What is the right order to watch Buffy and Angel? The ultimate episode guide

Samantha McGarry October 24, 2020
What is the right order to watch Buffy and Angel? The ultimate episode guide

If you got hooked on Buffy The Vampire Slayer recently, you face an important question – what order to watch the Buffy and Angel series? The same goes for those enjoying a bit of Buffy the second time around. Time for a bit of nostalgia Nineties kids!

Unlike most series, you can’t just binge-watch from episode 1 to season finale then get around to watching the character spin-off series later – not if you intend to watch both at least. Buffy and Angel were created to be watched alongside each other. 

Why the order matters

For those unfamiliar with the show, it’s a bit of a horror, comedy, drama fantasy world. The shows’ creator, Josh Whedon, said at the time he got the idea for Buffy after watching all those horror movies where a helpless young blonde was the inevitable first victim. He thought she needed a better image – and Buffy was born. 

‘I’m the thing monsters have nightmares about.’

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

The order matters not only to the fans. James Marsters, who plays Spike in the series, said he liked the show so much he only read his own scenes when filming to avoid having the rest of the episode spoiled.

If you don’t get the order, it’s going to get a bit jarring. Timelines will get mish-mashed, storylines start to make no sense, and the familiar refrain ‘previously on Buffy…’ will be followed by various spoilers rendering the Angel series more predictable.

As the Josh Whedon Blogspot fan site reminds us, the high-school cheerleader turned indefatigable vampire-slayer was so popular by the end of the third season, Whedon created spin-off show Angel that ultimately aired week by week alongside Buffy.

But it was tough to keep things tidy, especially when different networks began airing the series. Episodes dropped out of synch and the carefully choregraphed timelines became mixed up.

Here’s how to watch Buffy and Angel in the right order

Whether you’re watching Buffy for the first time or missed out on the drama as it ought to have unfolded, there’s a straightforward way to enjoy them at their best.

More or less.

You still have to bear in mind that what is a single day in one episode of Buffy in season 17 becomes several episodes in Angel.

But fear not, the basics are mapped out here – hopefully optimally! And if you’ve come to the characters for the first time through watching Angel, you may want to press pause and catch up on the first four seasons of Buffy.

Here’s your viewing list…

  • Watch the first three seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer uninterrupted
  • Watch episode 1 of Buffy series 4
  • Move to episode 1 of Angel series 1
  • Then it’s back to Buffy, episode 2, series 4, and repeat! This is where streaming wins over DVDs every time!

Tynam notes on SciFi Stackexchange: “As of this point, the ‘previously on Buffy’ segments start giving away huge spoilers for the episode by their choice of ‘previously’ clip.”

But with our pattern, you should be able to enjoy both series in the way Whedon intended.

There are a few key points where if you don’t watch the Buffy episode first, the Angel episode will be spoiled or vice-versa.

For example, Buffy episode 3, season 4, has to come before episode 3, season 3, of Angel. 

That happens a few times throughout and the Josh Whedon Blogspot fan site highlights those you want to avoid mixing up in red.

Then carry on switching between the two until season 7, episode 17, of Buffy, when it’s best to watch episode 15 to 18 of Angel season 4, and back to Buffy and swapping between the two again.

There are minor debates and variations on this – a Reddit user gave a different take two years ago to maximise the emotional impact. But, by most accounts, the above ought to make sure you see them in the best order.  

There is also the 1992 film of the same name, which the series was based on. Whether you watch that before or afterwards is probably a question for the purists – but ought not to affect things too much!

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