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"War Zone" is the twentieth episode of the first season of Angel and the twentieth episode in the series. Written by Garry Campbell and directed by David Straiton, it was originally broadcast on May 9, 2000, on The WB network.


STAKE FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER — Angel tracks down a millionaire's blackmailer, but gets caught in the middle of a gang war between street kids and vampires and meets the leader of the vampire hunters, Charles Gunn.[1]


A gang of vampires corner a girl, Alonna, walking alone down the street. When they turn around, they meet Gunn and his group of young vampire hunters, armed and ready for a fight.

Cordelia, Wesley, and Angel meet the billionaire and prospective client David Nabbit at a party, who explains he is being blackmailed by Lenny Edwards for going to a demon brothel called Madame Dorion's. Angel tracks down Lenny Edwards, and makes him promise he will hand over the incriminating photos the following night.

Meanwhile, the vampires and vampire hunters fight in the alley. The remaining vampires eventually run off, leaving the humans to deal with the dead and wounded among them. They drive into their hideout in an abandoned building, where Gunn demands that the new squatters also have something to eat. His younger sister, Alonna, tells Gunn he's getting reckless with their battles, but he promises she'll never lose him. Chain arrives with the news of a nest nearby and that a vampire is coming their way. Gunn goes after this lead and witnesses from afar Angel intimidating Edwards.

David pays Angel Investigations with a very large check, and he promises more when the job is done. The next night, Angel meets with Lenny, who brought the photos and a demon security guard. Angel kills the Mofo demon and gets away with the photos. However, he gets staked in the chest by a couple of the vampire hunters. They chase him, and Angel is forced to run through a gauntlet of vampire killing weapons. When Gunn and the others corner him, Angel saves Alonna from a flying arrow and tries to explain that he is fighting for good. Before leaving with his crew, Gunn tells Angel to never show his face there again.

Cordelia dresses Angel's wounds while Wesley look at the graphic pictures that were being held for blackmail. Angel is still in pain, but he goes off to find the nest of vampires before the group of kids find it.

Gunn, Alonna, and Chain wonder about Angel and his motivations for supposedly helping them. Soon later, a group of vampires throw smoke bombs into the humans hideaway, forcing them to escape to the surface in daylight. Covered in heavy clothes and wearing gas masks, the vampires capture several of the vampire hunters, including Alonna.

Angel offers his assistance to Gunn and the others, but Gunn refuses and locks Angel in a meat locker. Angel tries to punch his way out of the locker, only to have Cordelia and Wesley open the door for him. Searching for the vampires' lair, Gunn finds a newly undead Alonna. While he can't bring himself to kill her, Alonna says he doesn't have to take care of her anymore. She offers to make him a vampire to free him from his guilt, but he finally stakes her.

Angel kills the vampire gang leader and arranges a truce with the rest of the group: he'll allow them to live if they leave town and never return.

Cordelia and Wesley talk about the group of homeless, young vampire hunters. She considers getting involved with David for his money, but ends up talking herself out of it.

That night, Angel meets Gunn again. Gunn says the vampires will keep coming and he'll keep fighting even after his sister's death. Angel says he may need Gunn's help in the future.


  • This episode features the first appearance of Gunn, who will go on to become a major character. He will appear in every episode in the series until the end of the series ("Not Fade Away").
  • Gunn carries a sword similar to Angel's enchanted sword, which Angel has been using since "Sense & Sensitivity" and will declare to be his favorite in "Couplet."
  • Angel returns from his visit to Sunnydale in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Yoko Factor."
  • One of the sex workers at the brothel is a Oden Tal demon, the same species as Jhiera from the episode "She."
  • Gunn will have nightmares of when he kills his sister ("That Old Gang of Mine").
  • Cordelia compares Gunn's hideout with her first apartment, from where she moved out in "Rm w/a Vu" because of a cockroach infestation.
  • Angel says he'll be around because he might need Gunn's help. They will act together in a mission already in the next episode, "Blind Date."



Organizations and titles[]




Death count[]

  • Two vampires, staked by Bobby.
  • One vampire, beheaded by Gunn.
  • One boy, neck snapped by Ty.
  • One vampire, staked by Chain.
  • Bobby, killed by Ty.
  • Mofo demon, neck snapped by Angel.
  • Ty, staked by Knox.
  • Alonna Gunn, sired by Knox and later staked by Gunn.
  • Knox, staked by Angel.

Behind the scenes[]


  • Creator Joss Whedon wanted to introduce another character who would be very different from both Wesley and Angel. When writer Garry Campbell pitched the idea of street kids battling vampires, the character of Gunn was conceived.[2]
  • Producer Tim Minear commented that the episode features the concept of an "entire subculture living under Los Angeles that you don't really see," which is a metaphor for the wealth stratification in LA: "You'll have upper class neighborhoods and a block away poverty... The upper class people sort of don't notice the poverty, or choose not to."[2]
  • Special Effects Supervisor Loni Peristere refined the dusting effect used when a vampire is killed, showcased by Gunn's "fly-through dusting" in the opening scene of this episode. This technique, which costs $5,000 per use, depends upon a CGI skeletal frame surrounded by simulated dust, carefully matched to a projection of the live action footage. Peristere says this allows for a "complete organic transition" from vampire to dust.[3]
  • While Angel is running from Gunn and the others, the theme playing throughout the chase sequence is originally from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Becoming, Part One."
  • Director David Straiton suggested to Michele Kelly that, in the scene where Alonna pushes Gunn onto the ground, she should "enjoy that more" — "and that's when a laugh came out," Kelly says. The actress explains that the director knew at that point that her character was "relishing in all this newfound strength and freedom, even if it was for evil."[4]
  • Kelly says the most difficult aspect of the role was her preexisting friendship with J. August Richards, which "made a part of me not want to hurt him." She explains that she twisted that connection by imagining the isolation and "raging despair" her character would feel after being made a vampire: "All I wanted is my brother... that's where I got the impetus to go into that ugly space — it was just the other side of loving."[4]
  • David Nabbit was originally intended to be a recurring character, but only appears in two additional episodes. David Herman had difficulty fitting Angel into his schedule, and so the writers stopped writing scenes for him.[5]


  • "War Zone" had an audience of 3.2 million households upon its original airing.[6]

Pop culture references[]


  • At the vampire nest, when the lead vampire is talking about Gunn's team, the vampire wearing the green sweatshirt and leather vest doesn't have yellow eyes as the others do.


International titles[]

  • Czech: "Válečná zóna" (War Zone)
  • Finnish: "Sotatila" (State of War)
  • French: "Frères de sang" (Blood Brothers)
  • German: "Der Bandenkrieg" (The Gang War)
  • Hungarian: "Háborús övezet" (War Zone)
  • Italian: "Zona di guerra" (War Zone)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Zona de Guerra" (War Zone)
  • Russian: "Боевая зона" (Combat Zone)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Zona de guerra" (War Zone)
  • Spanish (Spain): "Zona de guerra" (War Zone)
  • Turkish: "Savaş Alanı" (War Zone)



Behind the scenes[]


David: "Are you familiar with Dungeons & Dragons?"
Angel: "Yeah, I've seen a few."
Wesley: "You mean the, uh, role-playing game."
Gunn: "Everybody dies. I'm just trying to make sure that when we die, we stay dead."
Gunn: "I don't need advice from some middle-class white dude that's dead."
Wesley: "You should've tried to call us on your cell phone. You probably forgot you had it."
Angel: "Those things hardly ever work. Besides, it was a lot easier and quicker to just... Look, I'm the boss here. I say when we use the cell phones... and people are gonna die and I have to go."
Gunn: "Look, I'm glad for what you did, okay? But I don't need no guardian angel, and I don't need no talking to. It's not gonna change the way things are down here, man. They're gonna keep coming, and we're gonna keep fighting."
Angel: "I know."
Gunn: "That's it? You ain't gonna talk at me, be all daddy figure?"
Angel: "What am I gonna tell you that you haven't already learned?"


  1. "Angel- Season 1 Episode Guide." Lol's Site. Retrieved on October 18, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Edward Gross, "ANGEL: Season One, Episode By Episode with Tim Minear - Part 4." TimMinear.net 5.0. September 26, 2000. Archived from the original on July 30, 2018.
  3. "CoA Interviews Loni Peristere, Special FX Supervisor." City of Angel. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Interview with Michelle Kelly." An Angel's Soul. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012.
  5. Nikki Stafford, Once Bitten: An Unofficial Guide to the World of Angel. ECW Press, November 2004.
  6. "Nielsen Ratings for Angel's First Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 18, 2008.