You loved them on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it’s when they crossed over to the darker spinoff Angel that these characters truly reached their full potential.
From the titular main character to Buffy favorites who only appeared once or twice on the spin-off, these Angel characters all got their start on Joss Whedon’s flagship series. So in honor of EW’s Angel reunion, let’s take a look back at how each character evolved as they moved over to the spin-off series either for a short stint or permanently.
David Boreanaz as Angel
The spin-off would not have existed if not for Buffy’s love interest finally accepting that their doomed relationship was a dead end (pun definitely intended). Instead of keeping their will-they-won’t-they alive, Angel moved to L.A. and found new purpose, new love, and even started a family (albeit one that was incredibly messed up). His life may not have been perfect but it definitely improved with the spin-off.
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia
If not for the spin-off, would we have ever learned just how amazing Cordelia really was?! Definitely not! Her evolution from spoiled high school bully to mature, smart, and capable leader of the Hyperion Hotel gang was one of the best character arcs of the entire franchise — and one that no one could have predicted.
Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
From geeky Watcher to badass fighter, Wesley also changed for the better on Angel. He wasn’t perfect, of course — we’ll never forgive him for that whole Connor ordeal. But it can’t be denied that moving to Angel made him a better man.
James Marsters as Spike
Spike already redeemed himself in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series finale, and in a weird twist of events, all that good was undone on Angel when he was shockingly brought back from the dead to torment Angel. This is one of the rare instances when a character should not have moved on to the spin-off. Let Spike have the heroic sacrificial death he earned, you cowards!
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy
In the first Buffy/Angel crossover episode, Angel more than proved that he was ready to let go of Buffy. He watched over her but never actually made contact, realizing that it would do more harm than good to rekindle things. But when Buffy found out Angel visited Sunnydale and never actually let her know, she showed up in L.A. and begged him to try and make things work. Buffy’s second appearance further cemented her unwillingness to let Angel go (even when she already had another boyfriend). Things just got more and more complicated any time Buffy showed up on Angel. It was hard to watch. If we’re being honest, Buffy should have just stayed on Buffy.
Eliza Dushku as Faith
Another incredible character evolution arc made all the better from moving to the spin-off, Faith truly found her redemption on Angel. Every appearance further transformed her into one of the best characters of both series.
Alyson Hannigan as Willow
For all her ups and downs on Buffy, every time Willow showed up on Angel it was to save the day and it. Was. Awesome. She had mastered her powers and matured in a way that helped her fit into the more adult atmosphere of Angel.
Seth Green as Daniel “Oz” Osbourne
In an episode that continued an arc from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, lovable, guitar-playing werewolf Oz played the hero and brought a precious (and dangerous) gem that makes vampires invincible to Angel in L.A. It was like a game of hot potato trying to keep it from Spike. Oz did his job, and was sadly never seen on Angel again.
Tom Lenk as Andrew
Now this is a character transformation for the ages. Andrew founded The Trio, the group of super villains on Buffy. But by the time he appeared on Angel, he was fully integrated into the Scooby Gang as a hero. In fact, by that point he was actually more knowledgable than Angel and Spike about Buffy’s whereabouts and life. How Andrew became one of the best Buffy/Angel characters of all time is a masterclass in brilliant writing and acting.
Mercedes McNab as Harmony Kendall
In looking at how a character changed from Buffy to Angel, Harmony is an interesting case. The stereotypical mean girl never actually became a better person, but she did become so much more interesting to watch as a vampire struggling with her demon side who eventually became Angel’s employee.
Julie Benz as Darla
Angel’s ex definitely left her mark on both shows, but while she just caused Angel headaches on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she completely changed his life on Angel by giving him a son. Of course, that son turned out to be more trouble than he was worth, but Angel getting a taste of humanity he so desperately wanted for centuries was a beautiful gift.
Juliet Landau as Drusilla
Breaking up her appearances on Buffy, Drusilla hopped over to Angel for a brief but memorable arc to re-sire Darla into a vampire and wreak havoc together as a fearsome vampire team. It didn’t last, but it was one of Drusilla’s best moves on either show.
To read more from our exclusive Angel cast reunion, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, purchase a special limited edition cover featuring David Boreanaz (available online only), or collect both! And don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.