Angel is a fictional character created by Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt for the television programs Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. He is played by actor David Boreanaz. Angel is a vampire who is cursed with a soul, a punishment designed to make him suffer for his past crimes committed under the name Angelus. Like many characters in the Buffyverse, Angel goes through drastic changes. He starts out as a reluctant hero who stayed in the shadows, and ended up an altruistic champion of mankind, seeking to voluntarily atone for his sins. In addition to the two television series, the character appears in the canonical comic book continuations of both series.
Angel's first appearance is in "Welcome to the Hellmouth", the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1997. In it, he meets the protagonist Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a young girl destined to fight evil in the small town of Sunnydale. For the first half of the season, Angel is an enigmatic love interest for Buffy, showing up only to offer her cryptic messages about upcoming threats. It isn't until the episode "Angel" that the character is revealed to be a benevolent vampire, cursed in 1898 with a conscience when Romanian gypsies returned his soul as an act of vengeance for killing their most beloved daughter; prior to his curse, 'Angelus' is recorded as perhaps the most sadistic vampire in history. Although uneasy about trusting a vampire, Buffy and the Scooby Gang eventually come to view Angel as an ally. In the second season (1997–1998), Buffy and Angel's romantic relationship develops and the pair make love in the episode "Surprise". However, Angel's curse comes with a catch, discovered when it's revealed that the computer science teacher, and Giles' (Anthony Head) love, Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte) is really Janna of the Kalderash clan, sent to watch Angel and make sure the curse placed by her people remains. The catch: if Angel ever experiences a moment of true happiness, such as sex with a person he loves, he will lose his soul and revert to the evil Angelus again. Now soulless, Angelus reunites with his old friends, the villainous vampires Spike (James Marsters) and Drusilla (Juliet Landau), and begins terrorising Buffy and her friends. Upon discovering Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte) is working to translate the text of the original curse to restore Angel's soul, Angelus murders her, placing her body in Giles' bed for him to discover. Angelus then attempts to destroy the world by awakening the demon Acathla. In the season finale, neophyte witch Willow (Alyson Hannigan) manages to restore Angel's soul. However, Buffy is still forced to kill him to save the world from Acathla, and Angel is sent to hell. In season three (1998–1999), Angel inexplicably returns from hell. The Scooby Gang are outraged when they discover that Buffy has been secretly caring for him since his resurrection, but grudgingly accept him after he saves Willow's life. When Angel is later manipulated by the First Evil into attempting suicide, his life is saved by Buffy and divine intervention. Although Buffy and Angel initially try to be nothing more than friends, they eventually resume their romantic, albeit celibate, relationship. However, as Angel becomes more aware of their limitations as a couple, he eventually breaks up with her in the hopes that she will be happier without him. He decides to leave Sunnydale altogether, but not before attending Buffy's prom and helping her in the battle against the Mayor (Harry Groener).
After his departure from Buffy, Angel appeared in his own spin-off series, titled Angel. Moving to Los Angeles, he starts a supernatural detective agency called Angel Investigations. He dedicates himself to "helping the helpless," and becomes a Champion of The Powers That Be, who send him psychic visions through his employees Doyle (Glenn Quinn), and later Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter). In doing so, he frequently clashes with the powerful law firm Wolfram & Hart, who represent the evil of the world. During this season (1999–2000), Buffy and Angel appear in each other's shows (the Buffy episode "Pangs" and the Angel episode "I Will Remember You"), but are forced to accept that nothing has changed and they still can't or shouldn't be together. Later in the television season, Buffy crosses over into the episode "Sanctuary" where she attempts to kill rogue Slayer Faith (Eliza Dushku) to whom Angel shows compassion, and Angel appears in Buffy's "The Yoko Factor" where he squares off with Buffy's new boyfriend Riley (Marc Blucas) and in "Forever" where Angel returns to Sunnydale to comfort Buffy after losing her mother. In the season finale, Angel is given some hope at redemption when the Shanshu prophecy reveals that a vampire with a soul may eventually become human after fulfilling his role in the upcoming apocalypse. In season two (2000–2001), Angel discovers that Wolfram & Hart has brought his sire and former lover Darla (Julie Benz) back from the dead in human form. Although Darla is intent on bringing back Angelus, Angel hopes to save her soul and help her seek redemption while she still has a chance. However, just as it looks like he might succeed, Wolfram & Hart bring in Drusilla to turn Darla back into a vampire. Embracing his dark side, Angel fires his employees, Cordelia, Wesley (Alexis Denisof) and Gunn (J. August Richards), and embarks on a vendetta against Wolfram & Hart; Angel allows Darla and Dru to massacre a group of lawyers. Losing faith in his mission, he has sex with Darla in the hopes of losing his soul. Instead, however, he experiences an epiphany and realises that the good fight is still worth fighting. A disgusted Darla flees L.A. and Angel reconciles with his friends, who eventually forgive him.
Season three (2001–2002) sees Angel struggle with fatherhood when Darla returns pregnant with his child, despite the fact that vampires are unable to conceive. When Darla kills herself to give birth, Angel is left to raise the baby Connor (played by triplets Connor, Jake and Trenton Tupen) and protect him from those who wish to get their hands on a child of two vampires. False prophecies, time travel, and betrayal lead to Angel losing his infant son to an old enemy, Holtz (Keith Szarabajka), who abducts Connor into a hell dimension where time passes differently. Connor (Vincent Kartheiser) returns days later, fully grown and under the belief that Angel is a soulless monster. Holtz kills himself and frames Angel for his death, prompting Connor to take revenge by sinking his father to the bottom of the ocean. Over the course of this season, Angel's friendship with his colleague Cordelia evolves into romance, but circumstances prevent him from confessing his feelings. In the fourth season (2002–2003), Angel is rescued from the ocean by his former friend Wesley. As Los Angeles crumbles under the apocalypse, Angel is forced to cope with the romantic relationship between his son and Cordelia. In order to find out more about the Beast (Vladimir Kulich) terrorizing L.A., Angel Investigations remove Angel's soul and bring back Angelus. Their plan fails, and Angelus wreaks havoc until an old friend, Willow, manages to return his soul for the second time. It is eventually revealed that Cordelia is possessed by Jasmine (Gina Torres), a higher power who puts humanity under her thrall in the hopes of achieving world peace. When Angel restores free will and ruins Jasmine's plan, Wolfram & Hart offer him control of their L.A. branch as a reward for putting a stop to world peace. Angel accepts when they agree to rewrite Connor's memories of growing up in hell, allowing him to live a normal life with a new family. Afterwards, Angel appears in the penultimate and final episodes of Buffy, presenting Buffy with an amulet to help her battle the First Evil.
The final season of Angel (2003–2004) sees the character having made a deal with the devil by becoming CEO of Wolfram & Hart's Los Angeles office, and all of his friends have become W&H employees hoping to reform the organization from within under Angel's supervision. His life this season is complicated by the increasingly blurred line between good and evil, the deaths of loved ones Cordelia and Fred (Amy Acker), and the possibility that the Shanshu prophecy may in fact be referring to Spike (who is now also a vampire with a soul) rather than himself. Allowing his friends to believe he is being corrupted, Angel secretly plots to bring down the Senior Partners of Wolfram & Hart by assassinating the Circle of the Black Thorn, signing away his prophesied humanity in the process. Realizing that he may never be able to fully stop the forces of evil, Angel and his friends enter into a suicidal battle against the Senior Partners, and the series ends with the question of their survival unanswered.
Between 2001 and 2004, Joss Whedon and Jeph Loeb developed a 4-minute pilot episode for Buffy the Animated Series, which was set during the show's first season. Had the series been picked up by a network, it would have featured Angel (voiced by David Boreanaz) in more adventures set during Buffy's first season. Following a 2008 leak of the pilot to YouTube, Loeb expressed some hope that the series may be resurrected in some form.
In 2007, Angel began appearing in two canonical continuations of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel from Joss Whedon. Appearing "sparingly" in the Dark Horse Comics Buffy continuation Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Angel appears in dream sequences belonging to Buffy in the series third and twentieth issues, as well as in the Dark Horse Presents special Season Eight comic "Always Darkest". The first depicts a sexual encounter involving Buffy, Spike and Angel simultaneously; in the second he advises Buffy about not changing the future; in the third, he and Spike neglect to help Buffy fight Caleb and instead begin flirting with and kissing one another. In the 33rd issue, the series' villain Twilight is unmasked as Angel; how Angel came to assume the alias is as yet unspecified. The Season Eight creative team have promised that Angel's appearances as Twilight will not conflict with the continuity of Angel's own comic book series. Angel appears more substantially within the IDW Publishing continuation of Angel, Angel: After the Fall; Whedon and writer Brian Lynch developed the storyline for the first seventeen issues but did not write the series himself. Beginning with the eighteenth issue of the series, IDW chose to continue telling "official" Angel stories in an ongoing comic book with rotating writers and artists. Kelley Armstrong explains that her five-issue Angel: Aftermath story arc following After the Fall is not strictly "canon" in the same sense as After the Fall as it "did not come from Whedon himself". In the continued series without Whedon's involvement, Angel engages in episodic adventures, while the series also takes breaks to focus on other characters. From the 28th issue, under writer Bill Willingham, Angel will be dealing with his newfound fame and have to escape the newly founded 'Immortality Incorporated', who kidnap him. In his absence Connor steps up to take over Angel Investigations.
In After the Fall, set after the fifth season, Angel and his friends struggle as Los Angeles has been moved to a hell dimension by the Senior Partners who have also turned Angel human as a punishment. With the help of Wesley's ghost, magical spells to simulate his old abilities, and a friendly dragon (seen in "Not Fade Away") which he names after Cordelia, Angel continues helping the helpless. Angel eventually outsmarts and kills the Demon Lords of Los Angeles to win the city back for its people. Gunn, now a vampire out for revenge against Angel following the fight in the alley, confronts Angel, and brings him to the point of death. Cordelia's spirit comes to convince Angel to keep fighting, in spite of a vision of the "final battle" which sees Angel responsible for countless deaths. Wesley also confirms that Angel is still viable for the Shanshu prophecy, because his signed contract was never filed. Angel's body is subsequently taken by the Senior Partners and restored to health while Gunn successfully manages to restore Illyria to her true form, hoping she will restore time to before the Fall of Los Angeles only to embark on a destructive rampage instead. Gunn kills Connor, but rather than avenge the death Angel allows Gunn to kill him, forcing the Senior Partners to restore time back to before the Fall, as he is necessary to their plans. Restored to the fight in the alley with memories intact, Angel saves Gunn this time and later is happily reunited with Connor. Angel enjoys celebrity status from the citizens of Los Angeles, and gives Cordelia the dragon over to Groosalugg. As a mark of respect for his friends, he names a wing of the Los Angeles public library after Wesley and Fred; Wesley is no longer a ghost. Angel leaves the human, traumatised Gunn an Angel Investigations card and returns to his duties helping the helpless.
In Season Eight, Twilight appears in the premiere issue; his shoes are seen floating in the air as he surveys Buffy. In the first arc, a military organisation which views the Slayers as terrorists uses witch Amy and undead scientist Warren to attack Buffy's Scottish headquarters, with many casualties; the general leading the attack bears the symbol of Twilight. In the last issue of the "No Future for You" arc, an evil Slayer and her warlock Watcher are revealed to have been working for Twilight. A prophetic demon in "Anywhere but Here" explains that Twilight signifies "the death of magic". In "A Beautiful Sunset", Buffy and Slayer Satsu fight Twilight one-on-one, but superior strength and the power to fly ensures easily defeats them both. In the first part of "Time of Your Life", Warren and Amy attack the Slayers' citadel with a mystical missile, destroying it. In the last part, Buffy's ex-boyfriend Riley is revealed to also be working for Twilight, and creatures loyal to Twilight attack Satsu in Japan in "Swell". Twilight locates the Slayers by their magic, forcing Slayer cells to converge and retreat in "Retreat"; in Tibet, they attempt to hide and suppress their powers, leading to a mutually destructive military conflict between the Slayers and Twilight's forces; after the battle, Twilight has captured Faith, Giles and Andrew, and Buffy has acquired new powers similar to Twilight's. In "Twilight", when Buffy faces up to her masked enemy again, he reveals himself to be Angel, and claims to have been distracting the various organisations that would seek to destroy Buffy while he pushes towards some other unknown end. The two kiss upon reunion.
In 2009, IDW released a four-issue miniseries, Angel: Blood and Trenches, written and drawn by John Byrne in an uninked, uncolored style save for the red of blood. The story tells of Angel's activities during World War I.