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When Angelus has his soul back he goes by the shortened form Angel.

Is there an established in universe reason why he doesn't use his real name Liam?

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And if Willow (or Tara) coursed Spike his soul back, what would his name be? "Spi"? –  Einer Jul 22 at 11:51
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@Einer "Railroad", he has little control over his own path anyway ;) –  Izkata Jul 22 at 15:56

3 Answers 3

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While this is never definitively stated within either of the two main shows (possibly within a comic or commentary), it is my belief that Angel effectively considers "Liam" to be dead, and that identity completely wiped out.

From the episode Amends (In this scene, the First Evil has taken the guise of Jenny Calendar):

Angel: A demon isn't a man. I was a man once.

Jenny: (derisively) Oh, yes, and what a man you were.

Angel is forced to flash back to the days before he became a vampire, in a bar, singing and drinking, pulling at a woman's dress before passing out and falling to the floor. The flashback is over, and Margaret is standing before him again.

Margaret: A drunken, whoring layabout, and a terrible disappointment to your parents.

Angel: I was young. I never had a chance to...

Margaret: To die of syphilis? You were a worthless being before you were ever a monster.

It is theorized that Vampire-Liam took the name "Angelus" from his sister's belief that he was an Angel, but he has been described as "having the face of an angel". After he has his soul returned, he is no longer the person that Liam was, nor is he the murdering demon that Angelus was. He is now a third, composite personality/being, and taking a third name is a symbolic gesture of that. Keeping it close to "Angelus" fits with his mission of redemption and acceptance of his past.

Out-of-universe, there is a certain amount of logic to the shortening of "Angelus" to "Angel" as one might see (as many vampires do) Angelus being weakened into a lesser being.

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I could be wrong here, but I don't actually believe he's referred to as Angelus during S2. The Angel/Angelus naming to represent the two sides of the character was explored much more in the Angel spinoff. –  Liath Jul 22 at 14:15
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@Liath I'll do some deeper searching through transcripts later, but I found an instance of Jenny referring to him as "Angelus" after the transformation in Innocence. Some others are still calling him "Angel", but this is right after the change. –  phantom42 Jul 22 at 14:33
    
I think the out of universe reason to call the character Angel is because he fulfils the role of guardian angel for Buffy at the beginning of the show, secretly watching for her, and saving her at the most opportune time. –  Flamma Jul 22 at 16:59
    
@Liath - wasn't he called Angelus in the watcher diaries after he became a vampire again in S2? –  HorusKol Jul 22 at 23:35
    
@HorusKol: Yes, but the watchers are heavy on the Latin and not inclined to fine distinctions about vampires - he'd probably be referred to as Angelus no matter what. –  Tynam Aug 29 at 22:52

I don't recall the subject coming up in any of the episodes of Buffy or Angel.

However, even with his soul, he is still a vampire, not a human. Also, he is still famous (infamous?) so, like Spike and other widely known vampires, he continues to go by a well recognized vampire nickname.

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Additionally: He has gone longer by Angel/Angelus than by Liam. I bet even when he talks to himself he calls himself "Angel" - just out of habit. I'd say it is his name, and "Liam" is just someone he used to be. –  Einer Jul 22 at 12:05

When Giles and Buffy researches Angel after Buffy discovering he's a vampire, he is refered to as "Angelus; the one with the angelic face" in a book. My theory is that Liam takes the name Angelus - or perhaps more probably, that his sire Darla bestowes it upon him - after he becomes a Vampire. When he gets his soul back and remember all the horrible things he's done (as Angelus), it's not that strange that he "creates" "Angel" as a way to keep his sould and un-soluled selfs apart.

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I believe he got the name from when he rose from the dead and his sister believed he was an Angel. –  NikolaiDante Jul 22 at 12:19
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The question was not why "Angel" and not "Angelus", but rather why "Angel" and not "Liam". –  Cthulhu Jul 22 at 14:25

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