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TOP 40 CHARACTER LIST:
Once AGAIN, I'm wasting my semi-valuable time (and hopefully yours) to bring you the latest update in my attempt to catalogue the most significant characters in the BUFFYVERSE. Previous CUMULATIVE updates covered the first, second and third years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After that, the task became more complicated as Buffy's fourth season aired simultaneously (day and date, literally) with the first season of Angel. So the Year Four update included Buffy S4 & Angel S1. Year Five covered Buffy S5 & Angel S2. Year Six, Buffy S6 & Angel S3. And now, Year Seven, which covers Buffy S7 & Angel S4.
As you may recall, I've tried to inform this subjective task with an objective formula. I tried, as much as possible, not to allow my knowledge of future events to influence the current standings. Still, I won't deny that subjectives have played a role. It's hard not to take extra notice of a character, whom you know is going to be important later. And ties were broken based entirely on subjective criteria.
The idea behind a cumulative tally is to mimic the original experience of following the Buffyverse. It's a horse race. Some of the winners and losers are decidedly predictable. Others are a bit surprising - surprising enough that it's become absolutely clear that my system is flawed. I've since dreamed up a new system, but it's too late to implement it. Someday, LONG after I've finished this first survey (but ONLY if I prove truly insane), I might just start over and see what the results are with OBJECTIVE SYSTEM 2.0. But for now - assuming you haven't nodded off - you're stuck with System One.
I have a list of ALL the characters that have appeared in both series up to this point. It's so long (including everything from leads to ridiculously minor characters) that I haven't even bothered to count how many there are. But my list of MOST significant currently tops out at 245 characters. (There will be one more update after this one, covering Year Eight, i.e. Angel Season Five, and maybe at the end of this silly game I'll do a countdown of all 245+ significant characters.)
But for now, I think listing the top 40 is both pleasantly traditional… and plenty. Or largely. I just want to note a few characters introduced (or revisited) in this set of episodes, who haven't yet or never will make the top 40, but whom I believe are memorable enough to merit honorable mention.
#235 - Knox. Scientist at Wolfram & Hart, intro'd here. The only one of the W&H Tour Guides in the Angel Season Finale that has a major role to play in Season Five.
#234 - John Stoler. The first poor bastard to see the real Jasmine.
#228, 229, 242, 243, 244, 245 - Girl at Bat, Trailer Girl, Japanese Girl, School Girl, Indian Girl, Potential with Power #2. This was of course the season that introduced all the potential slayers. Those that survived actually become Slayers at the end of the season, as did a number of girls out and about in the world. The most memorable of the latter is the little girl playing softball and perhaps the Trailer Park girl, who will not be beaten anymore.
#226 - Bruiser. Lorne's "prison guard" in Las Vegas. Makes the list only because they kept the character around across two episodes.
#212 - Delivery Guy. Wesley's arms-supplier and "Q" in a couple episodes. [That's a James Bond reference, not a Star Trek reference for the geek-confused.]
#205 - Guardian. The woman in a crypt, who had been waiting centuries to explain the Scythe to Buffy - and still largely failed to do so - cuz Caleb killed her while she was busy being cagey. The anti-Watcher, I guess. Seemed like a former Slayer to me, and the notion that a Slayer MIGHT live a long life - and break the rules, might have been both interesting and helped explain how Buffy came up with her multi-Slayer solution, but…
#200 - Young Woman. The woman that Spike bit, killed and sired across two episodes, while he had a chip and thus theoretically shouldn't have been able to harm anyone.
#190, 237, 238 - Connor's Dad, Mom and Kid Sister. After Connor acquires his new revised life (ala Dawn) we briefly meet his new family. The parents at least, return in Angel Season Five.
#181 - Virgin. The innocent girl that Conner and Cordelia murder (over Darla's dead body, so to speak) to bring Jasmine into the world.
#172 - Spike's Mother Anne - Spike turns out to be a mama's boy. He loves his mother. Sires her and then has to stake her - cuz she's just too darn upsetting.
#158 - Rachel. Rachel appeared at a party in a previous season, but they brought her back to force Anya into confronting her redemoning. I give them credit for using an existing character instead of creating a new one. I wish they had done this more. Though perhaps I'm the kind of guy, who overdoes it. I know I'm almost making a point of overdoing it in the Gargoyles comic. It's just more for me that way.
#156 - Lissa. Latest in a line of Demon's that Xander dates.
#115 - Wu Pang. The Monk who removed Angel's soul to bring forth Angelus.
#110 -The Ubervamp. Mr. Tough-to-Kill had an army of fellow Ubervamps in the Hellmouth who turned out to be much less difficult to slay.
#105 - Cassie Newton - A high school student, who predicted her own death - and later had a memorable turn as the First, who tried to trick Willow into suicide (when actress Amber Benson proved unavailable to reprise Tara as the First).
#78 - Gwen Raiden. An actual X-Men-esque mutant with electrical powers in the Buffyverse. I thought she was being set up as a potential love interest for Angel, but she wound up being a brief love interest for Gunn, before vanishing forever - or going on to co-star in Pitch Black II.
#53 - Caleb. The First's big bad misogynist faux-priest, better known as Mal Reynolds in Firefly/Serenity. He was great at REALLY making you hate his guts.
#49 - The Beast. Pre-Jasmine's right-hand creature. A real tough monkey to kill, with some nice moments too. But what was the purpose of most everything he did? Why was he or any of his actions necessary to Jasmine's birth?
#44, 52, 63, 75, 85, 138, 140, 145, 165, 174, 178, 236 - Amanda, Rona, Molly, Vi, Chloe, Shannon, Caridad, Injured Girl, Eve, Annabelle, Colleen. A list of all but one of the potential Slayers. Amanda was the nerdy Slayer from Sunnydale high. She had ten appearances and died in the Hellmouth - the one "meaningful" slayer death in that battle. Rona had eight appearances. She was the one who was supposed to be keeping things real, I think. Molly was one of the three original potentials. Caleb killed her. She had been around long enough that we were supposed to feel something there, but her death was overwhelmed by the loss of Xander's eye in the same battle. Cho An was the potential who spoke no English. Largely used for comic relief. Vi had six appearances. She was kinda goofy, but really took to becoming a Slayer at the end. I liked her. Chloe, who had three appearances, is the potential that committed suicide. She also got a scene as the First. (And she went on to play a second banana in Lizzy Maguire on the Disney Channel.) Shannon, in the first of her three appearances, is used to introduce us to Caleb. Caridad also had a trio of appearances, but is most noteworthy for being one of Xander's fantasy dream girls. The Injured Girl appeared twice and was indeed injured. Eve is noteworthy because we never met the REAL Eve. She was already dead and replaced by the First before we ever laid eyes on her. (In fact, she's the only identity the First took on in this season, where we hadn't yet met the person who the First was impersonating or personifying or whatever.) Annabelle is the commonsense Brit potential - one of the first three that we meet -- who panics and is the first potential to die in Sunnydale. Colleen is noteworthy mostly for going on to star in some prime time soap I don't watch and for being another of Xander's fantasy dream girls.
#41 - Jasmine, a.k.a. the Beast-Master a.k.a. Cordelia Chase. The big bad of Angel Season Four. While possessing Cordelia, I'm not really sure if all her various and ultra-complicated manipulations track. But she sure was fun once Gina Torres of Firefly took over the role. Oh, and one other point of interest. Peter Renaday did the voice for the Beast-Master in Angelus' head. Peter voiced a few minor roles in the five-part Gargoyles pilot ("Awakening") and was - briefly - the voice of David Xanatos. He replaced Jonathan Frakes, and then was in turn replaced BY Jonathan Frakes.
And before we start, a fond Top 40 farewell to the Master (now at #45), the Groosalugg (#47), Gavin Park (#42) and Forrest Gates (#43).
AND NOW THE TOP 40
Abbreviations for previous rankings…
Y1 - Buffy Season 1.
Y2 - Buffy Season 2.
Y3 - Buffy Season 3.
Y4 - Buffy Season 4/Angel Season 1.
Y5 - Buffy Season 5/Angel Season 2.
Y6 - Buffy Season 6/Angel Season 3.
NR - Not Ranked that year.
#40 - Graham Miller. Y6: 32. Y5: 28. Y4: 22. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Riley Finn's second best friend falls eight rankings. And yet it's amazing he's still in the Top 40 at all. Graham, in fact, does a great job - right off the bat - at demonstrating the flaws in this original scoring system. He had a ton of screen time in Season Four of Buffy, and then came back more than once in Season Five. And despite no appearances, since, he's totally coasting on that old screen time (which was clearly too big a piece of the original formula) as opposed to true significance.
#39 - Glory. Y6: 34. Y5: 30. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Year Five's big bad drops 5 more rankings. I'm bummed that some of the season-long Big Bads like Adam and the Master aren't staying in (or in Jasmine's case even cracking) the Top 40. It feels like Big Bads deserve to be here. But again, a system skewed toward screen time is gonna favor supporting characters over villains. But I'm still glad Glory is hanging on.
#38 - Kennedy. Y6: NR. Y5: NR. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Kennedy, potential Slayer, eventual Co-Slayer and Willow's new main squeeze - or I should say squeezer - enters the countdown at 38 with a bullet. Of course, Kennedy is no Tara, but I think that was the point. So I certainly don't begrudge her knocking Groo, Gavin or Forrest out. (But I miss the Master.)
#37 - Maggie Walsh. Y6: 31. Y5: 27. Y4: 18. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. And Maggie Walsh? Maggie? Really? Adam doesn't make it, but his creator Maggie does, though she's dropped 6 slots in the ratings.
#36 - Mayor Richard Wilkins III. Y6: 33. Y5: 29. Y4: 19. Y3: 14. Y2: 40. Y1: NR. The Mayor loses only 3 rankings, thanks to some appearances by the First in Mayor guise, which gave him partial points. (Figuring out scoring for the First in its various glamours was really hard.) Gotta love the Mayor.
#35 - Ben. Y6: 30. Y5: 26. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Glory's alter ego drops five places. Again, like Maggie being ahead of Adam, there's really something wrong with Ben being ahead of Glory. It's about screen time, not actual character significance or OOMPH.
#34 - Jenny Calendar. Y6: 29. Y5: 25. Y4: 17. Y3: 13. Y2: 11. Y1: 15. Jenny also falls five rankings. Says something about Jenny's original significance that a non-regular like her is holding on for so long. And of course she was pretty much the first character we ever saw as the First, way back in Y3.
#33 - Harmony Kendall. Y6: 28. Y5: 23. Y4: 25. Y3: 20. Y2: 26. Y1: 18. Harmony also falls five rankings this year to her lowest point yet, thanks to two consecutive years without an appearance. Of course, Harm is poised for a resurgence in the last season of Angel.
#32 - The First. Y6: 143. Y5: 120. Y4: 85. Y3: 52. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. The original evil hasn't shown its face since Season Three. So it jumps up a whopping 111 ladder rungs to #32. I was never satisfied with the First, especially in the Season Finale, but I can't deny that he/she/it belongs in the Top 40.
#31 - Warren Meers. Y6: 36. Y5: 82. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Warren actually jumps up 5 rankings, which is a pretty neat trick for a dead guy. Credit the First, Willow and some flashbacks for keeping him "alive" and hopping.
#30 - Kate Lockley. Y6: 27. Y5: 22. Y4: 23. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Angel's cop friend is gone and largely forgotten now… She falls three rankings.
#29 - Lindsey McDonald. Y6: 26. Y5: 21. Y4: 29. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Lindsey has hit the road, and having also been absent for two seasons, falls three rankings too. But like Harmony, watch for a comeback in Angel S5 (a.k.a. Buffyverse Y8).
#28 - Daniel Holtz. Y6: 25. Y5: NR. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Captain Holtz, Angel's Big Bad for the previous Season (or surrogate, if you're counting Connor as the finale's final big bad) falls 3 rankings. His influence still very much felt.
#27 - Francis Doyle. Y6: 23. Y5: 20. Y4: 15. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Doyle falls four ranks. I'm surprised he got not even a mention in A4, given how Cordelia's fate largely is a result of his actions. But Jasmine-as-Cordelia was a bit of a mess in the does-this-really-track department.
#26 - Principal Robin Wood. Y6: NR. Y5: NR. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Talk about bullets. Robin Wood, son of Slayer and Spike-victim, Nikki Wood, enters the countdown at 26 with a bullet. This is a character that I would have LOVED to have seen a spin-off built around. D.B. Woodside is great; Wood has no super-powers, just training. And I would like to know who Robin's dad was and what happened to him. And the fact that a Slayer could survive long enough to have a kid… Loved this idea.
#25 - Jonathan Levinson. Y6: 24. Y5: 33. Y4: 24. Y3: 17. Y2: 19. Y1: NR. Jonathan, killed in his first appearance of the season, still manages to hang on - thanks to flashbacks and the First - to the Top 25, dropping only one ranking. Jonathan, you will be missed.
#24 - Andrew Wells. Y6: 37. Y5: NR. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Andrew, the definite third wheel of last Season's Evil Trio, jumps 13 rankings to #37, passing both Warren and Jonathan in the process. (It helps to be the only one actually left alive, I guess.). Really comes into his own this season… and one of the few Buffy characters (beyond Spike) to actually make an appearance in Y8.
#23 - Principal Snyder. Y6: 21. Y5: 18. Y4: 12. Y3: 9. Y2: 10. Y1: 12. Snyder falls two ranks but nevertheless manages to stay ahead of Principals Wood and of course Flutie (who, in case you were curious, is now down at #69).
#22 - Drusilla. Y6: 19. Y5: 16. Y4: 16. Y3: 11. Y2: 8. Dru has a few nice flashbacks and First appearances, but still falls three rankings and out of the Top Twenty for the first time.
#21 - Darla. Y6: 18. Y5: 19. Y4: 28. Y3: 23. Y2: 23. Y1: 11. Darla also loses three rankings and again falls out of the Top Twenty, despite a great ghost scene with Connor. Love Darla.
#20 - Lilah Morgan. Y6: 22. Y5: 31. Y4: 31. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Lilah climbs two more positions to finally crack the Top Twenty. Dead now, she'll peak here, but this was really a great season for her. She finally seems to be a woman IN CHARGE. A creature of depth and poignancy. Particularly after her death.
#19 - Faith. Y6: 20. Y5: 17. Y4: 13. Y3: 10. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Faith, back with a vengeance in both Angel AND Buffy, rises one ranking. But she's done too now, I think.
#18 - Connor. Y6: 41. Y5: NR. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Connor enters the Top Twenty after jumping 23 rungs. He's a huge pill this season, but he'll be much more fun in his limited appearances next year.
#17 - Riley Finn. Y6: 15. Y5: 12. Y4: 11. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Riley falls two more rankings. There was an opportunity, as Buffy and Spike revisit the Initiative to have brought him back, but I think they wisely thought that would be too distracting and off-point.
#16 - Tara Maclay. Y6: 13. Y5: 15. Y4: 20. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Tara moves down three rungs. According to the extras on the DVD, they wanted her to appear again as the First, but she wasn't available. But what the heck has Amber Benson been up to since? I never see her, and she is still so missed.
#15 - Lorne. Y6: 17. Y5: 24. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Lorne finally becomes a regular and jumps a couple rankings.
#14 - Joyce Summers. Y6: 14. Y5: 11. Y4: 9. Y3: 8. Y2: 7. Y1: 7. Joyce appears as the First and maintains the exact same ranking.
#13 - Daniel "Oz" Osbourne. Y6: 12. Y5: 9. Y4: 7. Y3: 7. Y2: 12. Y1: NR. Oz falls one more ranking to his lowest point yet.
#12 - Winifred "Fred" Burkle. Y6: 16. Y5: 50. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Fred climbs up 4 positions, but she's still got room to climb, I think. Can she pass Dawnie next season?
#11 - Dawn Summers. Y6: 11. Y5: 14. Y4: NR. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Dawn plateaus at 11.
#10 - Charles Gunn. Y6: 10. Y5: 13. Y4: 37. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Gunn plateaus at 10. Can he pass Anya next season?
#9 - Anya Kristina Emanuella Jenkins. Y6: 9. Y5: 10. Y4: 14. Y3: 22. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Anya plateaus at 9, but being dead and on a cancelled series, I'm not sure if she can maintain.
#8 - Wesley Wyndam-Price. Y6: 8. Y5: 8. Y4: 10. Y3: 15. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Wesley plateaus at #8. I know it must seem like everyone's plateauing this high up, but wait for it…
#7 - Spike. Y6: 7. Y5: 7. Y4: 8. Y3: 12. Y2: 9. Y1: NR. Okay, STILL plateauing. But trust me… (And Spike's crossing over to Angel, so he may have somewhere to go still.)
#6 - Rupert Giles. Y6: 5. Y5: 3. Y4: 3. Y3: 2. Y2: 2. Y1: 2. Giles does not plateau. He falls one ranking, which this high up is quite significant.
#5 - Willow Rosenberg. Y6: 5. Y5: 6. Y4: 6. Y3: 4. Y2: 4. Y1: 4. Willow switches places with Giles, returning to the Top Five for the first time since Season 3. She'll peak here, putting her behind both Cordelia and Xander, which surprises me. As she was a Big Bad. And as she really should be equal with Xander, it demonstrates another significant flaw in the system. But at least she's in the Top Five.
#4 - Cordelia Chase. Y6: 4. Y5: 5. Y4: 4. Y3: 5. Y2: 5. Y1: 5. Back to Plateauing. Cordelia of course spends half a season as the Big Bad, but as she was pregnant in real life, she then spends the end of the season in a coma. They basically destroyed her character this season. A combination of the real life pregnancy, bad hairstyles and a coupling with Connor that's just too creepy and off-putting to even work as the actions of a villain. But she'll be back for one wonderful final appearance next season.
#3 - Xander Harris. Y6: 2. Y5: 2. Y4: 2. Y3: 3. Y2: 3. Y1: 3. Xander drops down one ranking. He's never been out of the Top Three and I think he'll PROBABLY finish here.
#2 - Angel. Y6: 3. Y5: 4. Y4: 5. Y3: 6. Y2: 6. Y1: 6. Angel moves up one ranking, finally passing Xander. And he has another season, and Buffy does not. Is it possible that by the end of Year Eight… that Angel might even pass Buffy to become the most important character in Buffy's own 'verse?
#1 - Buffy Anne Summers. Y6: 1. Y5: 1. Y4: 1. Y3: 1. Y2: 1. Y1: 1. Duh. But now that she's done… can she hold the top spot forever?