Season 1, Episode 1
Air date October 5, 1999
Written by Joss Whedon
David Greenwalt
Directed by Joss Whedon
Episode Guide
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"Graduation Day, Part Two"
"Lonely Hearts"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"The Freshman"
David Boreanaz Angel
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
Glenn Quinn Doyle
Guest Starring
Tracy Middendorf Tina
Vyto Ruginis Russell
Christian Kane Lindsey
Co Starring
Jon Ingrassia Stacy
Renee Ridgeley Margo
Sam Pancake Manager
Josh Holloway Good Looking Guy
Gina McClain Janice
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Michael Mantell Oliver

"City of" is the series premiere of the television show Angel. It is the first episode of the first season of Angel, and is the first episode overall. It was originally broadcast on October 5, 1999.

Angel has moved to Los Angeles to fight evil. He is visited by Doyle, who is half-human, half-Brachen Demon. Doyle tells Angel that he has visions from The Powers That Be ("The PTBs") of people who are in danger. The Powers sent him as a messenger to ask Angel to investigate these visions.On his first investigation, Angel bumps into Cordelia, who has also moved to L.A. to fulfill her dream of becoming an actress.

While at a party, Cordelia catches the attention of a man who later promises her a job as a model/actress but turns out to be a vampire. Angel comes to the rescue and after that Cordelia comes up with the idea that she, Angel, and Doyle should start up a detective agency, investigating supernatural and demonic problems.

"City Of" was one of the pilot episodes of several popular WB series (along with Felicity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek) that were featured in The WB's farewell broadcast on September 17, 2006.


Angel slumps at the bar of a dive in downtown Los Angeles, growing maudlin about an unidentified girl with long blonde hair who he misses, when he notices three guys leave the bar with two girls. Sliding seamlessly from blithering to dangerous, Angel unobtrusively follows them out. With the aid of stake-loaded wristbands, Angel dusts the guys, who happen to be vampires, in a dark alley. The frightened girls, one of whom is bleeding from a minor head wound, try to thank their rescuer, but Angel warns them harshly to get away from him, as he is attracted to the blood. He turns and strides down the dark alley.

A1 Doyle 03


Angel makes his way to his new home, a basement apartment beneath a ground floor office, where he finds Doyle waiting for him. Doyle introduces himself, explaining he's half human, half demon, then recaps the story of Angel's life, ending with his recent, painful breakup with the Slayer and his subsequent move to L.A. Doyle explains that Angel's isolation, combined with the fact that he recently drank human blood, puts him at serious risk of relapse. Doyle gets visions from The Powers That Be (accompanied by debilitating headaches) regarding people whose lives Angel must touch; true redemption lies not just in saving lives, but in saving souls as well. Doyle concludes by handing over a scrap of paper on which he's jotted info about a young woman named Tina. When Angel asks why Tina needs him, Doyle replies that getting involved in her life enough to figure that out is Angel's first order of business.

Angel finds Tina during her shift and manages to persuade her to meet him after work. Waiting by his car, Angel is surprised to see her in elegant evening dress, and even more surprised when she pulls pepper spray from her purse. Tina accuses Angel of being employed by someone named Russell Winters, but he slowly convinces her to accept his offer of a lift to the "fabulous Hollywood party" she plans to attend. When they arrive, Angel runs into Cordelia Chase, whom he last saw at her graduation ceremony at Sunnydale High some months earlier. She tells Angel she is now a successful actress who lives in a condo in Malibu. Tina returns to Angel saying a man named Stacy was hassling her, and that she's ready to leave. On their way into the parking garage, Angel fights off Stacy and his goons.

Meanwhile, in her dingy apartment, Cordelia hangs up her one dress and eats food she smuggled out of the party, while listening to her talent agent's discouraging phone message. It's clearly the only food she has and she sits, trying to encourage herself with positive thinking, as she tries to convince herself she doesn't want to eat anything. After Tina falls asleep, Angel spends the night on the public library's computers, searching for information about Tina's friend Denise, who disappeared after becoming involved with Russell. The next morning, Angel tells Tina he believes her friend Denise was murdered. As she listens, Tina suddenly spots Doyle's note listing her name and workplace, and, convinced afresh that Angel has been running some scam for Russell, panics and runs. Angel tries to grab her at the building's entrance, but sunlight burns his hand, causing him to vamp reflexively. In stark terror, Tina flees.

Russell finds Tina when she returns to her apartment to pack. She allows herself to be drawn into his arms; Russell vamps and bites her. Angel races to the rescue, only to find Tina beyond his help, marks of vampire predation livid on her throat. Russell meets with a young lawyer from Wolfram & Hart, Lindsey McDonald, to discuss his airtight (if fictitious) alibi in the matter of Tina's unfortunate demise, and orders the lawyer to bring him Cordelia, whom he has selected as his next victim.

Angel tracks down Stacy and interrogates him until he reveals Winters' location, then persuades a reluctant Doyle to help him avenge Tina's death. Excited by her limo ride to meet the Russell Winters, Cordelia is impressed by his ornate mansion. After the butler ushers her into Russell's den, Cordelia promptly spills the story of her life to her seemingly sympathetic host - until she notices the unusually heavy drapes and lack of mirrors, and concludes aloud that Winters is a vampire. Winters vamps and reaches for Cordelia, who pivots toward the door. Angel has scaled the wall at Winters' estate, and blown out a junction box, causing the lights to go out just as Russell captures Cordelia at the top of the stairs. Shielding Cordelia with his body, Angel takes several bullets from Winters' guards as he picks her up and jumps over the rail to land in the foyer below. Evading more gunfire, they stagger out to the convertible and Doyle squeals them all away. At the apartment, Doyle extracts bullets from Angel's torso while Cordelia dresses the wounds.

The next day, Angel stalks into a top floor conference room at Russell Winters Enterprises, where Winters is conducting a meeting with Lindsey and other reps from Wolfram & Hart. Not impressed by Winters' claim that he can do whatever he wants in L.A., Angel asks the CEO if he can fly, then forcefully kicks his executive chair through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Exposed to direct sunlight, a screaming Winters bursts into flame and disintegrates to dust in mid-air. The chair, scorched and empty, smashes to the sidewalk below. As Angel calmly departs, Lindsey uses his cell phone to report that, although the Senior Partners needn't be disturbed just yet, there seems to be a "new player in town."

Back at home, Angel despondently calls Buffy, but when he hears her voice, hangs up without speaking. Later, Cordelia proposes that the three of them get a sign out front and go into the business of saving souls as a team - at least until her "inevitable stardom" materializes. Doyle observes many people in L.A. need help and asks Angel if he's game. Angel stands alone atop a skyscraper, looking out over the bustling L.A. nightscape, and responds, "I'm game."


  • When Angel asks Doyle, "Why me?", Doyle's reply - that the "balance sheet" isn't exactly in Angel's favor - thumbnails the main theme for Angel Investigations. When Angel next asks, "Why you?", Doyle replies, "Well, we've all got something to atone for." Angel later follows up on this lead-in to Doyle's history[1] and Doyle makes good on his promise to open up.[2][3]
  • Meeting up with Cordelia at Margo's party, Angel explains that "there's not actually a cure" for vampirism. In fact, before the year is out he discovers that there exist at least two cures, a Mohra demon's Blood of Eternity[4] and a summoning ritual recorded in the scrolls of Aberjian[5].
  • Angel confronts Wolfram & Hart, the powerful law firm (fronting for its Senior Partners) that becomes his primary opponent. Lindsey McDonald is the "smart young lawyer" who provides legal and business representation for Russell Winters. Lindsey becomes one of Angel's most insidious rivals.
  • Angel phones Buffy but hangs up as soon as she answers. Buffy was confused by the call.[6]
  • Angel, in a drunken state, mentions that Buffy has great hair. Spike would later say the same thing to her in 'Gone'.
  • Doyle was the second of three demon guides sent to Angel by The Powers That Be. The first was Whistler who sets Angel irrevocably on the path to his destiny.[7] The third is Lorne, who took the place of The Oracles.[8] Cordelia later became part demon and could arguably represent yet another demon guide for Angel.[9]
  • Angel and Lindsey later reminisce about Angel killing Russell Winters.[10]
  • Besides Angel, Lindsey is the only character to appear in both this episode and the series finale ("Not Fade Away").



Body Count

Behind the Scenes


  • The episode title is a reference to "City of Angels," a nickname for Los Angeles.
  • The vampire prosthetics (excepting Angel's) were a newly-created prototype design for this episode, as the production team wanted to try a darker, scarier look. However, they were unhappy with the effect, and soon returned to Buffy-style vamp-faces.
  • In the original script, the scene in which Angel finds Tina's dead body ends with him cradling her, then licking her blood from his fingers. Although creator Joss Whedon claims that moment was the point of the episode, as it shows how Angel is struggling in his goal of redemption, it was ultimately cut. "It was dark enough that he didn’t save this girl," says supervising producer Tim Minear. "I don’t think you needed him licking her dead body."
  • Christian Kane, who plays the unnamed lawyer later known as Lindsey McDonald, was close friends with David Boreanaz before joining the cast of Angel. "It was the first time David and me ever got to act together and there was just a chemistry," Kane recalls. "He was a badass and I was trying to be a badass and that right there was just a defining moment. You could tell the tension but you could also see the easiness of how we just flowed into each other. It's very easy to act with Boreanaz and I think he feels the same with me."
  • This episode is the first to crossover with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both Buffy Season Four and Angel Season One run on a similar, matching timeline.
  • The building used as Russel Winters Enterprises is the same building later used as the Wolfram & Hart building.
  • The first draft of the shooting script featured the character of Whistler playing the part of Angel's mentor, rather than Doyle.

Pop Culture References

  • Batcave: Doyle's comment refers to Batman's secret hideout beneath the mansion of his alter ego, Bruce Wayne. This pilot episode in particular makes many allusions to the fictional hero, Batman, who uses gadgets and frequents the tops of tall buildings as he fights against dark forces operating in his own alpha world city, Gotham. It's also a reference to the ability in other vampire lore of vampires changing into bats (though, except for Dracula, they can't do that in the Buffyverse).
  • Billy Dee: When Doyle grows parched from all his "yakking" about Angel's history, he tells Angel he wants to go out and get some "Billy Dee". This is a reference to the alcoholic beverage known as Colt 45, which ran a popular ad campaign featuring Billy Dee Williams of Star Wars fame. This could conceivably constitute one of the numerous Star Wars allusions reputed to populate the Buffyverse.
  • Missoula: Tina tells Angel a lot about herself by mentioning she hails from the second-largest city in Montana. With a population more than 50 times less dense than L.A., Tina's hometown is much farther away culturally than geographically from the second-largest city in the U.S. An innocent country girl at heart, Tina prefigures all the victims Angel hopes to save, but she herself is unable to survive in the wilds of L.A.
  • The Depression: Angel tells Tina a lot about himself by mentioning he passed through Missoula during "the Depression", but, fortunately for him, she has no idea that he's speaking literally.
  • Vikings: Doyle tries to bow out of Angel's assault on Winters' mansion because he has some "fairly large coin" riding on that night's pro football game. Angel disregards Doyle's protests, but uses that datum—that the Vikings are playing—to lull the guard at Winters' gate with false camaraderie. Angel plays the mook again in Sense & Sensitivity.
  • Vietnam War: When he tells Doyle he's been in 14 wars, Angel doesn't count Vietnam because the U.S. "never declared it."

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • As the vampire Russell falls to his death via sunlight, he casts a reflection in the windows of the building he was pushed out of.
  • When Angel calls Buffy, he dials only seven numbers, though Sunnydale, situated a couple hours north of L.A., would likely have a different area code, requiring an 11-number dial.
  • When Angel asks Doyle how he got in, he remarks that he doesn't need an invite to enter someone's home. However, even if Doyle had been a vampire, he still wouldn't have needed permission to Angel's flat because this rule does not apply to demon dwellings.[11]



  • Josh Holloway and Tracy Middendorf both appear in this episode. On the TV show Lost, Holloway plays regular character Sawyer, while Middendorf played Bonnie in the final 3 episodes of Season 3. Daniel Dae Kim (Gavin), Sam Anderson (Holland), and Marc Vann (Dr Sparrow), all appeared on Angel as members of Wolfram & Hart later in the series, and also went on to portray characters on Lost (Kim and Anderson playing regulars and Vann currently playing a recurring character, again a Doctor)
  • Both Tracy Middendorf and Vyto Ruginis have had roles on The X Files.
  • As Angel leaves the bar, a rainbow flag can be seen in the background.
  • This was the only Angel episode directly novelized, unlike the many collections of Buffy episode novelizations. However, the novel contains several scenes not in the episode, including flashbacks of Angel's backstory that were similar to later flashbacks in "The Prodigal" and "Darla". Apparently, Angel's human name, Liam, had not been established when it was written, as he is referred to as 'Master Angelus' during the flashbacks. 
  • Tina tells Angel that he's "just like" Russell. This foreshadows the revelation that Russell, like Angel, is a vampire.


Doyle - "I've been sent by the Powers That Be."
Angel - "The powers that be what?"
Cordelia - "I finally get invited to a nice place with no mirrors and lots of curtains ... hey, you're a vampire!"
Russell - "What? No, I'm not."
Cordelia - "Are too!"
Russell - "I don't know what you're talking about."
Cordelia - "I'm from Sunnydale. We had our own Hellmouth. I think I know a vampire when ... I'm ... alone with him ... in his ... fortress-like home ..."
Doyle - "High school's over, bud. You gotta make with the grown-up talk, now."
Russell - "Angel. We do things a certain way here in LA."
Angel - "Well, I’m new here."
Russell - "But you’re a civilized man. We don’t have to go around attacking each other. Look at me: I pay my taxes. I keep my name out of the paper, and I don’t make waves. And in return I can do anything I want!"
Angel - [puts a foot Russell's chair] "Really. Hmm. Can you fly?" [pushes the chair out the window, killing Russell] "Hmm. I guess not."


  1. "Rm w/a Vu"
  2. "Bachelor Party"
  3. "Hero"
  4. "I Will Remember You"
  5. "To Shanshu in L.A."
  6. "The Freshman"
  7. "Becoming, Part One"
  8. "Judgment"
  9. "Birthday"
  10. "Not Fade Away"
  11. "That Old Gang of Mine"
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