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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Top 25 Dramatic Scenes

I originally posted a list of my top 25 dramatic scenes at ATPO in 2003, shortly after Chosen aired. Those original selections hold up pretty well – he said as he graded his own answers – though I’ve reorganized them to suit my latest views. In a few cases, what qualifies as a single scene is debatable, but I tried to be reasonable about it.
There’s a pretty straightforward logical connection between the scenes I list below and my episode rankings: (1) I rate dramatic episodes highly; therefore (2) episodes with top quality dramatic scenes will be highly rated, and vice versa. This list is bound to be subjective, even though many of these scenes will appear on others’ lists, because they’re the scenes which had the greatest emotional impact on me personally.


1. Beneath You: "Can we rest?"

2. Passion: “Upstairs.”

3. The Body: "Mom? Mommy?"

4. Becoming 2: Buffy fights Angelus (“Me.”) and sends Angel to Hell: "Close your eyes."

5. The Gift: "The hardest thing to do in this world is to live in it. Live. For me."

6. Smashed: B/S bring down the house.

7. Dead Things: Crypt scene

8. Becoming 2: "The winter here is cold and bitter..."

9. Wild at Heart: "In my whole life, I've never loved anyone else."

10. Prophecy Girl: "I'm 16 years old. I don't want to die."

11. Passion: “The ecstasy of grief.”

12. Innocence: "That was then. This is now."

13. OMWF: Walk through the fire

14. The Body: “I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this.”

15. Becoming 1: "No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does."

16. Dead Things: "Please don't forgive me."

17. Innocence: “Was I not good?”

18. Graduation Day 1: “You know you're not going to take me alive.” “Not a problem.”

19. Tabula Rasa: "Goodbye to you"

20. The Body: “We're drawing ... the negative space ... around the object.”

21. Afterlife: "Every night I save you."

22. Normal Again: "Thank you. Good-bye." And the camera pans out the door of the asylum.

23. Passion: "I can't do this without you."

24. Storyteller: “I’m making it all up.”

25. Angel: Goodbye to you.

I could do another 10 pretty easily, I think. 


  1. I keep meaning to comment (especially because I am re-watching S6....), but unfortunately my real job has been preventing me from the important work of watching/discussing Buffy.

    I agree with most of your list, with some modifications or substitutions (that's why lists are such fun!). Spoilers below.

    I have gone back and forth about this, but I think I can safely say my favorite dramatic scene (and my favorite overall scene in the series) is the closing sequence in the "The Prom" - the class protector award, Buffy finally getting her perfect high school moment, and the dance with Angel.

    While the best drama comes out of tragedy or conflict (i.e. scenes from The Body, Passion, Becoming, The Gift, etc), I love that in this sequence Buffy is allowed to feel like a typical 18 year old girl for an evening. Or most of the night, anyway! When viewed retrospectively and with the knowledge of all that is to come, this (for me) is one of her happiest and most well-deserved moments in the entire series - even more so than the final smile in Chosen. Buffy at her best, and non-Scoobies being so very gracious en masse.

    A few scenes I would include on my own list that didn't make it into your top 25:
    --the Scoobies learning Buffy was torn out of heaven (Once More With Feeling)
    --Angel feeding off Buffy (Graduation Day)
    --Spike's "I know you'll never love me..." (The Gift)
    --Buffy/Angel acting as James/Grace (I Only Have Eyes for You)
    --Spike fighting Nikki Wood intercut with present-day Spike/Buffy (Fool For Love)
    --Buffy and Spike's conversation in Touched


    1. Most of the ones you mention would be on the list if I expanded it. In fact, the scene from The Prom was on the list when I originally posted it in 2003, but I replaced it this time with the one from Storyteller.

      Sorry to hear that your job interferes with the really important stuff. :) I'm happy to have the comments whenever life allows.

  2. Damn you for making me cry at work!

    1. Can we at least agree that the problem is the being at work part? :)


  3. Fantastic list, although the final scene in After Life shatters me every time. Tabula Rasa also has the "It feels like I'm dying..." -drops dead- scene. A third one that comes to me is the scene in Fool for Love when 1977 Spike talks to 2000 Buffy, and lastly the ending scene of Fool for Love, when Spike's face goes through 7 changes of emotion in 10 seconds before he puts down the shotgun.

    1. Agreed on all of those. It's amazing how many great scenes there are in the series as a whole.

  4. Master of the Single EntendreFebruary 14, 2016 at 9:22 PM

    Hey Mark,

    Quick question: by “Crypt scene”, do you mean the teaser under the rug or the crypt-door scene later in “Dead Things”?

    Thanks. Great list.