Relationships are fraught with tension, drama, and anguish. And that’s just in real life. Imagine dating somebody on the Hellmouth. Not only could a vampire steal your life—but they could also steal your mate. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Scooby Gang always has their hands full. Sometimes, it’s with fighting the latest Big Bad, but often it’s with their own romantic conflicts.
The love triangle is one of the most tried and true plot devices ever. That’s because the audience can get involved and invested, debating the ship worthiness of one couple over the other. Over its seven seasons, Buffy had more triangles than a geometry class. So which were most guaranteed to steam up your TV? Here is Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The 10 Best Love Triangles, Ranked.
10 Willow, Oz, Veruca
Happy couples don’t exactly make for great TV. But it’s a testament to the stellar Buffy writing staff that we’d be tickled pink if Willow and Oz were able to carry out their too cute for words romance with nothing bad ever happening. Sadly, this is not in the cards for TV’s favorite witch-werewolf couple.
Despite his commitment and red-hot attraction to Willow, Oz finds himself drawn to Veruca. As a fellow werewolf, Veruca has a natural connection to Oz that Willow never will. The sexual connection between Oz and Veruca is animalistic, to say the least. Veruca urges him to literally cast off his shackles and roam free. Though this comes back to literally bite her, Oz realizes that his werewolf side isn’t nearly as under control as he thought. He fears being a danger to those he loves, namely Willow, and splits town. Love triangles are known for both their agony and ecstasy. With this one, it’s a lot of the former and not much of the latter.
9 Angel, Buffy, Scott
While the Willow-Oz-Veruca triangle was way too tumultuous to be enjoyable, this one has the opposite effect. Scott is like the poppy field in The Wizard of Oz—guaranteed to put the viewer to sleep. The best we can say about Scott is that he makes Angel, fresh back from his summer vacation in hell, green with envy. It looks like Buffy has moved on with her life and it’s a life that doesn’t include the vampire who tortured and murdered her friends.
Alas, this never becomes a full-fledged love triangle as Scott takes himself out of the running by prematurely dumping Buffy. We should be outraged by his actions, but—zzzzzzzz.
8 Xander, Anya, Spike
Seriously, what’s more audacious? Xander leaving Anya at the altar or telling her he still wants to date her…then leaving her at the altar? Before we even have time to contemplate an answer, Xander goes for the hat trick of audacity, slut-shaming Anya for sleeping with Spike.
It’s called a rebound, Xander. Anya is left lonely and heartbroken and Spike’s in a similar boat after Buffy leaves his bed. Mutual misery isn’t the most positive reason for sexual congress, but given the circumstances, it’s beyond understandable. We’ll concede that it has to be painful for Xander to have watched it live, courtesy of the Trio’s creepy hidden cameras, but the man-made his choice. Even though Spike and Anya never pursue a romance, let’s just say it—they have a lot in common and are totally ship worthy. Meanwhile, Xander can walk the plank.
7 Buffy, Angel, Cordelia
This barely counts as a love triangle, as Cordelia deludes herself into thinking Angel has any real feelings for her. Still, Buffy is her own worst enemy, as her insecurity gets the better of her. Thanks to some liberated Watcher Diaries, Buffy gets it in her head that Angel has a thing for delicate women of nobility. In the present day this translates to a varsity cheerleader, not a Slayer.
Angel assures Buffy she has nothing to worry about and Cordy eventually gets the message. Ironically, years later Angel and Cordy end up getting together on Angel. That too has its own detrimental complications. Angel teaches us that if a vampire ever comes up on our Tinder, swipe left.
6 Cordelia, Xander, Willow
Xander, like many of us, wants what he can’t have. Even before Willow admits her crush on him, he has an inkling that it’s there. When she winds up blurting it out, it’s an explosive reaction to Xander’s relationship with Cordelia. Considering that Cordelia made her life hell for years, it’s a real boot to Willow’s heart.
But like a lotus growing out of mud, Xander and Cordelia’s relationship is the best thing for Willow. She’s finally able to let him go and find happiness with Oz. But now that Willow’s unattainable, all of a sudden she’s looking mighty fine to Xander, who puts the moves on her. Willow and Xander carry out an affair of the kissy variety behind their partners’ backs. When they get caught, it has disastrous consequences, namely for Cordelia who winds up getting impaled. No guy is worth dying for, especially Xander Harris.
5 Xander, Anya, Willow
Most love triangles involve two parties warring for an individual’s romantic affections. This one is an anomaly because Willow and Xander no longer have feelings for each other. Willow has come out as gay and besides, Xander is…Xander. But they’re still BFFs and Willow is used to being the most important woman in his life. Furthermore, Willow had beef with Anya before she even started dating Xander. The result is that Xander finds himself playing the role of rope in Willow and Anya’s tug-of-war.
Tension between Willow and Anya comes to a head when Willow accidentally summons Anya’s ex, Olaf the Troll. He announces he will kill Willow or Anya, and Xander has to choose which one. It must be a blue moon because Xander makes the selfless decision to sacrifice himself instead. This obviously doesn’t happen, but Xander’s gesture dissolves the sharp edges of this contentious triangle.
4 Riley, Buffy, Spike
Usually a love triangle involves somebody loving two people at once. In this case, Buffy loves neither man nor vampire. Spike assesses the situation best: things suck for him because he’s on the outside looking in, never getting the tiniest bit of affection from Buffy. But then there’s Riley, who goes through the motions with Buffy, gets to live a romantic life with her, all the while knowing that she doesn’t fully return his feelings.
There’s some truth to Riley’s accusation that Buffy is using him. At some point, she should have the self-awareness to see what everyone else does. But oh yeah, her mom is dying of cancer. So she’s a little preoccupied. Besides, the Slayer deserves better options than a panty-stealing stalker and an ex-soldier who pays vampire prostitutes to bite him.
3 Spike, Drusilla, Angel
How does that expression go: You always hurt the ones you love? Or is it, the ones who hurt you, you always love? Either way, both adages can be applied to this three-ring circus of a love triangle. In their prime, Spike and Drusilla are total goals. But there’s the lingering shadow of Angel. Can you blame Drusilla? You don’t just forget the first person who tortures you to insanity. In the vampire world, this is like somebody giving you their class ring.
Even though Angel gets Dru a human heart for Valentine’s Day, it’s clear he doesn’t really love her. He just enjoys getting under Spike’s skin. Dru adores being the cause of this cockfighting, and why shouldn’t she? All’s fair in love and undeath.
2 Oz, Willow, Tara
As flattering as it may be having two people love you at the same time, we don’t envy Willow’s decision. Tara is sweet and devoted, but also an unknown. Who’s to say things don’t blow up between them two weeks down the line? Then there’s Oz, who Willow knows she has crazy chemistry with. But there’s scorched earth there. Can Willow trust Oz not to break her heart again?
The whole thing ends up being a nonstarter. For all his Tibetan training, when it comes to Willow, Oz can’t keep his wolfiness under control. He packs his bags and Willow goes to Tara who’s waiting with open arms. It doesn’t fully sit right with us that Willow picks Tara by default, but we can’t thumb our noses at the beautiful love that comes from this relationship.
1 Angel, Buffy, Spike
What makes this one an anomaly is that Buffy is never really involved with Angel and Spike at the same time, save for the last episode. She previously spent a chaste yet intimate night with Spike, yet when Angel rolls into town, he and Buffy engage in a steamy make-out sesh that makes it clear their feelings have not changed own iota since their breakup.
There have been arguments upon tweets upon forums debating the merits of Team Angel vs. Team Spike. The series finale, for all its flaws, answers the question best—Buffy belongs with neither. Never mind the myriad of reasons why Angel and Spike are unfit partners in their own unique, spectacular ways. Buffy says it herself that she needs to figure out who she is first. When it comes to this triangle, we’re Team Buffy.
NEXT: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The 10 Funniest Episodes Ever