There’s news that there’s going to be a Buffy reboot, and that’s gotten the fandom buzzing, but the original, while it is flawed, has a special place in the hearts of many. While everyone has probably watched “Hush,” “Once More, With Feeling” and “The Gift” a few times, here are a few Buffy episodes that are great, but often go unnoticed. Maybe circle back and watch them, if you’re having a craving for some old-school monster fighting. This is in order of airing, starting with season 1.
1. “The Puppet Show” (Season 1, Episode 9)
Buffy does occasionally have some fun, and get ridiculous, and this episode is the epitome of that tendency. This, if you don’t remember, is the one about the talent show and the horny puppet. It does its usual thing of subverting expectations, and has a lot of great funny moments. Also, this is one of the first episodes that makes us really hate Principal Snyder, so points for that as well.
2. “School Hard” (Season 2, Episode 3)
This episode is special for many reasons- it’s the first appearance of both Spike and Drusilla, and it gives us a few more juicy details about Angel’s past. This is the one with back to school night, a classic among the high school Buffy years. It’s also a great showcase of Joyce Summers, who is not the perfect parent, but occasionally gets it right.
3. “Lie to Me” (Season 2, Episode 7)
I love this episode, if only because it reminds fans that the real monsters don’t always have fangs or pincers. Real monsters can be likable and charming. We also see Buffy give up on somebody, which is hard for her, and that makes this episode pretty dark, but also true to the show.
4. “Band Candy: (Season 3, Episode 6)
This is another charming tour de force, featuring the both the delightful Armin Shimerman and Ethan Rayne. How can you resist! Plus, young Joyce and Giles getting it on on the hood of a police car is iconic. Buffy always does Halloween well, but this is objectively one of the best seasonal episodes.
5. “The Zeppo” (Season 3, Episode 13)
Fans deservedly give Xander crap, but in this episode, he gets a chance to shine. It’s one of the best episodes in terms of laughs and action- and not just explosions. Faith and Xander get it on, in a pretty toxic encounter, and Xander tries to once again find his niche and define his identity within the group. In his side adventure, Xander comes to realize that being the sidekick, not being the center of attention, is just fine with him.
6. “Superstar” (Season 4, Episode 17)
Jonathan is a fun time, and a little Jewish representation for those of us keeping score. “Superstar” is one of the weird episodes that departs from reality and takes the audience into a very strange place. It’s a great rewatch, and kind of exists outside of the regular season four plot, so you can give it a view whenever.
7. “Family” (Season 5, Episode 6)
This show revolves around family, both blood relatives and close friends, and never is that more clear than in this episode. Tara’s family (including pre-fame Amy Adams) come to visit Tara for her birthday, and bring dire tidings. While Tara is usually a timid character, we see her desperate to stand up for herself, and then we see her surrogate family step up to protect her. It is a powerful episode about chosen family and love, and a must for Tara fans.
8. “Fool For Love” (Season 5, Episode 7)
Spike episodes are always some of the best- the writers really know his voice, and his darkness and stark contrast with our heroes makes him really compelling. You can’t take your eyes off the screen when Spike is on, love him or hate him. Also, the historical bits are always great to watch, and you can have a little Angel, as a treat.