Buffy The Vampire Slayer was always a dark show. Between the steady barrage of demons, the constant threat of the apocalypse, and the regular stress of being a teenager, Buffy Summers had more than her fair share to deal with. However, this being a Joss Whedon venture (arguably THE Joss Whedon venture), there were always going to be plenty of quips and wise cracks all around. Yes, Buffy had plenty of moments that ripped your heart to shreds and left you a quivering mass of tear-soaked flesh on the floor, but it usually had enough funny business that little bits of light shone through. Let’s take a look back at times when the Scooby Gang took a few minutes out of saving the world to make it laugh instead. Be sure to sound off on your favorites in the comments.
Willow Rosenberg underwent some of the biggest character development over the course of the show, and her vampire doppleganger was a bit of a harbinger of things to come. Popping up in the season three episodes “The Wish” and “Dopplegangland”, Vampire Willow was capricious, petulant, and “a little bit gay.” After meeting Vampire Willow, Willow’s realization that she’s a lesbian and her potential to go so dark shouldn’t have been a surprise to fans. However, her interactions with the Scooby Gang, especially Willow herself, were always good fun.
Ripper and Joyce
There’s a lot to love in the season three episode “Band Candy.” With Sunnydale’s entire adult population incapacitated by cursed candy, Buffy has to find the source before the demon Lurconis can be summoned. While it is hilarious to see the normally uptight Principal Snyder call Buffy a “spazz,” the highlight of the episode is definitely Giles reverting back to his rebellious teenage self, nicknamed “Ripper”, and cavorting all over town with Buffy’s mom, Joyce. The two smoke, pick fights, drink excessively, and have sex on a cop car. Buffy doesn’t take it well, but the episode became a fan favorite.
Out. For. A. Walk. Bitch.
Honestly, it was a real struggle not to turn this into a “Best of Spike” list. The former Big Bad and eventual ally/love interest had some of the bets bits of snark in the series. Most of season five is about figuring out who the hell Dawn was and why she suddenly appeared, but it was also the start of Spike realizing that he had the capacity for good and that he had feelings, no matter how twisted, for Buffy. When called out on these internal changes, Spike usually lashed out in petty and hilarious ways.
Anya’s Fear of Bunnies
Anya, a former vengeance demon, wasn’t afraid of many things. However, her fear of tiny, adorable rabbits is well documented. Between dressing up like one for Halloween expecting to elicit terror and her rock refrain about their supposed innocence, it was clear that Anya hated bunnies as much as she loved money.
Spike’s path to redemption wasn’t without a few bumps. After the Initiative put the vampire curbing chip in his head, Buffy‘s punk rock king had to come to terms with his new normal. After trying to bite Willow with no success, the ever kind witch took the time to talk through his apparent problem. While Willow bemoans her perpetual friend status, Spike assures her “Don’t be ridiculous. I’d bite you in a heartbeat.” Even after Willow assures him that this inability to perform probably happens to a lot of vampires, Spike struggles with coming to terms with his new defanged self. While an extended impotence gag may have been cheap on a lesser show, Buffy pulls it off hilariously.
One of Buffy’s most brilliant episodes was season four’s “Hush,” when the Gentlemen steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale. The episode is almost completely without dialogue, and features one of the show’s all-time creepiest villains. While they are trying to formulate a plan, the gang gets together for an old fashioned Giles lecture, but has to do the entire thing through pantomimes and written notes. I mean, who wouldn’t laugh at accidental wanking gestures with the soundtrack of “Danse Macabre” playing in the background?
You Made A Bear!
Holidays can be a rough time for anyone. Between the forced merriment, close proximity to extended family, and precarious cooking schedule, Thanksgiving especially can be a real cause of stress. And that’s even without a vengeful Native American spirit that’s infecting people with super syphilis and changing into a bear in your living room.
Fresh off of a difficult visit with Angel and stressed out because the Trio was screwing with her on the job, Buffy wants nothing more than to forget her troubles for a night. Obviously the best person to go to for destructive behavior is Spike, so the two of them get wasted in his crypt before going to a bar for some poker. Because this is Buffy and nothing is every straight-forward or normal, the gambling currency of choice is kittens. Between the cutest poker game ever and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s drunken antics, “Life Serial” is definitely one of the funnier Buffy episodes.
They Got The Mustard Ouuuuuuuut!
“Once More With Feeling” is the gold standard for musical episodes. Many other shows have tried, and almost all have fallen short (looking at you, Grey’s Anatomy). However, the attention to detail in “Once More With Feeling” is part of what makes it so great, with even the most seemingly insignificant interactions being set to a robust score. Whether they were fighting a parking ticket or rejoicing over stain removal, nothing was too small to be set to music.
Season six was an almost universally bleak season, but the episode “Tabula Rasa” was one bit of zany respite. When Willow’s magical addiction accidentally causes everyone to lose their memories, hilarious misunderstandings ensue. Due to their similar accents, Giles and Spike naturally assume that they are father and son. Due to the writing inside the jacket he was wearing, Spike believes his name to be “Randy” and expresses his displeasure to dear old dad. Also, this episode features a literal loan shark. “Tabula Rasa” may have had some heartbreaking repercussions, with Tara leaving Willow due to her magic addiction and Giles abandoning Buffy to return to England, but it sure was fun while it lasted.
Jonathan was one of those characters that alway seemed to be around during the first few seasons of Buffy. When stuff happened, Jonathan was usually there, but he was always on the periphery. That is until the season four episode, “Superstar”, when Jonathan manages to create an alternate universe where he was basically king of everything. Consider it the ultimate Mary Sue exercise, and every hilarious detail of Jonathan’s dream world is worth a second look. It’s also worth wondering — based on Jonathan actor Danny Strong’s success as a writer and producer (The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay, Empire) — if that altverse might be the one we’re living in.