The world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel is an expansive one filled with fascinating characters, from the leading protagonists to bit players who leave a big impression. To sort the Slayers from the Slayerettes, Alex, Tim + guest Buffyverse expert Imi Spencer-Dale have bracketed up 64(ish) characters, seeded them based on the number of episodes they appear in, and will be eliminating them one at a time in a knockout-style tournament.
Who will be the actual Chosen One? Follow us as we find out…
William ‘Spike’ Pratt
(121 appearances, debut: Buffy 2.3 “School Hard”)
Collin ‘The Anointed One’
(6 appearances, debut: Buffy 1.5 “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”)
Tim: Is this our first match-up where one contender literally killed the other one?
Alex: I believe so – Spike’s very first appearance, “School Hard”, is The Anointed Ones’s last.
Imi: Well, I’m obviously going to want to rid us of a creepy child as soon as possible.
Tim: I think it’s pretty clear how this match-up is going to go, so here’s a question for y’all: was The Anointed One a good concept, executed poorly, or was he never going to work?
Alex: I really like the idea of a vampire perpetually frozen in childhood – something Let the Right One In did great work with a decade or so later – and I honestly don’t think they did a terrible job with that. It seems lil’ Collin was originally planned as Season 2’s Big Bad, which is a perfect and classically Whedon reversal after The Master, but it just wasn’t practical with a child actor and what I believe is known in the TV business as ‘The Walt Problem’.
Tim: I think the problem is that you can only play the creepy child card so many times before it loses power. After a while, you know they’re evil, and so you’re just left wondering why Buffy doesn’t stake his pre-pubescent heart.
Alex: I also just love that he’s called Collin.
Tim: As good a nickname as ‘The Annoying One’ was, I think Spike could have made just as much impact by insisting on calling him Collin.
Alex: I think there’s something symbolic about a character who had their long-term plan thrown out being killed off by a character originally intended as a bit player, who became one of the most important recurring characters in either season.
Imi: Spike’s words as he kills Collin are “From now on, we’re gonna have a little less ritual, and a little more fun around here!” and that sums it up perfectly. Spike is the opposite of the Master and Anointed One, in that he’s actually fun, and his rise is part of the show’s move away from the ‘monster of the week’ format.
Alex: Spike is, in many ways, the model for every Buffy and Angel villain who would follow, much more than the Master (or, indeed, Collin). He’s a person first, who has no real interest in ending the world or big arcane plans – just ruling it enough that he’s guaranteed a hot meal and a good shag.
Tim: The behind-the-scenes scramble when they realised what they had with Spike and Dru must have been fascinating. They’re both so fantastically fully-formed when they burst onto the screen in School Hard, and so different to all the other vampires we’ve seen. The only one who comes close to them in terms of attitude at that point is Darla.
Alex: I have my problems with Spike – or at least some versions of Spike, as his character goes through more variations than perhaps any other over the seasons – but he’s undeniably hugely important to the history of both shows. Besides, Collin never got his own musical number, did he?
Tim: Oh lord, an Anointed One song would have been awful. Like Jonas Brothers meets Meatloaf.
Imi: He’s a small child, he could have a very choral voice… although, can vampires sing hymns?
Tim: I’d imagine it would give them a very hot throat, like they’ve drunk a coffee too quickly.
Alex: Ahh, the old caffeine gargles… Wait, what were we talking about?
(25 appearances, debut: Buffy 2.3 “School Hard”)
(12 appearances, debut: Angel 3.1 “Heartthrob”)
Imi: Two completely different flavours of creepy here.
Alex: I’ll say it up front: I’m not Drusilla’s biggest fan. The whole Very British Accent thing, the sexy goth madam aesthetic, and the not-so-careful playing with mental health tropes… At the most charitable reading, she’s got a bit of a surplus of gimmicks.
Imi: Her ‘crazy’ personality is a bit jarring, but I do like how her arrival always makes a huge impact.
Tim: Yeah, my feelings are similar. I like her most when she’s a little more together – the image of her striding out of the burnt down church carrying Spike after she’s been rejuvenated by their ritual is a great one – but quite often, a little goes a long way with Drusilla.
All that said, I think she’s a great presence to have in both the show and the universe. I kind of love that Dru is the one recurring villain who never really gets her comeuppance. As far as we know, she’s still out there, vamping it up, more powerful than ever, and possibly accompanied by a slime-and-antlers Chaos Demon boyfriend.
Alex: Dru is one of the few villains who successfully straddles both shows, and I like her as part of the ‘Whirlwind’ crew of OG Vamps.
Imi: Her and Darla as vamps-about-town in Angel is great.
Alex: I think Drusilla is best as a foil for other characters. Her dynamics with Spike, especially after they split up, and the creepy relationship with her sorta-vampire-daddy Angelus are both brilliant.
Tim: I’m not sure if we can exactly say that Drusilla has an arc across all her appearances, but if she does, it seems like she goes from someone who is very defined by her past, in terms of things like her siring by Angel, to someone who is in full control of her future. Holtz, however, is someone who never really escapes the past, even when he’s travelling through time.
Alex: We’ve talked already about how much we enjoy the historical adventures of The Whirlwind vamps. Holtz comes directly out of that… Does any of that fun rub off on him?
Imi: He might be the least fun character since Collin.
Alex: [spits out coffee he was gargling]
Tim: I think, a bit like Collin, he’s an interesting idea who’s a bit let down by his execution. A vampire hunter from Angel’s past brought forward to essentially be used as a weapon against him is a fun concept, and the fact that he builds his own squad of new hunters and sort of becomes Punisher Giles is neat, but being tangled up with all the Connor stuff really muddies the waters.
Alex: Holtz is, ultimately, the one to blame for taking adorable baby Connor and turning him into grumpy Oedipal-issue teen Connor. That crime alone would be enough to condemn him to TV hell.
Does he have any redeeming features?
Tim: His beard is pretty good.
Imi: I genuinely can’t think of any?
Alex: I think it’s telling that you don’t count ‘is avenging his murdered family’ as a redeeming feature, Imi.
The idea that Angel’s pre-ensouling flashbacks have consequences in the modern day is an important one to the show, but Holtz is far from the only example – and he might actually be the least interesting execution of it.
Tim: At the end of the day, he ends up feeling less like a character and more like a narrative device designed to turn Babby Connor into Teen Connor.
Alex: Yeah, I definitely think about Holtz more in terms of his impact on the plot, rather than his portrayal or actual characteristics. Thinking about it, he feels like a villain from a different TV show – one without the spark and determination to undermine expectations that leads to, say, following up The Master with a little kid.
So I guess he follows in Collin’s tiny bloodsucking footprints, and waves goodbye to the tournament.
Imi: Better Drusilla’s slightly jarring personality traits than Holtz’ entire lack of personality. He had centuries to develop one!
Anya ‘Anyanka’ Jenkins
(85 appearances, debut: Buffy 3.9 “The Wish”)
(7 appearances, debut: Buffy 5.7 “Fool for Love”)
Alex: It’s Vengeance Demon time, y’all!
Tim: I think if you asked any of us, we’d admit that Anya is a very high seed in this tournament. She has one of the most interesting character arcs across the two shows, and Emma Caulfield is a delight, able to deliver comedy and heartbreak in equal measure.
Alex: Honestly, I’m kind of shocked to see that she didn’t join till Season 3. As far as I’m concerned, Buffy isn’t really Buffy without Anya.
Imi: I’m always a big fan of any main character who seems to organically join the main cast rather than get shovelled in at the beginning of a new season – something Buffy is very good at. Like our previous winner, Spike, Anya is an excellent example of this, and watching her learn to become a human is equally humorous and heartwarming.
Alex: I actually missed the final episode of Buffy when it first aired on British TV, due to a German exchange trip and it falling between the days of VHS and Sky Plus. Someone at school spoiled her fate the next day, and I didn’t watch the finale for another three or four years. Which probably tells you everything you need to know about my feelings on Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins.
Tim: Halfrek, on the other hand… I’d imagine you two will probably fall into the ‘kind of a nothing character’ camp, but I actively dislike her.
I’m not sure I could even tell you why. I just have this visceral displeasure whenever she shows up. Apologies to actress Kali Rocha, who I assume is a lovely person, but I hate Halfrek, and I’m glad D’Hoffryn blew her up.
Alex: I mean, she is frequently mean to Anya, and that is another offence punishable by Chosen Ones Hell.
Imi: Her demon face is exceptionally unaesthetic.
Tim: She has strong links to Teen Rebel Dawn and the Harris/Jenkins Wedding, two aspects of Season 6 that I particularly dislike, but I don’t think that is enough to warrant my gut reaction. I don’t like her hair? Maybe that’s it.
Imi: Oh god, yeah, it’s probably just the demon face with the hair.
Tim: Anya’s hair, in contrast, is never bad, and is frequently great.
Imi: I did like that Halfrek shows Vengeance Demons weren’t all just taking on spurned women’s wishes.
Alex: Yeah, her particular angle is abandoned kids, right? And it’s cool how that implies a personal connection to her Vengeancing – as with Anya, it’s probably not just a job.
Tim: A little extra-canon discussion here – in the official Buffy RPG, a Vengeance Demon is one of the most powerful things you can be, and even through there are rules for it, it actively discourages you from using them without putting some serious controls in place.
Imi: When you think about it, it’s true. They can change literally anything with basically a click of the fingers, and they’re then the only one who can take it back. Another reason why Willow might have been tempted to become one in Season 4 – insta-magic.
Alex: So, I guess it’s time to click our fingers and make Halfrek disappear… Tim, as you’re the one with the beef, would you care to do the honours?
Tim: I wish Halfrek lost this round, and Anya progressed to the next!
(27 appearances, debut: Buffy 2.14 “Innocence”)
(10 appearances, debut: Angel 5.1 “Conviction”)
Tim: Is Angelus the best villain in this universe? He’s certainly the character who most consistently sends a shiver up my spine when he turns up.
Alex: It’s the warping of something soft and familiar, isn’t it?
Tim: David Boreanez’s transformation from Angel into Angelus is as good as his Irish accent is terrible.
Alex: I’m soire I doin’t know what ye’re talkin’ aboot, Tim.
Imi: There’s something delightful about seeing actors play a different character – when it’s done well, you feel like you’ve really been treated to something (see also: the Buffy and Faith bodyswap episode).
Alex: I also love how both shows occasionally play with it, where Angel is pretending to be Angelus or vice versa, and there’s just enough nuance that shows how one character feels about the other.
Imi: I like the three-way contrast of Liam/Angelus/Angel. You’d think with his soul returned, Angel would be closer to Liam, but because Angelus took all the personality traits that could potentially be used for evil, like confidence and charm, he has actively rejected those.
Tim: I think that’s definitely the case. When Angelus is letting his swagger out, he’s such a powerful inversion of Angel, and also a whole bunch of fun in his own right.
Alex: It’s looking like another fairly clear-cut winner, then. Which is a bit of shame, because I like Eve – even if I’d struggle to put my finger on exactly why. Doing my research for this chat, I’ve discovered she’s considered one of the shows’ unpopular characters, and that seems unfair.
Imi: She definitely has a spark, and was part of the weird mundanity that characterised Angel Season 5?
Alex: That’s almost certainly it – she is a character who appears entirely in one of the best seasons of television ever produced. And I like the slight ambiguity about what exactly she is.
Tim: Eve is one of those characters where it’s a real shame that we never got a sixth season of Angel. Not only because she probably would have got more development there, but also because knowing that they had to wrap up everything means that her plot sort of drops off in the back half of Season 5.
Imi: Yeah, she does sort of just become ‘Lindsey’s human girlfriend’.
Tim: I mean, if I was offered the chance to become Lindsey’s human girlfriend, I’m sure I’d take it too, but it was a disappointing end to her arc.
At the end of the day, Eve has some decent potential, but was ultimately wasted, and Angelus is, in a lot of ways, all the possibilities of Angel’s character realised. He gave us one of the best seasons of Buffy, and some great TV whenever he reappeared subsequently. Sorry Eve, but it’s back to the love nest with you.
Alex: And so Angelus continues his pattern of murdering female characters with bright futures.
[crunchy neck snap sound]
Next time on Chosen Ones: Four of The Initiative’s best boys, all in one round – but can any of them hold a crappy candle to Imi’s least favourite character?
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