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I’m struggling a lot understanding the point of Angel curse.

Theoretically Angel is a vampire with a soul as per the gipsy curse. However I fail to understand exactly the implications of the curse as it seems to punish the wrong “entity”:

  1. If the curse reinstates Angel initial mortal soul then it feels like the curse is actually punishing the mortal and not the demon.
  2. If that is not the case but more like Angel is now a demon vampire with a soul, does that mean that Angel is not really Angel?? In other words, the real Angel moved on and this is a different entity?
  3. How is removing the soul when there’s a true moment of happiness a punishment? Again that feels like it punished the “mortal” soul as opposed to punishing the vampire. I’m either case, if we are talking about a vampire with a soul then reverting him to full vampire is a good thing for the vampire, and allowing the human soul to move on feels like a good thing too, not at all punishment on any case.

No matter how I look at it, it would seem the gipsy curse punishes the poor human that not having enough with being killed by airing it must now endure punishment for the sins of his killer.

Is it a plot hole, a misunderstanding of the gipsies on how the whole vampirism works or is there any other explanation or point to Angel curse?

PS: I undertsand how this works by adding drama and conflict from an out of universe perspective, I'm looking for an in universe explanation

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    Angel is forbidden any true happiness or else he basically dies. That seems like a fairly substantial curse to me
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 22:22
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    Yes, but that's a curse to the "human" entity that was killed by a vampire (according to Buffy's lore) and then on the "shell" a demon was placed. That feels like it is punishing the poor human that did nothing wrong Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 22:23
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    I always took the curse to hold to the general logic of people seeking revenge. It's emotional, not logical. It's like when people go after a family member to punish you. It really only makes sense to the revenger. Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 23:27
  • I agree there are three different entities - Liam the human, Angelus the demon, and Angel the vampire with a soul.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 9:27
  • "Theoretically Angel is a vampire with a soul" — I think we can consider that theory pretty well-proven. "it would seem the gipsy curse punishes the poor human" — who said gypsy curses were fair or just? Although Liam was perhaps no great shakes as a human. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 16:05

2 Answers 2

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We learn in Angel: Orpheus that Angelus has been trapped in Angel's body for a century, essentially incapable of effecting any change or influence over Angel.

By forcing Angel to exist without allowing himself any moment of joy (for fear of losing his soul), the gypsies have basically made Liam/Angel into a weapon with which they can torture Angelus for the rest of eternity.

And yes, that definitely sucks for poor old Liam, but nobody said that life was fair.


You might want to note that in the commentary for Buffy: Innocence, Joss Whedon openly admits that the curse didn't make sense at first, and that they wrote in elements later to make it slightly more comprehensible, with varying degrees of success.

Interestingly enough, however, the next scene is more of an achievement for me as a writer than that one was. And you’re probably saying, “Hey! This is the boring gypsy scene where the guy is talking really pompously about vengeance and what-not. And why on Earth is this an interesting scene?” To me as a writer, incredibly important because I had to take a lot of disparate elements that just didn’t work. The fact is, Jenny had been sent there as a Gypsy but had never done anything, had never accomplished anything. The gypsy curse didn’t make any sense. He’d become a monster and kill more people if he was happy– that’s not a good plan! That’s not a good plan. And we introduced the idea of Jenny being a Gypsy really late. So I had a lot of disparate ends to take care of. A lot of things that didn’t make sense.

But one of the things that I’ve done as a script doctor is take things that don’t fit together and just really try to make them all connect. Because when you’re a script doctor, they say, “We’re in love with all these elements, you cannot change any of them, just make them work together.” And in this case it was the idea of, “Vengeance is a living thing.” The idea that they served a kind of arbitrary god, that was itself irrational, completely justified the idea that nothing we had written before actually connected that well. I probably shouldn’t be telling you this.

I remember walking along the Santa Monica Pier, desperately trying to figure out how I was going to do this scene. And then coming up with this and realising that with that one phrase “Vengeance is a living thing”, we could just make everybody accept what had gone before. Make it make some kind of sense. A quiet little accomplishment, but an important one.

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    Ahhh, that makes sense. It also punishes "Angel" himself but it then makes sense as a punishment. Thanks, that has actually been bugging me for a looooooooong time. Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 22:30
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    In the quote Whedon seems to say the aspect that didn't make sense was that he'd lose his soul again if he was happy, why the gypsies would include that even though it could lead to more human death, not any metaphysical/ethical question about whether the curse was punishing the right entity. I think there is evidence from the show itself that Angel's soul is kind of a hybrid of a human soul and a demon soul, that the demon soul is still part of who he really is, see my comments about the Pylea story arc from Angel in response to this answer.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 15:43
  • @Hypnosifl - I think that expecting consistency from a show and spin-off that ran for more than a decade and had twenty writers is a pretty high bar
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 15:47
  • @Valorum - maybe, but this inconsistency seems a little more significant than, say, Rowling's non-comprehension of basic arithmetic ...
    – davidbak
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 16:16
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    Well even if they didn't have any entirely consistent picture of how personal identity worked with vampires (something also talked about in the comments on this recent question), from early on it seems like they did depict Angel as feeling guilty about the things he'd done as Angelus, which doesn't suggest they were clearly imagining Angel/Angelus as entirely distinct beings who just inhabited the same body.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 16:52
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A vampire's personality is based off of who they were as a human. Angelus was an especially cruel vampire because Liam/Angel was a selfish human who just cared about partying and getting drunk and laid. While the human part of Angel is the one suffering, the vampire personality is just the part of Angel that is his deepest darkest desires.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. While this might be a factual description of Angel, I don't understand how this applies to the point of the curse the gypsy put on him. Please make sure you are clear about the answer to the question; right now this just seems like a comment.
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 1:20

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