Recently, Part 1 of this article addressed a range of Little Bads—Monsters of the Week across all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. From malicious witches to ancient demons, many one-hit wonders terrorised our screens throughout the show. Why should the Big Bads get all the glory (‘Glory’, get it? Anyone? Nevermind…)? Let’s get straight into celebrating even more Buffy Little Bads!
Marcie Ross (‘Out of Mind, Out of Sight’, Season 1)
Portrayed by the wonderful Clea DuVall, Marcie Ross was a late Season 1 Monster of the Week. As an unpopular Sunnydale High student, she was used to being ignored by classmates and even teachers. The Hellmouth’s capacity to manipulate reality latched onto this; since Marcie was perceived as invisible, she actually became invisible. As the title inverts the popular saying, out of mind, out of sight. Driven by loneliness and vengeance, Marcie used her newfound power to attack students and teachers who excluded her. Her experiences are common for a lot of shy students, making her one of the more sympathetic villains in the show.
After being fought off by Buffy, Marcie ends up at some kind of FBI academy full of other invisible students. It’s implied the government are using these people for the purpose of ‘Assassination and Infiltration’, as the textbook reads. This is rather hilariously never followed up, but does make for a compelling X-Files-esque ending.
Der Kindestod (‘Killed by Death’, Season 2)
One of the most horrifying-looking monsters of Buffy, Der Kindestod (James Jude Courtney) was a chilling demon that targeted children specifically. The German name translates to “child death” or “infant death”. Wearing a black top hat and cloak, Der Kindestod had pinkish-white warped skin, blank white eyes, and tusk-like teeth protruding from its mouth. The demon preyed on ill, hospitalised children, sucking the life out of them with its freaky eye-stalks so it appeared they died from a fever. To make this monster even more terrifying, only children suffering from a serious fever could actually see it.
What makes this episode scary, aside from the design of the monster, is Buffy having to infect herself with a flu virus in order to see Der Kindestod and fight it. Additionally, it’s revealed that her cousin, Celia, was killed by Der Kindestod when Buffy was only eight years old, instilling in her a fear of hospitals. I feel like this particular childhood trauma of Buffy’s isn’t addressed anywhere near enough—it’s a huge deal. So yeah, pretty impactful demon.
Zachary Kralik (‘Helpless’, Season 3)
For a relatively light-hearted show, at least more so in the earlier seasons, Zachary Kralik (Jeff Kober) stands out as an especially dark and disturbing Monster of the Week. Used in the Cruciamentum as Buffy’s opponent, he posed a huge threat not only as a powerful vampire, but as someone who was a serial killer even before being sired. He’s incredibly cliched and also insensitively written, as his severe mental illness is centred as the reason why he’s so dangerous. The whole ‘mommy issues’ situation is also very typical of psychoanalysed male serial killers. Despite the glaring problems, Kralik is a memorable villain.
Prematurely escaping his confinement, Kralik not only attacks Buffy, but her mother Joyce. As soon as you mess with the Slayer’s family, you’re done for. Buffy defeats him by tricking him into drinking a glass of holy water with his pills, which destroys him from the inside. It’s up there amongst the best vampire-killing methods, not to mention extremely brutal. As a side note, Jeff Kober also went on to play creepy warlock Rack in Season 6.
Vampire Willow (‘Doppelgangland’, Season 3)
Okay, so this is a little bit of a cheat entry since Vampire Willow is in two episodes, so technically doesn’t count as a Monster of the Week, per se. But I’m defending myself by saying she was only the primary antagonist in one of those episodes. Loophole! When Willow helps Anya with a spell to retrieve the Symbol of Anyanka from the Wishverse, it goes wrong (what a surprise) and inadvertently transports Vampire Willow into their reality. Disappointed with how the vampires don’t rule the roost there, she sets about hiring a vampire gang and taking over the Bronze.
Alyson Hannigan’s performance as Willow’s evil doppelganger is delightful to watch. A lot about Vampire Willow speaks to regular Willow’s internal psyche and foreshadows later reveals; namely her coming out as a lesbian, and Season 6’s Dark Willow. The evidence: “I’m so evil and skanky! And I think I’m kinda gay.” The character also gives us one of the most common cosplays and/or Halloween costumes from Buffy. What’s not to love?
Sunday (‘The Freshman’, Season 4)
God, how I adore Katharine Towne’s brief but impressive role in Buffy. In the Season 4 premiere, Buffy finds herself head-to-head with judgy vampire Sunday on multiple occasions. Like any decent villain, she has various vampire minions to help her kill off the students at UC Sunnydale. To avoid raising suspicion, the gang clear out the victims’ dorm rooms and leave a note at each scene to imply the students dropped out due to pressure. It’s a very clever ploy that works well. Feeling vulnerable from struggling to adapt to college life, Buffy is crushingly defeated in her first fight with Sunday. I always hold particular reverence for villains, especially Little Bads, that manage to one-up Buffy.
After breaking her Class Protector award, Sunday essentially planted the stake in her own heart, as it gave Buffy the confidence to stand up for herself and fight back. A broken tennis racket dealt the final blow, dusting Sunday. I remember feeling disappointed when she died, since I was hoping she’d be a recurring villain. Regardless, she still had lots of great moments—the scene where all the vampire gang are insulting typical student belongings (such as the wall of Klimts) is comedy gold.
Kathy Newman (‘Living Conditions’, Season 4)
Another early Season 4 Little Bad was 3000 year old Mok’tagar demon Kathy Newman (Dagney Kerr). Wanting to attend college, Kathy ran away from her demon family and disguised herself as a human. Much to Buffy’s displeasure, the two became roommates; Kathy’s living habits (e.g. endlessly playing Cher, labelling food, cutting toenails on the floor) drove Buffy mad. This difficult behaviour led Buffy to believe that her roommate was actually a demon. Turns out she was right! However, the Slayer’s increasing aggression towards Kathy was also due to having her soul gradually sucked out each night.
Kathy’s face being ripped off during a fight with Buffy revealed sinewy, orange skin, sharp teeth, and glowing blue eyes. The juxtaposition of this demonic face atop the body of a UC Sunnydale student was a great representation of Buffy’s glorious balance of comedy and effectiveness. I just love Kathy’s insufferably cheery attitude that Dagney Kerr plays so well. Buffy’s frustration and consistently doubted suspicions being validated is a satisfying pay-off, too.
Toth (‘The Replacement’, Season 5)
A favourite episode of mine, Season 5’s ‘The Replacement’, is made complete by a pretty cool Monster of the Week. The last survivor of the Tothric Clan, the demon Toth (Michael Bailey Smith) had angry, lava-like, red-orange skin, a dramatic black cloak, and sunken eyes. As per usual, he arrived in Sunnydale with the intention of killing the Slayer. More intelligent than your average demon, he used a magical rod called a Ferula Gemina. This had the power to split an individual into two separate beings, distilling ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ personality traits into two bodies. It’s a psychologically intriguing idea, and a theoretically excellent battle strategy too; Toth intended to kill the weaker human half of Buffy so the Slayer half would also die.
The only reason the demon failed is because Xander jumped in front of Buffy, so ended up getting hit instead. It’s refreshing seeing a Buffy Little Bad with a bit more to them than brute strength, so credit to him for that. Also, Jane Espenson (the episode’s writer) apparently named the demon Toth purely to make a joke about British slang. Nice one.
April the Robot (‘I Was Made to Love You’, Season 5)
Sigh. April (Shonda Farr) is one of the rare Monsters of the Week who very nearly brought me to tears. She appeared in Sunnydale asking everyone in sight if they knew where her boyfriend Warren Mears (Adam Busch) was. Anyone who got in her way (or attempted to flirt with her) would be physically attacked. Bonus points to her for throwing Spike through a window! It was revealed that Warren made her as a sexbot, programming her to love and obey him. When he got bored of her, he left her in his dorm room, hoping the batteries would run out.
It’s an incredibly sad tale, and it’s hard not to feel great sympathy for April. She’s essentially the product of a Frankenstein-type story, being abandoned by her creator, but with the added angle of misogyny and objectification of women. The scene where April finally powers down as Buffy reassures her is utterly heartbreaking and wonderfully performed.
Teeth (‘Tabula Rasa’, Season 6)
Yes, this Little Bad is entirely based off a pun. If you think that’s not reason enough to include him in this list, then that’s on you. Teeth (Raymond O’Connor) was a literal loan shark; his job involved lending kittens to other demons, and his face was shaped like a shark. I could stop there, to be honest.
In ‘Tabula Rasa’, Teeth comes a-knocking on Spike’s door since he owes him forty Siamese cats. Rounding up his minions, they all attacked the Magic Box to force Spike to pay up while the whole gang was under the influence of an amnesia spell. After Buffy staked his vampire bodyguards, Teeth was intimidated enough to back off, assuring Spike that he no longer needed the kittens. I feel like a lot of other demons would get nastier after that, so props to him for leaving our gang alone! Teeth is also a man of style, wearing a fancy purple suit, shiny shirt, and tie. I have no shame in loving gimmicky villains.
Stewart Burns (‘Hell’s Bells’, Season 6)
How my blood boils when I think of this guy. When we meet Stewart Burns (George D. Wallace) in ‘Hell’s Bells’, it’s under the impression that he’s Xander’s future self as an old man. He appears to Xander right before his wedding to Anya, showing him nightmarish visions of the worst possible future they would share together. Later, he’s revealed to be a victim of Anya’s vengeance demon days; she cursed him by turning him into a demon and sending him to a hell dimension for his philandering. He spent decades plotting revenge, and so he invented the future-Xander ordeal to ruin Anya’s wedding day. Xander kills Stewart in the end, but not before irreversible damage is done.
Aside from the whole conversation about Xander leaving Anya at the altar, Stewart’s manipulations are very real and horrifying. He plays on fears of becoming your parents, and resigning yourself to a terrible fate, not only for yourself, but for a loved one too. Not defending Xander, but it’s understandable why Stewart shook him up so badly. It’s so crushing seeing Anya suffer at the hands of a man who deserved what she did to him anyway. This demon really makes you want to throttle him.
Holden Webster (‘Conversations with Dead People’, Season 7)
There’s a few monstrous attacks going on in ‘Conversations with Dead People’, but as the guy pitted against Buffy, Holden Webster (Jonathan M. Woodward) stands out. He’s an ex-Sunnydale High student-turned-vampire, sired by Spike of all people. After Buffy recognised him while patrolling, the two classmates ended up catching up. As well as some light-hearted chit-chat, Buffy and Holden talk about some rather serious issues, as their conversation morphs into more of a therapy session. It’s honestly long overdue for Buffy to have this kind of talk, and I love the ridiculous contrast of it being with a generic expendable vamp.
Of course, Holden wasn’t made to last. Buffy stakes him in the end, but not before being psychoanalysed by him. Holden’s comments on loneliness are rather poignant, and it’s evident he has a definitive impact on Buffy. Clearly, the actor had an impact too, as he returned to play Knox in Angel.
And there we have it—my personal favourite Buffy Little Bads! There’s obviously a hell of a lot to choose from, so please feel free to comment with some Monsters of the Week that stand out for you. I’d love to know!