*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.
Change is a hallmark of the human experience. No matter who we are or where we come from, we all change somehow. When building characters, the key to a character’s success is to see them change somehow. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Spike (James Marsters) transformed from a villain with a capital V to a good guy over the course of both series.
Spike was originally introduced to the Buffyverse as the villain of the week in the first season. Like any villain, he wanted to be the one who would finally do away with the slayer. But Spike is not your grandparent’s vampire, he is all rock and roll. Cockney accent, bleached blonde hair, leather jacket and bad ass in every shape and form. But he didn’t start out that way.In the late 19th century, he was a young man who just wanted to be a poet. Then was transformed into a vampire by Drusilla (Juliet Landau) and joined Drusilla’s gang of vampires. During this time, he and Drusilla become and item and stay together for many, many years.
After Drusilla dumps Spike, he starts to realize that his feelings for Buffy go deeper than the typical villain. Buffy also starts to contend with those same feelings and they play the will they/wont they game for quite a while. This game continues until the series finale of Buffy, when Spike sacrifices his himself to save the rest of the Scooby gang. The next thing he knows, he is in LA working with Angel (David Boreanaz). Despite their shared past and ex-girlfriend, Spike works with Angel to save the world once more.
To sum it up: Change is the spice of life and the backbone of any writer’s toolbox. Characters, especially major characters must change, in one form or another. The transformation that Spike experiences over the course of both series represents the ideal change that a writer puts a character through. That transformation is why over twenty years later, fans of the Buffyverse still adore Spike.