In the 144 episodes of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer there have been a large number of vampires, monsters, demons, witches, and things that generally prefer to go bump in the night than to get a decent night’s sleep. There were scary monsters, cool looking monsters, some were funny and some just creeped you the hell out. Nearly all of these were unique and brilliant in their own way, but if I had to write a list of my top Buffy the Vampire Slayer monsters, what would I include in them and more importantly why?
I didn’t want to choose one or two criteria as there are so many reasons you can like a Buffy monster. Instead I’m just going with the ones I find the most interesting or memorable.
You ready? Well strap yourself in. The list of my top Buffy the Vampire Slayer monsters begins with…
8. Norman Pfister - One of The Order of Taraka, a group of three assassins sent to kill Buffy in the series 2 two-part episode ‘What’s My Line’. Norman’s special talent is to be able to turn into several hundred meal-worms. Though these aren’t used to kill (At least it’s not stated that they are) but it does allow him to get access to areas he might not be able to do. “A locked door? No problem, I just meal-worm and go.” Even without the meal-worm thing Norman Pfister does not look like someone you should in any way trust.
7. Gnarl - In the series 7 episode ‘Same Time, Same Place’ Willow is captured by Gnarl, a gangly green-skinned demon straight from the pages of a fairytale. Once Willow is scratched with his paralysing poison tipped claws, she can do nothing except lay there on the ground and watch as the Gnarl demon pulls of mouth size strips of her skin to eat. Conceptually this episode is pretty brutal. Luckily Buffy gets to her before any real damage is done, but still having to watch poor Willow as Gnarl dangles a strip of her own skin in front her… very harsh.
6. Vampire Willow - So what does happen when you take an intelligent, innocent Jewish witch like Willow and turn her into a vampire? Well, quite obviously she would become a leather basque wearing lesbian bitch queen from hell. It’s all so obvious now. Seriously the character change does fit well with who Willow really is on the inside, but way back in the series 3 episode The Wish where we are first introduced to her (and Vamp Xander, but he’s not quite worth being on the list.) this type of character change was radical to the extreme. Definitely not “Bored Now!”
5. D’Hoffreyn - With Vampire Willow they took something nice and made it evil, with D’Hoffreyn it was almost the reverse. Here was a demon, the master of all the revenge demons, but when ever he appeared, (Season 3: “Doppelgangland”, Season 4: “Something Blue”, Season 6: “Hell’s Bells” Season 7: “Selfless”) he carried off his demonic role as if it was nothing more sinister and wrong as being the head of a corporate bank… Hmmmm ok bad example. This quote (taken from buffyguide.com) should help sum up his attitude, Willow is invited to become a vengeance demon after she accidentally casts magic enabling her will to be done.
Willow: I don’t want to be a demon. I just want to go back and help my friends.
D’Hoffryn: That is your answer? <Looks almost angry>
Willow: It is.
D’Hoffryn: I’m sorry to hear that. <Looks solemn and disappointed> Oh well, here is my talisman, if you change your mind, give us a chant.
4. Caleb - Caleb is the right hand of the big bad of series 7 The First. In short he’s an insanely hypocritical serial killing priest, played by the rather awesome Nathan Fillion (Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly). This chap has managed a whole host of pretty goddamn nasty things, he’s slapped Buffy around, he’s half-blinded Xander, killed god knows how many others. He’s a nasty piece of work, and he is played to perfection, Malcolm southern drawl working exceedingly well.
3. Drusilla - What Drusilla on the list and no mention of Spike. Well no, for two reasons. Firstly, he’s on enough ‘Best Buffy Monster’ or bad guy lists. Secondly, Spike sacrificed his life to destroy The First at the end of Season 7. That level of sacrifice has to take you off any bad guy lists. Anyway, this is about Drusilla his bat-shit insane wife. Why is she on this list though? In my opinion she is a more efficient killer than Spike. Where’s your evidence I hear you cry? Well Spike has killed two slayers, one during the Boxer rebellion and the other in New York (Principle Wood’s mum) both of which ended with a long and drawn out fight. Drusilla faced Kendra the slayer, wiggled her fingers in front of her face to hypnotise her, then slit her throat with a sharpened fingernail… now that’s class.
2. Mayor Richard Wilkins III - We’re getting to the crème de la crème of Buffy villainy now. Number two is Mayor Richard Wilkins III the Mayor of Sunnydale the big bad of series 3. The mayor spends series three preparing to become a demon, not a half-breed demon like we are used to seeing in the program but a giant 100 ft tall, full-powered demon choosing to use Sunnydale High’s graduation day as the date of his transformation. Ok he’s ambitious sure, he has big plans but that’s not why he is on the list. He’s on the list because alongside his megalomaniacal personality, lives a side of him that won’t let Faith swear, a side that wants her to wants her to wear a dress and act like a lady, a side obsessed with cleanliness, hygiene and common decency and a side that believes that the children are American’s future, despite the fact he plans to eat many of them when he ascends. Paradoxically his two sides merge seamlessly, to become a father figure for the new bad faith.
1. The Gentlemen - If you’ve read the list of my top Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes, then you’ll know my favourite episode is ‘Hush’. It will come as no surprise at all, to find out that my favourite Buffy Monsters ever are The Gentleman. A group of suited grinning fairytale monsters who once they’ve silenced the town go about cutting out the hearts of its populace. Everything about them yells creepy. Their un-moving wide grins, their near-white faces, the straight-jacketed lackeys or that they glide (yes glide) across the ground, everything about them just yells ‘Holy freaking crap!’
Unfortunately not every villain is awesome, some of them miss the mark or end up being just that little bit pointless or even annoying, and these two for me take the monster equivalent of a Razzie
Collin the Annointed One - Thankfully this pint-sized vampire child had a very short stay. Heralded by The Master as the new vampire Mesiah this child did very little except talk with an over-inflated sense of importance. If you are gonna but a child villain in something you need to damn well make sure he is one evil mofo, we’re talking ‘The Omen’, ‘Village of the Damned’, and ‘Children of the Corn’ type evil here. Unfortunately Collin never made it; but fortunately Spike and Drusilla arrive and kill the annoying little git very early on his career.
The hell hounds and werewolves - This one is down to budget, or rather lack of it. The costumes for the werewolves and the hell hounds in Buffy are so lacking it makes ‘Teen Wolf’ look like state-of-the-art 21st Century CGI. For those who don’t know, the werewolves and hell hounds were men in furry dog suits, bounding around rather unconvincingly on all fours like the dog from ‘The Tweenies’.
So there you have it my list of the best, well favourite Buffy the Vampire Slayer monsters. I’m sure you disagree with at least some of them. If you drop me a comment I’m always happy to have chin-wag about BTVS.