One Buffy The Vampire Slayer Death Was Especially Miserable To Film

When you think about the tail end of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" season 6, what comes to mind? If you're anything like me, it might take a minute for it to come back to you, because the series' most controversial ending is in some ways better off forgotten.

The exceedingly dark season enters its home stretch with "Seeing Red," a gutting episode that sees Willow's (Alyson Hannigan) girlfriend, all-around sweetie Tara (Amber Benson), killed by violent misogynist Warren's (Adam Busch) stray bullet. It's also the episode in which villain-turned-love-interest Spike (James Marsters) inexplicably and infuriatingly attempts to rape Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar). In short, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" viewers were left in turmoil and discomfort as the show's sixth season barreled towards its conclusion, and it's a dark stretch of episodes that still sticks with us two decades later.

The show's next episode, "Villains," features one of the most gruesome scenes in the series' seven-season run, when dark witch Willow tracks down Warren. The details may be even gorier than you remembered: Willow ties Warren up and slowly presses the bullet he shot Tara with into his own chest with magical force. When he asks for mercy, she sews his lips shut. The episode ends with the Scoobies unable to stop Willow from following through on her vengeance: "bored now," she says coolly, and skins Warren alive.

Rest in pieces, Warren

This is a jarring scene meant to show the pitfalls of blindly seeking revenge (and, I guess, the dangers of magic addiction), but it was also apparently equally intense to shoot. In an oral history of the season 6 big bads by Vulture, Busch spoke about the experience filming the sequence. "Warren's death scene was really intense," he said. "I was hanging there all night, crucified, in between takes, while everyone took breaks. It made me very cold, very miserable, and very tortured, which I thought worked really well for the scene."

Busch mentions that one moment in the sequence had a stunt double, but for the most part, it was just the actor and his authentically miserable self bringing Warren's tortured last moments to life. The scene is a loaded ending for a totally despicable character. Busch played Warren perfectly, as a demanding and amoral geek with a mean streak towards women he can't fully control. Looking back on the character, he's a prescient archetype for the incel movement and others like it. Writer Drew Greenberg sums up the power of the supernatural series' all-too-human villains, saying that it was a fundamental "lack of understanding that caused so much wanton destruction by these three seemingly harmless nerds."

Yet despite all this, Warren's death is utterly sickening. In the same oral history, supervising producer and writer Jane Espenson calls skinless Warren "so hard to look at," while also admitting it's "one of [her] favorite things." For all its decidedly '90s sensibilities, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" pulled off some excellent practical effects, including in this scene. The shots of Warren's slimy, skinless body are effectively unnerving, and Busch gave a great performance as a desperate guy trying to backpedal his very real actions to avoid the consequences. Warren's gloriously gory death can't redeem the muddled back half of season 6, but it definitely puts a shocking exclamation point at the end of a ugly but important character arc.