Buffy was about the struggle of growing up, and of learning to recognize, embrace and share your power. Angel was about the never ending fight: the every day battle of existence – trying to do the right thing, failing, picking yourself up, and trying again.
Like every Joss Whedon project, Angel boasted a remarkable cast of talented performers. David Boreanaz was a terrific lead, but he got plenty of support from the likes of Charisma Carpenter, Alexis Denisof, J. August Richards, and Amy Acker, to name just a few. Time flies, and 13 years have passed since Angel went off the air. Today we catch up with the Angel Investigations team (and their enemies), and find out just what they’ve been up to.
16. David Boreanaz – Angel
There’s only one place to start, and that’s with the vampire himself, Angel. David Boreanaz had the unique challenge of taking a character that was very popular on Buffy and leaving that safety net to launch his own series. It was a risk, but it paid off. Angel was a character with a lot of creative potential, and the actor, Joss Whedon and his team of writers immediately took advantage of it.
By the time Angel’s five season run had ended, Boreanaz had played the role for eight years, and he was happy to leave the role behind and do something new. He found that something in Bones, the popular procedural in which he co-starred as FBI agent Seeley Booth. That show just wrapped up its 12-year run, more than doubling his time on Angel.
15. Charisma Carpenter – Cordelia Chase
Charisma Carpenter originally auditioned for the role of Buffy herself, but she was probably better off landing the part of mean girl Cordelia Chase. In her time on Buffy, she went from being a thorn in the gang’s side to a friend and ally. Cordy left town after high school to try her luck as an actress in Los Angeles, and who should she run into in the big city but her old friend Angel!
Bringing Cordelia into the spinoff series was a clever move, as it helped smooth the transition for viewers (and Angel himself). Carpenter remained on the series for most of its run, departing at the end of the fourth season but returning for one last episode the next year.
Since then, she has done a lot of TV work (Charmed, Veronica Mars, The Lying Game) and had a small role in the first two films of The Expendables franchise.
14. Glenn Quinn – Doyle
When Angel arrived in LA, he needed a purpose. Doyle, a half-demon ‘blessed’ with visions from The Powers That Be, provided that purpose, guiding Angel to the poor souls who needed his help.
In a very “Joss Whedon” move, however, Doyle was killed off just nine episodes in to Angel’s run. At the time, Whedon and his team insisted Doyle’s early demise was always the plan, though rumors persisted that there were issues with actor Glenn Quinn on the set that contributed to his exit. Whatever issues there might have been, they didn’t stop Quinn and Boreanaz from becoming fast friends.
Before Angel, Quinn was best known for a recurring role on Roseanne. After leaving the series, he did one film and one television movie. Sadly, Quinn passed away from a drug overdose in 2002 at the age of 32. Angel’s episode “Long Day’s Journey” was dedicated to him, and he made one last appearance on the show (via stock footage) in “You’re Welcome”.
13. J. August Richards – Charles Gunn
As the street smart Charles Gunn, J. August Richards become a key part of Angel’s ensemble, first appearing late in the first season before becoming a regular for the remainder of its run. The character went through a lot of changes in that time, starting as the leader of a gang of vampire hunters before joining up with Angel’s team. Struggling with his more subservient role and limitations, he allowed Wolfram and Hart to ‘upgrade’ him into a brilliant lawyer during the final season, a choice he eventually came to regret.
J. August Richards played every facet of the complicated character well. The lawyer side of the character would serve him well with roles in two (albeit short-lived) series, Conviction and Raising The Bar. He has made guest appearances on a number of popular shows, like Arrow and The Mentalist, but his biggest post-Angel role was as Michael Peterson/Deathlok on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
12. Elisabeth Rohm – Kate Lockley
One of the first people Angel encountered in Los Angeles was police detective Kate Lockley. They started out as friends, but Lockley grew more and more distrusting of Angel’s vampire nature, especially after her father was murdered by vampires. She worked against him for a time, but they eventually reconciled. She departed from the series during its second season, but the character returned in the After The Fall comic book continuation of the show, where she became one of Angel’s closest allies.
After Angel, Elisabeth Rohm went on to success in a number of films and television shows. She was a regular on Law & Order for a few years, and also had a recurring role on Heroes. More recently, she’s appeared in Beauty & the Beast, Stalker and The Last Ship. She has also been seen as the murderous Dr. Madison Gray on Hawaii 5-0.
11. Vincent Kartheiser – Connor
Connor, the son Angel was never supposed to have, was born during the show’s third season. He was promptly kidnapped by Angel’s enemy Holtz and raised in a hell dimension, returning to Earth as a teenager mere weeks after his initial disappearance. Vincent Kartheiser had the huge (and largely thankless) task of playing Angel’s thoroughly brainwashed son. Eventually given a new chance at life by magical means, he returned to the show in the final season as a much healthier, more well adjusted version of himself.
Kartheiser was already an acting veteran by the time he appeared on Angel, and his career hasn’t slowed down since. He has had small roles in films like Alpha Dog and In Time, and has also done some voice work, both for animation and the popular video game L.A. Noire. But his biggest success has been on television as a regular on the hit series Mad Men, where he played Pete Campbell and appeared in almost every episode of the series.
10. Andy Hallett – Lorne
A demon with green skin and red horns, Lorne was a gentle soul with a love for music that belied his outward appearance. First appearing as the ‘Host’ of his own demon karaoke bar, he served as a valuable ally for Angel and his team. He became a full-time member of the gang in later seasons, offering moral support and an almost bottomless supply of optimism.
The talented musician and actor Andy Hallett was the man behind Lorne’s green skin. Before Angel, he had an uncredited role on one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His singing talents were discovered by Joss Whedon, who created the part of Lorne just for him. After Angel, he focused on his music and did just one voice acting job. Sadly, his health began to fail soon after Angel’s run, and he experienced heart problems for the rest of his life. He died of congestive heart failure in 2009 at the age of 33.
9. Christian Kane – Lindsey McDonald
An up and coming lawyer at Wolfram and Hart, Lindsey McDonald was determined to rise to power at any cost. His affiliation with the evil firm led to his rivalry with Angel, but eventually Lindsey had a crisis of conscience and left town. An off-screen change of heart led him back to LA in the final season for another shot at Angel, which didn’t turn out so well for him.
As Lindsey, Christian Kane ultimately did 21 episodes of Angel, and was the only actor other than Boreanaz to appear in both the series premiere (“City Of”) and finale (“Not Fade Away”).
A talented musician, he leads a country music band (fittingly named Kane). His acting career has also been successful, with stints as a series regular on Close To Home, Leverage and The Librarians. He had a lead role in 24: The Game and has appeared in films like Secondhand Lions, Taxi and Friday Night Lights.
8. Mercedes McNab – Harmony
Appearing in the very first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harmony was a recurring presence during the show’s early years. She ironically gained a new lease on life when she became a vampire, and became a real (if slow-witted) threat to the gang. She made a guest appearance on Angel in its second season before returning to the show in a recurring/regular role in its final year.
Before Buffy and Angel, Canadian actress Mercedes McNab was best known for her childhood role in The Addams Family movies. After Angel she did some film work (Hatchet, Thirst) as well as guest appearances on a number of shows like Reaper, Psych, Supernatural and Crossing Jordan. Her most recent acting work was a television movie in 2011. She got married in 2012 and has since started a family.
7. Julie Benz – Darla
Darla ended Angel’s human life and guided him into the dark world of vampires. Angel killed his sire in the first season of Buffy, but the character maintained a presence via flashbacks. At the end of the first season of Angel, however, she was resurrected through dark magic. Returned to life as a terminally ill human, she was restored as a vampire by Drusilla and resumed her murderous ways. Becoming pregnant with Angel’s son, she sacrificed herself so that Connor could live. She would return once more as a benevolent ghostly figure appearing to her son, with a few more flashbacks for good measure.
Julie Benz keeps busy with roles in a number of films and television shows. After Darla, her biggest role was as Rita Bennett on Dexter. She was a regular on No Ordinary Family and Defiance and has had recurring roles on Desperate Housewives and Hawaii 5-0. Her film work has included movies like Rambo, Punisher: War Zone, and Saw V.
6. Daniel Dae Kim – Gavin Park
The sleazy Wolfram and Hart lawyer Gavin Park was a thorn in Angel’s side more than once, though he took a subservient role to the vampire’s true lawyer nemesis, Lilah Morgan. Appearing in 12 episodes, Gavin met an untimely and violent end when The Beast launched his attack on Wolfram and Hart in Season Four’s “Habeas Corpses”.
Daniel Dae Kim’s career took off after Angel, thanks in large part to his main role as Jin-Soo Kwon on the massive hit Lost. He appeared on all six seasons of that show, and when it was over he moved right over to Hawaii 5-0, now in its seventh season. Dae Kim plays Chin Ho Kelly, a key member of the titular police task force. He has also played the role in crossover episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles and MacGyver.
5. Alexa Davalos – Gwen Raiden
Though she only appeared on three episodes of the series, Gwen Raiden made a big impression. A thief with a very exclusive clientele, she commands the power of electricity (with the considerable cost of being unable to touch another human being). That isolation makes her a bit of a tragic character.
She first encountered Angel when she screwed up his attempt to retrieve an artifact he needed to locate the missing Cordelia. After that she served as an occasional ally for the team, and the character reappeared in the comic book continuation, After The Fall.
Alexa Davalos has kept busy since her short stint on Angel. She had lead roles in The Chronicles of Riddick and Clash of the Titans. On television, she had regular roles on the short-lived series Reunion and Mob City, but her biggest success came recently in the lead role of Juliana Crain on Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle.
4. Stephanie Romanov – Lilah Morgan
Though initially Lindsey McDonald seemed poised to fill the role, it was Lilah Morgan who would ultimately become Angel’s greatest rival at Wolfram and Hart. A ruthless lawyer with no moral code to speak of, Lilah had no problem carrying out the directives of her demonic superiors. She wasn’t without a heart, however, and eventually entered into an unlikely but increasingly genuine relationship with Wesley. Murdered by a possessed Cordelia, she returns in death (Wolfram and Hart contracts!) to offer Angel and his team the Los Angeles branch of the firm.
Prior to her time on Angel, Romanov appeared on Melrose Place and its spinoff Models Inc. Her film work has included the Leslie Nielsen spoof Spy Hard, as well as a turn as Jacqueline Kennedy in Thirteen Days. Her most recent role was in the 2012 film Slumber Party Slaughter.
3. Keith Szarabajka – Holtz
A vampire hunter from the distant past, Daniel Holtz was magically transported to modern times so he could take his revenge against Angel and Darla, who had destroyed his life and murdered his family. He kidnapped Angel’s newborn son and absconded with him to a hell dimension, where he raised the boy to be a killer who loathed his birth father. His final act, arranging for his murder and framing Angel for the deed, cemented his status as a merciless force of vengeance.
The role of Holtz went to Keith Szarabajka, a truly prolific actor with a huge list of credits. His most visible role was probably as a Gotham City cop in The Dark Knight, but he has done an incredible amount of television work. Star Trek: Voyager, The X-Files, 24 and CSI are just some of the shows he has appeared on.
2. Amy Acker – ‘Fred’ Burkle/Illyria
Winifred “Fred” Burkle was a brilliant scientist who had been stranded in the brutal realm of Pylea for years before being saved by Angel. Her mind was understandably addled after her ordeal, but she slowly regained her sanity and became one of the most important and beloved members of the team. Tragedy struck in the final season when she died and became the vessel for the reborn Illyria, a demonic warlord from the distant past.
Amy Acker brought warmth and charm to the role of Fred, but she really showed her range as the regal and merciless Illyria.
Since Angel went off the air, she has continued to excel on television, appearing on shows like Happy Town, Supernatural, Dollhouse and Grimm. She also had a regular role on the final season of the popular spy series, Alias. But she found her best post-Angel role on Person of Interest as the enigmatic hacker heroine Root.
1. Alexis Denisof – Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
Like Angel and Cordelia, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce was introduced on Buffy the Vampire Slayer before moving to the spinoff series. On Angel, Wesley would develop from the meek and ineffective Watcher introduced in Buffy’s third season to a dark, grizzled badass. Thanks to the acting talents of Alexis Denisof, the transformation was believable every step of the way.
After a roller coaster of a journey, Wesley died in the series finale of Angel. As for Denisof, fans of both shows were delighted when he married Alyson Hannigan (Willow on Buffy) and made guest appearances on her next series, How I Met Your Mother. He worked with Joss Whedon again a few years later, taking on a recurring role in Dollhouse and a leading part in Much Ado About Nothing. He was buried in makeup for the small but crucial role of The Other, a servant of Thanos in The Avengers, and reprised the role in Guardians of the Galaxy.
He has also done some voice work, and had a recurring role on the recently concluded Grimm.
Who is your favorite Angel alumni? Let us know in the comments.