Maybe responsibility isn’t the sexiest trait to kick off our month of hero worship, but when you’ve been married twenty-four years, well, it’s damned sexy. Nothing like a man who splits the work with you, who takes initiative, and who deals with the results when it goes wrong.
Angel the vampire’s soul was returned to him by the gypsies after he killed one of their own, so that he could feel remorse for his sins for the remainder of his days.
They couldn’t have found a more fitting punishment. Angel wallows for years, living in alleys and eating rats as he comes to grips with the havoc he wrought while soulless.
Now, in the present day, he’s determined to fight on the side of good, from fighting nests of vampires to fighting Wolfram and Hart to helping Buffy save the world. Always a loner, he reluctantly becomes a father figure to a strange group, first with the Scoobies, then with Doyle and Cordelia, then Wesley, Fred and Gunn. The decisions he makes have to impact all of them, just like a father.
This is a huge adjustment for Angel, who would rather be alone so he can lick his wounds when a choice goes wrong. But his rag-tag family doesn’t allow him to do that.
Because of his strong sense of responsibility, he sacrifices a lot. He knows if he stops being the protector he is, so much can go wrong. He learns that when he’s given mortality, and Buffy’s life is in danger. Whose heart doesn’t break during that episode, where they share ice cream in bed and make love with no consequences, only for him to discover he can’t protect her as a mortal man? His sense of responsibility is so great, he walks away from the love of his life so he can continue to help those who need it.
This doesn’t mean he lives alone (though I never loved Angel and Cordelia together) but I don’t believe he’s ever as happy.
Responsibility can be a bitch, can’t it?
What do you think about Angel’s embodiment of this trait? Which character—movie, television or book—embodies it for you?