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Top Characters

Ocipital, from Hellmouth High's Line League, also liked to analyze data. Instead of analyzing the best and worst episodes, Ocipital looks at how many lines each regular character, recurring character, or guest star has in each episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (or Angel). The Line League's data can be combined with the data from this site to see whether the quality of an episode is related to the number of lines that these characters have in that episode. Most of the data on this page concerning the number of lines a character has comes from the Line League.

The Line League has complete or near complete data for most of the 28 characters who have at least 180 lines across all seasons. The list below ranks these characters based on their contribution to the episode quality along with one-episode characters played by guest stars and potential slayers (other than Kennedy), who are treated as single characters. All the data below would change if more characters were added.

The numbers in parentheses next to each name represents how many points an episode gains (or loses) each time the character opens her or his mouth, assuming that the number of lines that these characters have is the main cause of the quality of an episode. If a character does not appear in an episode, it is treated as if the character had zero lines, which is actually the case. Scores are high for characters who talk a lot in good episodes and talk little or are absent in weak episodes. The data below take into account when the episode aired and whether the episode is part of a two-part episode.

Characters Who Enhance Episode Quality

We do not know for certain whether the number of lines these characters have causes an episode to be great. However, these characters do tend to speak more in better episodes than they do in weaker episodes.

1. Drusilla (0.2393)

Drusilla has never appeared in a weak episode. Every episode in which she appeared falls in the top-65 of all episodes. The next most important character who can make this claim is the Buffybot. Drusilla played an important role in the very popular second season arc, but, unlike her then boyfriend, she was never a regular. This means that she never had even token lines in weak episodes. Furthermore, she never received a soul, something that hurt both Angel and Spike.

2. Angel (0.1844)

Angel's high ranking appears to be largely due to his centrality in the second season arc, which many fans consider to be the best. "Surprise," "Innocence," "Passion," and "Becoming, Parts 1 and 2" are all among the 12 episodes with the most Angel lines. Furthermore, Angel tends to have many lines in popular season ending episodes. In addition to "Becoming, Part 2," Angel also does well in "Graduation Day, Part 2," "Chosen," and "Prophecy Girl." Meanwhile, Angel was smart enough to lay low during the mostly unpopular stand-alone episodes during his time on Buffy. For example, the bottom five episodes in terms of the number of Angel lines are the first five episodes of season three, none of which are well-regarded.

If soulless Angel (defined as Angel from "Innocence" through "Becoming, Part 2" with the exception of part of "Becoming, Part 1") were separated from souled Angel, they would both do well. Souled Angel would rank behind Tara for fourth place. Soulless Angel would be first with a score over 0.5 points per line.

3. Tara Maclay (0.1140)

Tara gets more lines per episode from Joss Whedon than from any other writer. Angel is the only other character analyzed by the Line League who can make that claim. "Once More, with Feeling" is Tara's fourth best episode in terms of most lines, and "Restless" and "The Body" are tied for tenth. Tara is also smart in choosing episodes to avoid. From her first appearance in "Hush" to her death in "Seeing Red," she missed eight episodes. Five of these are in the bottom 40 of all seasons and only one, "Fool for Love," falls in the top half of all episodes.

4. The First Evil (0.0613)

The First's high ranking is most likely due to the fact that it has more lines in "Conversations with Dead People," the second best episode of season 7, than in any other episode. The First Evil also benefits from having very few lines in "Empty Places" and in skipping "The Killer in Me" and "Potential" altogether. The First Evil did goof by talking a lot in "First Date."

5. Principal Snyder (0.0514)

Principal Snyder benefits the most from the episodes that he misses than from his contribution to the episodes in which he appears. He misses eight of the nine weakest second season episodes and ten of the 14 weakest third season episodes. He appears in about half of the remaining episodes in each of those two seasons. Unfortunately, he has fewer lines in "Becoming, Parts 1 and 2" and "Graduation Day, Parts 1 and 2" than in almost any other episode in which he appears, and he speaks a lot in "The Puppet Show" and "Go Fish."

6. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (0.0485)

Wesley was smart enough not to show up in Sunnydale until the six weakest third season episodes already aired. However, when he did arrive, he did not know when to speak up and when to shut up. The five episodes with the fewest Wesley lines are all in the top 30 in terms of quality. None of the remaining four episodes fall in the top 40.

7. Spike (0.0455)

Spike benefits mostly from the fact that two of the three episodes with the most Spike lines, "Fool for Love" and "Lovers Walk," are top-25 episodes. However, nearly half of the 15 episodes with the fewest Spike lines are in the top 40 in terms of episode quality. This is not including two top-20 episodes, "The Body" and "Conversations with Dead People," in which Spike was absent or had no lines despite being a regular character.

Like Angel, Spike does much better without a soul than with a soul. When Spike is separated into souled Spike and soulless Spike, soulless Spike climbs ahead of The First Evil. Souled Spike falls below nearly everyone else.

Characters with Minimal Effects on Episode Quality

We do not know for certain if the presence or absence of some characters in an episode affects the episode's quality. We can be near certain that the relative presence or absence of these characters has little direct effect.

8. Jonathan Levinson (0.0265)

Five of the ten episodes with the most Jonathan lines are in the top 40 of all episodes in terms of quality. However, the episode in which he has the most lines, "Superstar," barely misses the bottom 40 all episodes in terms of quality. He also could have helped himself by being a bit quieter in "Flooded" and "Gone."

9. Cordelia Chase (0.0253)

Four of the ten episodes with the most Cordelia lines are in the bottom 50 of all episodes in terms of quality. Only two of the 10 episodes with the fewest Coredlia lines are in the bottom 60 in terms of quality. Cordelia does benefit, however, from having many lines in "The Wish" and from missing "I Robot... You Jane" entirely.

10. Rupert Giles (0.0246)

Of the eight episodes with the most Giles lines, four episodes are in the bottom 35 of all episodes in terms of quality and none are in the top 30. Giles was smart enough to duck out of the show after "Tabula Rasa," thus avoiding all of the weak episodes in the middle of the sixth season.

11. Andrew Wells (0.0242)

Andrew benefits from the fact that he gets more lines by far in the popular "Storyteller" than in any other episode and also has many lines in "Two to Go" and "Conversations with Dead People," all of which are in the top 40 in terms of quality. Weak performances in top-30 episodes "Chosen," "Grave," and "Normal Again" and a complete absence from top-25 episodes "Once More, with Feeling," "Tabula Rasa," and "Selfless" drag him down.

12. Anya (0.0121)

Like Tara, Anya benefits from having many lines in "Once More, with Feeling," which comes in eighth for most Anya lines. It also helps that the episode in which she has the third most lines, "Selfless," is a top-25 episode. She also has fewer than ten lines in bottom-25 episodes "Out of My Mind," "Listening to Fear," and "Empty Places." She is hurt by having many lines in unpopular episodes like "Where the Wild Things Are," "Older and Faraway," and "Hell's Bells" and in being quiet in "Who Are You," "Fool for Love," and "Chosen."

Unlike with Angel and Spike, fans prefer Anya as a good character. Vengeance-demon Anya ("The Wish" and "Entropy" through "Selfless") falls a few places below Jenny. Human Anya (all other episodes) moves above Jonathan.

13. Willow Rosenberg (0.0047)

Having more lines in the popular "Doppelgangland" than any other character (including Buffy and Angel) has in any episode of either Buffy or Angel helps Willow. However, among the next ten episodes with the most Willow lines, only "Halloweeen" is ranked in the top-50 episodes in terms of episode quality. She spoke way too much in "The Killer in Me" and "Wreaked" and was too quiet in "Fool for Love." It helped that she did not have much to say in "Into the Woods," "I Was Made to Love You," "Empty Places," and "Shadow."

14. Joyce Summers (-0.0036)

Six of the eight episodes with the most Joyce lines are in the bottom 35 of all episodes. It does help that the two exceptions are the popular "Band Candy" and "Becoming, Part 2." She shows better judgement in seasons 4 and 6. The three fourth season episodes with the most Joyce lines ("Restless," "Who Are You," and "This Year's Girl") as well as her only sixth season appearance ("Normal Again") are all top-40 episodes. It also helps that she appears in the best five episodes each of the first and the second seasons and that she skips 16 of the remaining 24 episodes of those seasons.

15. Faith (-0.0065)

Of the eight best episodes in the third season, Faith misses five and has few lines in two more, "Doppelgangland" and "Graduation Day, Part 2" (going into a coma was a bad move). She would fall even further if she did not have 25 more lines in the popular "Who Are You" than in any other episode. Curiously, this is the only episode in which Eliza Dushku does not play Faith for most of the episode.

16. Jenny Calendar (-0.0081)

Jenny is helped by having "Prophecy Girl" and popular second-season arc episodes "Surprise," "Innocence," and "Passion" among the top-six episodes in terms of most Jenny lines. Unfortunately, the other two Jenny-heavy episodes are the unpopular "I Robot... You Jane" and "The Dark Age." It was also a bad move to die in "Passion." This kept her from having any lines in the final two episodes of the popular second-season arc, "Becoming, Parts 1 and 2."

Characters with a Negative Association with Episode Quality

A strong presence from these characters does not necessarily cause an episode to be weak. However, the more lines that they have in an episode, the less that fans like that episode.

17. Xander Harris (-0.0375)

Xander suffers from the fact that three of the five episodes with the fewest Xander lines, "Conversations with Dead People," "Fool for Love," and "Who Are You," rank in the top 20 in episode quality. However, "Band Candy" is the only one of the next 20 episodes with the fewest Xander lines that falls in the top 40 in quality. Popular episodes "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and "Restless," fall in the top eleven episodes for most Xander lines, but bottom-ten episodes like "Where the Wild Things Are," "Teacher's Pet," "Bad Eggs," and "Inca Mummy Girl" more than cancel out this advantage.

18. Oz (-0.0475)

Oz benefits from having "Earshot" and both parts of "Graduation Day" among the ten episodes with the most Oz lines. Unfortunately for Oz, none of the other eight episodes with the most lines falls in the top-50 in terms of quality. Futhermore, Oz has even less to say than normal in top-15 episodes "Becoming, Part 1," "Restless," "Innocence," and "The Wish." Skipping "Passion" was not a bright move, and he could have helped his cause by at least sticking around in Sunnydale long enough to appear in "Something Blue" and "Hush."

19. One-Shot Guest Stars (-0.0538)

One-shot guest stars tend be hurt by their complete absence in all season finales, all of which are in the top-25. Also, of the 24 episodes with more than 40 lines from one-shot guest stars, 13 fall in the bottom 35 in terms of quality and only "Conversations with Dead People" falls in the top 35. Of the 74 episodes without one-shot guest stars, only 11 are in the bottom 35 in terms of quality and 21 fall in the top 35. Dawn's friends in "All the Way," people associated with the swim team in "Go Fish," Debbie and Pete in "Beauty and the Beasts," and Owen in "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" do the most damage. Holden Webster in "Conversations with Dead People" does the most to mitigate the damage of one-shot guest characters.

20. Dawn Summers (-0.0548)

Dawn's problem is that fans tend not to like episodes with many Dawn lines. Of the 10 episodes with the most Dawn lines, only "Forever" falls in the top half of all episodes in terms of quality, and four episodes fall in the bottom 40. Eight of the 11 episodes with the fewest Dawn lines (there is a tie for tenth) are in the top half of all episodes in terms of quality, and only "Into the Woods" falls in the bottom 40.

21. Buffy Summers (-0.0668)

Buffy's problem is that five of the ten episodes with the fewest Buffy lines are in the top 25 of all episodes in terms of quality with four of the remaining five in the top 55. Meanwhile, only three of the ten episodes with the most Buffy lines are in the top 50 of all episodes in terms of quality, and only "Something Blue" is in the top 30. In fact, of the 48 episodes in which she has 100 or more lines, 19 are in the bottom 40 in terms of quality, and only eight are in the top 40. Buffy gets some credit for being too distracted with other activities to say much in "Where the Wild Things Are."

22. Warren Mears (-0.0681)

Warren's low ranking is only partially due to his killing the most popular character to die without becoming undead, because it led to his own death and absence from the popular "Two to Go" and "Grave." More importantly, the three best episodes in which Warren appeared; "Storyteller," "Intervention," and "Normal Again;" are the three episodes in which he had the fewest lines. Furthermore, he missed the eight best episodes to air after his introduction in "I Was Made to Love You."

23. Potential Slayers (other than Kennedy) (-0.0688)

Potential slayers are hurt by being completely absent in "Conversations with Dead People" and "Selfless" and in having little to do in "Chosen" and "Storyteller." Furthermore, potentials had a large role in the unpopular "Potential" and "Showtime." Potentials other than Kennedy were fortunate to skip "The Killer in Me," "Sleeper," and "Never Leave Me" altogether and to have little to say in "Get It Done" and "First Date."

24. Amy Madison (-0.0753)

"Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" is the only episode that falls in the top-70 episodes in terms of quality in which Amy has any lines. She also neglected to say anything in the best episode in which she appeared, "Something Blue."

25. Riley Finn (-0.1047)

Like Wesley, Riley does not seem to know when to speak up and when to remain quiet. Of the nine episodes in which Riley had 50 or more lines, none are ranked in the top-50 episodes and seven are ranked in the bottom 45. Of the ten episodes in which he has the fewest lines, only two are in the bottom 45 and four are in the top 50 with two, "Restless" and "Fool for Love," in the top 20.

26. Principal Robin Wood (-0.1228)

Wood is probably hurt the most by his absence in popular seventh season episodes "Conversations with Dead People" and "Selfless." He did not help himself by talking a lot in the unpopular "First Date" and "Get It Done." He did manage to stay out of "Sleeper," "Potential," and "The Killer in Me."

27. Harmony Kendall (-0.1398)

The five episodes with the fewest Harmony lines all fall in the top 35 in terms of quality. Of the five episodes with the most Harmony lines, "Crush" is the only one that falls in the top half of all episodes in terms of quality, and it barely makes the top 60.

28. Mayor Richard Wilkins III (-0.1445)

Mayor Wilkins hurt himself by his absence in "The Wish," "Amends," "Earshot," and "The Prom;" all of which fall in the top 40. Of the six episodes in which he had the fewest lines, five are also in the top 40. Of the six episodes in which he had the most lines, Only "Graduation Day, Part 1" falls in the top 40. At least he had the good sense to be quiet in "Gingerbread" and to skip "Dead Man's Party" and "Beauty & the Beasts" entirely.

29. Glory (-0.1449)

Glory erred in skipping popular episodes "The Body" and "Fool for Love." She was also hurt by talking far more than usual in the unpopular "Weight of the World." She does benefit from not appearing until the fifth episode of the season skipping "Listening to Fear" and "Into the Woods" and by not saying much in "I Was Made to Love You."

30. Kennedy (-0.1504)

A Zap2it poll declared Kennedy to be the most annoying character on American television for the 2002-2003 season. She even (but barely) beat Connor from Angel. It should be little wonder that the more Kennedy speaks, the less fans like an episode. Kennedy's low ranking is mostly due to the unpopularity of "The Killer in Me," the episode in which she has the most lines. The next two episodes with the most Kennedy lines are the unpopular "Showtime" and "Get It Done." Kennedy has fewer lines than average in the two most popular episodes in which she appears, "Chosen" and "Storyteller," and misses "Conversations with Dead People" and "Selfless" altogether. It helps that she uncharacteristically kept her mouth shut in "First Date," "Potential," and "Bring on the Night" and that she was absent in "Sleeper" and "Never Leave Me."

Conclusion

It appears that Mutant Enemy picked a good character when it made a spin-off about Angel, although he should have left his soul behind in Sunnydale. However, these data suggest that, instead of proposed Faith or Giles spin-offs, Mutant Enemy should have created a show in which Tara fights Drusilla and The First Evil.

Replacing #3 Tara with #30 Kennedy may very well be the biggest mistake that Mutant Enemy ever made. Another nominee for worst mistake may be making Buffy the title character. The title of the show should have been Angel the Vampire with a Soul for the first three seasons, although the second season could be Drusilla the Loony Vamp. Tara the Witch would be a good title for the next three seasons, and the final season should have been titled The First Evil. Overall, 16.2% of the quality of an episode can be attributed to the number of lines that these characters have. If souled and unsouled Angel are treated as separate characters, then 19.9% of the quality of an episode can be attributed to these characters. If Spike is also split into souled Spike and unsouled Spike, this figure goes up a bit more to 21.5%.

Addendum

The above is not the only way to analyze the data, Drusilla does not talk much in any given episode even if she makes each line matter. Each Buffy line, has a moderately negative association with episode quality, but she has a lot to say in nearly every episode. The table below ranks characters on how much they contribute to each episode, taking into account their points per line and the number of lines that they have in each episode.

Characters Ranked by Contribution per Episode

Rank Character Points/
Episode
1 Angel 4.20
2 Drusilla 3.96
3 Tara Maclay 2.31
4 Spike 1.35
5 Wesley Wyndam-Pryce 1.09
6 The First Evil 1.08
7 Rupert Giles 0.86
8 Andrew Wells 0.61
9 Principal Snyder 0.57
10 Cordelia Chase 0.54
11 Jonathan Levinson 0.48
12 Anya 0.29
13 Willow Rosenberg 0.20
14 Joyce Summers -0.07
15 Jenny Calendar -0.21
16 Faith -0.29
17 Oz -0.86
18 Potential Slayers (other than Kennedy) -1.33
19 Xander Harris -1.47
20 Dawn Summers -1.52
21 Amy Madison -1.89
22 Harmony Kendall -2.20
23 Mayor Richard Wilkins III -2.25
24 Warren Mears -2.49
25 Principal Robin Wood -2.88
26 Kennedy -3.04
27 One-Shot Guest Stars -3.77
28 Glory -3.80
29 Riley Finn -4.10
30 Buffy Summers -5.88

One can take this a step further. Not only does Drusilla have relatively few lines per episode when compared to many other characters on this list, but she only appeared in 15 episodes (not counting Juliet Landauís appearances as the First Evil). Buffy, meanwhile, appeared in every episode. The table below presents each character's contributions across all episodes in which the character appeared.

Characters Ranked by Total Contribution

Rank Character Total Points
1 Angel 234.93
2 Spike 129.90
3 Tara Maclay 108.64
4 Rupert Giles 103.47
5 Drusilla 59.35
6 Willow Rosenberg 29.21
7 Cordelia Chase 29.17
8 Anya 23.74
9 The First Evil 17.29
10 Andrew Wells 15.97
11 Jonathan Levinson 11.61
12 Principal Snyder 10.90
13 Wesley Wyndam-Pryce 9.80
14 Jenny Calendar -2.54
15 Joyce Summers -3.63
16 Faith -5.71
17 Amy Madison -15.14
18 Potential Slayers (other than Kennedy) -19.88
19 Mayor Richard Wilkins III -27.02
20 Warren Mears -29.90
21 Harmony Kendall -32.99
22 Oz -33.39
23 Kennedy -39.56
24 Principal Robin Wood -40.28
25 Glory -45.64
26 Dawn Summers -100.06
27 Riley Finn -127.21
28 One-Shot Guest Stars -138.86
29 Xander Harris -210.26
30 Buffy Summers -846.16
This page was last modified on January 25, 2013