Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Buffy and Angel Episode Viewing Order

Do you want to watch the interconnected TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel side by side, but you are not sure the best order to view them in to best take advantage of their many crossover stories and joint continuity? You are not alone. Noticing the lack of a definitive and spoiler-free episode viewing guide, we took the task upon ourselves to create one.

Bookmark this article and return regularly to help you determine the best order to watch every episode of Buffy and Angel. If you notice ways to improve our list, then please write a comment below explaining the change you recommend and why. If we agree with your reasoning, then we will update the viewing guide. Whenever a conflict arises in our list between emphasizing dramatic impact of the two show's parallel stories and strict observance of timeline continuity, we lean toward whatever improves the dramatic flow between them.
Joss Whedon exceeded audience expectations when he created the smart, ambitious, and heavily serialized drama/horror/comedy/fantasy hybrid: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). Although a feature film of the same title in 1992 was based loosely on his original screenplay, Joss was not satisfied with the translation of his story to the big screen. Joss elegantly transitioned his high-school-cheerleader-turned-vampire-slayer to the small screen by focusing on characterization, making a far funnier and more entertaining TV series than anyone thought possible.
By the end of its third season, Buffy grew so popular that Joss Whedon created a rare spinoff series that actually played concurrently with the original series. Most spinoffs are developed to follow a popular character once the original TV series ends, like Frasier (1993-2004) returning home to Seattle after leaving his favorite bar in Boston behind him on Cheers (1982-1993), or Joey (2004) moving to Hollywood to pursue his acting career at the end of Friends (1994-2004). But Joss created Angel (1999-2004) at the height of Buffy's popularity, and ran the two shows side by side as equals throughout the remainder of their respective runs.
Today's viewers are fortunate to have easy access to both TV shows in their entirety on Netflix Instant Watching and DVD, with the opportunity to watch all 254 episodes of quality programming at their leisure. But in spite of our convenient access to these two brilliantly interconnected shows, anyone who attempts to watch Buffy and Angel side by side will encounter continuity problems in a conventional viewing schedule.
Many episodes from the two shows either aired out of chronological order of each other's respective plot lines, or simply aired on slightly divergent timetables. At one point, the two shows began to air on completely separate networks, further complicating any attempts at nailing their joint continuity. And on occasion, one episode of one series will expand on a single day for several episodes while the other series jumps over more time.
Because of these issues, most people view Buffy and Angel less than ideally, making the crossover story lines between the two shows confusing to follow at times. But more important than potential confusion is how distracting it is when you encounter a major timeline discrepancy. It pulls you out of the show every time your brain recognizes that something being referenced to in one show either happened a long time ago in the other, or even has not happened yet, spoiling you unintentionally. We intend to correct that problem once and for all with this simple and useful viewing guide.
Although we believe these two TV shows are best viewed side by side, some viewers prefer watching long stretches of one show before switching back to the other. Episodes highlighted in red are the most important ones to view in the order we specify. Make sure you are caught up on both TV series before viewing the red episodes.
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Buffy Season 1
1. Welcome to the Hellmouth
2. The Harvest
3. Witch
4. Teacher's Pet
5. Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
6. The Pack
7. Angel
8. I Robot, You Jane
9. The Puppet Show
10. Nightmares
11. Out of Mind, Out of Sight
12. Prophecy Girl
Buffy Season 2
13. When She Was Bad
14. Some Assembly Required
15. School Hard
16. Inca Mummy Girl
17. Reptile Boy
18. Halloween
19. Lie to Me
20. The Dark Age
21. What's My Line, Part One
22. What's My Line, Part Two
23. Ted
24. Bad Eggs
25. Surprise
26. Innocence
27. Phases
28. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
29. Passion
30. Killed by Death
31. I Only Have Eyes for You
32. Go Fish
33. Becoming, Part One
34. Becoming, Part Two
Buffy Season 3
35. Anne
36. Dead Man's Party
37. Faith, Hope & Trick
38. Beauty and the Beasts
39. Homecoming
40. Band Candy
41. Revelations
42. 8 Lovers Walk
43. The Wish
44. Amends
45. Gingerbread
46. Helpless
47. The Zeppo
48. Bad Girls
49. Consequences
50. Doppelgängland
51. Enemies
52. Earshot
53. Choices
54. The Prom
55. Graduation Day, Part One
56. Graduation Day, Part Two
Buffy Season 4 Angel Season 1
57. The Freshman
58. City of...
59. Living Conditions
60. Lonely Hearts
61. The Harsh Light of Day
62. In the Dark
63. Fear, Itself
64. I Fall to Pieces
65. Beer Bad
66. Rm w/a Vu
67. Wild at Heart
68. Sense & Sensitivity
69. The Initiative
70. Bachelor Party
71. Pangs
72. I Will Remember You
73. Something Blue
74. Hero
75. Hush
76. Doomed
77. Parting Gifts

78. Somnambulist
79. A New Man
80. Expecting
81. She
82. The I in Team

83. Goodbye Iowa
84. I've Got You Under My Skin
85. The Prodigal
86. This Year's Girl
87. Who Are You
88. The Ring
89. Superstar
90. Eternity
91. Where the Wild Things Are
92. New Moon Rising
93. Five by Five
94. Sanctuary
95. The Yoko Factor
96. Primeval
97. Restless
98. War Zone
99. Blind Date
100. To Shanshu in L.A.
Buffy Season 5 Angel Season 2
101. Judgment
102. Buffy vs. Dracula
103. Are You Now or Have You Ever Been
104. Real Me
105. First Impressions
106. The Replacement
107. Untouched
108. Out of My Mind
109. Dear Boy
110. No Place Like Home
111. Guise Will Be Guise
112. Family
113. Darla
114. Fool for Love
115. The Shroud of Rahmon
116. Shadow
117. The Trial
118. Listening to Fear
119. Reunion
120. Into the Woods
121. Redefinition
122. Triangle
123. Blood Money
124. Checkpoint
125. Happy Anniversary
126. Blood Ties
127. The Thin Dead Line
128. Crush
129. Reprise
130. I Was Made to Love You
131. Epiphany
132. The Body
133. Disharmony
134. Forever
135. Dead End
136. Intervention
137. Belonging
138. Over the Rainbow
139. Tough Love
140. Spiral
141. Through the Looking Glass
142. The Weight of the World
143. The Gift

144. There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb
Buffy Season 6 Angel Season 3
145. Heartthrob
146. That Vision Thing
147. Bargaining, Part One
148. Bargaining, Part Two
149. That Old Gang of Mine
150. After Life
151. Carpe Noctem
152. Flooded
153. Fredless
154. Life Serial
155. Billy
156. All the Way
157. Offspring
158. Once More, with Feeling
159. Quickening
160. Tabula Rasa
161. Lullaby
162. Smashed
163. Wrecked
164. Dad
165. Gone
166. Birthday
167. Provider
168. Doublemeat Palace
169. Waiting in the Wings
170. Dead Things
171. Older and Far Away
172. Couplet
173. Loyalty
174. As You Were
175. Sleep Tight
176. Hell's Bells
177. Normal Again
178. Forgiving
179. Double or Nothing
180. The Price
181. Entropy
182. A New World
183. Seeing Red
184. Benediction
185. Villains
186. Tomorrow
187. Two to Go
188. Grave
Buffy Season 7 Angel Season 4
189. Lessons
190. Beneath You
191. Deep Down
192. Same Time, Same Place
193. Ground State
194. Help
195. The House Always Wins
196. Selfless
197. Slouching Toward Bethlehem
198. Supersymmetry
199. Him
200. Spin the Bottle
201. Conversations with Dead People
202. Apocalypse, Nowish
203. Sleeper
204. Never Leave Me
205. Bring on the Night
206. Showtime
207. Habeas Corpses
208. Potential
209. Long Day's Journey
210. Awakening
211. The Killer in Me
212. Soulless
213. First Date
214. Calvary
215. Get It Done
216. Storyteller
217. Salvage
218. Release
219. Lies My Parents Told Me
220. Orpheus
221. Players
222. Inside Out
223. Shiny Happy People
224. Dirty Girls
225. The Magic Bullet
226. Sacrifice
227. Empty Places
228. Peace Out
229. Touched
230. Home
231. End of Days
232. Chosen
Angel Season 5
233. Conviction
234. Just Rewards
235. Unleashed
236. Hell Bound
237. Life of the Party
238. The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco
239. Lineage
240. Destiny
241. Harm's Way
242. Soul Purpose
243. Damage
244. You're Welcome
245. Why We Fight
246. Smile Time
247. A Hole in the World
248. Shells
249. Underneath
250. Origin
251. Time Bomb
252. The Girl in Question
253. Power Play
254. Not Fade Away
# of Buffy Episodes # of Angel Episodes
144 110

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  1. Using this guide now to watch Angel and Buffy in order as I've never done that before It has worked pretty well so far but Episode 128 of Buffy:"Crush" should be red, as it reveals significant plot developments of Angel and Angel should be fully caught up before watching "Crush"

  2. You have it so the last 3 episodes of Season 4 of Buffy should be watched together, and then the last 3 of Angel S1 all watched at once. In Angel 1:21, Cordelia makes a reference to a plot element in Buffy when talking to Willow. Something that is happening in Sunnydale at the same time. Should the last 3 episodes of the seasons be mixed as well? It sort of throws it off considering you finish Buffy first, but then hear Cordelia talk to Willow about something that is already done and over with

    1. I believe the emotional resonance of those Buffy episodes takes precedence over strict chronology concerns of intercutting. Since the Angel episode that follows takes place over a more spread out time period, this is the best way to view them without throwing off the dramatic arc of Buffy's final episodes.

      I feel it's just a slight aside given by Cordelia, which is just enough to help establish that the two story arcs do take place over parallel time frames, but is not significant enough to interrupt the dramatic tension on the single night of Buffy's life.

  3. darla works better after fool for love i feel, as it reveals another side to the boxer rebellion that people may not pick up on in fool for love

    1. I disagree, I think "Fool for Love" (Buffy, 5.7) should be seen BEFORE "Darla" (Angel, 2.7)... Otherwise the bit with Spike and Drusilla in "Darla" doesn't make as much sense. Seeing Spike's part of the story first, so we see his viciousness and his kill of the slayer before hearing Darla talk about it makes a bigger impact.

      All opinions, of course! But there's mine.

    2. This will likely be the most controversial decision I make on this list since "Fool for Love" aired before "Darla" on the night of their premiere broadcasts. And many people are passionate about maintaining that viewing order when rewatching them.

      But having seen these episodes several times in both the original airing order and in my preferred order on the list above, I stick by my guns that the dramatic build up of "Darla" flows so perfectly into the rising action and climax of "Fool for Love" that I never want to watch them in their original viewing order again. This new order feels like it was destined to be, and I cannot ignore that feeling.

      I understand if you disagree, but please give it a shot and at least once I recommend you try watching "Darla" first, then follow it directly by "Fool for Love."

      These two episodes together in that order makes the whole experience feel much more like a feature film presentation that could stand alone and be watched by modern audiences as an amazing movie, even if they never had watched a Buffy of Angel episode before.

      Over the years, my unique pairing of these two brilliant episodes in this new viewing order has easily grown into my favorite dramatic presentation from the entire run of Buffy and Angel. Therefore, I cannot acquiesce to change them back to their original viewing order. The dramatic payoff of ending the story with Spike approaching Buffy at the end of the episode is too perfect for me to regress back the original order.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I'm doing a Buffython right now and I'm following your order. Two things that I feel should be noted.

    1) Hush and Doomed should be back to back since there is continuous action between those episodes. Hero and Parting Gifts can go back to back to compensate.

    2) I know this one will be unpopular, but I think City Of should go BEFORE The Freshman. City Of is more of a sequel to Graduation than The Freshman is. Also, Angel's phone call takes place at the end of City Of, while Buffy receiving it is in the middle of The Freshman (thus Angel's story happens first). Finally, The Freshman doesn't remotely discuss the absence of Cordelia, whereas City Of answers the question before it becomes confusing. (Order then becomes City Of, The Freshman, Living Conditions, Lonely Hearts)

    1. I don't really agree with Point 1. Hush was the mid-season finale, and had a strong conclusion. I think the amount of lapsed time, at least in terms of an Angel episode, gives the opening of "Doomed" an even bigger impact. Like they've been sitting there for that much longer.

    2. Matt, you make some valid points and I originally took your view on the subject, but on my latest viewing I watched "Hush" and "Doomed" side by side as Trad and many others recommended and I actually enjoyed them both better when paired that way. They dramatically flow into each other very well as a single long episode.

      However, one area I disagree with Trad about is his suggestion that I move up "Hero" after the two Buffy episodes. In my opinion, it works much better to have the tragic ending of "Hero," then two episodes of Buffy to watch before returning back to Angel with "Parting Gifts" to help us feel better the passage of time after the death of a major character. It usually felt a little rushed in conventional viewings, but this new way actually feels more appropriate.

      Also, I appreciate Trad's second point, but I differ with his opinion. I tried watching it his way, and I still prefer going with Buffy's "Freshman" and then Angel's "City of."

      I feel Buffy has always been the emotional anchor of this narrative universe. And it is important for the audience to experience her loneliness and despair start to give way to her starting a new Angel-less life for herself before we see Angel.

      Buffy's intro helps set up Angel's solitary existence in Los Angeles as that much more tragic and logical given his love for her. When the episodes are reversed, Angel's own pain is a little more difficult to process and therefore his actions in that episode feel more out of character for him than they would otherwise.

      Some of Angel's behavior in the premiere tends to come across more random and petulant than it really should unless you see Buffy first. But when viewed in context of his sacrifice to let Buffy move on with a slightly more normal life, a life he can have nothing to do with, then Angel's behavior makes much more sense and he is becomes that much more sympathetic.

      Also, the phone call to Buffy is easier to understand for the audience if you see Buffy answering a random call first, then later seeing Angel placing it and being unable to speak. It also adds more weight to the moment, as the writers originally intended.

  6. In "salvage" Faith is attacked with a bringers knife, so I think that episode should be red as well since you have to know about the First from Buffy to understand the significance.

    1. Done. I fully agree. The Bringer's knife is a significant crossover moment that should be prefaced by its introduction in Buffy.

    2. Upon further advice and re-viewing of those particular episodes, that episode in particular doesn't need to be red since the red episodes after it denote the need to have seen the Bringer's Knife in the previous non-red episode anyway. Dramatically, the episodes don't need to be seen immediately together.

  7. I just wanted to say how thrilled I am to see this! I've watched Buffy through a few times but never watched Angel. When I finally decided to, I figured it was a good excuse to watch Buffy again as well. As I got to the point where Angel began I wished I knew what order to watch them, and here it is!! Thanks so much for your work.

    I do agree with Trad that Doomed should immediately follow Hush simply because it follows moments later, but it's not game breaking if you watch it differently.

    1. Thank you Erin and I agree. The list was changed to reflect your suggestion.

  8. I think "Happy Anniversary" (Angel, 2.13) and "Thin Dead Line" (Angel, 2.14) should be grouped together, then "Crush" (Buffy, 5.14).

    1. I like it as is right now. To me, a Buffy episode in between those two Angel eps help to maintain the illusion of a long passage of time of Angel being separated from his usual cohorts.

  9. I am doing an extensive re-edit of the list this week, and I will be taking into consideration all your comments and advice. If I don't follow through on anyone's advice, I'll reply specifically to their comment to explain why. Thanks everyone for your help. Together we can make this the tightest viewing order possible for the two shows.

  10. Thanks for the list, I am rewatching Angel and Buffy and really appreciate the time and effort taken to produce this.

    1. You're welcome Maisy, and it is my pleasure. Thank you for your kind remark. Nice Buffy and Angel fans like you make this all worth doing ;)

  11. I don't think that 216. Storyteller 217. Salvage 218. Release should be highlighted in red as there was no crossovers

    1. This is a tricky area of the viewing order guide that I will be scrutinizing and refining this weekend. But the bringer's knife established in Storyteller does show up again in the hands of Faith's attacker in Salvage, so they are tentatively red episodes to help preserve some of that chronology.

    2. Ok, I'm leaning with your thinking since the red episodes should be in episodes where the strict chronology is vital. And as long as you learn of the Bringer's knife before the run of red episodes, it serves the same purpose. You're right.

  12. Might be better to watch 139 (Spiral), 141 (The Weight of the World), and 143 (The Gift) in a row, then 140 (Over the Rainbow), 142 (Through the Looking Glass), and 144 (There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb) in a row, since 140, 142, and 144 are all kinda "To Be Continued" episodes. This way you can watch them together, and still get the crossover between 143 and 144 to line up.

    1. I decided to switch around the episodes slightly from their previous order to give both shows a little more breathing room, but I do not want to lose the interconnected vibe of these two stories like many other viewing orders do when showing them entirely on their own.

      I will admit, given the constraints of the two show's narrative structures at that particular point in time, we cannot perfectly line up the episodes without some chronological inconsistencies. So as usual, I decided to lean in the direction of dramatic resonance, and place them in the order that feels the most right.

      I am still open to suggestions here. But this is a particularly difficult patch of episodes to harmonize without disrupting the dramatic tension. So far, as of this date, the new placement of these episodes is the best way I can see of contrasting their parallel story lines, ratcheting up the tension, and letting the punches to the gut take their maximum effect.

  13. This is a great list! As a first time viewer (and, consequently, avid fan) this is really appreciated!

    However, I became slightly confused during Blind Date (99) since Cordelia is on the phone to Willow saying that she has been cracking codes as well, which occured beforehand in The Yoko Factor and Primeval (95 and 96). I'm therefore thinking that perhaps War Zone and Blind Date (98 and 99) should be viewed after Primeval (96) and before Restless (97).

    I would forgive you for disagreeing since this is an extremely minor point and this is only my first time viewing :)

    1. I personally think its enough that the audience can piece it together while watching the later Angel episode that part of it is concurrent with the previous Buffy story line. I do not want to interrupt the chronology of that humongous night for Buffy, particularly because much of that Angel episode in fact takes place the next day anyway.

  14. i've been rewatching Buffy and Angel, in the right order with the help of your list for the first time and i have to say i love it! i'm currently just about to watch To Shanshu In LA but so far i haven't seen any problems with the order and i feel you're right about the call between Willow and Cordelia being minor, and that the Buffy episodes should run concurrently. thank you for your hard work :-) xx

    1. Thank you Nathalie, I appreciate your kind remark. I created a fan edit of all of Angel's flashbacks and put them into a single epic feature-length movie called, "ANGELUS." I would enjoy your feedback on it. It can be found here:

  15. I'm so glad you made this list. I otherwise would not have thought to watch it in any other order than air date.

    I made a Google Spreadsheet of your list to better keep track of the episodes I've watched and I thought I should share it with you. You just need to save a new copy to edit it.

    Thanks for all your effort in making this list!

  16. This list is awesome. Doing the Netflix thing right now.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. But I really do appreciate you making this list, I've watched both shows separately and I finally decided to watch them side by side and this list has made the experience so much better!

  18. i'm doing a Buffy marathon at the moment and i intended to watch Angel at the end of series 3.
    This article articulated my thoughts precisely, and the comments will no doubt help me fine-tune the viewing order in time for the next marathon (straight after 9 seasons of Supernatural!)

    1. Excellent, let us know how it goes MantridDrone.

  19. Currently working through this list: just finished Angel Series 1 Episode 11 (Somnambulist) & sticking to your guide for both shows. It's working well and am enjoying the flipping between the two :D

  20. I think that the I in Team and Goodbye Iowa should go together

    1. I agree with this! We've been doing a marathon and following this order and so far been pleased as punch with it, but we just watched that section of episodes and afterwards I said to my husband that I felt like The I in Team and Goodbye Iowa should have been together.

    2. I agree with both of you Gio and Lilith, and the viewing order will group those two episodes together. Stopping for an Angel episode between those two Buffy episodes does interrupt its suspense and dramatic tension too much.

  21. This is a great list, although there are a few changes I would make. For instance, I would keep the entire Pylea arc together, as well as watching Afterlife right after Bargaining parts 1 and 2.

  22. I think it works better if you watch I Was Made to Love You, The Body, and Forever together. Watching Disharmony in between them takes away from Buffy. You could watch Reprise and Epiphany together before to make up some of the time.

    1. Reprise and Epiphany comes before Forever. Angel has his epiphany before he visits Buffy after Joyce's death.

    2. First off, I'd like to say that this list is awesome, so thank you for putting it together and maintaining it. And this is coming from someone who is into a third or fourth rewatching of everything, but the first time using this list....and loving it btw.

      Anyway, I'd like to suggest keeping Reprise and Epiphany together, as they really flow into each other as almost like a two-part episode. You could compensate by watching I Was Made To Love You and The Body back to back, which I think works because of the little coda at the end of IWMTLY that leads directly into The Body. I really think that viewing things in this manner would keep the emotions running higher throughout this whole stretch of episodes.