode 16: “The Body”)
I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s- There’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid. And-and Xander’s crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why!
-Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins
This episode aired on my birthday, you guys. My birthday. Does this need any more explanation? Anya was typically used as the comic relief on the series (and Emma Caulfield excelled at it), but this is the first time we had ever seen Anya truly show human emotion. She had spent so much time as a demon that she forgot what it was like to lose someone close to her. The speech is almost child-like, and it proved to be one of the most memorable moments in what is arguably Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s best episode.
Buffy’s Sacrifice (Season 5, Episode 22: “The Gift”)
The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.
Buffy already died once. Surely they wouldn’t kill her again, right? Wrong. The final episode to air on the WB before it moved to UPN served as the first series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (like its titular heroine, the show would die twice). Another apocalyptic ritual requires Summers blood to stop it. Buffy realizes that she can be the sacrifice instead of Dawn, meaning that death is her gift. Could you imagine if this had actually been the series finale? I know seasons 6 and 7 have their detractors, but it would have killed me if this would have been the end of the series. It was traumatizing to lose Buffy again, but at least she got a great epitaph on her tombstone: “She saved the world. A lot.”
Dawn Cuddles With the Buffybot (Season 6, Episode 1: Bargaining, Part 1)
That’ll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo!
Dawn is frequently the figurative punching bag of Buffy fans, but she does have her moments (unless she wants you out of her room). Seeing her crawl into bed with a charging Buffybot as a method of coping with her sister’s death is so pitiful that you can’t help but empathize with her. It’s unhealthy but so, so human, and anyone who has lost someone close to them could relate. Rather than move on, you want to hang on to anything that reminds you of the person you lost. This is one of those subtle moments that is deeply affecting to watch.
Anya is Left at the Altar (Season 6, Episode 16: “Hell’s Bells”)
I, Anya, promise to love you, to cherish you, to honor you, ah, but NOT to obey you, of course, because that’s anachronistic and misogynistic and who you do you think you are, like a sea captain o-or something?
-Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins
I bawled my eyes out over this. Bawled. It was the moment when I started hating Xander as a character (him supporting the Potentials kicking Buffy out of the house in Season 7 sealed the deal). Look, I get that he was worried he was going to turn into his father and ruin his life with Anya, but those visions he saw were fake! He had no reason to leave her at the altar. The dissolution of Anya and Xander’s relationship will always be one of those moments that makes you want to strangle Whedon because it’s so soul-crushing.
Xander and the Yellow Crayon (Season 6, Episode 22: “Grave”)
I love you. I love crayon-breaky Willow and I love scary veiny Willow. So if I’m going out, it’s here.
The final three episodes of season 6 are some of the strongest episodes the show has ever put out, and while Tara’s death is incredibly sad, it was Xander reaching out to Willow and ending her reign of terror that truly started the waterworks. By referencing the day they met, when Willow broke a yellow crayon in kindergarten and didn’t want to tell anyone about it, he taps into regular Willow (thanks to the magic Giles used on her earlier in the episode) and is able to use his love to drain the dark magic out of her. It’s less cheesy than it sounds. Seriously though after three episodes of watching Willow lose it after Tara’s death, this was an incredibly cathartic moment that allowed viewers to break down with her.
Anya’s Death (Season 7, Episode 22: “Chosen”)
Bunnies! Floppy, hoppy, bunnies!
-Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins
Can you tell I have a soft spot for Anya? She occupies three slots on this list for a reason, you know? We all knew Spike was going to be resurrected later that year on Angel so his death, while sad, doesn’t hold a candle to the finality of Anya’s death. After a long, long life of avoiding battle, Anya finally joined in on the fight. What does she get for it? A quick, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it death. Xander doesn’t even find her body! We just get that awful shot of him looking for her with a glimpse of her corpse under the rubble.
You have no idea how difficult it was to narrow this list down to just 10 moments (and maybe I’m biased towards Anya). I’ve cried way more than 10 times watching this fantastic series so there was no way to do it justice by just limiting it to 10 moments, which is where you all come in. Which Buffy the Vampire Slayer moments made you cry the hardest? Let me know in the comments below!