I always find it fun to find tags that tie in two of my favourite things. In this case, the tag combines books with one of my all-time favourite TV shows — Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I actually got into this show a little late, since when it first came out, I was convinced it would be too scary for me. I actually can’t remember when exactly I started watching. I’m fairly certain it was Season 3, and from that point on, I watched every episode. The show quickly became my favourite because of the perfect balance between humour and more serious topics, and of course because of the amazingly well-developed characters.
I came across this tag yesterday after deciding to rewatch Buffy from the beginning on Netflix, and finally watch the entire Angel series. As of right now, I’ve only seen a few Angel episodes, and mostly from its last season. I decided Netflix would give me a convenient excuse to finally watch both shows together, in the intended order. I found this tag here.
1) Buffy – A female character that does the saving, or doesn’t need anyone to save her
In the early episodes of the TV series, Buffy constantly felt the strain between balancing her normal life and her duty as a slayer. Her character was actually created to invert the stereotype of the pretty blonde getting killed off immediately by the monster. Instead of being the victim, Buffy was a strong female character who was often the one to save others. The first character from a book that I thought fit this description was Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series. Like Buffy, Katniss never asked for the life she had, but quickly proved herself to be strong and even led a rebellion to protect and save others. Although both character were involved in romances, neither seemed to need a partner to save them.
2) Xander – Name a character that brings or hold friends or a group together OR a character that always makes you laugh!
Xander was the one character throughout the series who never gained any superpowers, but still had a powerful influence on the group. Xander was known for his observant nature, as well as his role as the somewhat geeky comic relief. It may be a bit weird to go with a children’s book character for this, but I still think one of the most hilarious characters I’ve ever encountered was Junie B. Jones from the Barbara Park’s series. Junie B. is a kindergarten (and later first grade) student whose books are full of her own unique spin on childhood events including the first day of school, getting a new baby brother, holiday celebrations, etc. She was one of my favourite characters growing up, and I still tend to find her books hilarious, although some are better than others.
3) Willow – Name a character that became very powerful (in either a good way or a bad way)
From the first time I watched the series, Willow was easily one of my favourite characters. I related to her so strongly because of her nerdy character and love of learning. Over the course of the series, Willow gains confidence in herself and also gains very strong skills with witchcraft. The book character that I would relate is Morgan, the teenage girl from A Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle. In this book, Morgan has an affair with her married teacher. Throughout the course of the book, Morgan gains more confidence in herself and actually ends up becoming quite a strong character.
4) Giles – Name a character who is a fantastic father or father figure
On Buffy, Giles was a character who may have taken some time to grow on many fans. He started out as quite a stuffy British librarian, who constantly seemed irritated by Buffy and her friends, but he grew to be a strong father figure for Buffy. I’ve always thought that Giles is a very underrated character. Similarly, I find that fictional fathers in general tend to be quite underrated, especially Arthur Weasley from the Harry Potter series. While I think most people agree that Arthur Weasley was a good father, all the attention seems to go to Molly instead. Arthur was a bit of an odd character, but he is devoted to his family and always does whatever he can to provide for them. He sets a great example for his children by doing what he loves, even when he might make more money elsewhere, and genuinely enjoys spending time with his wife and children.
5) Joyce – Name a wonderful mother figure
Joyce, Buffy’s mother, was more of a side character throughout the series, although one whose presence was definitely felt. Although there were some problems early on when Joyce finally discovered that Buffy was the Slayer, for the most part they had a very strong and supportive relationship. The first great mother character that came to mind, aside from Molly Weasley, was Marmee March from Little Women. Marmee was left to raise four teenage daughters alone while her husband went to war, and I’ve always thought she was an amazing mother. Her daughters are all so different, but Marmee managed to advise and guide them while still allowing them room to make their own decisions. I really enjoyed any interactions between the girls and their mother.
6) Angel – Name a character that appeared or pretended to be nice but turned out to be bad
Angel has always been one of the fan favourites from this show. He is a 300-year-old vampire cursed with a soul who enters into a very on-and-off relationship with Buffy, and is often considered her true love. Before he was cursed, and at any point where he loses his soul, he turns into Angelus, a monstrous version of himself who torments his victims. The first character who comes to mind who seemed good at first has to be the White Witch from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It may be a bit of an obvious choice, but I remember reading this book for the first time when I was about 8 and being shocked when the “nice woman” who offered Edmund candy turned out to be a villain.
7) Spike – Name a character who tries hard to be good
I’ll admit that I’ve always been more of a fan of Spike than of Angel. Spike was originally intended to be a short-term villain but quickly became extremely popular among fans, and with good reason! What’s always interested me most about Spike is how, even when he is supposed to be an evil character, he ends up helping Buffy and her friends. He is also hilarious! Again, this may be an obvious choice but I have to go with Severus Snape. Like Spike, it would have been all too easy for Snape to just become a straightforward villain, but he changed and really made an effort to do what was right instead.
8) Drusilla – Name a character who seems strange or crazy
The original video of this tag actually lists two different descriptions for each prompt. The other for this one was “a character who seems crazy but notices all the things.” I originally skipped over that description because I thought it was a mistranslation, but upon thinking about it, I actually found it easier to find a character that fits. On Buffy, Drusilla is Spike’s love interest and sire who was tortured into insanity by Angelus, and who has some psychic abilities. Drusilla was another of my favourite characters on the show early on. The book character that seemed to fit this best was Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter, who is definitely a bit strange, but is also very observant. Luna often made small comments in passing that showed she really did understand what was going on around her, although most people probably assume she had no idea.
9) Darla – Name a bad mother figure
Having never watched Angel, I only know Darla from her very small role on Buffy. Darla was introduced immediately in the first episode as the first vampire we encounter, and we later learn that she is responsible for turning Angel into a vampire as well. I’m not even sure what it is about the character that qualifies her as a bad mother, but it didn’t take me long to choose a corresponding book character. I have to go with Corrine Dollaganger from Flowers in the Attic. What a horrible, selfish character! This is a mother who abandons her children to live in the attic of her parents’ home while she carries on with her life, all while lying to her children and telling them they will be free soon. I was so disgusted by this character.
10) Oz – Name a character who would be a great boyfriend, but maybe has something that keeps him from being perfect
Once again, this was another of my early favourite characters. Oz was Willow’s love interest for the first several seasons, and their relationship was just adorable. Oz is also known for his stoic, monosyllabic dialogue and I absolutely loved the way they introduced the character when he started on the show. The closest book equivalent I could think of was Gale from The Hunger Games. I really liked Gale as a character and I really liked him and Katniss together. I still think he would be a great boyfriend, but I can understand why the books took the direction that they did.
11) Cordelia – Name a character who loves to be the centre of attention and does everything they can to stay in the spotlight
Cordelia is a bit of a strange character for me, since she played such a major role in the first three seasons, and yet I tend to forget she existed. On the show, Cordelia was the stereotypical popular mean girl, who eventually befriended Buffy and her friends and became a much more down-to-earth character. In the early seasons, she is definitely an attention-seeker and especially tries to steal Angel from Buffy. In terms of book characters, the biggest attention seeker I could think of was Lydia Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. Although she may not be as memorable as Elizabeth Bennett, Lydia is a very spoiled character who spends the majority of the book flirting, to the embarrassment of her family, and eventually runs off to get married.
12) Anya – Name a character that seems/appears older than their age
Anya was a character that took some time to grow on me. She was a vengeance demon who has sworn to help women take revenge on men who have wronged them. Anya was another character who was intended to be a short-term role, but ended up lasting for the remaining four seasons. After losing her demon powers, Anya is punished by being forced to live as a normal teenager/young adult. She is nearly 1000 years old but, in one hilarious scene, can’t even get a beer at a bar because she looks young enough to get carded. I’m not sure if this is just because of when the books were written, but I have to go with the characters of the Babysitter’s Club series by Ann M. Martin. This is a series I used to be obsessed with, which featured a club of 13-year-old girls who join together to offer babysitting services. The books were first published in the late 1980s, and I didn’t really notice it at the time, but these characters were given way too much responsibility for 13 year olds (and a couple of them were only 11!). These girls were allowed to take children around busy big cities alone, organize and run events with little or no adult supervision, and babysit kids not that much younger than they were themselves. Maybe it was different in the 80s, but I don’t think most 13 year olds today would behave like they did, or be treated like that by adults.
13) Tara – Name a character who grew into his/her own
Tara was another character who quickly became a favourite because of how strongly I related to her. Tara started out as a very shy girl who Willow met in a Wicca club in college, and grew into a much more confident person through her relationship with Willow and the rest of their friends. Another character that grows into their own is Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden, one of my favourite books. Mary starts the story as a very spoiled child who is orphaned and must move into her uncle’s mansion, where she soon learns that he is keeping secrets of his own. Mary develops through the book from a child used to getting her own way in everything, to a more well-rounded person who is much more interested in developing relationships with other people. For such a young child, she becomes quite a strong character by the end.
14) Dawn – Name a sibling or sibling characters who are worth mentioning
Dawn was a bit of a strange character in the TV series. Introduced at the start of season 5, Dawn was originally mystical energy that was transformed into human form and sent to Buffy as a sister to hide from a goddess who was after her. It is a very complicated story, but the main point is that the magic that created Dawn also altered everyone’s memories so they would feel that Dawn had always been a part of their lives. Although she was widely hated by many of the fans, I still Dawn was an important character. I’ve read quite a few books where siblings were important, but none moreso than the Baudelaires in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The Baudelaire siblings are orphans who are sent from guardian to guardian as they try to escape Count Olaf, a relative after their fortune, and try to discover what really happened to their parents. Each sibling has their own special skill that they are experts at which help them work together to overcome all of the troubles they come across.
15) Faith – Name a character who wants to find their place but always seems to stand out
As I mentioned earlier, I’m fairly certain that I started watching Buffy around season 3, which is when Faith was introduced. Faith was another Slayer, called upon because Buffy had briefly died in a previous season. Faith was a very interesting character who seemed to represent the darker side of what a slayer might become, but sometimes managed to find a place among the group. As much as I’ve been trying to limit the Harry Potter choices on this tag, the main character that came to mind was Harry himself. Although he never even wanted to be famous, Harry Potter always stood out no matter where he went because of his history with Voldemort and because his scar made him instantly recognizable.
16) Wesley Wyndham-Pryce – Name a character who is a perfectionist or who wants things to be done a certain way
Although this character became a lot more interesting on Angel, my first impression of him was that he gave us a much strong appreciation for Giles. Wesley was another Watcher, sent to supervise and train Faith after she became a Slayer. If we thought Giles was stuffy, Wesley took things to a whole other level. The character that first came to mind for this is Reshma Kapoor from Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia. Reshma is a high school student obsessed with being the best at everything and getting into a specific Ivy League school, stopping at nothing to get her way. If anyone hasn’t read this book yet, I would highly recommend it!
17) Parker – Name a series that you would have enjoyed more if it had stayed at just one book
I was a little surprised to see Parker’s name on this list since he was such a minor character, but the prompt in an interesting on. On the TV series, Parker was a college student that had a one-night stand with Buffy, leaving her devastated when she realized he wasn’t interested in a relationship. As a side note, I’ve always hated how much the actor playing Parker resembles the one who plays Xander! I’m actually a lot more likely to read standalones than to read series, but I think I would have to go with Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I didn’t necessarily hate these books, although I definitely didn’t love them as much as everyone else seems to. I just didn’t think the sequels necessarily added that much to the story.
18) Riley – Name a character who was very organized or who was a soldier
Like Dawn, Riley has always seemed to be one of the most widely hated Buffy characters. Riley was Buffy’s love interest for two seasons, and he was also part of The Initiative, a military-style organization that targeted vampires and demons. Riley was trained and enhanced to be something of a super-solider, but seemed to struggle with the idea that Buffy was more powerful than he was. I haven’t read very many books about soldiers, but one that comes to mind is Dear John by Nicholas Sparks, which features a young man named John who enlists in the army because he does not know what else he wants to do with his life, and falls in love with a woman who he hopes will wait for him.
19) Harmony Kendall – Name the character that is the best example of a stereotype or a book that has a lot of stereotypes in it
Harmony started out as a relatively minor character on Buffy, who was one of the mean popular girls who hung out with Cordelia. After several seasons, Harmony is turned into a vampire and falls in love with Spike, although he never truly cares for her. Harmony definitely captures the “dumb blonde” stereotype, and ends up being another hilarious character. This may be a bit of a controversial choice, but I found the characters in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews to be on the stereotypical side, especially Earl and his brothers. In this book, the teenage boys are both portrayed as quite vulgar, often swearing and making very crude jokes. While I’m sure there are many teenage boys who behave this way, it seemed pretty stereotypical to me and wasn’t that enjoyable to read. However, I was more bothered by the portrayal of Earl and his family, who, if I remember correctly, live in a single-parent household in a poor neighbourhood, without much parental involvement, and with an extremely angry and aggressive brother. Earl especially has a tendency toward speaking very crudely, but also has some great insights later on. The character just really didn’t sit right with me.
20) Andrew Wells – Name a character that always seems to need to tag along or take part in things they have nothing to do with
Andrew was another Buffy character that I don’t think anyone expected to last very long. In fact, the running joke when he was first introduced was that he was just “the other one” of the trio of normal human villains who targeted Buffy. Andrew eventually became part of the main team, although his presence was mostly just barely tolerated at first. I actually had a very hard time coming up with a book to match this character. The best I can think of is a book from one of my favourite childhood series, Me Too! by Mercer Mayer, part of the Little Critter series. The book is about Critter dealing with his irritating younger sister who wants to do everything that he is doing. I’m sure there are plenty of other examples, and more recent books I’ve read, but I’m having trouble thinking of any!