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  • Cordelia Chase from high school bitch to selfless warrior

    Throughout her time on the two shows we saw a huge development for the character of Cordelia Chase. At the start of her time on Buffy she was portrayed as the local high school bitch. The most popular girl in the school and a representation of everything the less popular scoobies hated about high school and a reminder to Buffy of everything she used to be before she was forced to mature since being called as the slayer. However as her role in Buffy grew larger we began to see there was more to Cordelia Chase than the super bitch fa?ade she presented to the rest of the world. Underneath it all she was a good person and this can be seen by the way that while it was with a lot of complaints she did help Buffy and the gang when needed.

    Then her time in Buffy ended with a more mature Cordelia leaving Sunnydale penniless to seek her fortune in Los Angeles. Where by chance she ran into Angel retaining her well known sarcasm and lack of tact and started working for the ?AI' team. Again from the start of her time on Angel we began to see even more development for the character of Cordelia to the point where the once superficial Cordelia was willing to be with Doyle despite the fact that he was half-demon something we all know the Cordelia of Buffy Season 1 definitely wouldn't have done. But of course the death of Doyle marks the beginning of the most noticeable changes in the character of Cordelia.

    So she inherits the visions and over the course of the remainder of Season 1, 2 and 3 we begin to see Cordelia develop more empathy for others someone who really knows the pain and suffering others have to endure because of her visions, but not only this she has become a real warrior for the side of good. Someone who was willing to give up her humanity, her chance at stardom in ?Birthday' to continue to help Angel and the team as their link to the Powers That Be through the visions. Angel season three the last season with the ?real' Cordelia as a full time cast member ends with her putting what she sees as the chance to do real good as a higher being before an opportunity to be with the man she loves marking the completion of Cordelia's journey from local high school bitch to a selfless warrior.

    However despite these changes for the better I have noticed on both this forum and others a number of members hate the way that Cordelia was developed and some even think that she became out of character. So what I want to focus on during this thread is for those members who think that why? Other characters on the show have gone through arguably just as major changes since they first appeared on either Buffy or Angel and yet I don't see as many complaints from the fans about these changes. Look at Wesley who would have thought the dorky watcher we were introduced to in Season 3 of Buffy would have toughened out to the Wesley of Seasons 4 and 5, or even the character of Angel who went from a vampire who occasionally helped because of Buffy would have went on to become a champion in his own right at one point sacrificing what he thought was his only chance at both being human and with Buffy in ?I will remember you' and in ?After The Fall' continuing to fight even as a human. Yet despite all of these major changes in other characters on the show it seems to be Cordelia's changes that quite a lot of the fandom hates.

    For me personally one of the things I missed about the character of Cordelia in the later seasons was that there weren't enough of her queen bitch moments. At time she was almost too nice and seemed to forget what she had said in Killed by Death ?Tact is just a word for not saying true things I'll pass.' What I loved about early Season 3 and even Cordelia's return in ?Your Welcome' is the encounters the writers showed us with those Cordelia hated specifically Lilah and Eve when we got to see that despite all of the changes for the better. The bitch we all knew and loved still existed within Cordelia, or even the times when she'd make comments about how bad of a situation it was to the gang which no one else would make. It was in my opinion through these moments that the writer was displaying the development of Cordelia more balanced and it was the lack of these moments in the second half of season 3 that made the character less enjoyable.

    So what about you guys? Why didn't you like the development that Cordelia went through and if your one of those fans who has said they think that they played her out of character why is this? When other characters have went through just as big changes. Also for those of you who did like the changes that Cordelia went through feel free to post your reasons here also
    Bittersweettwit
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    Last edited by Bittersweettwit; 28-12-08, 10:12 PM.
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  • #2
    Since I don't hate her development, I'm not quite the one addressed but I think what made her change like this was 1) her growing more mature and 2) for the first time being surrounded by true friends who did not just want to be around her because she was popular (she says as much in "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" already), but because they really care about her.
    Sin is what I feast upon
    I'm forging my crematorium
    Your tomb is waiting here for you
    Welcome to my ritual

    -Judas Priest, Death

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    • #3
      It's a good question...I don't know if I could even explain why I dislike her journey from halfway in season 3 on I guess for me it was the lack of balance. With Wesley we see the changes happening, why they are happening and I think that it helps the Alexis is such a strong actor he was able to move the changes forward smoothly.

      Cordella was hurt with the growth I think because of her leaving with Groo, being gone for that time frame, it just seemed to me that when she came back any parts of the old Cordelia were gone and she was just this new saintly person...or half demon who I didn't really know.

      I don't even know if that makes any sense.

      She went through so much so I can completely understand her becoming more empathic and sympathtic. I guess it came down to her loosing her flaws or the audience never seeing flaws that much after she chose to give up some of her humanity to be able to keep the visions. Any time she screwed up it was because she had amnesia or was possesed...where were just the normal screw ups?

      Guess higher beings don't have those?
      Boltmaiden
      Hellmouth Tourist
      Last edited by Boltmaiden; 26-12-08, 04:24 PM.

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      • #4
        Cordelia walked the same path Buffy did. Shallow cheerleader becomes a selfless white hat. Buffy changed because she became a slayer, Cordelia changed because she got those visions. If you compare both journeys, Cordelia's journey was more gradual that Buffy's, who changed a lot in almost no time. I liked Cordelia's change to a certain degree. She grew up every season (Although BtVS season 3 was not very nice for the character) a bit but stayed Cordelia. Even her choice to give up her dreams and humanity rang true to me. The real problems for me started when she lost her snark and shallow comments and behavior. The character was no longer Cordelia and it didn't help that Charisma Carpenter's talent lays more with comedy than the drama.

        I think that the writers made the mistake that they didn't developed Cordelia any longer but changed her without giving her good reasons to change (like Wesley after Sleep Tight). Even her short return in 'Spin the Bottle' didn't feel like Cordelia. But the Cordelia in 'You're Welcome' was a grown up and good woman, but also Cordelia Chase. Cordelia is a bitch and she loves it, and that's a part the writers should never let go.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Nina View Post
          Cordelia walked the same path Buffy did. Shallow cheerleader becomes a selfless white hat. Buffy changed because she became a slayer, Cordelia changed because she got those visions. If you compare both journeys, Cordelia's journey was more gradual that Buffy's, who changed a lot in almost no time. I liked Cordelia's change to a certain degree. She grew up every season (Although BtVS season 3 was not very nice for the character) a bit but stayed Cordelia. Even her choice to give up her dreams and humanity rang true to me. The real problems for me started when she lost her snark and shallow comments and behavior. The character was no longer Cordelia and it didn't help that Charisma Carpenter's talent lays more with comedy than the drama.

          I think that the writers made the mistake that they didn't developed Cordelia any longer but changed her without giving her good reasons to change (like Wesley after Sleep Tight). Even her short return in 'Spin the Bottle' didn't feel like Cordelia. But the Cordelia in 'You're Welcome' was a grown up and good woman, but also Cordelia Chase. Cordelia is a bitch and she loves it, and that's a part the writers should never let go.
          I agree completely with you Nina and it was a point I had been trying to raise in my earlier post, just not as elegantly as you put it. As for the matter of Cordelia and Buffy your right their journeys were quite similar and in fact I am fairly certain I remember reading somewhere that the character was designed as a reminder to movie fans of the type of person Buffy was before she got called. However, one thing I think you ought to remember is that the life changing event for both occurred at different times. If you think about it Cordelia received the visions which were her turning point in the same way as becoming the slayers was Buffy in the middle of Season 1, and had matured into the true warrior for good we got to see by the end of Season 3. If you think about it Cordelia went through just as dramatic a change as Buffy in a similar amount of time. If your measuring how much she changed between the events of the movie and her move to Sunnydale at the start of the show.

          But, I do think as I mentioned earlier that the loss of her snark was what made the characters less enjoyable for me. It was just such a huge part of her person and for her to lose it did indeed make me feel out of touch with the character. It was why her return in 'Your Welcome' was so enjoyable to me. We got to see Cordelia continue to be a good person, but still maintain a degree of bitchness rather than be a radiant saint. It seems her time in the higher plane has done her good and taught her that she doesn't need to be a radiant saint to be a warrior for good. Or more likely the writers realized the mistake they made with the character and wanted to fix it

          Originally posted by Boltmaiden View Post
          It's a good question...I don't know if I could even explain why I dislike her journey from halfway in season 3 on I guess for me it was the lack of balance. With Wesley we see the changes happening, why they are happening and I think that it helps the Alexis is such a strong actor he was able to move the changes forward smoothly.[


          Cordella was hurt with the growth I think because of her leaving with Groo, being gone for that time frame, it just seemed to me that when she came back any parts of the old Cordelia were gone and she was just this new saintly person...or half demon who I didn't really know.
          You raise some excellent points. Honestly, I haven't watched Season 3 in a while, but I am fairly certain I remember the character having changed a hell of a lot even before she went on the holiday with Groo. Though I do remember that she did changed during the holiday. Also it could be just the fact that after not seeing the character for a few episodes the change just seemed that more noticeable? I don't know if I quite agree that it was Charisma acting that made the changes harder to stick to for me at least anyways. By the way its Cordelia

          Originally posted by Boltmaiden View Post
          I guess it came down to her loosing her flaws or the audience never seeing flaws that much after she chose to give up some of her humanity to be able to keep the visions. Any time she screwed up it was because she had amnesia or was possesed...where were just the normal screw ups?
          Your right, but to be honest when I think of how much Cordelia has developed I don't really count Season 4. After all we never got to see the real Cordelia during that season. After all how can we really count amnesia girl or teenage Cordy in 'Spin The Bottle' as Cordelia when both didn't even have any memories of the events that helped her to grow as a person. And I certainly don't count post 'Apocalypse Nowish' Jasmine possessed Cordelia as the real her. In my opinion with the exception of 'Your Welcome' the last time we see the real Cordelia is 'Tomorrow'

          Originally posted by Bloodsucker View Post
          Since I don't hate her development, I'm not quite the one addressed but I think what made her change like this was 1) her growing more mature and 2) for the first time being surrounded by true friends who did not just want to be around her because she was popular (she says as much in "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" already), but because they really care about her.
          I agree that it was a mixture of both issues Bloodsucker, but I have a reason for you. You say you liked or at least didn't hate the development the character went through! Why? I am just curious and that was the main reasons I created this thread to find out why people feel the way they do about Cordelia's development
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Vampmaster View Post

            You raise some excellent points. Honestly, I haven't watched Season 3 in a while, but I am fairly certain I remember the character having changed a hell of a lot even before she went on the holiday with Groo. Though I do remember that she did changed during the holiday. Also it could be just the fact that after not seeing the character for a few episodes the change just seemed that more noticeable? I don't know if I quite agree that it was Charisma acting that made the changes harder to stick to for me at least anyways. By the way its Cordelia



            Your right, but to be honest when I think of how much Cordelia has developed I don't really count Season 4. After all we never got to see the real Cordelia during that season. After all how can we really count amnesia girl or teenage Cordy in 'Spin The Bottle' as Cordelia when both didn't even have any memories of the events that helped her to grow as a person. And I certainly don't count post 'Apocalypse Nowish' Jasmine possessed Cordelia as the real her. In my opinion with the exception of 'Your Welcome' the last time we see the real Cordelia is 'Tomorrow'
            Opps one of my Cordelia's was typed wrong! I feel bad, because my bringing up Wesley is truly more of a compliment to Alexis than a knock to Charisma. I really feel the writers and story arc hurt her showing her changes in the right way...more about that and less about the actress (though she is a more gifted comedy actress in my opinion). And yes she did change a lot before going off with Groo, but for me personally it was right around that time where I was like...where are those fun Cordelia moments?

            And Nina I love the parallels you bring up about Buffy and Cordy and their journeys...great point!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Nina View Post
              Cordelia walked the same path Buffy did. Shallow cheerleader becomes a selfless white hat. Buffy changed because she became a slayer, Cordelia changed because she got those visions. If you compare both journeys, Cordelia's journey was more gradual that Buffy's, who changed a lot in almost no time. I liked Cordelia's change to a certain degree. She grew up every season (Although BtVS season 3 was not very nice for the character) a bit but stayed Cordelia. Even her choice to give up her dreams and humanity rang true to me. The real problems for me started when she lost her snark and shallow comments and behavior. The character was no longer Cordelia and it didn't help that Charisma Carpenter's talent lays more with comedy than the drama.

              I think that the writers made the mistake that they didn't developed Cordelia any longer but changed her without giving her good reasons to change (like Wesley after Sleep Tight). Even her short return in 'Spin the Bottle' didn't feel like Cordelia. But the Cordelia in 'You're Welcome' was a grown up and good woman, but also Cordelia Chase. Cordelia is a bitch and she loves it, and that's a part the writers should never let go.
              Alot of good points are made here. Seems many are uneasy about Cordelia's transition from selfish to selflessness. To clarify a bit Cordelia does undergo critical change due to the visions, which is closely tied into the issue of suffering and the empathy that the suffering entails. The more she endures and expereinces in this regard, the more the old Cordelia is lost to us. Her change is indeed gradual, however, and doesn't occur overnight as we see some initial change in the character through her small interactions with the Scoobies (as an element of comedy relief), but this begins to snowball through her short romance with Xander (where we begin to see that Cordelia is indeed lonely despite her being 'popular' and unconsciously seeking resolution by alternate means). The snarkiness that so endears us to Cordelia is necessarily lost through her visions and subsequent exposure to others suffering as all the shallowness (hence the name -shallow-, lacking character depth) it is based in her hidden feelings of inadequacy, and sense of separation. All this superficiality has to evaporate inevitably in the face of exposure to the new adventures and the empathic visions. We still see some slightly callous or self centered comments even to the last, despite all the visions, but much of their bite has been lost in the face of her new identity. Her development arc was likely to lose some followers, as anyone can lose friends and acquaintances over time as we all change and grow. I for one was glad to see her rough edges rounded out a quite a bit as there were times during her high school years where I had to hit the mute button for all the brow-beating she was bestowing on others. Am I the only one that did this? The rest of the Scoobies and especially Xander seemed to weather it all fairly well, though.

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              • #8
                I think that Cordy's development got too saintly towards the end of Season 3 and this couldn't be clearer to me than when compared to Cordy's return in You're Welcome. That final episode showed the perfect blend of hero, bitch and sensitive woman.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Emmie View Post
                  I think that Cordy's development got too saintly towards the end of Season 3 and this couldn't be clearer to me than when compared to Cordy's return in You're Welcome. That final episode showed the perfect blend of hero, bitch and sensitive woman.
                  I have to agree with you there Emmie! 'Your Welcome' was a fine episode for Cordelia and the best send off the writers could have given the character considering the circumstances. After such a performance I sometimes wish the character truly had woke up especially since the 'AI' crew really are in need of female members these days.

                  Originally posted by Madhermit View Post
                  Alot of good points are made here. Seems many are uneasy about Cordelia's transition from selfish to selflessness. To clarify a bit Cordelia does undergo critical change due to the visions, which is closely tied into the issue of suffering and the empathy that the suffering entails. The more she endures and expereinces in this regard, the more the old Cordelia is lost to us. Her change is indeed gradual, however, and doesn't occur overnight as we see some initial change in the character through her small interactions with the Scoobies (as an element of comedy relief), but this begins to snowball through her short romance with Xander (where we begin to see that Cordelia is indeed lonely despite her being 'popular' and unconsciously seeking resolution by alternate means). The snarkiness that so endears us to Cordelia is necessarily lost through her visions and subsequent exposure to others suffering as all the shallowness (hence the name -shallow-, lacking character depth) it is based in her hidden feelings of inadequacy, and sense of separation. All this superficiality has to evaporate inevitably in the face of exposure to the new adventures and the empathic visions. We still see some slightly callous or self centered comments even to the last, despite all the visions, but much of their bite has been lost in the face of her new identity. Her development arc was likely to lose some followers, as anyone can lose friends and acquaintances over time as we all change and grow. I for one was glad to see her rough edges rounded out a quite a bit as there were times during her high school years where I had to hit the mute button for all the brow-beating she was bestowing on others. Am I the only one that did this? The rest of the Scoobies and especially Xander seemed to weather it all fairly well, though.
                  To be honest Cordelia's comments didn't bother me that much! As someone who has been bullied in real life I actually have to say her comments were genenrally timid compared to what I had to endure. Plus the fact that practically every episode where she was mean to the seasion ended with her needing their help in some form or another made it more comedic for me. . I do agree though with what you were saying about the development of Cordelia. I'm glad she was given the chance to develop during her time on the show. Frankly it would have been quite unrealistic considering all of the things she had gone through for her not to develop and become a better person.

                  Originally posted by Boltmaiden View Post
                  Opps one of my Cordelia's was typed wrong! I feel bad, because my bringing up Wesley is truly more of a compliment to Alexis than a knock to Charisma. I really feel the writers and story arc hurt her showing her changes in the right way...more about that and less about the actress (though she is a more gifted comedy actress in my opinion). And yes she did change a lot before going off with Groo, but for me personally it was right around that time where I was like...where are those fun Cordelia moments?

                  And Nina I love the parallels you bring up about Buffy and Cordy and their journeys...great point!
                  lol I figured that would be the case! I was just messing with ya lol! And oh don't worry about it! Your perfectly entitled to your feelings about the actors performance! I was just pointing out that I didn't really agree, but yeah I have to say while overall I think the writers handled Cordelia change from high school bitch to selfless warrior rather well. In the second half of season 3 they could indeed have presented some of her bitch moments just to show that this is indeed the same person.
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                  • #10
                    I love her development in S1 and S2 of Angel, she really seems to change, as she is increasingly suffering with the visions. But the major screw-up the writers did was make her half-demon. They erased most of her flaws and changed her into someone pure. That is not Cordelia! And of course, S4 treats very badly. I?m glad "You?re Welcome" gives her one last hurrah in the way she should be treated.

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                    • #11
                      To me, what really happens to Cordelia is that the bitchiness she wore as a false front becomes genuine strength. She's intended as a dark, daft reflection of Buffy early on (what Buffy could be if she hadn't accepted her duty, as we really see in Becoming), but grows first by deciding that she can decide for herself who she dates and later by being humbled (a lot), whereby she learns what really matters in life.

                      It would have been a pretty poor character progression if she'd gone through everything she endured from the time Daddy got in trouble with the IRS until she discovered that Doyle gave her his visions and still retained that false front bitchy shell. The capacity is still there and we do see her draw on it from time to time when she needs it (and I suppose one could argue that's not often enough), but she doesn't need to wear it all the time because, whatever one thinks of her having become a 'higher being' (and I think very little of it), she certainly did grow up and become a powerful and, more importantly, self-empowered woman.
                      Cordially,
                      Amuk

                      I didn't jump. I took a tiny step, and there conclusions were.
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                      • #12
                        Excellent explanation of her character progression love. Very well put. I saw it that way too.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Vampmaster View Post
                          I agree that it was a mixture of both issues Bloodsucker, but I have a reason for you. You say you liked or at least didn't hate the development the character went through! Why? I am just curious and that was the main reasons I created this thread to find out why people feel the way they do about Cordelia's development
                          I'm just a sucker for dynamic characters. I liked that Cordelia got her chance at getting more mature and responsible, I really approved of the writers letting her gradually go through that development, not just leaving her at the satirical character she is in the early episodes, but rather giving her more depth. (Really good point there, Amuk, btw!)
                          Is the question more or less answered?
                          Sin is what I feast upon
                          I'm forging my crematorium
                          Your tomb is waiting here for you
                          Welcome to my ritual

                          -Judas Priest, Death

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                          • #14
                            I just felt like they were making Cordelia's character too perfect towards the end of Season 3. She could do no wrong, was loved by everyone, always knew the right thing to say and do, was able to magically heal Connor with her white-light power. All this and she lost her witty fire. She became too much of everything. I found it uninteresting and gag-worthy. Again, loved her up to around Billy and when she returned in You're Welcome. But that time in between during Season 3 I felt her character 'ascension' was annoying to watch.

                            Cordy's one of my favorite characters except for that one stretch of time when she was St. Cordy and Jasmine!Cordy.
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                            • #15
                              I've the same. Cordelia became the ultimate Mary Sue. And if there is anything I don't like, it's a character that is too perfect (or a character that gets treated like one by others).


                              I've to disagree that Cordelia's bitchy side was just a shell. Yes, the extreme bitchy behavior was. But Cordelia works like that, it's not an act. Buffy found out in 'Earshot' that Cordelia said whatever she thought, she is very honest and a bit selfish and shallow. She loves the showbizz and her clothes. (remember how Angel could win her back with clothes.) There is nothing that makes her more happy than money (she can smell the money). That's Cordelia, and maybe that is what makes her a bitch in some eyes. But I've the feeling that Cordelia is like that deep down. She is no Anya, Cordelia is more human and sensitive. But nowhere near the empathy of Tara or Fred.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Emmie View Post
                                II found it uninteresting and gag-worthy.
                                So you keep telling us love.

                                But Cordelia works like that, it's not an act. Buffy found out in 'Earshot' that Cordelia said whatever she thought, she is very honest and a bit selfish and shallow.
                                And how far back was that exactly? Strangely enough her character development didn't start and end right there. Like all Buffyverse character's she moved on, and became more fleshed out and complex. Basically she grew up and became an important part of AtS.

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by sueworld View Post
                                  So you keep telling us love.
                                  Well, in a different thread I've shared my thoughts on that stretch of her development. Am I barred from posting in a new thread if my thoughts on the subject are still the same?

                                  Originally posted by sueworld View Post
                                  And how far back was that exactly? Strangely enough her character development didn't start and end right there. Like all Buffyverse character's she moved on, and became more fleshed out and complex. Basically she grew up and became an important part of AtS.
                                  What I'm taking from Nina's above post was that Cordy was honest to a fault. She'd speak her mind, no matter what and she was always a material person though she finally learned to rise above that and connect to others. But even when she was caring, she still got fed up with people when she felt they were being stupid. Like when Fred was holed up in the hotel and Cordy was snarking about her being cuckoo. Cordy still had a fixation for clothes and style in early AtS season 3 and it's *still* there in You're Welcome. But these facets of her personality, the girl who would die to be near all those shoes in Welcome to the Hellmouth, that personal love she held for possessions was no longer used for humor. Or for making Cordy appeared flawed and relatable. I had trouble to relating to her during the latter half of Season 3.

                                  Cordy was strong for always speaking her mind, bringing out the bitch when needed and showing people that talking straight was the way to see the truth of the situation. She was the no-nonsense, get-over-yourself voice. From "Spank your inner moppet" to "I didn't ask, Lilah Junior" - she'd set you up and knock you down. She made being a bitch look good. I love that part of her character. The strength and heart she showed in Billy when she tracked down that sadistic jackass and threatened to kill him, the suffering in silence as the visions were torturing her to death. She didn't dwell on pain and suffering, she was proactive and snarky and wanted to experience the most out of life. And she was flawed but her way of looking at life was unique and it worked for her. When they lost that bead on her character in the latter half of Season 3, I lost touch with the parts of her I liked.
                                  Last edited by Emmie; 30-12-08, 12:27 PM.
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                                  • #18
                                    I also feel that way.I feel they made St. Cordelia into a perfect being and for me, that lost interest. I love Cordelia fighting through the visions, trying to have a normal life. Her progression was interesting to watch, but along S3 and S4 they drifted away with her character. I so love her in "You?re Welcome".

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                                    • #19
                                      Am I barred from posting in a new thread if my thoughts on the subject are still the same?
                                      Of course not, so long as you're happy with me picking up on it.

                                      Cordy was strong for always speaking her mind, bringing out the bitch when needed and showing people that talking straight was the way to see the truth of the situation. She was the no-nonsense, get-over-yourself voice.
                                      Which is why I thought she was so good for Angel.

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                                      • #20
                                        See Emmie said what I was trying to say but failed miserably at. Thank you Emmie!

                                        Yeah if I wanted to grab hold of two episodes that just nailed every part of Cordelia and showed what a great character she could be I would say Billy and Your Welcome.

                                        Billy really showed how even though Cordelia was willing to suffer for the greater good and willing to fix a problem that she felt responsible for, she still was Cordelia, just a much stronger, more mature version. Her talk with Lilah is one of my favorites on Angel, it was so fabulous and watching the two of them in that conversation. I believe right there and Your Welcome, Cordy was at the top of her game, a beautiful, strong, yet flawed character that you rooted for and would miss terribly after she was gone.

                                        And having almost two seasons of that character be MIA is frustrating and disappointing.

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