Over the course of seven seasons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured dozens of different kinds of enemies for Buffy and the Scooby Gang to fight each week. But for each season there was always a more prominent enemy, known as “The Big Bad,” that Buffy would encounter many times throughout the season before eventually defeating in the finale. Some of these Big Bads were a joy to watch as the season grew on, while some couldn’t go away fast enough. So here we’ve ranked all seven of the main Big Bads from worst to best!
7. Adam (Season 4)
There is a general consensus that Buffy’s fourth season is pretty well the worst of the series. The Scoobies were separated from each other; Buffy’s new beau Riley Finn was (and still isn’t) that well-liked by fans; and it had the most boring and forgettable Big Bad ever. Adam was the Frankenstein-like creation of Maggie Walsh who worked from a secret room in the Initiative to create an army of demon/human hybrids like him. Good plan, but bad execution of the villain. Adam’s monotone voice was grating on the ears and his poorly pieced together body was not the best example of the what the show’s special effects gurus were capable of. Actor George Hertzberg did his best with the character, but overall his incredibly stiff and uncharismatic portrayal earns him the bottom spot on the list.
It seems only fitting that the first Big Bad on Buffy would be a vampire. Brilliantly played by Mark Metcalf, The Master was the oldest and most powerful vampire in history – which is a bit hard to believe from the way the show treated him. He spent most of the first season trapped in an underground church, sending others to do his dirty work for him, like the vessel Luke and the very dull Anointed One. His lack of actual contact with the Slayer or any of the Scoobies didn’t really make him seem like that much of a threat. Had he shown up in a later season after the show had more time to develop itself, The Master could have been a much cooler villain than he was here.
Season six of Buffy is perhaps just as loathed as season four, if not more. The Big Bad this time around was a group of guys Buffy and the others went to high school with, two of whom had made previous appearances on the show. Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew were three nerds who were absolutely hilarious in their scenes together, but whose diabolical plans were usually nothing more than pains in Buffy’s ass. Warren eventually revealed himself to be the only truly evil one, and it is his act of cowardly frustration – attempting to kill Buffy and accidentally killing Tara – that shifts the Big Bad for the last three episodes from The Trio to a grief-stricken Willow. It was interesting to see the once meek and mild Willow go all black-clothed and veiny, flaying poor Warren in the woods, but it was fairly obvious that her stint as villain was just a fluke and that things would get resolved before any real damage was done. No one misses Warren that much anyway.
Though The Master had his moments of unexpected hilarity, Mayor Richard Wilkins III from season three brought a real sense of charm to the role of Buffy villain. Constantly upbeat and cheerful no matter the situation, the Mayor reveled in his own kind of humor which often made those around him more than a bit uncomfortable. We know that he enjoyed the small things in life like root beer and miniature golf, and that he had a bit of an aversion to germs, preferring things to be clean and tidy. Quirks like this coupled with his obvious father-figure love for the slayer Faith makes the Mayor the first of the best on the countdown of Buffy villains.
One could argue that the original baddies of season two were Spike and Drusilla. Ultimately though, when Angel lost his soul and became Angelus, he was both Big and Bad and Buffy had to take him down before he could have the whole world sucked into Hell. David Boreanaz and the show’s writers did a wonderful job at making Angelus truly evil, without even a hint of the man that Buffy fell in with love to be found. Boreanaz’s turn into Angelus seemed fluid and easy, as if that dark part of the character had always been there and just needed an opportunity to come out – and indeed this was exactly the case. Mostly it is the unbelievably cruel killing of Jenny Calendar and his display of her dead body in Giles’s apartment that proves that Angelus is probably much more dangerous to the Scoobies than Spike or Drusilla because of his previous closeness to the group.
There is really nothing to not like about the Hell-god Glory from season five. Banished from her home dimension, Glory actually inhabited the body of normal guy Ben, but mostly appeared as the hot young fashionista as portrayed by the very talented Clare Kramer. Her look was in great contrast to her power, and as a god she was practically invincible when she came up against the Slayer. The personality that Kramer gave Glory is what really makes her the most likable of all of the Buffy baddies. She was hilariously charming and almost every line of dialogue out of her mouth was either funny or quotable. Glory was also a little bit insane, and Kramer played all sides of the character incredibly well – easily turning on a dime from comedienne to crazy rambling hell-god to truly menacing foe.
It is not just its namesake that makes The First the number one best Buffy Big Bad. Debuting in the season three episode “Amends,” The First is basically made up of all the evil that ever was and will ever be in the world. It is the creator of evil, and lives inside every person in the world who commits his or her own kind of evil. So basically, none of the other villains could even exist without The First. Unable to take its true corporeal form, The First appears to the characters as dead people who meant something in their lives. This allowed The First to throw the crew off their game psychologically even when they knew that what they were seeing wasn’t real, and also tricked them a few times into thinking that it was a real person. The First also deserves the top spot because without it there would be no awesome Ubervamps and also no Caleb, the murderous preacher who was wonderfully played by Nathan Fillion.