EntertainmentMoviesThe Best Single-Season TV Villain Nearly Unleashed Hell on...

The Best Single-Season TV Villain Nearly Unleashed Hell on Earth


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The Big Picture

  • The Mayor Richard Wilkins III was the best villain in Buffy the Vampire Slayer because his goals didn’t revolve around defeating Buffy personally, but rather unleashing hell on Earth.
  • The Mayor’s jovial and charismatic personality contrasted with the hardships Buffy faced, making him more relatable and trustworthy to the average civilians of Sunnyvale.
  • Season 3 did a great job teasing The Mayor’s plan and building up to the satisfying conclusion of Buffy’s battle against him, which brought recognition to her heroism and inspired the city to join the fight.

While many of the best moments in Buffy the Vampire Slayer revolve around individual “monster of the week” style threats that Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her friends faced, it was clear at the beginning of the first season that each new installments in the show would introduce a new “Big Bad” for the Scooby Gang to face off with by the time that the season wrapped. Buffy, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), and their friends faced off against a wide variety of villains; over the course of the entire show, the “Scooby Gang” battled possessed spirits, drunken cavemen, cyborg sociopaths, and even Count Dracula himself. However, none of Buffy’s antagonists could compare to Mayor Richard Wilkins III (Harry Groener), the Season 3 villain who almost single-handedly unleashed hell on Earth.

Why the Mayor Was ‘Buffy’s’ Best Villain

Image via UPN

Each season of the show developed an antagonist that fit within the parameters of the themes and scope of the series at the time. The first season introduced The Master (Mark Metcalf), a fun, but ultimately generic vampire leader who served as a gateway to more complex villains in the later seasons; the simplicity of the character (who’s nothing more than a slightly scarier vampire) reflected the relatively straightforward quality of the first twelve episodes of the series. Similarly, the second season of the show tackled Buffy’s increased maturity and the development of her sexuality; it made sense for her primary antagonist to be an evil version of her boyfriend, Angel (David Boreanaz), that “loses his soul” after sleeping with her for the first time.

The third season saw Buffy learning to be more responsible for her actions; Gellar’s performance was more mature, as it felt like she was wrestling with the consequences that the first two seasons had ignored. After leaving her home in Sunnyvale at the end of the previous season, Buffy returns to face the eventuality of her senior year. She recognizes that soon, everything in her life will be changing, and she will no longer be able to enjoy the safety of high school; her “Watcher” Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) won’t always be there to comfort her, Angel is thinking about his departure as he seeks redemption, and even Willow has developed an independent relationship with her boyfriend Oz (Seth Green). Buffy learns to appreciate what she has; she goes on a Christmas-themed date with Angel in “Amends,” and earns the acceptance of her mother (Kristine Sutherland) in “Band Candy.” It only made sense that whatever threat she was facing would threaten the few things that Buffy could hold on to.

The Mayor’s goals aren’t centered on Buffy; she just happens to be an obstacle in his mission to unleash the Helmouth, releasing all sorts of undead creatures in Sunnyvale. Unlike The Master or Angel, whose goal was personally defeating Buffy, the Mayor barely takes the time of day to notice her. Buffy’s mission to defeat him revolves around protecting the civilians of Sunnyvale, her classmates, and friends, all of whom have been able to live their daily lives without any anxieties about undead creatures or vampires. Buffy is fighting for these innocent people to live a peaceful existence that she will never get to enjoy. Although The Mayor exposed Buffy’s mortality, he also put her selflessness on display.

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Why The Mayor Was the Most Evil ‘Buffy’ Villain

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Charisma Carpenter in Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 3 Episode 5
Image via WB

Groener’s screen presence was starkly different from any of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s other antagonists. While The Master was evil to an almost absurd degree and Angelus was spiteful in a very personal way towards Buffy, Mayor Wilkins is jovial, charismatic, and even goofy at times. He represented normalcy, which felt particularly cruel to Buffy considering how stressful and convoluted her adolescence could be at times. Buffy lives a hard existence, and must sacrifice things like normal relationships and typical teenage misadventures in order to protect the town. It’s hard for people to trust Buffy considering the lies that she’s forced to tell; in comparison, Mayor Wilkins’ endearing personality feels much more trustworthy to Sunnyvale’s average civilians.

Groener also has a terrific screen presence, and the season does a great job at gradually introducing the viewers to the external threat that The Mayor provided. Unlike The Master or Angelus, whose villainous plots were clear from the beginning, The Mayor’s plan is delicately teased throughout. The notion of an unassuming, yet authoritative presence is linked to the appearance of the particularly troublesome vampire Mr. Trick (K. Todd Freeman) in the episode “Homecoming;” it was a clever way to tie in a “monster of the week” style villain to the larger storyline. It’s not until the episode “Bad Girls” that Buffy finally confronts the menacing villain that has been moving chess pieces around to make Sunnyvale a demonic hive.

Despite initially being banned from public broadcast, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s two-part Season 3 finale “Graduation Day” could not have been a more satisfying conclusion to Buffy’s ongoing battle against The Mayor. There was a sense of eventuality to their conflict, so of course The Mayor’s call to the undead would fall on the same day as Buffy and her friends’ graduation from Sunnyvale High School! Although The Mayor had pushed the “Scooby Gang” to their limits, he also inspired the rest of the city to finally recognize the unspoken heroism of the central characters that had long been ignored. After bestowing a “special honor” upon Buffy in the episode “The Prom,” Sunnyvale’s senior graduating class helps ward off the invading forces of The Mayor and his legion of bad guys.

The Mayor served as a grounded threat to the scope of the first three seasons. The show would soon eclipse the parameters of Buffy’s high school experience, the city of Sunnyvale, and the “Scooby Gang,” but in the first three seasons, these were the most important things at stake; Mayor Wilkins threatened them all. He remains one of the greatest single-season villains in science fiction and fantasy television history.



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