In honor of March Madness, EW is launching a tournament to determine the Greatest TV Couple of All Time. But before we can finalize the brackets, we are turning to you, our hopeless TV romantic readers, to decide which couples — all part of a love triangle on their respective shows — make it out of a qualifying round to fill the final slots. Today, we’re debating Buffy/Angel and Buffy/Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
It’s an age old question for Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans — the vampire with the soul or the bad-boy bloodsucker with the frosted blond hair?
David Boreanaz’s Angel was the original brooding vampire. (Sorry, Robert Pattinson.) He loved Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) from afar — even before she became the Slayer — and fought to keep her alive as she fulfilled her duties offing demons in Sunnydale. But when they consummated their relationship on her 17th birthday, Angel experienced a moment of true happiness, thus losing the soul the gypsies had cursed upon him for his past sins. The souless Angelus terrorized Buffy and the Scooby Gang, plotting domination with then-baddie Spike (James Marsters) and Spike’s lady vamp Drusilla (Juliet Landau). In the heartbreaking season 2 finale, Buffy is forced to kill Angel to stop the portal to hell from opening, just as he regains his soul, plunging him into an Acathla, a demon dimension.
However, in the Whedonverse, death by hell dimension doesn’t mean you can’t mysteriously return. And return Angel did — in the third season. After a few stops and starts — and once Buffy’s friends had tentatively forgiven Angel for his demonic acts —the pair resumed a mostly chaste relationship. Angel wanted more for Buffy, though, and left Sunnydale for L.A. after her graduation. (Or Whedon decided to spinoff the character into his own series, same difference.) At least he DID take her to prom, even though he wanted to end their affair. A few crossovers later, Angel remained Buffy’s one true vampire love.
Enter Spike. Originally a bad guy who killed two Slayers, and was looking to kill his third when he waltzed into Sunnydale, Spike became an antagonistic part of the group by the fourth season. And when the Initiative implanted a chip in his head that kept him from harming innocents, Spike found out the only things he could fight were the vamps and demons Buffy and co. were out to destroy. A tentative truce between Buffy and Spike formed as he worked side-by-side with the Scoobies.
Buffy and Spike’s vitriolic banter played out for nearly two seasons until Spike realized the depths of his feelings for the Slayer. Knowing he had little chance with her, he asked Warren to build a Buffy-bot for his personal pleasure. Needless to say, Buffy was thoroughly disgusted by Spike’s tactics. Still, during the fifth season, Spike developed a fraternal relationship with Buffy’s younger sister Dawn, and helped Buffy protect Dawn from the god Glory. When Buffy sacrificed herself for her sister, Spike’s grief was palpable.
It wasn’t until the sixth season, after a despressed Buffy was brought back from the dead, that Spike and Buffy finally hooked up. Yet it wasn’t the romantic moment Spike had hoped. Rather, it came during a brutal fight the two were having, causing a building to collapse around them.
Buffy continued to use Spike for sex, until she ended their relationship. Frustrated with her and wanting to win her back, Spike tried to rape Buffy. Upset with himself, he traveled to Africa to undergo the Demon Trials, ultimately getting his soul back so he could be a better man.
Upon his arrival back in Sunnydale, Spike stood by Buffy as they fought The First, and Buffy took comfort in him again, although not physically. Spike died during the season finale — when he sacrificed himself to close the hellmouth. And although Buffy told him she loved him before his death, he didn’t believe her. (He was later resurrected to partner with Angel on the aforementioned spinoff.)
So which vamp is it, PopWatchers? Angel, the one she loved deeply, or Spike, the one she slept with begrudgingly?