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“He Had to Split”: The Coolest Kills in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy brandishing a stake in a frat house in 'The Freshman'

As far as vampire slaying goes, I suppose there are only so many ways they can be staked. But over the course of seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there are a number of much cooler kills. Not just courtesy of our beloved Slayer, but from other goodies and baddies alike. From your every day, cannon-fodder vampires, to the almighty Big Bads, there are quite a few creatures involved in these impressive slays. So lets have a look at some of my personal favourite, and coolest, Buffy kills.

Angelus’ Smokin’ Victory in ‘Surprise’ (S2E13)

The shocking mid-season plot twist of the beloved Angel losing his soul was impactful enough. However, it is what he does in the scene that follows that sticks out in my mind as one of the coolest kills in the entire show. Angel—now Angelus—kills a random woman who just happens to be in the way. His method is the usual vampire bite, but because the woman was smoking a cigarette premortem, Angelus inhales it through her bitten throat and exhales the smoke. There’s some not-so-subtle symbolism aligned with early-era Buffy amounting to “smoking BAD”, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t extremely badass.

Buffy’s Bazuka Bonanza in ‘Innocence’ (S2E14)

Now, this is a strong candidate for the coolest kill in the entire show. The terrible trio of Angelus, Spike, and Drusilla work together to raise the Judge, an ancient demon, to attack Buffy. On getting attacked by a crossbow, he claims “no weapon forged” can harm him. What he neglects to consider is modern weaponry, aka a rocket launcher. Buffy launches it at him, blowing him to smithereens. The Slayer with a, once again, ROCKET LAUNCHER, is cool as hell. Plus, he really had it coming.

Buffy aiming a rocket launcher at her enemies in 'Innocence'

The Principal’s Last Supper in ‘Graduation Day Part Two’ (S3E22)

Sunnydale High principals don’t exactly have the longest life expectancy. It sort of became a running joke in the first couple seasons of Buffy. But when Principal Snyder came on the scene, he soon outlasted his predecessors. Not that it was hard. Despite his relatively long run, he met a grisly end when his supposed ally, Mayor Richard Wilkins III ate him. After his Ascension, the Big Bad turned into a giant snake demon and gobbled up the tiny man. It was a comedic and fitting end for an irritating, yet hilarious, character.

The Mayor’s Explosive Finale in ‘Graduation Day Part Two’ (S3E22)

Speaking of the Season 3 finale, the Mayor gets his just desserts not long after the previous cool kill. Big Bad defeats are always epic and dramatic in Buffy, but this one truly takes the cake (takes the snake?). After being lured by Buffy into the school library, the Mayor realises his mistake with a characteristic “well, gosh”, before he gets killed in a massive explosion courtesy of Giles. I mean, giant explosions are always cool, but credit where it’s due. The fact that Sunnydale High is blown up along with the Big Bad is also very satisfying.

Game of Tennis on Sunday? ‘The Freshman’ (S4E1)

Although Buffy ends this premiere by killing a bunch of generic vamps, it’s cathartic considering how they’d unexpectedly bested her earlier in the episode. Even more satisfying is Buffy’s resourcefulness in moulding weapons out of objects in her immediate environment. She’s surrounded by her own stolen and broken belongings, such as her Class Protector Award gifted to her at prom. To take out the main vampire, Sunday, Buffy casually throws a broken tennis racket backhand, staking her. It’s so effortless! What a badass.

A Fairytale Ending in ‘Hush’ (S4E10)

The lore of ‘Hush’ is a little different from your usual Buffy Monster of the Week episode. It follows a fairytale-esque narrative, involving villains with a very specific look, motivation, and quest in mind. As such, the method by which to kill them is also unique and written in mythology. Since the Gentlemen stole everyone’s voices, Buffy gets Riley to break the box in which they’re being kept. Once she has her voice back, she screams at the top of her lungs, causing the heads of all the Gentlemen to explode in an artistic display of green gunk. A truly glorious killing.

Eat Your Heart Out, Adam! ‘Primeval’ (S4E21)

To support the Slayer during her final showdown with Season 4 Big Bad Adam, the Scoobies cast an enjoining spell that combines their essence, empowering her. With this power, Buffy kills Adam by essentially ripping his heart out; she reaches into his chest and pulls out his uranium core, the source of his power. Buffy’s glowing eyes and effortless strength are very impressive. Not only that but after extracting the uranium, she makes it vanish into thin air. As boss battles go, it’s a super cool one!

Buffy, empowered by a spell, holds the glowing uranium core in her hand after killing Adam in 'Primeval'

A Tragic End to a Lovable Robot in ‘Bargaining Part Two’ (S6E2)

In Season 5, Spike gets Warren Mears to create the Buffybot, a replica of Buffy. When Buffy dies in the Season 5 finale, the Buffybot takes over her duties to ensure demons don’t run amok in Sunnydale. Unfortunately, in the Season 6 premiere, her guise is finally rumbled, and a group of demon bikers does indeed run amok. As a result, they find the Buffybot and chain her to their bikes, drive off, and consequently tear her apart at the limbs. It’s a surprisingly brutal and devastating kill, but cool nonetheless. The backdrop of a burning Sunnydale adds to the violence of the act.

Take That, Vamp of the Week! ‘All the Way’ (S6E6)

The Monsters of the Week here are just your run-of-the-mill, misogynistic teen boy vampires. Nothing special. But what makes up for that is one specific moment in the ensuing combat. Spike, Giles, Dawn, and Buffy all end up fighting the group of vamps, so they all get their moments to shine. Of course, one of Buffy’s kills is the coolest. She decapitates a vampire with a car door. Talk about resourceful! A good old, dramatic decapitation is considerably cooler than a classic staking, too.

Willow’s Revenge in ‘Villains’ (S6E20)

Willow’s Season 6 journey of morphing into the real Big Bad is harrowing and tragic. However, she still remains extremely sympathetic. After Warren murdered her girlfriend, Tara, Willow hunts him down, tortures him, and kills him. Using magic, she flays him, then incinerates his corpse. Again, it’s a deeply disturbing kill, but also cathartic. We’re still siding with Willow, and Warren is such a hateable villain, it’s great to see him get his comeuppance at last. Sure, killing people is wrong, but you gotta admit that Willow taking him down through a flaying and burning his body is badass.

Dark Willow stares daggers at a flayed Warren in 'Villains'

Goodbye, Gnarl in ‘Same Time, Same Place’ (S7E3)

Another Monster of the Week, Gnarl is a cave-dwelling demon that targets Willow specifically upon her return to Sunnydale. He’s a particularly nasty brand of monster, too. When Buffy eventually tracks him down with the help of her friends, she fights him and squishes his eyeballs with her thumbs to kill him. It’s a gruesome, visceral method of killing, but really shows off Buffy’s strength and willingness to really fight for her friends as the show comes to an end.

Preacher’s Perish in ‘Chosen’ (S7E22)

Preacher-turned-serial-killer Caleb assists the First Evil throughout the final season of Buffy. In return, he gets made invulnerable. In the Season 7 finale, Buffy eventually kills him by splitting him right down the middle with her Slayer Scythe. Despite the intensity of the show at this point, she makes a fantastic pun in the immediate aftermath by stating, “he had to split.” Har har. It’s another cathartic kill, considering Caleb was such a violent misogynist, and the method is unparalleled.

There are many, many more kills across Buffy, but these are just the ones that stick out to me. Feel free to comment with any of your personal favourite coolest kills!

Written by Robin Moon

Robin writes for 25YL and Horror Obsessive as much as their scattered brain will allow. They love dark fantasy, sci fi, and most things horror-related, with a huge soft spot for vampires. Don't make the mistake of mentioning Buffy around them or they won't shut up about it. Seriously. They're also a fiction writer and aspiring filmmaker; in other words, they much prefer spending time in made-up places and far-off universes than in the real world.

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