View Full Version : How has your identification with characters changed?

14-08-18, 10:48 AM
Do we change our identification with characters over the years? Are we more sympathetic towards others?

I used to identify with Willow much more than I do now. She's a character I hardly ever think about nowadays, but when watching the show I loved the character. Cordelia has become one of my favourite characters and even Angel has become more interesting to me.

Sosa lola
14-08-18, 11:44 AM
I've always identified with Willow (and Xander) when I was younger in my college years. Right now I see myself more in grown up Xander and grown up Dawn. This is in regards to identification.

As for character preferences, I find myself sympathizing with Riley more. It's more because of fan discussions. When I first watched the show, I didn't care much for the character, but I have this thing where I end up liking the character everybody hates. :lol: I won't put it past me to fall in love with Kennedy in the future.

14-08-18, 11:55 AM
For me Buffy forever and always. :heart:

14-08-18, 12:25 PM
Buffy will always be my girl :D But I agree, I've come to appreciate Riley more than I did. I much prefer Xander in the comics, he's dealing with his issues like an adult, and though he still makes mistakes, he's really trying. Having him in a relationship with Dawn (who has become one of my other favourites) really works to make Xander more understandable for me.

I must be one of the few people who liked Kennedy in the show and still like her. She was the right person and the right time for Willow, and in the comics, she runs her own business, gives Slayers work, pays them and looks after them. Kennedy has done more in a few years than the Watcher's Council did in millennia. I also think Kennedy does more for the Slayers than Buffy, Faith, Giles etc. etc. have done. Of course she gets a workforce, so it's not just one way, but still I hold it's more than the WC have done.

Ahm Shere
14-08-18, 02:50 PM
I wouldn't say I love him now, but over time I have grown to...enjoy Xander.

I started watching Buffy when it first came out when I was only six, and although I couldn't fully understand his character, to me he was always the guy who got in the way of Buffy. In my eyes when I was a kid, he got in the way of Angel constantly...I knew what jealousy was, but I wasn't able to understand what jealousy was in an adult's POV.

In Season 2, which I rewatched constantly because I got the box set for Christmas, (although the VHS came in two parts, so for ages I was so confused where the "other parts of the season" were :lol: ) I had to keep rewatching Xander not giving Buffy the message and instead saying "kick his ass" which now I fully understand his decision and fully support it, back then though, I hated him for it. He grew as a character, although I do find myself wanting to skip Xander-centric episodes still on rewatches. (With the exception of The Pack. :heart: )

It wasn't until my most recent rewatch that I found that I may have been a little bit too harsh on Xander. Only took me about 18 years to like him. :lol:

I also never used to like Dawn, however, I warmed to her a lot more quickly then I did to Xander. I sometimes feel that Dawn's depression wasn't really dealt with in Season 5. Sure Buffy had Glory to worry about, but from Dawn's POV, everything she knew to be true, every memory and every feeling were just created, and instead of giving her real answers Buffy sort of shut her out. Dawn also had to find out via Giles' diaries and not the one person who should have told her, Buffy. I can understand a lot of the resentment and frustration she had and why she acted out as she did. She also lost her mother, then eventually her sister. So yes, I like Dawn a lot more because I really sympathise with her character now.

14-08-18, 04:53 PM
The more I watch and discuss the show the more I appreciate all the characters. I found Willow, Spike, Angel, Connor and Wes were the ones which really zinged for me the first time I watched both BtVS and AtS. I got them more instinctively, especially Spike. My love for Spike is never going to go, his story across and beyond the shows is my fave and taking on board what others say just deepens my understanding of him (even if I don't agree!). I love the complexity in the characters. Their flaws, insecurities and weaknesses are as interesting as their strengths and successes. So the more thought I put to them, the better I understand the ideas. Xander has been my biggest about turn really, I vastly under-appreciated him when I first watched it and really love him now. Buffy my understanding of has deepened and Dawn I just hadn't noticed how great she was until I started rewatching with a more critical view and then I saw her (sorry Dawnie, another person not seeing you :redshy:). On this rewatch as well as deepening my Xander love and Buffy understanding, I'm also questioning my dislike of Riley a bit more and when I get to S7 I'll find out if I can dig deep and find some Kennedy love too!! You never know. :noidea: :biggrin1:

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EDIT: I'm not sure I fully answered the question. I do that so often! In some ways I can see that perhaps I do relate to characters differently since applying more consideration and thought to them critically. Even if I haven't particularly changed myself in the eight years since I first watched, taking time to try to understand a character better does sometimes perhaps enable me to realise why I was less drawn to them or more critical at first and can draw out ways I can relate. Perhaps those I got more instinctively I could relate to more. So yes, there is certainly the possibility of relating better almost naturally through deepening understanding. Although I don't think relating to them is needed to better appreciate them. I don't relate to Xander or Dawn more, even though I appreciate them far better. There is only one that I can think of where I'd say it is specifically how experience has shifted my perspective in that time that has made the difference. Although I can still be fairly critical of Joyce, I had far less patience for her faults when I first watched. Now I can look at that and see it probably related to being a new mum myself at that time and having now made enough of my own errors I simply have more compassion for her and a less judgmental perspective.

14-08-18, 05:51 PM
I used to identify with Buffy the most because her insecurities are so relatable and SMG has the capacity to make me feel so damn much. I still relate to her a lot whenever I watch the show, but I wouldn't say I always get where she's coming from. I always try to though because it feels wrong to me not to be "on her side".

Over the years, I've realized that I'm a lot more like Dawn (she's the fictional character I identify with the most) and that I used to resent her because she represented everything I hated about myself when I was younger. I have so much love and empathy for her now.

14-08-18, 08:12 PM
How has your identification with characters changed?

What a great question, Priceless! I definitely have had changes in my views of the characters over time... mostly finding more insight brings more sympathy. A few, however, have changed profoundly.

Do we change our identification with characters over the years? Are we more sympathetic towards others?

I will try to examine a few characters specifically and look at how my feelings have changed. In most cases, as I said, the change has been more of depth and understanding, than actual opinion, but there are two exceptions to that. Willow and Xander. I'll deal with Willow later on.

I write (in order of precedence) Buffy, Xander and Drusilla the most and so I feel i know them the best and have gained insight by writing them.


Buffy always features in any of my fandom fiction, even if she isn't the protagonist of my story - because I feel she's vital and her impact on the characters is extremely important, even when the story is not about her. The slaying is about her, the battle is about her... and over time, I've only gained respect and love for her character. Initially, I saw her as a teenage girl with a lot of heart, but as I've sat with the character, I've explored what it must be like to become an adult with that kind of burden and somehow manage to survive it and try to have a life. She's got so many people with so many demands, expectations and judgments on her. It's really remarkable that she's sane by the end of it all. People often get upset by her portrayal coming down to the end of the series, but as time goes on and I slowly reexamine the things she went through and had to be responsible for in the last two years in Sunnydale, I just find myself LOVING her. Respect and enjoyment yes, but also just LOVE. She feels like family. The best kind.

I would not be a writer today were it not for Buffy the character or Buffy the fandom.


My Dru. Wow. She's so underused. And I think she's so complex, so broken, so tragic. And so destructive to Spike as well... Their relationship is so much a treatise in toxic relationships... She's damaged and so she sucks everything from Spike for a hundred years... and teaches him all the wrong things. But she also does one thing he didn't get... she does care about him... and in the time he's with her, he does learn to feel like a man.

So, i found myself exploring her and who she was and what she could have been... and what would lead her to get her soul back... in two different stories, she ends up more or less sane... I thought she was a cool Gothic character when the series was on, but as i became more fascinated with her, she became one of my favorite characters in the series. The portrayal by Juliet Landau is surprisingly nuanced, considering she's for all purposes a version of the stereotypical Dracula type vampire... she could have been a campy, silly creature. Instead she's intense and at times kind of terrifying.

Writing her turned me from a fanfic reader into a writer.


I didn't always write Xander. I didn't always like Xander. For a while, i borderline hated Xander.

But my negative feelings about Xander were NEVER rooted in the show. I read a lot of fanfic, and in the beginning, other than spuffy (which wasn't something i found right away for some reason) the romance stuff didn't really appeal all that much, I found I read a lot of crossovers (still do) and after the first handful of really great stories (some of which I still love, which featured a well rounded AND heroic Xander), I started to read some of the less popular (and often not so great) stories... and they were all about 'grand old Xander of the enormous family jewels, master of the harem (including Jenny and sometimes Joyce) champion of the world, savior of all, (who had his (mostly figurative) foot on Stupid!Buffy's neck and his cum on her face - I backed away from those REALLY FAST) (many of them had him transformed during the Halloween episode to a (superman, iron man, halo soldier) and a thousand other macho macho icons (games, anime, action flicks) -- mostly more macho and less nuanced than the originals -- which were often pretty cardboardy to begin with, especially the games. This version of Xander got my inner feminist pretty riled up and after a very short while (when you read as fast as i do, that's a lot of words) I stopped reading these and found myself nursing an unhealthy dislike of Xander... but I hadn't remembered hating him... so I watched me some original series and remembered what I enjoyed about Xander.

But my trials weren't quite over... somewhere in there i'd started reading slash... and Xander slash with Spike in particular... well, let's get it out there. I love slash, and yes, I WRITE slash too... but 99.99999999% of slash is rotten tripe. So that colored my vision of him in fiction too. Anyway...

I decided I needed to write some Xander of my own to cleanse my palette of bad fic portrayals of Xander. I think that Xander is the one Buffyverse character most often written horribly.

I've come to love Xander again and so much more, and to understand and relate to him and his fears and his shortcomings... and his amazing heart and bravery because of his simple humanness. He's the one character other than Buffy who grows most in the series. Yes, Spike changes sides, but he is fundamentally the same person he is as a human in the 1800s... kind, full of heart, poetic, emotional and insecure... Xander, OTOH grows up and grows into himself.

I think Xander doesn't face enough of himself and that's why he ends up leaving Anya at the altar, but I do believe he grows up nevertheless. I think it is TOO MUCH TO EXPECT someone who came from his level of abuse (no one sleeps outside in Sunnydale in winter unless something is very wrong with their home life). Even without knowing about demons, he knew people were dying like flies.

On the other hand, once he knows about the dangers, he acquits himself well, again and again. Even when he's wounded he doesn't want to leave. Of the people who threw Buffy out, he's the one person i hold blameless. He'd given up the most (other than the dead) and he's still THERE. There was NOTHING stopping him taking Anya and maybe using the ready-made excuse to take Dawn and leave.

Writing Xander helped me become a better writer -- it stretched me into someone who can write male characters, and examine characters I don't automatically identify with.


The character with whom I actually most identify personally is Anya because she's brash and honest and straightforward. (I'm not overly fond of money nor scared of rabbits) Sex definitely rates, and I don't really suffer fools or BS well. I donít Ďgetí human beings and their petty crap a LOT of the time! I donít fit in and I donít think she ever did, not even before the vengeance.

That hasn't really changed much with time. I still love her. Though Iíve come to realize she is more than she looks (and way darker than me (thankfully, I am not that dark) in terms of what she's capable of!)

I think she's more evil than people give her credit for, especially Xander, but she isn't really "bad"... She was a victim a thousand years ago, and she let her rage take her, just as it took Willow, and her vengeance was a result. It was a trap. But I think she also enjoyed meting out what she felt was a form of justice. I don't think she ever regrets it. Yet EVERYONE gives her a pass 'because she's human now'... funny, because she's got more bodies than Spike and Angel and probably Dru and Darla COMBINED. She probably changed history. Yet, Giles goes after Spike.

This isn't part of why I identify with her, but her speech in the body, is in my opinion the single most powerful, most affecting reaction to grief in ANY fiction -- written or visual. I relate to her reaction and I admire it. I feel loss is seldom addressed honestly in fiction spaces and whoever wrote that kicked ass, and Emma Caulfield absolutely knocked it out of the park... in written work grief is often too maudlin and goes on too long, and on TV and in film, it's often glossed over for narrative reasons. Anyway, that digresses from the topic. Bottom line. I love Anya.

I used to identify with Willow much more than I do now. She's a character I hardly ever think about nowadays, but when watching the show I loved the character. Cordelia has become one of my favourite characters and even Angel has become more interesting to me.


I've never identified strongly with Willow, though I used to like her in the early series. I was excited when she met Tara and I loved their relationship. I was dismayed by her behavior and whens he drugged Tara and then slept with her, I lost empathy with her... though I was somewhat forgiving while the show was on the air, the more I've thought about it over the years, the harder it has become for me to even like her. She's probably the character on the show I come closest to despising. While she was 'apologetic' for getting caught and Tara somehow forgave her, and she was terrified by trying to end the world, I don't think she's particularly repentant. She's afraid of her own power... and she's a bit afraid that if she skirts the bounds of 'right' the magical powers that be would stop her. I do NOT believe she really regrets doing anything she did. She'd happily try to resurrect Tara if she thought she could do it.

When she comes back and she's invisible we see it's all about Willow and her poor me BS. Really, really bored now. She and Kennedy deserve each other. Kennedy is an obnoxious fool... first thing she does as she walks in the door is to insult Buffy. She's demanding and rude and cruel to others. And this is the girl that Willow chooses? Really tells me a lot about Willow's character, frankly. And then she chooses that wretch over Buffy? Nope. I do NOT like Willow. Do not respect Willow. Hate is for people you care about. I despise her. I think she's a person of low and selfish character. I think Andrew is a better person. Not much, but better. He is at least sorry for murdering people.

Willow deserves death more than Spike at that point. (not saying he should have killed her, but it would have been reasonable if he thought Spike was a threat)

And she's way more useful to the first. Fortunately, she comes through with the spell empowering the slayers and so does some good, but she could have been just as dangerous or more so than one vampire running around siring people. She could have vaporized everyone if she'd gotten mad enough.


From the time I started watching Angel (which I watched seriously before I watched Buffy seriously) I had a lot of affection and respect for Cordelia as a survivor, so that colored my view of her when I went back and watched Buffy seriously. I was furious with the WRITERS and show runners for what they did to her character in season four of Angel, but it doesn't change my feelings about the character, if that makes any sense... what happened wasn't Cordelia. But because I can't see the character without my bile rising, I think they successfully derailed her, and frankly I think they also destroyed any chance the actress had of a career after the series.

I love Cordelia. I think she's one of the strongest, most complicated characters on either series and the heart and soul of Angel the series.

In at least one of my stories, she becomes a slayer. I believe she should have become a slayer on Angel, and woken up after the spell and it might have saved Angel the series. Just imagine Cordelia and Angel fighting side by side against the hordes of evil!! Kick ass!


I liked him from the get go. I have a thing for hot, thin, funny men. His heart and his straightforwardness appealed to me a great deal. I like directness in people and I value loyalty. He was all those things form day one, but he was also practical and pragmatic enough not to do the stupid thing even for those who he loved (end the world with Dru).

He grew and he changed his focus, but he was a constant in the show and I would not have had it any other way. He was Buffy's amazing right hand. My feelings for him deepened with time. The only idiot move was the writers.. Of course he would have got to Buffy -- they should have made it so he COULDN'T leave L.A. if they wanted him in Angel the series. He did add to the series, but they deserved to have it end after killing off Fred and Cordelia.

Bottom line: Spike is a really good illustration of how a character can transform totally, while fundamentally remaining himself.

The truth is that most of us remain who we are.

We may become heroic but if we are resourceful but annoying little dweebs (Andrew) or whiny, dangerously sociopathic & self-centered geniuses (Willow) we remain fundamentally the same person. What may change is our motivations or what we fight for or against... but we are there regardless. That is never more true than with Spike.


I liked him better in his own show. I found him kind of annoying in early Buffy and his fatal flaw of deciding things for people really bugged me. (lying to Cordelia and having her flee, leaving Buffy without it being an adult discussion between two equals are just two instances of this)

I thought his character was a lot more complicated and darker than the show acknowledged... I'm not talking about Angelus.

Angel is the second most ruthless character in the series.


The most ruthless character IN EITHER SERIES by far is Giles. It took me a while to recognize that he'd do ANYTHING to serve his goals. This makes him quite allergic to attachment and caring about the needs and feelings of others. It is one of his greatest strengths and it is his fatal flaw.

Went FAR down in my estimation with time. Didn't feel quite as negative near the end of the series, but it was close. The more i examine the series end, however, the less I like him, and the more i think he was always a product of his council. In some of my early fic, Buffy is angry at him after Sunnydale, and there's eventual healing. I'm not sure if I'd write that healing in those same fic now. He seems more betrayer and perpetrator than friend or mentor or even boss. He's a petty dictator and expects people to jump exactly 42.788 inches, 42.8 is not good enough.

What 40 something man expects a broke barely 20 year old who just came back from the dead to lead a battle to save the world with a dozen panicky teens as canon fodder and tries to kill her ONLY capable soldier (Wood was unknown and Faith only arrived afterward). No, his actions make no sense unless he's a council numbskull with his common sense buried deep where the sun never shines.

There's another word for an unpaid female girl child working to the death... SLAVE. No, there's three. Slave. CHILD SOLDIER.

How DARE they?!!!

Buffy did not belong to them. They soul-raped the original slayer and they used every one after that without any heart or care... OR PAY . Then denied them love or life or emotional attachments... Speaking of which, I am not sure his attachments for Buffy were anything as much as we are supposed to think. Apparently, whatever Giles felt wasn't enough that he couldn't walk away and leave Buffy scrabbling in the dirt trying to eke out a living for her and Dawn after digging her way out of her grave with her fingernails. Maybe that was her penance? To slave away since she failed to kill Dawn?

Yeah, I come close to hating Giles. Because I used to think he loved her. I feel betrayed for her.


Grew on me. didn't like her in early season two. She pretty much reacted as a mom with a heck of a burden might. I forgive her a lot.


I always liked Dawn. I came to see her as nuanced. I forgave her almost immediately fro throwing Buffy out b/c she was scared out of her mind, she was a kid, she was hellmouthed and she was being gaslighted by all the adults in the room. I thought she was an asset and I'm glad her character was added. She made Buffy have something more to care about besides 'boys' and 'friends', especially after mom was dead and dad was nowhere to be seen. I wish they'd explored her keyness more. I'm glad I got a chance to do it in my stories.


Always loved her. That never changed. Came to see her as much more than she was often assumed to be.

Fred, Wes, Gunn - really love them. Really loved them. They changed but my feelings for them didnít really. Wish Fred and Gunn hadnít been broken up. But that isnít new.

If I left anyone else out, I will come back laterÖ but this is enough I think!! Itís a small book!!

14-08-18, 10:00 PM
What a great question, Priceless!

I have to admit it wasn't my idea, it was TriBel's. But I'll take the applause :lol:

17-08-18, 07:11 PM
All said regarding writers, producers, actors, directors, viewers, readers, etc. are what I remember, my opinions, etc.

I didn't much identify with any of the characters and still don't.

The comics (pre-Season 10) have changed my regard for certain characters. I'm more sympathetic to Buffy. She gets crapped on in the comics. SPOILERS FOR THE BTVS S8 AND AFTER COMICS BELOW.

I'm less sympathetic toward Spike regarding Buffy/Spike. He stays away from Buffy for years. He essentially has a harem in IDW. He has a new awesome love interest in Beck, who he mostly dismisses. He makes out with Drusilla for minutes and is very tempted to have sex with a just-showered towel-wearing Dru. Spike's harsher with Buffy in "Chosen" (B 7.22) and in BtVS S8 than he is with Dru in IDW's Spike .

Spike in Dark Horse has a new love interest in Morgan, whom he makes out with. And he has sex with Harmony Kendall again.

Angel's actions in BtVS S8 means that it would have been better for the world had Angel been dusted before BtVS S8. IDW has Angel being on the side of evil in Wolfram & Hart's actual apocalypse.

Wolfram & Hart became interested in Spike in AtS S5 and clearly still are in AtF and in the Spike miniseries. Angel overall isn't needed in the world.

BtVS S9: Willow: Wonderland redeemed Willow for me. She should have kept the Seedling inside her.

Xander dates Dawn, which is very icky. He yells at Buffy that Buffy's saving the world hasn't made the world safer. Xander sides with The Siphon and Simone Doffler and thus risk the entire world merely to try to feel important and useful. NOTHING is said about this in Season 10. My sympathy for him is less than it was during pre-Season 9.

Dracula is great in BtVS S8.

Outside of the nonsense of A&F S10, Drusilla is awesome in the comics. She's my favorite character because she hasn't been tainted by the comics and Buffy, Spike, Willow, and Faith have.

Faith is awesome in BtVS S8 and became better than Buffy. But Faith's mollycoddling of Angel in A&F S9 and A&F S10 forever diminished her character.

17-08-18, 09:27 PM
I just appreciate the show in a deeper way now.
When I first watched Buffy, I was just starting middle school. I didn't watch every episode that regularly - sometimes it was erratic. I didn't especially like any one character - I just loved the show overall then and the main character I identified with was Buffy. And I loved certain episodes - The Gift, OMWF, etc. I remember loving End of Days, Touched, Chosen and not really ADORING Restless all that much then.

I was watching regularly around the 4th or 5th season, and I'd developed favourites - Buffy, Willow, Giles, Spike, Xander (most of the time). I didn't watch the early seasons closely so I never formed a deep impression of Angel other than knowing he was Buffy's first beau and I vaguely liked him. I don't think I had a positive or negative opinion of Dawn in the beginning - sometimes I found her a little grating but at other points I liked her. I was pretty neutral about Riley (in fact I think I liked him right at the beginning, and then I found him a boring character.) I quite liked Tara, Drusilla, Anya, Faith and enjoyed Glory and Harmony too. In fact, I don't think there was any character I actively disliked.

Now, re-watching and reading other views, I appreciate the complexities of all the characters a lot more. Buffy's still my favourite and I loved her most S5 onwards (when I felt she became even more multifaceted as a hero) and still do. I love Spike second only to Buffy, and also love Willow, Tara, Giles.

What's mostly changed is the way I rate and view the episodes - there are episodes I LOVE now, which I used to just like, and ones I loved back then that I still like but don't love like I did.

18-08-18, 01:53 AM
I wouldn't say I love him now, but over time I have grown to...enjoy Xander.


In Season 2, which I rewatched constantly because I got the box set for Christmas, (although the VHS came in two parts, so for ages I was so confused where the "other parts of the season" were :lol: ) I had to keep rewatching Xander not giving Buffy the message and instead saying "kick his ass" which now I fully understand his decision and fully support it...


For myself, I've always identified most with Xander, then Buffy, and then Angel until basically Season 5 of his show, and then Spike but only really from 5.15 through 6.07. I don't think that's changed much other than that now I also identify with Giles a lot more than I did, I see more the lens of what it would be like to try to be the adult presence among this den of youth and danger.