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The Most Important Episodes Of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'  

Jacob Shelton
630 votes 73 voters 1.4k views 15 items

List Rules Vote up the episodes that mattered the most to the series overall.

In 1997 a quirky show premiered on the WB called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At the time it was just a series based on a horror comedy from 1992 that hardly anyone watched in the theater; however, it quickly turned into a program that changed the way viewers and critics thought about teen shows and television in general. The series had a unique amount of episodes that broke the format of traditional television storytelling, long before other primetime shows were willing to do something different or high-concept. 

With nearly 200 episodes under its belt, everyone has their favorites of this Joss Whedon must-see, but what are the most important episodes of Buffy? Which episodes take the series about the apex final girl and turn things on their head? If you’ve never watched the show, these are the episodes of Buffy you cannot miss. They defined the series and changed genre storytelling forever.

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Graduation Day, Part One is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Episodes Of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Sometimes the good guys just need to win, and boy do they ever in the two-part finale of Season 3. So much of the finale is putting a full stop to the high school years of Buffy, and saying that whatever follows will be different. 

By the time the gang gets to the mayor's ascension at Sunnydale High's graduation, they've worked through a lot of personal stuff. Buffy's had to slay her ex-boyfriend, fight Faith - the one person who understands what she's going through - and keep her grades up so she can graduate from high school.

The final moments of the finale show the students of Sunndaydale rally around Buffy as the mayor turns into a giant snake/dragon/CGI thing, and it's in this moment when everyone is working together that the day is truly saved.

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Seeing Red is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Episodes Of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Joss Whedon loves to raise the stakes by slaying an important member of his cast, and even though the plot mechanics are clearly on display in "Seeing Red," it doesn't make the passing of Tara any easier. 

Tara's slaying at the hands of Watten is still hotly debated among fans of the show, and as jarring as this slaying is, it set the stage for the Earth-shattering anger of Dark Willow. Not only did this episode make important points about power and anger, but it showed the lengths that Willow would go to avenge her girlfriend. 

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Tabula Rasa is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Episodes Of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'
Photo: 20th Century Fox

After the secret exposing, burn everything down and salt the Earth ending of "Once More With Feeling," (oh and that kiss between Buffy and Spike) the series needed a cool down. But leave it to Buffy to have one of the most fun cool-down episodes ever made. 

When Willow leaves a magic bag out over night, it catches fire and causes our main players to forget who they are and what their relationships are to one another, and that's what makes this an interesting episode. 

Without the context of five previous seasons of experience, the gang has to learn about each other and themselves. After regaining their memories, the Scoobies have to come to grips with everything they did and Giles packs up and goes back to England. Wasn't this episode supposed to be fun?

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Surprise is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Episodes Of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'
Photo: 20th Century Fox

The first of a one-two punch - followed up with "Innoncence" - this episode hints at the darkness to come for the rest of the season while showing Buffy isn't you're average monster-of-the-week program.

"Surprise" sets up the rest of the season, including Buffy's dreams about Drusilla, Ms. Calendar's origin, and the audience finally gets to see Buffy and Angel make love. However, that excitement is short lived.

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