Y’ALL. 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 FelicityRoryPacey, and Veronica. Because bringing sexy back is sooooo 2000-and-late — and as you’ll discover below, SEXY NEVER LEFT SUNNYDALE. (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.

And now, a little mood music…

To the laboratory!


David Boreanaz as Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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.

Marc Blucas as Riley Finn (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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.

James Marsters as Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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.


David Boreanaz as Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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).

Angel does tai chi while shirtless (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

What is happening? More importantly, do I care?

Marc Blucas as Riley Finn (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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:

Riley Finn sitting up shirtless in bed (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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 haircut:

Riley Finn with his hair parted in the middle in a very late '90s way (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
James Marsters as Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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.

Spike is unamused wearing a baggy tropical shirt (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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.

Spike with a Billy Idol aesthetic, in the 1970s (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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

Scooby Synergy

David Boreanaz as Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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.

Marc Blucas as Riley Finn (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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.

James Marsters as Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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 hurt, though; I’d be annoyed that I could never think of a worthy comeback.

Romantic Gestures

David Boreanaz as Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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).)

Buffy and Angel dance at her prom (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

My favourite The other romantic gesture is basically the entire plot of “I Will Remember You” (Angel S1.E08).

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 (+∞).

Angel and Buffy kiss (Angel)

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.)

Marc Blucas as Riley Finn (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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).

James Marsters as Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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).

Je Ne Sais Quoi

David Boreanaz as Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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 S7.E05 “Selfless”)

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

Marc Blucas as Riley Finn (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Riley: 0

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

James Marsters as Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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).

Point Tabulation (So Far)

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.


David Boreanaz as Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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).

Marc Blucas as Riley Finn (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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 sex workers to feed on him (-100).

Oh RILEY. Just pack your points and go.

James Marsters as Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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 also 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 S6.E15 “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 S6E19 “Seeing Red”)

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

Chalkboard with math equations on it

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 person you’re trying to get with! I may not have been around for as long as Spike, but 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.

Future Implications

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 lovesick 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!

Alternative Recommendations

Xander Harris (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Suitor: Xander Harris
Occupation: Carpenter/Glorified Brick Layer/Butt Monkey
Yay: Human; Funny; Loyal; Immensely Loveable
Factor: Former Duckie
Nay: Left Fiancée At Altar; Has Hooked Up With Basically Every Chick Buffy Knows

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

See: Chase, Cordelia; Jenkins, Anya; Lehane, Faith; and Rosenberg, Willow. Plus, he once had a Mrs. Robinson dream about her mom. And he has unknowingly leered at Dawn’s backside.

Oz (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Suitor: Daniel “Oz” Osbourne
Occupation: Musical Lycanthrope

Tara Maclay (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Suitor: Tara Maclay
Occupation: Magical Lesbian

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

Rupert Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Suitor: Rupert Giles
Occupation: 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 (Angel)

Suitor: Charles Gunn
Occupation: 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 (Angel)

Suitor: Lorne
Occupation: Deathwok Clan Demon/Caritas Owner/Lounge Singer
Yay: Owns a Bar!*; Owns a Karaoke Bar!*
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!

Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndham-Pryce (Angel)

Suitor: Wesley Wyndham-Pryce
Occupation: 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

Suitor: Connor
Occupation: 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??

Suitor: Oliver Pike
Occupation: 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 from Twilight stares mysteriously while leaning on a car in the parking lot of Forks High School

Suitor: Edward Cullen
Occupation: 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?

Suitor: Captain Mal Reynolds
Occupation: 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.

Conclusion (Redux)

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 (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.