*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
Every hero needs a mentor, especially when the hero is in the throes of adolescence. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that mentor is Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head). Though he looks and acts like a mild-mannered school librarian, Rupert (refered to as Giles) was strategically placed at Sunnydale High School. He is a watcher, responsible for guiding and supporting the slayer as she protects the living from the undead. But Giles is much more than just Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) watcher, he becomes a father figure to his charge and her friends. He also provides the historical background of the baddie of the week and home base (the school library) for the Scoobies to do hang out and do research before Buffy does her work.
Though he may look like and sound a proper Englishman, Giles was quite the rebel in his youth. His vices were dark magic and rock and roll. That is, until a life changing event forced him to change course and follow in the family tradition of being a watcher. After the high school was destroyed at the end of season 3, Giles felt like he had no direction in life. Then he takes over as owner of The Magic Box and Giles had his place in the world back. He also began to feel like Buffy needed to stand on her two feet, his presence in her life was not helping her grow as a human being. By the end of the series, Giles is able to move on with his life, knowing that Buffy no longer needs her watcher.
To sum it up: Being a mentor, especially when your men-tee is a teenager can be both gratifying and heart breaking. It is gratifying because you can shape a young mind, but it can be also heart breaking. At some point, your men-tee will no longer need you. As a character, viewers remember Giles because he is not just the adult mentor, but he also has a heart. He was also a young once and experienced his own rebellion, adding a layer of understanding to the adult that the audience thinks they know. This combination endeared Giles to the audience and allowed the young audience to see him not just as an adult, but as someone who we can relate to. For that alone, Giles will forever be a memorable character.