As a Trope Overdosed work (and a Joss Whedon show, at that), Angel has had some of the coolest Crowning Moments of any show out there.
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The first season of Angel had the titular character feeling lost and alone after the third season of "Buffy." His girlfriend left him, he lost his home and all of his former friends alliesacquaintances hate him after he turned evil and went on a rampage. So it stands to reason that a vampire hero with a troubled past and his band of ragtag misfits would have some awesome times fighting evil in the streets of Los Angeles. Here are some examples:
In the beginning five minutes of the pilot, faced by two incoming vampires, he flicks his wrists and dusts them both with concealed stakes in his sleeves. It was so awesome, it stayed in the title credits until the final season.
And just how did Vampire Batman get to them? He's in a bar acting drunk, talking about how much he loves Buffy until the vampires makes their move, before following them.
Again in the first episode, he has this little exchange:
Russel: I pay my taxes, I keep my name out of the paper, and I don't make waves. And in return, I can do anything I want.
Angel: Really. Can you fly?
And then he kicks the vampire out the window into bright Los Angeles sunlight, about a hundred stories above the ground, and says "Hmm. Guess not." Keep in mind that this is just after Angel waltzes by Lindsey McDonald, who had threatened to destroy Angel if he even came near his client. That didn't stop him.
Spike makes his first appearance in the series in the episode "In the Dark," where he and a vampire lackey torture Angel, but not before significant snarking from the rooftops as Spike watches his rival save a damsel in distress.
Spike [as Rachel, falsetto]: How can I thank you, you mysterious, black-clad, hunk of a night thing?
Spike [as Angel, basso]: No need, little lady, your tears of gratitude are enough for me. You see, I was once a bad-ass vampire, but love and a pesky curse defanged me. Now I'm just a big, fluffy puppy with bad teeth. [Rachel sways closer to Angel; he steps back, warding her off with his hands.] No, not the hair! Never the hair!
Spike [as Rachel]: But there must be some way I can show my appreciation.
Spike [as Angel]: No, helping those in need's my job. And working up a load of sexual tension and prancing away like a magnificent poof is truly thanks enough!
Spike [as Rachel]: I understand. I have a nephew who's gay, so...
Spike [as Angel]: Ah. Say no more. Evil's still afoot ... and I'm almost out of that nancy-boy hair gel that I like so much. Quickly! To the Angelmobile — AWAY! [Rachel and Angel leave. Spike lights a cigarette.]
Spike [as Spike]: Go on, Liam. Play the big, strapping hero while you can. You have a few surprises coming your way—the Ring of Amarra, a visit from your old pal Spike, and— oh, yeah— your gruesome, horrible death.
Cordelia: I think you are gonna pack your little ghost bags, and get the HELL out of MY HOUSE!
Buffy vs an Elite Mook demon, with her winning handily.
In the same episode, Angel gets one for demanding his condition back, just to save Buffy from a life of looking after him when he's mortal and helpless. This impresses one of the Oracles enough to reverse time back twenty-four hours, when normally they don't involve themselves in mortal offerings.
Let's also not forget Doyle's Heroic Sacrifice. Manly tears, gentlemen. Manly tears.
Anytime Doyle had a moment of Hulking Out and fought as his demon self, notably in "Bachelor Party" where he breaks free and starts brawling with the demons that are trying to kill him and eat his brain. While under the influence of a drug that made him feel numb, and slightly drunk.
Or when Wesley couldn't perform the exorcism in "I've Got You Under My Skin," so Angel did it instead. This involved Angel picking up and clinging to a freaking crucifix. Even with the cloth he'd wrapped around it, his hand was smoldering. This was when I finally began to like the character.
"The Ring" has a moment where Wesley is confronting a gang of loan sharks, and they laugh him off. He pulls out a crossbow, fires a bolt into the leader's hand, then disarms him and tells them all not to shoot or else.
Similarly, all the demons breaking free and wreaking havoc on the guards, before offing Darin. Too bad a lot of them turned out evil afterwards.
"Five By Five" brings Faith to Los Angeles in an attempt to assassinate Angel and his friends. Wesley gains a CMOA when, while she's brutally torturing him, he tells her that he knows her better than anyone else, and that even if she kills him she's still a piece of shit.
Faith: (waving an open flame in Wesley's face, visibly prepared to start roasting his eyeballs with it) I think I want to hear you scream!
Wesley: You never will.
And this doesn't even mention Wesley punching Faith so hard that he knocked her flat on her ass!
Faith herself gets a CMOA in "Five By Five" when she starts a brawl in a bar - for no particular reason, of course - and then dances through it as if nothing is happening.
And then Angel gets one later - Faith sneaks up behind him with a crossbow and shoots him, only for him to spin around and catch the arrow before it can hit him. And bear in mind that he didn't even know she was in LA yet - he was acting purely on instinct.
Cordelia punking out Angelus with her acting in "Eternity".
Angel's fight with Vocah in "To Shanshu In LA", which was immediately followed by him cutting off Lindsey's hand from across the room.
Wesley gets one of his first of many when even though he is visibly scared, he tells a demon he is a coward and a bully for picking on a child.
And the lawyer who warns Angel about the demon? He's droning on about why he works for Wolfram & Hart as Angel pretends to be asleep, before he demands the lawyer get to the part about being evil.
After being tortured by Faith and brushed aside by Angel after that when he resented taking her in, Wesley proves his metal by subverting the plans of a wetworks team of Watchers, and taking one of them out by using a syringe as a dart.
Angel and Buffy versus the wetworks team itself is rather awesome, as Buffy takes out one of the gunmen while Angel jumps out of the skylight, onto a freaking helicopter, disarming the gunman and forcing the pilot to land.
Faith gets one here as well. Angel wants to protect her. Buffy wants to kill her, and Faith is prepared to let her because of all the evil things she did. In the end Faith turns herself over to the police, and the prison time sticks until season four when Wesley goes to Faith because he knows she wouldn't kill Angelus.
Angel gets a glorious one when Buffy shows up looking for Faith and he tells her to go back to Sunnydale, since he's got the situation under control. When she starts throwing in his face how much better her life is now that he's out of it, he essentially tells her to fuck off and leave him alone.
"Sense and Sensitivity". Angel and Kate beat up a gangster and his crew who try to kill her while they were still under a sensitivity spell.
Despite having (partially) foiled the plans of Wolfram & Hart, Angel finds himself in deeper and darker trouble than ever, with his sire returning from the dead with the sole purpose of screwing with him.
A villainous example: at the end of "The Trial", after Angel has done everything in his power to save Darla, they both share a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, deciding to Face Death with Dignity... which is then immediately subverted when a W&H team crash through the door, incapacitate Angel, and in swoops fucking Drusilla who proceeds to kill and sire Darla while staring Angel right in the face. Extra points when you consider that W&H could have used any vampire in LA, but decided to track down the one who still had emotional ties to both Angel and Darla.
Lindsey: How'd you think this was going to end?
The end of episode 10, of season 2, "Reunion". Darla and Drusilla decided to follow Hollands suggestion of a massacre, by busting a Wolfram & Hart party, and butcher all present. Than enters Angel, and after a short conversation with Darla, says he will let her and Drusilla eat the lawyers.
Darla: Come on love, I never did get that goodbye kiss.
Angel: You will. But not tonight.
Lilah:For God's sake, Help us!
Holland: Angel, please. People are gonna die.
Angel: And yet, somehow I just can't seem to care.
Angel shuts the door, effectively imprisoning the lawyers with Darla and Drusilla for certain death. We know that it was a step to the Dark Side for Angel, but the nonchalant way in which he did it, after those bastards where playing with his head since the beginning of the season gave an incredible sense of satisfaction.
Angel gets another dark yet awesome moment in the following episode: Darla and Drusilla have begun gathering an army/gang of the strongest demons in L.A. They go to the warehouse where they've gathered the demons - and find Angel standing over their corpses, casually smoking a cigarette. He then just as casually tosses the cigarette into the trail of gasoline the girls are standing on, setting them both on fire (they get better).
Lindsey singing at Caritas and later quitting Wolfram & Hart pretty much redeemed him in my eyes. Too bad it didn't last.
Darla, a vampire, stakes herself in order to save her unborn child. Even though the entire series is (albeit darker than Buffy the Vampire Slayer) fairly campy, that scene was incredibly moving.
In Double Or Nothing, Angel willingly gambles his soul to save Gunn's. That itself is impressive, but he has a plan that is awesome either way you look at it. He tells Cordelia to stake him if he turns back into Angelus. When Angel loses, the gang chooses to Take a Third Option and decapitate the demon broker in question, saving both their souls and causing almost every gambler in the room, demon and human, to charge the broker and take his money.
Another way this could be considered awesome is the fact that Angel would willingly kill himself, rather than bring Angelus back.
Holtz secures his place as a Magnificent Bastard in the last two episodes of the season: After raising Angel's son (in a Hell dimension, no less) to hate Angel as much as he does, Holtz then has his lover/assistant Justine stab him twice in the neck to make it look like Angel killed him, in order to permanently turn Connor against Angel. The result is Connor sticking Angel in a And I Must Scream state until the beginning of the next season. YMMV on Holtz's character, but you have to admire how he was able to pull this off.
Connor gets one in his first appearance, when a giant demon comes out of the portal to Quor-Toth. The gang are terrified, then Connor shows up, kills it with one blow, and stands before them, before delivering a true Wham Line: "Hi Dad".
Connor also gets another when he beats the hell out of a group of drug dealers who are about to assault a girl. This is while he is still in shock from arriving in a new world. Made better by him tearing off the leader's ear as a trophy.
Holtz might just be a walking CMOA as he planned and carried out a complex gambit, was barely phased by arriving in another century, effortlessly got people to follow him on his crusade, and managed to outsmart both Wolfram & Hart and Team Angel.
In the season premier, Wesley, having nearly died and been abandoned by his friends, finds Angel's undersea coffin and pulls it up to the boat. In spite of threats to his life from Angel, Wesley looks after the starving vampire. When he realizes that Angel isn't recovering well enough, Wes cuts his own arm and feeds him.
In the fourth season, during the four-on-one battle with the Beast, the heroes can't even harm the enemy. While the fights in Angel normally go down like in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, this time Wesley pulls out a gun and shoots the bad guy. The viewership cheers because finally someone drops the Idiot Ball, although the shots from the pistol are useless. Wesley pulls out a freaking shotgun and blasts the Beast repeatedly.
While even the shotgun doesn't work, later in the season in a fight with Skip, Wesley goes to the guns again and proves that they're not always useless. Skip has armored skin that blocks most of the bullets, but there's a hole in the armor due to Angel having broken off one of Skip's horns earlier in the episode. A very small hole. Wesley puts a bullet through the hole, in mid-air while diving across the room, giving Skip only enough time to say "Well, that ain't right." before he dies.
Wesley goes to see Faith in prison. He tells her that Angelus is back. Faith tells him to step away from the glass. She then jumps through the reinforced window, beats up the guards, then grabs Wesley and leaps out the window, landing on a car. All in under one minute.
And, of course, a major part of the awesomeness of that scene is that it makes you realise that Faith has only spent the last few years in prison because she wanted to (or at least, felt she deserved to be, so stayed and made no attempt to leave) and that she could have left at any point.
Angelus gets one when The Beast is about to kill Faith and Angelus stabs him with a knife made of his skin. Although given that it brought back the Sun, it also qualifies as a "Nice Job Fixing It, Villain" moment.
When Faith and Wesley finally catch up with Angelus, he and Faith have a very impressive fight, which ends on a cliffhanger with him biting her. Then in the next episode you discover that that was the plan all along - She couldn't bring herself to kill him, so she drugged herself and let him bite her instead. Which means that she was high as a kite through that whole fight, and was still able to fight the Scourge of Europe to a standstill for three minutes. (Which is about 90 seconds longer than Buffy's personal best in that field.)
Can Big Bads get CMOAs? Because if they do, some praise has to be given to The Beast. In his first confrontation with the team, he effortlessly knocks them around like ragdolls and then stabs Angel in the neck with his own freaking stake.
A little one: After Jasmine imprisons the gang in the cage in the basement, Gunn keeps kicking at the reinforced steel door while the others tell him to stop wasting his time. He keeps kicking it for almost the entire episode until...
The episode "Smile Time," despite being arguably one of the funniest episodes in the series, manages to be awesome as well when Team Angel power walks out of the office... with Puppet!Angel leading the way.
In the episode "Origin," Gunn has trapped himself in a private hell, in order to redeem himself for his mistake. He is tortured for who knows how long. A plate piled up with multiple hearts carved out of his chest. Marcus makes him an offer that could get him out an eternity of agony, and his reply?
Gunn: Come on, sparky. Let's go. This heart ain't gonna cut itself out.
Angel's line to Lindsey in You're Welcome: "Doesn't matter how bad you think you are. I'm Angel. I beat the bad guys."
In the series finale of Angel, Angel is getting his ass kicked by Hamilton, even with assistance from his son Connor - until Hamilton gets cocky.
Hamilton: Let me say this as clearly as I can. You cannot beat me. I am a part of them. The Wolf, Ram, and Hart. Their strength flows through my veins. My blood is filled with their ancient power.
Angel: Can you pick out the one word there you probably shouldn't have said?
Angel's face changes, and he leaps on Hamilton, sinks his fangs into Hamilton's neck, and begins drinking his blood.
Gunn gets another CMOA in the final episode by taking on a roomful of vampires armed only with skill and stakes. A feat normally reserved for Slayers and having the time to kill the evil Senator by hurling an axe into her head. And he still had enough guts to wander down to meet up with the fang gang for one last stand, making Charles Gunn the last living member of Team Angel.
Bonus points for using Angel's sleeve-stakes from way back in the first episode.
For perspective; there were at least eight vampires in that room, and that's just the ones we saw. When Vamp Willow hit the Bronze with a gang of "eight, maybe ten" vampires in 'Doppelgangland', Angel took one look at the odds and called in Buffy and the Scoobs for backup before going in. And they were seriously considering calling in Faith, too! And Gunn solo'ed those kinds of odds, even if he took a mortal wound in the process.
Also from the finale: Spike killing every single one of the Fell Brethren singlehandedly. Literally. Because he only has one hand free. Because he's holding a baby.
Harmony gets her own moment of Awesome when she single-handedly figures out who set her up for murder, dusts the real killer and prevents a demon war. Almost made this troper wish she and Spike had stayed together
Illyria consoling a dying Wesley by turning into Fred as he dies. Then dealing with the Smug Snake killer by morphing back into Illyria while delivering a punch that smashes his head. In slow motion. Pure awesomeness.
Not to mention the fact that Vail doesn't realize he's dealing with the Godking of Primordium, so he stands there and taunts her.
Vail: Take your best shot, little girl. (skull smash)
The Series finale. As quoted above they're staring down an army of demons several of which are as tall as the buildings. One of their members horribly injured. Their reaction? "Personally I want to slay the dragon. Let's get to work," and ends with Angel bringing his blade down to cut them up. This has to be mentioned twice due to the sheer awesomeness of the moment.
Spike gets two in the Episode "Soul Purpose" although the first (Effortlessly dusting a vamp and insulting the victim for wearing heels down a dark alley and being out this late) is more a Crowning Moment of Funny. The second comes when he saves two people and dusts the vamps using the hidden stakes Angel used in the first episode.
Lorne, threatening Eve as to what he'll do if it turns out she's withholding any information that might be useable to save Fred's life. And note, "these two" refers to the vampires formerly known as Angelus and William the Bloody.
Lorne: If I hear one note, one quarter-note, that says you had anything to do with it, these two won't even have time to kill you.
Wesley's entire reaction to the rise of Illyria. Note, he's a man who just spent half a day by the bedside of the woman he loves, watching her and cradling her in his arms as she dies horribly in agony. He has every reason to be... distracted. Instead, as soon as Illyria rises up in Fred's dead body he first engages her in conversation to see if Fred is still in there, then without hesitation goes for her neck with an axe once he's determined that Illyria is only inhabiting Fred's corpse. And the instant that fails, he tries psychological warfare. On an Old One. Almost any other man would be either overcome by grief or enraged at this moment. Wesley is both, at the same time, and yet still fighting with everything he has, at a genius level.
Illyria: Oh... now I remember. Winifred Burkle is the shell I'm in.
Wesley: (tearfully) She's the woman you killed.
Illyria: This is grief. I'm watching human grief. It's like offal in my mouth.
Wesley: (softly, almost hypnotically) If you stay here, you'll taste it every day, every second. Look. Humans rule the Earth. They will last for millennia... like roaches crawling everywhere. Crying and sweating and puking their feelings all over you. Go back. Sleep until the humans are gone. They are stupid and weak. They'll kill each other off and you can return to the world you deserve. (he holds his hand to her shoulder, nearly touching it) Leave this shell.
And the only reason it failed is...
Illyria: You seek to save what's rotted through. This carcass is bound to me. I could not change that if I cared to.
Cordelia in "You're Welcome". Really, pretty much the whole thing, but we'll lead off with this particular scene, as Angel's heading down to confront Lindsay and his doomsday weapon.
Angel: Be ready to evacuate. If this thing gets past me, get the hell out of the building.
Cordelia: Past us.
Angel: Oh no, no. Cordy-
Cordelia: Yeah, save it Angel. You can order me around all you want, but I know my rights. (Grabs a katana off the wall, draws it) And I wanna see a lawyer.
Spike and Angel's entire fight in 'Destiny' but espically when Spike used the cross to beat Angel, after Angel was hardly able to touch the thing. And Spike's angry tirade.
Spike: Every time you look at me you see all the dirty little things I’ve done, all the lives I’ve taken. Because of you! Drusilla may have sired me, but you— you made me a monster.
Angel: I didn’t make you, Spike. I just opened up the door— and let the real you out.
Spike: You never knew the real me. Too busy tryin’ to see your own reflection. Prayin’ there was someone as disgusting as you in the world. So you could learn to live with yourself. Take a long look, hero. I am nothing like you.
Hamilton's fight with Illryia. Even if he is the villain, this troper was in awe as he beat an Old One's face in, proclaiming he hoped for more of a challenge.
As a person who despised Illryia more than some of the villians, this was incredibly satisfying to watch, especially since [[Firefly Jayne]] was giving the beatdown.
Thanks to a Timey-Wimey Ball, Illyria kills the members of Team Angel. Like You Would Really Do It is in effect, since it's pretty much the entire main cast getting killed with three episodes left in the season (Joss Whedon is an emotional sadist, but he's never gone THAT far), but it's still amazing to watch, with Illyria starting by appearing behind Spike and staking him and ending in Angel leaping at her and her decapitating him, his head still dusting as it hits the wall.
From the series finale, Lorne's Reason You Suck speech, given right after he's shot Lindsey in the chest four times.
Andrew's dorky yet utterly badass verbal takedown of Angel and co for working with Wolfram and Hart.