Buffy The Vampire Slayer Has The Perfect Ending If You Stop Watching After One Episode

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the most iconic shows of the 1990s, with a passionate fanbase. Like any TV fandom, certain seasons are highly contentious, and for Buffy fans, that’s everything after season five. Fortunately, it’s easy to ignore those problems because season five was supposed to be the show’s last, and the season finale, “The Gift,” is a perfect place to stop watching.

The Gift

“The Gift” works perfectly as a series finale because that’s how it was written, with the show facing potential cancellation after Season 5. From starting with a “previously on” that covers every previous episode to ending with the protagonist’s death, the season five finale pays off the whole series. Every main character gets a significant conclusion: Buffy dies, Giles commits murder, Xander and Anya get engaged, Spike has a heroic turn, and Willow saves Tara. 

Meant To Be The Finale

Had Buffy ended with Season 5, it would have prevented the most controversial storylines in the show. Season 6 is much darker than the previous seasons, featuring an episode with the show’s two most hated moments. Season 7 is controversial for more aesthetic reasons, weakened by its low budget and bloated cast. 

Seeing Red

The most controversial episode of Buffy is Season 6, Episode 19, “Seeing Red,” because of two moments. The first is the vampire Spike’s attempted sexual assault on Buffy. The other is the death of Tara, Willow’s girlfriend, which many see as a betrayal of the show’s queer representation.

Spike’s attempted sexual assault ruined the beloved character for many. Season 5 of Buffy saw Spike’s transition from villain to anti-hero, and the moment undercut his arc while needlessly traumatizing Buffy. It also ruined the relationship between the two, which many fans supported until “Seeing Red.”

A Needless Death

The death of Tara, who was shot accidentally by the villain Warren, was seen as needlessly cruel. Tara and Willow were the first long-term lesbian relationship on TV, so seeing it end violently was an unpleasant shock, particularly for LGBTQ+ fans. Season 5 saw the first-of-its-kind relationship blossoming, only to be cut short by the problematic “bury your gays” trope. 

Attempts To Expand Beyond Buffy

Buffy’s final season was a claustrophobic, low-budget affair due to budget cuts and an expanded cast. The low budget meant fewer shooting locations, leading to most of the season taking place in Buffy’s house. Adding a dozen potential slayers reduced the time to develop the show’s established characters while also leaving most of the potential slayers one-note. 

The Few High Points Don’t Save Season 7

The final seasons aren’t entirely without value. Episodes like “Once More With Feeling” and “Storyteller” are among the show’s best, and there are great storylines like finishing Faith’s redemption arc, which spanned multiple seasons of Buffy and Angel. However, the final seasons are generally considered the weakest because of their missteps, making it easy to wish Season 5 had been Buffy’s last. 

While Buffy Season 5 isn’t perfect, it had a perfect ending the show had been building towards since the first season. Buffy’s sacrifice to save the world and her sister was a flawless moment that worked as a bittersweet ending to the series. It’s the perfect stopping point for fans who don’t want to see a beloved show’s biggest mistakes.