Alas, Poor Villain: Sam Lawson from "Why We Fight". The only vampire Angel ever sired after getting his soul. He did it because the man was dying and he was also the only one able to repair the submarine they were both on. Since he was sired while Angel was ensouled, he's not able to feel any pleasure from killing. But of course he doesn't have a soul himself. So he's forever stuck between good and evil, unable to be either.
Is Jasmine good or evil? Just look at the section for her on the Headscratchers page.
Wesley: Romantic, intelligent guy who's made some questionable decisions, or Too Dumb to Live obsessive stalker?
Connor: Ax-Crazy with a serious case of Oedipus Complex, or unable to overcome his distrust from being trained to hate Angel from infancy and clinging to the only person in his life who's nice to him?
Holtz: Obsessed manipulative villain willing to drag everyone down with him or a noble man driven to violence by Angelus? Despite being a villain, Holtz is often portrayed as having perfectly valid points that not even Angel can argue with. What happened to him was heinous and unforgivable. Angel knows that better than anyone. His concern often seems to be with innocents and he never deceives his followers about his intentions. He doesn't use Violence unless he has to, and he is well aware of the shades of grey involved in what he is doing.
After Cordelia's much-maligned arc in Season 4 which ended with her put into a coma, the show's 100th episode "You're Welcome" was seen as a massive one for her character as it restored her to the person the fans loved and reaffirmed why she was important to the show and to Angel himself. This despite the fact that she died in the episode, because it was done so beautifully overall.
The later seasons of Buffy did some Draco in Leather Pants-ing of Spike, as even after his Attempted Rape of Buffy, any criticism of him tends to get met with "he has a soul now". In Angel season 5, he and Angel have multiple conversations on how the evil they did is the only thing that will count and he got his soul for a woman, not because of any goodness.
Illyria. On the one hand she had a lot of Replacement Scrappy heat to shake off and it didn't help that she was introduced towards the end of the series. On the other she is very cool and very well played by Amy Acker. It also helps if you know that if the show hadn't been cancelled, season 6 would have Fred turn out to be Not Quite Dead and fighting Illyria for control of her body, meaning Illyria didn't comdemn her to death without an afterlife.
Wesley post-Season 3. Loads of fans loved the direction he went in, becoming Darker and Edgier and slipping into Crazy Awesome territory. Others disliked it, finding he was far too different and flirted with being the Creator's Petnote He never accepts responsibility for what he did to Connor, he freely makes a pass at Fred while she's in a relationship with Gunn, and attacks and even murders people in cold blood when Fred is threatened - all things that the narrative would come down much harder on other characters if they did them.
Gwen Raiden only appeared in three episodes but she's remembered precisely because she's a Dark Action Girl who wears very little.
Bizarro Episode: Some viewers consider "The Girl in Question" to be this - in the middle of a tense, tragic story arc leading up to the heavily depressing series finale, we get an episode revolving around Spike and Angel gallivanting off to Italy to have wacky, Ho Yay-tastic adventures while trying to rescue Buffy from the mistake of dating an unseen, vampiric sexual predator with whom they apparently have a never-before-mentioned complex history; this unapologetically farcical storyline is played against a bitter, tragic Los Angeles subplot in which Illyria assumes Fred's form in order to deceive her parents into believing that their daughter is alive and well, a state of affairs which nearly breaks Wesley and is difficult to watch even for the viewers (plus it completely ignores how Wesley's final words to Fred were a promise to inform her parents about her death). The episode feels fragmented and out of place at best, and at worst features an incredibly tactless and offensive juxtaposition of storylines.
Season 5 for suddenly switching from arc-based storylines to standalone episodes. Some welcomed the change, after the gloominess of Season 4, and found the new setting of Wolfram & Hart was interesting enough to warrant standalone episodes just getting to know the place. Others weren't happy with the abrupt shift from Angel Investigations.
The Pylea Arc. Some fans found it to be a fun and creative way to end off the season, with some great character development. Others found it to be silly, tacked on, and unrelated to the rest of the season. However, most fans can agree a good aspect of this arc was that it did introduce Fred.
Continuity Lock-Out: From the end of the first season on, the series became increasingly arc-driven, to the point that season four required that you be familiar with many of the developments of the past two years to grasp the complexity of Jasmine's advance planning. Network execs reacted to this by insisting that season five be much more typical, revamping the entire location of the show and substantially modifying the mission of the main characters.
Crazy Awesome: Faith's second run in the series. How does Angelus saving the world grab you? Or Faith fighting him while higher than a kite, allowing herself to be fed on so he gets so drugged out he hallucinates the good acts he's done, much to his horror?
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Season 4 is despised partially for this reason. Wesley has become an especially dark vigilante who happily makes passes on other people's girlfriends, while also having an affair with Lilah. Angel's brat of a son is wandering around being all brooding and angry. Cordelia is possessed by a Dark Messiah and has an affair with a teenager. And the Big Bad literally causes the sun to be blocked out. The characters are all so dark and dysfunctional in this season it's hard to care about anything.
Draco in Leather Pants: A lot of fans side exclusively with Wesley regarding his actions in season 3. Particularly his line "I had my throat cut and all my friends abandoned me" - and villify the other characters for turning on him. This is ignoring the fact that a) Wesley knew about a massive danger towards Angel's son and kept it from all of them. Keeping it from Angel initially is understandable, but he didn't talk through it with the others presumably because he was jealous of Gunn and Fred - and b) chose to conspire with Holtz out of all his other possible options. Regardless of his intentions, it led to a baby being kidnapped through a portal into a Hell Dimension - and said child being raised to assassinate his own father. There's also the fact of Lorne realising what Wesley is up to and Wesley deciding to knock him out rather than explain himself. While it certainly doesn't excuse Angel trying to smother him with a pillow in a fit of rage, the others had more of a case to act like the injured party than Wesley. And while he does patch things up with them eventually, he never actually accepts responsibility for his actions.
Doyle only appeared in nine episodes, but is very fondly remembered. Joss even intended to bring him back in Season 3 but Glenn Quinn's sudden death put a stop to those plans.
Lorne was only recurring in the second and third seasons, but proved popular enough to feature more and more.
Darla with regards to the parent show. She appeared only in three Season 1 episodes and made a cameo in Season 2. But upon being featured more and more on Angel, she became a fan-favourite. Her arc with Drusilla in Season 2 is held up as one of the strongest on the show.
Among the recurring characters, Skip. He was so popular in his debut appearance in season 3 that he was brought back for 3 more episodes. Joss has mentioned that he finds Skip to be among the coolest demons in the series, at least in design.
Matthias Pavayne to a lesser extent. He only appeared in one episode despite having a bit more of an impact than just one episode, but has a reasonable fanbase considering. He's also considered to be one of the most terrifying villains, which is saying something given the various Big Bads and Dragons he has for competition.
"Tomorrow", the Season 3 finale, sometimes suffers from this, too, as everything that happens in it basically sets up for Season 4. It doesn't help that it pulls a Yank the Dog's Chain by coming this close to hooking Angel and Cordelia up, before trapping the former in a box underwater and whisking the latter away to be possessed by Jasmine. Others have the cut-off earlier in the season, either before Connor gets kidnapped or have a Fix Fic of the gang rescuing him.
Foe Yay: Angel and Lindsey. Angel and Eve. Angel and Spike, which is practically Word of God ("Angel and I were never [intimate]...well, just that once."). PLUS Angel and Lilah. The guy gets around.
From the last episode, "Not Fade Away":
Angel: I want you Lindsey. (beat) Thinking about rephrasing that.
Lindsey: Yeah, I think I'd be more comfortable if you did.
Also referenced in "Darla"
Darla: It's not me you want to screw.
Darla: It's him.
Does Drusilla stroking Lilah's face while threatening to bite her count?
Many examples, including Angel and Spike and Drusilla and Lilah. Turned into Dating Catwoman with Lilah and Wesley.
Kate Lockley is implied to have an attraction, as well.
And then there was that time Angel and Eve had sex behind a couch.
Cordelia: And I thought Darla was rock bottom.
Angelus and Faith. He's disappointed when the Slayer he hears about in LA is her, but he quickly gets over it.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: "Eternity" features an offhand comment from Cordelia about how an actress was part of a great show cancelled in its prime. Little did Joss fans know that they would be experiencing the samefate. Not to mention that Charisma Carpenter herself would be part of Legend of the Seeker which was also cancelled in its prime.
Genius Bonus: Holtz comes off as evil to modern audiences, but his beliefs were only mildly conservative in his day — not the least is that he is indeed glad that Angel has a soul now. While modern audiences may view Angelus' soullessness as a valid Freudian Excuse, in Holtz's day, suffering the proper justice for sins committed was a major part of redemption. To Holtz, torturing a soulless Angel would have been empty sadism, though he'd have done it out of revenge anyway; by Paying Evil unto Evil on a penitent man, however, Holtz is also forcing Angel to atone.
The show certainly experienced a shift following the initial season. The first season finale was the first to demonstrate a sense of the long Myth Arc storyline as opposed to the story arcs that usually lasted one or two episodes. Buffy was known for but was not restrained by the Half-Arc Season long Big Bad story.
When it started out, the show was really just Buffy, but in the grown up world. It stayed this course for a while until towards the end of season one, when Angel must perform a demon exorcism. This episode seemed to tell everyone that this show was gonna be dark, stay dark, and still be entertaining.
While some may cite the exorcism episode, more often the turning points for the series are noted to be the two-part Faith arc ("Five By Five"/Sanctuary") and the re-introduction of Darla at the end of Season 1 and throughout Season 2.
When Wesley stopped being so clean shaven, the show noticeably changed pace as it became heavily arc driven, a trait the show would have until the series finale.
This was Andy Hallett's first major acting role, though he had previously guested on Buffy.
Not that Amy Acker's acting chops were ever in doubt before but they were raised to absolute new heights with the introduction of Illyria. Several episodes showed just how good she was that she was able to switch back and forth multiple times in the same scene.
The interviews Joss Whedon gave before the premiere stating that the show would be more of a "case of the week" show focusing more on guest stars and that it was less of a Soap Opera like Buffy. It turned out Whedon and his writers were not suited to writing those type of stories and the show eventually evolved and became a bigger soap opera than Buffy!
Years before anyone had ever heard of Twilight, Angel had an episode featuring a vampire from Angel's past named James who has an operation to make him temporarily invincible (but which kills him after a few hours) in order to avenge the death of his girlfriend who Angel had killed. The whole episode deconstructs the idea that true love means that you should commit suicide if you lose the other person. So Angel had an episode deconstructing one of the most irritating and controversial aspect of the Twilight novels, using a villain with the same name as one of the Twilight villains, years before the other series was even written.
Fred shouts out "Whiskey!" at one point. A few years later in Dollhouse she plays an active named Whiskey.
Connor is raised as Holtz's son, and given the name Steven. That's right, his assumed name is Steve Holtz!
Hollywood Homely: "Lonely Hearts" had a monster that switched hosts through sex. It transferred from a male host who looked like an underwear model to a girl who was alternately described as "Sarah plain and tall" and "that dowdy chick" that Cordy declared must be loaded to have such an attractive paramour. She's a gorgeous blonde girl who is no less attractive than anyone else on the show. Ultimately subverted in that the demon really knows how to make its hosts look good, and they all end up looking absolutely gorgeous when it's in control.
Connor, though at times more of the former than the latter. He was essentially raised in a hell dimension and trained to one day murder his father. When Holtz makes it look like Angel bit him, it's hard not to feel sorry for the kid losing his only father figure.
Darla too, despite being a murderous vampire for most of her life. When the guilt of everything she's done catches up with her, it's very hard to watch. And similarly when her baby is essentially lending her its soul, she realises that once she gives birth, she won't have the soul anymore and won't be able to love it.
Magnificent Bastard: Daniel Holtz was once a great force for good, a heroic vampire hunter whose family was destroyed by Angelus and Darla. Succumbing to vengeance, Holtz allows himself to be taken to 20th century LA where he builds an army of fanatics from those who have lost loved ones to vampires to use and manipulate, before focusing on how best to make Angel suffer. Holtz sees Angel's newborn son and manipulates Wesley into kidnapping the child before stealing the baby Connor away, intending to raise Connor himself far from Angel. When caught, Holtz elects to dive into the worst demon dimension with Connor, but survives and raises the boy there, later returning, seemingly at peace with Angel. Pulling off his final masterstroke, Holtz has himself murdered in a way to simulate a vampire attack, framing Angel to Connor so Connor will try to destroy Angel himself. Consumed by revenge and showing how far a true force for righteousness can fall, Holtz did more damage to Angel than even demons and gods have managed.
Holtz may not a truly evil person, but killing yourself, pinning it on the good guy (granted in a past life he had been evil), and effectively ruining your "son"'s life? Not cool, dude. Others posit he crossed much earlier, when he kidnapped Conner and escaped into another dimension.
Narm: When Jasmine launches into a big dramatic speech about spreading her influence, it starts a montage of the team fighting various opponents in her honour. This is intercut with clips of Fred scrubbing Jasmine's blouse in the sink. While It Makes Sense in Context and comes into play later, the two actions being used in the same montage is just ridiculous.
Painful Rhyme: In the series finale, Spike calls back to the Buffy episode "Fool For Love " where he was mocked for a poem he had written for Cecily. Now he gets to read the full thing - and the entire crowd loves it.
My soul is wrath in harsh repose Midnight descends in raven colored clothes But soft, behold! A sunlight beam Cutting a swath of glimmering gleam My heart expands, 'tis grown a bulge in't, Inspired by your beauty effulgent
Wesley joined the cast right after Doyle died. Doyle's popularity with fans, combined with the fact that fans weren't exactly eager for Wesley to come back, led to some serious anti-Wesley backlash. There was even a border-line lamp-shading moment where Wesley is called by Doyle's name accidentally and everyone suddenly feels very awkward. By the end of the season, however, he was generally accepted by fans and characters alike.
Spike's abrupt inclusion into the main cast, clearly a replacement for the similarly blunt Cordelia, was met with strong reactions with many of the longtime fans. After the overwhelmingly negative reception for the storyline that put Cordelia in the coma (that led to her exclusion from the main billing), many saw this as the last nail in the coffin for the series, fearing that Spike had only been brought in so that his fans would come over from Buffy and that all the plots would end up being about him. This, however, wasn't a general consensus among fans, as some enjoyed Spike's role in the series, and the worst fears of him taking over the show weren't realized.
In season five the simpering Eve replaced the vastly superior Lilah, to much dismay from the fans. Her role is also completely superfluous, as she's supposed to be the intermediary between the protagonists and the Senior Partners.....a role already taken by the Conduit. She was quickly replaced by Marcus Hamilton, who made no attempt to act as an ersatz-Lilah. Cordelia lampshades this trope in "You're Welcome", referring to Eve as "Lilah Jr."
The first villain in the series is a vampire that Angel kills outside a bar and is played by Josh Holloway, far more famous for his later role as Sawyer from Lost. Several other villains from the show (both lawyers for Wolfram and Hart) appeared on Lost as well, Daniel Dae Kim and Sam Anderson.
Alistair Duncan, who played Collins (one of the mercenaries working with The Watchers Council) would go on to voice a turian council member in Mass Effect, as well as Alfred in The Batman.
Romantic Plot Tumor: Was there any real love behind Cordy and Connor's relationship, or was it just "I want to bone you" on Connor's side and " I need you to impregnate me so that I can bring about the end of the world as we know it" on Cordy's side? Maybe it's Because You Were Nice to Me on Connor's side. Either way, it's long and unfulfilling.
Connor, during the fourth season. Apart from actually behaving remarkably like Scrappy-Doo in battle, Connor was generally despised by fans for making Angel unhappy (moreso), blaming Angel for being pure evil yet doing several terrible things himself (and still blaming Angel for that rather than take any responsibility himself) and for kind of being the show's Chachi. Connor was not universally hated, though, his popularity has increased significantly since the much-welcomed attitude adjustment in his few season 5 appearances (where his backstory was changed). The publication of the Joss-blessed "Angel: After the Fall" comic, in which he straightens up a lot just builds off it.
Seasonal Rot: Many fans found Season 4 to be extremely hard-going, thanks to a Bait-and-Switch Villain, a hefty portion of Squick, and the continually annoying Wangst of Connor. Summed up nicely by Gunn's description of the season thus far as "a supernatural soap-opera." Nearly everyone agrees that Season 4 was a nadir, but opinion is divided on whether the show improved when Season 5 came around.
Plenty of the character deaths, specifically Doyle, Darla, Cordelia, Fred, and Wesley, get this reaction.
Many of Faith's scenes are also rather memorable, particularly her fight with Angel in "Five by Five" and escape from jail in Season 4.
Puppet Angel fighting with Spike is another one that most people remember.
The final scene of the show, where Team Angel charges into almost certain death.
Squick: A lot of people's opinion of the above-mentioned Cordelia-Connor Romantic Plot Tumor, especially considering that Cordelia is virtually Connor's mother and (from her perspective) she was changing his diapers just a few months earlier. It only gets worse when you consider Cordelia was possessed by Jasmine.
Ugly Cute: The squid-hound thing named Pancakes that becomes Illyria's pet in her Haunted miniseries.
Vindicated by History: "Why We Fight" was loathed by fans purely because it's the episode that follows Cordelia's death and the other characters don't mention it at all. Out of context, fans are more receptive to it these days.
A lot of Season Three. Most of the time when Darla is around.
Considering the Romantic Plot Tumor, Season Four actually comes off as worse in this regard. Seriously guys... Fighting over Fred when Angelus is sitting in a cage right below your feet and listening to every word you're saying? Really now...
Did the gang really think they could avoid telling Fred's parents that she died?
What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Channel 4 bought the first season in the UK and showed it at 6pm, because, you know, anything with magic in it is obviously teatime fare for kids. Even showing the episodes with cutting severe enough to make some of them barely comprehensible resulted in a formal reprimand from the Broadcasting Standards Council (the then Censorship Bureau, now merged into Ofcom), and the remainder of the first series and the second series were buried in a late-night timeslot.
Okay, cheap shot: NewsCorp is a client of Wolfram & Hart.
Helen Brucker. A blond she-demon senator who wants to become President in 2008 by earning the "chick vote." It's fairly close to how Hillary Clinton's detractors viewed her at the time.
WTH, Costuming Department?: Many of Cordelia's outfits. Especially the dress she wore when she revealed she was pregnant with Connor's baby. Most fans also had this reaction to her bad choice of hairstyles in Season 3. Charisma Carpenter herself regretted them.
The Woobie: This is a Whedon show, which means that just about every protagonist fits this trope at some point. The biggest Woobies in the show, though, are Angel himself, Fred, Wesley, and Connor. Even Illyria qualifies, if you're into that sort of thing.