Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Common Sense Media says

Cult vampire series has witty bite and strong role model.





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.

Parents say

Kids say

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
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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, okay 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 8 and 11 year old Written bymightydoll January 3, 2010

Earlier seasons are fine for tweens who aren't easily frightened, but later seasons should wait.

My kids love it, as do I. While I do think there is stuff that's simply over their heads, that's not what I tend to be concerned about with television. It's the stuff that they're getting that concerns me more than whether they understand the metaphor and subtext. The sex is very tame, and the violence is fairly cartoon-y. Meanwhile, the messages of tolerance, respect and strength are fabulous. Characters are complex and show that everyone has a bit of light and a bit of darkness in them, and that the way we choose to treat our light and dark aspects is what makes us good and bad people. It is actions, not impulses that make us good - a particularly good message for children, who often find themselves in over their heads emotionally. That said, I do not allow my youngest to watch Hush (too scary, it'll give her nightmares) and a handful of other episodes in the first 4 or 5 seasons and I think seasons 6 and 7 are flat out too scary for her altogether. Judging this series in its entirety is difficult, as it evolves, changes and becomes more sophisticated with time.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 5, 5, 8, and 10 year old Written bywhovianmother April 18, 2011

More violent than i would like.... but good

my 10 and 8 year old started watching this about 3 months ago when they randomly found my box sets i was gonna wait till they were older for them too watch it but as long as they understand unless they are the slayer violence is not what they need it is fine.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models


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