Buffy, Angel, Riley, Spike, sex, souls and true happiness....Huh?

OK, I’ve been trying to figure this out since, well, I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on a regular (read: obsessive) basis.

Angel has this curse thing. A band of gypsies, sans Jimi Hendrix avenged his having eaten one of the girls in their clan by stuffing his soul back into his body so he could suffer pain and endless remorse and general miserableness forever and ever, amen. And the curse has a rider which states that if Angel ever experiences one moment of true happiness, the soul goes bye-bye, and Angel reverts to being the evil, murderous Angelus.

Apparently, the Powers That Be at Mutant Enemy equate shagging Buffy with true happiness.

This is where it starts seriously not making sense to me.

Number one, does a person have to actually copulate with their beloved in order to experience a moment of true happiness? Can’t you experience happiness just holding hands through the daisies going “tra la la”, or laying on the grass looking up at the stars and creating your own constellations? Or playing with your new baby son, before he gets all growed up and patricidal?

Number two, I think Riley and Spike can both testify in a court of law that shagging Buffy does not necessarily lead to true happiness. (To be alone, even when you’re holding her…) I kind of got the impression that Riley found the experience of sex with a woman he didn’t feel loved him wholeheartedly to be ultimately empty. Spike- well, he knew that he could never have Buffy’s love, (at least not while he didn’t have a soul), and so he was settling for just being able to have sex with her, and then there were the all-too-frequent post coital beating. Neither situation seems real conducive to true happiness.

Number three- now what’s the point of the curse if the soul goes bye-bye upon experiencing a moment of happiness. I mean, it sets the stage for a whole new variety of emotional conflict- “Oh, dear, after all the horribleness I’ve committed over the past two-hundree-odd years, I don’t deserve to be happy. Maybe I should dump her. No, I can’t I love her, and she’ll be hurt, but I don’t deserve to be this happy”. Seems the delicious irony would not be lost on any self-respecting band of gypsies, even witout Jimi Hendrix. Also, once the soul has fled, you have the problem of a homicidal psychopathic vampire on your hands, who just might decide to kill another member or two of the clan.

I just don’t get it. Somebody please explain.

Shagging Buffy did not cause the moment of true happiness. He didn’t lose it in the middle, hell, he didn’t lose it when he orgasmed. He lost it when he was laying in bed, with Buffy—the only woman he ever loved–sleeping in his arms, satisfied and content. I guess his moment of true happiness was basking in the afterglow. She loved him. Someone as wonderful, pure and innocent (cuz that’s how he saw Buffy) was absolutely in love with a monster like him. That’s what caused him to lose his soul. and that’s why sleeping with Darla didn’t work.
I mean, honestly, we were expected to believe that a vampire when 100 years without a single orgasm? Please.

  1. The difference between Angel, Spike, and Riely is that Buffy truly loved Angel with all her girlish heart. She never loved Riley or Spike.

  2. The point of the curse? Well, how else would a vampire become a slayer’s love interest? And how else would said vampire “turn” evil? It was just a plot devise the same way that Spike’s chip is plot devise, and I doubt very much tha there is some sort of internal logic to the whole thing. The soul (and the chip) is and does whatever the writers need it to do to advance the story of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Oh, hell, pepperlandgirl, Angel himself was a freaking plot device.

I know Vincent Schiavelli played the gypsy who said this. But I can’t remember the name of his character or the episode.


'It is not justice we serve. It is vengance. To most people vengance is just a word, an idea with no real meaning. To us, it is a living thing.  We gave him a soul to torment him, and for no othe reason. The moment that soul gives him an instant of happiness, it is taken away.'

 'But won't he start killing again then?'

 'Am I talking to the wall here? Justice doesn't matter. Right and wrong don't matter. Vengance is all that matters. Now, leave so I can die like an idiot. And don't forget to lose the disk with the masssively important ritual on it!'

RE Sex And True Happiness-
If sex is the only way Angel can be truly happy, he should find a good therapist.

The curse has a fail-safe. If Angel ever was truly happy, then he’d be powerful, immortal, and happy. That’s not vengeance, that’s redemption and a gift. Without a soul, he’s back to square one. Yeah, he’s no longer tortured, but if one consideres the state of having a soul, by itself, to be better than the state of not havng a soul, it’s better than handing your enemy redemption.

What’s more, since Angel knows the constraints on his curse, he knows he can never be truly happy, or he loses his soul, and again becomes what he despises. That’s really gotta suck.

As noted Angel lost his soul not during the act of sex but after when he experienced peace and calm instead of confusion and inner turbulence. This allowed him to truly be happy. In every moment from the cursing until then had been tainted by what he had once did and once been. In that moment none of that mattered. His soul was no longer burdened and so was no longer a curse. Thus it lapsed and Angelus returned.

The clan didn’t care about anything but placing a burdon upon the soul. Angelus was beyond punishment. He is totally inhuman. Only by restoring humanity to him could they inflict him with suffering. That’s what they did. I also suspect that they were merely pawns of the PTB to create a vampire with a soul to plug into all those prophecies that happen to be scattered about.

Now that Angel has had a relapse he is probably going to be permanently in a state of inner turmoil especially when he feels that turmoil lessen. He has to constantly remind himself of the time he became too complacent about his state of being and as a result became a monster and nearly destroyed the world. If he ever forgets then he will be in danger of becoming Angelus again.

Yes, he knows that now. When he and Buffy actually did the deed, he had no idea what would happen. Now, maybe he was destined to lose and regain his soul, but who knows?

Pepperlandgirl has it correct - it was a plot device. It is a fun exercise to play the logic out and check for continuity - and those things do need to work enough to not distract, but ultimately, Joss Whedon appears to care much more for emotional content than logic and continuity.

Between listening to Joss’ narration on the DVDs and reading stuff (don’t recall exactly where) the basic point is: “Buffy” is meant to be a metaphor - using a horror-genre plot to bring to life the pain and confusion and battles of adolescence, right? It is also meant to be female-positive, right? Well, Angel getting his curse lifted was a device to show what happens with first love - a lot of times, right after the girl gives her heart openly for the first time, the boy changes, sometimes by choice (for example with Parker the Pig right after Angel) and sometimes for external reasons (e.g., Angel’s curse) - the question is: how does she deal with this? That’s the part that’s interesting…

The fact that the logic and continuity hang together enough to be okay is what makes Buffy so cool and enables us to focus on the emotions. But Joss acknowledges that he makes a lot of this stuff up as he goes along, and Jenny Calendar being a gypsy and all this curse stuff was conceived more or less at the last minute when they needed a reason for Angel to turn bad so Buffy could experience the pain of First Betrayal[sup]TM [/sup]

That is all.

Here’s what bothers me… Has Anya ever had a soul since she went demon?

It’s entirely possible she hasn’t. It’d certainly fit her behavior… her ‘quirky’ behavior is slanted, interestingly, towards following the Seven Deadly Sins, especially Lust and Greed.

I don’t know where the bunnies fit.

Still, it does explain why she lit up when she discovered Spike had one. On the other hand, perhaps she’s had one since she became human again, and that’s why she’s doing a sucky job as a vengance demon.

I want to know if the ‘true-happines’ clause is still hanging over Angel’s head. After all, it was executed once, he lost his soul - curse over. Then Willow managed to restore his soul, but so far as I remember, we did not get to see if it was the exact same curse.

It was the exact same curse. She found it on Jenny Calender’s disc. Then, it looked like she actually possessed by something, my money is on the old gypsy that cursed him originally.

My question about the curse regards the episode I Will Remember You. He was made human, decided he put Buffy at risk, and asked to be made a vamp with asoul again. I’m sure the Oracles or whoever didn’t use the same gypsey curse, did they?

WordMan, you are absolutely right - it’s a plot device. But it’s also fun to play with the BuffyLogic questions it raises.

Here’s my take: I never considered the “Angel experiences true happiness and the curse is lifted” to be an intentional part of the curse. Instead, I’ve always thought it showed the limits of the power of the Gypsies when they cursed Angel. If, despite the curse, Angel felt a moment of true happiness, the curse had failed and was destroyed.

I’m not sure I’m saying it well.


I gotta disagree. When Ms Calendar goes to consult with a gypsy elder, he explains the curse. The soul is there to punish Angel and cause him pain. If the soul ever brings him happiness, it is taken away.

When the prophecy of “The father will kill the son” came to light, I figured that the gypsy curse was the explanation. Angel(who’s mistakenly convinced that being celibate will keep the curse from kicking in) is holding his infant son. Connor looks deep into daddy’s eyes and emits a contented gurgle. Angel experiences true happiness. Instead, the writers went with a Voodoo Mayor McCheese telling half-truths.

Hmmmmm. I’ve always interpreted Anya’s greed as not so much greed in itself as the fact that after eleven centuries of being a vengeance demon, she doesn’t really know how to be human. She has become so alienated from human emotions of the non-vengeancy variety that she can’t comprehend them anymore. Money, and the exchange of same for goods and services, is something she can get her mind around. Ditto for the lust thing. She’s trying to deal with a lot of feelings she doesn’t really understand, so she clings to concrete, material things in an effort to at least carry on the appearace of a normal human life.

You do bring up an interesting point, though. Her generally flat speaking tone does seem to point to a lack of emotion, perhaps caused by the lack of a soul. The issue has never been addressed on the show, but you’re right, it would explain her reaction when she discovered that Spike had gotten his back. Maybe on some level, she knew that that was the “missing ingredient” to her humanity. Also, it’s been pretty well shown that in the Buffyverse, a soulless being can feel human emotions such as love. I think even without a soul, Anya would be capable of love, though it would be tainted by her selfishness. The fact that she has known love, and still feels love for her friends (including Xander) may be what’s causing her to be such a suck-ass vengeance demon.

I was wondering about that too. The question is, was her reaction due to the possibility of her getting her soul back, or was she simply marveling at the fact that Spike managed to get his back? It would be an interesting revelation to find out she hasn’t had a soul the whole time.

I’m still kind of iffy on what having a soul means on the show. Spike clearly felt love for both Drusilla and Buffy before he had a soul, which I wouldn’t have made possible if I were writing the show.

I know this wasn’t raised, but do animals have souls? I mean, many of them demonstrate love, loyalty, etc.

Of course, we can look at Dawn and say she has no soul… or is she a pure soul?

eris(“Dawn rules!”)lover

I think that in the Buffy verse the soul refers to the higher guiding moral principle. Without it you can’t do good for the sake of good, or at least you have no drive for. It is what resolves the problem of why do good if it is going to suck for you. Your soul makes you do it. It isn’t an identity thing as much as a connection to the Plan, or at least the friendly part of it. Vampires and other soulless demons wander around without souls and a set of brutal instincts.

Animals probably have no souls but they lack the brutal instincts that demons have. They aren’t lured to do evil really and lack the rational capacity to choose so a soul wouldn’t do them much good really (well Lassy might be the exception). The demons with very little in the way of intelligence are like just big dangerous animals.

As for restoring Angel to a souled vampire the Oracles reversed time so he stopped himself from turning human. He tried to get them to do it again to save Doyle but they refused to undo the noble sacrifice that he had made.


Oh admit it, you’re just jazzed at the idea of watching Anya getting smacked around by that flaming fist guy.


In defense of Jenny Calendar, she didn’t “lose” the disc. She had just finished copying it to disc when Angelus attacked and killed her.

Of course, had she told anyone what she was doing and maybe EMAILED the curse to her little circle of friends or to Willow instead of copying it to disc, we might have been spared some pain.