Usually, when a vampire arrives in Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Sunnydale, they get turned into dust pretty quickly by the resident Slayer, Buffy Summers. But not all of them. Two vampires not only avoided being staked by Buffy (although they did get beat up a fair bit), but eventually followed similar paths. They regained their souls, fought on the side of good, and eventually won a place in Buffy’s heart. Despite this, Angel and Spike could not be more different if they tried.
Dark, brooding, and mysterious, Angel appears in Buffy’s life shortly after she arrives in Sunnydale. For the first few episodes, he is nothing more than a potential love interest, offering cryptic clues and information to help her as the Slayer. It was not until the seventh episode of Season 1 that it was revealed that Angel was a vampire, albeit one with his soul restored. Unlike other vampires, Angel was haunted by his past and saw helping Buffy as part of his penance for past atrocities.
But as they say, opposites attract. Soon, Slayer and vampire fell in love, leading to the two consummating their relationship on Buffy’s seventeenth birthday. Unfortunately, the curse that restored Angel’s soul had a condition: He could never experience a moment of true happiness or he would lose his soul again. His moment of happiness with Buffy unleashed the evil Angelus who goes on to be Season 2’s Big Bad. Eventually, Angel is re-ensouled but realises that he could lose it again if he is with Buffy so leaves for Los Angeles.
Punk-loving, leather-coat wearing Spike revels in being a vampire. Spike is a true threat to Buffy — he has previously killed two Slayers. He arrives in Season 2 and quickly establishes himself as the lead vampire in Sunnydale — at least until Angelus returns to his evil ways. He is accompanied by his lover and sire, Drusilla. Spike is constantly ready with a snarky comment or quip to underscore his violent nature.
Spike is effectively neutered in Season 4 with a chip in his head that prevents him from harming anything but demons. He becomes a reluctant “good guy” so that he can indulge his violent impulses. The longer he hangs around with the Scoobies however, the more he begins to form connections with them and starts to fall for Buffy. Eventually, he gains his soul back and begins to seek redemption of his own.
The Best of Enemies
Angel and Spike have a long and complicated history. Angelus sired Drusilla, turning her into a vampire. Drusilla in turn sired Spike. In a twisted way, Angelus is Spike’s grand-sire. Spike once looked up to Angelus as a mentor and teacher, but they soon began to dislike one another. While Angelus was more methodical, Spike was impulsive. Angelus saw killing as an artform and revelled in psychologically breaking his victims as well. Spike slew for the fun of it, taking joy in the hunt and killing for the thrill of it. Angelus and Spike, along with their lovers Darla and Drusilla, terrorised Europe and Asia together despite their antagonistic relationship. But they soon parted ways when it became clear that Angelus had been cursed with a soul.
Angel and Spike’s feud re-erupted when the latter arrived in Sunnydale. At first they were on different sides, but when Angelus re-emerged and joined forces with Spike and Drusilla, Spike became jealous of the way Drusilla acted around him. Spike entered into an agreement with Buffy to help stop Angel as long as she let Drusilla and him leave. He lived up to his side of the bargain but soon returned to Sunnydale.
Angel and Spike essentially have a sibling rivalry dynamic. They argue and insult each other, and both try to be the alpha male. Spike regularly insults Angel’s large forehead and general “do-gooder” attitude, while Angel responds with quips about Spike’s general looks and lack of intelligence. Several seasons later, Angel is scornful of Spike being re-ensouled, claiming that he was doing it before it was “cool.” The dynamic is further complicated by the pseudo-familial connection they share. Angel is indirectly responsible for Spike’s existence and takes a measure of responsibility for his actions.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer will soon air on Syfy in the UK, beginning with an Angel/Spike themed weekend March 11-12, from 11am. Weekday episodes will air at 4pm starting April 3.