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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 first three previous CUMULATIVE updates covered the first, second and third seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After that, the task became more complicated as Buffy's fourth season aired 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 totaled 44 episodes, and that seemed too long to wait for an update. So the fourth update took 11 eps from each series. Now, this - our fifth update - completes the tally for Buffy S4 & Angel S1. (I think from now on, I'm only going to do an update at the end of each season, so this one'll have to hold you all over for awhile. And you won't see that mid-season update reflected in the rankings below. Just made life too complicated.)
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.
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 - in fact in one specific instance, surprising enough that it's become absolutely clear that my system must be flawed. I've since dreamt 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 112 characters.
But 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.
#111 & 112 - Ilsa & Inga. The Swedish twins that Jonathan is bedding in "Superstar". Sex objects? Sure. But it's a great visual joke.
#110 - Vanessa Brewer Weeks. The Blind Assasin from Angel. She was pretty cool. A Daredevil rip-off, but a cool twist on it.
#106 - Scientist #1. Just giving credit for continuity, in that they used the same actor to play a generic Initiative scientist in multiple episodes.
#105 - Roy. Same deal. You need a college student, why not use Roy, who we've met before?
#103 - Mr. Ward. The Washington Bigwig who shuts down the Initiative.
#102 - Mason. You need a college student, why not use Mason, whom we've met before?
#101 - Colonel George Haviland. The first guy to take charge of the Initiative after Maggie Walsh dies. He's mysteriously replaced in a later episode with a new actor playing a new Colonel serving the exact same function… but I can't resist including him here because he was played by John Saint Ryan, who voiced King Arthur in GARGOYLES.
#97 - Miss Kitty Fantastico. Willow & Tara's kitten. Whatever happened to her?
#91 - Angel's Dad. Seminal, even in death.
#86 - Alanna Gunn. Seminal for Gunn.
#83 - Adam's Follower. A vampire who basically got forgotten.
#82 - Reporter. Again, just some points for consistently using the same person.
#81 - Weatherby. Part of the Watcher Hit Squad that was chasing Faith and crossed over from Buffy to Angel.
#80 - Smith. Ditto.
#78 - Ryan. Little kid with no soul, who was more dangerous than the demon who possessed him. A chilling idea.
#76 - Jeera. Other-dimensional freedom fighter and potential love interest for Angel. I remember thinking she'd reappear some day. But nope.
#71 - Detective Clark - Recurring Buffy Police Detective (second in a series) who made a bit of an impression. Again, I thought we'd see more of this guy, but the idea of the cops of Sunnydale beginning to catch on just never, well, caught on… perhaps because that WAS a semi-important part of the Angel series.
#61 - Holland. Not one of the Senior Partners at Wolfram & Heart, but as close as we get. He'll become more important next season.
#54 - Collins. Head of the Watcher Hit Squad chasing Faith.
#53- David Navitt. Nerdy billionaire on Angel.
#52 - Angleman. The #2 Initiative scientist who gets zombified by Adam.
#49 - Colonel McNamara. The Initiative Colonel who stuck… until he bought the farm.
And before we start, a fond Top 40 farewell to Scott Hope, Deputy Mayor Finch, Whistler, Kendra and Devon.
AND NOW THE TOP 40
Abbreviations for previous rankings…
Y1 - Buffy Season 1.
Y2 - Buffy Season 2.
Y3 - Buffy Season 3.
NR - Not Ranked that year.
#40 - Principal Flutie. Y3: 24. Y2: 16. Y1: 9. The original Principal of Sunnydale High is still just hanging on.
#39 - Larry. Y3: 25. Y2: 35. Y1: NR. A former bully, he became one of the White Hats and was killed by the Mayor. Still dead, so he basically peaked last year (while we was still alive), falling 14 slots to 39.
#38 - Ethan Rayne. Y3: 29. Y2: 22. Y1: NR. Giles former friend still looms larger in my memory than his ranking suggests. But he's fallen nine to 38.
#37 - Charles Gunn. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Gunn is #37 with a bullet. Making a big, fast impression in just a few key episodes at the end of the last season of Angel. I'm assuming that they knew they wanted to make him a regular in Season Two, but him getting all the way into the top 40 this quickly came as a surprise.
#36 - Percy. Y3: 26. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Percy, an obnoxious basketball player from Sunnydale High, drops 10 rankings in a year, but is still hanging on to the top 40 thanks to the fact that he humiliated Willow at a Sunnydale U Frat Party. He's still not even vaguely interesting as a character. But he keeps showing up.
#35 - Parker Abrams. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. The second guy that Buffy ever slept with. A real jerk. But he was pretty important this one season.
#34 - The Annointed One. Y3: 19. Y2: 14. Y1: 10. The Master's mini-me drops 15 rankings this season. Odds are after next one, he'll be a mini-memory.
#33 - Mr. Trick. Y3: 18. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. The Mayor's #2 man also drops 15 rankings. Not a good season for early season second bananas.
#32 - Amy. Y3: 27. Y2: 23. Y1: 17. Her continuing appearances as a Rat - including one brief but hilarious transformation back to human, are keeping her in the top 40, but she still falls 15 rankings.
#31 - Lilah Morgan. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. #31 with a bullet for this Wolfram & Hart attorney. She's a comer.
#30 - Willy the Snitch. Y3: 21. Y2: 24. Y1: NR. I thought that maybe Willy was gone for good, but he made one more appearance in a nice Buffy/Riley/Willy scene. He still falls, but only nine rankings. Less precipitous than some.
#29 - Lindsey McDonald. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. #29 with a bullet for this Wolfram & Hart attorney. Another comer. Is it a coincidence that both Lindsey and Lilah have the initials LM?
#28 - Darla. Y3: 23. Y2: 23. Y1: 11. Hard not to slip a bit (5 rankings) when you're a vampire who's been staked. But Darla's poised for a bit of a comeback, as flashbacks and the last Season 1 episode of Angel indicated.
#27 - The Master. Y3: 16. Y2: 13. Y1: 8. Buffy's first Big Bad appeared in a shortened first season, so has fallen (11 rankings) out of the top twenty.
#26 - Adam. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Buffy's latest Big Bad zips past the Master, but not (thankfully) past the Mayor.
#25 - Harmony. Y3: 20. Y2: 26. Y1: 18. Harmony keeps bouncing back and forth. She's dropped five rankings, but she's still up there.
#24 - Jonathan. Y3: 17. Y2: 19. Y1: NR. Jonathan drops seven rankings, but his single appearance this season in "Superstar" was darn memorable.
#23 - Kate Lockley. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Angel's cop friend started out as a potential love interest, but has become something closer to an enemy.
#22 - Graham. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Riley Finn's second best friend climbed this ladder on the basis of screen time, I guess.
#21 - Forrest. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Riley's best buddy at the Initiative and the Fraternity at least has the virtue of being cyber-demonized into a Second Banana.
#20 - Tara. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Tara appropriately climbs halfway up the top 40 in her first season.
#19 - The Mayor. Y3: 14. Y2: 40. Y1: NR. The Mayor loses 5 rankings. Probably the best of the big bads - unless you count Angelus. But it's inevitable with two series to see even major players like him start to fade when they're not appearing over multiple seasons.
#18 - Maggie Walsh. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. But this is just wrong. One of the things that points up a flaw in the system. It's one thing for her to be ahead of Adam. He didn't even show up until WAY into the season. But how does she jump ahead of the Mayor. You figure Maggie & Adam together might equal the Mayor. But no…
#17 - Jenny Calendar. Y3: 13. Y2: 11. Y1: 15. Still maintaining a good number. Made a deep impression.
#16 - Drusilla. Y3: 11. Y2: 8. Dru has fallen five ranks, but she's still way up there.
#15 - Doyle. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. With his midseason death, Doyle'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.
#14 - Anya. Y3: 22. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Anya's admirably fills the Cordelia role, but even by the end of Season 3, she's still not a regular. But she's moved up eight rankings over last season.
#13 - Faith. Y3: 10. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Faith loses three rankings due to coma.
#12 - Principal Snyder. Y3: 9. Y2: 10. Y1: 12. Snyder falls three ranks, to equal his season one score. Pretty good for a dead guy, but he was helped by a dream appearance right out of Apocalypse Now.
#11 - Riley Finn. Y3: NR. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Riley just misses entering the top ten. A new regular (hopscotching over Anya).
#10 - Wesley. Y3: 15. Y2: NR. Y1: NR. Wesley's midseason reappearance, joining Angel's small cast allows him to rise 5 rankings.
#9 - Joyce. Y3: 8. Y2: 7. Y1: 7. Joyce has barely appeared this season, but she was so high up that she only lost one rank.
#8 - Spike. Y3: 12. Y2: 9. Y1: NR. Spike jumps 4 ranks, as he becomes a regular.
#7 - Oz. Y3: 7. Y2: 12. Y1: NR. Well, Oz is done, but he's high enough to maintain his ranking. It's all downhill from here. Still, I'm sure he'll remain in the top 40 forever.
#6 - Willow. Y3: 4. Y2: 4. Y1: 4. Maggie was a small hint, but Willow's #6 ranking absolutely DEMONSTRATES that the system is flawed. Of course, we expect Angel, now the lead of his own show, to pass Willow. And I get how Cordelia's position as Angel's Gal Friday on Angel gave her a ton of screen and story time. And Cordy was close enough to Willow, to allow her to pass our young Wicca. But how did Willow fall so far behind in the first place? How is it that she's so far behind Giles and Xander that she's vulnerable to fall two ranks?
#5 - Angel. Y3: 6. Y2: 6. Y1: 6. I'm mildly surprised that even as the Lead of his own show, Angel's still behind Cordelia, his second banana.
#4 - Cordelia. Y3: 5. Y2: 5. Y1: 5. See above. She's #2 in a tiny regular cast.
#3 - Giles. Y3: 2. Y2: 2. Y1: 2. Giles falls one rank. Still the number 3 guy, which is tops, but his Season Four fears that he has no roll in Buffy's life may have a basis in reality.
#2 - Xander. Y3: 3. Y2: 3. Y1: 3. Xander moves past Giles into the #2 spot. This doesn't surprise me… except again as it relates to Willow. How did he pass Giles and Willow doesn't? It's just counter-intuitive.
#1 - Buffy. Y3: 1. Y2: 1. Y1: 1. Duh.