21 Things Only True Fans Know About Angel And Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel are both well-loved series within the Whedonverse. Created by genius writer/director Joss Whedon, and also brilliantly produced/written/directed by David Greenwalt, Jane Espenson, Marti Noxon, Tim Minear, David Fury and others, the shows generated an enormous and loyal fanbase that continues to accumulate fans from every generation.

The 21st anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was recently celebrated, and it’s been nearly 19 years since Angel first premiered. On Easter weekend at Awesome Con 2018, Charisma Carpenter, who played Cordelia Chase on both shows, and J August Richards, who played Gunn on Angel, spoke at a panel to the large crowd in attendance.

On top of talking a little bit about what the two actors discussed about working on Buffy and Angel, we also take a look at surprising facts about other cast members on both shows and what it was like for them. For many of the actors, being on these series was their first major acting job. They've also gone on to star in, direct, write, and/or produce their own projects. It's interesting to go back and see how things unfolded from the beginning.

For your reading pleasure, here are 21 Things Only True Fans Know About Angel And Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

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Alyson Hannigan Buffy The Vampire Slayer Where Are They Now
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Alyson Hannigan Buffy The Vampire Slayer Where Are They Now

Willow Rosenberg started out as Buffy’s hyper-intelligent best friend and became a powerful witch. She also had a crush on and brief fling with Xander, dated hilariously stoic musician-turned-werewolf Oz (Seth Green), fell in love with fellow witch Tara, and tried to destroy the world. Willow’s quest to change sometimes didn’t work out so well, as she ended up going overboard on more than one occasion. But she survived, thankfully.

There were a lot of special effects on Buffy, and some of the best ones involved Willow and her magic. Willow levitating and literally shooting knives at Glory springs to mind. They were quite impressive, considering the show was often filmed on a small budget.

While salaries can be a tough topic, it’s interesting to note that the comedic and largely special-effects-free show How I Met Your Mother, which Hannigan starred on after Buffy, had a much bigger budget and therefore the cast earned more. How I Met Your Mother was a funny show that had a lot of fans, and Buffy broke ground in more ways than one.

Of working on Buffy, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hannigan stated, “There definitely hadn’t been a gay character that had been on a show from the beginning. This was a character that you got to see the journey, that was very groundbreaking.” Hannigan will soon star in another comedic series, Man of the House, produced by Kerry Washington.


Glory the God in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

At Awesome Con in 2017, Clare Kramer, aka Glory, talked extensively about her work on Buffy. Having already worked with Eliza Dushku in Bring it On, she was familiar with the show.

She revealed that in the early stages of playing the 5th season “Big Bad,” Glory, she didn’t know that her character was a god or that she was attached to the human Ben. So she played the character as someone who obviously had powers of some kind and, of course, was a villain. She leaned toward a spoiled demeanor and went with it from there, adding on as she found out more about her character.

One thing that she noted was that she didn’t think of Glory so much as evil, but as someone who just wanted to go home.

That was her main goal, and if she could have done that without hurting anybody, she would have. It’s an interesting assessment, seeing Glory from the perspective of the actress that played her. On the outside, one would wonder if Glory ever really cared about other ways to get home. Could there have been another spell she could have tried?

Despite her villainous ways, she’s often cited as one of the show’s best “Big Bad” characters. Her irreverent ways, love for fashion, and singular goal that had less to do with destroying the world and more to do with fulfilling a very personal goal made her more “human” than most.


Just about every fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has their pairing preferences when it comes to Buffy and her relationships. There’s the Buffy and Angel camp, the Spike and Buffy, and even a few Buffy and Riley holdouts. Thankfully, there don’t seem to be any cheerleaders for Parker.

It’s usually all in good fun. After all, as meaningful as it is, it’s still just fiction, and people are allowed to pick their favorite fictional couples as they please. Or so you would think.

Sarah Michelle Gellar - Buffy herself - chose Angel as Buffy’s “one true love” some so-called fans took it upon themselves to threaten her.

Every fan is entitled to choose the characters and couples they like, so why shouldn't the people most involved in the series have their own preferences as well?

Regardless of which of Buffy's suitors fans prefer, they are all fictional and nothing justifies being aggressive toward anyone over such fictional relationships - least of all the woman responsible for bringing them to life. If fans really love the heroic Buffy, should they not take a page out of her book and protect people instead of threatening them?


Angel grabbing Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s spent even a small amount of time watching set make-up being done that David’s vampire make up took over an hour to complete. While most of the vampires on the show were only there for as long as it took the Slayer to get to dusting them, the main vampires – characters like Angel, Spike, Drusilla, etc. – would have no doubt had to endure the prosthetics and make-up much longer.

Initially, it was uncertain if Boreanaz’s character was a vampire. He has stated that it was a few episodes before it was decided that he would be a vampire. Boreanaz's acting was so good, though, that he became more central to the plot. As pivotal as the “vampire with a soul” was to become, it’s difficult to imagine that in the initial stages that wasn’t yet set in stone, especially after 7 season of Buffy and 5 seasons of Angel.

The process of setting up and bringing together such intricate plots is no easy task. Whedon has talked extensively about his writing process, and it involves a lot of graphs and color-coding. Let’s not forget, Buffy almost didn’t survive its first season, which likely would have meant no Angel: The Series as well.


Mercedes McNabb as Harmony on Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Prior to her work on Buffy, Mercedes McNab was in movies like the classic Addams Family Values. With sure-footed comedic timing, McNab’s turn as Harmony blossomed in later seasons of Buffy, before moving to Angel.

In one of Angel’s most comedic episode, "Harm’s Way", McNab was front and center as Harmony tries to fit into the work environment at Wolfram & Hart. This doesn’t go so well, and she ends up being targeted by a jealous co-worker. In the end, she inadvertently saves the day when she dusts the other vamp (Danielle Nicolet) and gets a pep talk from Spike.

Unfortunately, Harmony was Harmony and, alas, she wasn’t meant to really fight the good fight alongside Angel and Co. for long. During the final showdown, she betrayed Angel, which is exactly what he knew she would do, so it worked out just fine. But how different things might have been!

Mercedes McNab, like Julie Benz (who played Darla superbly) and Charisma Carpenter, originally auditioned for the role of Buffy.

Though she didn’t get the role, they liked her and the rest is history. In an interview with Sci-Fi and TV Talk, she said of those days, “Something else that sticks out in my mind about those early days was watching everyone getting to know one another and the fact that we were all so young. We were just kids. I actually got my driver’s license the week before we shot the pilot and my mom wouldn’t let me drive alone on the freeway.”


Kendra Bianca Lawson Buffy

This one’s a definite shocker. Naturally, fans of the show are familiar with Kendra, the vampire slayer who almost dusted Angel, was a meticulous student of the Vampyr book, had a crush on Xander, and essentially became something of a long-distance bestie to Buffy. Kendra even gave her lucky stake, Mr. Pointy, to Buffy in case she had to stake Angelus.

Of course, she’s also the slayer that was ended by the restored Drusilla (played wonderfully by Juliet Landau), paving the way for Buffy’s friend-turned-frienemy, Faith. Well, imagine if instead, she had been Cordelia!

While it’s tough to see anyone other than Charisma Carpenter in the role, that’s exactly what almost happened.

Due to scheduling conflicts, Bianca wasn’t able to accept to role of Cordelia, but later took on the role of Kendra.

Some fans might wonder how Cordelia would have been different if played by Bianca, but it’s not something she thinks about. In an interview with My FanBase, she stated, “I was committed to another show at the time. And, no I didn't think about how my Cordelia would have been different because Charisma's portrayal was wonderful. She was the perfect Cordelia. And, might I add - was lovely to work with.”



One of the saddest story arcs on Angel was the transition from Fred to Illyria. Starting off as a genius, slightly disturbed by mental and physical trauma she endured, Fred quickly became a lasting member of the Angel family.

Once her sanity was restored, she went on to date Gunn – an adorably sweet relationship that unfortunately turned sour when Fred learned that a trusted professor was responsible for the years of torture she endured in Pylea. Gunn, wanting to protect her and refusing to let her end the professor, took that task and it changed them. Since Wesley had turned to the dark side, somewhat, she sought understanding about her rage from him.

Fast forward to season 5, and just as she and Wesley reconnected, she is consumed from the inside out by Illyria, one of the Old Ones. Classic Whedon. Fred’s final moments (“Please, Wesley. Why can’t I stay?”) were devastating.

Despite being a bad guy initially, Illyria quickly became a part of the group, largely due to Wesley’s attachment to Fred and the fact that Illyria was hugely disappointed in what the world had become since her time in the Deeper Well. It’s also revealed that bits of Fred stayed with Illyria and changed her in unexpected, emotional ways.

All of that from someone who booked the role after a month in Los Angeles. She was unquestionably right for the job. She now stars in the Fox/Marvel TV hit series The Gifted.


Some fans of the show might not know that Nicholas Brendon has a twin brother, who also worked on Buffy.

Xander was one of the first people to find out about Buffy’s identity as the Slayer. Often feeling left out because he thought he didn’t have any outstanding qualities, he ended up helping to save the day in some unexpected ways. There’s the "yellow crayon" speech to Dark Willow, which got through to her and stopped her from destroying the world after she absorbed the good magic that Giles borrowed. And there’s “The Zeppo”, where, unbeknownst to the rest of the Scooby Gang, he prevented a bomb from going off in Sunnydale High – which would have decimated the Slayer and the rest of the group fighting a demon emerging from the Hellmouth in the school. In one episode, he was split in two and mistakenly thought his other half was a demon impersonating him.

While it’s been widely reported that Nicholas played one Xander and his brother – Kelly Donovan – played the other, Nicholas actually played a double character, doing the lines and major scenes, with his brother standing in/doubling for some.

In the Reddit AMA, Nicholas said, “It's been a misnomer that Kelly played on character and I played the other. But in truth, I played both Xanders and had to change my clothes and hair a lot.” Another tidbit some newer fans might not know is that Kelly also worked on Buffy as a set dresser.


Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer character poster

Many fans were previously aware of Anthony Stewart Head from the Nescafe/Taster’s Choice series of commercials. The commercials, which started in the UK and then the US, were so popular that they even inspired spin-off entertainment.

With the huge popularity of those commercials – very short commercials that were popular on the level of favorite television series and movies – along with his other roles, it’s no surprise that Anthony Stewart Head was the first person cast for Buffy.

Giles was the responsible, caring father that Buffy never had. Over time, it was revealed that he had something of a dark past, being known as The Ripper in his youth, with a brash attitude and a penchant for carelessly summoning demons. Despite all of that, he became an anchor for the group, sometimes making the tough decisions that they couldn’t make.

In the comics, Giles ends up being eliminated by Angel/Twilight and is restored to life as a kid. Now he’s living his life all over again, with his full memories, in a new series from Dark Horse written by Erika Alexander (known for Living Single) and Joss Whedon.


eliza dushku tru calling

Eliza Dushku entered the Buffyverse as Faith, who was supposed to replace Buffy as the Slayer. She became Buffy’s enemy instead - at least for a time - driven by her jealousy and need to run from her actions after accidentally Slaying a human. Her father/daughter relationship with the Mayor was redeeming for both of them, but it also made her more evil.

After she switched bodies with Buffy and was forced to switch back, she went on to try to take out Angel, only to have him help her realize she was on the wrong path. Faith voluntarily stayed in prison – because, really, what prison could hold her against her will – and redeemed herself helping to restore Angel’s soul and in the final battle against The First on Buffy.

According to reports, Dushku started filming Tru Calling while on Buffy and turned down a Faith spinoff to work on the show.

More recently Dushku talked about the horrible abuse she endured as a child on the set of one of her earlier movies. With the help of friends and family she has since recovered. She’s now promoting her new independent film, Mapplethorpe, produced with her brother.


Like several other of the cast members, Wesley was not supposed to be a continuous character. But he was so well-liked that he went from Buffy and became a permanent cast member on Angel.

Wesley morphed from a straight-laced, somewhat “prattish” Watcher on Buffy, to a certified tough guy on Angel.

Along the way, he made plenty of mistakes but still managed to, overall, do what he thought was right - even if it wasn’t always the right thing to do. In an interview with IGN, Alexis talks about how much he loved working on Angel, stating, “…the length and depth of the process that we're working, and the opportunity to examine at such a deep level the dynamics of this character's life. To have the chance to evolve character with detail and time – that's an amazing gift to an actor, and that's what I view long-term, episodic TV as... as a character journey. For the people that become interested in the show and follow it, that's part of the satisfaction for them, following the turns and curves of the character's lives, as well as all the great action and sci-fi and crazy stuff that goes on in the show. It's rooted in the journey of these characters through their lives, and the opportunity to work every day at the thing I love doing, with people that I love doing it with, is, well, priceless.”


Emma Caulfield was on another popular show, 90210, for a time, before her role as Anya on Buffy. Anya became something of a “Data” type character on the show.

While the Scooby Gang would mostly disagree, fans liked Anya for her honest, and sometimes insightful, frustration and confusion about human behavior. Altthough she was once human herself, it was  too long ago for her to really remember much of it. But even then her personality was largely the same. She was an outsider because she just didn’t get and adhere to humans’ sometimes ridiculous and harmful social demands.

Anya, known for her on-point, if blunt, observations about the Scooby Gang and humans in general, became a main cast member after developing a relationship with Xander. Interestingly enough, Cordelia, who was also blunt, if somewhat ruder, was also Xander’s girlfriend for a brief time. Maybe he had a type?

In any case, she tapped into the wonderfully wacky side of humanity perfectly: “Look at me, I’m dancing crazy!" It’s difficult to imagine how the dynamic of the series would have changed if Anya wasn’t part of the show, especially with Cordelia departing for the glamour of Los Angeles.


Lindsey McDonald in Angel

Everybody’s favorite flip-flopping turn-coat, Lindsey had a lot of potential and maybe would have succeeded if he’d just picked a side (preferably Angel’s). Nowhere was that more clear than in season 5 of Angel, when he gets a full-on mad serious upgrade. To usher in Spike’s transformation from ghosty to skin-and-bones vamp, Lindsey was brought into the storyline with an agenda to take down the Senior Partners’ favorite boy-toy, Angel.

Growing up poor, Lindsey was determined to not be in a position of powerlessness. While he initially sided with the same type of evil goons that made his life difficult, after a few changes of heart, and dealing with the Darla fallout, he eventually decided to go off and be his own man. And how. He returned to Wolfram & Hart not as a pawn, but as a supercharged villain calling the shots. He was on nobody’s side but his own. But it wouldn’t last.

He was eventually put into a holding cell hell dimension and stayed there until Angel and crew rescued him, with Gunn staying behind in penance for his own role in Fred being consumed by Illyria.

In his AMA, Kane stated, “In ANGEL, my favorite scene to shoot was when I got to fight Boreanaz in Season 5. He beat me up for 5 years, so to punch him back felt pretty good!”


Buffy Dawn And Joyce In Hospital

In her Reddit AMA, Kristine Sutherland admits that she was surprised by the addition of Dawn to the cast. She wasn’t the only one!

A number of fans expressed confusion about this new sister of Buffy’s, wondering what episodes were possibly missed to make this character a complete unknown. This was back in the days before Google and Hulu and Netflix and Facebook and Twitter, and before everyone had DVR – when one needed to set his or her VCR in order to record shows at the exact time that they came on.

In her AMA, Sutherland stated, “You know, you just show up one day and you have a new daughter. As actors we live in many imaginary circumstances and in that one episode they just changed that day. I asked Joss about it and he said that because of the key, we would all feel like she had always been there, so you go with that.”

Kristine Sutherland’s character was a great mother to Buffy (and then Dawn), despite their understandable fights every now and then, and it was difficult for everybody when Joyce passed. “The Body” is undoubtedly one of the toughest episodes for fans to watch, along with the ending of “I Was Made To Love You”.


Andy Hallett’s first major role was on Angel. He played the Host, Lorne, who could tell a person’s future if they sang for him. He was a friend and spiritual compass for the group, and ended up being an integral member of Team Angel.

Lorne was an embodiment of hope in the face of impossible odds. Many times when the team wanted to give up, he pointed them in the right direction. Of course, his visions weren’t always 100% foolproof, but that didn’t diminish him. He was more than his abilities (and was a great singer to boot).

Unfortunately, Andy Hallett passed away in 2009 due to heart disease. By all accounts, he was a caring, wonderful person with a great sense of humor.

In an interview with Crescent Blues, he talked about getting the role on Angel. “[When] Joss first told me, I remember thinking: ‘This is wild. This is crazy. This is great stuff.’ I was really excited about it. He said that it was inspired by me, so I knew that was because of the whole karaoke singing, lounge-y, that [persona]. But then, of course, making me a demon just was wild. I was worried that they were going to exhaust the character… But they've come up with some great stuff, and every time they do go back it's a little bit different.”

For the past several years cast, crew and fans celebrate Andy’s life on his anniversary, and My Andy Hallett’s Place maintains a site dedicated to the actor.


Danny Strong, aka Jonathan, was with Buffy from nearly the beginning. “Earshot” featured the character heavily, and of course he gave Buffy one of the best gifts she was ever given – the adorable “protector” umbrella. But Jonathan really stood out in “Superstar”.

In this episode, Jonathan uses a spell to turn himself into pretty much every greatest thing and person ever. Did you know he starred in The Matrix? And he may have invented space-time! The fact that Jonathan was the hero of everything felt weird to Buffy and, soon enough, his spell and its consequences were revealed. When you take a look at the trajectory of Danny Strong’s career after Buffy, one might jokingly wonder if that spell didn’t rub off in real life!

Real facts: He wrote the screenplay for Hunger Games: Mockingjay parts one and two; co-wrote The Butler; is co-creator of the Emmy-nominated series Empire; and won an Emmy for his original script debut, Recount. That’s just to name a few.

It’s easy to see that prior to Buffy he was already on that path. He majored in theater at the University of Southern California, where he was awarded the James Pendleton award for acting, and other awards. The cast and crew of both shows were all used to working long hours, sometimes working while sick, which can happen with a lot of productions. Combine all of those things and it’s no surprise that Danny managed to deliver while he had the flu in an episode that was largely about Jonathan.


Spike had one of the most drastic character arcs in the Buffyverse, starting out as a major Big Bad before eventually becoming a hero and sacrificing himself for the greater good on Buffy. Then he was resurrected, continuing to “fight the good fight” with his mentor-enemy turned reluctant bestie Angel on the spinoff series.

Throughout that time, we learn that before he became the legendary tough guy Spike, the vamp who took out two Slayers, he was a sensitive, well-meaning poet who was rejected by society. And, of course, there’s the accent. Many fans were surprised to learn that Marsters isn’t British and is in fact from California - that’s just how solid the accent was.

While MArsters was familiar with doing British accents before Buffy -- having studied at Juilliard and the American Conservatory Theatre, among others -- he still felt he needed some help in that area.

In an interview with SFX, he stated, “I get to practice my lines over and over for the show. Tony Head corrects me. He's saved me so many times - otherwise I'd be making a fool out of myself! He constantly gives me tips. There's always a few words I don't know.”


Wesley and Lilah in Angel

Not only did fans not know which way the evil, but delightfully quippy Lilah would go - neither did her actress, Stephanie Romanov.

Lilah, of course, was Angel’s nemesis (or rather, one of many) for much of the series until her character died in season 4. Before that, who can forget how she had a part in tormenting Cordelia in “That Vision Thing”, and also how she manipulated Bethany, the abused young woman with psi abilities in “Untouched”? All in the name of Wolfram and Hart.

She did have her redeeming qualities: she helped Angel on more than one occasion (though usually for her own agenda). There was something of a brief (almost foreshadow-y) moment between Lilah and Cordy in the episode “Billy”, after Lilah was physically assaulted.

It was really her relationship with Wesley that made her even more complex and redeemable. Here was this terrible, evil, albeit resourceful, woman who, despite lacking morals at least had intelligence and tenacity while surrounded by and working for demons and other humans just as evil and moreso than her. Then she falls for one of the good guys. She helped him recover after his ousting from Angel Investigations and dark turn, and he helped her be a better person.

Lilah’s arc was something of a surprise, as Stephanie Romanov explained to BBC, “I'm not sure from one episode to the next what Lilah's going to be doing.”


While she managed to largely avoid being in water on Buffy, in season 1, episode 12 of Angel, Cordelia is impregnated by a monster, along with several other women. It takes over her mind and causes her to attack her friends (much like Jasmine did).

During the season 1 episode, she was required to be in a water tank – likely for much longer than is shown onscreen – so it’s a bit surprising to find that Charisma actually hated being in any kind of water.

It’s one of her few balking points as far as sets go.

At Awesome Con 2018 she stated, “Two things I don’t want to do as an actor. [Being covered in make-up.] Or being in the water. It’s cold, it’s wet, you’re shivering… When you’re working on set long hours, and you’re wet the whole day?”

To go with the excellent writing on both shows, Charisma's portrayal of Cordelia Chase evolved wonderfully from being something of a mean girl on Buffy, to being a reluctant higher power on Angel. Of course, this took its toll. She wasn't able to develop a relationship with Angel, and she also ended up (again) being impregnated by a higher being - a kind of evil one at that, played by multifaceted actress Gina Torres. This all ended with her unfortunate and surprising coma on season 4 and eventual demise on season 5.


Gunn became a fan favorite immediately after arriving on Angel with an axe to grind for vampires -- literally and figuratively. While he eventually got over his hatred and distrust of for Angel, he still carried with him a need to be a part of and protect his family, which eventually became Team Angel. His journey from street kid to lawyer was complex.

After inadvertently betraying Fred and the rest of the team for a boost of his lawyer upgrade, he punished and redeemed himself by taking taking Lindsey's place in a Hell holding dimension. Eventually he's saved by his friends, and joins the rest of his team in a grand standoff against Wolfram and Hart in "Not Fade Away" -- the only human on the team to survive.

At Awesome Con 2018, he talked about working with Joss, saying, “I would constantly say to myself, ‘This might be the best job I ever have in my life’… Every episode was like a different genre, there were so many challenges. So all these years I kept saying, ‘Man, I hope I get to work with Joss again, I hope I get to work with Joss again.’”

When he saw a call for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he wanted to audition, but his manager said nothing was available. Eventually, he did audition last minute – something he didn’t normally like to do, but he went with it. He now plays Deathlok on AoS and is a producer/writer/director/actor on the Emmy-nominated series Giants.


It’s no surprise that with Angel being set in Los Angeles, the show would sometimes require being filmed on location in less-than-ideal sections of the city. While Los Angeles is a fantastic, big place, like any major city it has its downsides.

According to an interview on Slayage, Charisma is quoted as saying, "It's uncomfortable, it's stinky. We shoot down alleyways with rats, as big as dogs running around. People dump pee on us out of their windows." David added, "Homeless people scream at me all the time. Others come up and tell me their life stories. I guess they all want to be saved."

Though Los Angeles is full of beautiful sights and wonderful people, there are many who suffer, and sometimes when they can’t get help they, unfortunately, hurt themselves or wrongfully take that pain out on others. All of that said, it’s a fitting setting for a show that regularly pointed out the struggles that people face against inner and outer darkness. Hidden amongst the special effects and demon make-up was a message of fighting the good fight.

As Angel said in “Epiphany”, “If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do… I wanna help because I don't think people should suffer as they do. Because, if there's no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.


Did you learn anything new about Angel or Buffy? Let us know in the comments!

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