Continued from here.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is all about characters. Oh, you thought it was a vampire TV show? You are so wrong.
First of all, vampires are not the only bad things that happen in Sunnydale. Sunnydale is the fictional town where Buffy moves in order to move on with her life after burning down school property.
Second of all, in Sunnydale a lot of things happen, things that almost end the world (countless times), things that are so weird that you don’t know what to do with them (Dawn), things that are fucking scary (Hush), things that are weird and sad and no one knows how to react (The Body), things that resemble love and lust (Innocence), and I could go on. But you should know that these things keep the story moving and make the characters evolve.
Buffy starts out as this insecure girl, a little overwhelmed by the sudden power given to her, not so much on the bright side (academically speaking), but fierce, powerful and brave. At first, a little lonely and awkward, she starts caring for the nerdy girl and her BFF, as well as for the father figure that is Rupert Giles. We see her trying to play it cool in front of the boys (Angel), trying to make friends (Willow and Xander), trying to be a good girl while solving the problems in her unique way (Rupert), trying to be a better daughter and sister, trying to stop the first apocalypse (the Master), the second one (killing Angel), the third one (killing the Mayor), the fourth one (killing Adam), the fifth one (sacrificing herself), the seventh one (killing the Turok-Hans and closing the Hellmouth). She’s trying to cope with things like sleeping with a guy and his sudden loss of interest in her, the death of her mother, exes of her boyfriend, her exes, her strained relationship with Willow, with Giles and with Xander, the sudden apparition of her sister, her resurrection. The only evolution we see in Buffy is that she gradually starts to accept her fate. She becomes more aware of her mission and her rights as a Slayer. She becomes this powerful woman, that’s left her childhood behind and is ready to embrace whatever kind of evil life may throw at her. She becomes a responsible leader, being an example for everyone in her life, she becomes selfless and caring with people around her. Pic here.
Willow, the nerdy BFF, shy and scared of the likes of Cordelia, grows to be this strong powerful witch, after losing the ones she loved the most. In the beginning her talents were used for research, especially hacking some police archives or something similar, but after the second season, she started doing magic, resulting in her nearly destroying the world. After a crush on Xander and a failed relationship with a werewolf, Willow embraced her witch side and tried loving a woman for a while. Losing her made Willow abuse her powers and use black magic, but in the end those powers helped Buffy “share” her super-strength and Slayer-characteristics to the army of Potentials. A long way for the scared little geeky girl. Pic here.
Xander, the male friend attempting jealousy in weird moments, was not the scholar, but not quite the clown. Providing comic relief was, for about 2 seasons, his “deal”. But then he was molded into something more. Being only human, he was far from the researcher type, far from the hero type, but mostly stood by his friends when no one else would. He has the ability to see and understand better than others, due to his beautiful soul, and he has to power not to judge his friends and he helps them overcome their darkest times. Also, he has the uncanny ability to attract demons, culminating with his relationship with Anya, the retired demon of scorned women. Pic here.
Giles, the archetypal father figure, is seen mentoring Buffy, mentoring Willow, mentoring Faith, sleeping with Buffy’s mom, trying to make Buffy more independent (in her days after the resurrection) and involved in every little aspect of her life. A younger version of Rupert, called the Ripper, is summoned in few episodes and we can see that the now serious and a bit too British Giles was a wild child, practicing dark magic and singing in a rock band (actually, Anthony Stewart Head has a wonderful voice). At first, he seems dull and out of place, but with time his role is increased from Watcher to father, doing him great justice. Pic here.
Spike was part of the Big Bad in season 2. He was a puppy-dog vampire, promoted from drag to annoyance to dangerous and finally to potential lover from season 2 to season 6 (keep in mind that he didn’t appear in all of the episodes in those seasons). He goes through serious torture to finally get his soul back, because he loves Buffy so much and he wants to be with her, without hurting her or making her feel ashamed. In the end, he becomes the champion without whom the world could not be saved. In my opinion, his transformation is the best example of an evolution in a character. His role, though small in the beginning of the series, grew bigger and became more important when the show became darker. Pic here.
Cordelia, the Bee Queen of Sunnydale High, transforms herself from vapid egotistical bitch to superhero (but this will happen in Angel TV show), after a brief moment that was her relationship with Xander. Pic here.
Oz, the werewolf that I thought was Willow’s soul mate, is an equilibrate character. He doesn’t evolve, he doesn’t involve, he just leaves Willow to “find” himself. Pic here.
Tara, the greatest love in Willow’s life, is introduced as this shy girl, that takes interest in magic and witchcraft and, as the time goes by, she becomes more and more involved with Willow and the Scoobies. She goes from shy to no identity whatsoever to powerful woman and witch in just 2 seasons, only to be killed by a human. Pic here.
Anya is the ex-demon stranded on Earth, flunking math and scared of rabbits. Oh, and also she has a relationship with Xander. She is introduced in season 3, after Cordelia wishes that Buffy never came to Sunnydale, but is immediately liked by the viewers and she stays as a regular until her death in season 7. She is awkward, has a very poor sense of what behavior is deemed as appropriate, she is very blunt and honest in her opinions and usually provides comic relief. In my opinion, we would all be Anyas, if socially accepted rules weren’t thought since early years. Pic here.
Dawn, the sister that was the key, is annoying and remains annoying throughout the series, without being funny.
Faith. The rogue Slayer. Five by five, if you know what I mean. She’s the dark Buffy, if you want, starting as a scared, insecure Slayer, getting promoted to Lieutenant Evil, then put in a coma (by badass Buffy) and then coming back, as an important ally against the Turok-Hans. Pic here.
Angel. Oh, Angel. The love of her life… Or so we thought. He is boring, with his hidden weird ways, with his soul and his mystery, eventually deemed too good to be true. He doesn’t evolve, he just moves on. Actually, he did evolve. From drunken Irish to killer vampire to vampire with a soul to killer vampire once more to vampire with a soul (again?!) and then to LA. There, he has another deal, with Cordelia and other demons, making babies with Darla and whatnot. Pic here.
The list is not complete. There are so many great characters, like Joyce Summers, Ms. Calendar, Darla, Drusilla, Jonathan, Snyder, Kendra, Riley, Warren, the Potentials and so on, that contributed to the evolution of Buffy and her friends and to lead us into the final battle against evil.