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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. The three previous CUMULATIVE updates covered the first, second and third seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 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 a bit surprising. Others are decidedly predictable.
The task has gotten more complicated with Buffy's fourth season, which airs simultaneously (day for day, literally) with the first season of Angel. Since a normal season of Buffy (the first excepted) consists of 22 episodes, the fourth of Buffy added to the first of Angel will total 44 episodes, and that seemed too long to wait for an update. So I'm taking the pulse at the halfway point, after 11 episodes of each series.
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 you know is going to be important later. And ties were broken based entirely on subjective criteria - i.e. my personal preference.
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 86 characters.
But I think listing the top 40 is plenty. Or largely. I just want to note a few characters introduced (or revisited) in these two half-seasons, who haven't yet or never will make the top 40, but whom I believe are memorable enough to merit honorable mention.
#84 - Lee Mercer. Lee was a cold-blooded Wolfram & Heart attorney that I remember being sure would become a recurring danger. During this first half, W&H didn't focus on any one recurring villain. And I kept thinking any minute now… Any minute now… And I was right. But I picked the wrong horse.
#82 - Dennis. The Ghost haunting Cordelia's rent-controlled apartment. He was a good roommate, who obviously had a crush on her. He was sweet, and I worried about him after Cordelia was gone.
#81 - The Gentlemen. The lead Gentleman in particular. The best single episode menaces - EVER. Terrifying in look. Terrifying in M.O. Stylish. In one of the most impressive hours of television I've ever watched.
#75 - Aura. Aura appeared as an incredibly minor character in the Buffy pilot. And never again. But her name stuck with me and obviously with the Whedon team as well. Because in an early Angel, when they needed a high school pal from Cordelia's past to give her a call, they used Aura.
#74 - Tom. Tom was a vampire, part of a clique who preyed on Freshman at UC Sunnydale. The rest of his crowd was staked, but Tom was the first "Hostile" we saw captured by the Initiative. He later helped Spike escape, and we never saw poor Tom again.
#70 - Trevor Lockley. Police Detective Kate Lockley's jerk of a dad.
#67 - Lyndsey. The first W&H lawyer we met wound up being the most important. But halfway through the season, we still hadn't seen him after the pilot.
#65 - D'Hoffryn. Anya's former boss as a Vengeance Demon. He offers Willow a job after Oz leaves. (We should have seen her sixth season rampage coming.)
#64 - Tara. Willow's fellow witch makes her first appearance, and although she has very little screentime, and doesn't immediately appear again, she does seem interesting from moment one.
#61 - Sunday. Buffy's first college Vampire. #74's boss. Some nice attitude.
#57 - Olivia. Giles' incredibly hot girlfriend from London. She appears twice, including memorably in "Hush". At the end of that episode, she says she isn't sure she can take Giles' "lifestyle". And then she never appears again…
#53 & #54 - Oracles. Male and female representatives of the Powers That Be. They're not particularly interesting, so they'll die soon.
#47 - Kathy. Buffy's original Freshman roommate. A Celine fan. Brrrrrr.
#44 - Veruca. The werewolf that broke up Oz and Willow, and sent Oz running from Sunnydale.
AND NOW THE TOP 40
#40 - Graham. No previous rank. Riley Finn's second best friend. Laconic.
#39 - Scott Hope. 3rd Season Rank: 33. Buffy's one real normal boyfriend. He's still holding on to the top 40, but down 6 places, and not likely to still be around by the end of the year.
#38 - Deputy Mayor Finch. 3rd Season Rank: 32. Also down six places. Faith's murder victim.
#37 - Whistler. 3Season: 31. 2Season: 18. The Demon who set Angel on the right path. Kind of the guy I figured to take the Doyle role on Angel. But he's lost 6 rankings (19 since Season 2) and is falling fast.
#36 - Kendra. 3S: 30. 2S: 17. This whole crowd is dropping six rankings. Kendra the original auxilary Vampire Slayer deserves a bit better, I think.
#35 - Ethan Rayne. 3S: 29. 2S: 22. Giles former friend still looms larger in my memory than his ranking suggests. I keep thinking he's going to appear again, because I find it hard to believe he registered so well in so few appearances.
#34 - Devon. 3S: 28. 2S: 37. Oz's bandmate, has peeked.
#33 - Forrest. NPR. Riley's best buddie at the Initiative and the Fraternity.
#32 - Principal Flutie. 3S: 24. 2S: 16. 1S: 9. The original Principal of Sunnydale High is still hanging on.
#31 - Willy the Snitch. 3S: 21. 2S: 24. Looks like Willy has peeked also.
#30 - Larry. 3S: 25. 2S: 35. Hard not to peek when your dead. But I always liked Larry. A former bully, he became one of the White Hats and was killed by the Mayor. And he's still in the top 30.
#29 - Darla. 3S:23. 2S: 23. 1S:11. Hard not to slip when you're a vampire who's been staked. But Darla's poised for a comeback.
#28 - Percy. 3S: 26. I'm stunned Percy's holding on. He's not even vaguely interesting. But he keeps showing up.
#27 - Parker Abrams. NPR. The second guy that Buffy ever slept with. A real jerk. Makes me miss Scott Hope.
#26 - The Annointed One. 3S: 19. 2S: 14. 1S: 10. The Master's mini-me.
#25 - Mr. Trick. 3S: 18. Staked and falling. But his attitude is missed.
#24 - Amy. 3S: 27. 2S: 23. 1S: 17. Her continuing appearances as a Rat, are keeping her in the top 25.
#23 - Kate Lockley. NPR. Angel's cop friend seemed like a potential love interest, but has at the first season's halfway point, become something closer to an enemy.
#22 - Jonathan. 3S: 17. 2S: 19. Jonathan's falling, but his presence is missed, and he'll be staging a comeback.
#21 - The Master. 3S: 16. 2S: 13. 1S: 8. Buffy's first big bad appeared in a shortened first season, so has fallen out of the top twenty.
#20 - Harmony. 3S: 20. 2S: 26. 1S: 18. Harmony's emergence as a vampire was a stroke of comic genius, and has allowed her to hold onto her #20 ranking.
#19 - Maggie Walsh. NPR. The Ice Queen enters the rankings as a real comer.
#18 - Anya. 3S: 22. Halfway through the season, and Anya's admirably filling the Cordelia role, but she's still not a regular. Still she's moved up four rankings already.
#17 - Riley Finn. NPR. But the big news is Riley. Entering the rankings at 17. A new regular (hopscotching over Anya) before the Season's half over. He's Buffy's new boy. A soldier and a nice guy. Cornfed Iowa boy.
#16 - The Mayor. 3s: 14. 1S: 40. The Mayor's only lost a couple slots. Probably the best of the big bads - unless you count Angelus.
#15 - Wesley. 3S: 15. Wesley's midseason reappearance on Angel, allows him to hold onto his #15 ranking.
#14 - Jenny Calendar. 3S: 13. 2S: 11. 1S: 15. Still maintaining a good number.
#13 - Drusilla. 3s: 11. 2s: 8. Dru has fallen a couple ranks, but she's still up there.
#12 - Doyle. NPR. Okay, bigger news than Riley is Doyle. Although with his midseason death, he's got nowhere to go but down. But I loved this character. He was a blast. And his death really did catch me off guard. His ranking was really helped by Angel having such a small regular cast initially. It gave him a lot of screen time and story points.
#11 - Faith. 3s: 10. Faith only loses one rank (thanks to Spike).
#10 - Principal Snyder. 3S: 9. 2s: 10. 1s: 12. Snyder falls one rank, to equal his 2season score. But he's still in the top ten, which is pretty good for a dead guy.
#9 - Spike. 3s: 12. 2s: 9. Spike jumps (finally) past Dru, past Snyder, past Faith, as he becomes a regular. The start of something truly beautiful. (I'm choking up here.)
#8 - Joyce. 3s: 8. 2s: 7. 1s:7. Joyce has barely appeared this season, but she's got points to spare to keep her up in the high numbers.
#7 - Oz. 3s: 7. 2s: 12. Well, Oz'll be back, briefly, but he's clearly peeked. So it's all downhill from here. Still, I'm sure he'll remain in the top 40 forever.
#6 - Angel. 3s: 6 2s:6. 1s:6. This surprised me. Though Angel is climbing fast, even his own series hasn't been enough for him to catch up - yet - with Buffy's main Scoobies.
#5 - Willow. 3s: 4. 2S: 4. 1s: 4. But THIS just stunned me - and frankly makes me question my system entirely. Yes, Cordelia's position as Angel's Gal Friday on Angel gives her a ton of screen and story time. And she was close enough to Willow, to allow her to pass our young Wicca. But perception of course, suggests that Willow should be #3 or even #2 behind only Buffy. This may still end up to be the case. Figure by the end of the horse race, to see Buffy & Angel in the one/two slots, but I'd assume that Willow would pass Cordelia (once Angel gains more cast members) and maybe even Xander. (And certainly Giles).
#4 - Cordelia. 3s:5, 2S: 5. 1S: 5. See above. She's #2 in a tiny regular cast.
#3 - Xander. 3s: 3. 2s:3. 1s: 3. Xander hasn't quite found his place in Buffy's college life. But then neither has Giles. So both of them are cruising on old points.
#2 - Giles. 3s: 2. 2s:2. 1s: 2. Giles still hanging on to the #2 slot.
#1 - Buffy. 3s: 1; 2s: 1; 1s: 1. Duh.