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Whatever Happened To Spike From Buffy The Vampire Slayer?

At first, he was a feared villain. Then, he became a tenuous ally, and even a lover. In the end, he surprised us all by playing the part of selfless hero. Whatever part he did or did not play throughout the legendary, seven-season run of Joss Whedon's iconic '90s fantasy series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, however, Spike was easily among the most intriguing characters to ever enter the vampire-infested town of Sunnydale.

Played with an unrepentant mix of cocksure swagger, raw sexuality, and soul-searching pathos by a then relatively unknown James Marsters, the character also became one of the most beloved in the Buffy-verse. It was a long road to get Spike to that point, one that found the  bleached-blonde bad boy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer change in ways no one could've conceived when he made his grand entrance early in the show's second season.   

Some might even argue that Buffy the Vampire Slayer didn't truly begin to transform into the era-defining genre treat as which it's regarded until Spike entered the picture. That may be overstating things, but Marsters' scene-stealing work as Spike was clearly a big part of the show's success, if only because Buffy the Vampire Slayer's writers gave him some of the best lines of the series and put him front and center during some of the show's most vital moments. That includes the series' 2003 finale, in which the once-reviled Spike ultimately became the savior-slash-destroyer of Sunnydale after valiantly sacrificing himself to close the Hellmouth once and for all. 

That beyond-memorable moment came in Marsters' 97th and final appearance as Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and while Spike remains one of the best-loved characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, some folks have lost track of the man who played him in the years since. Here's what happened to Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer   

James Marsters also became a regular on Angel

Okay, so true Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans likely didn't lose track of Spike or James Marsters until a couple of years after Buffy's series finale aired. That's because Spike's most noble sacrifice in that pulse-pounding finale wasn't truly the end of the character's unlife. In fact, Spike was brought back into the mortal realm not long after leaving it on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff series Angel. While Marsters had already appeared on Angel a couple of times since its 1999 premiere, he didn't become a regular cast member on the series until after his Buffy days were behind him.

If you're wondering exactly how Spike was brought back from his post-life state, you should know that there was a sort of magical amulet involved. You should know, as well, that Spike's arrival as a full-time player in the world of Angel (which starred former Buffy bad boy David Boreanaz) brought with it the same jolt of energy his arrival brought to Buffy a few years prior. It was a jolt much needed by a flagging Angel series that had, by season 4, become a bit stale and predictable. Some might even speculate that Marsters' becoming a regular on Angel helped earn the series a fifth season on the air.

That's not all that hard to believe, as Marsters' affable charm proved a perfect foil for David Boreanaz's super-serious work as Angel. Once he left The Scooby Gang behind and joined Team Angel in the L.A. branch of Wolfram & Hart, Spike quickly became a series favorite, if only because watching Marsters trade quippy barbs with Borreanaz was so much fun. 

James Marsters played one of DC's biggest bads on Smallville

One might've thought that, after leaving Buffy the Vampire SlayerAngel, and Spike behind, James Marsters had played his fill of WB-styled teen drama. Quite the opposite was true. In fact, one of Marsters first post-Buffy gigs came when he joined the cast of what was then among The WB's most popular series. That series was Smallville, the angsty, small-screen origin story for one of the most iconic superheroes in comic book history. Once it hit the airwaves in 2001, it documented the formative years of one Clark Kent (Tom Welling), who would, of course, go on to become the hero we know and love as Superman.

As Smallville spent significant time documenting Clark's angsty high school years in the titular Kansas farming town, there was lots of that good ol' teen drama one would expect from a vintage WB series. Luckily, high school had already ended for Clark Kent and his crew by the time James Marsters came to Smallville. The actor made his first appearance on the show in the season 5 premiere as Dr. Milton Fine, who, in true Smallville fashion, proved a host body for a Kryptonian artificial intelligence referred to as the Brain InterActive Construct.

If you know anything about the Superman comics, you know that the Brain InterActive Construct becomes the supervillain known as Brainiac. That transformation did occur in Marsters' five-season, 14-episode run on Smallville, and he chewed every bit of scenery he could in his time on the series, delivering yet another deliciously duplicitous character capable of unfathomable evil, but who (with a little help) ultimately found the side of good. 

James Marsters joined Team Marvel for Runaways

Smallville, however, was hardly James Marsters' last bout with a comic book hero. The actor's second go with the super-powered set actually saw him trade the DC banner for that of mighty Marvel in one of the company's more egregiously overlooked small-screen ventures. Sprung from the oh-so fertile mind of one of modern comics' most original creators, Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last ManSagaPaper Girls), the series in question is the tragically cancelled Marvel-Hulu team-up Runaways.

For those who missed out on Runaways in its three-season run on Hulu, the series follows a group of special teens who, upon discovering their parents are actually super-powered villains fronting a sinister organization called PRIDE, decide to leave home and form their own super team with the sole intent of bringing their troublemaking folks to justice. As you probably guessed, James Marsters was not one of the good guys on Runaways, playing papa to one of the titular teens (Gregg Sulkin). While Marsters' Victor Stein was far from the worst of the worst on the series, he was, in fact, an evil, megalomaniacal genius who abused both his wife (Ever Carradine) and son. 

Of course, that family infighting led to an act of self-defense that ultimately allowed the show's true villain to take control of Victor's mind and body, so, in a sense, Marsters did get to play the evil mastermind behind PRIDE after all. If we're being completely honest, here, we can't help but think Marsters made the character one of the more unheralded supervillains in the MCU, even if there's some question about Runaways' place in the canon.