I had about 20 different Buffy/Angel characters enter into my head for consideration for this, the last Buffyverse FFC post of the month. The problem with narrowing it down, is that there are so many great characters, many of which will get their own post someday, that it's really hard to weigh them against each other. Today, I decided to go with Charles Gunn, the street warrior turned lawyer from "Angel".
When we first meet Gunn, he is the leader of a vigilante street gang who hunts down, and kills vampires. By the end of his television journey, he is a former lawyer for an evil law firm and is dying in a back alley after taking that firm on. It's that journey in between such opposite personalities that makes Charles Gunn a captivating character.
From an early age, Gunn is taught how to fight vampires by his grandmother. The area of L.A. he grew up in, the Badlands, is a desolate section abandoned by those who should have protected the civilian population. Because of that lack of attention, vampires and other demons have been allowed to have an almost free reign and are only kept in check by those willing to take them on. Gunn kills his first vampire in her kitchen. Along with his sister, Alonna, Gunn quickly raises through the ranks and eventually takes over the leadership of his own gang of vampire hunters. Despite his tactical knowledge and skills as a fighter, Gunn quickly let the mission take over his life, he no longer valued himself as anything other than a killing machine.
When he first meets Angel, he tries to kill him. All he saw was a vampire roughing up a human and Gunn assumed the worst. Since the show continued to air, Gunn failed at his attempt and over a period of time the two of them began to form a tenuous sense of trust. They would come to each other for help. Sadly, their tentative friendship did not happen in time to keep Alonna from being turned into a vampire, which causes Gunn to stake her.
That single event, which haunts him for the remainder of his days, caused Gunn to refocus on his life and take a long hard look in the mirror. He had to decide if his way of doing things were the right thing or if maybe, just maybe Angel may have had the answers all along. He joins the time, though he doesn't really sign on full time for a while. He still feels torn between his new allies and his old gang. Those divided loyalties eventually come to a head and Gunn realizes that he is happy and at home with Angel investigations.
Gunn fits in easily with the rest of the team and falls hard for Winifred "Fred" Burkle who they had rescued from a demon dimension. His relationship with her allows him to look at himself as more than just the team's muscle. Because Fred is a genius, Gunn begins to want more for himself, mainly because he doesn't think he deserves Fred's affections. Gunn has a lot of self doubts and some of them come true when he is forced to kill the man who sent Fred to the dimension, in order to spare Fred from doing it. Instead of it bringing them together though, it tears them apart. Fred can't forgive herself of Gunn for what happened, and it drives home that maybe he is just the muscle.
When the team join Wolfram & Hart, the evil law firm, Gunn has an infinite knowledge of law downloaded into his brain, making him the one team member that seems to fit flawlessly into the firm. He thinks he has finally discovered his place on the team, that maybe now they will look at him as something else, someone as smart as they are. Through various events, including the death of Fred due to his own actions, Gunn realizes that being a super lawyer isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's only through a lot of soul searching and self sacrifice that Gunn finally accepts who he is and his role in life. It's because of that actual self acceptance that Gunn is able to face the end, even when he is mortally wounded taking out one of human puppet masters behind the firm. When we last see him on screen, he is standing side by side with Angel ready to face an army of demons bent on destroying them. At that moment, Gunn has finally come into his own as a true mythical hero.