Angel was Joss Whedon’s spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It featured Buffy’s incredibly popular romantic lead moving up to Los Angeles in a further attempt to make up for his past evil deeds by helping those in desperate need.
While there were frequent crossovers with Angel’s sister show, the series very much made a name for itself creating its own cast of beloved characters and featuring more adult, complex, and heavily serialized storytelling than Buffy.
Spike’s addition in season 5 saw the ratings improve, which is rare for a show that’s been around for that long, and the show reaped near-constant critical acclaim. However, in a decision that seems to be regretted by all parties involved, the WB canceled Angel after five seasons and the series woefully ended.
But that’s done nothing to stem the tied of fan loyalty to this show. It’s still rewatched and picked apart by fans to this day, over a decade after its initial cancellation. We decided to dive a little deeper with this list and see if we couldn’t find some tidbits about this show that eluded even the most hardcore Whedonverse acolytes.
Here are 20 Crazy Things Even Die-Hard Fans Don’t Know About Angel.
20. JOSS WHEDON’S ONE GUEST APPEARANCE WAS AN ACCIDENT
Joss Whedon appeared on one episode of Angel, but he made it count. “In Through the Looking Glass,” Angel and Lorne pay a visit to his home-dimension and finally meet Lorne’s family. They’re Deathwok demons; medieval, Viking-like creatures that could not be less enthused about Lorne’s lifestyle.
Whedon played Numfar, a member of the clan that danced the traditional Dance of Joy for three days when Lorne left home. He does it again when Lorne and Angel arrive, and unbeknownst to fans, they got to see Whedon break out his intermediate moves.
However, the original plan was only to have Whedon choreograph the Dance of Joy and the Dance of Honor that appears later in the episode. But when one of the writers saw him demonstrating, he insisted Whedon do it on camera. Whedon didn’t even tell the other cast members – he let them realize who was under the makeup gradually.
19. FRED WOULD’VE COME BACK
One of Joss Whedon’s cruelest ideas was the end of Winifred Burkle. After being inhabited by an ancient demon named Illyria, Fred’s soul was destroyed to make room for Illyria to set up house in her body. It was devastating, truly, due in large part to Amy Acker’s flawless performance during and leading up to the transition.
Fred and Wesley had just started seeing each other in earnest just before Fred was tragically ripped from us, and she was replaced with Illyria’s harsh and inhuman nature.
According to Joss Whedon, Fred was supposed to find new life in season 6.
His original plan was to split the two characters and have Acker play both Fred and her evil counterpart. That’s essentially what happens in the canon comics, Angel: After the Fall. Alas, we were clearly not meant to watch Fred’s resurrection, but read it.
18. DOYLE WOULD’VE COME BACK AS A VILLAIN
Doyle (Glenn Quinn) was a demon with a heart of gold who was “blessed” with visions of people in danger. They were sent from the Powers That Be and allowed Angel Investigations to rush to the aid of those in need a little faster than normal law enforcement.
Doyle was hopelessly devoted to Cordelia, and occasionally she reciprocated, despite his demonic nature. Unfortunately, Doyle’s heroism ultimately led to his death when he sacrificed himself to save a group of half-human/half-demon hybrids called Listers.
Supervising producer Nick Fury pointed out that Doyle actually stuck around longer than originally planned, considering the character was only supposed to stick around for the first few episodes of the first season. There were plans to bring him back in season 4, and Fury explained that it would’ve been as a Big Bad-type villain. Unfortunately, Glenn Quinn passed away before that could happen.
17. CARPENTER AND WHEDON HAD A FALLING OUT OVER HER DEPARTURE
After a long strange season of behaving like a total psycho, it was revealed that Cordelia had actually been inhabited by an ancient fallen power who went by the name Jasmine. After using Cordelia’s body as a vessel for her rebirth, Jasmine exited Cordy’s body into another corporeal form, leaving Cordy in a coma. She woke up for a brief period to return for Angel’s 100th episode, only to perish at the end.
Carpenter’s absence was partially due to her pregnancy, but she never intended her departure to be permanent. As a matter of fact, she only agreed to return for the 100th episode on the condition that Cordelia not die. She only realized the character would be terminated after she signed the contract. While they’ve patched things up since, Whedon and Carpenter parted on bad terms after this incident.
16. BOREANAZ PANTSED HIMSELF. FREQUENTLY.
Angel will go down in history as one of the broodiest brooders who ever brooded. On Buffy, if he wasn’t staring at Buffy with the pain of (creepy because of the age difference) unconsummated desire, he was, well, Angelus. It made sense. Angel had a lot of baggage to deal with considering he spent the better part of two centuries hurting people.
As dreamy as a tortured vampire can be, it was a running joke on both Angel and Buffy that Angel could be kind of a drag. Luckily for his many, many co-stars, David Boreanaz was way more relaxed. One of his favorite gags was pulling down his pants during takes to see which of his co-stars he could break out of character.
15. CHRISTIAN KANE (LINDSAY) COULD’VE BEEN BUFFY’S BOYFRIEND
Christian Kane played Lindsey McDonald, one of Angel’s more redeemable villains. He appeared in the early seasons as a lawyer for demonic law firm, Wolfram & Hart. His greatest hits include trying to assassinate Faith, falling in love with Darla, losing a hand, regaining a hand, and returning in the final season only to get shot by Lorne. But if Christian Kane had gotten a job he auditioned for before he was up for Angel, Lindsey might have looked very different.
Christian Kane auditioned for the part of Riley, Buffy’s nice guy/commando boyfriend on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He didn’t get it, but honestly, McDonald was a such phenomenal villain, we’re not complaining. For added fun, he and David Boreanaz are real life BFFs.
14. BEN AFFLECK WAS IN THE WHEDONVERSE TWICE
While most Buffy fans (and Whedon himself) are generally loathe to bring up the original 1993 movie, it’s worth mentioning that the film features two actors that went on to win Oscars. Hillary Swank plays one of Buffy’s vapid friends (the one who says, “Get outof my facial”) and Ben Affleck plays a basketball player who disgustedly gives up a possession of the ball to a player-turned-vamp.
A slightly less known bit of trivia is that Affleck also appeared, this time uncredited, in an episode of Angel.
In the episode, “Double or Nothin”. Gunn reveals he sold his soul a few years back and has to gamble to get it back. At some point, he and then-girlfriend Fred have dinner at a restaurant where they argue. Ben Affleck is also “eating” at the restaurant, and you can see him the first time the camera pans over Fred.
13. DAVID BOREANAZ COULD’VE BEEN BATMAN
David Boreanaz easily has one of the most enviable careers in television. He’s literally been working steadily since Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered in 1997. After Buffy, he moved to Angel, from Angel he went to Bones, and from Bones he went to S.W.A.T.
His journey could’ve forked in a very, very different direction if he’d said yes to a certain offer.
Christopher Nolan had his eye on Boreanaz, having caught him on Angel and judged the actor’s broody vigilante vibe perfect for his grittier Dark Knight reboot. But Boreanaz turned him down, for better or for worse.
12. FIREFLY ACTORS ON ANGEL
Joss Whedon’s futuristic space-western premiered in 2002 on Fox. Despite eventually becoming one of Whedon’s most-beloved creations, the show scored poor ratings, and the network canceled it and only aired 11 of the 14 episodes produced. While we’d eventually get some closure in the eventual feature film, Serenity, there will, regrettably, never be enough Firefly.
Luckily, Joss Whedon was able to throw some pretty significant work to the actors on the show, including moving Gina Torres and Adam Baldwin to big storylines on Angel. Torres appeared as the Big Bad Jasmine, and Baldwin appeared as Marcus Hamilton, a liaison to the mysterious senior partners of Wolfram & Hart.
At first, Whedon was worried shuffling his actors to other shows would be distracting, but the actors pointed out that Firefly’s ratings were so low that the vast majority of the Angel audience wouldn’t recognize them, anyway.
11. DOLLY PARTON WAS AN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Dolly Parton is a woman of many talents, but this is probably one you haven’t heard. She was technically an executive producer of Angel. We wish we could say she was such an avid Buffy fan that she jumped at the chance to work with Joss Whedon on Angel, but that’s not quite the case here.
Sandy Gallin, who died in April of 2017, was a hugely powerful and prolific talent manager who counted Parton among his clients. The two met in 1976 and went on to get very close, even to the point of sharing a Manhattan apartment together at one point. Eventually, the two ended up forming a production partnership, and that company would go on to help produce both Buffy and Angel.
10. BOREANAZ IMPROVISED ANGELUS’ LINES
No matter how much we may enjoy watching heroes save the day, it always seems to be a little more fun to let heroes explore their villainous side every once in a while. Angelus was Angel’s soulless personality, and as altruistic as Angel was, Angelus was equally evil.
He first appeared on Buffy during season 2 when Angel lost his soul after experiencing a little too much happiness with the Slayer. Angelus appeared on Angel after it became clear only he could defeat an incredibly powerful demon known only as The Beast.
Both Angelus storylines were standouts in the character’s history, probably in part because they allowed Boreanaz to stretch beyond Angel’s extreme good guy routine. He was actually encouraged to improvise his own lines during the character’s second appearance, which probably contributed to the palpable fun Boreanaz is having with the work.
9. WHEDON CAUSED ANGEL’S CANCELLATION
Like Firefly before it, Angel was destined to be taken from us far too soon, despite the fact that the show was doing pretty well. In Angel’s fifth season, the ratings were up, partly due to the incredibly popular decision to give Spike new life after his death in the series finale of Buffy.
Joss Whedon decided to use that leverage to push for an early renewal for the sixth season.
This way he could assure everyone working for him had jobs sooner rather than later, and it would allow his writers to get to work earlier mapping out season 6.
Unfortunately, his timing couldn’t have been worse. The WB had a bunch of other series it was trying to decide upon, and locking in a more expensive show like Angel at that time would’ve forced them to choose too soon. So, they canceled it.
8. THE VAMP MAKEUP TOOK OVER AN HOUR TO APPLY
Any show that involves an element of fantasy is highly likely to require at least some of its actors to don prosthetic makeup. Sometimes that can mean something as simple as contacts that adjust eye color, and sometimes it can mean a four-hour stint in the makeup chair at the start of every shoot.
Luckily, none of the Angel regulars had to go through that on a daily basis, but the vamps did have to deal with their prosthetic foreheads pretty regularly. According to David Boreanaz, the process wasn’t necessarily a walk in the park.
Despite how minimal the makeup appeared compared to say, what a character like Lorne would have to put up with, it was still a lengthy process for what could only be a few shots per episode. It 90 minutes to apply, and had to be taken off slowly or risk injury to an actor’s skin.
7. AMY ACKER’S BALLET TRAINING CAME IN HANDY
The season 3 episode “Waiting in the Wings” remains a perennial fan favorite. Angel takes his team to see a production of the ballet Giselle, and he and Cordy wind up possessed by the spirits of a couple of star-crossed lovers. They make out a lot before they figure out what’s happening, but then figure out they’re victims of an evil theater manager.
The episode could’ve been even more fun if it weren’t for a particular deleted scene.
Fred was going to use the evening to confess his feelings for Fred, and during the ballet, he fantasizes about her dancing the part of Giselle. Amy Acker’s a trained ballet dancer, so she fit the part beautifully. The scene wound up cut, but you can still catch it on YouTube. Fun fact: the actual dancer is Firefly alum, Summer Glau.
6. MORENA BACCARIN COULD’VE PLAYED EVE
The character of Eve, brilliantly played by Sarah Thompson. Eve, aptly named, was a child of the Powers That Be, and she was assigned to be a liaison between Angel and the Senior Partners when Angel Investigations takes over Wolfram & Hart. She made it to the apocalyptic series finale, but her fate remains up in the air. The last we saw of her, the law offices of Wolfram & Hart were crumbling around her and she’d just signed away her immortality.
Interestingly, despite inhabiting the character so well, Sarah Thompson wasn’t the first choice to play Eve. The part was initially offered to Morena Baccarin. Unfortunately, she was attached to another show on competing network, Fox, and her contract wouldn’t allow her to be involved with Angel. The show she worked on with Fox never even aired.
5. SAMWISE GAMGEE DIRECTED AN EPISODE
During season 4, Angel purposefully gave up his soul in order to access memories apparently only available to his evil alter-ego, Angelus. Aptly titled “Soulless”, the episode got down and dirty with the inside of Angelus’ head as he was interrogated for his knowledge of the Beast, the current demon terror threat to the City of Angels.
If you enjoyed this episode as much as we did, you have Sean Astin to thank for part of that.
After finishing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Astin mentioned to his friend, Doug Petrie, a writer and producer on both Buffy and Angel, that he wanted to direct episodic television. He shadowed different people on the set for a few weeks and eventually got to direct this episode.
4. ANGELUS VS LILAH FAKE-OUT
After years of narrowly escaping death at the hands of all manner of creature – from demons to Angel to her own bosses – Lilah Morgan finally got got by Cordelia in the season 4 episode, “Calvary”. After letting Angelus out to roam the Hyperion Hotel and hopefully knock out as many of the Angel Investigations team as possible, Cordelia kills Lilah herself.
Well, Jasmine, wearing Cordy’s face killed Lilah, revealing the twist that she’d been inhabiting Cordelia’s body for some time.
However, in order to protect the twist, showrunners filmed Angelus killing Lilah, as well. Luckily it didn’t matter who killed Lilah – either way she came back as an undead attorney, contracted to Wolfram & Hart for eternity.
3. A FANFICTION WRITER WOUND UP WRITING FOR THE SHOW
In episode 4 of season 2, “Untouched”, Angel tries to help Bethany, a girl struggling with the onset of new telekinetic powers. The episode’s particularly memorable not just because it features more of Darla’s weird nighttime Angel stalking, but because the initial script was submitted by a fan.
Anyone who’s written fan faction, get ready to live vicariously through Mere Smith.
She was a massive Angel fan and wrote scores of fan fiction before finally sending a spec script for the show to Joss Whedon. Not only did she wind up selling that script, Whedon hired her to write for the show. She wrote for Angel from season 2 to season 4 and has since gone on to a substantial career writing and producing working on Burn Notice, The Nine Lives of Chloe Kim, and HBO’S Rome.
2. WHY THERE WAS NO BUFFY CROSSOVER IN SEASON 3
Every season that Angel was on the air, it featured a cameos from sister show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Oz popped up first, in season 1, followed by Buffy, Willow, and Faith at different points. Angel also hopped over to Sunnydale on occasion, and Wesley’s character actually debuted on the show when he appeared as Faith’s watcher.
It was great for Buffy fans (especially diehard Buffy/Angel supporters) that the show’s had such a close relationship, but there was one season where that relationship basically didn’t exist.
During season 3 of Angel and Season 6 of Buffy, there weren’t any crossovers between the two shows because Buffy had switched networks to UPN from the WB. Luckily that policy wasn’t in effect for all of Buffy season 7, and Angel was able to visit Sunnydale before Buffy’s series finale. And, to everyone’s great relief, Spike permanently moved to Angel for its final season.
1. THEY ACTUALLY SHOT SOME OF CORDY!
In the “What if?” episode “Birthday”, Cordelia finds out what her life would’ve been like if she hadn’t gone to work for Angel Investigations. After suffering a vision so intense she winds up in a coma, a demon named Skip offers to her the opportunity to choose a path in which she never received Doyle’s visions and is instead a famous actress.
The episode is an hilarious send up of It’s a Wonderful Life, and also features some real pathos when Cordy discovers that Angel received Doyle’s visions in her stead and has been driven mad by them.
One of the episodes lighter notes, however, was Cordelia’s fictional sitcom, Cordy! Predictably, what we saw in the episode was pretty terrible, but as it turns out, there’s more. Producers shot the opening credits seven minutes of the faux project, but no one thought it was very funny, so it was cut.
Do you have any other Angel trivia to share? Leave it in the comments!
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