Buffy the Vampire Slayer



Cult vampire series has witty bite and strong role model.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Gender roles are progressive, and everyone works as a team to support a female hero.

Positive role models

Buffy is a strong, nuanced role model. She's powerful, loyal, and committed to her role as fighter-of-evil. She sacrifices herself for others regularly, and is a thoughtful, caring friend.


Cartoonish action violence, including stabbing vampires with stakes, fighting sequences, and a scene in which Buffy is attacked by a severed arm.


Sixteen-year-old Buffy has sex with her vampire boyfriend, who is considerably older. Many romances among the teen characters, including a lesbian relationship. The vampire myth is traditionally a very sexualized one.


Ocassional mild cursing -- "hell," "damn," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while even grade-schoolers may enjoy the horror-movie aspects of this hugely popular vampire series, its mature themes are not a good fit for kids that young. Even kids as young as 12 -- who will enjoy the action and have fun with the one-liners -- probably aren't quite ready for the dark, adult issues the show tackles. Buffy is in mortal danger in most episodes, she loses her virginity to her (much) older boyfriend, and monsters are everywhere. On the upside, the series encourages strength in girls, mentoring, and teamwork. The series is best for teens and adults, who will appreciate the multi-leveled story and the Romeo and Juliet subtext of some of the episodes.

What's the story?

This cult series about a tough blond vampire slayer constrasts the bright, mundane world of high school with the menacing, shadowy world of the vampires. Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as the titular slayer; the rest of the group includes friends Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Willow (Alyson Hannigan), mentor Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), werewolf Oz (Seth Green), vampires Angel (David Boreanaz) and Spike (James Marsters), and many more. Buffy just wants to be a normal teenager, but she can't escape her destiny as the Chosen One when she moves to Sunnydale, Calif., which happens to be right over the Hellmouth -- a mystic spot that allows demons and other evil creatures into the world.

Is it any good?


Clever writing and an appealing cast make this cult series eminently watchable. The show's content can sometimes be gruesome and disturbing for younger or more sensitive teens, but excellent writing and a light hand take away some of the intensity. Teens will definitely identify with Buffy's sense of dread, even if their own dread is over a test, rather than the appearance of vampires.

Though Buffy is by no means educational, characters place a great deal of importance on integrity, working as a team and learning to sacrifice for the greater good.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Buffy deals with the pressure of her "calling." How do teens deal with the pressures they face every day? Can they draw any parallels between Buffy's life and "normal" high school experience?

  • The show's characters place a great deal of importance on integrity, working as a team, and learning to sacrifice for the greater good. Families can talk about how they apply those values in their own lives. What do they consider the greater good?

  • Families may also want to discuss the series' sexual content, including their views about virginity and sex.

TV details

Cast:Alyson Hannigan, David Boreanaz, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seth Green
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Great girl role models
Character strengths:Courage, Teamwork
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 14 year old Written byJames Taylor April 3, 2009

Please keep in mind the aging of the series

Although the consensus is that Buffy is a "13 and up" series it is important to note that there are some episodes -- especially in season 6 -- that are really intended for more mature audiences. Some of the Buffy and Angel scenes in earlier seasons were pretty racy as well. What began as an appropriate series for 13 and 14 year olds grew older, darker and more daring, and it is easy to forget in this DVD age -- when you can watch an entire season in a week -- that there was an anticipation that viewers would grow up with the series, so that by the time Season 6 came around the average viewer would be closer to 19 or 20, which is the age that some of those episodes are more appropriate for. Even so, Buffy is one of the best series in TV history, if not the best.
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written byElspeth M June 18, 2010

Perfect for 16 and up, extremely inappropriate for those under 15.

While I think this show is fun for older teens (16 and up) and adults, it is WILDLY inappropriate for kids under 15. I am watching an episode right now from late season 3 with my 10 and 12 year old girls. I let them watch the show thus far because I thought it was witty, campy, and offered a positive female role model. But each episode is horrifically violent. Worse: the violence is often highly sexualized. The lovely episode in question I had to turn off because a woman in a latex or leather cat suit, with red lingerie peeping through was straddling--and physically torturing-- a young man, who was screaming in severe pain. This scene was laced with S&M sexuality. Why, why would anyone want to expose a grade schooler to these before they'd even reached puberty? Before they could possibly process this information or understand that the violence is burlesque and that the whole show is somewhat tongue-in-cheek? I have made a grave error in judgement and I hope this saves you from doing the same.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byBallet_Dance January 30, 2011

Really like this show for so many reason.

I started watching this show when I was younger and then stopped when I was about 11. When I was 12 I became anorexic. I started to watch this show again when I was about 13. This show actually helped me to realise that I didn't need to be super skinny. I know that might sound kind of wierd but seeing a main female character that was stong and and needed her strength everyday made me start to think I might need help. Pretty much, part of the reason that I love this show is because of how strong the female characters are. In my opinion it shows woman in a whole new light.
What other families should know
Great role models


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