The hold that Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have on us fans is never-ending. It’s a series that’s special to many fans, and remains one of my favorite shows. Buffy subverts how a hero typically behaves, as she’s not impervious to life or individual struggles. The dire circumstances she falls into during the series finale are still difficult to watch. It doesn’t matter how many times I return to it, I always experience stress.

So what happened to our favorite Slayer, Sunnydale, her loved ones, and the world in 2003? Keep reading to find out, and please avoid the wreckage.

What happened during the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series finale?

Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had higher stakes (get it, stakes?) than previous seasons. The final season saw Buffy and the Scoobies face off against The First Evil, the noncorporeal source of all the evil in the universe. The First takes the form of anyone who has died, and employees legions of henchman to do its bidding. These include the Bringers, the Turok-Han vampires aka ubervamps, and sadistic, misogynistic priest Caleb (Nathan Fillion). The First’s chief weapon is manipulation, assuming different forms to provoke and terrorize the citizens of Sunnydale. The First begins targeting potential Slayers, hoping to wipe out the Slayer line. Buffy begins sheltering potential Slayers at her home and training them to become an ad hoc army.

After several violent encounters with The First’s minions, Buffy and her army decide to take matters into their own hands. They head to Sunnydale High, where they open the Hellmouth and bring the fight to the First. Buffy finds the Scythe, a mythical weapon made for the Slayer. She then asks Willow (Alyson Hannigan) to use her Scythe to endow every potential Slayer with powers. In the ensuing battle for Sunnydale, the Scoobies win, but not without major losses. Spike (James Marsters) sacrifices himself by wearing an amulet from Angel (David Boreanaz), which exposes him and the ubervamps to the power of the sun. The Hellmouth collapses, swallowing up the town of Sunnydale.

The show ends with the remaining survivors making it out of abandoned Sunnydale before it collapses into the earth. The last thing we see is Buffy smiling as she realizes the weight of the world isn’t solely on her shoulders.

Who dies in the finale?

Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer seldom hold back when killing off beloved characters. Characters on Buffy’s side include ex-demon Anya (Emma Caulfield), Spike and an assortment of Potential Slayers. Otherwise everyone else makes it out alive (and Spike is resurrected in Angel season five).

(featured image: 20th Century Fox)

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Vanessa Maki

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