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Whose Show Is It Anyway? Season Seven

Okay, remember when I said not to expect the S7 numbers too quickly? Yeah, I lied.

Here's what's gonna happen. I have this, plus the rest of the project that looks at each character throughout the series as well as a cross-character comparison. Over the next few days, I'm gonna post the rest of it. I don't want to do it all in one fell swoop so as to not spam you guys. Plus, I still gotta work out some stuff in the final section. At the end, I'll put up a master post with links to everything. If you're wanting to link to this behemoth of a project on, say, Whedonesque, please wait till the master post goes up. It'll save on confusion.

As always, check out the Whose Show Is It Anyway? tag for the previous seasons.

And here we are now with S7. Onward!


The method used for this project came about as a result of the intended goal: to compare characters' screentime and line count to see what trends arise throughout the seasons.

The characters involved include all characters who ever had a spot in the opening credit plus Faith. This means that characters who guest star before or after their regular stint still have their lines counted.

I used the transcripts and shooting scripts available on BuffyWorld.

For the line counts:

I first manually went through each transcript, tallying down both the number of lines, total, and the number of lines for each characters. Given that relative numbers are more important than actual numbers, I needed to be able to figure out what percentage of lines each character had in an episode. For this, I needed the total number of lines, even those spoken by incidental characters. The percentage is then simply calculated relative to the amount of lines in the episode (This includes lines by minor characters who are not under assessment).

All numbers were double-checked by opening the transcript in Notepad++ and doing an automated count of the number of times "CHARACTERNAME:" shows up. The manual read-through was necessary to catch any transcription errors or off formatting, while the automated check, obviously, checked my numbers.

For the scene counts:

Counting scenes was slightly more complicated. I ended up using the shooting script when possible. Each new INT or EXT shot counted as a new scene, except establishing shots (stock footage). Also, if the screenwriter labeled a scene as "CONTINUOUS", I didn't count it as a new scene. For scenes that are interrupted by an act break, I counted it as continuous so long as there's no significant time gap. Given that the important factor was figuring out a character's number of scenes relative to each episode (as opposed to comparing total number of scenes on an episode-by-episode basis), I decided that this method, while not perfect, would give satisfactory data.

In all cases, I made sure to check with the transcript to ensure that I wasn't counting any deleted scenes (or missing any scenes that had been added in). At times, it was necessary to check screenshots to see whether a character was shown in a scene or not.

For the references:

I was able to keep track of the references while doing the line counts. The idea behind this count is to see which characters are often discussed by other characters. This would suggest that the character under discussion is of importance to the plot and to the show.

For a discussion to count, it had to take place while the subject character is not in the scene (or the characters discussing him/her are not aware of his/her presence). My general rule of thumb is that there needed to be three consecutive lines back-and-forth about the other character. Discussions among non-major characters also counted. If a discussion of a character stops and then begins again after a topic change, it's counted as two references. This is the only count that consisted of raw numbers rather than percentages, for obvious reasons.

Though I did track references for S1, I'm waiting until all seasons are completed to crunch those numbers and graph them because this aspect is more relevant in a comparative sense.


Using transcripts necessarily means being dependent on the transcribers' formatting. They may divide up a character's line by inserting an action descriptor, for instance. This would be counted as two lines for the character rather than one. Also, there's no way to differentiate between short lines and long monologues. As such, this should only serve as a rough guide, and further counts with different methodologies (especially ones incorporating actual time) will be useful.


The First does not count as Buffy and/or Spike. It's a different being. In The Killer in Me, Warren counts as Willow.

Click here for TXT file

First, a graph showing the number of references for each character this season. Please read in the Methodology section as to what constitutes a "reference".

Then, if you total up all the lines spoken by main characters for the season, it looks like this when divided by character:

And finally, the scene and line counts throughout the season. Clicking on these pictures will take you to a larger version.

- As I usually do, I took a look to see which characters spoke more in the scenes they were in. This was done by simply dividing a character's total lines spoken by the number of scenes they had been in. Results as follows:

Buffy: 1674 lines in 372 scenes. 4.50 lines per scene.

Xander: 626 lines in 178 scenes. 3.52 lines per scene.

Willow: 688 lines in 171 scenes. 4.02 lines per scene.

Giles: 297 lines in 67 scenes. 4.43 lines per scene.

Spike: 600 lines in 174 scenes. 3.45 lines per scene.

Anya: 446 lines in 120 scenes. 3.72 lines per scene.

Dawn: 541 lines in 195 scenes. 2.77 lines per scene.

Angel: 40 lines in 4 scenes. 10 lines per scene.

Faith: 224 lines in 58 scenes. 3.86 lines per scene.

And I want to continue with local_max's method of identifying episodes that are significant and centric for each character (here). If a character has 10% or more of the lines in an episode, it was "significant" for that character. If they had 20% or more lines, it was "centric". Let's tally!

Buffy-significant (Lines>10%): Everything except Touched.
Buffy-centric (Lines>20%): Everything except Selfless, Showtime, Potential, The Killer in Me, LMPTM, and Dirty Girls

Xander-significant (Lines>10%): Beneath You, STSP, Selfless, Him, Sleeper, Never Leave Me, Potential, and First Date
Xander-centric (Lines>20%): None

Willow-significant (Lines>10%): Selfless, Him, CWDP, Showtime, and Get it Done
Willow-centric (Lines>20%): STSP and The Killer in Me

Giles-significant (Lines>10%): Bring on the Night, First Date, LMPTM, and Empty Places
Giles-centric (Lines>20%): None

Spike-significant (Lines>10%): Never Leave Me, Get it Done, Dirty Girls, and Touched
Spike-centric (Lines>20%): Beneath You, Sleeper, and LMPTM

Anya-significant (Lines>10%): Beneath You, STSP, and Sleeper
Anya-centric (Lines>20%): Selfless

Dawn-significant(Lines>10%): Lessons and STSP
Dawn-centric (Lines>20%): Him and Potential

Angel-significant (Lines>10%): Chosen
Angel-centric (Lines>20%): None

Faith-significant(Lines>10%): Empty Places and Touched
Faith-centric (Lines>20%): Dirty Girls

How does Spike end up this season? S7 gets the heaviest criticism as being the season where Spike took over. Looking at the lines, this doesn't seem to be too salient a criticism. Totaling up all the lines by main characters (the ones included in the analysis), Spike comes out with only 11.68% of the season's lines. This is almost one third of Buffy's share (32.59%), and it's less than Xander (12.19%) and Willow (13.40%).

However, when you figure out the average percentage of lines each character had, Spike rises more to the top. He averages 8.23% lines per episode, which is only behind Buffy (21.91%), Willow (8.82%) and Faith (12.80%). Xander comes in at only 8.00%. (Later sections will reveal all the numbers here)

What does this difference indicate? Well, it indicates the fact that there were three Spike-centric episodes this season but only four significant ones. Xander has many more significant episodes, giving him a smaller amount of lines per episode but a larger share of the lines overall.

Let's take a look at the references, though, because that's where I think there is a significant distinction from previous seasons. Previously, Spike had topped out at 14 references in S6 (Placing him 4th behind Buffy, Willow, and Xander). In S7, he came in at 33 references. This places him second only to Buffy, who had 37. The next highest number was Willow with 11.

Though Spike may not have had the screentime, he does get talked about a lot by other characters.

One thing I suspect influences people's perception is what I've termed the "insularity" of the season. This figure is obtained by taking the count of all lines of the season - main characters, incidental characters, everyone - and finding what percentage of those are spoken by our core cast (that is the characters under analysis here). This indicates how much the season focuses on the main characters and how much it branches out to include other characters.

Seasons 1 through 3 held constant with the main characters having 74% of all the dialogue. This increased slightly in S4 to 79%. After holding a high position through S5 (76%) and S6 (77%), this figure plummeted to 67% in S7. This reflects the addition of not only the potentials, but also Principal Wood and Andrew. One third of the season's dialogue was spoken by characters not in the opening credits. This most likely has the effect of heightening the influence of a character like Spike who received three centric episodes. He stands out more, even though he has relatively less dialogue than the Big Three (Buffy, Willow, and Xander).

More of these trends will be discussed in later sections. Patience is a virtue!


Apr. 18th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)

Love that vid. And yes. So much talking about Spike. It's kinda awesome. :)
Apr. 18th, 2011 03:42 am (UTC)
Willow looks scary!eager in that icon!

The signs of her supervillainy were there all along. :D
Apr. 18th, 2011 04:12 pm (UTC)
Even as early as S1... ;)


The One Who Isn't Chosen

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