Buffy the Vampire Slayer is undeniably one of the greatest television shows in history and, although things so rarely get better with age, it seems like the more time that goes on, the more iconic BtVS becomes. The characters, the storytelling, the fictional universe, and the creativity that drove Buffy the Vampire Slayer for seven seasons is astounding, and even though it’s been years since the show concluded it has undeniably stuck in the hearts and minds of its fans ever since.
Like any good supernatural drama show, something that Buffy truly excelled at was thrilling and/or breaking it’s audience’s hearts by killing off its characters. Sometimes the characters who died were wonderful, sometimes they were metaphorical or literal monsters, but most of the major deaths on BtVS were undeniably epic. So here are 5 deaths on Buffy that broke our hearts, along with 5 that we absolutely loved to watch.
10 Broke Our Hearts: Kendra Young
When Kendra Young showed up on the scene in season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, suffice it to say that the entire world was shocked. It sort of made sense that she existed since Buffy had technically been killed by the Master, if only briefly, but the fact that the number of chosen ones in the world was suddenly doubled was a huge and pleasant surprise.
Kendra seemed to be a very formidable slayer, she dedicated her entire life to the cause, which is why it was so heartbreaking and tragic when Drusilla and Angelus’ whole squad of baddies killed her.
9 Loved It: The Master
One of the key elements of every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been the “big bad”, the main villain of the season that Buffy has to fight and defeat. Although the Master was the first and arguably easiest one to kill, it was triumphant to see Buffy demolish this ancient vampire who had briefly managed to get the upper hand against her.
The Master was overly confident in going up against Buffy because a prophecy said that he would kill her, but he obviously doesn’t know Buffy Summers very well because, even if she dies, she doesn’t stay dead for long.
8 Broke Our Hearts: Anya Jenkins
Joss Whedon & company are veritable experts at fantastic character development, so it ultimately is no surprise that Anya Jenkins started off her journey as a vengeance demon and ended it as a literal hero.
Anya seemed to be nothing more than yet another villain that Buffy had to defeat but, as her story went on she evolved into a unique, caring, hilarious, and endearing character who finally realized the value of human life after destroying lives for a thousand years. The fact that she put her life on the line to save the world was huge, and it was devastating that her willingness to sacrifice herself ended with her death.
7 Loved It: Caleb
Girl power is obviously a key element of the entire Buffyverse, and Caleb the evil priest was a horrific and repulsive counterbalance to that. His intensely misogynistic views and behavior made him worth a Buffy smackdown even if he wasn’t pure evil, but the fact that he was an agent of the First and literally gouged out Xander’s eye meant that he absolutely needed to die.
He was arrogant and thought there was no chance that Buffy Summers could stand against the First Evil, so seeing Buffy quite literally slice and dice him was a thrilling end to this insufferable ass.
6 Broke Our Hearts: Tara Maclay
Buffy the Vampire Slayer seemed to master the whole shocking death thing before it was really a thing, but there wasn’t one that caught the audience more off guard than Tara Maclay’s random shooting.
Buffy was actually a show that rarely included firearms, so Tara being shot was a downright bizarre moment, but it was so heartbreaking and out of nowhere that Tara seemed to be dead before people the audience could even understand what had happened. Understandably, Willow went absolutely insane because of it, and who could really blame her? Everyone else had the same reaction, they just didn’t have the superpowers necessary to get vengeance for it.
5 Loved It: Mayor Wilkins
Although everyone pretty much knows it’s going to happen from the very jump of the season, it’s still enormously satisfying to see Buffy Summers defeat the big bad once and for all. But when it comes to Buffy killing Mayor Wilkins, she deserves a whole lot of props for her style and creativity.
Mayor Wilkins’ goal to ascend and become a pure demon was a terrifying prospect, and it seems like all of the fears and concerns his ascension caused were well-founded when he turned into a giant snake. Huge problems require huge solutions, so Buffy blowing him up (and Sunnydale High along with him) was epic.
4 Broke Our Hearts: Joyce Summers
In a television show that exists in a supernatural world, it’s always interesting, and often times heartbreaking, when Buffy the Vampire Slayer decides to bring its narrative back to reality. Buffy Summers is a hero unlike any other, she has literally saved the world half a dozen times, but her mother’s death pinpointed the stark reality that no matter what she did, she was helpless against the realities of nature.
“The Body”, the episode in which Buffy and her friends cope with the sudden natural death of Buffy’s mom, is one of the best episodes of the series, and one of the best portrayals of the trauma of loss in TV history.
3 Loved It: Warren Mears
Okay, so seeing Willow Rosenberg go dark, insane, and basically destroy the world was decidedly not great. And losing Tara was one of the worst moments of the entire series. But with that said, seeing Warren Mears get what was coming to him was pretty fantastic, even if it was also incredibly gross.
Warren attempted to kill Buffy by shooting her from a relative distance, but he missed Buffy and killed Tara instead. And while some people might look at an eye for an eye as justice, Willow seems to think an eye for a whole damn body is more appropriate, so she flays Warren alive.
2 Broke Our Hearts: Buffy Summers
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was killing off its lead characters before it was cool, so when the shocking revelation that Buffy was going to sacrifice herself to save her sister Dawn was actually revealed it was an instant, unstoppable cry fest. Buffy has always been clear on her willingness to give up everything to save the world, but the fact that she gave up her life to save her sister was truly heartbreaking.
It was pretty clear from the start that Buffy would come back somehow, but that didn’t make her death any easier to swallow, and it was definitely one of the boldest plot twists in BtVS history.
1 Loved It: Spike
Oh, William the Bloody. What an icon. In most instances of enjoyable deaths on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the deaths are so pleasant because they’re horrible characters that the audience has wanted to die for ages now. But when it comes to Spike, his death is so awesome because he’s so utterly thrilled to do it.
His transformation as a character was astounding, and the fact that he truly became a hero, in the end, was fantastic. Of course, in the way that only Spike can, he doesn’t face imminent doom with fear and trembling, but with the enthusiasm of a man who’s about to ride a roller coaster for the very first time.