In “Buffy,” Angel is played by David Boreanaz (who now co-stars as FBI agent Seeley Booth in the crime drama “Bones”). Angel is a 242-year-old vampire with a soul who goes from a drunken lout of a human to a demonic killing-machine to a sewer-dwelling lurker to a reluctant hero to a dark, flawed, yet altruistic defender of humanity.
Angel’s Origin and Pre-Buffy Life
A man named Liam was born in Galway, Ireland, in 1727. At the age of 26, he met a noblewoman — and actually a vampire — named Darla in an alley after a night of heavy drinking in a local bar. After some heavy flirtation, she bites Liam’s neck while he has his eyes closed. After turning him into a vampire, Darla renames him Angelus.
For more than forty years, Angelus and Darla savagely wreaked havoc across Europe. Angelus was very sadistic and brutal, and he acquired nicknames including The Scourge of Europe, The Demon with the Face of an Angel, and The One with the Angelic Face because of his physical, eternal beauty.
In 1898, the elders of the Gypsy clan of Kalderash in Romania cursed Angelus after he killed one of their beloved daughters. The curse returned Liam’s soul to the vampire body of Angelus, forcing him to remember and regret every single person who he had killed. However, he would remain a vampire, with all of a vampire’s needs, weaknesses, and desires.
For two hundred years, Angel (he changed his name) sulked in the shadows, living off of rats because his human soul would not allow him to feed on humans. One day, in New York City, Angel meets Whistler, a demon who is devoted to the forces of good. He tells Angel that he could “become someone” and help the world rather than live in sewers. Whistler takes him to Los Angeles, California, where he sees Buffy Summers leaving high school after class one day, staking her first vampire, and then arguing with her parents when they ask where she had been all night.
Angel, who is sympathetic toward the young, teenager girl’s harsh life as the new Slayer and perhaps already falling in love with her, decides to clean up his act. When Buffy is kicked out off school for burning down the gym (which had been full of vampires) and moves with her now-divorced mother to Sunnydale, California, Angel moves as well.
Buffy & Angel Meet, Love, and Part
Buffy meets Angel in a Sunnydale alley while she is on the way to the Bronze, a local club. Angel is coy and flirtatious, giving her a cross for protection and then walking away, leaving her to wonder his identity. Over the next two years, Buffy learns and finally accepts his identity as a vampire who fights for good. The two help in the battle against evil, start dating, and then fall in love.
On Buffy’s sixteenth birthday, she and Angel have sex, which triggers the other aspect of the gypsy curse — it would be lifted if Angel would ever experience a moment of true happiness. Right after their liaison, Liam’s soul leaves, and Angel reverts back to Angelus, the demonic killing machine. Angelus breaks Buffy’s heart, and then begins stalking her after she realizes what had happened. Then, Angelus begins targeting her friends, and soon kills Jenny Calender (Giles’ girlfriend and a fellow teacher).
Late in Season 2, Angelus, who had then been working together with Spike and Drusilla, hatches a plan to destroy the world. They will release a demon that will literally suck the world into hell. The conflict ends with a Buffy and Angel in a sword-fight in front of the demon while Willow tries to cast a spell that will restore Angel’s soul. The demon’s mouth opens, and Buffy is about to deal the death-blow to Angelus when Willow’s spell takes effect. Angel’s soul is restored, but the demon has already begun sucking the world into hell. Buffy has no choice but to strike Angel — who has no memory of anything after losing his soul — through the heart and send him and the demon into hell in order to save the world.
In Season 3, Angel is somehow returned to Sunnydale — by, as is learned later, The First Evil — as part of a plan to have him kill Buffy. Angel spends a lot of time recuperating — with Buffy’s wary assistance — from his time in Hell, and he eventually rejoins her and her friends in the fight against evil, during which The First’s plot is foiled. Angel realizes that he and Buffy could never have a real future together, so he tells her that he will leave Sunnydale after her senior prom, graduation, and the battle against the mayor of the town (who wants to turn into a demon and feast on the students at graduation).
Post-Buffy Angel in Los Angeles
In Los Angels, Angel opens a detective agency that focuses on supernatural enemies and issues. Eventually, he gathers a group of friends and associates to help in the fight against evil. For five years, their efforts focus mainly on the law firm Wolfram & Hart, which is run by a mysterious group of “senior partners” and defends (and helps) the worst of both human- and demonic-kind.
Wolfram & Hart brings Darla, Angel’s sire in Ireland, back from the dead in human form and then gets Drusilla to turn her into a vampire again. Angel is angry enough to fire everyone at his agency and then has sex with Darla after he loses with in his efforts to fight for good. Later, Darla returns and is pregnant with Angel’s son. Darla stakes herself to give birth, and Angel must raise the child, whom he names Connor. An old enemy, Holtz, kidnaps Conner into a demon dimension and returns days later with Connor fully grown as a teenager since time had moved differently there. Connor believes that Angel is merely a demon and tries to kill him, eventually sinking Angel in a chest to the bottom of the ocean.
Wesley rescues Angel, and Connor begins a romantic relationship with Cordelia when Los Angeles faces a seeming apocalypse under The Beast. Angel Investigations takes away Angel’s soul in an effort to help, and Angelus returns only to wreak havoc until Willow recovers his soul. After defeating the higher power Jasmine, Wolfram & Hart gives control of their L.A. branch to Angel to thank him for putting a stop to world peace, which Jasmine had created at a horrible price. While attempting to use Wolfram & Hart for good, Angel comes across a mysterious amulet to help her fight the First Evil in the final episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Eventually, Angel plans to bring down Wolfram & Hart’s senior partners by killing their inner Circle of the Black Thorn and agreeing to sign away any prophesied humanity in the process. Angel and his friends enter into a suicidal battle against the Senior Partners on the streets of Los Angeles, and the television series ends abruptly as they charge into battle.
Angel After the Series
The post-“Buffy” Angel story continued after both “Buffy” Season 7 and “Angel” Season 5. However, we do not want to spoil anyone on what happens. Instead, here are some resources at which you can continue the Angel story:
- The full “Angel” comics resource
- “Angel: After the Fall”details exactly what happened after the end of Season 5
- “Angel Omnibus” tells the early-season stories that never made it to television
- The “Angel and Faith” comic-book series takes the reader into the fictional “present-day” after the events of the “Buffy Season 8 comic-book series
Here is a nice video highlighting the best of the Buffy-Angel relationship: