117 Buffyverse Characters, Ranked From Worst To Best

    All the major and semi-major and small-but-still-made-a-semi-major-impact characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, ranked in reverse order of excellence. This is going to be controversial!

    Residing in a shared creative landscape referred to by fans as the Buffyverse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel spawned dozens of richly drawn, deeply moving, totally hilarious characters from the 1997 Buffy premiere to the 2004 Angel finale. To celebrate these characters — even the ones I'd just as soon never see again — I've ranked them from worst to best.

    Criteria: To be included on this list, a character has to have a name, appear on Buffy and/or Angel for at least three episodes, and meaningfully participate either in the episodes' plot or in a larger, season-long storyline. (Sorry random teacher or Wolfram & Hart flunky!) When it made sense, I grouped some characters, and there are also a handful of special exceptions for standout characters in just one or two episodes who have significant arcs of their own. Also, for the persnickety, since an actor's performance plays a definite role in the success or failure of a character in these rankings, I did not factor in the post-finale comic books.

    A bias: I'm more of a Buffy person than an Angel person, but my editor in this endeavor is die-hard Angel fan Shani Hilton, and she successfully argued the case for several Angel characters. (Also: I really do like Angel very much!)

    117. Kennedy

    116. The Anointed One

    115. Ben

    114. Graham

    113. Lee Mercer

    112. Shannon

    111. Principal Flutie

    110. Hank Summers

    109. Adam

    108. Dr. Sparrow

    107. Knox

    106. Detective Kate Lockley

    105. Percy West

    104. Caridad

    103. Molly

    102. Linwood Murrow

    101. The Beast

    100. The Knights of Byzantium

    Played by: Wade Andrew Williams, Justin Gorence, Karim Prince

    Number of episodes: 3

    First episode: "Checkpoint," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5

    Last episode: "Spiral," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5

    Seriously? Knights?! Who ultimately served no purpose other than to fill up time before Glory's inevitable capture of Dawn? OK, there was that kinda exciting RV-vs.-knights-on-horseback action sequence, but still. COME ON.

    99. Parker Abrams

    98. Rona

    97. Marcus Hamilton

    96. Scott Hope

    95. Rack

    94. Glory's Minions

    Played by: Kevin Weisman, Troy Blendell, Todd Duffey, Alan Heitz, Lily Knight, Matthew Lang

    Number of episodes: 11

    First episode: "Shadow," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5

    Last episode: "The Gift," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5

    Glory's oily-haired, demon-y worshippers are essentially parodies of sniveling, supplicatory flunkies, and that's all they're ever allowed to be. They don't even get an Oompa Loompa-style origin story musical number. Poor minions.

    93. Eve

    92. Jasmine

    91. Gavin Park

    90. Riley Finn

    89. Silas

    88. Merl

    87. Veruca

    86. Chao-ahn

    85. Forrest

    84. Sahjhan

    83. Caleb

    82. Willy

    81. David Nabbit

    80. Connor

    79. The Groosalugg

    78. Principal Robin Wood

    77. Nina Ash

    76. Marcie Ross

    75. Professor Maggie Walsh

    74. The First Slayer

    73. Virginia Bryce

    72. Deputy Mayor Allan Finch

    71. Penn

    70. Quentin Travers

    69. Violet (aka Vi)

    68. Rondell

    67. Kathy Newman

    66. Daniel Holtz

    65. Dracula

    64. Katrina Silber

    63. Skip

    62. The First

    61. Billy Blim

    60. Amanda

    59. Mr. Trick

    58. D'Hoffryn

    57. Holden Webster

    56. The Deathwok Clan

    Played by: Brody Hutzler (Landok), Tom McCleister (Mother of the Vile Excrement), Brian Tahash (Narwek), Joss Whedon (Numfar)

    Number of episodes: 4

    First episode: "Belonging," Angel Season 2

    Last episode: "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb," Angel Season 2

    Lorne's Pylean kin are the embodiment of Angel's mid-series crisis/vacation to Pylea, in the best way — a loving-if-incredibly-silly satire of medieval-loving Renaissance Faire folk and a reminder of just how different Lorne really was from the rest of his kind.

    [Ed.: "It really annoys me that Landok is not at all perturbed by the number of free humans wandering around Los Angeles in ‘Belonging,' and yet, he comes from a society in which every single human is enslaved."]

    55. Kendra

    54. Dana

    53. Whistler

    52. Allen Francis Doyle

    51. Gwendolyn Post

    50. Dawn Summers

    49. Gwen Raiden

    48. Circle of the Black Thorn

    Played by: Leland Crooke (Archduke Sebassis), Dennis Christopher (Cyvus Vail), Mark Colson (Izzerial), Stacey Travis (Sen. Helen Brucker), Jeff Yagher (Ed), Nick Jaine (head of the Sahrvin Clan)

    Number of episodes: 7, between all the different characters within the Circle; 2 for the Circle itself

    First episode: "Life of the Party," Angel Season 5 (for Archduke Sebassis); "Power Play," Angel Season 5 (for the Circle)

    Last episode: "Not Fade Away," Angel Season 5

    It's a grand, mythology-expanding notion, a secret society of influential demons who are the Senior Partners' most powerful instruments on earth. Each member is well differentiated from the other — and well matched against the corresponding members of Angel's crew who takes them out in "Not Fade Away." But even though a couple members are sprinkled through Angel's fifth season, shockingly, the Circle as a concept onto itself is only introduced in the penultimate episode of the entire series. You get the feeling that had Angel not been canceled, the Circle would have lived for far longer to antagonize Angel and Co. As it stands, they make for a perfectly formidable Big Bad with which to end the show.

    47. Sweet

    46. Billy "Ford" Fordham

    45. Larry Blaisdell

    44. Holland Manners

    43. Dennis Pearson

    42. Sunday

    41. Justine Cooper

    40. The Buffybot

    39. Clem

    38. Ethan Rayne

    37. Charles Gunn

    36. Roger and Trish Burkle

    35. Lorne

    34. Principal Snyder

    33. Cassie Newton

    32. Glory

    31. Doc

    30. Lilah Morgan

    29. Halfrek/Cecily

    28. Lindsey McDonald

    27. Anne Steele (aka Lily Houston, aka Chantarelle)

    Played by: Julia Lee

    Number of episodes: 5

    First episode: "Lie to Me," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2

    Last episode: "Not Fade Away," Angel Season 5

    A confession: Until I embarked on this project, I had totally forgotten that Anne Steele from Angel (pictured, at right) is the same character as "Chantarelle" from the Billy Fordham Buffy episode "Lie To Me" (pictured, at left) — and the teenage runaway Lily in the Buffy Season 3 premiere "Anne." To be able to track this one, normal girl, and see how Buffy and Angel make a tangible difference in her life over the course of seven years, is one of the very best small triumphs for these two shows.

    26. The Master

    25. Harmony Kendall

    24. Joyce Summers

    23. Warren Mears

    22. Amy Madison

    21. Jenny Calendar

    20. Darla

    19. Angel

    18. Daniel "Oz" Osbourne

    17. Illyria

    16. Angelus

    15. Jonathan Levinson

    14. Andrew Wells

    13. Tara Maclay

    12. Drusilla

    11. Xander Harris

    10. Anya

    9. Mayor Richard Wilkins

    8. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce

    Played by: Alexis Denisof

    Number of episodes: 109

    First episode: "Bad Girls," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3

    Last episode: "Not Fade Away," Angel Season 5

    Wesley arrives in Sunnydale as a naive and spineless Watcher who fails his charge miserably, and dies in Los Angeles a heartbroken, cynical warrior ready to give his life for a higher cause. His journey from one extreme to the other occasionally tips into a wearying despondency — having your throat slit and your friends abandon you can do that to a guy, I guess. But Denisof threads each step without ever losing sight of the man at his core. It’s an astonishing transformation.

    7. Cordelia Chase

    6. Winifred "Fred" Burkle

    5. Buffy Summers

    Played by: Sarah Michelle Gellar (and Eliza Dushku in one episode)

    Number of episodes: 147

    First episode: "Welcome to the Hellmouth," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1

    Last episode: "Chosen," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7

    Like so many heroes before her, sometimes Buffy can slip into a self-righteous rut while everyone else gets to have much more fun — and her Season 6 dark period, while psychologically valid, was a slog. That's the territory when your name is in the title. But none of it diminishes Buffy's place as a pop culture touchstone, a woman in all her complexity who is also our hero, racing into danger and kicking evil's ass as best she can.

    4. Faith

    3. Rupert Giles

    2. Spike

    1. Willow Rosenberg

    Played by: Alyson Hannigan

    Number of episodes: 147

    First episode: "Welcome to the Hellmouth," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1

    Last episode: "Chosen," Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7

    It is just no contest. No other character goes on as wide-ranging a transformation, from nerdy bookworm to avenging witch, from pining after her best friend Xander to making love to her beloved girlfriend Tara, from struggling to levitate a pencil to bestowing the power of the Slayer into every single potential in the world. She can be as funny and heartbreaking in practically the same breath, and, crucially, she is allowed to fuck up HUGE while still remaining innately herself. (Her Season 6 descent into darkness is the only one that feels organic to the character rather than the Thing That Needs To Happen This Season.) Even when she's Dark Willow, she is still Willow; it's not a demon possessing her, but her own rage and grief.

    Put it this way: The seed for this insane project began when my colleague Louis Peitzman was finishing up his insane project of ranking every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (A similar post for Angel is in the works, by the way.) The topic of the best Buffyverse characters came up, and without hesitation, I said, "Willow." As far as I'm concerned, it's the only possible answer.

    So that's my list of the best and worst Buffyverse characters. What's yours?

    Grrr, argh: Forrest and Maggie Walsh, of course, were on Buffy, not Angel — which had five seasons, not seven. "Once More, with Feeling" was on Season 6 of Buffy, "Amends" was on Season 3, and "Into the Woods" was on Season 5. And Xander was on 143 episodes of Buffy. Thanks to readers DenaVen, vickid9, VAd, sjdawson, cortneys7, btvsfan, and @ianfarrington for catching that!