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October 20 2016

Buffyverse characters ranked by screen time. This is a fantastic IMDB list.

Some surprises in that.
Does anyone here know what the process is for measuring an actor's screen time? I can hardly believe someone sat there with a stopwatch and watched both series all the way through, let alone doing that for each character. At least I hope no one had to do that.
Best thing about that list: the abrupt and matter-of-fact paragraph on who played the First.
Interesting that, as the two leads, Angel has Buffy beat out by almost a full season's worth of episodes, but she half a season more of screen-time than he does. All the early Buffy episodes where he pops up in an alleyway for two minutes to drop a cryptic hint must be really throwing that ratio out.
The next step will be the opinionated lists about which characters had the greatest impact for the smallest amount of screen time. (Skip will always be a personal fave.)

(Interesting that IMDB pulls the Bela Lugosi Dracula for the picture and character reference.)

ETA: this IMDB user "ninewheels0" has created several of these lists, so I assume s/he has to have some automated means of doing so. Here's the one for characters in the MCU.

[ edited by tomg on 2016-10-20 15:57 ]
Funny, I just looked at what other things "Skip" had done. I wish they had had photos for everyone.
@Matt - Also the writers appeared to be far more interested in Buffy in her show contrasted with Angel where a lot of time is dedicated to the supporting characters. Considering the melodramatic nature of both shows, really the fact that Angel never was really written "relationships" in any substantial sense really cut down his screen time since he doesn't have both the Plot + Relationship development Buffy gets.

You can sort of see the same thing with Xander contrasted with someone like Wes or Fred. Both of those Angel supporting characters are more analogous to Willow. Xander has more time, but if you divide up the episodes, you can see how Xander is just sort of there for light plot and relationship timekeeping. But Wes and Fred have massive screen time because they both appear plot centric and relationship heavy - exactly like Willow.
Xander was relationship heavy. He probably had the longest running partner in the show: Anya.
@azzers: I don't agree. Season 2 of Angel was all about Angel's relationship with Darla and his personal doubts and issues and depression. (Most of season 2, that is. The Pylea arc was an exception.) Season 4 and parts of season 3 were largely about Angel's relationship with Connor, as well as Cordelia and other members of the team. Season 5 was focused on Angel's self-doubts about working for Wolfram and Hart, and the first part of the season was very focused on his relationship with Spike. And the only one in the AtS main supporting cast who got as much development and focus was Wesley (and maybe to an extent Doyle early on), but that's no different from Willow or Spike. Fred got minor arcs but was mostly just used as a love interest/onus of a love triangle/Wesley's object of desire/fridged damsel, and Gunn was mostly just there and they only tried to give him some sort of an arc in season 5. Cordelia's development was subjugated to Angel's story even before they had her possessed and stripped her of agency - her arc in season 3 seemed aimed at making her a "worthy" love interest for Angel. Lorne and Harmony were comic relief most of the time.
Less than four hours of Faith! Seems impossible somehow.
Among other surprises, D'Hoffryn only has 10 minutes total screen time. He seems like a bigger presence in the series to me.
On a semi-related note, in a session at the EuroSlayage conference one of the presenters told us the Buffybot was only in three episodes. I found this surprising as she seemed like a bigger presence to me, to borrow StalwartTrue's words.

[ edited by Eden on 2016-10-21 05:50 ]
@Eden: I knew she was in just 3 episodes - Intervention, Bargaining parts 1 and 2 (well, two episodes if the latter were counted as one). Her screentime is relatively high, though, because she had significant screentime and presence both these times.

D'Hoffryn's 10 minutes were a surprise to me, too. But then when I think about it, he really appeared rarely and for a very short time, but each time he appeared was very plot significant. It's similar with most of the villains - e.g. The Master being just 49th with 10 episodes and 24:15 minutes, but he feels like a bigger presence.

Similarly, Faith's 4 hours of screentime feels much larger because her scenes were almost always significant and about her, unlike many of the regular characters. A lot of Giles' screentime is him delivering exposition, a lot of Xander's screentime is just him quipping after Giles delivers exposition, etc.
@tomg: The MCU movies list is mostly unsurprising, including the fact that Hawkeye is rather low on it. The screentime for Captain America: Civil War confirms that Steve and Tony were really co-leads in that movie, which was the impression I got from watching it.

I'd like to see someone do one for the Netflix shows and one or two for Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter (I wonder what Peggy's overall screentime is). Obviously, doing just one for TV would put the Netflix shows at a big disadvantage since AoS alone has had some 20 more episodes than all of them put together. For the same reason, it wouldn't much sense to make a count for MCU in general, as it would put the TV side at the advantage. But if anyone did it, Coulson would be probably firmly in the first place.

[ edited by TimeTravellingBunny on 2016-10-21 12:40 ]
This list could serve as a master's thesis for the title of Geek Grandmaster.

I guess the list maker decided not to credit Jasmine for the time when she was possessing Cordelia.

Kind of amazing how little time many of the Big Bads spent on screen. Bethany Chaulk had more screen time than Adam. Also hard to believe that Olaf the Troll had almost as much time as D'Hoffryn.
@TimeTravellingBunny: the IMDB user appears to have already done the compilations you're looking for, albeit without separating AoS from Agent Carter:

Marvel Cinematic Universe (movies only) (cited earlier)
Marvel on Netflix
Marvel Cinematic Universe (films, TV eps, shorts)
Firefly
Dollhouse

etc. etc. -- s/he has 48 lists. And apparently does this by watching the shows/movies while operating an iPhone's stopwatch (according to notes on the Game of Thrones list). So who knows how accurate all this really is.
Buffybot also has an appearance in The Gift...; and even with remembering that, it does still feel surprising when seeing it spelled out that she's only in three-slash-four episodes.
@tomg: Thank you! Wow, this person sure has a lot of lists. I like the way they made sure to differentiate different characters even when IMDB was making it difficult (Ward and Hive on AoS) or count the screentime of the same character played by different actors (like Kara Palamas/Agent 33 or Hive) and the fact they list all of the different personalities played by Eliza Dushku, Enver Djokaj and others on Dollhouse (although listing the same character for each episode for the likes of Topher or DeWitt wasn't really necessary).

The MCU list wasn't surprising, I expected it to be heavy on TV characters (none of the movie only ones are even in top 10). I had also guessed Coulson would be comfortably number 1, but he's actually had less movie screentime than I thought, so this is mostly because he apparently had over an hour more of screentime in season 1 of AoS than the next person, Skye/Daisy (so much for the fanboys' whining during season 1 that the show was too focused on her). She and Ward being 2nd and 3rd for season 1 with almost the same screentime (2 minutes of difference) is not a surprise. It's also not surprising that to see that Coulson and Daisy have been competing for most screentime and that they had almost the same screentime in seasons 3 and so far in season 4, and that she had the most screentime in season 2, when the Inhumans/Afterlife had a lot of substantial screentime. But it's just 18 minutes more than Coulson, so he's still comfortably ahead overall. The only thing that really surprised me was Fitz' lower screentime for season 2 (76 minutes, just 10 more than Ward, who was in just 14 out of 22 episodes), since I remember season 2 as quite a big and memorable season for his character development. I wonder if Simmons' screentime includes Head Simmons in early season 2?

I have no idea what "This character is not longer available" entry is about, but that's probably because I haven't seen Luke Cage yet.

And wow, Mal had over twice as much screentime as Zoe, the person with 2nd largest screentime on Firefly/Serenity. I didn't expect the difference to be so big.

[ edited by TimeTravellingBunny on 2016-10-21 20:20 ]
I'm always surprised by how few episodes Faith is in compared to her impact on the series, but it's not surprising when looking at how high she places base on screen time. It's the same with Darla on 'Angel'.

Adam had so little screentime! Though I wouldn't particularly want more, ha. I guess the Initiative got a lot more focus, and he was just the embodiment.
The problem is - those were ultimately dead relationships without much if any growth. So you have Connor and Angel or even Angel and Darla and you're basically marking a lot of plot heavy time rather than any sort of personal development.

The "relationships" we focus on with Angel are plot centric - which means we're not really charting a major progression with the character so much as "here's what makes Angel moody now." Darla is in some ways a huge time suck in terms of Angel's character but you don't see a huge distinct difference in him other than "will he or won't he" turn bad. The normal resets pretty quickly. Same thing with Connor who at times actively irritates me to the point they basically took Vincent and made him uninteresting. I'd argue Angel's relationships don't really focus on Angel's development as a character so much as bounce him plot wise to something else.

I'd contrast that with someone like Buffy that seems... well a little more wise the more she does things. She doesn't stop making mistakes (and neither would Angel), but Angel basically just stays a loner, stays a loner, stays a loner. So for me, frankly I don't recognize many of his realationships within the series in any meaningful way changing Angel. And that's where I assign them as mostly "plot" centric in they simply drive the actions of everyone else.

Buffy actually has relationships independent of how they involve everyone else. She grows. Angel has no relationships active in the series except almost Cordy and then almost Nina. And its hard to give the writers credit for it since they never actually pull the trigger and give us character growth off a relationship that has nothing to do with the plot everyone else is experiencing.

[ edited by azzers on 2016-10-22 23:04 ]
Leaving screen time aside - and, yes, I do understand that this thread is about screen time - the BUFFY character who appeared over the longest period is... Harmony. She appeared (unnamed) in the unaired BUFFY pilot and appeared several times on ANGEL after BUFFY's run had ended.
Oh my gosh! I didn't even see this got posted here until now! Hi everybody, I'm the author of the list! So glad you enjoyed!

Anyhoo, to answer the big question, which I've found hard to do concisely enough to put it in the IMDb descriptions: basically I sit down and watch the episode with my iPhone stopwatch handy, and I use that to measure how much time a character is visible on the screen, going scene-by-scene. So if there's a scene of Buffy and Giles talking to each other for 2 minutes, and they're shot over-the-shoulder ("dirty" framing) so that they're both visible the whole time, they both get 2 minutes. If they're shot in separate framing, so that only one is visible at a time, I split it in half for 1 minute a piece (or estimate if one of them seems to be shot more than the other.) Sometimes in more complicated scenes I'll go fifteen seconds at a time. My list is measured in quarter-minutes, but when I'm measuring, I'm practically doing it by one-eighth of a minute, counting seven- or eight-second fragments when those appear. Your results would be a little different than mine, but I pay close attention and try to be as accurate as I can. I would like to think that anyone else who did the same thing would get numbers not too far off from my own.

It honestly isn't as much of a chore as it might sound. It's a nice way to re-watch shows I enjoy while also learning something new about them. I can't really describe my interest beyond the obvious element of just being curious about the results, but I find it strangely soothing to practice.
@TimeTravellingBunny Simmons' total for season 2 does include Fitz's visions in those first two episodes. My rule of thumb is, a doppleganger counts as a separate entity, but when characters appear in visions, hallucinations, and dreams, that counts as still being the real character. For instance, The First gets credit for all of its appearances as other people, since they're all identifiable as The First in disguise, but the Simmons who Fitz talks to in his brain isn't any other person (unless you want to get really intense about it and say she counts as Fitz himself, which to my sense is missing the forest for the trees), so her time still goes towards Simmons.

As far as "this character page is unavailable", that just happens sometimes with superhero character pages. I think it has something to do with the fact that superheroes have a real name and a codename, which are sometimes associated with two different character pages that are constantly being edited in relationship to one another.

Also, you guys have made me realize that I didn't give BuffyBot her own place on the list. Silly me! Going to fix that now.
It's also worth noting that I counted the Wishverse versions of all the Buffy characters as being the same as the prime universe characters. This also means that vamp!Willow shows up again in Doppelgangland, her screen time belongs to Willow's total as well.
Hello! It's good to know you're enjoying counting the screentime. To me it would feel like a lot of work.

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