Angel, the spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is worth watching for the same reason that all Joss Whendon’s work is worth watching: the characters. On Angel there are some of the best characters in the Buffyverse, or even the Whedonverse. Here are what I believe to be the best five:
5. Darla- Technically, Darla made her first appearance on Buffy (specifically in the pilot episode “Welcome to the Hellmouth”). But she got way more screen time on Angel. In that time Darla went through many transformations. She was human for a minute, and evil and good and a mixture of evil and good, and all of it was entirely believable. Angel showed us how Darla became a vampire (a couple times), and it also showed us that there was more to her than the evil cheerleader act that she sported on Buffy.
4. Fred- Oh Fred! I can’t think about Fred without getting a certain feeling that I can’t give away because it would be too spoiler-filled. Suffice it so say that Fred is an incredible character. She is complex. Extremely lovable, but with a surprising dark side. She is portrayed fabulously by Amy Acker.
3. Cordelia- Of all the Buffyverse characters, Cordelia might be the one that shows the most growth. She shows a small amount of growth on Buffy, but she kicks it into high gear on Angel. The snotty “Queen C” of Sunnydale high turns into a seriously awesome, forces of evil fighting, powerful vision having woman. She has intense vulnerabilities that she keeps from the rest of the gang, and she makes some of the most difficult choices.
2. Lorne- If we are going solely with laughs, Lorne could be in the running for best Whedon character. The green singing demon, who can read people’s souls and futures when they sing, seemed like a throwaway character when he was first introduced. The kind of character that you really like, but you can’t foresee the writers spending much time on. But then, he got a backstory, he got a dark side, he got a place within the group. Lorne ended up, in some ways, being the heart of the group. The best of them. And the last moments that you see him on the show are some of Joss Whedon’s best work.
1. Wesley- If there is a character that shows more growth than Cordelia Chase, it is Wesley Wyndham-Price. We find out so much about Wesley in the five seasons of Angel not just because of the time that the writers spent on him, but because of the depth of Alexis Denisof’s performance. Wesley, like Rupert Giles from Buffy, is willing to do what needs to be done in order to serve the greater good. He is Machiavellian potentially to a fault, but he also is often right, seeing the tough decisions that no one else even considers. Compared to the bumbling idiot he was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Wesley becomes an integral part of the team, and at the heart of nearly every single one of the show’s best moments.