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A Highly Scientific Analysis of Angel vs. Riley vs. Spike

Into every generation, there is a chosen one who will date the forces of HOTNESS: A slayer-sized highly scientific analysis of Buffy's love life.

A Highly Scientific Analysis of Angel vs. Riley vs. Spike

YOU GUYS. Did you know that it's almost been TEN YEARS since Buffy last aired? (Do you need to check? It's ok; I'll wait.) I know! I can't believe it either!

To kick off FYA's Buffy coverage, we've brought back the highly scientific analysis that so greatly helped the love lives of Felicity, Rory, Pacey, and Veronica. Because bringing sexy back is sooooo 2000-and-late -- and as you'll discover below, SEXY NEVER LEFT SUNNYDALE. (Well, before the town got destroyed, anyway.)

As a v. serious scientist, it is imperative for you to know that data collection for this experiment did not include the Buffy comics. Because looking at real boys is more fun than drawn ones! Usually.

Before we get underway, I'd like to give major pants and a can of champs to Joss Whedon & Friends for never making Buffy torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool. None of this in vogue wishy-washy love triangle shizz.

Technically I gave Joss some travelling pants, but he doesn't seem to mind.

And now, a little mood music...

To the laboratory!


Angel: 8

Angel is a classic MLD, although he became a little less M and L through his own show. He's actually got a sneaky sense of humour, which he deploys quite nicely. Sure, he's got a tendency to be broody -- but can you blame the guy? Angelus left him with a whole lot of remorse.

Riley: 4

Riley's a nice enough guy, and it's cool that he chose to serve his country. But other than that, what does he do? What does like he? He's a college guy, so at least he can read, I suppose.

Spike: 10

Spike's got so much charisma, he should really donate some to Riley. Except NOT, because Spike's awesomeness is meant to be shared with us the world!

He's got a sharp mind and he's wicked hilarious. Spike also has a knack for stark honesty; he'll give you no-bullshizz insight while making you laugh.


Angel: 10

This right here? The face of Tall, Dark and Handsome in the late '90s. And HELLO he was known as The One with the Angelic Face for a reason.

But beauty isn't just about a pretty face. Here in the FYA Lab, we like to consider the subject's entire body of work (SO WITTY, I know).

What is happening? More importantly, do I care?

Riley: 7

"Hot" wouldn't be my word of choice in describing Riley, but he still single-handedly gave me unrealistic expectations regarding how attractive my future TAs would be (Spoiler! They were not).

For the sake of completeness, I submit the following evidence:

I hope that's not his seduction pose. But I mean, I wouldn't say no...

But I had to deduct a point for this:

Spike: 9

I swear, photography fails to capture all of Spike's hotness. Though I do partly attribute it to his clothes when he strays from the all-black attire -- and not just for being on. It's like the costumers were challenging themselves to make Spike unattractive. News flash: CAN'T BE DONE.

The Billy-Idol's-prettier-non-sneering-lil-bro style shouldn't be hot. But as we scientists know, what should be in theory isn't always what is in reality. Even at his most Billy Idol-est, Spike still makes it WERK.

And the only things more chiseled than his jawline are his abs.


Angel: 7

When Angel first met the Scoobies, most of them were still adjusting to the "vampires = real" paradigm, so they were understandably cautious. Just as they started warming up towards him, Angelus comes along to wreak havoc and murder girlfriends.

Even after with his soul restored, the Scoobies regarded Angel with a bit of apprehension. And any time she and Angel are in a room together is still a cause for concern. Because, you know . . . Grr. Argh.

Angel also never had any on-screen interaction with Dawn, so he gets an extra point for being a lucky bastard.

Riley: 10

Congrats, Riley! You aced this category! But don't get used to it!

Riley has the sole distinction of being the only Buffy boyfriend that Xander actually liked. Therefore, I propose a scientific corollary that Buffy should not go to Xander for relationship advice.

Spike: 5

Their first impression of Spike was as a member of Angelus' murderers a trois, so it was already off to a bad start.

Soon after he returns to Sunnydale for (our) good, Spike gets chip-upgraded by the Initiative, neutralizing him as a threat and leading to his gradual and oft-begrudged entrance into the Scooby gang. The tone of his relationships wildly fluctuated from person to person, as well as over time.

Through it all, his sense of humour firmly establishes him as the resident pain-in-the-ass. As witty as Spike's retorts are, I can see how it may be aggravating to be on the receiving end. Not because feelings are being butthurt, though; I'd be annoyed that I could never think of a worthy comeback.


Angel: 35 + ∞

Angel's most romantic gestures both involve him being too noble and valiant for my his own good.

Having accepted the impossibility of their relationship, Angel has broken up with Buffy and plans to leave Sunnydale. She attends senior prom alone, watching on as her classmates dance, and is surprised when he shows up. Although he can't give her the future that they both long for, what he can give is that one perfect high school moment (+30).

Bonus Jonas points for ANGEL IN A TUX OMG (+5).

My favourite The other romantic gesture is basically the entire plot of "I Will Remember You" (Angel, episode 1x8).

A few months after Angel leaves Sunnydale, Buffy visits him in L.A. They encounter a demon whose blood turns Angel HUMAN! Buffy and Angel tread cautiously at first, which lasts for all of 20 minutes before KITCHEN SEX! Naked Angel fridge runs! Chocolate and peanut butter! It's pretty much the greatest thing EVER.

Then Angel goes a-huntin' for the demon -- but turns out, it's really hard to fight demons without supernatural strength, you guys! Fortch, Buffy saves the day, but not before Angel gets his ass kicked and realizes what a liability he now is. On top of that, the Oracles tell him that without him fighting the good fight, Buffy's expiration date moves up a lot sooner (and darkness befalling upon humanity, etc.).

So! Angel doesn't even think twice before he sacrifices his life as a human in exchange for the Oracles "swallowing the day" to prevent Angel from de-vamping in the first place. But in order for that to happen, Angel and Angel alone will remember everything that happened.

Upon finding out, Buffy is shattered, promising that she'll never forget (but OF COURSE YOU WILL, because Joss Whedon is pro at dishing out GUT PUNCHES TO THE TEAR DUCTS). There's crying and kissing and crying kisses and OMG STOP MAKING ME CRY -- then the day rewinds, the demon is quickly dispatched, Buffy leaves, and Angel sadfaces. JUST TAKE ALL THE POINTS, WHY DON'T YOU (+∞).

But ANGEL! She brought a change of clothes! She wanted you to make her stayyyyyy, why didn't you make her stay???!!?!?!

(Don't worry; there are no more essays. For this section, anyway.)

Riley: 4

This was tough, y'all. I had a think tank with Megan on my Sailor Scout Communicator, and the only thing she came up with was . . . a picnic (+3). I know Angel's a hard act to follow, but come on, Finn! Just try to keep up, ok?

Oh, and he punched out that jerk Parker who used Buffy for sex. And that defending-your-honour thing appeals to some, so sure (+1 -- NOT LIKE IT'LL MATTER).

Spike: 50

Well, they didn't exactly have a romantical relationship to begin with. I mean, where were the William the Bloody poems?!

However, Spike did reinstate his soul for Buffy. Even if the circumstances of his motivation were, um, unsavoury (more on this later).


Angel: 130

Angel's not receiving these high scores just 'cause he once serenaded me, albeit terribly (although anyone who appreciates The Greatest Showman of Our Time should rewarded for their devotion (+5)).

No . . . Science rewards innovation. And Angel is the O.G. sensitive vampire with gravity-defying hair -- all y'all others are just imitatin'! Although he (i.e. we) def. missed out on the shirtless vampire trend so gallantly carried on by the Brothers Salvatore. (+20)

Furthermore, Buffy herself has had this to say about Angel (+100):

I would have given up everything I had to be with him. I loved him more than I will ever love anything in this life.

(Buffy, episode 7x5, "Selfless")

Lastly, Angel's favourite sport is hockey! Which endears him even more to this stereotypically Canadian scientist (+5).

Riley: 0

Just be grateful I'm not deducting points, Finn.

Spike: 80

Since the FYA Science Lab uses North American units of measurement, Spike receives points due to Anglophilia (+5). And he clearly shares FYA's entertainment sensibilities, as he is a huge fan of Passions aka only the best soap in the history of time! (+5).

Spike also gets the best lines and gives everyone nicknames. And of course, science favours creativity (+20)!

Plus, Spike and Buffy are so hot together, they LITERALLY bring the house down. Chemistry demonstrations are commendable in the laboratory (+50).


Angel: 190 + ∞
Riley: 25
Spike: 154

Angel leads in the race for Buffy's heart, with Spike hot on his heels (and hot, full stop) -- at least relative to Riley, who's out tending to the farm or something.

So why are we pausing this v. scientific dissertation? Maybe it's just a byproduct of vampire fatigue, but once I began evaluating the variables and counting the abs numbers, I realized that an extra category of evidence was necessary . . .


Angel: -(55 + ∞)

Hmm let's see -- her vagina makes him EVIL. I guess it's some consolation that this only happens because being with her gives him true happiness. Y'know, Angel, you can just show your gratitude with words (or errm actions)! Anyway, even though sex is not THE most important thing in a relationship, it is still a V. V. Important Thing (-50).

And oh yeah, he's a VAMPIRE. So unless she's suddenly dropped the 's' from her job title, this relationship is as taboo as it gets.

Angel, I hereby strip you of infinity more points. And also your clothes.

P.S. Your Irish accent is atrocious (-5).

Riley: -135

Well, he's married now. While it's not as an insurmountable obstacle as being a vampire, it's also not an ideal circumstance for rekindling a relationship (-25).

Back when he was with Buffy, Riley became v. insecure about how his physical abilities stacked up to hers, as well as how he stacked up against his supernatural competition (-10). Desperate to understand the appeal of vampires to Buffy, he solicited vampire hookers to feed on him (-100).

Oh RILEY. Just pack your points and go.

Spike: Event Horizon

Spike incurs the requisite vampire penalty (-∞), but HEY! At least they can boff like bunnies! Unfortch, that's about the only good aspect of his relationship with Buffy.

As hot as they were together, it was hella destructive and unhealthy (-25). And Buffy knows it, too:

I can't love you. I'm just being weak and selfish and it's killing me.

(Buffy, episode 6x15, "As You Were")

So here are some acceptable items that one could commission in the likeness of their paramour:

•  caricatures
•  bobbleheads
•  coffee mugs

Note that none of the aforementioned has a built-in penis receptacle*, unlike, say, a SEX ROBOT (-∞²).

*If you think otherwise, you're doing it wrong.

And remember that time Spike got a soul for Buffy? Aww, wasn't that nice? Oh but wait, he only did that after HE TRIED TO RAPE HER (-∞). What say you, Buffy?

Ask me again why I could never love you.

(Buffy, episode 6x19, "Seeing Red")

Individually, Spike's infractions are measurable in the laboratory. Considered as a whole, however . . .

Pre-soul or not, he did these things because HE LOVED HER. WTF?! Ever hear of a box of chocolates? It may not be the most original, but at least it doesn't traumatize the girl you're trying to get with! I may not have been around for as long as Spike, but gee I'd state with (100 ± 0)% scientific certainty that sex robots and attempted rape are not considered gestures one makes out of love.

Spike, you've broken math. I am banishing your point total to the nearest event horizon*.

*Not just a sci-fi film starring Morpheus, but the boundary of a black hole aka "point of no return".


So, um, let's revisit those scores for a final time.

Angel: 135
Riley: -110
Spike: DNE (= Does Not Exist)

After a stunning* turn of events, Spike's tally takes a nosedive of intergalactic proportions, allowing Riley to stumble backwards into the runner-up spot. In light of the evidence uncovered under Dealbreakers, Angel takes the decisive, if somewhat conflicted, victory.

*Only to the faithful Spike fans who will still tell me I'm wrong, despite the SEX ROBOT AND ATTEMPTED RAPE. I love your enthusiasm, but how the bloody hell do you justify those away? (I genuinely want to know.)


Now that the Angel/Riley/Spike debate has been settled, it's time to be pragmatic. I KNOW, but such is the way of science! Never in the hallowed halls of the Highly Scientific Analysis has this occurred, because never have the subjects not all been human.

None of the issues that have been keeping Buffy and Angel apart have been resolved. She's a slayer, he's a vampire, and the world is still teeming with Big Bads.

But let's say those crazy kids go for it anyway. Where does that lead them? A lifetime of deep eye-gazing and hand-holding as he remains eternally young while mortality looms over her. And unlike for some people, turning her into a vampire is NOT a feasible option.

Unless all the slayage is done and Angel can somehow become human again . . . Buffy deserves better. (I know! BETTER than Angel?! That's unpossible!) And we can do better! We have the technology!

Because what is science without iteration? Did Edison give up after the first failed attempt at the light bulb? Did I stop Googling after the first page of "David Boreanaz shirtless"? NO. For the love of abs science, we forge on!

It would be unkind just to tell and not show.


Xander Harris, Carpenter/Glorified Brick Layer/Butt Monkey

Yay: Human; Funny; Loyal; Immensely Loveable
A Factor: Lost An Eye; Former Duckie
Nay: Left Fiancée At Altar; Has Hooked Up With Basically Every Chick Buffy Knows

A Factor: Lost An Eye

I don't presume to know all of Buffy's proclivities.

A Factor: Former Duckie

This could also go either way. On the one hand, the foundation is there; he's shown to have feelings for her once upon a time, and she knows it. They're already so comfortable with each other, and what if the right guy has been in front of her all along?!

Howevs, that same level of comfort could also convince them to maintain the status quo. And not just on her end, but his as well. When's the last time Xander was moony-eyed at Buffy? He had a crush, she didn't reciprocate, he got over it -- all while remaining friends the entire time. And afterwards, his feelings for Buffy didn't just conveniently flare up for the sake of drama every time she showed interest in a guy. Whenever Xander acts overly protective, there is no self-serving ulterior motive. To call them just friends is a disservice to their relationship; they're family. And no matter what V.C. Andrews keeps insisting, FAMILY DOESN'T DATE.

(OK, maybe I've convinced myself that this is really a Nay.)

Nay: Has Hooked Up With Basically Every Chick She Knows

Plus, he once had a Mrs. Robinson dream about her mom. And he has unknowingly leered at Dawn's backside.

Daniel "Oz" Osbourne, Musical Lycanthrope; Tara Maclay, Magical Lesbian

Inadmissible candidates, on the basis that Buffy would not scam on her BFF's exes. Also: bestiality, necrophilia.

Rupert Giles, Librarian/Watcher/Silver Fox

Yay: British; Reformed Badass
Nay: Authority/Paternal Figure


Um, maybe I need to re-evaluate the parameters of my experiment. Perhaps a change of environment is in order?

Charles Gunn, Vampire Hunter/Lawyer

Yay: Wears A Mean Suit; Tough Guy Who's Not-So-Secretly A Dork
Nay: Traded Soul For Truck; Traded Friend For Brains*

*Unintentionally, but he still agrees to questionable deals pretty quickly. Good thing there are no Crossroad Demons in L.A.

Lorne, Deathwok Clan Demon/Caritas Owner/Lounge Singer

Yay: Owns a Bar!*; Owns a Karaoke Bar!*
A Factor: Green Skin To Match Her Eyes
Nay: Demon; No Apparent Sexual Interest Towards Anyone or Anything, Ever

*Before it blew up. Stop blowing cool shit up, you guys!

Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, Watcher/Whatever Job Title Angel Gives His Friends To Keep Them Steadily Employed

Yay: British; Overcomes Initial Pompous Attitude To Be Pretty Awesome...
Nay: ... But Becomes Too Much of a Hard-Ass; Inappropriate Flirtation With Teenage Girl; Steals Babies

Connor, The Destroyer (Of Good Storylines)/Possessor Of Oedipal Complex*

Yay: Not A Damn Thing
Nay: EVERYTHING; The Dawn Summers Award For Annoying Character Unnecessarily Shoehorned For Teen Appeal Or However The Fuck Dawn's Existence Can Be Explained By


*What is with all these (surrogate- and actual-) motherlovers?!

Uh.. um.. how about Buffy's old friends from her L.A. days??

Oliver Pike, Ne'er-Do-Well

Yay: Knows Jack Bauer's Dad
Nay: Knows President Snow; Hung Up On His Ex, Kelly

OK, maybe we need to broaden our search a little further.

Edward Cullen, Possessive Sparkly Stalker

Too far! Too far! (Though who wouldn't make a match between her stake and his chest, amiright?) 

Err let's try to stay within the 'Verse, shall we?

Captain Mal Reynolds, Space Cowboy/Big Damn Hero

Sooooo he looks like an evil preacher. No one's perfect -- but he's pretty dang close, for these reasons three:

1.  Unintimidated by strong women.
2.  The hammer is his penis.


So Angel's the best boyfriend Buffy's ever had, but Mal's the one we ought to introduce her to. MAKE IT SO, JOSS!


Agree or disagree, fellow scientists? Hypothesize in the comments!

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.