Before there was Team Edward and Team Jacob, there was Team Angel and Team Spike. Like any good teen show — or any show about vampires, really — dramatic doomed romances are the name of the game. "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" had no shortage of couples over the course of its 7 seasons, the most prominent of which involved Buffy's aforementioned vampire lovers. But not every romance on the show was a human-vampire affair. There were human-human couplings, vampire-vampire ones, human-robot dalliances, and of course, witch-4-witch romances.
Some of these couples were figuratively groundbreaking — Willow and Tara had one of the first long-term lesbian relationships on network television — and some were more literally so, like when Buffy and Spike demolish a house together with their passion. Fans have their own opinions about which "Buffy" couples rocked and which were flops, so we thought we'd try our hand at ranking all of the "Buffy" couples. Some of these make us swoon, while others only induce groans, but who comes out on top? Read on to discover our ranking of every couple on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and beware of the spoilers below.
There's really no competition here. While there have been numerous ill-informed romances on the show, nothing comes close to the murderous, misogynist robot that Joyce has the bad luck of meeting. Ted only appears in one episode of "Buffy," aptly named "Ted." The episode follows the introduction of Joyce's new boyfriend Ted, who seems like a perfectly nice man. Except Buffy doesn't buy it, so she decides to investigate further.
As it turns out, Ted is actually a robot from the 1950s. After the real Ted's wife left him, he created a robot version of himself that he thought was superior. He then kidnapped his ex-wife and kept her in a bunker until she died, and repeated this process with other women, leading up to his meeting of Joyce. We shudder to think what would have happened if Buffy had not saved the day.
While Ted is undoubtedly the worst romantic prospect in Sunnydale, Parker comes in a very close second. Technically, Buffy and Parker don't have a real relationship, but in Buffy's mind, it feels like they do (or could). After sleeping together one night after a frat party — Buffy's first sexual encounter since Angel, mind you — Buffy decides she wants to pursue a relationship with Parker.
Unfortunately, Parker only saw it as a one-night stand, so he takes it upon himself to ignore Buffy for the foreseeable future. He then uses the same line about having lost his father on other girls, and he even attempts to hit on Buffy's best friend, Willow. Really, the worst thing about this "relationship" is how much it hurts Buffy and takes a toll on her self-esteem. Nobody puts Buffy in a corner.
Now, this one is just weird. Willow and Xander are childhood best friends, who technically "dated" when they were five. After years of friendship, they start to develop romantic feelings for one another in Season 3. As Willow and Xander put it themselves, it's almost like a spell has come over them and now, they can't stop thinking about each other.
The worst part about this is that they betray their current partners. Xander is dating Cordelia while Willow is dating Oz, but this doesn't stop either of them from acting upon their feelings for one another. In a devastating "end" to this relationship, Willow and Xander are locked up in Spike's factory and wind up kissing. Oz and Cordelia arrive to rescue the pair, only to find them in this embrace, and are understandably heartbroken. The relationship feels totally out of place and out of character, which may be the point, but it's not a romance that we want to revisit any time soon.
Cordelia and Wesley is another "Buffy" relationship that fizzles out rather quickly. Cordelia develops quite a crush on Wesley in Season 3, and the attraction is mutual. However, they are clearly a very poorly-matched couple, most notably because Cordelia is a high-school student and Wesley is a full-grown adult man (not like that stopped Buffy and Angel from getting together, but still).
Cordelia is a confident, brash, fast-talking young woman and Wesley is a bumbling dork, so it's no wonder this couple doesn't work out in the end. When they finally do kiss during the Season 3 finale, it's about as awkward as you'd expect. They stare longingly at each other for a good minute, and when the kiss happens, well, it's kind of gross! Cordelia wipes her lips off and they both silently acknowledge that it will never happen again. At least they both get it out of their system.
This "relationship" is so brief that we almost forgot it happened. It's obvious that Xander and Faith make no sense together, which is probably why we had forgotten about them entirely. Technically, what happens between them does not even constitute a relationship, but we're including them anyway for accuracy's sake.
Xander and Faith have a very brief tryst in Season 3 in an episode entitled "The Zeppo." Xander actually loses his virginity to Faith, but it's not a particularly satisfying experience for him because Faith doesn't seem to be invested. But who can blame her? Xander brings literally nothing to the table, and Faith is a hot, confident, capable young woman, who owes Xander nothing. Things go sour between the two after this episode, but they eventually reunite in Season 7 to fight against the First Evil. If only we could erase the fact that this ever happened in the first place.
On paper, Riley seems like a good antidote to Buffy's less-than-stable, supernatural romantic exploits. First of all, he's human, and second of all, he seems like a well-adjusted, reliable guy. But in reality, Riley is pretty much the worst. It's not just that Riley actually works for a secret military organization run by Professor Walsh — sketchy to say the least — but also, he's supremely boring. While Angel doesn't have that much of a personality to speak of either, he at least has that immortal mystique about him.
What's worse, Riley reveals himself to be a grade-A jerk. While things between the two of them seem to be going well for a while, Riley starts to expect more from Buffy — in a traditional, heteronormative sense — than she can offer. While Buffy is busy taking care of her sister, Dawn, Riley starts complaining that she doesn't need him like she used to. And then, even more appallingly, Riley starts going out to demon bars to let random vampire women suck his blood because he can't handle it when the women in his life don't come crying to him for help. Get lost, loser!
Spike and Harmony just don't make that much sense. While Spike is undoubtedly one of the most compelling characters on the show, Harmony ... is not. Surprisingly, she actually does reappear in the "Buffy" spin-off "Angel," where she's pretty hilarious as Angel's assistant at Wolfram & Hart. But in terms of her relationship with Spike, she doesn't bring much to the table.
The main issue with Spike and Harmony's relationship is that Spike truly could not care less about Harmony. Most of the time, his thoughts are occupied with another freakishly strong blonde woman that he can't seem to get out of his head. Plus, when compared with Drusilla — who is a legendary "Buffy" villain and also a very fun paring with Spike — Harmony just doesn't pass muster. She's undoubtedly a hoot, but there's just no chemistry between her and Spike.
While Xander and Cordelia are definitely a better couple than Xander and Willow, they have their issues too. Mainly, their problems come from Xander treating Cordelia pretty badly. Somehow, even while dating the most popular and sought-after girl at school, Xander still harbors feelings for Buffy and cheats on Cordelia with Willow. While the idea behind their relationship is potentially interesting — two worlds meeting and all that — the reality leaves something to be desired.
To be fair, they both treat one another pretty horribly over the course of their high school years. However, Xander definitely wins the award for bad behavior between the two of them. Xander repeatedly criticizes and shames Cordelia, especially for her appearance and sexuality, which is just not appropriate behavior at all. Plus, Cordelia loses all her friends and her social standing when she starts dating Xander, only to have him cheat on her with his best friend. No thanks!
In our humble opinion, Kennedy does not deserve a lot of the hate she gets. It's not her fault that she comes on the heels of one of the most iconic relationships on the show, or that she appears in one of the least-liked seasons of "Buffy." Kennedy is actually one of the more promising and capable of the potential slayers, although she does have a bit of an attitude problem.
Really, the most damning thing about Kennedy is that she's not Tara. It's inevitable that anyone who comes after Willow's great love would fail in comparison, and that certainly holds true for Kennedy. Willow and Kennedy just don't get the same amount of time to build up the bond that she had with Tara. On the plus side, Willow and Kennedy's sex scene in Season 7 was the first lesbian sex scene on American network television, so at least we have them to thank for that history-making moment.
Giles and Joyce is yet another "Buffy" relationship that is extremely fleeting. Giles and Joyce only "date" (if you can even call it that) for one episode, and they're under the influence of a magical spell when they do. In the Season 3 episode "Band Candy," the vampire Mister Trick devises a plot to render the adult population of Sunnydale defenseless. Mister Trick floods Sunnydale with mysterious chocolate bars that make anyone who eats them regress back into their adolescent state.
This means that Giles has now turned back into "Ripper," his rebellious teenage persona. Giles hooks up with Joyce, who is also behaving like her teenage self. The two of them run around Sunnydale, causing mayhem and making out on top of police cars. When the magic wears off and they revert back to their adult selves, Giles and Joyce are both so embarrassed by their behavior that they never speak of it again. But to be honest, we kind of wish they would, because Joyce and Giles do make a cute couple. Plus, Giles is already a father figure to Buffy, so why not make it official?
The best thing about Giles and Olivia is the fact that we finally get to see Giles happy after Jenny's devastating death. While it probably wouldn't be accurate to call whatever Giles and Olivia have a "relationship," they clearly have a history together and are not ones to turn down a good old roll in the hay (for posterity's sake). Olivia first appears in the Season 4 premiere, when Buffy finds her barely clothed in Giles' apartment. It's a scarring moment for the Slayer, but unlike Buffy, we can at least appreciate the fact that it's nice to see Giles finally having a personal life.
Olivia appears again in the iconic episode "Hush" where she, like the rest of Sunnydale, loses the ability to speak. Her final appearance is with a cameo in Giles' dream in the episode "Restless," but we hope the two kept in touch nonetheless. Though no one can ever make up for the loss of Ms. Calendar, it's good to know Giles still has friends on the other side of the pond.
Faith and Robin Wood — the principal of Sunnydale High and the son of a former slayer — are only together for a brief period in Season 7, but they actually seem like a pretty good match. For one thing, they're both extremely hot, which certainly adds to our enjoyment of seeing them as a couple. Sadly, they only hook up in the third-to-last episode of the series, so we don't really get to see much from them.
But we get to see that Robin cares about Faith, as he tells her he wants to show her that men can be more than just people to use and throw away. Speaking with The AV Club, D.B. Woodside (who plays Robin), says he "know[s] for a fact that Wood and Faith are together somewhere." We hope he's right, because Faith certainly deserves some stability in her life.
Anya is the only character on "Buffy" that Xander ever really has a chance with. While it's still a little puzzling why Anya chose Xander of all people to be her first human romance, we've got to respect the opinion of a 1,000-year-old ex-vengeance demon. After becoming human, Anya finds herself in a pretty vulnerable state, and she relies on Xander to help teach her the ways of the human world and the rituals of dating.
Undoubtedly one of the funniest characters on the show, Anya's ideas about sex and dating are hilariously out-of-touch, and we love the way she just goes after what she wants. To be honest, Xander doesn't really bring much to the table in regards to this relationship, but Anya is such a lovable character that she almost singlehandedly makes the couple fun to watch. We still don't forgive Xander for leaving Anya at the aisle, nor do we forgive the writers for killing off Anya in the series finale. But at least we have their musical number in "Once More With Feeling" before it all takes a turn.
This one is controversial because there's always tension between the "Bangel" and the "Spuffy" fans. But only one couple can come out on top, and for our money, it is not Buffy and Angel. Obviously, Buffy and Angel are an iconic couple on the series, and you've got to give them at least some credit for giving us that delicious teen angst we expect from a show like "Buffy." Plus David Boreanaz is undoubtedly very good at doing the whole brooding vampire thing, and he looks great in a leather jacket.
As far as first loves go, Buffy and Angel's relationship is a pretty brutal one. First of all, Angel literally loses his soul the moment Buffy loses her virginity, which is an extraordinarily harsh way for Buffy to enter into adulthood. Not to mention what it says about young women's relationship to sexuality ... yikes! Besides the fact that Angel goes on a murderous rampage after he loses his soul, he also breaks up with Buffy in a literal sewer — right before prom, mind you — after getting his soul back. To give credit where it's due, this does make for some highly dramatic and emotionally devastating moments on the show, but we can't in good conscience put Buffy and Angel's relationship at the top of the list because of it.
Speaking of brutality, Spike and Drusilla's relationship on "Buffy" is probably the most deliciously deranged of the whole series (we mean this in a good way, obviously). While Spike and Drusilla are far from a paragon of goodness — quite the opposite, in fact — they are great fun to watch, and we kind of miss their psychotic love affair. Plus, they do seem to actually love each other, even if the way they display this love isn't exactly what you'd call respectable.
While we're meant to believe vampires can't love without souls, Spike and Dru seem to prove this assumption wrong. Really, these two are perfect for each other. They are the same amount of brutal and unhinged, and they are willing to perform any number of violent acts to please one another. Having been together for a good 100 years by the time we meet them, they're also the longest-lasting relationship on the series, which has to count for something. If Spike hadn't gotten a chip put in his head, they may have lasted even longer. We miss those crazy kids.
While not the most tragic romance on the show, Giles and Jenny are pretty high up there on the devastating scale. First of all, their blossoming romance is just so darn sweet. It is adorable to see Giles act like a bumbling fool around a woman he really likes, and we love seeing Jenny take charge and prove what a capable person she is of her own accord.
They both have mysterious pasts that at times prevent them from getting together — like Jenny's magical connection to Angel and Giles' dark era as "Ripper" — but it seems like they're heading for something special when tragedy strikes. The circumstances of Jenny's death are incredibly brutal. Angel — now Angelus, his former soulless self — kills Jenny by snapping her neck, and then leaves her on Giles' bed covered in rose petals. We're still sad about this turn of events decades later, especially since it's so rare to find true happiness in the dangerous world of Sunnydale. They could have had it all.
Like Angel, Spike has done many terrible things in his life and some of them to Buffy herself. Frankly, Buffy's relationships with Angel and Spike are both pretty toxic. But Spike is at least significantly more interesting than the broody, humorless Angel. Also, Spike is funny. Although, we can't (and won't) forgive Spike for sexually assaulting Buffy in Season 6.
Prior to the start of his sexual relationship with Buffy, Spike is steadfastly a villain in the series. Riding around town with Drusilla, generally causing mayhem wherever he goes, Spike's initial main goal is to kill Buffy, so he can continue his favorite sport of killing slayers. But Spike eventually discovers that he doesn't want to kill Buffy anymore, since he's developed feelings for her. They embark on a secret affair together and after the aforementioned attempted-rape scene, he decides he needed to make amends and prove himself to Buffy. So, he goes through a harrowing ritual to regain his soul. He then sacrifices himself to save the world in the series finale (though he's not gone forever, because he returns in "Angel"), thus further sealing his redemption arc.
Whether or not Spike's actions in the last season of the show make up for his previous behavior is hard to say, but his relationship with Buffy does provide an interesting arc for each character. Both Buffy and Spike grow as people during their time together. While none of Buffy's relationships could be described as "good" or "healthy," at least Buffy is able to find someone who she feels could be her equal.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
Ah, young love. In all honesty, the only relationship at Sunnydale High that actually seems to be healthy and loving is that between Willow and Oz. Yes, it turns out that Willow is actually gay, but really, you couldn't ask for a better boyfriend for a teenage lesbian witch to have. Oz also happens to be one of the funniest characters on the series — remember "we attack the mayor with hummus?" — and his dry sense of humor is a delight to everyone around him. He's also extremely supportive, kind, and absolutely the person you want around in a crisis.
Unfortunately, Willow does cheat on Oz with Xander but Oz, being the stand-up guy that he is, eventually forgives Willow and they get back together. There's also the fact that Oz winds up becoming a werewolf and has to leave and go find his wolfy self, but we don't blame him for that either. A wolf's gotta do what a wolf's gotta do. Plus, Oz's decision to leave Sunnydale also leads Willow to — in our humble opinion — the greatest relationship in the whole series.
Willow and Tara are an amazing couple for many reasons. First, their relationship allows both characters to grow in ways they wouldn't have if they had never met. With Tara by her side, Willow becomes the powerful witch we all know she can be, and Tara's love makes her more self-assured than we've ever seen her. Tara also grows through her relationship with Willow. Though she is initially a shy young woman with a stutter when we first meet her, we watch her transform into a happy, carefree witch, who finally has somewhere that makes her feel like she belongs. The Season 5 episode "Family," where the whole Scooby Gang stands up for Tara against her abusive family, is one of the most moving in the entire series.
Even more importantly, Willow and Tara's relationship was a groundbreaking moment in pop culture. They were one of the first long-term lesbian couples on television, and the impact of the relationship is still felt today. Although they're together for a full season before their first kiss even happens, fans both old and new have continued to be enamored with Willow and Tara from their first meeting in the episode "Hush."
To be honest, we're still devastated by Tara's death in Season 6, which is definitely the source of some of the hatred towards Kennedy. It just isn't fair that Tara had to go out like that, and the reaction to her death — both from Willow and the fans — proves just how much we all loved her. We just wish she and Willow could have levitated at The Bronze forever.