Spike’s 50 For 50: Happy Birthday, James Marsters!

by Tami Katzoff (@tvtamijo), with additional reporting by Bryant Gilmore

On this day, the 20th of August, we celebrate the 50th birthday of actor James Marsters, the man who embodies our very favorite Bad Boy of the Buffyverse: Spike. The blood-drinking, blooming-onion-loving blondie first appeared in Season 2 of “Buffy” but was never intended to become a series regular, much less the Slayer’s devoted lover and tragicomic hero.

“That was something that evolved out of how great James’ performance was,” says writer/producer Marti Noxon, who was partially responsible for Spike’s creation and evolution. “He brought the pain and the emotion to a character that could have been a big joke. We just loved writing for him.”

And we loved watching him. Spike is witty, handsome, romantic, British, and the ultimate representation of the Rock ‘n Roll Vamp. As a birthday gift to Marsters (and a Monday gift to you), intern extraordinaire Bryant Gilmore and I present the 50 Greatest Spike Moments.*

1) 2.3 – “School Hard” – What better way to make an entrance than by plowing through the infamous Welcome to Sunnydale sign.
2) 2.3 – “School Hard” – Buffy and Spike have their first fight that ends with a well-timed axe to the head, courtesy of Momma Joyce.
3) 2.13 – “Surprise” – Our first look at Wheelchair Spike.
4) 2.13 – “Surprise” –Spike lets The Judge know who was responsible for Papa Smurf being reassembled.
5) 2.14 – “Innocence” – Newly-bad Angel clearly can’t take a hint when Spike warns him that he won’t be in the chair forever.
6) 2.17 – “Passion” – Spike’s feeling like Angel is quickly wearing out his welcome (and we can’t help but agree).
7) 2.19 – “I Only Have Eyes For You” – Spike takes a stand. Literally.
8) 2.21 – “Becoming, Part 1” – Angel’s repeated failures to remove the sword from Acathla’s heart prompts a giddy Spike to sing the “someone wasn’t worthy” song.
9) 2.22 – “Becoming, Part 2” – Joyce: “And what do you do?” Spike: “Well, I sing.”
10) 3.8 – “Lover’s Walk” -“I may be love’s bitch, but at least I’m man enough to admit it.”
11) 3.8 – “Lover’s Walk” – Spike, feeling like himself again, drives out of Sunnydale singing along to the Sid Vicious version of “My Way.”
12) 4.3 – “Harsh Light of Day” – Harmony: “You love that tunnel more than me.” Spike: “I love syphilis more than you.”
13) 4.7 – “The Initiative” – Last seen getting zapped by the mysterious commandos, Spike awakens in a prison cell, repeating Buffy’s name and seeing what it would be like if Buffy had infinite resources at her disposal.
14) 4.7 – “The Initiative” – After going all “Prison Break” at the Initiative compound, Spike tries to leave a “Sorry, I Missed You” message for Buffy with Willow’s dead body but finds that he can’t… perform.
15) 4.8 – “Pangs” – After finding himself alone on Thanksgiving, Spike turns to the Scoobies as a last refuge.
16) 4.9 – “Something Blue” – Buffy and Spike are engaged! And Spike outs Buffy as a closet Bette Midler fan.
17) 4.11 – “Doomed” – Poor Spike. He’s chipped by the government, smacked around (physically and verbally) by the Scooby Gang, and now he’s forced to stay in Xander’s crummy basement.
18) 4.16 – “Who Are You?” – Spike meets Faith wearing Buffy’s body.
19) 4.22 – “Restless” – In Giles’ mind, Spike hires himself out as a Sunnydale tourist attraction.
20) 5.4 – “Out Of My Mind” – Spike wakes up from a very vivid, sexy dream and realizes that he’s in love with the Slayer. And he’s not exactly happy about it.
21) 5.5 – “No Place Like Home” – Buffy: “What are you doing here? Five words or less.” Spike: “Out. For. A. Walk… Bitch.”
22) 5.7 – “Fool For Love” – In a flashback, we learn how William the Bloody got his name. We also learn a good SAT word: “effulgent.”
23) 5.7 – “Fool For Love” – In another flashback, cooler-than-cool Billy Idol Spike offs a Slayer on the NYC subway.
24) 5.7 – “Fool For Love” – Intending to kill Buffy and put both of them out of their misery, Spike ends up comforting her instead.
25) 5.8 – “Shadow” – Spike the Sweater Sniffer.
26) 5.12 – “Checkpoint” – “’Passions’ is coming on.”
27) 5.14 – “Crush” – Spike offers to kill Drusilla to prove his loyalty to Buffy.
28) 5.17 – “Forever” – Uncle Spike helps Dawn prepare a spell to bring Joyce back from the dead.
29) 5.18 – “Intervention” – Spike boinks the Buffybot in the cemetery…
30) 5.18 – “Intervention” – …then earns a kiss from the real Buffy after protecting The Key/Dawn’s identity from Glory.
31) 5.21 – “The Weight Of The World” – “Ben. Glory. He’s a doctor. She’s the beast…”
32) 6.1 – “Bargaining, Part 1” – “Ooh. Poor watcher. Did your life pass before your eyes? ‘Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea…’”
33) 6.2 – “Bargaining, Part 2” – With Dawn in a football helmet on a motorcycle.
34) 6.3 – “After Life” – An “aw” moment: Spike knows exactly how many days it’s been since Buffy died (147).
35) 6.5 – “Life Serial” – Another “aw” moment: kitten poker!
36) 6.7 – “Once More With Feeling” – Spike tells Buffy (in song) to let him rest in peace…
37) 6.7 – “Once More With Feeling” – …and then they kiss.
38) 6.8 – “Tabula Rasa” – “Randy Giles??!”
39) 6.9 – “Smashed” – “Examine my chip or else Mr. Fett here is the first to die.”
40) 6.9 – “Smashed” – Spuffy. Finally.
41) 6.11 – “Gone” – Xander walks in on Spike doing the nasty with InvisiBuffy. Hilarity ensues.
42) 6.22 – “Grave” – The things we do for love (and a soul).
43) 7.2 – “Beneath You” – Cue the violins: Spike’s undead flesh burns on a cross as Buffy realizes the sacrifice he made for her.
44) 7.6 – “Him” – Spike and old/new roomie Xander team up to stop Crazy in Love Buffy from shooting Principal Wood with a bazooka.
45) 7.15 – “Get It Done” – Spike gets his leather coat – and his mojo – back.
46) 7.17 – “Lies My Parents Told Me” – Spike beats up Principal Wood. He sooo deserved it.
47) 7.19 – “Empty Places” – With Andrew in a football helmet on a motorcycle.
48) 7.20 – “Touched” – “A hundred plus years and there’s only one thing I’ve ever been sure of: You.”
49) 7.22 – “Chosen” – Spike’s fist meets a punching bag with an Angelic face.
50) 7.22 – “Chosen” – Spike Saves the World!

*Disclaimer: Though there are plenty of Great Spike Moments in “Angel,” we limited our list to the “Buffy” series. If you don’t approve… bite us.

Previously on The Weekly Whedon:
» Joss Whedon puts on an act for ‘Husbands’
» Marti Noxon: the Whedonite that almost wasn’t
» Joss Whedon’s ‘The Avengers,’ three months later
» In the world of cult TV, ‘Buffy’ is the best
» ’Dr. Horrible‘ sequel coming soon: recapturing the horror of Joss Whedon

MTV News producer Tami Katzoff presents The Weekly Whedon, a column exploring all corners of the Whedonverse from “Marvel’s The Avengers” to “Buffy” and beyond. Assemble your reactions in the comments section!