Top 10 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Villains

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS) ran from 1997 to 2003, received many nominations and awards, and became cult viewing for a generation. Aside from the idea that Buffy empowered the iconic stature of the female heroine, the scripts were kick-ass, the acting was sublime and the storylines made for compelling viewing.

But who were the worst (or best, depending how you look at it) of Buffy’s most formidable foes? Aside from fighting vampires she also battled demons, werewolves, aliens, the military, witches and many, many others. The following list is calculated on the impact these villains had on Buffy’s life – and those of her friends and family.

10. Spike

Ably played by James Marsters, Spike had killed two slayers before he first met Buffy in season 2. Spike’s girlfriend, Drusilla, killed another slayer. Between them this infatuated pair of vampires tried to take over Sunnydale – and they came close to achieving their goal. However, Spike has to rank as number 10 on this list of villains because he became a reluctant hero in the fifth season and went on to become Buffy’s lover and a champion who saved the world by the end of the series.

Most Memorable Quote:
Harmony: “You love that tunnel more than you love me.”
Spike: “I love syphilis more than I love you.”

9. Sweet

Sweet is the demon responsible for all the singing and dancing in “Once More With Feeling,” the musical episode of BTVS. Through Sweet’s control, Buffy unwittingly ends up devastating her friends by telling them a truth she’d been trying to hide. A heart-breaking scene – although there’s no need to make a song and dance out of it.

Most Memorable Quote:
Sweet: “Big smiles everyone. You beat the bad guy.”

8. Adam

Adam was a military experiment gone wrong. He was a modern Frankenstein monster and Riley’s half-brother. Well, since he was made up from demon parts, spare electronic components, some extraneous human limbs and a small but effective nuclear power pack, he was probably related to many creatures from Bilbo Baggins through to Robbie the Robot (and maybe even the Hadron Accelerator). As a villain, he came close to ending Buffy’s fight against darkness in Season 4. If only he’d managed to stop Buffy from dating Riley…

Most Memorable Quote:
Adam: “I do appreciate violence.”

7. The Gentlemen

Although they only appeared in one episode, Hush, the Gentlemen deserve their place on this list for being truly frightening. An eerie cartel of cadaverous demons (assisted by shambling “madmen” slaves who were dressed up in loose-fitting straitjackets) the Gentlemen steal voices and then go around stealing human hearts. The Gentleman were possibly the series’ single scariest villains. And, ultimately, The Gentlemen were the reason Buffy ended up in her disastrous relationship with Riley.

6. The Triumvirate

If not for the influence of the misogynistic Warren, this team of wannabe super-villains couldn’t really be called villains. Jonathan had always been the class loser. Andrew (in season 7) describes himself as, “the mushroom of evil,” because of his habit of taking on the flavour of surrounding badness. However, because they were led by the wicked Warren (who shot Tara – causing Willow to immerse herself in the darkest of dark magicks) the dastardly Triumvirate earn their rightful place here on this list.

Most Memorable Quote:
Andrew: “We did it. We can do anything. We could stay up all night if we want to.”

5. Mayor Wilkins

The idea of a politician without a soul making a pact with demons, is not unheard of. Aided by the sycophantic Snyder, and abetted by the beautiful Faith, Mayor Wilkins would never let a mere vampire slayer stand between him and his quest for immortality – or his PTA meetings. One of the most incredible villains in the whole series simply because he was so darn loveable.

Most Memorable Quote:
Mayor Wilkins: “Do you think he was going to betray me? Oh, now, that’s a horrible thought. And now he’s dead, I’ll never have the chance to scold him.”

4. Caleb

Arguably, Caleb was under the influence of The First when he started his own personal slayer cull. But Nathan Fillion invested this character with so much dark charisma it’s impossible not to see him as wholly responsible for his own horrible actions. A murderer of slayers – the villain who took Xander’s eye – Caleb was one of the nastiest characters ever to visit Sunnydale.

Most Memorable Quote:
Caleb: “You’re angry, frustrated, scared. I like that in a girl.”

3. Glorificus/Glory

A Goddess who’s mentally unhinged and wants to rip a portal through Sunnydale so she can return to her home dimension. It doesn’t matter to Glory that the portal will consume Sunnydale and planet earth. She’s only intent on getting home. And it’s because of Glory that Buffy ends up dead for the second time in the series.

Most Memorable Quote:
Glorificus: “I just want you to know: this whole ‘beat you to death-thing’ I’m doing is valuable time out of my life that I’m never going to get back.”

2. The Master

An age old vampire who ruled Sunnydale with an iron claw through the first short season. Whilst he wasn’t as downright dastardly as many of those Buffy fought, the Master bears the distinction of being the only character to kill Buffy twice (once in Prophecy Girl, at the end of season 1 and again in Dopplegangland, midway through season 3). Thank goodness that getting killed isn’t enough to stop Buffy!

Most Memorable Quote:
The Master: “I’ve lost my appetite for this one. She keeps looking at me. I’m trying to eat and she looks at me.”

1. Angel

Buffy’s vampire boyfriend turned bad halfway through season 2. Before he turned bad he was a heroic helper of the underdog and Buffy’s faithful assistant. Afterwards – he was certainly no angel. He killed Willow’s fish, made insulting comments to a wheelchair-bound Spike, smoked cigarettes and got intimate with Drusilla. Taking Buffy’s virginity, breaking her heart, killing her teacher and plotting to destroy the world, Angel deserves his place as the number one villain in BTVS.

Most Memorable Quote:
Angel: “She made me feel like a human being. That’s not the kind of thing you just forgive.”

Of course, some names have been missed off this list. Faith was deliciously wicked when the mood took her. Mr Trick, Maggie Walsh, Ethan Rayne and Principle Snyder were the embodiment of nastiness and, alongside Dracula, they all deserve honorable mentions. Willow and Anya have both worn black hats at some point in the seven season series – and they’ve been very good at being very bad. But none of those has been as memorably evil as those listed in the Top 10 above.

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Written by Ashley Lister


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19 Comments

  1. I just have to think about 'the gentlemen' and i get the creeps – they were a cool tribute to the scariest silent movie ever, too (Nosferatu).

  2. I have to say that out of all of them, the Mayor was my favorite Buffy villain, with Spike coming in a close second. The Mayor was so not the cliche villain, considering that he was remarkably good to his minions, especially Faith. Spike just had some of the best lines in the show, bar none.

    Great list.

    • The mayor was definitely the best of the villains. I think that Willow should get an honorable mention for when she goes crazy after Tara dies

  3. when Angel lost his humanty he bacame Angelius(the name he went by when he first was changed into a vampire and killed indescriminently) so you cant call Angel a villain because that persona was in no way in controll during the killing.

  4. Decent list. I would've really liked to see Willow or Faith on here. They were both definately better villains than Adam. I thought he was the most boring of all the villains.

  5. What, no Dark Willow? She was the most terrifying and riveting, can't-pull-my-eyes-away-from-the-screen villain of the series IMO.

  6. Dark Willow is not as memorable as Adam? Debatable. Also, if we are going off creepy factor, I personally think that Der Kindestod from Season 2 should be on here. Not only did it look like Freddy Krueger on steroids and devour the souls of children, but its eyes turn into little leech things that extend from its head. Always found that frightening. He's scarier to me than the Gentlemen. They just float around, stare at you, and smile. They're like glorified Walmart greeters.

  7. This list is for the most part horrible (IMO). The Master was one of the lamest villains ever, Adam was a joke, and Glory was just annoying. Spike and Dru had the most personality, and Angelus definitely deserves first.

  8. Love your list! Angelus definitely deserved to be number one! It’s funny how the gypsies cursed him with a soul, but decided that if he experienced a moment of perfect happiness, he would lose his soul. What’s up with that? The whole point of the curse was to punish him by making him feel guilty about killing all the people he did. If he’s able to lose his soul again, what’s the point of restoring his soul originally. The whole idea was to punish him. If they allow him to lose his soul, that’s kind of defeats the purpose of them restoring his soul. He just becomes the soulless monster he was before the curse. Well, at least Willow was able to restore his soul, even if it was a little late.

  9. no dark Willow… this is just SAD!!! Willow’s the best villain because she’s the only bad guy that had a reason to be bad, you know the whole Tara died thing and the overload of dark magic stuff plus how hard is it to fight your best friend come on!! shes the only villain in the show that had a reason to go black-eyed-vainy and go destroy the world… and its creepy to see someone turn dark and evil from sweet and innocent 🙂

  10. When I started thinking about this, I realized that Buffy villains ared often not complete in themselves. So many of my picks involve two or more. They only really stand out as a coalition.

    The FIRST should have been first. I mean, if you’re going to have Caleb… INclude him as part of the FIRST. Dark Willow should have been second. Easily. And third, of course, goes to The Gentlemen. Angelus only ranks fourth because we all knew he’d be a good guy again before long. Fifth, the Mayor and Faith and Mr. Trick. Sixth, the swim team coach who didn’t hesitate to provide girls for his boys to rape, murder and eat. Seventh, Spike. I would include Drusilla in Spike’s evil because her fantasies dont really have any impact unless she has someone like Spike to react to them. Adam, the triumvirate and Ethan Rayne round things out. Dracula, great as he was, didn’t make the… cut.

    What’s really fascinating about the Buffy series is that good and evil occur in extremes in every individual.

  11. You know who I thought was scary? Kralik. That vampire in the episode where they do the watcher test on Buffy. Eeek…a vampire who was a serial kill, who killed and at his own mother before he became a vampire. Much scarier than a lot on this list, That guy gave me the heebie jeebies!

  12. good list only because it’s Buffy related! But I dont agree with some of these! First off, the master was way lame! Does not deserve a spot!
    Second, it’s Angelus…Angel is not a villain, he was only as Angelus…and deserves to be way higher up on this list! Third…no dark willow?? Cmon!
    and how about Faith?!
    and last but no least…and the most important one…The first! I mean its the ultimate villain, sunnydale is no more because of the First!

    I will also mention that since Spike saved the world and all and became a champion, should be removed off this list! Love the character, but the guy got him self a soul! Unlike Angel he seeked it out, for love! He is no villain anymore but a hero!

    • Your logic is weird. Willow is good most of the time. Faith ended up good and though one can consider Angelus and Angel 2 different people, they actually do have commen ground (Especialy if you watch the show Angel, you see Angel has some rather dark sides to him that get dangerously close to Angelus, perhaps even scarier.) So to count Angelus/dark willow and faith under the bad guys, but Spike not because he got a soul later on, is just flawed.

      If you can not count spike because he ended up good, you can not at the very least count Willow and Faith either. Also there is a huge difference in actions between Spike s2 and Spike s7. Most of these changes only ended up happening because he got chipped and stuck with the scoobies for such a long time he started to grow to care for them. (In Buffy’s case to creepy stalker levels, which made him persue a soul for selfish reasons. He only wanted one to impress Buffy. Not because he genuinly wanted one. As Spike says it best, he’s love’s bitch. He goes very far for those he falls for. he did so for Dru, he did so for Buffy. If he had not been chipped, the whole good Spike thing would never have happend.

      That being said. Just because Spike has an interesting character path doesn’t mean you can’t count him in the villain list. You very much can. Spike killed and tortured many MANY people before he became good. For at least 100 years he was evil. He only became good very recently, and who know’s if it will actually stick. For all we know he will fall in love with an evil women 50 years from now, then get all evil again to impress her. Spike goes far for those he loves.

      Season 2 Spike, and pretty much his whole life from the moment he was turned untill later in s7, he has been either evil or selfish. And he did so with flair and style. Spike made an absolute wonderfull villain. Personaly I preferd him far more as a villain then the love sick puppy. I felt it was to rushed and ooc of him. BUt Spike was a fanfavorite so they included a good spike to please the audience, which will forever bug me but oh well.

      Spike is my favorite villain in all of Buffy verse, followed By Lindsey from the Angel show (though I really enjoyed Wolfram and heart as villains as a whole) and Drusilla, Darla, Angelus, Dracula, the Mayor, Dark willow, Ethan, Faith, Lilah and I actually really enjoyed the Master. He had the bad luck of having to be the first season’s villain where the show was still short so less time to flesh him out. But he scared Buffy, really scared her. I think from all the villains she faced he might have left the biggest impression on her. (Not counting the really personal encounters like Angelus/Dark Willow etc.)

      Season 2 Spike was a wonderfull Villain. yeah he ended up as a good guy, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was a villain before that. And what a fine villain he was. He and Dru wher awesome together. I wish they had stayed together.

      Not a fan of Spike/Buffy. (Not because of the characters, but because of the repeat of vampire/slayer stuff. We already had that. I was hoping for something more original. I would have much preferd to see Spike and Buffy become besties witha bromance as they bond over the enemies arses they kick. Xander and WIllow will always have a special bond that even Buffy can’t touch because of their history together. Spike could have become Buffy’s special friend. It would have been so great to have Buffy be best friends with a guy who never has been and never will be interested in her romanticly/sexualy. I found the whole Spike Buffy thing boring, unhealthy and a repeat of something we had already seen, as well as a disservice to the great character that was Spike. Like the only way he can be relevent is if he fancies somebody? Why can’t we focus on a friendship for once. (Thankfully we at least had that Willow Xander moment end s6 where their friendship ended up saving the world instead of a romance.)

      Long story short 😛 Spike and Dru = best villains of the show, and the best Spike pairing in my personal opinion. Add a bit of Angelus in there, and Darla for some fllashback goodness of the whirlwind and we have the best group of villains. Pity we never saw all 4 of them together, in action, in modern times.

      Even more pity we never saw them as their evil versions in the wish verse of Cordelia. For some reason I think vamp Willow and Xander would have fit with those 4 just fine, creating a very frightning group of 6. Ohhh speaking of which:

      Vamp Xander and Vamp Willow. They where great villains too even if they only lasted 1 and 2 episodes.

  13. …I forgot to mention Gnarl…season 7 buffy when Willow returns from england and accidently casts a spell on her self so that no one can see her. She gets trapped in this cave and this creepy Gollum looking creature paralizes her with it’s fingernails and starts to skin her alive strip by strip…lapping up any blood and eating strips of her skin, making eery slurply sounds! **shivers** gah creepiest episode ever!
    Gnarl deserves a spot! just for being dang creepy!

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