Buffy The Vampire Slayer is my favorite tv show of all time. For me it was my introduction to both the horror genre and the larger realm of pop culture. What has always stuck with me about this show is how engaging the villains or big bad’s on the show were. Buffy fought every type of monster you could think of, vampires, werewolves, demons, witches even robots and invisible people. Some of the villains were engaging as hell, others were completely ridiculous. As a lifelong fan of this show I thought it would be cool to reevaluate some of the shows scariest villains, some of which are even more terrifying today.
This is one character from the series who is even more terrifying today then he was when the show was on the air. Warren probably isn’t on most peoples list of scariest Buffy villains, but he really should be. Unlike most of the threats Buffy faced on the series, Warren is a flesh and blood human being. He doesn’t have demonic strength or otherworldly powers he’s just a pathetic little toxic nerd that likes to play with toys. Warren is a perfect example of toxic masculinity and fandom. If he existed in the real world today he would most assuredly be posting sexist comments online about Captain Marvel and probably be hanging with Richard Spencer at a mens rights rally.
When the Trio are first introduced they come off as comical idiots. They’re nerdy fanboys playing at being super villains who see Buffy as the only obstacle standing in their way. However, as the season progresses the Trio takes a darker turn after Warren attempts to turn his ex girlfriend into his own personal sex slave and then murders her in cold blood. This is one of the scariest moments of the series for me, because this shit happens in real life. Warren shows his true colors in this moment as a misogynist and the real reason he’s obsessed with Buffy is that he can’t stand that one of the most powerful beings in the world, is a woman. For me the scariest moment with Warren, and one of the scariest moments of the series is when he comes to kill Buffy in her own backyard. When Warren shot Buffy with a gun, things were elevated times ten. For that brief and terrifying moment we were no longer in a magical world with vampires and demons and slayers. We were right back in the real world where one of the scariest things imaginable is a sicko with a gun. Most of the villains on the show are soulless monsters, it is in their nature to kill and destroy innocence, and that is what truly makes Warren so terrifying. He has a soul, it is not in his nature to do evil… he chose to be evil.
Angelus, the evil counterpart to Angel is Buffy’s Joker. He is so unpredictably cruel and is always 2 steps ahead of his victims. For fans watching the show live when it aired I can only imagine how shocking of a transformation this must have been to see the love of Buffy’s life become a remorseless sadistic killer. There have of course been other sadistic vampires on the show like the Master or Kralik; but what gives Angelus the edge over them in terms of true horror is his relationship to Buffy.
They were soulmates that shared a once in a lifetime passion, when Angel transforms into Angelus he takes this passion they shared and uses it to torment and attack Buffy and her loved ones. It’s a story that everyone has heard before. Girl meets guy they fall in love and eventually they have sex, and then he changes. The guy becomes different, mean and cruel and she doesn’t stop loving him which makes it hurt all the worse. Much of Angelus’s relationship with Buffy feels like they are representing an abusive relationship. Another particular moment that has always stuck with me is in the episode Passion when Angelus murders Jenny Calendar, he doesn’t even bother to feed on her he just kills her, because it was fun. Angelus is basically an immortal serial killer, a sadistic psychopath who believes that killing is an art form of which he is a master.
Death is one of the few universal fears for people. When Buffy faces the demon Der Kinderstood in the episode Killed By Death that is initially what the demon seems to represent, death incarnate the fear of our inevitable demise But I would argue that isn’t what makes Der Kinderstood so scary. We all know that we will die one day that is one of the universal truths of life.
No what makes Der Kinderstood so horrifying are his choice of victims, sick defenseless children. Now there have been references to killing children on the show before, Drusilla herself mentions killing children to Angelus. But this is different we actually see the monster stalking and preying on these children when they are at they’re most vulnerable, sick and and complete helpless and hunted by a monster only the children can see. It sounds like a cross between Pennywise and Freddy Kruger, a demon that delights in frightening children and killing them. I think the fact that the monster kills children makes it so much more chilling because children represent innocence and hope. Anytime a horrible crime is committed in the real world it always frightens us more when the victims are children.
Hush is easily the scariest episode of the series. The whole episode feels like a classic silent horror film like Nosferatu. The Gentlemen have everything going for them as frightening villains go. Creepy victorian nursery rhyme, check. Sinister eyes, smile and overly polite gestures, check. The Gentlemen perfectly represent our fear of the unknown or the stranger that is waiting out in the dark to prey on us and cut out our heart.
One of the major reasons the Gentlemen terrify us so much is they take away one of our most primal responses when we are faced with danger, our ability to scream. By taking away the voices of everyone in Sunnydale they take away our ability to communicate, this isolates the citizens of the town and spreads fear and panic. When we are asleep in our beds we are out our most comfortable and vulnerable. And right there is when the Gentlemen strike. In their most horrifying scene they attack their victim in his dorm room, they force their way into his room and proceed to cut out his heart. It’s a truly terrifying scene as the student screams for help with all of his might, and not a sound is heard. He dies screaming and completely unheard. Imagine the scariest moment of your life, you are fighting for survival or in a situation where you fear for your life, and you can’t even relieve that fear by screaming.
What makes all these villains great and so terrifying is each of them is a dark representation of the evils in the world, toxic masculinity, abuse, death and the dark unknown. Each one fills us with dread and anxiety in one way or another.