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Whose Show Is It Anyway? Master Post

If you're linking to this project, please link to this post!

What This Is

This is a many entries long project to crunch some numbers about the show. Like numbers? Empirical data? Statistics? You're gonna dig this.


Because I'm an insane fan, I did a line and scene count of each episode, put out season-by-season summaries, then played with the numbers to try to find meaning. In particular, I started out interested in the trends revolving around Spike's character (testing the oft-repeated claim that he took over the show). However, my interest grew more general as the project went on. In addition to counting lines and scenes, I kept track of how many times characters were referred to by other characters. Doing so revealed interesting patterns not apparent in the line/scene counts.


There are several notable drawbacks to this study. For one, line and scene counts don't necessarily correlate to importance or focus (hence why some odd episodes end up in a character's significant and/or centric pile). These counts aren't meant to measure anything except what they say: The number of lines or scenes a character has in an episode. Interpretation from there is up in the air. I chose this method in an effort to avoid more subjective forms of measurement which are vulnerable to bias and perception flaws. Line and scene counts - as well as references - are hard, objective measurements.

Another drawback is that different people authored the transcriptions as the series aired. As such, some transcripts have different styles, as it were. One transcriber may be more prone to breaking up a character's dialogue with action markers while another just plops the whole speech down. This would mean that a character ends up with more lines in the former than in the latter. Given this, raw numbers aren't useful for comparing across seasons (rendering the line:scene ratio useful only within seasons). Percentages give a much more accurate picture when looking at cross-season comparisons.

Your graphs are shoddy and your number-taking skills questionable

Yeah, I'm an amateur. It probably shows. Take this for what it is: An immense project undertaken by one person with no experience doing such a project. Mistakes have probably been made. I got a bit tired during all the graph-making and snoozed a bit. I tried to be as rigorous as possible, but, you know, I'm human. We all fuck up. If you think you can do better, I encourage you to do so. It's a difficult, though ultimately rewarding, challenge.

I'd Like to Expand on What You've Done

Feel free! All the numbers are freely available in a text file in the season overviews. Do with it what you will. I don't own numbers.

Where Do I Start?

It's best to read this as I posted it, starting with the season overviews, moving on to the character break-downs, then ending with the final cross-season analysis. The methodology is outlined (and further defined) in each season overview, and a lot of terminology begins to become assumed as the series goes on. Still, if you're feeling adventurous, start wherever you want. I'm going to list the links in their best-read order, though.

Season Overviews
Season One
Season Two
Season Three
Season Four
Season Five
Season Six
Season Seven

The Characters

All the Seasons!


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 17th, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC)
Apr. 18th, 2011 12:47 pm (UTC)
You're such a good pimp.
(no subject) - angearia - Apr. 18th, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gabrielleabelle - Apr. 18th, 2011 01:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angearia - Apr. 18th, 2011 01:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gabrielleabelle - Apr. 18th, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 17th, 2011 11:12 pm (UTC)
You are a goddess among fans and geeks worldwide.

Apr. 18th, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
Re: You are a goddess among fans and geeks worldwide.
^^ THIS! :D
Apr. 18th, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
Congratulations, you did it!!!

This was a fascinating lecture. I'm sure that from now on it will be always referenced in posts and meta whenever someone will ponder on character's significance in the show. A solid proof of whatever a person wants to prove.

Thank God you have a new feminist meta series started, what would your glorious analytic brain focus on? And I really want to its next project, it's bound to be great.
Apr. 18th, 2011 12:49 pm (UTC)
I suppose my brain could focus on school...but that wouldn't be very much fun. :)
Apr. 18th, 2011 08:21 am (UTC)
I love this project. It's very interesting to see the trends that emerge, and I am so impressed by the work you put into it.
Apr. 18th, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
Apr. 18th, 2011 08:27 am (UTC)
*will be playing with these numbers all day*

Seriously, you're awesome.
Apr. 18th, 2011 10:34 am (UTC)
*will be playing with these numbers all day*

(no subject) - ceciliaj - Apr. 18th, 2011 10:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gabrielleabelle - Apr. 18th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 18th, 2011 08:28 am (UTC)
This is the awesomest awesome done by Gabs "the Brain" (now, who is your Pinky, preventing you from taking over the world?).

Thanks so much for your work - you've given fandom endless hours to mull over graphs and numbers. :)
Apr. 18th, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC)
My cat is my Pinky. I want to do Buffy meta stuff 24/7 but she's all, "No! RUB MAH BELLY!!!" Then she narfs in the corner and I have to clean it up.
Apr. 18th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
You're my hero!
Apr. 18th, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
I am the wind beneath your wings? ;)
Apr. 18th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Pie Charts and graphs oh my!
Holy Moley, me oh my! You have way too much time on your hands!!
Apr. 18th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Pie Charts and graphs oh my!
Apr. 18th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
The 'all seasons' bit seems to have the wrong labels - i.e. Cordelia wasn't in Seasons 4/5 at all, and Faith can't have had 17% of lines from 2 episodes (and also wasn't in Season 5).
Apr. 18th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
Which graph are you referring to? A mislabeling is highly unlikely, to be honest, given the mechanics of how the graphs are made. Far more likely is that Excel gave two characters similar colors and you're confusing the two.
Apr. 18th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I still hope that there could be a way to continue the TV series of Buffy the Vampire slayer. I wish that there could be a crossover with Angel. It could start where the battle on Angel stopped. I am really curious to see wheather it is Angel or Spike that Shansu's according to the prophency. Also, will it be Angel or Spike that ends up with Buffy. If there could even be a crossover with Dollhouse that would be also be fun. Since all of the tv series ended with huge battles. There needs to be a story that would feature the original cast memebers. There is so much potenial for storylines that a new slayer would not be necessary. Neither would using the comic book ideas. A story that includes Giles would be interesting. Also, maybe even Ethan Rayne. In my opinion I do not think that the original cast members are too old. The potentials were too young. Therefore they should be dropped from the storyline for either a movie or tv series continuation.
Apr. 19th, 2011 10:08 am (UTC)
Re: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I'm pretty happy with how the TV series ended, to be honest.
Apr. 18th, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)
This is remarkable. See, I am remarking on it. Well done. Totally impressed.
Apr. 19th, 2011 10:07 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Mar. 18th, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to let you know that I'm probably going to use your data in a linguistics term paper I'm doing about the gendered aspects of speech in BtVS, if that's okay with you. I'd read all this when you did it last year (I commented from my Facebook on on of the posts) and remembered it and it seemed PERFECT. So yeah, I just thought I'd let you know that your numbers will be put to use in an academic setting. Wooo!
Mar. 18th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
Oh fantastic! I approve!

If you have any questions about the data, feel free to shoot me an email. gabrielleabellelj@gmail.com :)
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )


The One Who Isn't Chosen

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