Buffy scariest episodes

The most terrifying episodes of Buffy that prove it used to be the scariest show on TV

Get that skin eating monster away from me

Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn’t perhaps best remembered for being truly scary, even though its premise is rooted so firmly in horror. Joss Whedon’s game-changing show blew everyone away with its ability to jump between genres, insanely well written witty and hilarious dialogue that made the characters a joy to just be around. But make no mistake: When Buffy wanted to terrify you, it could haunt your nightmares. Here’s a roundup of my personal scariest episodes of Buffy – as someone who was watching it as a kid and having those aforementioned nightmares a LOT.

Nightmares (Series one, episode 10)

One of the earliest examples of Buffy being truly scary, Nightmares frightened in lots of ways as it told the story of a boy in a coma who thanks to the energy of being on the Hellmouth managed to make the entire town’s nightmares start becoming reality. The manifestation of what put him in a coma, known only as the Ugly Man, scared the hell out of me. The brutish way he thudded around with a club muttering “Lucky 19” in a demonic voice… Harrowing. Perhaps most terrifying of all was Xander’s nightmare of being chased by a clown with a knife. Horrific.

Killed by Death (Season two, episode 18)

Towards the end of season two, Buffy is in hospital with fever and discovers that children are dying. Hospitals are scary at the best of times, but here they’re made scarier by Der Kindestod – a Boogeyman only able to be seen by children or the feverishly ill and who murders the kids by popping his eyes out of his face and sucking the life out of them. Horrible stuff.

Helpless (Season three, episode 12)

Helpless does something truly harrowing: Takes away Buffy’s Slayer powers. She is, ahem, helpless. As part of a cruel and controversial Watcher’s Council test, Giles injects Buffy without her consent and strips her of her powers to see if she can pass a Slayer test where she must defeat a vampire without her powers. The vampire in question? Zachary Kralik – a man who in life was a serial killer and as a vampire is particularly cruel and creepy. Kralik breaks free, kidnaps Buffy’s mum Joyce and puts them through hell – including a chilling shot where Buffy finds herself in a room filled with truly psychotic polaroids Kralik has taken of the restrained and gagged Joyce. It would be scary enough even if Buffy had her powers, the fact she can’t fight makes it chilling.

Fear, Itself (Series four, episode four)

Buffy scariest episodes

Truly the most terrifying of all the scariest Buffy episodes, Hush is one of the most unsettling episodes I’ve ever seen of anything. And it still manages to be a hilarious episode when it wants to be. Hush has the premise of demons who come to Sunnyvale and steal the town’s voices because the sound of a human voice can kill them. The demons in question are The Gentlemen, impeccably dressed and permanently smiling bald menaces who glide and hover around and mime in eerily polite fashion, as they’re followed by their demonic footmen in straight jackets. They need seven hearts, and they do so bloodily. There’s also a creepy little girl singing a nursery rhyme. It’s all just SPOOKY beyond belief. The nightmares I had over these guys was crazy.

Same Time, Same Place (Season seven, episode three)

Buffy scariest episodes

Same Time, Same Place sees Willow return to Sunnydale after her evil era in season six, and when she arrives she realises she can’t see any of her friends and they can’t see her. Whilst all this difficulty is going down, enter Gnarl – a skin eating demon who paralyses his victims and then flays them alive, eating a strip of skin at a time. All whilst talking in a harrowing, childlike voice. HATE it.

Conversations With Dead People (Season seven, episode seven)

Buffy scariest episodes

A great episode, but one that truly scares the hell out of you with the horrific Dawn sequence. As she has a night at home, proper horror film haunted house antics begin with some of the most harrowing imagery in all of Buffy. Blood on the walls that reads “mother’s milk is red today” and then a chilling glimpse of a dead Joyce on the sofa, and then another with a black demon on her body? Truly unnerving stuff.

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